Cage Match 2014 Minecraft Replay Final Round: Leia vs Leia

Posted by Admin - April 15th, 2014

Each year, Suvudu pits iconic characters from the Sci-Fi and Fantasy canon in a battle to the death, asking geek writers to dramatize the battles and our readers to vote on the outcome. This year, we’re adding a whole new layer to our March Madness shenanigans: we’re doing a highlight replay in Minecraft for all 5 rounds, bringing in a few special guests each week to help recreate some of the more epic battles.

Click here to read the final match’s write-up.

In Week 5, our grand finale week, we’ve got The Magicians Trilogy author Lev Grossman representing Leia. Defending Leia once again is our very own Emily Hughes, resident social media overlord at Random House.

The arena and the rules are modified every week as surprises abound. The readers may have already decided the winner of this round, but who will emerge victorious in the Minecraft arena? Find out… now!

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A New ‘Ask Terry Brooks’ Posted

Posted by Admin - April 15th, 2014

Terry Brooks Picture

We learn by asking questions.

Learning has become easier with the internet(s)!

For many years the only chance a fan had of speaking to bestselling author Terry Brooks was to meet him at tour events or conventions. Now, via Suvudu and his website, Terry will accept two questions from each fan per month. On the last day of the month, five questions will be randomly drawn. Terry will answer these five questions and they will be posted monthly for your enjoyment.

Below are the questions selected last month and Terry’s answers! Enjoy!

Note: This section may contain spoilers!

Dear Readers,

A few more Ask Terry questions with some answers:

James Fitzgerald writes: Mr. Brooks, will there be another book in the Landover series?

Terry Brooks replies: Yes. As soon as Warner Brothers announces that Magic Kingdom is proceeding to filming, I will begin work on a sequel to Princess of Landover. I hope that will happen by Fall.

Jacob Dettwyler writes: Hey Terry I was wondering why choose MTV? There’s ABC, AMC, or the CW.

Terry Brooks replies: We had interest expressed by almost a dozen networks. MTV made the most aggressive and convincing offer. There are many reasons why this is so, but chief among them was the depth of their commitment to the series. They have chosen to go with the entire Elfstones of Shannara book in the first season in 12 episodes. They have indicated their intention of breaking it out as a major series. The people at MTV are the kind of people I like working with. I could go on, but the bottom line was that we liked them best.

Sandro Bucci writes: Would you consider a Shannara series tying the Legends series into First King?

Terry Brooks replies: I already plan to write forward from The Measure of the Magic to First King after I fulfill my commitment to myself to end the series in the next five years with the final three books. I want to do that as a precaution against the inevitable happening too quickly. After that, I will go back and fill in the gaps.

Matthew Macomber writes: Would you be willing/able to share any teasers of the non-Shannara novel you have been working on lately?

Terry Brooks replies: It is essentially YA in the same way that Sword was all those years ago. It is futuristic rather than fantasy. It has all the usual Brooks Books trademarks in the writing and story. My gut feeling? You will love it.

Conrad Stinnett writes: In your last trilogy, it was mentioned that Ard Rhys Khyber was the only Druid who used the Druid Sleep and that the other Druids of the 4th order died from natural causes. Why was she the only one who used the Sleep? Isn’t the Druid Sleep for all Druids? If not, why not?

Terry Brooks replies: You will see why with the publication of High Druid’s Blade this July and The Darkling Child in 2015.

See you next month!

Best Wishes,

To ask your own questions of Terry Brooks, visit his website at!

speakman-shawnShawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel bestselling author Terry Brooks calls, “a fine tale by a talented writer.”

He is also editor and contributor of Unfettered, a fantasy anthology featuring some of the best writers in the genre. When Shawn isn’t lying for a living, he runs The Signed Page and Grim Oak Press.

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Cloud City Intrigue in ‘Star Wars: Edge of the Empire: The Jewel of Yavin’

Posted by Admin - April 14th, 2014

star_wars_edge_rpg_the_jewel_of_yavin-425611388448093dThe Jewel of Yavin is the second adventure for Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars tabletop role-playing game, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, and in many ways a total about-face from the first adventure Beyond the Rim. Where Beyond the Rim was an action-heavy wilderness survival adventure set on a jungle planet far from the lights of civilization (but not far enough from the Empire), The Jewel of Yavin is a tale of intrigue set in the lap of luxury: Fabulous Cloud City, anchored above the gas giant Bespin. The Jewel of Yavin is to Beyond the Rim as Ocean’s 11 is to First Blood: Part 2.

