Friday, December 9, 2011

Open Friday: Good Gaming Covers

Last Friday, I asked about good gaming art produced in the last five years. This time I'm more specifically interested in good gaming covers -- that is, cover art to RPGs you consider particularly well-done and evocative. I'm going to open this question up to include any tabletop RPG published at any time, since, even when I specify that a timeframe, very few people actually stick to it. However, I am going to ask that commenters limit themselves to primary rulebooks or boxed sets. That means no supplements or adventures, please. Also, because it's already well established that Dave Trampier's Players Handbook illustration is the best cover ever, I'd like to ask that no one nominate it as an example of a good gaming cover. If you can briefly explain why you regard your choice as a good cover, that'd be of interest to me as well.

83 comments:

  1. I think Rolemaster tended to have the best covers. To pick a specific core rules/box set, I’ll do with the second edition, revised. (There are some pics at Wayne’s world of books.) I like how the covers for the box and books inside show us images of the same group of adventurers. And, hey, look at that, there’s actually a group of four adventurers on the cover! And what are they doing? Adventuring! (The box cover pic is kind of a “pose”, but still...) Plus, full-bleed art (with a color band on one side). Titles that are clear and readable from a distance.

    I think some of the supplement covers were even better. (And supplements can get away with cover subjects that reflect the topic more than the game in general.)

    Of course, I also think the clean look of the classic Traveller books is a good example that breaking all the (my) rules can still result in good covers.

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  2. The "Swords & Wizardry" cover by Peter Mullen with the adventurers in the room with the giant's skeleton is my favorite, especially with the halfling up at the top grabbing at the gen in the pommel of the sword while the elf below seems to be shouting, "No --- don't touch that!"
    I like that it implies a story --- something happened to bring them there and something is about to happen.

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  3. I'd like to add that I love the Mullen drawing for Swords & Wizardry because it references the old Trampier 1e PHB cover (so it is a nod of respect to the source material) without copying it. The technique is fabulous, too.

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  4. I'd agree that the RM McBride covers did a nice job of tying the core books in the series together.

    I don't think they're timeless classics, but the Scion rpg covers are particularly iconic. Specifically, the cover to Hero really sets the tone, establishes the imagery and grabs your attention off the shelf (modern, mythic, epic, fantasy). It got me to pick the game up and made selling it to my group for a short campaign pretty easy. When I show the cover off to people, it almost sells itself as something people want to play.

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  6. I have several favorites. Traveller had, in my opinion, the best cover ever, even over the Trampier PH cover. Beowulf's mayday call is one of my favorite bits of gaming fiction ever.

    I'm very fond of the cover of the original Vampire: The Masquerade, with the rose on the background of marble. It caught my attention, back in the day.

    Another excellent one is the moody watercolor that Bill Willingham did for Lee Gold's Lands of Adventure. I have a few problems with its technique, but the subject matter (a woman warrior in a colorful ball gown looking down at the bloody sword in her hands as a manticore, pierced with arrows and dying or dead, looks hopelessly at her) is atmospheric and far exceeds the game itself.

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  7. Aaaaaand the rules get broken on the 5th post! That's some sort of record, no? ;)

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  8. Larry Elmore's Star Frontiers cover drew me in.
    http://larryelmore.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/STAR-FRONTIERS-.jpg

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  9. i really like the hollow world box cover

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  10. I'd say the original cover of FASA's Star Trek RPG is completely evocative of what's inside.

    I always liked the cover of CoC's 5th edition. Puts things in proper scale.

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  11. Pete Mullen's cover for Swords & Wizardry Core. It makes me want to run some D&D.

    I'm also rather fond of Mark Allen's S&W Whitebox cover.

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  12. I tend to like somewhat stylized art for RPGs, rather than too much realism. There are a few exceptions, like the work of Keith Parkinson, particularly the undead. Some of his work (like much later D&D art) can look too posed, but some of it is just sublime.

    Surprisingly, I find myself most enjoying the recent OSR product covers.

    Some of my favorites:

    The LotFP Referee book cover from the Grindhouse Edition.

