In the mid to late 1980s TSR tried to build on the success of their Basic D&D boxed set series by adapting a world dedicated to these supplements. The result, Gazetteers, an impressive series of campaign setting books detailing the Known World as broken up into various countries.
There were really no huge surprises or inspirations here as the design staff simply took real world empires throughout time and placed them haphazardly into the setting while sprinkling in nations dedicated to Dwarves, Elves, Halflings, and Orcs. Still, the art from these books are excellent.
Today, I look at GAZ 11 The Republic of Darokin written by Scott Haring in 1989.
Covered by artist Clyde Caldwell, he does another fantastic job of taking on each nation with a series of larger and smaller character shots set to the backdrop of a country map and some random pieces of architecture. Since the entire series is done by Caldwell in this fashion, the effect is one of perfect unity that plays extremely well and is addictively collectable.
Inside, however, the true genius of the TSR bank accounts from that time period comes into play as the company hired the freelance talents of artist Stephen Fabian to do a multitude of incredible black and white illustrations in each booklet. Fabian, a veteran of 1970s mass market fantasy paperbacks, absolutely owns the project if you enjoy his style. If not, this isn’t the supplement for you, but I’ve yet to find anyone who didn’t see the impressive talent Fabian brings to the table.
In all, the supplement features two books and a piece of punch-out board that can be used to make a bit of the setting if you use miniatures. A very, very, impressive piece of gaming supplementation.
Artistic Rating: 4.5 [out of 5]
Fabian really is money in the bank. He did some other great fantasy fiction illustrations, and his work can also be found in a few Dragonlance books if I’m not mistaken.
Yes! Loved Fabian’s soft black-and-white work in the Manual of the Planes.