Dwarf Pursuit by Larry Elmore
Appeared in The Complete Book of Dwarves (2nd Edition), 1991
This week in the art gallery I wanted to show off one of my absolute favorite pieces and definitely in my top five all time. Larry Elmore has so many talents I don’t even dare to list them all; however, looking at this piece in particular, I’m struck by how good he is at capturing a specific moment in time. If you’ve been a player of D&D for a while and haven’t had that “Oh crap, we’ve done it now!” moment, then you’re doing it wrong. And, in my opinion, this is the exact meaning of this painting.
Looking at the work in detail, we see a group of eight Dwarves (because seven would be just too cliché) bootin’ themselves and their ill-gotten booty away from castle ruins who have obviously been sheltering a Red Dragon and its horde. That was until this stout band of adventurers decided to crash the party, more than likely while the Dragon was away on a hunting trip. You can tell from the expressions on their faces that the Dwarves want nothing to do with that Dragon; however, it also doesn’t look like any of them are willing to give up on the treasure either. The Dwarf pushing the wheelbarrow seems especially terrified as if he expects his fellows to abandon him at any moment and leave him with his hand in the cookie jar. I know this would be exactly the thing I would be worried about if I were playing his character and my friends were playing the other Dwarves. Maybe that tells you something about the kind of folks I’m used to playing with.
Although the situation seems pretty bad for the Dwarves in this piece, I’d like to point out that there is hope also. Just like any situation in D&D that seems like a no-win scenario, it usually brings out the best in a hero and Larry Elmore knows this. For example, pay close attention to the Dwarf on the far left. If you ignore his striped pants that remind me of the Norwegian Curling Team, you’ll see that out of all of the Dwarves he is the only one grinning ear-to-ear. Why? Well I’d like to think that he’s thinking about the great story he’ll have to tell about the time a silly Red Dragon decided to pick on his friends and he sent it packing. And besides, he’s shirtless so that has to mean he’s bad-ass right?
No matter what happens in the next moment, or in the one after that, Larry Elmore has captured what I think is a perfect moment in time in which we, as Dungeoneers, can all relate. It’s about the thrill of the chase, the hope that the loot will stay in our hands, and the excitement inherent in playing out a life-or-death scenario for our characters. It’s moments like these that I love to experience both as a player and as a DM. Maybe that’s why I love this piece so much.