    The Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox cover with the three adventurers in the snow.

    I was also really impressed recently by the Delving Deeper covers. I'm still on the fence about whether I want to buy another retro-clone, but looking at those covers again is about to push me over the edge...

    I'm also a fan of the "adventurers being watched" trope (originally from the Moldvay/Cook/Marsh Erol Otus covers?) and I think the fourth edition DMG (with the dragon watching the crystal ball) captures this nicely (not a fan of the corresponding PHB cover though with the figures just standing there).

    I think the Rules Cyclopedia cover also deserves a nod because it shows an adventurer actually running away from something.

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  13. Another vote for Pete Mullen's S&W Core cover. So evocative. And what D&D is all about.

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  14. Third Edition Runequest (http://index.rpg.net/pictures/show-water.phtml?picid=9302). I find this inspirational, and a good match to the feel I'm aiming for in my gaming: low-magic, mixed-armor, obvious cultural influences on both characters and setting.

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  15. I absolutely love Roger Stine's painting that Metagaming used for The Fantasy Trip books (ITL, Adv Melee, Adv Wizard). His cover illustrations were IMO some of the most attractive on gaming shelves at the time, and conveyed an atmosphere of "Fantasy, but not Tolkien" that shaped my perception of the TFT game world itself.

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  16. Traveller had, in my opinion, the best cover ever, even over the Trampier PH cover.

    Fond as I am of Tramp's cover, I agree that the case can definitely be made that Traveller's cover is one of the best ever.

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  17. The covers to WFRP 1E and Call of Cthulhu 5E: http://goo.gl/pcTYH and http://goo.gl/ZAL4O . The former just screams desperate, heart-pounding action, while the latter says it all for me about cosmic, overwhelming horror.

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  18. To me, the best covers are the ones that convey what the game is about through depictions of the characters. So, as far as the extended D&D family of games goes, the best covers (excluding Trampier's) would have to be a tie between Peter Mullen's Swords & Wizardry cover, and LotFP's now-iconic image of the flame princess battling the snake monster (with it's hilariously unnecessary mammary glands).

    For something different from the usual fantasy, my favorite covers are the instantly-iconic portrayals of the undead gunslinger on the front of the player's guide for Deadlands: The Weird West, and the marshal's handbook for the newer Deadlands: Reloaded.

    http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=16779&it=1

    http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=82747

    The player's guide for Deadlands: Reloaded has a great cover too, that nicely illustrates what sort of person you can be in the Weird West, but I feel it's less iconic.

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  19. * WoD Vampire - the green marble + rose motif was interesting, and gave you a sense of what the game was supposed to be about: Anne Rice vampires, not Draklurs.

    * Fading Suns 1E - the photocomposite(?) gargoyle-encrusted interstellar jumpgate worked wellagainst the purple and black of the backdrop.

    * Underground - the cover really conveyed the gonzo-cyberpunk Marshall Law/Transmetropolitan vibe of the game.

    * TMNT: After the Bomb - IIRC the cover was a Mad Max chase scene with mutant animals. "Yes, you have my attention. Very, very much!"

    * 1E DMG with the revised (wickedly smiling wizard in green opening gates) cover. The composition was fantastic. The colour palette excellent. The wit of it was unimprovable for a GM's book.

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  20. Honourable mention:

    *Cyberpunk 2013 by R.Talsorian Games.
    Black cover, white linework illustration of some poodlehaired androgyne with a gun wired into their skull.
    Red title text in a spray-can grafitti style.

    Nice.

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  21. @Robert Saint John:
    You beat me to it w.r.t. TFT. Just wish they had commissioned two additional art pieces so each book could have its own cover...

    I'd also put in a vote for the Holmes Basic Boxed Set cover. You have the wizard and knight confronting a dragon - in a dungeon no less! Outstanding work.

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  22. I like the cover of the GURPS Basic Set 3rd Edition because it makes me want a game system that will allow me to play both pseudo-medieval fantasy and hard science fiction at the same time.

