N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God… yes please!
I mean seriously, of all the TSR adventures from the 1980s, does any have a title better than Against the Cult of the Reptile God? I really think author Douglas Niles must have stolen this title from a lost Robert E. Howard Conan manuscript because it is really that cool.
Niles, a personal favorite TSR author, spins a tale of the ‘dying’ village of Orlane located near Greyhawk’s Gran March. Once thriving, now only a maze of locked doors and frightened faces, Orlane needs a band of brave adventurers to help free it from whatever evil plagues the settlement. Well, you can count me in, where does my 4th level fighter sign up?
But seriously, N1 is a fine little module, coming in at 28 pages with a plethora of maps that were done by Stephen Sullivan, and oddly enough there are absolutely no artistic credits given in the entire module.
Coming out in 1982, this module has gone into full 1980s TSR mode, meaning we’ve lost all aspects of the 1970s ‘crew’ and are now taking on new artists, including my first review of Tim Truman’s work at TSR and also the continued work of Jim Holloway. The only difficult to identify piece I have is from the back cover, although thanks to the aforementioned Steve Sullivan, it looks to be a Harry Quinn which rounds out the TSR ‘pit’ transition crew.
First however, let me go into some detail on Tim Truman. Tim was a rough and tumble sort back in the 1980s, and was an incredibly talented artist. I’ve admired his work for decades, and although the ‘big four’ seem to have gotten the bulk of gamer love [much to Jim Holloway’s chagrin as well] Tim still delivered a rather unique style that is unmistakably gorgeous.
His cover is stunning, as are his sublime interior black and white illustrations. I’m reminded a bit of Stephen Fabian when I look at them, and I have to say it is some of my favorite work from TSR during the decade.
Holloway backs up Truman with his standard fare, but realistically his work and Truman’s don’t mesh well, and although Holloway has at least one nice piece in this module, he falls a bit short in my eyes. I just think the art director, presumably Jim Roslof, should have avoided the two artists working together because their styles are too fundamentally different and I think Holloway’s work comes off flat when put next to Tim’s.
Wrapping this up, I’m taken with N1, and although there could be room for improvement, it is still a nice piece to inspire.
Artistic Rating: 3.5 [out of 5]