Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Take Cover!

The cover designs for Dungeons and Dragons 5 have been announced and there has been much discussion of them. I won't go into much detail here as I'm not that interested but they look fine to me; there's nothing stunning about them but nor are they ugly. Out of all the commentary on the new covers my favourite has been +Matt D's observation that the new logo seems to have been borrowed from somewhere else:

The news prompted me and my gaming comrades to discuss our favourite D&D covers. It turns out that we all rather like the cover of the 1983 basic set.

I've never owned or played it but I nonetheless have a nostalgic fondness for the 1983 set -- a fondness I have banged on about before -- due to it being advertised on every single Marvel comic of my youth. This image defines D&D for me but it's not my favourite D&D cover; for that you have to look to another game I've never played.

I don't know if I'll ever play first edition AD&D but I love the cover designs of the revised core books. There's an attractive simplicity to the way they take a painting of some fantasy scene and then place a stark white logo over the top. It's a much more effective approach than the busy and complicated designs of later eras -- even the blue and red trim on the logos of the AD&D2 core books is a step too far -- and while each of the core books looks great my favourite is the Dungeon Masters Guide, so much so that I bought a copy just for the cover.

No really, I've had it for about a year and never read it.

Discussion moved on to other games and I think there may be a bit of a Call of Cthulhu itch waiting to be scratched in my group as Stuart mentioned the Games Workshop edition as one of his favourite game book covers, just days after picking the game as his top choice for a desert island rpg. The Games Workshop version of third edition CoC is a pretty book -- the internal colour plates are lovely -- but my favourite cover is that of fifth edition:

I adore this piece -- again it's a simple design of a basic white logo over a painting -- and I've been trying to convince artist Lee Gibbons to release it as a print; no luck yet but I am confident that it may happen before the Stars Are Right.

Call of Cthulhu 5 is probably my favourite rpg cover but sometimes even that mighty work of art is too fiddly for my tastes and on those days there's only one piece that will do:

They could have put all manner of spaceships and planets and aliens on the cover of Traveller but instead they went with a stripped down and simple design that encourages the reader to use their imagination which, of course, is what it's all about.

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