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  23. I readily agree that the Tramp cover, as well as Traveller, hold the top spots.
    Allow me to wax poetic on the cover of the revised AD&D2e cover, if I may. I couldn't tell you the artist, but it depicts three adventurers breaking down a door, specifically, a barbarian (which was not a standard class) a mage, spells ready, hooded with a sweet beard, and an Errol Flynn analogue with a bow. The thing I remember most is the barbarian's left arm, which is twisted and contorted into shape not allowable by actual human anatomy. Seeing that cover was my first taste of D&D and it is forever burned into my brain.

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  24. To represent the meta-human rpgs, I would have to choose the original Villains & Vigilantes cover.

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  25. I heart me the Otus B/X D&D covers and the Pete Mullen S&W. WFRP1's cover was pure awesomeness.

    Full marks for Tramp's PHB, too.

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  26. ICE had some great covers. Particularly their Spacemaster line. Never played it but always wanted to. Also some great art for MERP - not just Angus McBride's work - which was decent - but some of the more interesting pieces like Havens of Gondor, Moria (1st ed. - an evocative background painting from the animated LotR movie) or The Grey Mountains. Also really liked Janet Aulisio's work for the Cyberspace supplements, e.g. Edge-On. (Think she also did GDW's Earth sourcebook for 2300.)

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  27. Original Rifts and 3rd ed Gamma World. Both excellent examples of post-apocalypse sci-fi by inimitable Keith Parkinson. No other covers held my attention like those two.

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  28. I'm surprised nobody mentioned Cynthia Shepperd's rendition of the Flame Princess herself. The detail on what could have been a typical warrior vs. snake woman is certainly eye-catching, not to mention the red-haired female warrior in later-than-medieval clothing.

    The Big Gold Book for Basic Roleplaying also has a nice cover. Each of the faux Vitruvian Man's limbs represents a different genre, much like third edition GURPS did with its character-bearing bubbles. I'm also a sucker for the classics, like Chaosium's 2nd edition RuneQuest cover depicting a female warrior in quasi-Roman armor battling a giant lizard.

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  29. I have a hard time picking between the Holmes Basic Set cover or the original Gamma World Box Set cover. Both still evoke the sense of adventure to me.

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  30. This cover for the Champions book from the 80's:

    http://satelliteshow.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/great-rpg-systems-champions/

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  31. I'd have to give the nod to the nWoD (new World of Darkness) core rulebook cover from 2004. Dark, moody, shadowy, something dangerous lurking at the edge of one's sensory perception. Modern. Horror. Now. Hip. It's all there.

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  32. Earthdawn, 1st Edition from FASA. It had me by the hindbrain ever since I first saw it in the pages of the FASA Catalogue included my Battletech boxed set.

    Part of the success is the simplicity of it - no adventurers/action scene. Just a single half hidden face and a background of lush and vivid decay - and it takes the mind a momwnr to see the face isn’t a face at all but a crumbling yet-still-magnificent ruin of a statue, half submerged and lost to time. And that recognition - the sudden off kilter sense of confusion at the deceptive lifelessness - sells the setting: the introductory fiction and Almanac of Barsaive that follow only reinforce that first impression of an abandoned world ripe for discovery with secrets lurking below the surface. It's the entire premise of the game with a single image and a title.

    There are other points in its favor - strong composition. Novelty, hints of motion in a static scene . . . it all works well together. But the bit that caught my attention years ago?

    The game is given a face.

    Not a character or stock hero, just a face - a sphinx-like avatar staring back from the cover hinting at all sorts of anthropomorphic expressions: mystery, allure, haughty distain - the sort of features that lets one project intentions and experiences onto something. And the instant you do that, there's a buy in and investment in the narrative of the image, even when it’s something you're creating entirely yourself.

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  33. I'm sure someone will tsk and cluck at me, but I can't for the life of me think of a cover I like better than the 2E AD&D PHB – the original, with the horseman with the funny helmet riding through a canyon. By Easley.

