RPG covers look wrong.

Obviously there’s no such thing as artwork being objectively right or wrong. But if the intention of an RPG cover is to interest the viewer and/or give them an idea what the product is about, then yes, they mostly fail.

I had a look at Amazon’s current listing of top-selling fantasy books today. There seem to be two main styles for the covers.

These is the cover to one of theĀ Game of Thrones books. It’s cover design is pretty much text and a single symbol.

The Hunger Games series has a recognisably similar style.

The second main style is to have a model or models posing, as with this Dresden Files novel.

This, on the other hand, is a Star Wars comic from the70s. The strange thing is, this comic looks a lot more like a typical role-playing product than do the other two.

Obviously some RPGs are going to deliberately try for a comic book style. But this is the 4th edition Dungeon Master’s Guide 2:

4th edition had no OSR-like love for Frank Frazetta covers and Star Wars comics. And yet, although the artwork is more detailed, it’s still in that same style.

It’s not a budget or skill issue either. I’m pretty confident that a ‘single symbol and text’ cover would be easier to do, or cheaper to commission, than full-page artwork of a PC vs monster skirmish. And there are lots of stock photos out there if you wanted to do the other main style.