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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Swords & Wizardry Complete cover Revealed!


This is the cover for the upcoming printing of Swords & Wizardry Complete. Note, the transparency might not be the final version.

For comparison, here's the old cover.


I have my preference. What is yours?

(edit: I'm going to add "and why" to the above question, just cause I'd like to know ;)

94 comments:

  1. Even though I was not born when Erol Otus was making those now-legendary pieces of artwork that the old cover conjures and feel no overbearing nostalgia about his art, the new one looks more than a little disconnected from the subject matter.

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    1. Agreed, Todor. I also wasn't a gamer during the Otus golden years, but I still prefer the prior cover. The cover looks like it would be on something from a Lamentations of the Flame Princess module more than S&W.

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    2. I'm down for the original cover because of the retro-feel, and I just don't get that vibe with the new cover.

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  2. Honestly not a fan of the new cover at all.

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  3. I'm a fan of the older one. Nostalgia for Otis is part of it. Another is I helped Kickstart that one and don't really see a need for another one.

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  5. The new cover is cool...kind of a Lusus Naturae vibe - but Erol Otus is it for me.

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  6. Not a big fan of the new cover. Too new school in design. The older cover inspires taking gaming back to it's roots, this one feels too modern... like it should be a Shadowrun cover or something. I usually collect editions of certain games, but unless there are new rules being put in the upcoming edition, I'm sticking with my current copy.

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  7. The earlier version all the way. It tells a story, invokes the imagination, makes me want to play. It draws me in. I want to explore in that world.

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    1. I agree, Dirk. It is the same feeling that the B/X covers (also illustrated by Otus) evoke.

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  8. I'm biased, of course, but I prefer the Peter Mullen cover of the S&W Core Rules edition to either the current Otus cover or the planned new cover. Personal tastes and all that.

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    1. I'm with Jon. Loved the Mullen cover the best!

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    2. I'm actually a huge fan of the Core rulebook cover as well. Otus has a distinct style but it might be a little too retro for me. Mullen feels like a middle ground between old and new, while still having a recognizable style.

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    3. Agree; I liked the Mullen cover the best (although I own the Otus hardcover). It had a great colour scheme, and fit the game's tone perfectly.

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    4. Mullen's Core was my favorite, too (and I also loved White Box).

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  9. I like both of the earlier versions better than this one. The color scheme doesn't help since I tend to prefer the cooler colors like blue, black, and the tint of green. Not a fan of pinkish red or yellow on this cover or the previous one. Also, tend to want to roll my eyes when I see pink butterflies on a RPG product.

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  10. Once you go Otus, you never go back. Well... You shouldn't, anyway.

    I also think the "old cover" is cleaner/easier on the eyes.

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  11. Text on new cover is too difficult to read.

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  12. I think this new cover is totally sick! I love it!

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  13. I like both covers (do like the image on black as looking simpler and streamlined, like the S&W ruleset is), nostalgia probably puts the EO cover barely ahead for me.

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  14. The Erol Otus cover all the way. As far why, I've always felt that Otus's artwork evokes a sense of otherworldliness that I really like. To me that's what D&D looks like, less medieval and more trippy. Probably explains why I'm such a big fan of the art of Dirk Stanley and Doug Kovacs too.

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  15. I prefer the old cover because it has a more old school feel, and I agree with Mr. Davis above that the title on the new one is a bit difficult to see, but Damn, that is a cool cover and I will likely buy one to add to my shelf.

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  16. Remove the words and I can tell what the Erol Otus cover is about. I can't say that with the new cover. It looks cool, but it tells me nothing.

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  17. Otus > Mullen >>>>>> Whatever this is. It's not horrible; I just don't relate it to S&W. The first two covers were excellent, in my opinion. The new one doesn't connect the dots for me.

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  18. Is that a dragon/tree hybrid of some kind? As a piece of artwork I think it's fine. As the cover art for a core rpg book I think it's missing the mark. It may be cliche, but showing a bunch of heroes confronting a monster really sums up the point of D&D, whatever flavor it is. Looking at the new cover I don't know that most folks would be able to get a theme of of it. (Maybe "do not touch.") I think a cover of a core rpg book should express what the rpg is about.

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    1. Maybe it's an elder thing surrounded by a flock of mi-go? It certainly looks more "Lovecraftian" than anything remotely related to Old School D&D.

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  19. The old cover. It tells a story like what folks said above. I really dislike thisnew cover.

