So I’ve been listening to a new podcast, it’s a pair of women talking about topics dear to their hearts: Dungeons & Dragons and Feminism.
Obviously as its a podcast they have less visual element (though they do an excellent job in describing key points) but I felt this one was particularly relevant since it included them talking about some academic studies done on the gender related trends in the art of Dungeons & Dragons.
I highly recommend checking out the podcast and giving them a follow on their twitter. Among other things, they also post their sources so you can review for yourself.
They upload at the start of the month, and are currently polishing up their latest recording so now is a great time to drop in and give them some encouragement.
Of course, sometimes they get political and it’s justperfect.
It’s easy to dismiss this as “product of its time” or just something of by-gone days, particularly as the current management of Wizards of the Coast and the connected companies have been very actively trying to do better – but its important to remember that these are essentially formative works both in tabletoproleplayiing games and fantasy in general.
That’s… that’s a problem.
(h/t: Slovenly Trulls for drawing my attention to this gallery of masterpieces) Specific sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Apparently a lot of people are having… polite conversations [/sarcasm] about the tiddy booplate puppet being 100% okay because not only is this parody, but the design was the idea of her player/voice actress, who’s a woman of color and size (and known for raunchy sense of humor).
No-one’s here to judge how empowered (and/or hilarious) a performer feels about playing a character with giant breasts and bikini armor, but shielding an uninspired, sexist choice in a mainstream commercial project from criticism with female co-creator is insidious as fuck.
An Aasimar Cleric for a friend of mine! Painting the gauntlets and flames was so much fun!
Oh, I really like how her outfit is overall uncomplicated, so the eye is drawn to the flaming gauntlet and her golden eyes. The choice to break up the shapes in this way, with the big central shape surrounded (and bisected) by smaller ones, also helps the eye take in the entire design. It’s also just a nice way to “casually” wear armor.
Even though this design is made up of “simple” clothes, it’s still interesting and pleasing to look at, and I really like the color scheme. And the rendering is just so crisp and nice!
Queen of the Spiders Re-Covered
We decided to try our hand at a combined redesign, where each of us picked a character in the same picture and redesigned them. And we thought this image, the cover of an old Dungeons and Dragons adventure called “Queen of the Spiders” would be a good candidate (blame for throwing it at us goes to @theoldhack).
This is where the infamous drow race is introduced, where I guess they were just… evilwomen of color. ? Unfortunate. We decided to make them purple-skinned like they are in more modern lore.
At first, Icy thought the “queen” in the title referenced the lady in the middle there, but it’s actually one of the names for Lolth, the spider goddess whom the drow venerate, so…. We’re sure the drow on the cover are important mini-bosses somewhere in the adventure, probably, maybe.
Full write-up and close-up images under the cut.
What’s-her-Face on the Right
Just gotta say that it’s a huge pet peeve of mine when (usually male) writers write a matriarchal society as, air quotes, “sexually liberated,” otherwise known as “an excuse to draw them in lingerie because I can’t imagine women’s bodies not catering to me personally in any scenario, while still drawing men in full body armor.” Thanks for coming to my TED talk.
Okay, so…. I’m not sure what she’s supposed to be… besides a swimsuit model, which maybe the drow do have. Is there a quest where the players go to the underground beach to play underground beach volleyball? Cause if not, why is she like that???
I decided to make her a mage (this was a 1st edition book, so that’s all we got). I ended up changing…. everything, really. I think the only thing I didn’t change was her nose shape. It’s not my fault though, the redline for her original pose was an unsalvageable eldrich nightmare.
I gave her a more confident pose, more comfortable magic-user-friendly clothes (with the spider motif, cause spider god), and even different hair. The original hairdo just wasn’t doing it for me. I wanted her to look cool enough to have her own illustration in the book. She even has a little magic flame (mostly cause I didn’t know what to do with her hand lol)!
Her hair didn’t quite turn out how I wanted it to, but overall, I think it’s a good redraw. She’s got lots of fun shapes, an actual color scheme, and an attitude. What else do we need?
Queen/High Priestess Crotchleg
The composition was so awful that I had to actually largely re-do it by changing the third lady’s position from right to left and recreating large parts of the throne… some of which ended up covered by the main drow’s dress anyway (probably for the better).
Speaking of which, boy was she hard to fix without just throwing everything away and starting over! First of all, the way she sits on the throne seems like a product of an alien who never experienced what a chair is… which might also explain the throne’s uncomfortable-looking design. I actually ended up giving it a bigger seat and more lumbar support.
The pose, of course, got changed to something less concerned with showing off her immaculate Brazilian and more with looking comfortable and intimidating in the authority position. I also noticed her neck was disturbingly short, so I moved her face a tiny bit up. Now her spider crown is more of a tiara than a hat. And she got a golden choker to match.
A lot of questionable physics of how she actually sits got covered up by roomy, relatively simplistic clothes I gave her. Maybe I’d consider something more elaborate if the rest of the painting didn’t require so much fixing. What matters is that it’s not a painted-on swimming suit anymore. I’m overall satisfied with the design of her top and the spiderweb skirt. Hopefully the golden spider jewelry (the legs are thin chains!) gives it some regal feel.
The original shoes were quite stylish, but looked neither comfortable nor matched the fashion sense I went with for the character (also didn’t match the angles at which I redrew legs). So I ended up giving her sandals with golden ornamentation, matching her gauntlets. Sorry not sorry for half-assing the legs. One has to prioritize while on a deadline*.
I’m generally happy with the results, considering the sheer scale of changes we had to apply to have it meet BABD standards for positive example.
*Icy sobbing in the background
So, the creators of Divinity 2: Save the Boobplate … sorry Divinity 2: Girls don’t play video games… sorry Divinity 2: Original Sin have shown off a couple of hours gameplay for Baldur’s Gate 3… and this is the iconic character in the intro sequence before you pick/create a character.
Which means aside from being in this atrocity, she also gets the dubious honor of being the character who we see as a fellow prisoner having a parasite implanted via her eye (then the first person scene implies its happening to you, even though she is playable as one of the pre-generated characters).
Lae’zel is a githyanki, basically a near human but not human “alien” race from another dimension with a long history and pile of lore which actually makes the whole scene worse. However, what I wanted to cover is this is what female githyanki look like in the current 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons art:
So for this character, Larian Studio’s entire design process has been:
Remove all muscle tone and threatening aspects of appearance
Great job at depicting a race where all members are raised as warrior from birth.
Why are people calling the people story tellers again?
5th edition Dungeons and Dragons’ human outlander is one painfully generic archer design, scoring low on bingo mostly due to sheer lack of inventiveness.
Nonetheless, like quite a few official female warrior illustrations from that edition of D&D, biggest problem with her is that she looks almost legit, with some practical-looking shoes, pants and costume made of plausible materials… only to be ruined by nonsensical top, adorned with a pauldron, just as an added insult to the simulated practicality.
The second most ridiculous thing about this pic is that its followed almost immediately by the rather awesome “Soldier” background’s illustration:
The most ridiculous thing about it is that it represents the “Outlander” background, which is supposed to represent an individual who has lived isolated from society out in the wilderness.
In a weird designer leather bra thing… apparently…