The Erol Otus Shrine:

Dieties & Demigods


1980 saw the release of Deities & Demigods, the fourth hardbound volume in the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons line.  Erol Otus painted the excellent cover art and did several interior illustrations.


(My copy of the DDG is colored in a few places by a doodler.)


Yama, demigod of death, and his water buffalo


elven deity Corellon Larethian


Drow priestess offering sacrifice to Lolth, demon queen of spiders



goddess of the kuo-toans


god of kobolds

Vaprak the Destroyer, god of ogres and trolls


god of the troglodytes


Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, a scan of the original piece



The first printing of the Deities & Demigods tome included chapters devoted to the Cthulhu and Melnibonean mythoi.  These chapters were omitted in later printings.  Erol Otus provided two illustrations for the Melnibonean mythos.


Quaolnargn and Roofdark


The evil wizard Theleb K’aarna


Erol Otus was responsible for all the major artwork in the Cthulhu Mythos section.  In my opinion these illustratrions respresent a high point in fantasy illustration for they are Otus at his best and the best envisioning of the Cthulhu mythos I have ever seen.  Prior to seeing a first printing DDG, I was convinced that capturing the proper feel for a Cthulhu mythos creature was beyond the ability of any artist.  Erol Otus proved me wrong.


The dread city of R’lyeh


Great Cthulhu


Notice the abstract, phantasmal way Otus incorporates the city of R’lyeh in the background/foreground.  In my opinion this amorphous flow of the cityscape around Cthulhu does a great job of capturing the unearthly essence of the city.


Cthulhu’s eyes are superbly rendered here.  I feel like I can see the vast, cool, and unsympathetic intelligence behind them.




Deep One

member of the Great Race

Hastur the Unspeakable


Primordial One






Yog-Sothoth takes a bride.

(This one really creeps me out.)


It is unfortunate that so much truly spectacular Otus work has been consigned to the first print run of a long out of print tome.


(Not an Otus cover, but contains Otus illos.)

Collector’s note:  In response to pressure from fundamentalist groups, TSR decided to change the name of the Deities & Demigods tome to Legends & Lore.  I have it on good authority that the contents of the first edition AD&D Legends & Lore are identical to second and later DDG printings (the version without the Cthulhu and Melnibonean information).  The first printing of Legends & Lore effectively constitutes the sixth printing of Deities & Demigods.  At the same time this title change was made new cover art was prepared as part of a TSR policy to make the exteriors of their products more consistent within game lines.


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