Friday, December 3, 2010

Open Friday: Iconic Images

Back in September, I did an Open Friday post about "Imagining D&D." This time I'd like to do something similar but with other RPGs. What are the images that, to you, will always sum up how you envision certain roleplaying games?

To start us off, I'll give you two examples from my own mind:

Luise Perrine's illustration of a classically-inspired warrior woman in battle with some Chaos-tainted monster is what I immediately think of when I hear the name "RuneQuest." It's not only an evocative piece in its own right, but it helped strongly differentiate RQ from Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy RPGs, which is no mean feat.

Gene Day's cover to the first edition of Call of Cthulhu is my mind's eye encapsulation of the game. This piece is a powerfully accurate summation of the RPG's frankly Derlethian approach to the Mythos rather than much of the artwork created in its wake.

What are your iconic images for RPGs?

46 comments:

  1. Well boringly enough, mine are the same as yours.

    I played AD&D and Runequest so those two covers are what I think of.

    You can probably throw in the Black with colored stripe of Traveller's covers.

    So those three.

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  2. Warhammer's tattooed ginger punk dwarf

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  3. The original Warhammer FRP cover comes immediately to mind (yeah, the one with a dwarf in a mohawk).

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  4. Although the Call of Cthulhu 3rd edition hardcover was my first foray into the game (and another image that I find iconic in regards to that system), I recall that Gene Day cover from - IIRC - Dragon ads, and it never fails to inspire in me the desire to run a session of CoC. (In fact, I excitedly purchased the anniversary 6th-edition CoC hardcover featuring that image. It would be the pride of my collection, were it not for the sub-par quality of the book's covers.)

    Another game image that I find iconic, again probably thanks to my initial exposure to it via Dragon, is the cover of The Traveller Book: image. It may not feature the classic trade dress of the Little Black Books, but it's what I usually think of when I think of that game, and it always inspires in me the desire to run a space opera game when I see it. (One of these days, I may actually get around to buying that book...)

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  5. Oh yes, the ginger punk dwarf is what WFRP is all about.

    I'd also pick Call of Cthulhu, but a later edition, fifth, with the close up of Cthulhu himself squeezing through the door at R'lyeh. Only after a bit do you see the investigators down at the bottom of the image, dwarfed by the Great Old One. Perfect.

    I'd pick Traveller's classic red-on-black cover as an iconic one. I don't have much of a connection to the game, but that cover is a wonderful piece of design and is much more effective than any amount of generic scifi imagery.

    Not quite an image as such, but whenever I think of Runequest, I think of the slim A4 hardbacks Games Workshop produced. The cover image there is less important than the format, in my memory.

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  6. ditto on the 1e WHFRP cover. Also T&T
    http://www.freedungeons.com/fe01_001.jpg

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  7. Another vote for the WFRP 1E cover.

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  8. Skyrealms of Jorune 2nd edition:

    http://wakeupsid.com/pictures_jorune

    Sun County:

    http://www.waynesbooks.com/images/graphics/suncounty.jpg

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  9. The images most powerful to me originate with my first exposure to the hobby in the Basic D&D boxed set (the 1981 Moldvay version). The cover art by Erol Otus is what springs to mind first when someone says D&D.

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  10. Runequest: 3rd Edition Cover

    http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/geekdad/images/2007/11/14/runequest_cover.jpg

    Call of Cthulhu: Mansions of Madness Cover

    http://catalog.chaosium.com/images/CHA23110.gif

    WFRP: Tome of Corrupiton (2e) cover

    http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs13/f/2007/067/e/c/Tome_of_Corruption_by_RalphHorsley.jpg

    On a tangentially related note I find the Cthulhu Invictus cover very evocative:

    http://catalog.chaosium.com/images/CHA23115a.gif

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  11. Holmes edition box cover; first edition Call of Cthulhu; Traveler black box cover with the 'mayday' from Freetrader Beowulf; cover illustration from The Fantasy Trip.

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  12. I'll never be able to think about Gamma World without picturing the illustration of the hoops from the 1st edition rulebook: a line of decidedly "fuzzy bunny"-looking rabbits armed with .30-06s wandering through the grasslands.

    Call of Cthulhu is summed up for me by the color plate inside the 4th edition rulebook entitled "Ward 13", wherein two doctors encounter SOMETHING unnatural in a room in a hospital (or asylum) ward.

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  13. Ironic RPGs...well the insides of the Call of Cthulhu 3rd edition (the one jointly produced with GW) was what prompted me to learn CoC and love it to this day.

    Classic Traveller had some interesting art. Done by the Keiths and Blair Reynolds. I think of the dustcover for the Traveller Book and Traveller Adventure plus the Solomani module being very good. But, others like Darrians or the k'kree leave much to be desired.

    The cover of the Rebellion Sourcebook for MegaTraveller sums up a great Traveller Adventure waiting to come and beautifully summarizes the Rebellion milieu.

    I also loved the Traveller 2300/2300AD covers save the 2300AD rulebook and one of the cyberpunk adventures.

