X1: The Isle of Dread... a classic among classics
I’m sure several thousand words have been written concerning the D&D Expert Set module X1: The Isle of Dread. Certainly it’s one of the two most popular adventures ever published simply because of its inclusion in the D&D Expert Boxed Set [much like Keep on the Borderlands for Basic], so I’m sure I don’t have to go into great detail concerning it.
Simply put, it was written by David Cook and Tom Moldvay back in 1981 and takes a group of adventures over the waves of the Sea of Dread to a lost island setting adventure. It’s a classic, but instead of talking about what the adventure offers, I get to speak a bit about the art!
With a cover by artist Jeff Dee [who recently redid this cover for a Kickstarter campaign] the book holds some majesty that can’t be denied. Although a later version of the module can also be found with a Tim Truman cover, I think the Dee classic is the image that resonates most soundly with gamers.
Dee also contributes inside with a couple quarter page black and white illustrations, and fellow old time TSR artist Bill Willingham also takes part with illustrations of his own as well as a swords & sorcery inspired back cover that I have to wonder if they made him add a shirt to later after they saw how the warrior woman’s chainmail didn’t exactly cover her up [you have to know Willingham to understand this].
In all, it isn’t my favorite art from either of these two artists, and the module is really thin on artistic detail as well, although both color pieces do tend to make up for the lacking interiors.
Artistic Rating: 3.5 [out of 5]