Gambling is a big source of income for Cloud City, and while there are plenty of opportunities for players to try their luck at the city’s casinos, the big game going is the Cloud City Grand Prix: a high stakes race through the clouds backed by some of the galaxy’s most powerful beings. At the time of the players’ arrival, the race is just about to get underway. That’s not why they’re at Cloud City, though – or at least, not the main reason they’ve come.

There’s a gem stone of incalculable somewhere in Cloud City, and the players have been hired to steal it. Unfortunately for them, they aren’t the only beings in town looking for the Jewel of Bespin, and the stakes are probably going to get higher than anything that’s on the line at the sabacc tables. In a city of thieves, card sharks, con men, and scoundrels, players are going to have to stay on their toes in order to accomplish their mission – or even leave Cloud City alive. The scenario at the heart of The Jewel of Yavin offers plenty of opportunities for thieves, scoundrels, slicers and other low-lives to show off their skills, but other character types won’t have any problem finding things to do.

As every Star Wars fan knows, Cloud City was the place that Lando Calrissian lost the legendary Millennium Falcon in a game of Sabacc, and since just about anyone reading this is probably already curious, I’ll go ahead and confirm that Baron Administrator Lando (as well as Lobot!) is indeed included in the adventure, and there are probably more than a few opportunities for players to meet him if they want – and maybe even if they don’t want. There’s lots of ways for someone that’s a little too curious for their own good to get into trouble, and Lando, above anything else, wants to preserve Cloud City’s freedom. Anyone who threatens that will probably find themselves quickly ejected from the city. If they’re lucky, their exit won’t come via airlock.

The war between the Rebellion and the Empire has raged across the galaxy, but Cloud City has been able to remain neutral – no doubt due in part to the Baron Administrator’s deft negotiating skills. The City doesn’t support either of the warring factions, or at least doesn’t support one more than the other. This, along with the city authorities’ deep and abiding disinterest in the background or legal status of its visitors, makes it a perfect place for espionage and intrigue. There’s no telling who anyone really is or why they’re there, so the players may be rubbing elbows with Imperial and Rebellion intelligence agents alike. There’s no end of subplots and adventure fodder that could develop here.

Like Beyond the Rim, The Jewel of Yavin is also a small campaign setting. The notable people, important places, and unique traditions of Cloud City are broadly detailed in entries about all of the city’s sub-levels. The city is all opulence and luxury on the surface, but there’s a grimy underside that keeps things going, and it’s not very pretty, and I’m not just talking about the Ugnauts. (They receive a great deal of care and detail in the book, by the way.) There are plenty of stories about tourists who wander off the beaten path and disappear in the bowels of the city, never to be seen again.

If you’ve ever wondered about Cloud City and fantasized about what it might be like to slip about through its mysterious corridors or fly around in a cloud car, then this is the book for you. Players will love the adventure, and gamemasters could use the city as an excellent, pre-made home base for launching continuing adventures,both inside the city and out into the galaxy.

Publisher’s Description:

Scrape together a crew and prepare for the heist of a lifetime in The Jewel of Yavin, a ninety page adventure supplement for Star Wars®: Edge of the Empire™.

Set in Bespin’s Cloud City, The Jewel of Yavin includes plenty of opportunities for all characters to shine as they work to steal the priceless corusca gem.

Game Masters will find the Cloud City gazetteer section especially useful, both for running The Jewel of Yavin adventure and for basing their own Edge of the Empire campaigns on the floating city. The section features over a dozen pages of material detailing locations in the plaza district, Port Town, and the industrial levels.

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‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ Shooting In Abu Dhabi?

Posted by Admin - April 13th, 2014

“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”- Yoda

We’ve got another fresh Star Wars: Episode VII rumor. The Hollywood Reporter‘s Borys Kit and Alex Whitman report that “sources” have stated that Star Wars: Episode VII shooting is set to begin mid-May in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Needless to say, THR – as well as many others – believe that the Abu Dhabi desert will stand in for Tatooine, but who knows? There’s probably more than a couple of desert planets in the universe.

We’ve got a long while to go until we see Episode VII, but if you’re in the mood for some Star Wars action set on Tatooine, then you should check out John Jackson Miller’s excellent Kenobi:

The Republic has fallen.
Sith Lords rule the galaxy.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi has lost everything . . .
Everything but hope.