    I'll even declare that to me, that cover is what I think about when I think about D&D, along with one or two other key Easley pieces like the cowed ogre and the hanged dragon. The adventurers look like they could exist. I love Otus and others, but there's something about realistic style of that cover that made me identify with the game in a different way, which I still do today.

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  34. Wait, the hanged dragon is Ellmore. But the rest of my comment stands!

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  35. How about the artwork on original DM Screen? Does that count? Not to single panel version but the two panel version with a little of everything (swordsman, dragon, ghosts, the horseman from T1, the wizard and the open chest of gold) - a classic!

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  36. I loved the original Vampire the Masquerade cover. Probably my favorite of all time...though in the past I often purchased games based on their cover art and many listed here (Star Frontiers, Hollow Earth, Deadlands) rank high on my list.

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  37. I loved the original Vampire the Masquerade cover. Probably my favorite of all time...though in the past I often purchased games based on their cover art and many listed here (Star Frontiers, Hollow Earth, Deadlands) rank high on my list.

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  39. http://www.jdrp.fr/img/items/skyrealms-of-jorune-2nd-edition-134.jpg

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  40. The cover of Dragon Warriors by the brilliant Jon Hodgson is also really evocative.

    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/828/dragonwarriorscover.jpg/

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  41. This is it:

    3rd ed. Call of Cthulhu

    It's a core book, and why is it so good?

    Well, this summarizes so well the whole feeling of CoC. A big gothic castle of classic horror, a period piece in the car and the great feeling of creepiness from that crawling Thing in the lower part of the picture. This picture is atmospheric and encapsulate so well what CoC is all about. I love it.

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  42. Tough question. I might go with M. A. R. Barker's cover of the 1975 Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set. There are so many tiny details in that piece of art that one can really spend a lot of time exploring and admiring it.

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  43. AD&D 1st Edition, Jeff Easley covers. Every time I think of AD&D, I think of those covers.

    That, and the Battletech 2nd Edition Box Set with the Warhammer on the front.

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  44. I can't decide whether I like Peter Mullen's Swords & Wizardry Core Rules (with the skeleton of the horned giant) or his White Box (with the ambush in the snow) better. They're both fantastic.

    Miles Teves's cover painting for the Skyrealms of Jorune 2nd edition box is gorgeous certainly, and highly atmospheric, but I'm not sure it communicates very well what the game's like.

    In contrast, Jim Holloway's art for Paranoia evokes the game and its setting perfectly. I like most of Holloway's work, but he was surely born to illustrate Paranoia. The covers of the three books in the 1st edition box, showing the same situation from three different points of view, were presumably inspired by...

    Erol Otus's D&D covers. A dungeon! A dragon! Treasure! A fighter! A magic-user! (Two magic-users if you include the Expert set.) And a shedload of style and atmosphere. Tramp and Traveller notwithstanding, as far as I'm concerned Otus nailed it forever.

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  45. I'm gonna have to go with ICE's 1st edition Rolemaster box set with the two winged creatures fighting.
    http://cf.geekdo-images.com/images/pic549784_md.jpg

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  46. The Runequest 2nd edition covers were both really awesome.

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  47. My favourite is the cover to the fifth edition of Call of Cthulhu, the "brown book" with Cthulhu's fiery orange eye peeking out from a mass of tentacles and two tiny humanoid figures down on the bottom-left for scale. It doesn't really exemplify the game as well as the first or third editions, but it's a great and evocative piece.

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  48. For me, the three covers I found most personally evocative (about equally) are: Classic Traveller, Call of Cthulhu 5.5th edition, and RuneQuest 3rd.

    For Traveller, the elegance and simplicity of design was always compelling by counter-example to everything else on the shelf.

    CoC 5.5's cover's simplicity, and colour, is also awesome and draws the eye in irresistibly.

    RQIII's cover had so many aspects that I strongly liked: it's hint at historic realism, at "normal people" fantasy", at exploring the unknown, and at the presentation of women in something other than Elmore-esque fur bustiers.

    I think it's also no mistake that all three games had very strong choices in typography. Simple, elegant, readable fonts that strongly conveyed the theme of the game itself without a lot of splash or flash.

