I just read an interesting piece on d20art about modules and art. The author suggested that art in adventure scenarios — even the good stuff — was pretty much useless. I found the idea thought-provoking. The products we’ve been putting out have gotten more art since that first module. White Ape of the Congo went very minimalist with the interior art — with two pieces in the adventure guide, and small portraits for the sample characters, a thing we stopped doing with The Death Jade and Murder on the Hindenburg. However, the number of pieces in those two grew to provide visuals to aid the GM with what Shanghai and the airship looked like at the time. The trick, I think, is to balance between utility and making the product visually interesting enough for the reader.

But he’s right — a lot of that art, while it can help the gamemaster find a feel for a scene, isn’t necessarily useful to the players. They could show a picture of the cabins in Hindenburg to give them an idea of the setting, but in the pdf they would either have to resize to avoid showing the verbiage, or cut and paste into another file. It’s not easily useful.

Pointing to a specific example of an old D&D module, the author had suggested breaking art pieces into a separate section that the GM could show the players. It’s a compelling idea. Do you separate the words and the images to give the adventure guide more utility? Do you simply copy the images into a series of pages at the end of the product? This could be especially useful on a tablet like the iPad, where you could show a full-page image quite easily (but which has the unfortunate effect of blowing up the file size, if you’re not careful — another issue of utility.)

Something to keep in mind, I think. We might have to try it out on a future adventure scenario.

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