Building an (AD&D) Ravenloft Campaign - or - Have I Made a Big Mistake?

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Voros

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I'm sure I can find it digitally, don't they have the Dungeon magazines on Drivethru these days?

Nope, there are some late collections but that's it for now. But as mentioned they are easily available online.
 

Armchair Gamer

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Nope, there are some late collections but that's it for now. But as mentioned they are easily available online.
WotC got into trouble when trying to put the magazines into electronic format back in 1999, due to the nature of the contracts. Newer issues are available due to tighter contractual writing or having been digital to begin with.
 

BedrockBrendan

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WotC got into trouble when trying to put the magazines into electronic format back in 1999, due to the nature of the contracts. Newer issues are available due to tighter contractual writing or having been digital to begin with.

That is one of the reasons for Fabian art vanishing from the Ravenloft line as well (I remember there were issues with re-using the art).
 

Armchair Gamer

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That is one of the reasons for Fabian art vanishing from the Ravenloft line as well (I remember there were issues with re-using the art).

Digging into his website this morning, I've found several reasons for the disappearance of Fabian's art from the line:

As much as I enjoyed 2nd Edition Ravenloft and his work therein, I have to admit that his other work--even for other TSR lines like Dragonlance and the Gazetteers--is far superior. When you look at the works in comparison, you can tell he was not working at his typical level, either due to the volume needed, dislike of the subject, or both.
 

BedrockBrendan

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As much as I enjoyed 2nd Edition Ravenloft and his work therein, I have to admit that his other work--even for other TSR lines like Dragonlance and the Gazetteers--is far superior. When you look at the works in comparison, you can tell he was not working at his typical level, either due to the volume needed, dislike of the subject, or both.

I have heard this from others, but I don't really agree. I was a fan of his work in other lines. They were very different in style, but the style he chose literally made the Ravenloft line for me (whereas his contribution to Dragonlance was great, but it wasn't like I couldn't enjoy the dragon lance books that didn't have art by him). With Ravenloft there was a profound absence when they took out his stuff.

I do remembering him being very angry at TSR and my impression is he still has a lot of justifiable resentment towards them. But I think the art he did for Ravenloft is fabulous. I wouldn't knock it simply because he doesn't like it or says he isn't into the genre (it is for me the best horror RPG art that has ever been done in black and white).
 

Armchair Gamer

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I have heard this from others, but I don't really agree. I was a fan of his work in other lines. They were very different in style, but the style he chose literally made the Ravenloft line for me (whereas his contribution to Dragonlance was great, but it wasn't like I couldn't enjoy the dragon lance books that didn't have art by him). With Ravenloft there was a profound absence when they took out his stuff.

I do remembering him being very angry at TSR and my impression is he still has a lot of justifiable resentment towards them. But I think the art he did for Ravenloft is fabulous. I wouldn't knock it simply because he doesn't like it or says he isn't into the genre (it is for me the best horror RPG art that has ever been done in black and white).

I fully agree that it's great artwork and a defining feature of the line, but there's a depth and richness to many of his works, such as the ones he's got up on his webpage, that his typical Ravenloft illustrations just don't have. I don't know if it was the media he was using, the need to produce a lot of it quickly, a distaste for the subject, or a combination of factors, but they just seem less detailed and lush. Then again, the visual arts have never been my strong suit.
 
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BedrockBrendan

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I fully agree that it's great artwork and the pinnacle of the line artistically, but there's a depth and richness to many of his works, such as the ones he's got up on his webpage, that his typical Ravenloft illustrations just don't have. I don't know if it was the media he was using, the need to produce a lot of it quickly, a distaste for the subject, or a combination of factors, but they just seem less detailed and lush. Then again, the visual arts have never been my strong suit.

I suppose it is a bit subjective, but i always saw it as a stylistic choice. I can see why people view the dragon lance art as more rich. But he uses a very different shading method in that, and the Ravenloft shading just worked for me. Again I think both are great. But I found the Ravenloft work genuinely more inspiring and evocative personally. It was honestly one of the things that pulled me into the line. I can't get into his head, so no idea why it looks different (him being uncomfortable with the subject could have led to him putting less effort into it----I can't measure effort objectively----but it also could have been the thing that put it over the top, because his discomfort might have come through). I am not an art person either. So I can't weigh in on whether the techniques and craftsmanship are better in A or B. I can just say, you could have removed his art from any other line, and that line would have been the same. But the moment you took his art out of Ravenloft, the Ravenloft line felt so much worse (even when the writing was good, it was an uphill fight when it wasn't supported by Fabians art). It is also quite unique. There isn't a lot of game art that looks like the stuff he did for Ravenloft.
 

BedrockBrendan

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Artists are often terrible judges of their own work.

To be fair Armchair's point is one a lot of people share. So I should be clear that my opinion here is probably in the minority. It is hard to describe the difference. But there is more of a sharpness to the Dragonlance art. And the Ravenloft line has a ton of art so I think he is right there was a volume thing going on. I just find it is a perfect match in terms of art and game content. I think most people just looking at the art would probably agree with Armchair and Fabian.

To give a sense of the difference in style from when Fabian was working on the line to when they used different artists here are two clips (and I think this is a fair comparison because it is one of Fabian's weaker ones and one of the stronger pieces of art from another artist):

Fabian:

1652630288563.png

Not Fabian:


1652630121915.png
 

Armchair Gamer

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Meanwhile, here's an example of Fabian's Ravenloft art that seems to take some cues from an earlier piece he did, and a link to the older piece, so you can get a sense of the differences. And again, Fabian's art is definitely a high point of the line; I just don't know if it's a high point for him.

1652630709990.png https://www.stephenfabian.com/Weirdbook 16/150
 

opaopajr

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There is an approachable brightness in his work. Far too often recent horror presumes darkness, the aesthetic, means murkiness, the visual. No, that means mud in my eye or lens cataracts. You are playing with value contrasts. Bedrock, your example is excellent in showcasing Fabian's higher value contrasts versus modern horror's fixation as darkness aesthetic equals darkness visual. It is a misapplication of one meaning of a word to its other layers of meaning without accounting for the separation in disciplines to achieve said effect.

I would recommend Seurat's (yes, the pointilism guy) conte crayon sketches to see his studies in value and how brightness contrast becomes integral to visual representation.

An example website to assist one's search for Seurat conte crayon examples:

A visual example to encourage exploration:
seurat_edenconcert.jpg
 
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Yeti Spaghetti

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This whole conversation just confirms for me what I shared a couple months ago, that Ravenloft 2e is the best gothic horror gaming material ever made, at least aesthetically. Not only was much of the cover art amazing and evocative, but the interior art is just as rich and beautiful.

I hesitate to adapt any of it only because I don't feel that I could do it justice in a modern-day or even medieval setting.
 

Chaotic Wooster

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Hell, for art he isn't particularly proud of in a genre he doesn't like, Fabian utterly knocks it out of the park.

I wish I could be 1/10th as good at shit I don't want to do.

Now with a couple of Raveloft PoDs to peruse, I can see why he was the signature artist for the line early on. It's just tremendous.
 
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