Saturday, September 10, 2016

Dykstra: Her Quest for Immortality

I have to admit, I wasn't a huge fan of Terry Dykstra's art when I first came across it in the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia. As many of you will know, my favourite edition of D&D is the version popularly known as BECMI written by Frank Mentzer between 1983-83. The 1991 Rules Cyclopedia collected most of the rules from the BECMI boxed sets, but replaced the interior illustrations by masters like Larry Elmore and Jeff Easley with those of Dystra. Now that is a tough act to follow and it was hard for me to look at them without comparing them to what had come before. Later I have come to appreciate Dykstra's art more though, not only in the Rules Cyclopedia, but also in the follow-up product, the Wrath of the Immortals Boxed set which revised the most innovative part of Frank Mentzer's rules: Rules for playing the godlike Immortals.

One thing I really do like about Dykstra's art is that he uses the illustrations to tell stories. One such example is the Quest for Immortality that appears in the Wrath of the Immortals: Codex I:
The first image shows a young female heroine's first encounter with one of the Immortals. This is the one who will become her sponsor and she encounters him in a dream. I am not sure if this is supposed to be a specific Immortal. It could be Ixion, but artist Paul Abrams made Ixion look very different in Codex II. I think the glowy effect is simply the Aura Ability possessed by all Immortals. 
This second image shows the young heroine finally embarking on the quest to become an Immortal. This illustration shows the part of the quest called the Petition, where the PC must travel alone to formally seek out an Immortal to become her sponsor. Most likely she is seeking out the site revealed to her by the Immortal in her dream earlier. 
The third image shows the heroine continuing her quest. She is in battle with Orcs or goblins. If this is supposed to take place after she is already on her quest for Immortality, such opponents should be no problem for her. The illustration shows that her sponsor is watching her progress however. 
The fourth image has the heroine back with her adventurer group. This image also shows our heroine with a mace suggesting that she is likely the group's cleric.Here they are in some dungeon, having discovered a powerful artifact; a crown of some sorts. This item could be an important part of her quest. Is this an item she has to destory, or something she needs to use to continue her quest? 

The fifth and last image shows the party, still in the same(?) dungeon. The windows behind them suggest that this could be in a castle above the dungeon from the above dungeon. It seems that they have defeated all the monsters and are trying to figure out what to do with a mysterious portal they have discovered. Will the quest for Immortality take the group to other planes?

This last image is from the Rules Cyclopedia, also by Dykstra. For a long time I thought this was the same character as the Cleric from the images above. However, she carries a different symbol at this time so this could be a different character. What do you think?



  1. A castle upon a spire of rock? Where have I seen *that* description before...?

  2. I think you are missing several pictures.:) There are also ones destroying artifacts and others. However, the last one may resemble here with the picture of the crown artifact...; as being "a knight of" or similar

  3. Hi Robin! thanks for commenting here. I only selected the illustrations showing the female cleric. The illustration of three people destroying an artifact appears to be a very different party and it is also another artifact, a dragon figurine rather than the crown. I like your idea that the crown on the RC Cleric's shield and tabard could be the crown artifact.

    I also thought that the symbol on the WotC Cleric's tabard could be a Griffon. If it is then maybe she joined the Order of the Griffon? Perhaps she first carried the crown symbol of her immortal, but then changed it for her order. If it is indeed the same character. Dykstra does reuse some characters between the RC and WotI so it would not be too far fetched.

  4. Hey, Havard- I pointed this out in the thread on the Piazza, but this cleric (and the party) also appears in Paul Abrams' artwork on the Immortal's Fury adventure that was part of the WotI boxed set.

  5. Andrew: Man you are right! I finally had the time to check and I find two illustrations with this cleric character in the adventure booklet. Great find! :)

  6. This cleric is also in the illustrations in the post-Rules Cyclopedia Basic Sets, with the darker hair and Griffon heraldry. I think the one in the RC is just a generic female cleric, while the one in the Basic sets and Wrath of Immortals is more of what later D&D rulebooks call an Iconic, along with her companions.

    I never noticed that the illustrations seem to be telling her story, now I have to go back through and see all the images in order from all the books.


The Piazza - D&D Worlds Forum Celebrates 16 Years!

  One of my favourite places to talk about D&D is The  Piazza . I can't belive its been 16 years since fans created that forum. Peop...