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  20. 110% prefer the older covers by Mullen and Otus. With all due respect to the artist, the new cover is a dog's breakfast.

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  21. Really not a fan of the new cover. It doesn't evoke the (OTR, old school, retro clone, whatever you want to call it) vibe that the Erol Otus cover does.

    Besides that, it tells me nothing about the game. The earlier cover: "Okay, so it's a medieval Europe type world where folks use weapons and magic to fight monsters." The new one: "So...it involves some kind of dead thing in the woods, spirit animals, and butterflies? Are the butterflies summoning the spirit thing? You play carnivorous butterflies that summon spirits?"

    I'm being overly obtuse, but you get the idea. The new cover just doesn't tell me what the game will be like.

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  22. I'm all for the old covers - whether the Mullen or the Otus one. They evoke better the spirit of the game. They tell us there are heroes (I don't see any on the new cover) fighting monsters, casting spells and generally having all sorts of adventures. I also like that they are not dead serious, but evoke the sort of weird gonzo humor you can find in many older D&D modules (i.e. Castle Amber). From an illustrators point of wiew, I find the previous covers better because they are clear and legible, and - most of all the Otus one - are better designed. And yes, Tim Brannan is absolutely right - remove the lettering and you couldn't tell what game it's the cover of (or that it's a game at all, come to that).
    So please, please, please - keep the cover that Erol Otus has made. Or make him do a new one - it will certainly be better than this "grim dark moose skull with pink butterflies" affair...

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  23. Was a big fan of the original Mullen cover. The Otus one is pretty great as well. Both had a great S&W vibe. I have no idea what the heck is happening in this new cover. I've been a big fan of Matt Finch and S&W since day one but this is terrible. Why not just reprint with the same cover? It's still the same rules, right?

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  24. I like the new version. As well I like the older version. Both of which I'd wear on a T shirt. that's not the best answer is it? hmm. Well I think that at certain times things need to be updated, for the sake of argument. Sometimes its made to make something feel new again, sometimes its just because. I know from a marketing stand point (within my industry) My company has tried to keep the same theme with re-releases or re do's of graphics, because the customers know what it is when they see it.

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  25. . . . I actually kind of like the new one? It's striking and, what's more, different conceptually than the S&W Core rulebook I have on my shelf. Underscores that Complete is a different animal, the same way AD&D was from B/X?

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  26. Not even sure what's being depicted on the new cover. Is it a fantasy rpg or a death metal album?

    Otus for the win.

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  27. The new cover is interesting but looks like something on a new LotFP sourcebook, and does not evoke S&WC to me at all, unfortunately. I'm still in favor of the first Mullen cover but I quite like the Otus cover as well...they both display an exploration/event going on, something very "S&W"ish.

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  28. I like the older cover, not because it is particularly fantastic, but because the new one looks too generic and dark. The text is harder to find and read and I can't really tell what is going on with the cover. Some kind of plant is emitting light..... There is nothing that tells me this is a game book and not a self-published horror novel.

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  29. Can someone give me a link to where this info is coming from? I didn't realise a new version was in the works, thanks.

    I like the art of the new cover, but I'm not sure it's a fit. My favourite cover ever is the idol cover of the PHB 1E, that's the style I like to go for.

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    1. the new printing is being assembled by an all ladies team and will be Kickstarted at some point in the future.

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    2. Ah yes, I vaguely remember. With completely new art, correct?

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  30. I get a deep, complex, tribal vibe from the new one. It kind of reminds me of The Secret World video game. I'd expect the game behind that cover to be animistic, witchcrafty, gritty and low-tech with ritualistic magic. But my mind's eye vision of S&W and D&D is medieval and low/high fantasy with flashy magic.

    I prefer the Otus myself.

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  31. The Otis cover is superior. It has great color composition and tells a story. The new cover doesn't tell me what this game is about and the color composition at the top obscures the S&W logo.

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  32. Old covers are way better than strange new one... does not feel S&W to me... more LotFP but ugly.

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  33. I don't know what the new cover is supposed to show. I see moths and the flame, and some bones. But the central image is . . . a demonic moose?

    I'm not a huge fan of Erol Otus' work, but the cover shows three adventurers fighting a giant ghostly demon thing. I get it.

    Plus, the yellow title and the yellow flames don't mesh well. There's not enough contrast. Coupled with the confusing image, the entire picture disrupts the visual process of drawing the eye around the picture.