    GURPS Operation Endgame, the cover made me buy it...similarly, most of GURPS products have had fantastic covers but their interiors lacked the same imagination usually just recycling the same crappy art...their Traveller line being a partial exception...but compare their Answerin to what was on offer in Challenge...and they are kilometers apart.

    Fading Suns interiors led me to buy the line but when I first saw the covers...I vowed I would never touch it with a Ten foot pole.

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  14. Gamma World second edition's cover is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Gamma World.

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  15. I agree with you that the Runequest cover is something very special, I would add the cover from Orcs Drift, by Games Workshop, I also enjoy the Flintloque/Deadloque covers from Knifton

    Tony
    http://dampfpanzerwagon.blogspot.com/

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  16. for me it's P.D. Breeding-Black's cover(s) for Talislanta. The one that hooked me was third edition, but I also like the d20 cover image a lot (although I never played that version). For thumbnails of those covers, see: http://www.pen-paper.net/rpgdb.php?op=showcreator&creatorid=3811

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  17. Traveller starter set. That cover MADE me buy that game.

    I also agree with the RQIII cover. It would have made me buy the game if I'd been able to afford it.

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  18. Second Edition Villains & Vigilantes.

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  19. The Traveller Book, as well as the original CAR WARS and TRUCK STOP plastic-box images (though those are not RPGs). Also the TOP SECRET box set with the gun and passport etc.

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  20. For some reason the cover of the first Delta Green book sticks with me. Not the guys with guns, just the crazy Clive-Barkeresque multidimensional thing in front of them. I think it's perfect for that extension, since DG pushes the more human and, to me, more disturbing additions to the Mythos, like the King in Yellow and Y'golonak.

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  21. Even though I'm an American, when "D&D" comes to mind, I immediately think of artwork produced by the likes of Gary Chalk (Lone Wolf) & Russ Nicholson(Fighting Fantasy). Before I began my participation in the hobby at age 13 (1991), I had been deeply immersed in the world of gamebooks for quite a number of years. I'm still a huge gamebook nut, & kept my entire collection (along with my D&D Rules Cyclopedia) after I left the hobby at large about 10 years ago.

    Other influential (American) artists include Clyde Caldwell, Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore, Jim Holloway (for his work in the D&D Endless Quest gamebooks), & the late, great Keith Parkinson.

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  22. Roger Stine's (IIRC) illustration that graced the covers of Metagaming's THE FANTASY TRIP products (such as http://rpggeek.com/image/526237/fantasy-masters-screen). His covers for this, Melee and Wizard felt like "the opposite of D&D", and I wanted characters and colors and settings like those in my games.

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  23. Seconded on the 2nd ed V&V and the 5th edition T&T covers.

    Also iconic: the illustration of the sorcerer summoning a demon from the inside back cover of T&T. Holy cow.

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  24. The COC and Traveller, already mentioned. But my biggest is the cover of my first RPG -- the photo-montage of TSR's first edition of TOP SECRET.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_DSs2bX13hVc/SiZz900196I/AAAAAAAABCI/ASHMx0YI2_0/s320/TS.jpg

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  25. For non D&D the original MERP cover by Angus Mcbride: http://www.waynesbooks.com/images/graphics/merp11.jpg

    and the Twilight 2000 Boxed set: http://rpgcharacters.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/twilight2000-first-edition.jpg?w=222&h=300

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  26. Tally another for the classic Traveller box.

    This is Free Trader Beowulf calling anyone... Mayday, Mayday... we are under attack... main drive is gone... turret number one not responding... Mayday... losing cabin pressure fast... calling anyone... please help... this is Free Trader Beowulf... Mayday...

    Also: the first edition color Gamma World box.
    Also: strangely, any of the early TSR minigames, such as Revolt On Antares, Vampyre, Saga, Attack Force.

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  27. For me, it's the 1st Edition Gamma World artwork (the one by Tramp). That piece of artwork is, for me, the piece I most associate with an RPG, aside from Tramp's illustration for the 1st Edition Player's Handbook.

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  28. Another vote here for the photo montage from Top Secret. It was so different from the artistic images of the fantasy and sci-fi games that preceded it, it instantly identified Top Secret as being drawn from the real world. The day's Cold War headlines were now fodder for our games.

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  29. There is a very atmospheric illustration inside the original edition of Recon (not the Palladium retread). It shows a Mr Johnson in a suit, sat a desk, the blinds casting shadows across his face. When I see this picture, I hear Charlie Sheen's voice: "Saigon. 5h!7."

    However, for sheer cool, it is difficult to beat the original Cyberpunk 2013 cover: an androgynous figure in a raincoat, pointing a cybergun out of the picture.

    Nice.

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  30. DC Heroes, 1st edition.

    1st ed. AD&D Players Handbook.

    V&V cover by Jeff Dee.

    Skyrealms of Jorune.

    I have those images burned into my brain.

