Monday, November 17, 2014

Metal Imagery and Inspiration

One of the things I like to do when dreaming up new adventures for my campaign world is look at different pictures. People are visual by nature and fantastical imagery is a big inspiration for me. When I begin working on an OSR/O5R style adventure nothing conjures up that vibe more than retro style art. That being said, one type of edgy stuff that has often inspired me is Iron Maiden album covers. I love the mixture of gonzo with heavy metal because it just feels old school to me. Maybe I’m just remembering a nostalgic time when it all seemed so relative but then again that’s also the era that Dungeons & Dragons reached critical popularity.

Admittedly, I’m not even a big Iron Maiden fan but I sure loved the early artwork of Derek Riggs and his portrayal of Eddie, a.k.a Eddie the Head. The leathery skinned undead creature was the trademark of the band since the early 1980s. As a young kid and fledgling DM the imagery created by Derek Riggs was just synonymous with the style of D&D I enjoyed. Below I have picked some of my favorite album covers that have spawned creativity in various game scenarios over the years.

Very Ravenloft black carriage feel to this cover.

Edward the Great or any other undead king you would like.

This screams gonzo and sci-fi meets D&D.

What horrific abomination is being kept alive here?

Stranger in a strange land. Star Frontiers anyone?

A lich using alien technology to birth a new servant?

Necromantic creatures hiding inside foul ancient trees?

My favorite of all time. The pyramid of the Lich King.

One thing that Eddie the Head really resembles is the notorious Githyanki. For the uninitiated the githyanki are astral sea dwellers who were once enslaved by a malevolent and cthulhu-esque race known as the illithid or mind flayers. The githyanki first appeared in the 1979 issue #12 of White Dwarf, in the "Fiend Factory" column. However they are most famous for being depicted on the cover of the 1981 Fiend Folio AD&D book. Interestingly the name githyanki was first coined by George R. R. Martin in his 1977 sci-fi novel Dying of the Light. With that background in mind checkout the below mash-up by artist Ryan Lesser of the Iron Maiden Killers album and the Fiend Folio githyanki.

It looks awesome on this "metal jacket"

Finally no post mentioning Iron Maiden this much and D&D is complete without some music. So as you craft your next dungeon delve and consider old school style encounters and challenges maybe the Number of the Beast will help motivate you. Just be sure not to include the big hair on game night!