How important is the classic look for a new module cover?
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Post Posted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:26 pm 
 

I'm close to publishing a new printing* of Rob Kuntz's Dark Druids module. For the cover, I originally envisioned using the "classic" 1e type cover, much like what the PPP modules (and my own CHP modules) use. But I've been unable to come up with a cover illustration idea that knocks my socks off (I have very particular standards), so I put the cover decision on the back burner. (There are *many* other illustration orders to work on in the mean time.) After a while, I started thinking about using a non-classic cover format; perhaps something more akin to what you might find on a 60's or 70's swords & sorcery anthology; or perhaps just something else entirely (I have a very specific idea which I'm quite fond of, but I don't want to reveal it just yet). Which brings me to my question...

How important would the classic cover be for a module like this? Would any of you be pushed away from a purchase if it had a non-classic cover style? Does it need to visually "match" the earlier PPP offerings?

I feel silly asking, because I will probably just go with my gut regardless of the feedback, but what the hell: Throw your opinions my way!

*This version of Dark Druids will be specifically for use with AD&D, with slightly more content than the 2006 PPP version. More details once it's closer to publication.


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:57 am 
 

Guy I honestly feel some people would buy the module simply for the "1E Old School Look".  I know when I see the classic style and formatting it gets my cold old heart pitter-pattering.   But in the end it's the content that really matters...

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:36 pm 
 

Badmike wrote in How important is the classic look for a new module cover?:Guy I honestly feel some people would buy the module simply for the "1E Old School Look".  I know when I see the classic style and formatting it gets my cold old heart pitter-pattering.   But in the end it's the content that really matters...

Mike B.


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:43 pm 
 

If we're voting, I would definitely opt for the Old School cover art.  When I first came across F1, the module cover alone drew me in, but your production values and content are outstanding so purchasing F3 was a no brainer.  I am sure your treatment of Rob's Dark Druids will be of comparable quality so whatever cover you eventually select, you already have at least one customer. :)

I'm not sure if you are taking pre-orders, but put me down for two.


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:57 pm 
 

Guy,

This one is hard for me to answer because I love your mods for the covers *and* the content.  In fact, my work tries to follow many of the standards you put together on your CH site.  

Whatever you make, I'll be buying for sure.

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 2:23 pm 
 

In my humble opinion, I think it depends on the author and the audience.

If the audience is collectors that buy everything, they're probably going to buy it regardless of cover style.

If the audience is gamers and the author is unkown, they're probably more likely to buy a classic look - the classic look tells them what to expect about the content. If the author is well known, they'll probably buy it based on their opinion of the author and not on the cover.

Personally, I don't buy very many modules at all from people I don't know and like (or who don't get endorsements from people I know and like), so the look tends not to be that relevant. It's always regretable though when you have a good product with a shit cover, of course, regardless of style.

Just my two cents.

  

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 4:24 pm 
 

I will triple chime in on the old-school module style. I say this as a guy who just delivered a box set from a kickstarter project. Hands down the biggest extra was the backer only retro-style module (which was my original goal for the whole thing but <shrug> my ambition grew).

This was even true when posting the cover/title page on social networks.

I think it sells to everyone even though the unit cost is higher to produce them.

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:54 pm 
 

Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

My decision isn't set in stone yet, but I'm likely to do something of a hybrid. If I had to make the decision today, the cover would strongly suggest (resemble) the classic style, but would do a couple things differently. Hopefully in a non-jarring way.

Anyway, I'm talking with a possible cover artist now. If things go quickly, I might have a preliminary cover to show in a few weeks.


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 7:24 pm 
 

I love 1e, but I say to heck with trade dress used by TSR 35 years ago. Do your own thing!


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 7:52 pm 
 

Guy Fullerton wrote in How important is the classic look for a new module cover?:Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

My decision isn't set in stone yet, but I'm likely to do something of a hybrid. If I had to make the decision today, the cover would strongly suggest (resemble) the classic style, but would do a couple things differently. Hopefully in a non-jarring way.

Anyway, I'm talking with a possible cover artist now. If things go quickly, I might have a preliminary cover to show in a few weeks.



I say do what you like, but I'm more likely to buy a classic cover.


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 7:58 pm 
 

Your call of course, I'll be up for a copy regardless, but for interest I'll mention I'm much more likely to take a chance on a purchase from an unknown author/publisher if the item is produced in that iconic familiar layout.


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:12 pm 
 

It's about product identity. Using the trade dress of AD&D instantly makes one familiar with the style think AD&D. Of course, contents bearing the same identity helps a lot.

Doing something outside of the recognition factor reduces the chances one will notice for which system it was intended. However, as we live in an age where self-promotion is easy across boards such as these and the blogosphere, I don't foresee too much difference in copies going out either way.


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:44 pm 
 

Guy Fullerton wrote in How important is the classic look for a new module cover?:My decision isn't set in stone yet, but I'm likely to do something of a hybrid. If I had to make the decision today, the cover would strongly suggest (resemble) the classic style, but would do a couple things differently. Hopefully in a non-jarring way.


Perhaps you can have your cake and eat it too, Guy:  use the interior title page of the book to experiment with the version that you don't use for the front cover of the adventure?


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:43 pm 
 

or put Jaroo Ashstaff on the back cover, and do whatever you were planning with the front cover.


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:26 pm 
 

And if you know someone that was previously a 1st Edition artist, and find one of them to do some cover art for you.

With that kind of name recognition, you'd end up selling a few more mod's...


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 4:25 pm 
 

I look at mimicking the old TSR-style covers as sort of an homage to a great set of products from a great time period in gaming. Using that style in the production of modern day modules using our favorite classic rules system is, in my opinion, the default. I think it may be even more important when producing a product such as the one you describe.

All that said, as would-be designers, it is still nice to make each product "our own." I try to stick with a lot of the old, and a little of the new. It is hard to argue with a design that instantly provided product identity - and old school covers certainly serve that purpose.


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

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Post Posted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:14 pm 
 

If your piece is a "nostalgia" piece, then go with that "look & feel".

If it's not, then do whatever the "heck" you want ... as long as it doesn't need to come in a brown wrapper ;-)


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Post Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:49 pm 
 

IMO, if you want a successful module, as opposed to a run of the mill small press offering, you need both the 'classic TSR' module look, and professional artwork. Artwork done by a random internet guy, or an art student someone knows who needs a break, just puts the module into the bucket with all the other small press and/or home published hobbyist module offerings. With a fairly reasonable piece of work (sorry Rob, just my humble oppinion here) from a professional well know author in this genre, a poor interior typesetting, sub-standard cartography and/or artwork, and a 'modern' cover layout would absolutely destroy the marketability of the work.

Just my 2c, mind you, and best of luck with it.


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