Judging a Book by its Cover

After 24 years working in bookselling, I know how important having a good cover is to selling a book. If the cover is dull, naff, or just badly illustrated or designed, no one is going to pick your book up to read the blurb on the back or have a look inside. And online, covers need to look cool even when they’re shown in much reduced form on a webpage.

That’s why getting a great cover for Parsantium: City at the Crossroads is something I am very passionate about. I want the cover image to show what’s cool and different about the city and the player characters who have adventures there, and I needed to find a talented fantasy artist to do this.

I’m very pleased to have commissioned Joe Shawcross to illustrate the cover. You can have a look at some of his recent work here.

What’s your favourite RPG cover? What do you like about it?


15 thoughts on “Judging a Book by its Cover

  1. It’s the cover of the original AD&D DMG, for me. Not the greatest piece of artwork and it’s probably mostly for nostalgic reasons. But I always liked the fact that it wasn’t steroid packed barbarians and chain mail bikini babes in mortal combat. It was two sneaky bastards trying to prise the gems from the eye sockets of a demonic idol. Much more intriguing.


  2. For sheer class it’s difficult to trump Skyrealms of Jorune, which depicted fantasy using the techniques of history painting. Sadly the artist, Miles Teves, who has since worked as a character concept designer on many well known films, no longer sees fit to put it on his CV – http://www.milesteves.com/resume.php :(.

    Main rules, original cover: http://www.jdrp.fr/img/items/skyrealms-of-jorune-2nd-edition-134.jpg
    And another edition: http://scriiipt.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/jorune.jpg


  3. I feel like the ones that captured my imagination the most were the Dragonlance ones. Even before reading the books I knew who the characters were and wanted to know more. It is hard to argue with Elmore though.


  4. My personal preference would be adventurers approaching the city, what will they find behind the walls? Well the answer is in the book so buy it! Much like the Al Qadim cover above: read me to discovermy secrets, it says.
    But I think most newer gamers prefer some action on the cover, if I have to choose a recent example it would be Koboldpress’ Zobeck Gazeteer, there is action but itis not in your face with bulging biceps and the like, I guess I like it because it shows what the setting is about.
    As a last note, I would just say that the original AD&D gazeteers really captured my imagination, with their covers with several different pictures, this would probably not lend itself to a major setting like Parsantium. I think they were AD&D, but old schoolers will know the ones.
    If I had to call the shot, a cover that shows Parsantium from an angle that beckons to the players as well as the GM



    • I really like the Zobeck Gazetteer cover too – there’s a lot going on in that picture! Do you mean the GAZ series of accessories? They were for BECMI D&D’s Known World and had some very striking covers.

      Thanks for your suggestions – I want the cover to call out to DMs & players too, definitely.


      • Yes those are the ones, Orcs of Thar, Elves of Alfheim why dont they release them again? I would buy them just for nostalgic reasons. After I have bought Parsantium that is 🙂


  5. I just saw that you’re having Joe Shawcross do the cover, and I wanted to say that I believe you are in good hands. Joe has done some work for me and I have been very pleased with every part of the process. I think you’ll come out with a fantastic cover.


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