Let me start with this is a beautiful book. And it’s big. And heavy. It’s the kind of book you’d use to bludgeon an orc if you were trapped in a wizard’s library (and you had the improvised weapons feat). But then you’d feel really bad for ruining such a gorgeous tome.
Lovingly curated by Michael Witwer, Kyle Newman, Joe Peterson, and Sam Witwer, with a foreward by Joe Manganiello, this delve into the history of Dungeons & Dragons has something for everyone. Each page is vibrant and full of colour. The text tells the story of D&D’s rise from a small war game to the beloved king of RPGs it is today.
Throughout the pages it shows the beautiful art that has helped bring the imaginations of players and DMs alive from it’s humble beginnings in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to Wizards of the Coast’s fifth edition of the game. It shows how much of the early art used comic books as an inspiration. It tells of the kids in Gary Gygax’s hometown submitting art for him to use in those earliest adventures.
But it doesn’t keep to just the game. It delves into the animated series, toys, the movies. Any aspect that has touched the world of Dungeons & Dragons is represented in some part here. As I looked through the pages I could remember watching the Saturday morning cartoon in my PJs. I saw the books my friends and I used when I first learned to play AD&D in the late 90s and remembered sitting around in our apartment and the adventure we went on. This isn’t just a reference or art book, it’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane for any fan of the game.
And then the dungeon master in me took over. The art began to inspire me. I began to craft stories and adventures in my head just from what I saw in this book. Looking at the covers of those early adventure modules or the art showing the evolution of creatures like the Mindflayer and Beholder. I had to stop myself from letting my storytelling side take over. I already have 2 games going, no time to start creating another adventure or world.
In that reaction this book does what all great books do, triggers our imaginations and takes us to a different world. D&D books have the ability to make players and DMs come up with stories just from looking at the art and reading a bit of text, this walk through history is no different. This book is essential for any fan of the game or fan of art. It’s a book that can be picked up and opened at any point and find something beautiful and inspiring. Get it. Get it now. Add it to your bookshelf next to your other D&D books or on your coffee table with your art books. It will look great no matter where you decide to display it.
Have you read Art & Arcana? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.
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