Erol Otus

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Erol Otus
United States
OccupationArtist, game designer

Erol Otus is an American artist and game designer, known internationally for his contributions to the fantasy role-playing game (RPG) genre, especially early in the Dungeons & Dragons franchise. He is also known for his artwork on the multiple award winning[1] Star Control II as well as providing the voice for one of the character races, the Chmmr, in the same game.[2]


A self-taught artist since childhood, Otus developed an interest in role-playing games and became employed in the art department of game company TSR in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in the 1970s. After leaving the company, he studied painting at UC Berkeley and also took classes at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.[3] He has cited a wide range of influences on his work from Dr. Seuss and Frank Frazetta to modern artists such as Joan Miró, Willem de Kooning and Wassily Kandinsky.

Role-playing games[edit]

Erol Otus was a prolific contributor to the early Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) franchise, creating full covers as well as many interior illustrations for TSR materials.[4] For example, he created the cover for the first version of the D&D manual Deities & Demigods and illustrated the Cthulhu pantheon within. According to fellow contributor Jeff Dee, many of the original versions of this work were lost during a later clean-out of the TSR offices.[5]

Otus has also provided cover art and interior illustrations for Goodman Games, Oracle Games (in particular Alma Mater - The High School RPG) and the Arduin series. His art was featured on the covers of the new HackMaster edition and issue #8 of Fight On![citation needed]

While working at TSR, Otus was a runner-up in TSR's 4th Invitational AD&D Masters Tournament at Gen Con XIII, a contest to choose the game's best overall dungeon master. He competed against the likes of Lenard Lakofka and first place was taken by Frank Mentzer.[6]

Video games[edit]

Otus has also provided illustrations, production design and voice overs for computer games such as The Last Ninja,[7] Star Trek: Generations,[8] Mail Order Monsters and Star Control II.[9] Star Control II was named by IGN as the 17th best game of all time,[10] and by GameSpot as one of the greatest games of all time.[11]

Other work[edit]

Otus provided the cover art for the album Down Among The Deadmen (2000) by American heavy metal band Slough Feg (then known as Lord Weird Slough Feg).


In the Dungeons & Dragons adventure module "A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords", part of the treasure on the slaver ships is a series of paintings by a supposedly famous Drow Artist named "Ool Eurts" (an anagram of Erol Otus).

In the Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Boxed set, "Night Below" an encounter in Book III features a crazed exile Drow named Otyl Erys, another nod to both him and the prior module cited above.


  1. ^ "Awards and Recognition For Star Control Series". Gamespy. Archived from the original on 2008-03-01. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  2. ^ "IMDb - Star Control 2 (VG)". IMDb. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  3. ^ Staggs, Matt (Apr 29, 2009). "An interview with fantasy artist Erol Otus". Macmillan. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  4. ^ "Erol Otus :: Pen & Paper RPG Database". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved April 17, 2006.
  5. ^ Tweney, Dylan (9 October 2012). "D&D artist casts 'resurrect' spell on old art, with help from Kickstarter". VentureBeat. Retrieved 3 July 2021.}
  6. ^ "He's the Top Dungeon Mentzer" Dragon. Lake Geneva WI: TSR. V, No. 5 (43): 14. November 1980.
  7. ^ Zenko, Darren (March 28, 2009). "Exploring the Wii's retro charms", Toronto Star, p. E12.
  8. ^ "IMDb - Erol Otus". IMDb. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  9. ^ Fleming, Jeffrey (January 2010). "2010 Space is the Place", Game Developer 17 (1): 4.
  10. ^ ""IGN's Top 100 Games"". IGN. Archived from the original on 2016-04-19.
  11. ^ ""The Greatest Games of All Time: Star Control II"". GameSpot. 2005-08-14. Archived from the original on 2005-08-14.

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