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D&D 5E Meet Ravenloft's Harkon Lucas and Rudolph Van Richten

WotC has shared some artwork from Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, featuring the titular vampire hunter himself, and the darklord of Kartakass, Harkon Lucas.

rudolph.jpeg

"Rudolph Van Richten prepares for his next expedition, watched over by the spirit of his son, Erasmus."

harkon.jpeg

"A born liar and shape-shifter, Harkon Lukas orchestrates elaborate manipulations.
He's rarely seen without his signature wide-brimmed hat; wolf's tooth necklace; and violin, which he calls Bleeding Heart."
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Weird flex but lighting bounces. So if there's light from the top, and split lighting, it's totally correct.
I'd love to see the room where that lighting is true, because I'm skeptical that room actually exists lol. I really, really don't think this lighting/shading is drawn from anything even trying to be "true to life", but rather just trying to look good - which is ultimately more important. I'd have given up all my uncanny life-drawing capacity for the ability to draw more cartoonishly but purely from my head like some people can.
 

Jaeger

That someone better.
Why is Harkon Lukas wearing a 1970s leisure suit?
I was thinking mariachi outfit myself...

Note that Rudolph Van Richten Is very 18th century in his wardrobe.

In fact I've seen that aesthetic in a lot of 5e art.

I get it, it's a fantasy world.

But D&D is still with classes, sells, armor, and weapons, a faux medieval implied setting.

I know D&D has never been great when it comes to having a consistent art direction for a given edition. But to see what people wore in any given era is only an internet search away these days.

It's gotten tot he point that they cannot even land the clothing with 300 years of the eras the game is ostensibly set in.

I can only imagine that it is due to a combination of Two things: Being influenced by the art of other fantasy properties who were influenced by D&D, yet have long since drifted from D&D's original medieval aesthetic. And basic historical ignorance of whomever is in charge of soliciting the art.
 

Faolyn

Hero
It's gotten tot he point that they cannot even land the clothing with 300 years of the eras the game is ostensibly set in.

I can only imagine that it is due to a combination of Two things: Being influenced by the art of other fantasy properties who were influenced by D&D, yet have long since drifted from D&D's original medieval aesthetic. And basic historical ignorance of whomever is in charge of soliciting the art.
To be fair, I don't think many gamers would really want their characters wearing real medieval-style clothing, since it was a lot of big dress-like outfits or giant codpieces or curly-toed shoes. Or pantalloons. Or giant ruffs around the neck. Or giant hats. Historically accurate (not that D&D takes place in the real world) but kinda silly and not particularly cool.
 



Jaeger

That someone better.
And I think the reply here makes my point...

Nothing personal, just a good example.
To be fair, I don't think many gamers would really want their characters wearing real medieval-style clothing, since it was a lot of big dress-like outfits or giant codpieces or curly-toed shoes. Or pantalloons. Or giant ruffs around the neck. Or giant hats. Historically accurate (not that D&D takes place in the real world) but kinda silly and not particularly cool.

1. No. Tunics were of varying lengths between the hip and knee throughout the medieval era. Higher or shorter due to climate, local fashion etc.. They had dresses too for women. Yes tabards and robes were worn depending on who you were...
2. No. Only the very end of the medieval era, and only got big some decades after.
3. Only nobles really wore such impractical frippery. Curls and really long points - because Nobles...
4. No, Pantaloon's were an 18th century thing. Medieval peoples used what we would easily recognize as straight up pants/trousers of varying lengths and hose was also common.
5. Nope, 16th century.
6. No, gotta go to the 1820's to see really outrageous hats become a thing amongst the upper classes. Unless you're thinking of stuff like the hennin, which was part of women's fashion later on - because Nobles. But not an normal person everyday thing. And even then we are getting into the late medieval era when we start to see really outrageous fashion come about with the upper classes.

12th century English peasants: Add some weaponry, maybe one of them wearing armor. And they are fit for rough and tumble adventure.
12thcen.jpg


We need to distinguish between what nobles wore as parts of their fashion statements to feasts and important events, and what most actual people wore day to day.

And even with guidelines of what medieval people actually wore, their is of course room for the artists to stylize things to make them a bit more fantasy. i.e. more "adventurer cool"...

