The 1st Edition AD&D DM Screens are an instant classic, and above all other books and supplements for the game of D&D, these are the most recognized by the core of players. Why? Well, because everyone, and I mean everyone, at one time or the other between 1978 and 1983 stared at them for hours as they rolled dice.
Even after TSR released a newer ‘Easley’ version of the screens, players still used these old Otus/Trampier ones, as I do today when I need to [although in the last two years I’ve forgone screens altogether].
The three pieces of artwork included in these two foldable screens captures everything a D&D player ever needed to know or aspire to during his tenure with the game.
The cover, done by artist Erol Otus, depicts a strange creature, perhaps frog, perhaps dragon, but certainly deadly as a spear-wielding fighter is ready for battle.
Inside, we see the famed and often imitated Trampier cover of the AD&D Player’s Handbook, which in itself is the penultimate tomb raider sequence for all players.
However, Trampiers two-fold piece, that runs in sync with the Player’s Handbook cover, is the true catalyst for gamers in this set.
I’ve studied this piece for countless hours, from the lantern carrying ghosts to the smiling dwarf at the treasure chest. There is so much going on in this shot, so much that I wanted to be a part of, and so much that I didn’t understand until years later.
You see, there is a war here, and also a tale to be told. If you look closely, an army of lizardmen are besieging a castle, and I often wondered why. Well, look no further than Trampier’s PH cover and the raid on the lizardman god’s statue. Trampier simply continues his tale here, one in which the human adventures cause untold calamity as the lizardmen rise up for retribution, and a single warrior looks to escape the carnage with a beautiful princess as a dragon burns down her fortress from above.
There are the undead, and there are adventures, a magic blade pointed at by an intrigued/scared wizard and knights on horseback. It is truly an inspirational piece and I have to wonder if it was ultimately destroyed like so many originals from the early days of TSR or if it resides still with Trampier or some unnamed collector.
Whatever the case, this original screen is perhaps the greatest collection of art ever put onto six cardboard pages.
Artistic Rating: 5 [out of 5]
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