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  49. Oh, and a close second is the cover to the Games Workshop Call of Cthulhu supplement Green and Pleasant Land, with a nice quiet village cricket game in the background, and the ball in the foreground, with an eldritch tentacle curling around it.

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  50. A quick note w some of my favorites:
    * Enchanted Woods for Dragonquest
    * Adventures in the Northern Wilderness for Palladium (so much so that I have the print)
    * The ICE "adventurer" covers (plus any McBride pieces like Lost Realms of Cardolan)
    * Thieves World boxed set

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  51. I go with CoC 5th ed, Mullin's S&W Core, and Zeiser's LL AEC cover. :)

    Hon. mention for Traveller...

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  52. sheesh, why can't people be bothered to read the rules? :)

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  53. I guess I goofed last time - I missed the "last five years" part. Sorry.

    Now, on to the subject at hand:

    Favorite cover? Rules Cyclopedia hands down. That Easley piece of the warrior riding hell-bent for leather away from that wyrm is so evocative of the game that just SCREAMS "PLAY ME!" I have my copy covered in denim but every once and a while I have to take the cover off and look at it. The best.

    -SJ

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  54. Definitely the spoils of adventure (ie, "hanging dragon") from the 2E PHB.

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  55. My top five best RPG covers ever* (not necessarily in any order) are...

    1) Champions 4th Edition Hardcover by ICE/Hero
    2) Paranoia 2d Edition by WEG
    3) Star Trek RPG Boxed Set by FASA
    4) Teenagers from Outer Space, All Editions by R. Talsorian Games
    5) Villains & Vigilantes 2nd Edition by FGU

    I will not say these are the best illustrated covers ever but they are certainly the best covers from the standpoint of being evocative of the theme of their respective games.

    *Noting US games only. To include games from other countries would be unfair. Japan's TRPGs have cover art and graphics that make them look like coffee table art books or quality manga instead of RPGs. Ever see the Japanese edition of Battletech or Traveller? Great googley moogley!

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  56. The old green cover for Stormbringer with Elric on it (3e?). Fell in love with that. It was also used on the DEL paperbacks, if I recall. Very evocative. I've had two copies over the years, gotta get a new one...

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  57. @Tedankhamen

    "The old green cover for Stormbringer with Elric on it (3e?)..."

    4E. Great cover that *made* me want to buy the game. Michael Whelan is a fabulous artist.

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  58. I find it utterly surprising how many people dig the original Vampire; The Masquerade cover. While I still play the game, and love that cover, the effect has diminished since Twilight stole the idea.

    However, if I were to think of the best core rule book cover was the original 3rd Ed books. The whole thing as almost like a wizard's spell books. Something secret and just begging to be explored. Not something for everyone, but something that for the right person opens up other worlds...which I guess was the point.

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  59. * Call of Cthulhu 5th Edition
    * Cyberpunk 2020
    * Villains & Vigilantes 2nd Edition
    * Witch Hunter: The Invisible World

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  60. "...the best core rule book cover was the original 3rd Ed books. The whole thing as almost like a wizard's spell books. Something secret and just begging to be explored. Not something for everyone, but something that for the right person opens up other worlds..."

    I agree and don't know why I didn't think of those before.

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  61. Wraith, either edition. It'd dark, jaggy and inchoate, just like the game.

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  62. Original Traveller for me... seeing that box cover still pulls me into the same mindset of potential scifi greatness as it did the first time I saw it.

    For runners up... certainly the box art for LotFP is one of my all time favorites... as is the box art for original Gamma World... and 5th edition CoC.

    I'll also mention my love of the cover of the old High Fantasy game. Technically it's crappy art but it really sparked something for me in a way that a better bit of painting probably wouldn't have.

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  63. Favourite cover art of all time: the watercolor that graced the box of Lee Gold's Lands of Adventure [FGU]. I can almost honestly say I bought the game just for the cover.

