Undead (1986)

This is Undead (1986), a sourcebook for Mayfair’s Role Aids line of Dungeons & Dragons supplements. That cover is a classic by Michael Whelan, recycled for this book from The Year’s Best Horror V (1978). There is a pool of artists on the interiors for the first time, all of which are serviceable if rather cartoony (and I’m unclear who is doing what). Several images are re-used, which feels cheap and is easy to notice given the relatively small number of illustrations in the book. This is offset somewhat by the way the book leans into the use of a single spot color (a rich yellow) throughout to accent the art and design elements. They’d been doing this for a while, but it seems extra emphasized now and I’m a big fan; it doesn’t stick around in the line nearly long enough.

The substance here is rather good, I think! We get a land of the undead situated in a caldera, governed by four lichlords who are in turn presided over by the great lich Nightbay. I really want his name to be Nightboy, though. Anyway, undead gonna undead, and there is an ever-growing undead army. There are dwarves who stand against the undead, too, in hopes of regaining the caldera that was once their home. There is a lengthy adventure that has the players going into the caldera to rescue a captured dwarf and an important magic item. Does this adventure set the stage for the Lichlords adventure module? No! Lichlords has nothing to do with this book!

I like the fact that, despite no indication of co-branding or partnership, there is still some kind of collaboration going between Mayfair and Grenadier Miniatures, as undead war mammoths and death dragons figure large in the sourcebook and match the Grenadier sculpts of each. Heck, I even painted a death dragon of my own a couple years ago!

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