Friday, 28 March 2014

David A Trampier - thanks for illustrating my imagination.

So David A Trampier died four days ago. I will be honest and say that until today I'd never heard the man's name. I do however owe him a debt.

I've seen his initials a thousand times DAT. The reason? Between age 11 and 16 I was a huge D&D addict. I played on through my late teens and for the whole of my first stint at university, though having discovered girls I was less faithful than in my earlier years.

David Trampier literally illustrated my imagination. He drew the pictures in the D&D Monster Manual and this was a period where fantasy illustration was essentially confined to book and album covers (where it often involved muscly barbarians and women in fur bikinis). Trampier offered something entirely different.

Call me shallow but I tended to populate my campaigns with the monsters that looked coolest - the ones Trampier's pen brought to life best.

You couldn't swing a cat in my dungeons without hitting a lizardman.
I loved the shield in this one. I was always trying to copy it and failing.

Basilisks, were-rats, medusas, fire giants - Trampier's images are fixed in my mind - they're my default.

I plead guilty to putting far too many remorhazs and giant wasps in my campaigns just because I liked Trampier's pictures so much. I loved covering the stats with one hand, turning the book around and saying ... "It looks a bit like that..."

People ask me who my influences are and generally I can't say. I certainly don't cite D&D as an influence on my writing - D&D makes for very poor anecdotes in my experience. A whole book's worth would be pretty dire. However this is the cover of possibly the very first Official D&D Campaign I ever saw.

The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl - circa 1978

& I have just written a book with jarls, Vikings, and ice cliffs in ...

RIP DAT. And thanks.


  1. Hear, hear. The remorhaz in particular is iconic. It always amused me how merely hitting the damn thing with a steel longsword could cause more damage to the PC than being mauled by the tarrasque...

    RIP DAT!

  2. That Wormy will never reach its conclusion still saddens me. Thanks for the memories, RIP DAT.

  3. Really nice post, great artist. "avid Trampier literally illustrated my imagination." Well put, just the way I think about it.