Quick Review: Adventure Art – Issue #1

MD_AdventureArt1Mythic Design has released a new product called Adventure Art in a series of issues, with the subtitle “Professional Artwork for Use in Your Roleplaying Games”.  They were kind enough to provide us with the first issue which is for May/June 2009, which is a nice looking collection of artwork from the archives of AvatarArt.com.  I’ve always been a fan of the work produced by Avatar Art so it’s nice to see these twelve black and white high-quality sketches presented in a combined PDF format.

This issue of Adventure Art begins with a rundown of the characters presented in the artwork, with a brief descritption and a name given for each.  The rest of the issue is one full-page spread for each work of art, each of which is a very well executed pencil shading rendering of a fairly unique fantasy character or setting.  The art featured on the cover is the best work in the issue, that of a grizzled looking man removing a mask with an animal companion and one of the few pieces with a finished background to it.  The rest range from a knight in full armor to a wizard to minotaurs and a naked female satyr holding a giant gem.

This is a very interesting idea for a product, but I’m not sure it has been pulled off as well as it could be.  The short descriptions in the beginning don’t tell you anything you couldn’t figure out from spending a minute looking at the piece of artwork, and I really think they could have used that space and more to really develop these works of art into unique and interesting characters that people would want to pay money for.  That said the artwork is really great quality when it comes to black and white shaded artwork, and I can see some DMs really enjoying having a large stock of portraits to choose from close at hand while running their game.  I think this product could really make some waves if it begins to steer towards the direction of helping to give DMs ideas while they look through the artwork as well, rather than just being something secondary that any person might choose to show to a party.  All things considered I’m not sure how many people will pay the $10 price for this product, but I think there’s a lot of potential to make future issues something that people will really clamor to have!

If you’d like to get the first two issues of Adventure Art for free, I highly recommend going over to Dungeon Mastering and signing up for his excellent premium DM Tools!  You can use the Dungeon Mastering DM Tools to create monsters, create your own traps, and put those monsters and traps all into one encounter template (something which I find incredibly useful).  You should also check out their beta for Powers and Magic Weapons, I whole heartedly believe that Yax has put together one of the best collections of 4th Edition tools on the internet, so I cannot recommend enough that you check it out!

DM Tools


  1. Hey Danny.

    Appreciate you taking the time to talk about our product. Its a tough but fair review. And since I was the one who came up with adding ‘Initiative Intros’ the buck stops with me for their criticism.

    So a brief explanation. I wanted to include something additional besides simply the name of the piece & patron who commissioned it, as both of these bits are not likely useful to a reader. But one of the challenges was what could be fit in the little space we had available.

    The other issue was that we didn’t want to limit the DMs by presuming what they would do with an image. The design deliberately was left generalized to allow more utility. In the end, Initiative Intros are tiny calls to action, sort of like a writing prompt. They don’t tell the story, they (along with the art) just help get the story started.

    Essentially, its all about using a K.I.S.S. format. And I think some of the Intros have a depth to them, even in a few sparse sentences. In the end, the goal is to have the DM read a brief bit of text which purely lands the ‘what now’ ball into the player’s side.

    I’ll be sending you a copy of our ‘Monster-sized’ double issue (#3) to let you see if we did any better. And as testament to what you’re saying, there are plans in the works to use the web to give additional info such as stat blocks or backstory to each piece of art. And- this should make you extra happy- it will involve an upcoming cross promotion with Yax & DM Tools.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

    Steve G.
    Project Manager
    .-= AvatarArt´s last blog ..The ENnie Awards & AvatarArt =-.

  2. Steve: Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    I hope you didn’t get the feeling that I thought the brief descriptions were a bad idea, I think they were a great addition to have above and beyond a product that would have been “just artwork”, but I would have loved if they were longer so that’s what I said in my review. I can completely understand the limits of printing and having space in a product. I’ll be taking a look at the third issue shortly and I’ll be sure to let you know how it looks!