Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10