    The old cover has the warrior's spear and the witch's staff in parallel with the monster's spear. The glow in front of the wizard goes upward into the vapors coming off the creature (or, the wizard's spell is zapping the monster).

    So, old cover wins in my book.

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    1. To continue:
      Examine the cover for Pathfinder Core: a dragon, a wizard, and a warrior. Action. Something's happening. I know it's a game, and I know it's going to involve magic and dragons.

      LotFP: There is an atmosphere that you know is "weird," but you need to know it's a clone to understand the weirdness. It is not a cover designed for a new gamer to understand what the game is about.

      Call of Cthulhu, at least the earlier editions, required that you be somewhat familiar with Lovecraft's work to know what it was about. It could expand the gamer base if the people knew what a Cthulu was.

      The first edition Player's Handbook gave players what they want: victory and loot. Notice orcs weren't used as the dead monsters. No one knew what orcs looked like, but they know what lizard-men look like.

      Contrast that to the DM's Guide. Focused on the GM, it doesn't provide treasure as much as conflict (the GM runs the monsters, and there's a big red one right there on the cover!). Flipping to the back, it shows a scene of the City of Brass, suggesting that the background of the game, the setting, is the realm of the GM. While these aren't great covers, they do the job quite well.

      The magenta Basic DnD set - and then the blue Expert box, that builds on the original cover by showing the wizard scrying the adventurers.

      Take a look at Raging Swan's covers: Basic black, with the title. They are not designed to bring new gamers in, they are designed to support the current player base.

      Plus, I had another realization about what the image looks like, and there's no way I can display that in a family-friendly environment.

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  34. Otus. Not because of nostalgia, but because it makes more sense to have a cover that communicates the idea of what the book holds within.

    This may seem like hyperbole, but if they're seriously going with this and not also offering the Otus cover as well, are using similar art inside, have not made significant changes to text/layout and (according to them) have made no changes to the rules, I've decided to grab a few extra copies of the Otus cover edition and then never buy anything to do with Complete ever again.

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  35. Actually: I said "it makes more sense". I should say: "...it only makes sense...". Only.

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  37. Sorry to be blunt. The artwork is proficient imo, but what the hell is it doing on the cover of S&W? Does this represent the actual game in any way? It now looks like a pretentious indie game. Awful, just awful. No adventure, no characters, no connection to D&D, fantasy, delving, fighting, monsters, nothing. Just paint a damn rose on top of a green marble shield and call it a day already... It's like S&W is now ashamed of itself and wants to look artsy, mature, grownup. Plus the old logo doesn't mesh with this thing at all. It's like trying to paste the Iron Maiden logo on top of a Cocteau Twins cover.

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    1. I meant "no connection to medieval fantasy."

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  38. I thought this was more likely supposed to be: ..for 'an' upcoming printing instead of 'the' upcoming printing. I dunno. I just read the whole situation as 'an'

    Mullen Art version is still available. Otus version I reckon will still be available.

    I really hope that this doesn't blow up in the way of 'Who says you have a right to say what belongs on the front of S&W? Oppression from the Patriarch!' But, I'm expecting it very well might if fuel is added to a fire. After Gail and Ken ad infinitum, I really don't have the energy.

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    1. Mullen art was only on Core (and WB). Until they state otherwise, I'll assume (as they're selling copies of an actual print run instead of POD, as they honestly should) that sooner or later the Otus cover copies will run out and only this print run will remain.
      Also, to the rest...yeah. Gah.

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    3. Yep, here we go.

      John StephensYesterday 3:32 AM+1

      So awesome, can't wait!

      The cover art above is beautiful, but I have to say, it doesn't really say anything about S&W to me. Browsing through Kaos Nest's gallery, it's clear you found an excellent candidate for the job, and many many of KN's other pieces communicate S&W better than this one.

      Gabriel Carlson


      +John Stephens Dude, not cool. This is not an appropriate forum for critiquing Ms. Dellorfano's choices as developer; this is a place to leave a brief statement of excitement and support (which you did), and leave it at that.

      Also, I expect that you didn't think of this because this just isn't a thing that we men have to deal with, but your choices around how, where, and when you expressed your opinion are in line with condescending, patriarchal ways of interacting with women that are problematic. I don't think that it was conscious let alone intentional; it sure as hell isn't when I do it. And, at the same time, that was the effect.

