Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dungeon Crawl Classics: Cover

Trampier is a hard act to follow.

His cover of the ADnD Players Handbook is so iconic (and not just to the millions of players who grew up with the DnD game in the period 1978 to 1983) that all the subsequent illustrations pale in comparison.

Even though TSR eventually replaced the original cover of the Players Handbook, Trampier's illustration transcended all the covers that came later, and the original cover has spawned endless homages, parodies and imitators.

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG has it's work cut out for it, then, in trying to come up with the look for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. In order to be successful, they need to attract four groups of gamers. One, the old-school gamers who are still playing pre-third edition DnD. Two, d20 gamers who want to try an old-school system that is in-print. Three, Pathfinder and 4E gamers that are aching for something a little more unpredictable. And four, lapsed gamers who are nearing middle age and want to relive the magic of those halcyon days of ADnD.

The last group is the most important for Goodman Games. Why? Because the other three have built-in biases about what they want or need from a game. The lapsed gamers though, they will be walking into a game-store, looking for something that immediately reminds them of the games they played in their youth.

Which is why the decision on a cover for DCC RPG is so important. Those lapsed gamers will see Hackmaster and a plethora of other games, with homages to the original Trampier cover, and be drawn to them for nostalgic reasons.

I'm sure you can see where i'm heading here.

I really like Doug Kovacs' illustrations. He's a talented artist. I particularly like his illustrations on pages 51, 55, 61, 77 and 91. But the cover illustration for Dungeon Crawl Classics doesn't say Dungeon Crawl, or Classics, at least not to me.

And before you think that I want to see another imitation of Tramp's Players Handbook cover, let me assure you that I don't. The original Tramp cover has been re-done too many times. However, this Roslof illustration fits the Dungeon Crawl Classics moniker much better. It shows a party engaging in a dungeon crawl. And it showcases the four classic characters; fighter, magic-user, cleric and thief. The poster also used the old DnD font, which some think apes the trade-dress of original DnD too closely, but would certainly catch my attention if I was a nostalgic lapsed gamer, looking to re-engage in an beloved past-time, or introduce it to my children.

And finally, if that Roslof illustration doesn't match your vision of what the front cover of a Dungeon Crawl Classics game should look like, let me suggest another great Tramp illustration, that has not been overdone but would serve as fodder for an apt homage and alternate cover for DCC RPG.


Anonymous said...

Ye-ess. I can see why the cover that was chosen was chosen, though: the faceless protagonist, not clearly identifiable as any traditional class or archetype and open to being identified with by the viewer, facing a closed, mysterious doorway that invites speculation about what's inside (much like a closed, mysterious book). I leave you to evaluate the significance of the crevasse or gulf between the protagonist and the doorway in that context.

That said, it doesn't say 'dungeon crawl' to me either.

Greg G said...

I think Goodman is as smart as they come. No doubt he has plan.

Michael Curtis said...

In regards to your suggestion of using the Tramp illo from the Monster Manual for DCC, take a look at the picture on the bottom left corner of p. 6 of the beta test rules.

Chad Thorson said...

I really like the cover, but I agree that it doesn't really have a completely old school feel to it. It needs monsters and more heroes in it. And the landscape should be a little more surrealistic.

I probably won't get much use out of the book other than having it for neat illustrations, but I'm looking forward to it's release.

You know what really has an old school look? The covers for DCC adventure modules. They look like pulp fiction magazines!

Aaron E. Steele said...

@kaptainvon ... good observations, all, and I don't dispute them.

@kiltedyaksman ... well, they asked for feedback. It's not the image I would use, but i'll be buying it regardless of the cover.

@Atom Kid ... I love the three covers for the DCC adventures they have revealed so far.

Aaron E. Steele said...

@Michael ... I really like that Poag piece.