PHB p73 runic tapestry illustration: meaningless, wasted opportunity

Dungeonosophy

Adventurer
So, I'm reading through the 5e PHB for the first time. I'm an art student, and I noticed that the tapestry on p73, in my view, doesn't aesthetically jive with the rest of the illustrations. It has a digital-looking "tapestry texture". The "uncanny valley." So I was like "bleh."

Then I noticed the runes. I can read Anglo-Saxon futhark, so I was like: huh, wow this could be cool after all. I wonder what cool D&D lore they snuck into the runic message?

And you know what? This is the message:

"This is Photoshop's version of lorem ipsum.
Proin gravida nibh vel velit auctor aliquet.
Aenean sollicitudin, lorem quis bibendum
auctor, nisi elit consequat ipsum, nec sagittis"


Which actually is, in fact, Photoshop's version of "lorem ipsum," See for example, the text at the bottom of this placehold webpage. "Lorem ipsum" is placeholder dummy text used by printers and publishers (in this case, Photoshop) to demonstrate the visual form of a document or a typeface without relying on meaningful content.

I guess it's supposed to be funny. But I see it as totally lame and stupent. I'm not criticizing the artist personally - I'm sure they're talented. I am criticizing the editor and art director (whoever that is). Because this tapestry is a missed opportunity, for two reasons:

1) There already exist several complete alphabets in D&D lore -- everything from the Gnomish runes from the BECMI Northern Reaches Gazetteer, to the Dethek runes of the Forgotten Realms, to the various scripts (Draconic, Elven) that were designed for 4E. Though Anglo-Saxon runes are cool in context, and have some peripheral connection with D&D (via the D&D Norse Pantheon), they aren't essentially D&D. To use real-world Anglo-Saxon runes instead of one of the in-universe D&D scripts, is just whimsical and shallow.

2) Some actually cool message could've been written in there. Such as the name of the characters, or some reference to the world in which that event took place--or better yet, make some obscure but meaningful D&D easter egg: "Here Rogahn the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown fought the Hydra of Lake Windrush." (referring to B1 In Search of the Unknown, and the town of Threshold from the Red Box). Now that would be cool. Or if you wanted the message a joke, at least make it a meaningful D&D joke, like: "Never split the party."

But this is literally a "generic" meaningless message. Taking up page-space in the most-viewed D&D product of all time. What a wasted space. Shows a lack of judgement all around.

-Travis
 
It's a joke, like the small note at the beginning of each book, and probably others scattered around, because the authors of the game decided that a small dose of comedy was fine in an edition that needs something for everyone.

And of course a joke can be good or bad, also depending on who reads it, and when. Nowadays I myself struggle to find something to laugh about. What I never before though a joke could be is "stupent", but I guess I still have a lot to learn.
 

Dungeonosophy

Adventurer
It's a joke, like the small note at the beginning of each book, and probably others scattered around, because the authors of the game decided that a small dose of comedy was fine in an edition that needs something for everyone.
You must be right, that it was a joke. It was too slender of a joke, in my view. It was just no fun to spend effort to decode the thing, and it turn out to be meaningless gibberish.

Like probably most DMs in the world, I've never sat down and learned the letters of the various D&D alphabets -- it would've been such a cool opportunity to put one of those to good use.

And of course a joke can be good or bad, also depending on who reads it, and when. Nowadays I myself struggle to find something to laugh about.
What I never before though a joke could be is "stupent", but I guess I still have a lot to learn.
haha - you're right. Stupent "stunned" doesn't really apply to jokes. But it comes from the same root as "stupid" and so I've (probably wrongly) adopted it as a curious euphemism.

Anyway, I'm sure the artist, art director, and editor of the PHB are fine people; but for me, this missed the mark.

cheers! And thanks for your thoughtful reply.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
You are right. The art work is muddy. And wording needs better contrast. BRING BACK BLACK AND WHITE ART FOR 6E. POWER TO WHITE PAGES. POWER TO BETTER BINDING. Power to you and me.
I like to offer the world in perfect harmony a coke and moon pie.
:)
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
So, I'm reading through the 5e PHB for the first time. I'm an art student, and I noticed that the tapestry on p73, in my view, doesn't aesthetically jive with the rest of the illustrations. It has a digital-looking "tapestry texture". The "uncanny valley." So I was like "bleh."

Then I noticed the runes. I can read Anglo-Saxon futhark, so I was like: huh, wow this could be cool after all. I wonder what cool D&D lore they snuck into the runic message?

And you know what? This is the message:

"This is Photoshop's version of lorem ipsum.
Proin gravida nibh vel velit auctor aliquet.
Aenean sollicitudin, lorem quis bibendum
auctor, nisi elit consequat ipsum, nec sagittis"


Which actually is, in fact, Photoshop's version of "lorem ipsum," See for example, the text at the bottom of this placehold webpage. "Lorem ipsum" is placeholder dummy text used by printers and publishers (in this case, Photoshop) to demonstrate the visual form of a document or a typeface without relying on meaningful content.

I guess it's supposed to be funny. But I see it as totally lame and stupent. I'm not criticizing the artist personally - I'm sure they're talented. I am criticizing the editor and art director (whoever that is). Because this tapestry is a missed opportunity, for two reasons:

1) There already exist several complete alphabets in D&D lore -- everything from the Gnomish runes from the BECMI Northern Reaches Gazetteer, to the Dethek runes of the Forgotten Realms, to the various scripts (Draconic, Elven) that were designed for 4E. Though Anglo-Saxon runes are cool in context, and have some peripheral connection with D&D (via the D&D Norse Pantheon), they aren't essentially D&D. To use real-world Anglo-Saxon runes instead of one of the in-universe D&D scripts, is just whimsical and shallow.

2) Some actually cool message could've been written in there. Such as the name of the characters, or some reference to the world in which that event took place--or better yet, make some obscure but meaningful D&D easter egg: "Here Rogahn the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown fought the Hydra of Lake Windrush." (referring to B1 In Search of the Unknown, and the town of Threshold from the Red Box). Now that would be cool. Or if you wanted the message a joke, at least make it a meaningful D&D joke, like: "Never split the party."

But this is literally a "generic" meaningless message. Taking up page-space in the most-viewed D&D product of all time. What a wasted space. Shows a lack of judgement all around.

-Travis
dfrpg had an actual message hidden in the margin glyph code, it's a shame the phb thing you note didn't do something
 

Hriston

Adventurer
I bet the artist rendered that text as a mock-up of the finished product, expecting the editors to want to insert some interesting text there, but that the editors ended up not wanting to pay for it to be redone with new text since it wouldn’t have been visually different from what they already had, so they just went with it, which I think shows a lack of regard for a certain type of reader that I would think would be prevalent in the gaming community. I mean, this image practically begs to be deciphered in the same way that the frontispieces in the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings do. I’ve tried a few times to puzzle it out myself, but I’m more familiar with Tolkien’s dwarvish version than with the actual futhark.
 
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Coroc

Hero
Haha: "Yess I know how to read runic alphabet, let us see what mystic hidden message that is ..." ,

yes but of course they could have used Dethek runes, even if the message would only have been something like "Elminster was here .." or so.

But I bet then this would be taken as just another indicator by some that FR is to be the default setting and so everything FR lore has t o apply to other settings also :p
 

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