      Please just be a little more conscious and considerate about the small choices you make interacting with people on the internet.


      (Reposted reply with better formatting):

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    4. ...discovered there's more, but I'm not going to fill up the comments section with them. I'm relieved though that other commenters over there have weighed in with some assertiveness and class.

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  39. This would be appropriate for a modern urban serial killer/detective game. It has nods to the art and iconography of the Hannibal books, movies, and series.

    Why is it on the cover of a Swords and Wizardry rulebook?

    I don't know what they were thinking.

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  40. Mullen was my favorite. Otus was cool. Not into this at all.

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  41. Uhm...
    The old cover has more character.
    More characters actually - a wizard, a warrior, a cleric... :D

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  42. I really like it. It's different but I feel like it conveys the spooky dark qualities of many of the Lost Lands books. Honestly, I didn't like the Otus cover that much when I first saw it because I associated the Mullen core cover with the game. It grew on me. I may the weirdo since I like them all for different reasons. The Mullen cover on core is still my favorite but I can't wait to add the new one to my collection.

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  43. The title is too hard to read.

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  44. Not really impressed with the new cover, looks like a metal album. It had the opposite effect of "growing on me" in that, I didn't mind it at first, but the more I look at the less fitting it is to me. I don't particularly care for the older blue cover image either though. Hard to please I suppose.

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  45. Well, for a product named Swords and Wizardry, the new cover seems distinctly lacking in both swords and wizards. I vote for the old one. It's more.... on point I believe.

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  46. Overall, think I like the colour palette of the old cover better; and I like the fact that the old cover has an encounter scene with clearly distinguishable elements. The World Otis vibe doesn't hurt either.
    The new cover looks interesting. I don't know if it would be more effective if I could more easily distinguish the elements comprising the picture. How finished - apart from the title transparency - is the final image? If it's more of a mock-up that would make a difference, and seeing the ultimate final cover might make a difference.

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  47. I like the new one. I get the old one, but the new one intrigues and excites me on multiple levels.

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  48. The new cover in no way conveys what the game is or what it is about. I'll fully admit that me preference for the Otus cover comes from nostalgia, but it also performs the function of setting the actual mood and tone for the game, where this new one is just.. confusing.

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  49. While I like the art for the new cover, I don't think it works well for S&W. It just doesn't generate an emotional response in me indicative of OSR. Or, basically, it would work for something else much better.

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  50. I'm not a fan of this cover, I much prefer the Mullen and Otus covers. I don't think the new one evokes the game very well. The art makes me think the game's title should be Fantasy: The Conjuring not Swords & Wizardry. Just my two coppers.

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    1. Good call! Maybe change the name to Swords: The Wizardrying and type the name in small minimalist white fonts... ;)

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  51. I'm in the minority it seems but I much much prefer the new one. Far more intriguing.

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  52. Frankly, I like the Otus cover. I think it screams "Old School" and elicits a nostalgic feeling for the old days. That being said, are the publishers trying to reach a new audience? If so, that new cover might help.

    In the long run, it's what's between the book's covers that really matters.

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  53. This isn't the cover I would have chosen, but I do like it.

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  54. I have to throw my vote to the EO cover as well. The new version doesn't tell you what's inside.

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  55. I have to throw my vote to the EO cover as well. The new version doesn't tell you what's inside.

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  56. I love everything about the new cover, except the fact that it does not invoke "swords and wizardy". If that was a game about chaotic magic, it would be my immediate choice. But as for Swords & Wizardy, I prefer the old picture - because that has a connection to what the game is about, because that shows you what you will find inside with a single image.

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  57. I respect the artist & publisher for trying something new in a hobby that, for both better and worse, sometimes struggles to reach beyond its own nostalgia.

    That being said, I *don't* think the new art is a good fit for S&W given that it doesn't reflect the primary themes, action, or characters of the game. My honest first thought was, "Shoot, I should really go buy a copy or two of the Mullen cover before those become hard to find." I love Otus more than I can rationally account for, but the Mullen cover does even a better job of evoking the *feel* of my game at the table.

    I think the new art would be a great fit for a ritual magic supplement that outlined a couple hundred new spells, sanity & side effects rules, a few new classes, etc.