    Favourite cover art: Some art of the French edition of Nephilim [Multisim]. Although up to Nephilim Revelations it was still fairly abstract. They do pull a nice consistent style though. Same with Fiasco playbooks, and even the original Traveller books (although generally only one game can get away with such simple iconography at any time). I feel that the cover art should inform you about the nature of the game. [An honorary mention must go in this regard to the covers of the three books of the first edition Paranoia boxed set - although that's just because they were in the box and couldn't be used to sell the game on their own.] Greg Stolze's Dinosaurs in Space emphasises the title of the game wonderfully. The artist that did Gumshoe's Profane Miracles [Pelgrane] did a wonderful piece of work that draws the eyes to the victim. So I'd have to say this piece strikes a strong chord. [Then again, all of Jerôme's art strikes a strong resonance - his interiors for Trail of Cthulhu...]

    Worst cover art: Probably the first edition of Wraith [WW], with the fluorescent title on a background which meant that the book had no title in your typical gaming shop. They didn't learn from all the retailer complaints that came with 1st edition Vampire.

    Worst cover art: Almost anything I've drawn.

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  64. In Nomine by SJG. Either black or white version, with the flaming feather.

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  65. @kelvingreen
    Yes I was also going to suggest the Green and Pleasant Land book. Great cover - even though I don't play CoC.

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  66. Oops just re-read James' post and saw that he only wanted core rulebooks! After me posting about a dozen supplements...

    I'll say: SpaceMaster 2nd ed, WFRP 1st ed, and Traveller. Honourable mention to Stars Without Number (original cover, NOT the Mongoose edition).

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  67. -Moldvay Basic and Expert D&D rule book covers (Erol Otus: Invokes the mysterious and unknown of RPGs...and the fact that the righter and females wizard look REALLY surprised.

    -Cover of module S4, Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (Erol Otus): I think it really captures the weirdness of the adventure. How many of us knew what the behir was before this one?

    - 1st Edition AD&D PHB (Sutherland): That one for the longest time had me thinking "Where and WHAT is the City of Brass? How can I set up an adventure there?" THAT one had me wishing for years that TSR would put an official product for that setting.

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  68. No year restriction? Great XD !

    Then allow me to repost this German cover by Zoltán Boros and Gábor Szikszai:

    http://www.dasschwarzeauge.de/typo3temp/pics/f55a668fdd.jpg

    Thanks to Ray Harryhausen, I'm a sucker for skeletons, so this cover already sold me. It just has a certain "I wanna do that, too!"-effect one me...

    Another great The Dark Eye cover (by the same two artists) is this one:

    http://www.drosi.de/md/md2003_207a.jpg
    (Can't seem to find a better picture for some reasons)

    What can I say? It's just an epic cover showing the eternal struggle between good and evil, with a griffon (basically celestial heralds of this setting's sun god) battling its demonic counterpart while paladins (or rather the game's equivalent to paladins) are ready to attack some hooded cultists (which are a bit hard to see). Good times.

    As for American RPG covers, I'm pretty fond of Pathfinder's Gamemastery Guide. It's a nice mix between 4E's DM cover with the dragon and AD&D's cover with the DM as an all-powerful wizard.

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  69. Mullen S&W WhiteBox cover -- the one with the adventurers in the snow. Great color palette in this illo, plus an interesting scene unfolding. The snowy landscape, blue sky, and colored capes of the hapless party all really work for me.

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  70. The original edition of WEG Paranoia has just the right balance of cartoonishness and seriousness to draw you into the world. Excellent cover.
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1a/Paranoia-1st-edition-cover.jpg

    Likewise their 1st edition WEG Star Wars is either a movie poster or based on one; it very effectively evokes Star Wars and makes me want to play.
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6e/Star_Wars_Role-Playing_Game_1987.jpg

    The Call of Cthulu 1st edition cover with the investigators outside the mansion, the lightning sky, tentacle, female investigator clutching her bosom, is a personal favourite - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/33/Call_of_Cthulhu_RPG_1st_ed_1981.jpg

    I have to say, none of the main D&D edition covers are particularly good by comparison. The best would have to be the Moldvay (Otus) and Mentzer (Elmore) Basic Set covers, which both have Player Character like figures doing stuff, like the Cthulu and Star Wars covers - the Paranoia cover is odd because centres on IntSec troopers, not Troubleshooters, but we see from the screen that the IntSec guys are shooting down from cover on some unfortunate party of PCs...

