Friday, March 28, 2014

Dave Trampier, Wormy Artist, Passes Away

Dave Trampier, best known in the gaming world as the creator of the strip Wormy, passed away last Monday at Helia Heathcare, here in Carbondale.

Trampier worked as a staff artist for TSR for almost a decade, painting the cover for the original Dungeon Master's Screen, as well as working on the company's Gamma World and Star Frontiers games, leaving the company in the late 80s, after he felt the company reneged on an agreement to publish the first volume of a collection of Wormy. I do not know what he did for the next several years, but about 1998, he started driving a cab for Yellow Taxi in Carbondale.

During this period, he adamantly refused to have anything to do with the gaming industry, politely rebuffing any inquiries from companies wanting to publish Wormy.  He only came into the store once, back about 2008, when Valley Games printed a new edition of Titan, which he co-designed (with Jason McAllister), in order to see a copy of the game.

I next heard from him a couple of months ago, after he had a stroke and Yellow Taxi shut down due to tax problems.  He wanted to sell some artwork in order to cover some expenses, so I bought several pieces from him and discussed the possibility of publishing the Wormy collection.  He was quite interested in doing so, asking about Kickstarter or companies that might be interested in working with him to bring the book into print.  I suggested Troll Lord Games, who had tried contacting him several years ago about re-publishing Wormy and he was interested, though he still harbored hard feelings towards TSR and WOTC, as he wanted to make certain that Troll Lord Games had no connection to either company. He never moved forward any further on that front though, understandable as his doctors detected cancer and his health deteriorated.

He thought he was getting better though, as about three weeks ago, he agreed to appear as a guest at Egypt Wars, a gaming convention in Carbondale, and display the Wormy collection mock-up he still had from 1988.  Since Troll Lord Games will appear at the same show, I hoped the two might talk and move the publication of Wormy forward. Unfortunately, that won't happen now.

Update:  If you would like to see them, we have posted photos of some of the artwork I bought from Trampier on the store's website


  1. Sad man. Makes you think the world doesn't treat people very well. The world = all of us. Sigh. Great art though, love it. Thanks for your post.

  2. We have several pieces of his art, including the Dungeon Master Screen, on display at the store.

    1. That DM Screen is a piece of brilliant narrative design. It's like the Blackbird: no one has been able to touch it since.

      I read the earlier article on his driving for Yellow Taxi in Carbondale. I am saddened to hear his work never got published.

      I think there's hope for that from his fans, though.

  3. I will not be coming to your store as I live in Singapore, sorry.

  4. Will post photos of the pieces on the blog over the weekend as well.

  5. Absolutely the best and most insightful blog post about Tramp that I've seen since learning of the news of his passing. A thousand thanks to you for posting this. He will be missed.

  6. I'd like to suggest offering hi quality prints of that DM Screen he did as a fund raiser for any lingering costs or surviving family members.

    Just a great piece of work, and overlooked far too long.

  7. He was the artistic face of AD&D. It is sad to know we won't see the like of Emerikol the Chaotic again.

  8. Be glad to offer prints of the DM Screen, if I can get ahold of his family. Not even sure whom the executor of the estate is.

  9. Tom Wham might know:

  10. Thanks for sharing this news with us. It seems more tragic since he was contemplating a bit of a return, but I'm also glad he hadn't shut off the gaming world forever.

    I'm very glad to hear that some of his original art is preserved. If I am ever in your area I'll stop by the store to see it. Looking forward to pictures.

  11. Wonderful article...and maybe you can still facilitate a meeting between Dave's executor and TLG if they wish. I'm looking forward to visiting your store someday and seeing the artwork. Thanks for doing this!

  12. Three words: Emirikol the Chaotic.

    Badass wizard fleeing the city watch on horseback and incinerating a few of them on his way out of town, lovingly rendered in a faux-woodcut style for the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide.

    That illustration summed up AD&D for me 33 years ago, and I always felt that Trampier was the most technically gifted of the TSR house artists back then.

    He will be missed!

  13. I have never forgotten the ad that ran in the Dragon magazine for a Wormy book. They were essentially trying to crowd source the book by asking fans to pay $25 (or whatever) up front and the book would be shipped when finished. 30 years before Kickstarter.
    I don't think I did send money because as a high school kid, $3 for a Dragon mag was most all of my entertainment budget for the month, plus I didn't really understand what was being asked of me.
    Now, even if I only had a voucher for my $25, I'd still treasure it.