Art of the Genre

When I first started dating my wife I was nineteen and I seemed to make an immediate impact on her family [yes, in a positive way!] Those early years were fun for sure, proving yourself to a family while they also did their best to prove themselves to you. I well remember my first Christmas as a ‘family guest’ and when asked what I wanted as a gift I told my would-be wife’s family that I want a D&D Gazetteer.

Low and behold at the time I had no idea that by 1991 the TSR Gazetteer series had already been phased out, but that didn’t stop the woman who would become my mother-in-law. She went to a gaming store in Mishawaka Indiana and got the only copy of a Gazetteer they still had in stock, that being Dawn of the Emperors: Thyatis and Alphatia Boxed Set.

Little did I realize, over the next 24 odd years, my mother-in-law would continue to search out the ENTIRE Gazetteer series which I now proudly own, even if I’ve never had a chance to play them.

Anyway, in honor of her incredible fortitude in continuing the Christmas tradition of getting me Gazetteers, even as I aged from 19 to 42, I’m going to have a look at the art from Dawn of the Emperors today on AotG.

Released in 1989 by TSR, this three book volume boxed set was written by the late Aaron Allston, produced by my friend Bruce Heard, and had cover art by [as all Gazetteers did] Clyde Caldwell.

Now by this point, the very end of the line as the case may be, Caldwell had fully realized his style for the series. This particular cover is a favorite of mine, featuring a collage of great Greco-Roman style that bespeaks the incredible history of Thyatis and Alphatia. We get to see a beautiful woman [a Caldwell staple], a noble roman inspired warrior, a Greek riding a Pegasus and a sorcerous in silks and skins. We also get to see a rather Conan-inspired city as well, with towers just dying to be plundered by a daring thief [that would be my character, if you were wondering].

Caldwell certainly hits all his marks here and I can see nothing to take away from his efforts.

Inside, all three supplement books are fully illustrated by Stephen Fabian. I am intrigued by these because each one is a standardized piece, horizontal in frame, and it almost seems as if the art department said, ‘Stephen, we need thirty, 8”x4”, illustrations that depict something kind of roman’. Whatever the case, there are many of them, as well as several full page illustrations that don’t fit the framing mold and yet add even more wonderful depth to the box.

In all, I’m captivated by what these two masters were able to do, and wished I had more appreciated Fabian’s style when I was younger. Truly, the man has a sublime talent for illustration, and I’d love to have an original b/w of his in my collection.

Artistic Rating: 5 [out of 5]

Written by Scott Taylor — May 05, 2014

Comments

Rodger:

Nice works, I own several in the Gazetter series, and all are near mint condition, two of them are still in shrink wrap, I never intended to leave them like that, I just never got to use them, I am 43 now, it’s been some time since I played, I am expecting to be a father in 9 weeks, and my fiancee is a keen gamer in her own right, so I am hoping to add to my collection soon and one day perhaps I will get to use them with my family.

May 05 2014 at 12:05 PM

Scott:

Rodger: You know, I felt the same way about these Basic Gazetteers. My son, now 8, has experimented with Basic D&D thus far, and hopefully before all is said and done I’ll get to use these Gazetteers at least once before I cash in my chips. I wish the same for you!

May 05 2014 at 03:05 PM

Ken:

I also own the whole line of gazetteers and I’ve recently decided to create my own Pathfinder-style adventure path set across Mystara using the gazetteers. If you really like the line, there is a series of 10 fan-made gazetters available as free downloads here: http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=513

The quality is actually not bad and they were developed so as not the conflict with the published material. Have fun with it. You might also check out the three PC-series supplements that allow you to play various non-human races as characters and were designed to go with the gazetteers.

August 12 2016 at 10:08 AM

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