Comments on 2019-05-15 The purpose of art in a RPG product

I love the art in RPG books but I hate that it’s only really seen by the DM. I buy more PDFs than physical books so art often gets in the way rather than enhances my experience while playing, but it’s nice for theme while reading away from the table.

Tom 2019-05-15 20:31 UTC

Yeah, I hate it when there are beautiful maps that nobody else ever sees.



And then there’s the drawbacks of having the wrong art:

– Alex Schroeder 2019-05-16 05:54 UTC

I just read a very interesting post about Silent Titans. A Literary Analysis of Silent Titans by Patrick Stuart on the Sheep and Sorcery blog.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-05-19 08:35 UTC

Another positive review: Silent Titans Actually Works.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-05-22 06:44 UTC

100% onboard with the “I’d rather spend an hour half-assedly prepping a dungeon than looking for the right existing one” sentiment.

I guess that’s why I’ve been designing all these procedural tools and worksheets and stuff.

Hey BTW, Alex, did you write about the aforementioned sentiment somewhere else recently or am I imagining it?

Eric Nieudan 2019-05-27 12:56 UTC

Hm, not sure, Eric. On Lasagna Social I posted some thoughts that ended up in blog posts but it was more abstract.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-05-27 18:09 UTC

Back in my Graphic Design class they pointed out (this is from rough memory) that most art in books serves two purposes (1) To clarify text visually (2) to act as a sort of bookmark to help find bits of information later.

So add those two to the benefits. These apply even if the art is horrifically ugly as long as it is clear (unlike the map mentioned above).

– Ruprecht 2019-06-04 18:59 UTC

Good points!

– Alex Schroeder 2019-06-04 19:04 UTC

I’m also reminded of my thoughts on Fight On! magazine and the old school I miss:

I like the spirit of doing it yourself. Making your own house rules. The sheer uncontrolled mass … makes me happy. … I like the part that is not related to products. I liked the part about Fight On! and the One Page Dungeon Contest that showed me other people doing similar stuff without shiny gloss and fancy art. – 2017-12-22 What I like about the Old School

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-31 23:18 UTC

Excellent blog posts:

And an interesting Reddit thread.

Or maybe A Lot of RPG Books Are Too Expensive. Not because they are but because we’re optimizing for coffee table books, perhaps?

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-31 23:53 UTC

Maze of The Blue Medusa Diss Track does what it says, talking about all the things wrong with it:

– Alex Schroeder 2019-09-17 08:29 UTC

Patrick Stuart asks, What do you think of art in games?

My take: art in a role-playing game is good if it is illustrating things the referee needs to describe but practically useless if just setting the mood. Mood is important but why not both? Monster pictures have been great. Fancy maps with a ton of scenery to show to players have been great. If it cannot be shown to players that is a warning sign.

That’s why Stonehell is good: it needs maps, these maps are for the referee only, nothing needs to be shown to payers and so no other art pieces need to be there.

Conversely, that is why the art booklet for Castle of the Mad Archmage was useless. The pictures served no purpose. The scenery was simple to describe and the picture didn’t help, and the pictures weren’t not interesting enough for players.

Looking back I have been showing pictures from monster manuals to players since forever. The pictures from D&D 3+ and Pathfinder have been great. The maps in the Planescape books have been great.

If art is super simple and simply serves layout purposes, then that is fine, of course. But that is a very different thing. No need to commission a lot of art, though.

If art is used for marketing and product identity then that is also a different thing. This can also be achieved using other means, of course.

If you are the creator and you love artists drawing the stuff you’ve been thinking of, then that is a different thing, too.

I would have liked a few city scenes for Yoon Suin, and better pictures of snail people.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-09-17 09:09 UTC

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