Some recent discussion on fantasy novel cover art led to a post about old TSR artists on MetaFilter (thanks Aaaugh!); the theme meant I couldn’t toss in some artists like Thomas Canty, a one-man pre-Raphaelite tribute band, or Charles Vess, the comic book artist probably best known for his work with Neil Gaiman. On the other hand, the thread prompted some folks to dig up information on Dave Trampier, the artist behind Wormy, the most successful comic to ever come out of Dragon magazine. Trampier simply dropped out of sight one day, leaving behind an unfinished plotline and, more surprisingly, unclaimed paychecks. Given that Wormy hasn’t been published in 14 years (Larry Elmore’s SnarfQuest and Phil Foglio’s What’s New are back in print), I’m surprised that anyone remembered enough to check, but I suppose that role-playing games are one of those small obsessions that people nurture. The Museum of Role-Playing Games collects information on some of the pioneers of the form, including a few dinosaurs like Empire of the Petal Throne and Skyrealms of Jorune that still have active fan bases. I haven’t gamed in some time, so the Diana Jones Award will have to serve as indicative of what’s being critically lauded in the field; while the Diana Jones folks seem to appreciate game design, the old games that still have a following seem primarily distinguished by the strength and imagination of their worlds. Which is more likely to hold your imagination fifteen years later, a novel and well-considered diceless conflict resolution system or the raiman?

The ramian were also a slave race of the lamorri and have now claimed Voligire as a homeland, but also can be found on Sillipus and in Drail. They are opaque to isho and seem to have no naull. The ramian are given to a cyclic bloodlust, possibly associated with breeding season, called Chiveer. Small spikes form on their face and body — no ramian with spikes is to be trusted or even approached. Some ramain resist the bloodlust to become the revered Chiven Rauchueh, or ‘owners of themself’ and may be trusted — they are identified by the burst blood vessels at their temples, usually decorate with ornate jewelry to bring attention to their exhaulted status. Beware of ramian who use dye to stain their temples to pass as Chiven Rauchueh.

Apparently a small but devoted group of gamers enjoy the same intricate sense of weird otherworldiness that keeps winning Jack Vance and Gene Wolfe fans even if the games don’t sell well; these games are, by and large, out of print, while the children of Champions and Dungeons and Dragons soldier forth. As with so many things, devotion among fans doesn’t seem to translate into general success. Ten years from now, will people look back in fond remembrance at the long-vanished roleplaying game based on Vance’s Dying Earth series?