Sunday, September 2, 2018

Holmes Dungeons & Dragons Sunday & Seventies Cyclopean Orcs

If your new here welcome aboard! Last night I was prowling around the Zenopus Archives and a bit of information on the artist known as Fangorn aka Chris Baker cropped up. Especially his famous dragon  illustration from the Fiend Folio! But the speculation is that this was supposed to be the cover of the U.K. Holmes Basic  edition of Dungeons & Dragons!

Suddenly the quest of our fighter battling the wives of the cyclops that I used to stare at for hours from the U.K. edition of Holmes Basic as a kid makes sense! The wizard & two fighters kicking cyclopedian orc butt are the same party from the Fiend Folio artwork. Everything in the artwork matches the adventure locations in the sample dungeon of the U.K. Holmes set. There is a fantastic thread on that goes into lots of details about the Cyclopean horrors of Holmes.

But these monsters were so popular that Games Workshop made a cyclops miniature based on these dungeon horrors;
A minor find related to this thread. On the left is a Cyclops miniature by Citadel, FF-14 from their Fiend Factory. The photo is from a 1979 article about GW in Military Modeling magazine which can be read here. On the right is a crop of Fangorn's cyclops from the UK Basic rulebook (full artwork in this thread on the previous page), published in Dec 1977. It's a dead ringer, and the Citadel line debuted in Spring 1979 (source), so it looks like the mini was designed based on the artwork. "

Zenopus77 goes into a whole break down of the dungeon ecology & stats for these things; "The original source for the depiction is the UK Holmes Basic rulebook, published in Dec 1977. It has two pictures with cyclops creatures - see the post on the previous page of this thread. The first is on the title page, and is an analog of the art in the US, so the cyclops seem to be stand-in for orcs. The other picture doesn't have an analog, and shows a larger cyclops that the Citadel mini is based on - perhaps it is meant to be an ogre? There are no cyclops described in the text, which is identical to the US version.

In White Dwarf #5 (Feb/March 1978) there is a column, Monsters Mild and Malign by Don Turnbull that is a precursor of Fiend Factory. In this issue he describes monsters from the US zines, including the The Dungeoneers and Alarums & Excursions. A Cyclops is mentioned (HD 12, AC3, MV 12, Attacks at -2 due to cyclopia, 5d12 damage, treasure type E + 5000 GP), but this is probably unrelated to the artwork since it was created in the US.

The Citadel Miniature of the Cyclops is from 1979 and must be based on Fangorn's artwork since it is so close in details.

Finally, in White Dwarf #21 (Oct/Nov 1980) there is a whole Fiend Factory column based around Cyclops, a mini-wilderness scenario called "One Eye Canyon". This includes a Cyclops write-up by Albie Fiore with artwork by Russ Nicholson that looks just like the second Fangorn cyclops & the mini."

"Albie Fiore's Cyclops is HD 6, AC 6, MV 12, AL CE, TT M x10 (individuals), D (lair), AT 3 (at -1 due to cyclopia, -2 for missiles), D 1d6 x 2 (claws), 2d6 x 1 (bite), SA hypnotic stare as AD&D spell hypnotic pattern for 6 rounds, range 6", one individual per round, can only affect a character one time, SD +2 on saves vs illusions. Cyclops live groups of 2-20 with any group of 10+ having a leader with 7 HD, +2 to hit, +3 damage. The write-up is almost a whole half-column so there are many more details on their habits etc.

So, to me it seems that Fangorn's artwork led to the Citadel mini, which then led to the full White Dwarf write-up."
Now I don't usual copy & paste this much material but I'm really excited to actually find out more about these iconic characters. But what's Chris Baker been up too since he drew & created these characters for U.K. Dungeons & Dragons? Well, after stumbling around the interwebz I happened upon this great interview with Mr. Baker done by Wicker Girl. It goes into his career, what he's been doing in the film industry, & more. There's some excellent material there.

All credit for this goes to Zenopus '77 for all of the great information! 

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