Tatooine—a harsh desert world where farmers toil in the heat of two suns while trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the marauding Tusken Raiders. A backwater planet on the edge of civilized space. And an unlikely place to find a Jedi Master in hiding, or an orphaned infant boy on whose tiny shoulders rests the future of a galaxy.

Known to locals only as “Ben,” the bearded and robed offworlder is an enigmatic stranger who keeps to himself, shares nothing of his past, and goes to great pains to remain an outsider. But as tensions escalate between the farmers and a tribe of Sand People led by a ruthless war chief, Ben finds himself drawn into the fight, endangering the very mission that brought him to Tatooine.

Ben—Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, hero of the Clone Wars, traitor to the Empire, and protector of the galaxy’s last hope—can no more turn his back on evil than he can reject his Jedi training. And when blood is unjustly spilled, innocent lives threatened, and a ruthless opponent unmasked, Ben has no choice but to call on the wisdom of the Jedi—and the formidable power of the Force—in his never-ending fight for justice.

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Which Painful Origin Story Would You NOT Choose?

Posted by Admin - April 11th, 2014

wolverine-silvestriOrigins create superheroes.

Or rather, every superhero has an origin.

I went to Captain America: The Winter Soldier last week and, during its viewing, the movie goer gets a flash back scene when Steve Rogers is a weakling. I sat there thinking, “The first movie had a great origin story. They really did it justice.”

Then I went back to watching what will probably be my favorite movie of 2014. Yes, The Winter Soldier is that good. But once I got home I asked, “What is my favorite origin?”

I took it a step further. “What established origin would you choose for yourself?”

One step further, because Steve Rogers dealt with a lot of pain in his origin story. “What painful established origin would you choose for yourself?”

There are a number of them.

For some reason, the first origin that popped into my mind was Spider-Man. A radioactive spider bites Peter Parker. I hate—and I mean hate—spider bites. Just the idea of something digging into my skin. Yeah, sure, it would give me super, web-slinging powers but I’d hate the bite. I know. I’m a wuss.

Next up? Superman. Clark Kent discovers he is an alien from a long-dead planet, his parents blown to smithereens. He is the last of his kind, a terrible fate. While it would be great to have Jonathan and Martha Kent as adoptive parents, being utterly alone on a different world would be hard to deal with.

Then there is Batman. Don’t even get me started. He witnesses the murder of his parents. From that murder, Bruce Wayne becomes a vigilante, devoting every breath of his life to fighting crime.

Wolverine? Loses his memory. And gets infused with lava-hot Adamantium. Really? The pain would be absolutely excruciating!

Iron Man? Shards of metal trying to kill you with every beat of your heart?

Hulk? You get the picture.

Many origins are so painful, would having power matter?

Two questions for you is:

What painful origin story could you deal with? Or, in a twist, which one would you not want?

I could deal with Spider-Man’s spider bite. I hate bites but it would be short-lived and temporary pain. I know I wouldn’t be able to deal with Batman’s origin. I don’t think I’d be able to temper my rage at having my parents stolen from me to not simply kill every murderous criminal I came across, ala Dexter Morgan.

What about you?

Which origin?

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Cage Match 2014: Round 4: Leia Organa vs Arya Stark: Page

Posted by Admin - April 7th, 2014

The Contestants



Leia Organa: Page
The Star Wars Expanded Universe
Age: 60
Race: Human female
Weapons / Artifacts: Lightsaber, blaster, the Force, sarcasm
The dreaded Cuts Like a Knife, where she skewers your body with a lightsaber while skewering your sould with a withering retort

Arya Stark: Page
George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire
Age: 11
Race: Human female
Weapons / Artifacts: Sword
Water dancing

The Breakdown


  • Jedi Knight: Her Force abilities allow her to sense danger, anticipate an opponent’s movements, wield telekinesis, and attack with lightning speed
  • Petite stature often lulls foes into a false sense of security
  • She brandishes a lightsaber with deadly accuracy
  • Her extremely light tread allows her to sneak up on her opponents. She could theoretically ambush and subdue Munchausen before he ever even heard her over the sound of his own voice
  • Her sharp, analytical mind is superior to most

  • Experienced killer
  • Stealth
  • Deception

  • Short temper
  • Arya may remind her of her own daughter, Jaina

  • Young
  • Vengeful
  • Small stature


  • Robert Neville
    To become legend, you have to die first.
  • Trillian Astra
    Improbability factor low. Very, very low.
  • Eowyn
    No living man is she. No living woman neither, for that matter.

