Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Evolution of the D&D Cover

So what are Your top three favorite covers?


  1. Well, currently I own 3,4,9,10, and 13. Of those, 3 is easily my fav. The reasons are too numerous to recap, but saying it's purely iconic is a good start. I also have love for 4, because who can resist a lone fighter charging into certain doom against red dragon on enough gold coins to put Scrooge McDuck in traction?

    I get what they were doing with 9 in making it a tome for the player as much as the character, but it was a HUGE mistake to nix the fantasy theme on the cover. 10 is a beautiful and polished piece. It's also passionless and uninspired. Who are they even fighting? I appreciate the talent, but it doesn't evoke a sense of adventure in me. Also, I detest the introduction of dragonborn as a PC option so there's no points won there.

    Oh, and 13 is just pure, nostalgic joy!

  2. 1. The DAT cover of the AD&D PHB
    2. The E. Otis cover of the Basic Rules
    3. The Mullen cover of the S&W core rules

    I'll tell you this though...If I were to have seen all of these for the first time today I would have a tough time picking. Mullen's might very well come in first. I REALLY like his art.

  3. 1.

    2. #5

    3. #13 was my first cover, and I love it too!

  4. 1. 1st Printing, 1E PHB (very evocative)
    2. Holmes Basic "Blue Dragon (ahh, memories)
    3. Otis Basic Rules

    The last one was a toss-up, as I also like the "newer" 1E and 2E covers.

  5. @David - I wondered who'd be first to call me out on the missing Rules Cyclopedia cover! ;)

  6. 1. Swords & Wizardry - Mullen is fantastic
    2. The Moldvay Basic - so is Erol Otus
    3. I'm hard pushed to choose between the original PHB because it is so iconic or Labyrinth Lord because it is quintessentially old-school....I think I'll go with LL.

    Btw...the 4e cover is everything I hate about modern fantasy art!

  7. This is my favorite historical cover:

    But this is my favorite for sentimental reasons:

  8. Sutherland's Basic, Tramp's PHB, and I love the Lab Lord cover too. What you gonna do with these collected opinions, eh?

  9. 1. 1e PHB - Trampier
    2. 1979 Holmes Basic D&D - Sutherland
    3. 2009 Swords & Wizardry - Mullen

  10. 1. 1st AD&D PHB.
    2. Mullen's S&W cover.
    3. Otus Basic.

    The LL cover is a real close 4th.

  11. The Otus is # 1 by a long shot in my book. Then the 1e AD&D PHB. Then the Mullen S&W cover, which would be number 2 without the nostalgia factor.

  12. 1. Erol Otus' Basic Cover -- Otus rules!
    2. Trampier's 1e PHB - classic!
    3. Sutherland's Holmes Basic D&D cover - largely for nostalgia's sake, 'cause that was the first set I owned and that particular dragon scared the hell out of me as a young lad. But Mullen's S&W cover probably deserves the #3 spot on the merits of the artwork alone.

    I also despise the look of 4e cover art.

  13. The pedant in me wishes to point out that 3.0 and 3.5 had different, even if only slightly so, covers.

    Now I've silenced the pedant, my favourite covers are the Cyclopedia and Swords & Wizardry. I really like the design of the 1e line as a whole, with the full cover image and the basic white text, but the PHB isn't my favourite of that line.

  14. 1. The Otus Basic D&D cover
    2. The Otus Basic D&D cover
    3. The Otus Basic D&D cover (with the Mullen S&W cover in a tie for this slot)


    (Word verification: "Chool" - n. the place you go after you've gotten your "s" kicked out for smoking in the bathroom)

  15. For me, no contest.

    The Sutherland Blue Cover (#2). Actually, my favorite is the box cover of that illustration, since it is in full color.

    While I had access to the OD&D books, through my older brother, the Holmes boxed set was the first set that was my "own".

  16. Jay--I agree with James W. that the problem with the 4e cover is that it's not telling a story. They're just posing and looking cool. The 2e covers are posey too, but they're at least situational--to an extent even the 1e later cover leans in that direction.

    My faves:

    Moldvay Basic by Otus--so incredibly evocative, and my nostalgic fave as well.

    PHB by Trampier--another iconic cover, full of interesting details.

    I also actually like the 3e "Tome" cover.

  17. Another vote for Blue Cover which I prefer over the color version on the box.

    1st AD&D PHB followed by the retro clones cause they're all "This is what you do in this game" scenes. The 4ed cover "They're just posing and looking cool." Is closer to how that game is played than many accept.

    I never had them but the 2ed PHB and the one with "Conan" bashing in the door would probably my third choices. Cool action, but wtf is the cleric, m-u, elf, dwarf and hobbit? Freakin Fighters always grandstanding.

  18. Yesmar said...
    This is my favorite historical cover:

    I was wondering if someone would cite the original cover. I can't say its my favorite, but it sure brings back the memory of my first game.

  19. Great idea for a blog post.

    Sutherland, Mullen, Tramp are my favs. That Mullen piece is an all-time favorite. Honorable mention to the new LL, which is really eye-catching to me.

    3x had brutal covers--- just lifeless.

  20. I like Swords & Wizardry (Peter Mullen) best, followed by Basic D&D (Erol Otus).

  21. Lots of votes for Mullen (and I must agree). In a recent post by James at Grognardia, he styled Mullen as "everyones favorite stand-in for Otus." While I see his point, that didn't sit well with me. I think Mullen is emerging as a major talent in his own right.

  22. "I think Mullen is emerging as a major talent in his own right" - leadjunkie

    Absolutely. I would love a Mullen calendar like the Tolkien calendars of old...or a Mullen DM Screen with a panoramic dungeon scene...drool!

  23. 1. Holmes Basic (my first visual of the game)
    2. 1st Printing AD&D PHB (iconic)
    3. S&W (beautiful)

    @Wulfgar22: Yes, a Mullen calendar. A calendar. I used to get a Tolkien calendar every year for Christmas back in the day.

  24. 1. Erol Otus' Basic Cover
    2. Peter Mullen's S&W Cover
    3. Steve Zieser's LL Cover

    All three are evocative, tell a story and I can look at them for hours.

  25. What? No Pathfinder Cover? No Castles and Crusades Cover? No Grim Tales cover?

  26. Sutherland

  27. 1. Sutherland's Blue Basic (will always be my #1)
    2. Mullen's S&W - new classic
    3. 1E AD&D - classic

  28. 1. Trampier
    2. Otus
    3. Ahmed on OSRIC
    4. Mullen on S&W


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  30. Hey, I'd love to vote on my three favourite covers, but it's really f**kin' hard to when most of the pictures have broken links. Dummies.



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