Saturday, August 5, 2017

RPGaDAY 2017 #5

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 cover best captures the spirit of the game?

The "spirit of the game?"


There are a lot, A LOT, of great covers out there. Game publishers often go "all out" for their cover art. A cover artist is often one of a game's biggest expenses. It's the thing that needs to attract the customer, first and foremost, and hopefully it communicates something about what the game is about to the uninitiated.

Hopefully. Not all publishers do this. Some err on the side of "just get the spectacular cover" and throw a blurb on the back that explains the game's concept. In my opinion, that's a wasted opportunity.

Nope. Not this one!
Even worse (in my opinion), some games offer what I consider a "bait-n-switch," presenting something on the cover of a game that makes you think you've got an idea about the concept, when you really don't. The main example that comes to mind is the old Deadlands from Pinnacle Games (back in their pre-Savage Worlds days). I loved the covers for Deadlands RPG. For many of its supplements, too. But the cover of the main book? The undead gunslinger, all badass and menacing. Somehow, I got the impression that here was a game in which you got to play such grim reapers of destruction. "Spaghetti Westerns with meat," and all that.

Of course, you don't. It's possible you might come back from the dead, but more often than not even that would make you some sort of demon-ridden, GM character. *sigh* So much for communication. Like the cover of the 2nd edition Gamma one is blasting each other with hi-tech energy weapons (at least not to begin with), certainly not to start.

But this question isn't about communicating's about "capturing the spirit" of the game. The 1st edition Players Handbook for AD&D did a good bit of this, though, my games more often resembled the 1E Dungeon Masters Guide (no party ever got a respite to carefully police bodies, study maps, and gather loot...what are you thinking?). Plus, I don't want to count AD&D (for this question) as there's no single cover/book for the game...

After much inner debate, considering the many, many games I've owned and played over the years, I'm going to have to give the nod to the first edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play. Not only does it do a fantastic job of communicating EXACTLY what this game is about (a D&D-esque romp with English punk hair), it's cover quite effectively covers the spirit of the game. This is a game about gritty and grim characters having dirty, bloody adventures. This isn't about heroic posing as players face-off against some dragon (sorry Erol/Tom). No one "poses" in WFRPG. They're too busy spilling icky green blood all over their boots with a double-bitted axe, while the dude who rolled up the rat catcher laggers far behind the party (you have to see the back cover to get that). They're in immediate, mortal danger of being felled by a bunch of loathsome humanoids in some dank and dirty hole. THAT is WFRPG. It plays pretty much exactly like it looks. Except with more PCs dying.
; )

"We got spirit, yes we do!"

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