David S. LaForce

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David S. LaForce (born August 10, 1959) is an artist, noted for his artwork in fantasy role-playing games.


Along with Jeff Dee, Erol Otus, Jim Roslof, David C. Sutherland III and David A. Trampier, LaForce is recognized as one of the first-generation artists for Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), the seminal role-playing game (RPG).


LaForce came to the notice of Kevin Blume in 1979, after he helped TSR move from a two-story house to their new offices in a former hotel and was initially given a job in their shipping department. Shortly after being hired, David Sutherland, the head of TSR's Art Department, found out that LaForce liked to draw and asked him to submit some sample pictures. Two of the three samples were bought for the Dungeon Master's Guide and LaForce was hired by the Art Department, where he stayed until 1998. His first assignment was C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan and he also provided many internal illustrations for many of the first D&D manuals, such as Deities & Demigods.[1][2]


There were several people called "David" at TSR and LaForce was given the nickname "Diesel" by his editor Mike Carr, after Carr noticed that LaForce was signing his artwork with his initials "DSL" and slurred those letters into the word "Diesel". The nickname caught on and even LaForce's wife calls him Diesel.[1]

Fantasy cartography[edit]

Most of the artists in TSR's Art Department did not enjoy doing cartography, preferring to work on illustrations. Because LaForce was happy to do cartography, he, along with Steve Sullivan, ended up being given more map assignments than the other artists. When LaForce started out at TSR they had a mapping style he considered "sterile and blocky", but as he worked on different campaign settings he took inspiration from historical cartography and started to introduce unique cartographic styles to each setting, attempting to make each of them look as artistic as the historical maps he was inspired by. Some of the settings his cartography influenced are Dragonlance, Planescape, Birthright and Dark Sun.[1]

After TSR[edit]

LaForce currently resides in Pflugerville, Texas, United States with his wife, Lisa. He commercially produces sculptures, mostly of fantasy and Gothic themes.


  1. ^ a b c "A very special interview with David LaForce ( a.k.a. DIESEL )", Nerd Trek, February 19, 2010. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "nerdtrek" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "nerdtrek" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  2. ^ Phillips, Casey (February 19, 2010). "QandA with Larry Elmore", Chattanooga Times Free Press. Distributed through McClatchy-Tribune News Service, June 25, 2011.

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