Art of the Genre

Little did I realize that when I purchased my copy of Five Fingers: Port of Deceit for the Iron Kingdoms setting that I’d be working for Privateer one day. It now amazes me that as I look over the credits for this particular book I know many of those involved, from the President down to the Continuity expert, but whatever the case, I take great pride in having a look at this particular book on Art of the Genre today.

Created for the D20 system in 2006, this was the last supplement for that RPG line from Privateer before they went on to different gaming frontiers and finally their own gaming system which launched at GenCon in 2012.

The book was written by Doug Seacat and when I first purchased it I immediately called my friend Murphy and had him buy a copy as well because it really is a perfect city setting for any world. Five Fingers is wonderful, and filled with all manner of fantastic little storylines that could keep a campaign going for years, but still, I’m here to talk about art, so let’s get to it.

Honestly, I didn’t even know the cover was done by Privateer Creative Director Mathew D Wilson until I saw the original at his house some years later. It is such a divergence from most of his pieces, and certainly the darkest toned of anything I’ve ever seen him do. That said, it is still a powerful piece, and as it came so late in his career I have to wonder if he was starting to transition to a different style before his status as the driving force at Privateer took him away from artwork almost entirely. I for one would have loved to see where he ended up, but I guess we all have different roads to follow and I can’t fault him for taking his, as success seems to follow him wherever he goes.

Inside, artists Adrian Smith and Brian Snoddy share the task of helping create the black & white illustrations. I can’t readily speak about Smith, but as Snoddy helped create the setting alongside Wilson, it is clear his understanding and love of the subject matter translates into each image. There is a very rich tone here, an inkwash style that harkens back to some of my favorite 70s to 80s TSR style from Easley and Elmore back in the days of the Red Box [more on that later this week!] There is a depth here that is palpable, and I have to applaud everyone who had a hand in this fantastic supplement’s creation.

My only knock is that the artwork is too sporadic and tends toward chapter headers only. After getting a taste, I’d really have liked to see more, but the crafting of the supplement is still well done and one gets a good feel for the setting as you peruse the pages.

Artistic Rating: 3.5 [out of 5]

Written by Scott Taylor — April 29, 2014

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