Wizards of the Coast was kind enough to send me (quite out of the blue, I might add) copies of the upcoming Art & Arcana: A Visual History book, both the regular and the deluxe versions. I figured the least I could do was give you all a preview. It goes on sale on October 23rd, but is available now for pre-order.
The regular book is a massive 439 page tome, with every page in glossy color. There’s even an index! It covers the art and design history of Dungeons & Dragons from its earliest inception through today. There are examples of sketches from the LBB’s and their inspirations, glorious two-page spreads of the original DMG and PH, advertisements, convention materials, and much, much more. It really is a comprehensive history of the game through the lens of its art, and the text giving the historical context for the wonderful pictures is provided at least in part by Jon Peterson of Playing at the World fame and Michael Witwer, author of the Gary Gygax biography Empire of Imagination. There are a ton of interviews with artists and designers from the history of the game, and although I’ve only skimmed the text, it seems as compelling as the art itself. It really is an amazing piece of work, and well worth the price.
But wait! There’s also the option of buying the deluxe set, which has everything that the basic book has, but more. There’s a special gold foil cover, a very nice hard box to protect everything, ten poster reprints of some of the classic art from various editions of the game (in various sizes), and a digest-sized print of the original Tomb of Horrors module from its first convention appearance, including commentary from Jon Peterson, the original illustrations that accompanied the module (!) and the original original inspiration for the thing, the Tomb of Ra-Hotep by Alan Lucien. Honestly, that last bit is more than worth the difference in price between the two editions, and having the rest is simply gravy.
I cannot recommend this highly enough. I was going to sprint for the deluxe edition when I first heard about it, but now that it has miraculously landed in my hands, my original decision is justified. Either edition is a necessary addition to the library of those gamers who are interested in the history of the game, the art that’s graced it for over 40 years, and the process by which that art was created and evolved. Get this book.
You can get the regular book here (current Amazon price as of this writing is $31.45, 31% off retail).
You can get the deluxe book set here (current Amazon price as of this writing is $76.27, 37% off retail).