Compared to say the cover art of the D&D waterdeep dragon heist AP which is more of a depiction of 17th century fashion...
Waterdeep-dragon-heist.png
 
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When to comes to clothing and general aesthetic though, Ravenloft has always trended historically-later that most D&D settings, probably because so many of its source inspirations come from the late 1800s. The art etc is trying to reflect that, or at least split the difference between 1800s Gothic literature and the default vaguely-approximately-medieval assumptions of D&D.

And it's worth remembering that D&D adventurers will almost always be insanely rich by commoner standards after a couple of levels. A healing potion is worth nearly two months labor for a farmhand for instance, and even low level PCs will often have a couple of them hanging around. I suspect clothes shopping very rarely comes up in many campaigns, but I'd expect most PCs would certainly have the money to dress in the style of the nobility if they wanted. It might even be a plot point in some places. Are certain clothing styles associated with or restricted the nobility or landholders? If wealthy commoners attire themselves that way, can it help them get access into the halls of power or do they get scorned as gauche new money or thugs getting above themselves? Will high-class modistes even take grubby adventurers on as clients? Are there sumptuary laws? Are there even certain styles associated with political or cultural subgroups, and are the PCs aware of this and what happens if they make a faux pas by dressing the wrong way to an audience or something? There's prominent historical examples of people attaining wealth and influence through being known as fashion trendsetters (Beau Brummell is the obvious one) - how does a PC go about this? If you've got that awesomely powerful Cloak of the Archmage or Ring of Protection but it's soooo embarrassingly unfashionable and you're trying to make a good impression at court, the matter of when you do and don't choose to wear it is a genuinely meaningful and difficult choice. When clothing is status, clothing is COMPLICATED. On the bright side, this is probably a good way to get your money's worth out of that proficiency in Weavers Tools!

(Yes, I've been reading a lot of Regency comedy-of-manners stuff recently, vaguely intending to rip the Ravenloft book to pieces once i get it and cobble together a Gothic Austenian England setting out of the useful bits - I find this stuff absolutely fascinating)
 

R_J_K75

Hero
I know D&D has never been great when it comes to having a consistent art direction for a given edition.
Yea the two pictures previewed today are so much different from each other in style. The Van Richten is great the other not so much, it just looks odd to me. But that's just my opinion.
 

Faolyn

Hero
And I think the reply here makes my point...

Nothing personal, just a good example.
Except, well... you talk about only nobles wearing some things. The PCs are likely to be richer than many nobles. Which means they're likely going to wear noble clothing. "Fine clothing" only costs 15 gp, after all.

Secondly, you can't say "no, that's 12th century," or "no, that's 16th century," because D&D doesn't take place in any of those centuries. It takes place in a nebulous time period that spans from the "Dark Ages" to beyond the Renaissance, and contains dozens of different cultural influences--some of which are outside that millennium and some of which are outside Europe, and some of which are completely made up.

So your average player is going to look up medieval clothing, find something like this

1620695561808.png


or

1620695256898.png

(Lo! I say unto you: silly hats!)

Or

1620695153086.png

(Not the weirdest codpiece I found)

or

1620695394174.png

(Another silly hat!)

and think, OK, my options are big dresses (if I'm playing a girl) or a giant blouse, biker shorts or tights, plus jock strap (if I'm playing a guy), and a silly hat (for any gender).

And that's not taking into consideration that nonhuman clothing is likely quite different, and the human PCs could be from a place that's not not!Europe.

So it's completely understandable that players are going to throw that away in favor of something that's not at all "medieval" but looks cool and appropriately fantastic.
 



Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
The notion that D&D is even vaguely medieval needs to be entirely abandoned, if it has ever been that then it was being ignored a very long time ago. D&Ds look and feel is at the very least 16th Century and Ravenloft has always been a much later feel. What Harkon is wearing could be found in the 17th and 18th Centuries
 


About clothing, it is like Game of Thrones. We are talking abut civilitations and cultures with more a thousands years. The fashion had to evolutionate. We have to remember the clothing from the series Hercules: the legendary Journies and Xena: the warrior princess, a mash-up of the Greek mythology and the petlum/sword&sandal genre. In a fantasy world where you can be polymorphed into a sheep or a frog the clothing is a creative licence. Or what about that movie of the king Arthur and the round table, set in the IV a.C but with clothes from a later age?
 

