Thursday, July 08, 2010

Doing it right ... this time (The Cover)

So when I originally set down to "Follow the Guide" (wow... over a year ago now),  the intent was to go through the guide step by step and blog about the process along the way. Unfortunately, I got sort of lost in the creation process and my analysis and evaluation of the guide as a tool sort of fell by the way side.

I'd like to try again; to start fresh with the guide and make the next handful of blog posts not only an examination of an evolution of my game project but also a sort of critical analysis of the RPG Guide to point out what aspects of the guide were particularly worth while to me.

For example: my original post "glossed over" the first step in Rob's Guide, "The Cover." That was incredibly short-sighted of me, and this time I intend to make amends. So, without further adieu ... here is my guide to Rob's Guide ...

The Cover

I mentioned in my previous post that I had purchased some clip-art licenses from Skortched Urf' Studios and that I wanted to use them. Drive Thru RPG has a large number of commercial grade clip art collections available for use in projects by independent game designers like me, and the pricing is very reasonable. I bought the Modern Figures 1-4 Sketchbook Bundle. And for the most part I am happy with the purchase. However, the images are really only suited for "spot illos" with maybe two exceptions. Those two exceptions are both very nice full color illustrations with backgrounds and so I set about putting the two pieces together in the hope of creating something original for my cover.

Ultimately, my options in arranging the two images seemed very limited and I have had to resort to an unusual arrangement for the cover text to make things work. However, when all is said and done I find that I am very happy with the results and the necessity to squeeze my title text into the space available has resulted in what I think is a very interesting and striking title logo. So, for me, this was a win win.

Rob's guide mentions the cover should contain the title of your RPG and your name. Check. Now, these things may seem obvious, but let me tell you ... I have links to a number of free RPG sites listed here on this blog and a handful of those don't have covers on them ... so, maybe the necessity for a cover isn't obvious to everyone, or perhaps some would consider its inclusion optional.

All I know is that when I took my revised 5x5 text and I put this cover in front of it, I gained an immediate sense of accomplishment. Somehow my work didn't feel as complete or professional without its cover as it does now. It's amazing how a simple thing like a cover makes my 8 page document feel so much more like a "real book" and not just an amateur fanzine or pamphlet. Those individuals who have created their own free RPG's and have decided to distribute them without covers, I urge you to reconsider.

It's amazing what a cover can do.


Jeff Moore


  1. "It's amazing what a cover can do."

    Absolutely, I completely recognise this feeling. I've uploaded a couple of adventures to Lulu, and was completely taken by surprise the first time I did when all of a sudden it asked for a cover: "Awhatanow?!"

    But, even for something small and insignificant as a free PDF and even if the cover is crudely done by the author himself, a cover actually makes a big difference. It DOES look more professional! :)

  2. I think this cover might look better if the elements didn't overlap (the two pictures, and the logo with the bottom picture).