Saturday, August 12, 2017

RPGaDAY 2017 #12

From the #RPGaDAY2017 challenge (info here):

[as I'm starting this thing a little late, I shall be doubling up on my daily posts until I catch up. Early posts will be post-dated to the date they were originally supposed to appear]

Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

Oh, boy. There are plenty of RPGs with good, excellent, or downright amazing artwork. But inspiring?


Actually, I don't need to draw this RPG springs immediately to mind, and is the hands-down, no brainer answer to the question. But I suppose I should describe what I think of as "inspiring RPG artwork." To me, I consider artwork in an RPG to be inspiring when it tightly fits the theme of the game, reinforcing it, and inspiring me to take part in the actual play of the a way that coincides with the art being depicted.

Games can include good, even great or amazing artwork, but it's not always "inspiring" in this way. Spirit of 77 has some good art but, while it conjures to mind ideas about the concept of the game, it doesn't "move" me (and some of its "good" art actually detracts from the 70s movie vibe, feeling too much like a 90s comic book). Cadillacs and Dinosaurs had great interior art because it used Mark Schultz's wonderful drawings, but it only made me want to read more Schultz, not play its boring, boring game.

But there are many games with inspiring art: if the artwork in Moldvay's basic book hadn't been so inspiring, would I have fell into role-playing as passionately as I did? And I find Larry Elmore's work in the Mentzer Expert set is exceptionally inspiring for the scale and scope of that book. Hollow Earth Expedition has some great interior art, Stormbringer (1st) has some plates that convey the rather hopelessness of the setting (everyone dies, all the time), and FFG's recent line of WH40K based books (Deathwatch, Only War, etc.) have absolutely incredible interiors unified around their themes.

But for me, the most inspiring interior artwork I've come across has been the interior artwork of Vampire the Masquerade, 1st edition. Tim Bradstreet's black-and-white drawings perfectly capture the spirit and theme of "Gothic Punk," making that an actual thing, where no such term previously existed (to my knowledge, anyway). Along with his gorgeous chapter plates, the opening comic strip detailing a vampire's birth and journey over long centuries perfectly conveyed the scope and scale of the game. The second edition of the game was hardcover with shiny, magazine-like pages that failed to convey the same feeling of the 1st edition printing. The original was like opening some old tome found in an upstairs attic and discovering a mysterious world you never knew existed.  It made me a fan and player of the game for many years.

Yeah, Vampire. Hands down the best when it comes to inspiring interior artwork.

[folks interested in my "Day 2" post for the #RPGaDAY, can check out this link. "Day 3" is posted here. Sorry, I'll be caught up soon]

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