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3:01pm on Monday, 24th August, 2015:

Gem of Zakhara


This is my favourite cover image from any of the games I have:

It's the Gem of Zakhara booklet in the City of Delights supplement for the Al-Qadim setting of the Forgotten Worlds campaign series for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition.

That's not really important. I just adore the image. You can't but help look at it and start to imagine what the young, languid-but-wistful-looking woman might be thinking.

The thing is, this is the cover of the booklet, but it's a cropped image. The City of Delights box itself has the full one on it. She's standing on one leg that looks disproportionately long, her other leg bent and resting not entirely persuasively on the pillar that she's leaning against. Her slong skirt is caught by the wind and forms an artificially straight line continuing the top of the balcony metalwork. There's a black, red-eyed, winged, feline beast on the floor (which is used for the cover of the other booklet in the box, Golden Huzuz). The full picture (you can see it here if you really want to look) is nowhere near as effective as the cropped version.

I've seen this picture in real life at a GenCon in the 1990s, where it was for sale. It was more than I could afford, but if it hadn't been?

I wondered at the time if, had I the means to buy it, I would have had it trimmed and reframed, or if I'd have kept it intact but less impactful.

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Copyright © 2015 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).