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  71. Apart from the 1st ed. PHB, I've always liked the Erol Otus pic on the Basic Rules, and the artwork for the 1st ed. MM2. Different styles, but each captures something. The stairway and archway in the Otus work was always, to me, a major part of early D&D. The MM2 cover just had something 'fictional/fantasy' about the whole forest, not just the giant. Both evoked a sense of what the game was about, at least IMHO.

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  72. First Edition Twilight:2000 cover. It captured the 'doom and gloom' of the setting perfectly.

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  73. Yeah, the Twilight 2K box cover really grabbed me... the ominous sky in the background.

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  74. Few of the awesome game illustrations that come to mind are covers, and fewer are covers to the main rulebook itself. In a number of cases the main rulebook was done by someone less invested/knowledgeable than the interior artists, and in some striking examples the covers are at cross purposes. I always saw this as an intentional move to appeal to a lower common denominator. The best example I can think of is Shadowrun 1st/2nd edition, where the (Elmore) cover seemed to my 12-year-old sensibilities a horrible throwback, and it was only some time later that I engaged with the world thanks to the straight up awesome Tim Bradstreet and Janet Aulisio art inside. There's some love for the WFRP 1e cover above but to a lesser degree I put this and the 2nd edition as well in the same category. My WFRP is drawn by Blanche with a little room for a select few others. There are many more obvious "painted by committee" Games Workshop examples, Necromunda being the the best (possibly a better example than Shadowrun). That Geoff Taylor cover, wow.

    Sometimes the move to get a, what, more legitimate or professional, or well-known? artist works ok, as for example the Under Ground cover (Geoff Darrow, though an action scene would have been an infinitely better choice), and the Champions 4th edition (George Perez, which I can appreciate now though at the time it seemed pretty stale and I largely ignored the cover art and interior illustrations altogether).

    If I think a little more of course I can come up some nominees, though. Call of Cthulhu covers are generally great and I'll throw my vote behind the 5th edition already mentioned. The 2nd edition is also fantastic. The interior Call of Cthulhu art has some basic utility but the cover is what draws you in and tells you what the game is about.

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  75. Oh, I see now Cthulhu 2nd edition just reused the 1st edition art. That's the one I mean. What S'mon said. :)

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  76. AD&D: Battle System boxed set

    http://www.acaeum.com/ddindexes/miscpages/miscscans/battsys1.jpg

    When I was younger I could stare for hours wondering: how the battle started, who were those dinosaur riding barbarians, and how it would suck to be trapped in the jaws of a triceratops!

    That action scene is how I envisioned all the battles we had. Looking again, the red color treatment really helps to emphasize the element of danger.

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  77. Paranoia (2nd ed) by West End Games.

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  78. Fábulas:

    http://img512.imageshack.us/img512/6913/fabulasyg0.jpg

    Albeit a bit finicky, it is a good and evocative example of the setting helping to visualize the dichotomy between the real world and the fairy tales one.

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  79. Nobody's mentioned them, I think, so I will. FGU's Bushido and Chaosium's Ringworld both have covers that to my mind stir the viewer's thoughts about what kind of feel the game could achieve (even if the rules themselves might not quite have been up to it). Luke Crane's Mouse Guard, more recently, also has this quality.

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  80. * In Nomine by SJG - the burning feather cover. A complete stylistic whiplash from the trippy cartoony-ness of the interior art, but nice and evocative.

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  81. WFRP 1e was to Warhammer what the AD&D player's guide was to AD&D, as you have described so many times before.

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  82. The first edition of Heavy Gear: Life on Terra Nova. The mix of ancient stone heads, modern mecha, and sci-fi drenched adventurers is incredibly intriguing and evocative.

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