How we think the fight will go

Leia Organa Solo, Jedi Knight, had thought it was outrageous that she was expected to fight a little girl. Then she actually met the little girl in question.

They sized each other up from across the wooded clearing. Arya Stark was filthy from head to toe, for one thing, which would make Leia feel sorry for her if it weren’t for the fact that the girl seemed to revel in it. And if it weren’t for the look in the girl’s gray eyes. There was fury there, but somehow that rage of emotion didn’t make Arya look more alive, but rather barely living. The fire that burned in her eyes was dull, not radiant. It was as if that fury was all the girl had left.

“What’re you waiting for, then,” the girl spat. She hefted the thin sword in her left hand. Greasy bangs fell in front of the girl’s face, and Leia was glad to be spared some of that gray gaze.

Leia ignited her lightsaber. The girl took a small step back in surprise, but then squared her shoulders and snarled. The sound had an unsettling animal quality to it.  “We don’t have to do this,” Leia said, though she knew they did. Still, maybe she could get the girl to surrender quietly.

Or maybe not, Leia thought as the girl flew at her in a battle rage. Leia side-stepped the girl easily, but kept her back turned just a split-second too long; her head jerked back as the girl tugged at her braid, and then—

“You cut my hair!” Leia said in shock, staring at the girl holding the length of Leia’s gray-streaked brown braid in her hand. “Why you little–”

The girl smiled, but there was no real mirth in it. “I’ll cut more than that,” she said, and struck at Leia with her sword.

Leia swung back with Jedi reflexes, her lightsaber easily cutting the thin blade in two. The girl stared at what remained of her sword in shock and rage. “Will you yield now?” Leia asked with a sigh. The girl was impressively underhanded, and possibly had a stronger fighting spirit than even Leia’s daughter, Jaina, but there was only one way this was going to end.

“Never,” the girl said. She bared her teeth – was she going to use those as weapons next? – and leapt at Leia like a small, rabid wolf.

Her heart sinking, Leia raised her lightsaber and did what she had to do.

Predicted Winner: Leia Organa

NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON Thursday, April 10, 2014, AT 12:00 PM, EST

Check out all the Cage Match 2014 posts!

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Heddle is senior editor of adult fiction at Lucasfilm Ltd. and loves Princess Leia most of all. She can be found on Twitter at @jenheddle. Jess Nevins is the author of numerous works of genre non-fiction, including the Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana, the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes, and the forthcoming The Victorians For Freshmen.

Check out the the Bracket Reveal video here and the full bracket here!

Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”

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Badass Comic Book Cover: Action Comics #30

Posted by Admin - April 5th, 2014


Every week, I’ll be bringing you a comic book cover that I feel eclipses others out there—to the point I might just have to own it!

The BadAss Comic Book Cover for this week is for Action Comics #30. Why do I love this cover? It shows the perils that confront the Man of Steel. All lines lead to the central character of the piece—Superman—and those lines are missiles. They come from all directions but the Man of Steel is ready for them, waiting, with a look on his face that says, “I am coming for you, Luthor!”

The other great thing about this cover is the “DOOMED” storyline that is promised. Doomsday is returning and the first few pages HERE show the beginnings of what I hope to be a new take on the villain!

Here is a bit more about Action Comics #30:

Art by: Aaron Kuder
Cover by: Aaron Kuder
Written by: Greg Pak
Series: ACTION COMICS 2011
U.S. Price: 3.99
On Sale Date: Apr 2 2014
Volume/Issue #: 30
Color/B&W: Color
Trim Size: Comic
Page Count: 32

The Story: Following the events of FOREVER EVIL, Superman confronts Lex Luthor – but the world has turned around for these two. The hero has become the villain and the villain the hero as forces beyond these two gather to destroy the Man of Steel, beginning with a dormant Doomsday who has crossed over from the Phantom Zone!

Action Comics #30 is in fine comic book stores now!

More next Saturday! In the meantime, go visit your local comic book store…

speakman-shawnShawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel bestselling author Terry Brooks calls, “a fine tale by a talented writer.”

He is also editor and contributor of Unfettered, a fantasy anthology featuring some of the best writers in the genre. When Shawn isn’t lying for a living, he runs The Signed Page and Grim Oak Press.

