Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Otusworld

In today's installment of the A to Z Challenge, I inaugurate a new series of posts that will hopefully build an entire campaign world based solely (mostly) on the mad artistic genius of Erol Otus. 

Along with David Trampier, Erol Otus has always been my favorite old school D&D artist. His work graces the cover of the first D&D product that I ever owned (Moldvay Basic) and his distinctively weird style invokes that sense of dangerous and creepy wonder that I felt when I explored the game for the first time.

Ever since last year, I had wondered what it might be like to construct a fantasy world that encompasses every Otus illustration that I could find. No doubt, it would be very weird. Otus didn't just draw D&D. He also illustrated Gamma World and a kooky game of high-school shenanigans called Alma Mater. Weaving all of it into a single game setting would be a gonzo feat worthy of the mighty Jeff Rients.   

So, here are the ground rules:

1. Each post will feature a single randomly selected Erol Otus illustration from my vast gaming library (with a generous assist by the Lords of Google).

2. I'd like to develop this setting organically as I go, without thinking ahead to the classic images that I know are coming. That being said, I do know that there will be grotesque high-school students and robots and vegepymies. Knowing that much will keep me from being boxed into a corner. 

3. The gaming material that is associated with a given image may inform my interpretation, but I will try to come up with new ideas by considering the artwork in isolation. To that end, I'm going to avoid even reading the various monster entries and module encounters that might otherwise make the setting material obvious.

4. If I am going to sta
t things out, it will be with
Risus. I may also do stats using B/X D&D or Old School Hack if I have the time and inclination.

So, I'll start things off with a small taste (I hope to continue this series in earnest come May):

From A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords [?]

Clad in the height of Erolonian fashion, the corpulent and ever-squinting Slavelord, Torpul Snerksen, conducts a clandestine meeting with Rayne Grenlok (née Ryan Green) in a secluded bandit redoubt. Using a stash of illicit coin from Point Sterling, he overcomes the Gren shaman's disdain for civilization and purchases two carts of pacified women and children captured in raids against over-eager Otasian settlers. 

Squinty-eyed and corpulent, with a penchant for the gaudiest of apparel, Torpul Snerksen is a rising player in the Erolonian slave markets. Infamous for his depravity, Snerksen will stop at nothing to acquire specialized "merchandise" for his wealthiest and most discerning clients. An amateur thaumaturge in his own right, he has selected various charms and amulets to protect his person from physical and magical assaults.
Cliches: Corpulent Moneybags (5), Up-and-Coming Slavelord (3), Conneseur of Perversion (2), Amateur Sorcerer (2)
Questing Dice (Charms of Protection): [] [] [] [] []
Languages: High Erolonian, Amarjan, English (with a nasal accent), phrasebook Otasian 
Tools: Outrageous clothing, bags of money, dozens of armed bodyguards [treat as "yes-men"], pungent body odor.

RAYN GRENLOK (formerly known as Ryan Green)
Young Ryan Green was only a child when his suburban community of Point Sterling was mysteriously transported to this strange new world. Heading a ghostly call, he escaped the violent unrest in those early days by fleeing into the Greenshadow Forest. Nearly killed by Gren tribesman, he proved his worth by undergoing the Threescore Ordeal. Now, as the youngest shaman of the Fairhollow Gren, "Rayn Grenlok" leads his new tribe in battle against those who would despoil the great forest.
Cliches: Unwashed Neo-Primitive Shaman [4], Savior of the Gren (3), Lost American Teenager (1)
Languages: English, Grenspeak, a few words of Otasian
Tools: Shamanic staff, amulet made of from teeth of the Beast of Sotonka (a focus for his magic).


The Drune said...

Great idea. I look forward to seeing where this goes.

Brent said...

That's wicked cool. Love the concept.

Akrasia said...

Cool and the Gang!

I love Otus and I love this idea! Looking forward to reading more...

Theodric the Obscure said... shuffling but never entering the light of an ever receding future.


Risus Monkey said...

This one has been on the "to do" list for quite some time. :)

@Theodric: I know... I've been waiting for that site to open up for well over a year now. That initial image is so promising...

GeneD5 said...

Erol Otus was and is a huge source of inspiration!