D&D General Original photo of David A. Trampier with his cab, found.

darjr

I crit!
Legendary Dungeons and Dragons TSR artist David A. Trampier disappeared from the public eye after leaving TSR. Years later he reappeared in an article about him as a cab driver.

Tony DiTerlizzi found the photographer and colorized the photo. It’s cool and a testament to Trampier's impact.

The accompanying grainy, low-res photo was the only available portrait of Tramp I could find on the internet--including his Wiki page--so I tracked down the photographer, @hagphotos. Combing through his 20+ year-old archives Alex miraculously recovered the original B&W photo!

AF93A77D-6E56-4160-B65F-08F3623F63F7.jpeg


 
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Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Yeah, I always wondered what alienated him so thoroughly from TSR and gaming in general.

My instinctive guess was perhaps the desire to publish a Wormy collection or otherwise do something with his art that his contract with TSR forbade. Reports were that his royalty checks were returned unopened, and as Phil Foglio said at the time, "When an artist's checks are returned uncashed, he is presumed dead."
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Yeah, I always wondered what alienated him so thoroughly from TSR and gaming in general.

My instinctive guess was perhaps the desire to publish a Wormy collection or otherwise do something with his art that his contract with TSR forbade. Reports were that his royalty checks were returned unopened, and as Phil Foglio said at the time, "When an artist's checks are returned uncashed, he is presumed dead."

I hesitate to speculate, but given what little we know I don't think it was as simple as just a dispute with TSR. There are usually underlying ... issues ... that play into that type of behavior.
 


Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
One of them, in particular, is seared into the brains of every single person who played D&D because you likely spent hours staring at it ....
One thing that always struck me about this piece is the realism (though not photo-realism) of the human subjects. Very grounded and naturalistic; the weapons and armor being of reasonable proportions too.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Trampier's baffling disappearance from the industry always reminds me of Carl Sargent when I hear it, since he similarly abandoned the tabletop RPG field with no explanation. As Shannon Appelcline writes:

Night Below was Carl Sargent's last work for TSR. Around the same time he was hired by FASA to become the new line developer for their Shadowrun game. He left Nottingham, to catch a plane to Chicago to accept the job … and was never heard from again.

Various reports have speculated that he was in a car accident, that he suffered some other "medical problem", or that he purposefully disappeared. None of this has been confirmed. Some reports suggest that even his family doesn't know what happened to him. In any case, since 1995, Sargent has been gone from the industry (and from his professional career). Paizo editor Erik Mona made a new attempt to track down Sargent in the early '10s and had one of "Sargent's most frequent collaborators," tell him: "I've always thought that if people want to disappear, they should be allowed."
Sargent subsequently passed away in September of 2018.
 
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Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
My instinctive guess was perhaps the desire to publish a Wormy collection or otherwise do something with his art that his contract with TSR forbade.
Dave Trampier tried to get a Wormy collection published in the mid-1980s, in an early form of crowd-funding. It failed in that he did not get enough people to sign up for it, not that TSR forbade it.
By the way, for those who don't know, DAT was responsible for some of the most iconic images from early D&D.

One of them, in particular, is seared into the brains of every single person who played D&D because you likely spent hours staring at it ....

2222.JPG
I wrote to Dave Trampier in the course of his Wormy collection project, and he was very kind to reply. In regard to the above image, he said that the original was a more square painting and was intended for a D&D pinball machine that never came to be, so they cropped the artwork and used it on the AD&D Dungeon Master's Screen. He said he had worked out spaces in the painting for lighting and the score indicators.

I think I still have those letters; I should probably see about scanning and/or transcribing them.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I wrote to Dave Trampier in the course of his Wormy collection project, and he was very kind to reply. In regard to the above image, he said that the original was a more square painting and was intended for a D&D pinball machine that never came to be, so they cropped the artwork and used it on the AD&D Dungeon Master's Screen. He said he had worked out spaces in the painting for lighting and the score indicators.

