Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?
I seem to remember catching a fleeting glimpse inside Hellas, the Greek space opera rpg, at UK Games Expo once, and thinking “ooh, that’s lovely.” But that might just be nostalgia. I don’t have a copy of the game to confirm. When it comes to the interior art, I prefer to get saturation with a physical copy.
My hard collection is old and crumbly, and woefully devoid of great, inspiring interior art. After a quick flick through the shelves, I ended up drifting away with the monochrome drawings in the original pocket-sized edition of Dragon Warriors more than most other pieces (not the recently made free omnibus edition). Simpler times: practical illustrations of what gameplay is like, and occasionally a frightful foe, silhouetted, to make the heart beat faster. Almost certainly nostalgia casting the die there.
More recently, I’ve been really impressed with what the team have done with Unknown Armies 3. The art direction for the latest edition is photographs only. Not just in the official product line (the multi-volume book package of course, but also the GM slipcase and soundtracks), but it’s the designated style guideline for community created content too. So, none of your old-hat paint, print or pencil jobs to break consistency and immersion. It has a wholly contemporary style and ethos. Take your pick: it’s either the dark heart or the sweaty underbelly of reality illustrated, know what I mean?
There are some stunning examples in the books that evoke the weird horror of postmodernity that sits beneath the surface of our pony worlds. Any of them could appear as a person, location or portentous event in your UA campaign. And many of them would trigger a non-trivial shock meter check.
I can’t give up on fantasy though. The more I see of the art of Symbaroum, the more I want to play the game again. I don’t have a physical copy of the books. Instead I’ll occasionally find myself on the The Iron Pact website which is gloriously illustrated with official art. From there I get transported back to Davokar. And then promptly forget what I went there for. That’s probably as it should be.
Images from Dragon Warriors (Dave Morris & Oliver Johnson), Unknown Armies (Atlas Games) and Symbaroum (Jarnringen).