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  58. I like the new cover, and the discussion and opinion it creates, because it is different, somewhat challenging, and reaches out to a new audience; S&W, and the rest of the DIY DnD exemplars, are easily robust enough now to start appealing to and reaching out towards new tastes, new creative talent, and new audiences. The plain fact of the matter is if you liked the old cover you probably already own it (or easily could), and if this new cover causes new people to pick up the rules and play the game, then really that's the best thing that can happen for the game (and associated games) anyway.

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    1. I showed this cover and all of the older covers of all of the S&W flavors to quite a number of gals (girlfriend, daughter, daughter's friends, my friends, my girlfriend's friends). Guess what? Not only did they ALL dislike the cover, they strongly preferred each and every one of the other covers far and away more so than the new. These are not gamer gals. They are mostly geeks of one stripe or another. Some in their 30s, 20s, teens, and a handful of 9-10 year olds. Sounds like a new audience, huh? Now, what if they liked it and didn't know what was in it/what it was about? Drawn in by the new cover only to discover it's some fantasy action rpg. They might even feel as though it's a 'bait and switch'. Not exactly a winning plan.

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  59. I'm not into it, personally. I'll give the game the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe they're trying to take it in a much different direction. However, even giving it that, I'm not really sure what I'm looking at. (Whatever it is, though, it looks more like it belongs on the cover of a melodic death metal album rather than an RPG.)

    The previous cover was great at immediately telegraphing its intentions. One look at that Erol Otus cover (or even the Core cover by Peter Mullen) and you know EXACTLY what Swords & Wizardry is about and what it's trying to accomplish.

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  60. It's definitely a different feel. I like the metal vibe from it. Copies with the Otus cover continue to be available; we still have plenty of them left.

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  61. Wow.I dont own S&W and this is the first look for me at the Otus cover, it is phenomenal and right on with OS gaming! The newer image is also awesome but has some ambiguity that makes it look like an album cover for a killer band!

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  62. Wow.I dont own S&W and this is the first look for me at the Otus cover, it is phenomenal and right on with OS gaming! The newer image is also awesome but has some ambiguity that makes it look like an album cover for a killer band!

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  63. What is that a picture of? A tree? Honestly can't tell.

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  64. Is this supposed to be that re-vamped S&W done by a bunch of women?

    It looks like a dream journal a 14 year old girl (or boy these days) bought in Barnes and Noble!

    Not just no, hell no!

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  65. I like the blue cover. The new one, eh . . . not so much. It seems like an album cover or a book cover. It doesn't feel like a game book cover that tells me anything about what's inside.

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  66. Setting aside that the older one is Erol Otis...

    The new cover communicates nothing about "adventure". It looks more like a gothic horror thing... Not even sure what it's supposed to be.

    Some kind of animated Deer-skull thing with thorn antlers? What does it have to do with Swording and Wizarding?

    Look back at B/X covers... Look at old AD&D covers... Most communicate a group of stalwart adventurers going up against something.

    Man vs. Nature, as it were... PCs vs. Monster. Heroes vs. Villains.

    The new cover does nothing to communicate what the game is about.

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  67. I prefer the older, more traditional cover over the glossy, newer cover. Though I do tend to prefer my games "grittier", I like the action on the older cover, where characters in peril are actually *doing* something. I think this speaks to player agency, which is critical. The newer cover shows . . . something . . . sorta . . . doing . . . something. I think.

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  68. The new cover appears to be the spirit of a deer rising from its bones with fireflies or moths around it. It evokes animism, Shinto (ever seen Princess Mononoke?), magic, and rebirth. Great stuff but as I said more like the cover art of a concept album. It is good art though.

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  69. The new cover appears to be the spirit of a deer rising from its bones with fireflies or moths around it. It evokes animism, Shinto (ever seen Princess Mononoke?), magic, and rebirth. Great stuff but as I said more like the cover art of a concept album. It is good art though.

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  70. Purely a personal preference, of course, but I think the new one is ugly in terms of it colors and the combinations of colors. The art has a dark, muddy, and/or indistinct quality that I don't care for. The title's lettering style doesn't seem like a good fit for the new art either. Like many others, I'm also not sure what the new art is depicting. So I prefer the Otis one sort of by default. I'm open to new cover art; I like the color scheme of the Otis cover a lot, but I'm not a big fan of his art in general. Still, Otis's cover has a lot more going for it than the new one.

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  71. I really dislike this cover. I love S&W, but this cover just feels wrong. In order of preference (for the cover), I like Core (Mullen), Whitebox (Mullen), Complete (Otis).

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