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Erol Otus

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Erol Otus
United States
Occupation(s)Artist, game designer
Years active1977–present
Known forDungeons & Dragons

Erol Otus is an American artist and game designer, who contributed art to the fantasy role-playing game (RPG) genre, especially early in the Dungeons & Dragons franchise. He created art for the 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]


Otus graduated from high school in Berkeley, California. A self-taught artist since childhood, Otus developed an interest in role-playing games. His first professional artwork in the genre was for the Arduin Grimoire in 1977. He won an honorable mention in a fanart contest in Dragon magazine No. 13, which also led to employment in the art department of game company TSR in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in the 1970s.[3] After leaving the company, he studied painting at UC Berkeley and also took classes at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7]

In 2014, Scott Taylor of Black Gate, named Erol Otus as 9A in a list of The Top 10 RPG Artists of the Past 40 Years, saying "I applaud Otus for keeping his style and staying true to his roots, so an inclusion on this list is a worthy honor."[8]

Video games[edit]

Otus has also provided illustrations, production design and voice overs for computer games such as The Last Ninja,[9] Star Trek: Generations,[10] Mail Order Monsters and Star Control II.[11] Star Control II was named by IGN as the 17th best game of all time,[12] and by GameSpot as one of the greatest games of all time.[13]

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).


  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. ^ Witwer, Michael; Newman, Kyle; Peterson, Jon; Witwer, Sam (2018). Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History. Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed. ISBN 978-0-399-58094-9. Retrieved 2023-05-23.
  4. ^ Staggs, Matt (Apr 29, 2009). "An interview with fantasy artist Erol Otus". tor.com. Macmillan. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  5. ^ "Erol Otus :: Pen & Paper RPG Database". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved April 17, 2006.
  6. ^ Tweney, Dylan (9 October 2012). "D&D artist casts 'resurrect' spell on old art, with help from Kickstarter". www.venturebeat.com. VentureBeat. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  7. ^ "He's the Top Dungeon Mentzer" Annarchive.com. Dragon. Lake Geneva WI: TSR. V, No. 5 (43): 14. November 1980.
  8. ^ "Art of the Genre: The Top 10 RPG Artists of the Past 40 Years – Black Gate". 12 February 2014.
  9. ^ Zenko, Darren (March 28, 2009). "Exploring the Wii's retro charms", Toronto Star, p. E12.
  10. ^ "IMDb - Erol Otus". IMDb. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  11. ^ Fleming, Jeffrey (January 2010). "2010 Space is the Place", Game Developer 17 (1): 4.
  12. ^ ""IGN's Top 100 Games"". IGN. Archived from the original on 2016-04-19.
  13. ^ ""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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