Illustrations and paintings have always been an important part of Dungeons and Dragons. The artwork, both commissioned and fan made, has been an integral part in developing and exploring the look-and-feel of D&D over the years. One of the funnest parts of buying a D&D book, whether it be a game manual, an adventure book, or a campaign setting guide, is viewing and appreciating the artwork on display in the book.
My favorite illustrations are the ones that tell a story. Why? Because it gives me an opportunity to play around with that story. I start by trying to determine what the illustration’s intended story is. I ask, “What was the direction given to the illustrator when they were commissioned to create this piece of artwork?” I then daydream. I daydream about what would happen if I were to twist the story this way, or tilt it a bit that way, or turn it around or upside down. How does the story change when I make one of these modifications? What does the story become?
This is a very fun exercise to do for any storyteller.
I learned about this exercise from Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass.com course, The Art of Storytelling. He talked about this exercise in the context of well-known stories, such as classic fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty or Little Red Riding Hood. Take a well-known story, then tilt, turn, twist, or flip it a little. See what that change does to the story. Then write that story.
The stories listed here are my results of performing this exercise with official pieces of D&D Artwork. I hope you enjoy!