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Here’s Your Remote Control Flying, Fire-Breathing Dragon

Posted by Admin - April 3rd, 2014

fire-breathing-dragon-2Forget the jet pack: The future is here and it brought a dragon! Who wants one? Only K!

Grab one at

This is the remote controlled jet-powered dragon that soars through the air at up to 70 mph and belches propane-powered flame when on the ground. Proving its prowess before take-offs or after successful raids, the dragon’s LED eyes can be commanded to glow red while it emits a fiery 3′ blast of flame from a cleverly concealed (and flight-disabled) propane tank and igniter built into its toothy maw. A miniature turbine engine built into the beast’s chest provides thrust that exits the rear at 500 mph, and uses 1/2 gallon of jet aircraft fuel or kerosene for 10 minute flights. With a head that swivels in the direction of turns, the dragon can climb and dive via wing ailerons and elevators built into its V-tail rudder, controlled with the 2.4GHz radio remote. Four clawed feet each house a 3″-diam. rubber wheel for braking and steering while on the ground. Its aerodynamic outer shell is constructed from a Nomex core sandwiched between two layers of epoxy glass with internal structural formers made from high-grade plywood for lightweight and optimal flight performance. Special conditions and guarantee limitations apply. Please call 1-800-227-3528 for details. 9′ L x 9′ W x 20″ H. (40 lbs.)


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George R. R. Martin To Publish Only ONE Copy of The Winds of Winter

Posted by Admin - April 1st, 2014

No, this is not THE WINDS OF WITNER cover, you pranked Imp!The murder from A Game of Thrones may become all too real.

In a masterstroke of evil genius or psychopathic disregard for humanity, bestselling author George R. R. Martin is publishing only one—that’s right, one—hardcover copy of his next novel, The Winds of Winter.

Martin is best known as the writer responsible for the bestselling fantasy series A Fire & Ice Song, which ultimately led him to international stardom when HBO began adapting the series. Billions of his fans are eagerly awaiting the penultimate installment of A Fire & Ice Song, The Winds of Winter, and how it will lead into the final volume of the series. In the past, A Fire & Ice Song novels have been released with hardcover print runs in the hundreds of thousands along with a simultaneous ebook release. Not with The Winds of Winter. There will be one copy created—one copy only. It will be hidden in an Amazon big-box bookstore of Martin’s choice. And from there chaos will erupt around the globe.

When asked about why he has decided to publish only one copy of The Winds of Winter, Martin seemed less than worried.

“I want people to know… to really feel… what it’s like to live in Westeros,” Martin said from his home in King’s Landing. “The one copy of The Winds of Winter will be a beautifully crafted piece of art, made with Lannister gold filigree, Targaryen dragon hide, and ink supplied from Stark blood. The true battle for the Iron Throne is about to begin!”

“It’s clear George has lost it. Absolutely lost it,” long-time friend and editor Anne Groell stated from her office in New York City. “No good can come of this. World War IV? The Apocalypse in the Bible’s Revelation? Aliens visiting Earth for Obamacare? These events are not the end of times. The Winds of Winter will be. I put a lot of time into these books. And now this?! This aberration of editorial nature will be the death of all we know! Of all we know, I tell you!”

Fans are already frenzied by the news. Economic Maesters are unanimous in their belief this could destroy the world’s economy—and even prompt a life-time of winter.

Actor Peter Dinklage, who plays the role of Tyrion Lannister on the HBO show, did not want to comment. “If I comment and share how I really feel about this, George may kill my character off. He’s a bloody bastard that way. Bloody. Bastard. Like that Joffrey kid. Fans love Tyrion. They want to see him survive the game of thrones and ride a dragon. That can’t happen if he’s dead because I open my mouth. Plus, I like having a job.”

When asked where he got the idea, Martin just smiled. “Two words: Wu-Tang. The Winds of Winter will show the world how humanity really is—cut throat and willing to do anything for these books. I cannot wait for the bloodbath to ensue!”

There is no news yet about how the last book in the series, A Dream of Spring, will be published. Martin did not seem worried by the question.

“I sit the Iron Throne! Me! Myself! My own! Preciousss!”

speakman-shawnShawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel bestselling author Terry Brooks calls, “a fine tale by a talented writer.”

He is also editor of Unfettered, a fantasy anthology featuring some of the best writers in the genre. When Shawn isn’t lying for a living on April Fool’s Day, he runs The Signed Page and Grim Oak Press.