I think I still have those letters; I should probably see about scanning and/or transcribing them.

I had never heard that! I would love to see those letters. Every little bit of history preserved is a good thing. :)
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
notes the keen interest in finding and saving lore very bard like.

A Bard was adventuring in a dungeon one day, suddenly, Asmodeus appeared before him.

And lo and behold, Asmodeus made the Bard an offer.....

I will make it so you can sing every song ever made. You will be able to annoy every one you know, and even annoy people that have never met you, and your smugness will be known throughout all these realms. You will not only sing the songs, but other bards will sing about you, such that no one can escape.
....But, in return, you must give me your soul, your wife’s soul, the souls of your children, your parents, your grandparents, all of your friends, and the souls of any who have ever loved you.



The Bard thought about it for a second, then asked .... But what’s the catch?
 


billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Dave Trampier tried to get a Wormy collection published in the mid-1980s, in an early form of crowd-funding. It failed in that he did not get enough people to sign up for it, not that TSR forbade it.
I had the impression there was more to it than just not having enough people sign up for it, though I'm sure that was a factor. It wouldn't surprise me if he couldn't find additional financing or backing for the balance. It also wouldn't surprise me if TSR hadn't been very helpful in the project, which could be a bit disheartening considering TSR had put out a Fineious Fingers Treasury previously. Something had to be eating at him.

I remember being very excited about the project. I thought the letter I got about it failing had a tone to it that suggested some greater disappointment faced by Trampier.
I wonder if I can still find the old Wormy button I got for supporting the project...
 

Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
I had the impression there was more to it than just not having enough people sign up for it, though I'm sure that was a factor. It wouldn't surprise me if he couldn't find additional financing or backing for the balance. It also wouldn't surprise me if TSR hadn't been very helpful in the project, which could be a bit disheartening considering TSR had put out a Fineious Fingers Treasury previously. Something had to be eating at him.

I remember being very excited about the project. I thought the letter I got about it failing had a tone to it that suggested some greater disappointment faced by Trampier.
I wonder if I can still find the old Wormy button I got for supporting the project...
All I remember at this point is that it did not get enough backers (I think the project called them "investors" in a company that had a funny name, in typical Tramp fashion :) ). Of course, something more could be going on behind the scenes. I also recall that Wormy continued in Dragon a good bit of time after the funding failed. That could be due to a backlog of strips, or perhaps my recall is faulty. If/when I find the letters, I may be able to shed more light on timing. And I think I still have the Wormy pin too!
 


JediSoth

Semi-Professional Author
Epic
I would love to have seen Wormy completed, though I would have lacked the means to invest in such a project back then. The first thing I did when I got that Dragon Magazine CD Archive set was to pull all the Wormy comics out of the PDFs and compile them into my own PDF collection.

I probably should have it printed on a color laser and bound, but the scans aren't that great.
 

Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
Good News: I found my files! I have the material Tramp sent out to the investors in Worm of Dread, Inc.* as well as two short handwritten letters (from January and September 1985) and a postcard (from April 1985). I will see about scanning them and posting them up in a thread. I don't believe there is anything too personal in them.

Bad News (so far): I cannot seem to find my Wormy button yet. I will keep searching for it.

* Incinerator (As I said, true to Tramp's humor!)
 

Voadam

Legend
Now, I'd really like to run an adventure where the heroes tries to analyze the link between the God's voice and a biological race, estimate that actually killing Lolth would be a solution, learn (just when facing her) that killing her would kill the drow and leave them catatonic as only her presence make them awake, only for the heroes to have to embark into a very Gloranthan God Learner quest to change the true nature of Lolth in order to have the drow freed. If you wanted a result to this discussion, thank you because you just got me an overarching campaign idea.

By the way, for those who don't know, DAT was responsible for some of the most iconic images from early D&D.

One of them, in particular, is seared into the brains of every single person who played D&D because you likely spent hours staring at it ....

2222.JPG
There was also:

1644360224093.png

1644360378335.png
 



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