Day 5: Which RPG cover best captures
the spirit of the game?
This was a tough one for me. There have been so many great covers over the years. I thought, first, of the classic AD&D Player’s Handbook, the original Call of Cthulhu, and West End Games’ Star Wars. All good choices, all capture the essence of the game inside, as do so many others.
This has particularly improved, I think, in recent years, with more action-oriented illustrations taking center stage.
So, giving this a lot of thought, I have settled on a book cover that meets the criteria of the challenge and just so happens to be the cover that brought me into the hobby —
The Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set, written for TSR by John Eric Holmes, caught my eye in 1978. I had no idea what RPGs were. I only knew that I wanted to be a part of what was happening on that cover.
The artwork by David C. Sutherland III may be simplistic by today’s standards, but I can speak from experience — it spoke to a 12 year old kid with dreams fueled by Robert E. Howard and JRR Tolkien.
So, yes, a lot of games have prefect covers that capture the spirit of the roleplaying experience, but there’s only one game that made me covet it based on the artwork alone.
I’m happy to say I got that box set for Christmas in 1978. I still have it, tucked away in my den. The cheap plastic dice, whose recessed numbers were meticulously filled with crayon, have long since disappeared (save for one d12 that is more round than angled), but I still have the module and ads…
That’s where my journey began, and it was the artwork that lured me in.