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RIP Dungeons & Dragons Artist Dave Trampier: 1954 – 2014

Posted by Admin - March 31st, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 10.27.09 PMSlowly but surely, we’re losing the men and women who brought us Dungeons & Dragons. The game’s co-founders, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, passed away in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Now comes more sad news: Artist David Trampier died on the morning of March 24 at Helia Healthcare in Carbondale, Illinois. He was 59 years-old, and allegedly in poor health.

Trampier, a native Missourian, first came to work for Dungeons & Dragons publisher TSR in 1977. Along with fellow artists David C. Sutherland (d. 2005), and Erol Otus, he was  instrumental in defining the visual style that came to define Dungeons & Dragons in its early years. Where fellow artist Otus brought a surreal and even psychedelic tone to his work, and Sutherland a hard-lined, high contrast comic book style, Trampier’s contributions were memorable for their grimy pseudo-realism and dramatic use of chiaroscuro. Trampier’s drawings and paintings often portrayed the game’s fighters, magic-users, thieves, and clerics as the scoundrels as they were most often played by the game’s fans. Trampier’s subjects were disreputable sell-swords, sorcerers, cutthroats, and tomb breakers: opportunistic rogues on the make rather than knights in shining armor.

Of Trampier’s many works, perhaps the most iconic was the painting that graced the cover of the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook.  The scene it depicted of a group of adventurers arguing over a map while two of their compatriots work to pry a jewel loose from a massive demonic idol stands as a perfect example of Trampier’s rogueish aesthetic. The fiery reds and golds of the idol drew the eye and provoked endless speculation from those sitting at the gaming table: What happened to those adventurers? Was the idol trapped? Did the map signal that they were lost, or were they just selecting the next target to plunder?

Like his Players Handbook cover, many of Trampier’s other large pieces told stories – or at least encouraged other people to do so. One of the most provocative was “Emirikol the Chaotic”, a full-page pen and ink illustration from the Dungeon Masters Guide that portrayed a black-clad warlock on horseback blasting medieval townsfolk with eldritch bolts of energy. Who was Emirikol, and why had he come to the city? Can we find him?

The Players Handbook cover was only one among many contributions from Trampier. His spot illustrations for the game’s Monster Manual are among the finest in the book. It is unlikely that he knew it then, but Trampier’s drawings of Displacer Beasts, Wererats, and Basilisks were to become canonical entries in the literature of Dungeons & Dragons. Trampier was the first to take the text descriptions of these beasts and render them into drawings. In doing so, Trampier didn’t draw a Displacer Beast; he drew the Displacer Beast, and set standards from which future artists would take their lead.

In addition to his work on Dungeons & Dragons and other TSR games, Trampier also wrote and illustrated Wormy: a light-hearted comic strip about the life and times of a cigar-smoking, billiards-playing dragon. Wormy began to appear in TSR’s fledgling gaming magazine The Dragon in 1977. The comic was a perfect outlet for the artist’s sense of humor, shadows of which was evident in many of his “straight” illustrations. (Among other things, he was fond of inserting himself into his drawings. Look carefully and you’ll see his bearded face in several of them.) Wormy won Trampier legions of fans, and after about a decade of publication TSR began to discuss putting together a collection of the comic strips. Sadly, this was not to be: In 1988, Trampier vanished. New Wormy strips stopped coming in, and checks sent to his last known address were returned to the publisher. TSR was left with no choice but to announce that Wormy would not continue in future issues.

Trampier’s disappearance was utter and complete, and included not only the gaming industry but also his friends, colleagues, and family. Attempts to locate him were unsuccessful, and after many such attempts, rumors began to spread that he had died. Trampier’s brother-in-law, fellow game designer and illustrator Tom Wham, put these rumors to rest in the nineties, stating that the artist was alive and living somewhere in Illinois. He also added that he had not had contact with him since 1982. Stories began to circulate that Trampier may have been suffering from mental health issues at the time of his disappearance, and that he had ended his relationship with TSR over an argument about property rights associated with the Wormy comic strip. Regardless of the reasons, Trampier was gone.