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  31. Miniatures always played a big role in my gaming, and I always loved the box cover artwork for the Grenadier 'Solid Gold Line' of AD&D miniatures, in particular the 'Specialists' set of player characters - http://www.dndlead.com/Grenadier/ADandD/box2006.jpg

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  32. "A Paladin in Hell" from 1ed AD&D PHB, but if we're just talkin' covers, then the cover "idol" image of the PHB is king.

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  33. Anything by Dave Trampier. I distinctly remember in the Temple of Elemental Evil module, in the Moathouse section, a drawing of a bulbous rat on a shelf. It was just a sidebar image, but when I think of giant rats THAT is the giant rat I envision. His 1E PHB1 cover is awesome - it even has henchmen! And I love that his characters look like normal folks, and they often have equipment unusual for fantasy art - spears, maces, lanterns, 10' poles. If I comissioned art for a game book I would look for someone drawing in the same style.

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  34. Oh and the 2E Shadowrun cover. It's a team of runners in an alley. The decker is plugged into a terminal and the glow from the screen illuminates the alley. Lots of trash and debris. An armored limo is pulled up in the street outside the alley and thugs are shooting at the team. One of the runners is a native American-looking guy with stereotypical 80s-futurist beaded and feathered leathers and two Uzis. The shootout is in a canyon of dark grey buildings, and far above on a rooftop someone is calling down lightning magic. Is he with the runners or with their opponents?

    I think it was a Larry Elmore cover.

    That and Snarfquest. And Trampier's Wormy.

    I kind of liked Foglio's stuff but it's just not iconic for me.

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  35. George Perez on Champions BBB 4th edition.

    Angus McBride on Rolemaster; all core titles. He had iconic characters before WoTc made it 'cool'.

    Warhammer FRPG 1st ed. Some powerful art in there.

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  36. Hands down the original cover of the Chaosium's boxed "King Arthur Pendragon" set.

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  37. I refuse to show or mention most of mine as they will likely give the majority of the OSR guys seizures of one kind or another and no one, myself included, wants that.

    If I had to go pre-'I-found-out-RPG-art-doesn't-all-have-to-look-the-same', I'd go with George Perez on Champions 4E (good call JGK), Perez on the Mayfair DC Heroes 1E Box Set and the 2E Box Set of FASA's Star Trek. Probably anything with art by the incomparabile David Deitrick and the amazing old school art of Jeff Dee.

    While I love Elmore and Caldwell, my visions of D&D and Traveller fall far from the US to the gorgeous Japanese editions. Especially the funky 70's meets hard sf art of Japan's key Traveller illustrator Naoyuki Katoh. Man, we barely got art in the US. They got this guy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naoyuki_Kato.

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  38. The Classic Traveller Little Black Books. My first RPG.

    The original Twilight: 2000 and Traveller: 2300 (first edition, not the later 2300AD). The artwork just seemed to fit the mood.

    FASA Star Trek (1st Edition). Homage to the classic series.

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  39. Trampier's "magic mouth" in the 1e AD&D PHB. That has always been the touchstone for the sort of adventures I wanted to play in, and therefore the sort I wanted to run.

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  40. and far above on a rooftop someone is calling down lightning magic. Is he with the runners or with their opponents?

    Yowsers. I played that game for years and never noticed the guy on the rooftop. He's barely a brush stroke!

    And yes, it's an Elmore painting.

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  41. (not to be pedantic but I think the woman on the RQ cover is battling a Dragonewt, not a chaotic monster)

    Same choices as yours, plus the Liz Danforth cover of 5th ed Tunnels & Trolls.

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  42. For various games, I'd have to go with the cover of the GM's book for 2e Call of Cthulhu boxed set. Wow! What an image of Cthulhu! See it here: http://damianov.files.wordpress.com/2007/07/callofcthulhu2ndedcover.jpg

    For D&D, it's difficult to pick, though Bill Willingham's imagery is pretty impressive (he did a couple of the D&D ads, interior art for the Fiend Folio, Basic D&D, etc.

    Yet more votes for WFRP 1E dwarf, V&V, & 5th ed T&T :)

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  43. The first edition box set for Rolemaster is very striking and visceral. I think it really conveys the feel of Rolemaster combat! http://tomeoftreasures.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1931

    The original Top Secret box cover is a very close second for me. I remember seeing that in a dept store before I started role playing and wondering if all the stuff on the cover was in the box. How cool would that have been?

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  44. A lot that have been mentioned, and the box art and booklet cover for Empire of the Petal Throne. As for Runequest, that illustration, but in sepia tone, not color.

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  45. I've always thought the creature on the cover of RQ2 was a rock lizard - a fairly common ruins inhabiting creature in RQ if I remember correctly. Dragonewts are humanoid and use weapons.

    I'd give an extra shout to Liz Danforth for Tunnels and Trolls. Not really old school but Bron's Dark Sun and Deadlands covers were spot-on.

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  46. For me, the cover of 2nd Edition Cyberpunk (2020) defined Cyberpunk...

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a4/Cyberpunk2020.jpg

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