Art of the Genre

Tamoachan… even the name can give one shivers, and adding it to the complete title of C1: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan gives you an instant classic. This ‘deluxe set’ module, with over 16 illustrations in a separate players pack, was written by Harold Johnson & Jeff R. Leason back in 1980. It is for levels 5-7 and pits a party against a Mesoamerican threat that not only educates by also inspires, as it did with my creation of Taux for Tales of the Emerald Serpent two decades later.

The cover art here is done by Erol Otus, with back cover duties held by Bill Willingham, and the bulk of the interiors are also Erol standard work.

This cover, on a scale of 1-10 for Erol’s D&D contributions, would hit at about a 6. It isn’t his best, but it has enough fantastic elements and color usage to be remembered. There are some depth issues with it, but his style just oozes out of the overall frame and I can’t help but smile each time I take a look at it.

Inside, Erol does the first intro illustration and it too is a grand old piece featuring a fire-breathing demon that has full-on destroyed the magic-user of the party. I love his work with the female form in this module and his hairstyle work as well. Although he is inherently ‘odd’ with his depictions of the human form, there is something very sexual in his women that, in my mind, never the less captivates the viewer.

With contributions by… wait for it, Darlene the Artist, David Sutherland III, Diesel LaForce, and Jeff Dee, this module puts together an all-star ‘First Four’ cast with the only exclusion being Jim Roslof. In fact, the artwork in this module is so vast and varied in level of competency, I’ve decided to do a two part blog just because I don’t want to miss anything.

On the whole, although not holding my absolute favorite artwork of the period, C1 has to at least be put into the conversation as the greatest artistic TSR treasure of the ‘First Four’ period because of names alone, and that is saying something.

Artistic Rating: 4.5 [out of 5]

Written by Scott Taylor — April 07, 2014

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