A lot of gamebook covers avoid depicting the player-character, which makes sense as gamebooks are seen through the protagonist’s eyes. Way of the Tiger does it another way, more like the view in a third-person CRPG where you get to see the hero. Let’s do that with Blood Sword. That way we can get a sense of scale in the scenes and monsters the hero is facing.
As there are four character types to choose from in Bloodsword, we can have a different character type depicted as the hero in each cover. Then in the fifth cover maybe we could show all four. The character types are:
- Book One: a warrior (male)
- Book Two: a rogue (male)
- Book Three: a sage (female)
- Book Four: a wizard (female)
The Battlepits of KrarthA huge four-limbed creature of solid shadow is about to attack a human warrior.
A long hall or temple with bronze doors. The place is lit by bowls of burning coals that produce clouds of incense. Those bowls are on bronze stands. To give some movement to the image, perhaps the monster is knocking some of these bowls aside as it closes in on the player-character.
A hulking creature of living shadow. Its entire form is jet black except for its eyes, which blaze with blue-white light. It has four arms, and in each hand it grips a massive scimitar (also jet black). In the book this monster is known as “Nebularon, Drinker of Souls, Swallower of Sorcery” and I based it a little bit on Eternity in the Doctor Strange comics.
As the monster is supposed to have a skin of shadow that contains the blazing blue-white light, you could have lines along its body and limbs where we can see thin cracks of light shining through. That’s up to you – I just mention it in case having it entirely jet-black doesn’t look right.
He is a warrior who could be armed with a spear or a sword and shield (but not a bow). A low-angle shot to emphasize the size of the shadow monster, so that the warrior is in the foreground with his back to us looking up at the monster.
The Kingdom of WyrdA funeral procession of sinister monks carries a shrouded body along an underground tunnel, watched from the shadows by a rogue-like player-character.
A stone tunnel deep underground. There are various round ventilation shafts built high up in the walls of the tunnel. We are viewing the scene in the tunnel from one of these ventilation shafts.
The bad guys:
A procession of evil monks wearing peaked hoods. They are carrying a shrouded body on a wooden bier and each has a tall candle to light the way. We are looking down at them as the procession goes along the tunnel. In case it helps, here is Russ Nicholson's picture from the original book.
A rogue (thief-type character) has climbed down the ventilation shaft and is braced against the mouth of it peeking out as the procession goes by underneath him. He is lightly armoured (leather, not plate metal) and has a bow, a quiver of arrows on his back, a sheathed dagger at his belt.
The Demon’s ClawThe sage levitates high above a mountain stronghold.
We’re high in the air looking down at stronghold that is built on a ledge among high mountain peaks above an almost sheer drop. The dawn light glances off its sharp cornices and columns of glassy grey-black stone. The central tower of the stronghold is capped by an egg-shaped dome encrusted with carnelian and topaz. It hangs above the grey buildings like a second sun, catching the rays of dawn and seeming to magnify them. Here’s the drawing from the original book:
The bad guys:
A group of Magian wizards have run out onto the terrace and are getting ready to cast spells at the player-character. (They are tiny at this distance, so we probably can’t make out much detail of their clothing, but in fact they wear gold-trimmed red robes and tall copper crowns.)
A female sage (priestess-type) in simple white tunic. She carries a plain wooden staff and is levitating in midair. Our view is therefore looking down past her from behind as she descends towards the stronghold.
DoomwalkThe sorceress gazes up in awe at the Angel of Death who stands like a skyscraper in the centre of the desolate land of Sheol.
A vast flat plain strewn with small rocks. In the far distance, the plain is ringed by sharp mountains, but they are so far off that they don’t look tall. Certainly not as tall as the central figure, Azrael.
This is the archangel Azrael, the angel of death. First of all, he is huge - as tall as a mountain, so that his head is actually hazed by clouds and distance.Azrael is naked, but some states in the US tend to be prudish and won’t allow us to show genitals on a book cover, so he should stand facing slightly away from us. He’s just turning his head as if he has noticed the presence of the player-character – though to him she is insignificant, barely more than a gnat.
In appearance he’s like the classic Greek-Roman ideal, with muscles that look almost sculpted. His skin is dark grey, but that’s offset by the rich colours of his wings. The pattern of feathers on the wings is like a peacock’s tail, covered with eyes – only most of the eyes are closed, only about a tenth of the eyes are open. Here’s the description from the book:
A naked giant as large as a mountain. Wrapped across his face is a white blindfold. A colossal sword is planted on the ground in front of him, with his mighty hand resting on its ivory pommel. His face is beautiful beyond mortal comprehension, and he has wings which touch the edges of the sky. The plumage of these wings has a pattern like a peacock's tail, with countless eyes - except that many of the 'eyes' in the pattern are closed. You know from folklore that each represents a man or woman in the mortal world, closing when that individual dies. When all the eyes are closed it will be the Day of Judgement, and that day cannot be far off. Many more are closed than are open: the dead far outnumber the living.I’ve done a sketch but there’s a big problem with it – Azrael isn’t nearly tall enough. He should be a thousand feet tall!
A sorceress. She is standing looking up at Azrael and has her left hand raised to her face as if she’s shielding her eyes from a dazzling light. Her other hand grips an elaborate jewelled staff. She wears long flowing robes as you’d expect of a wizard. Her body language doesn’t suggest that she intends to fight Azrael – he’s far too huge and powerful, you may as well think of attacking a mountain. Instead, her posture should convey awe and wonder.
The Walls of Spyte
An arctic wasteland. In the background is the city of Spyte, a walled citadel of grey towers and spires surrounded by a high basalt wall. The city is completely encircled by a broad chasm almost a mile across. From this chasm rise sulphurous fumes that form patches of yellowish haze in the icy air.
An ice bear – a creature with the heavy frame and shoulders of a bear, but covered in quills like a porcupine. Its claws and quills seem to be made of ice, in fact.
All four of our heroes from the earlier covers – the warrior with a spear, behind him the rogue aiming his bow, the sage with her quarterstaff, and the sorceress conjuring a powerful spell. All of them are wearing heavy furs to protect themselves in the cold environment.
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As a final note, these are very different from the covers I envisaged for a new streamlined edition of Blood Sword a few years ago. The design has to fit what you're trying to do. Those would have been more of a grown-up rethink of the books, with emphasis on the interactive novel aspect. Because in the end we just opted to re-release the original kids' books, complete with tactical maps and rules as complex as a few months of Brexit negotiation, the more vibrant in-your-face cover designs were more appropriate.