Although he was missed, the gaming world moved on in Trampier’s absence. Several editions of Dungeons & Dragons came and went, and so did the game’s players. Many of the players who remembered Trampier’s work had grown up, gotten jobs, and started families of their own, and in the process many became too busy to play the game. Younger gamers learned to play the new editions of D&D, or skipped it altogether in favor of collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering, or video games like World of Warcraft. Trampier might have lived the rest of his life in anonymity, were it not for a tiny article published in The Daily Egyptian, the student newspaper of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale

The article “Coffee, Cigarettes and Speed Bumps: A Night With a Carbondale Cabby” was a straight-forward feature piece describing a night in the life of David Trampier, a local cab driver who had recently moved back to the area from Chicago, where he had also driven a cab. This Trampier didn’t talk about gaming, or art, or much of anything else besides his late night adventures as an independently-employed, coffee-swilling, chain-smoking cabby. He only worked the night shift, he told Daily Egyptian reporter Arin Thompson, and the job suited him. The story, along with a photo of Trampier and his cab, ran in the February 22, 2002 issue of the paper. There’s no way of knowing if Trampier had any idea that the little ride-along with the college student might end his anonymity, but end it, it did.

News of the article spread among Trampier’s old fans and colleagues, and once they knew he was in Carbondale, some of them tried to make touch. Those who succeeded probably went on to wish that they had not. Trampier wanted nothing to do with art or gaming, and it would seem that included his fans and industry professionals alike. He wanted his privacy, and was not at all shy about making that understood to anyone who intruded upon it. Trampier still harbored a lot of anger toward his old employer TSR, and even Wizards of the Coast, the company that had bought out nearly bankrupt TSR in 1997. He wouldn’t accept new commissions or sell his old work, and refused offers from publishers interested in publishing a Wormy anthology.

The world had discovered David Trampier was alive, but David Trampier wanted nothing to do with the world. The old rumors about mental illness surfaced again, and those curious enough about Trampier to attempt to contact him were emphatically warned against doing so. Anecdotes about phone calls that had ended with Trampier shouting and abruptly hanging up were common. Others reported that he was polite but firm in his requests that he not be called again. There were those who took offense at the reclusive artist’s reputed belligerence, but given no choice, they respected his privacy.

The gaming world was changing again in the late 2000′s. A new movement in gaming had risen in response to the controversial fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons: The “Old-School Renaissance”. The OSR , as it was commonly known, looked to the early days of fantasy role-playing as inspiration, and that included the work of early artists like Trampier. OSR gamers resumed – or never stopped – playing older games like Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and even creating new supplements and rule books for them. Some of these OSR enthusiasts became successful publishers, or at least successful enough to commission new artwork from classic artists like Erol Otus. Suddenly retrospectives, fan pages and appreciation sites devoted to these early artists of the hobby started popping up everywhere online, and that included ones devoted to Trampier. New artists began to work in styles clearly influenced by his and others’ work, and artistic homages to famous Trampier pieces like “Emirikol the Chaotic” appeared in old school-inspired new games like Dungeon Crawl Classics and Hackmaster. It seemed like Trampier’s work was everywhere again, even if he was not.

If Trampier knew about his new legions of online admirers, it wasn’t enough to make him reconsider his self-imposed exile. However, that might have been about to change, according to the owners of Carbondale, IL game store Castle Perilous. In a March 28 entry to the store’s blog, “The Castle’s Ramparts”, blogger “Sthorne” wrote that Trampier’s rising medical expenses had prompted him to revisit publishing a collected Wormy volume, and that he had come into the store a couple of months ago to ask for assistance in finding a publisher. He had also agreed to be a guest at Egypt Wars, a local gaming convention. Trampier had suffered a stroke, and was recently been diagnosed with cancer, but had believed that his health was improving. Sadly, that would not be the case.

It is sad to think that Trampier might have found the financial assistance he needed if only he would have reached out to his fans. Surely he must have been in dire straits to reconsider selling Wormy, a proposition that had allegedly been part of the reason he cut off ties with the gaming world in the first place. Had he given it another chance, he would have discovered that the gaming industry had changed in a lot of ways that might have suited him. Advances in self-publishing, crowdsourcing, and social media have all made the world a friendlier place for independent game publishing, and many of the men and women working in that world have been, and continue to be, inspired by Trampier’s artwork.

Trampier is gone now, and beyond the reach of whatever demons may troubled him in life. Before we judge him too harshly for those demons, perhaps we should consider whether Trampier’s artistic legacy would exist today without them.

Suvudu » Science Fiction and Fantasy Books, Movies, Comics, and Games

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