Do you remember that freakishly huge Dragon WotC put out a few years back? I mean, next to an adventuring party that thing is like Godzilla. And really, why is it so big? How does something like that even fit in an ecology?
I think the inflation occurred as a byproduct of tying Hit Dice to size. And while this could be expounded on, suffice it to say I do not prescribe to that madness.
Back in the day, dragons were terrible and scary…and not necessarily giant. Take Khisanth, described as an ancient, huge black dragon. On top of radiating darkness and dragon fear, she has an array of spells and multiple uses of 64 hp damage breath attacks. This is death on wings…and she is relatively tiny! Larry Elmore, Clyde Caldwell, and Jeff Easley all illustrated her and in every instance she is this .
Dyvers is talking about his favorite D&D art this month and he starts out by asking “Do you remember the first great piece of art you saw?” I think I’ll translate that into what art pieces first shaped my perception of D&D.
My answer is basically all of the art found in the Moldvay Basic Set (Acaeum, specifically the eighth printing). That was my first and only exposure for several years. It was followed up by The Expert Set and then AD&D pretty quickly. While there are a lot of iconic images to be found the box cover it self pretty much says it all to me: dungeon, dragon, magic-user, fighter, and treasure.
The race and alignment illustrations are probably the next most influential. I didn’t read The Hobbit until a few years later so Halflings looked like adventurers, not well fed Hobbits. And Neutral meant ambivalence, not balance. That nonsense didn’t start showing up until the Druids came on to the scene.
Oddities in Numenera are techno-baubles…why wait a trillion years when you can get one now! Check it out:
It is a wonderful sculpture from the very talented Bathsheba Grossman. If you are even remotely into mathematical science you should take a look at her work.
I own a few of her pieces from years ago…and there are more on my wish list!