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 Jim Roslof  (1945 - 2011)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/Wisconsin      Known for: game designer, newspaper artist, graphic

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Jim  Roslof
An example of work by Jim Roslof
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is the obituary of the artist, published in The Telegraph, London, April 5, 2011:

Jim Roslof, who died on March 19 aged 65, was a graphic artist and art director at the game company Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) and had a significant influence on the design of the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.

Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) was originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and first published in 1974. Developed from war games that used table-top miniatures, D&D is a game in which a group of friends create and develop characters by rolling dice which determine skills and abilities. The characters are taken on adventures which are plotted by a separate player — the Dungeon Master. The only items required are rulebooks, character sheets for each player, a number of polyhedral dice, and imagination.

D&D was an instant success and the game became part of youth subculture in the 1980s and a target for the religious Right, which implicated it in several murders. Some schools banned the game and many parents refused to let their children play, the controversy inspiring a television film, Mazes and Monsters, starring Tom Hanks in 1982. Some 20 million people worldwide have played the game since it was created, with more than $1bn spent on game equipment and books.

As art director at TSR from the early 1980s, Roslof recruited a stable of well-known fantasy artists, including Clyde Caldwell, Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore, Jim Holloway and Keith Parkinson, whose artwork would define the game in what aficionados consider its “golden age”. The artists gathered in an area of TSR’s offices called “the pit”, a place where, as one of their number recalled, “countless worlds were born among rubber-band wars and constant deadline pressure”.

During Roslof’s time as art director D&D went from black and white to full colour and from acrylics to oils. Roslof himself was probably best known for creating the cover art of Keep on the Borderlands, an adventure module included with the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set, which gave a million addicts their first taste of a new hobby.

James Paul Roslof was born on November 21 1945 in Chicago, Illinois, and began his career in the 1960s as a contributor of cover art to the counterculture underground newspaper Chicago Seed. In 1979 he became a staff artist at TSR at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Roslof continued to provide artwork for TSR during the 1980s, including such modules as In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords, Descent into the Depths of the Earth, Dwellers of the Forbidden City and the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide. He also provided artwork for TSR’s Monster Cards, and in 1986 produced illustrations for the first issue of TSR’s magazine Dungeon.

After leaving TSR, Roslof produced artwork for Goodman Games, which began to publish a series of D&D adventures called “Dungeon Crawl Classics”. He contributed cover art for The Adventure Begins (2006) and Curse of the Barrens (2007).

Roslof is survived by his wife, Laura, and by their three children.


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