Jaeger

That someone better.
Except, well... you talk about only nobles wearing some things. The PCs are likely to be richer than many nobles. Which means they're likely going to wear noble clothing. "Fine clothing" only costs 15 gp, after all.

D&D's economy is ROTFL. But this is known.

Still confusing noble clothing for court (which is typical in artist depictions) and Noble everyday wear.

And it's not like 'adventurers' are wearing their superfine on their dungeon delves.


Secondly, you can't say "no, that's 12th century," or "no, that's 16th century," because D&D doesn't take place in any of those centuries. It takes place in a nebulous time period that spans from the "Dark Ages" to beyond the Renaissance, and contains dozens of different cultural influences--some of which are outside that millennium and some of which are outside Europe, and some of which are completely made up.

D&D always had a dark-ages/medieval tolkienesque aesthetic from day 1.

I do agree however that this aesthetic has become more and more diluted over time and has seemed to really pick up steam post 3e.


So your average player is going to look up medieval clothing, find something like this
Anyone can pic the worst possible picture from a basic internet search.

and think, OK, my options are big dresses (if I'm playing a girl) or a giant blouse, biker shorts or tights, plus jock strap (if I'm playing a guy), and a silly hat (for any gender).
Your codpiece pic is a 17th century painting, and I already covered this in my previous post.

But there are plenty of pictures of medieval art and reenactors where there is nary a Codpiece to be seen.

Or go to more Dark ages depictions with nary a bit of hose or codpieces to be seen as well.


And that's not taking into consideration that nonhuman clothing is likely quite different, and the human PCs could be from a place that's not not!Europe.

So it's completely understandable that players are going to throw that away in favor of something that's not at all "medieval" but looks cool and appropriately fantastic.
D&D art has always drawn its demi humans to dress similarly to the humans.

And I already covered your second sentence here:
even with guidelines of what medieval people actually wore, there is of course room for the artists to stylize things to make them a bit more fantasy. i.e. more "adventurer cool"...

There is a difference between "appropriately fantastic", and straight out of 18th century fashion plates.


The notion that D&D is even vaguely medieval needs to be entirely abandoned, if it has ever been that then it was being ignored a very long time
Which is sad. I feel that the game loses a lot of the heroic Knights vs Dragons flavor it once had by becoming some kind of illogical hodgepodge of styles.


About clothing, it is like Game of Thrones. We are talking abut civilitations and cultures with more a thousands years.
Which makes my point.

GoT has a strong late medieval European aesthetic. With clothing to match.

Of course the clothing has been stylized to make it more "Westeros".

GoT or the series Vikings are good examples of basically period/era correct wear, but given a bit of a "stylized" treatment.

People seem to think I'm advocating for 'period correct of bust!'

I'm not.

All I'm saying is that you can have a 'dark ages-medieval era' correct look and still give it the touches that make it "D&D".


Stuff like Eberron - settings different from the medieval baseline will have different looks, naturally.
 


Faolyn

Hero
D&D's economy is ROTFL. But this is known.

Still confusing noble clothing for court (which is typical in artist depictions) and Noble everyday wear.
And that's what PCs can buy--what with the players not likely to do a great deal of research on, or care about, everyday noble clothing in the real world.

And it's not like 'adventurers' are wearing their superfine on their dungeon delves.
They might. It's not like there's tons of stuff to spend money on after a while, and prestidigitation and mending make taking care of fancy clothing a breeze. One of my games had a whole shopping trip and I will darn tootin' wear my fancy hat and matching gloves while fighting bad guys.

D&D always had a dark-ages/medieval tolkienesque aesthetic from day 1.
It's currently Day 15,000 or so. I think we've moved on.

Your codpiece pic is a 17th century painting, and I already covered this in my previous post.
And D&D is also Renaissance era. With clockwork. Firearms alongside plate armor, and battleaxes alongside rapiers. Whenever we see in-universe artwork, it involves perspective, despite that not being common until the late 15th century.

Also, a typical D&D setting usually includes decent sanitation, equal rights for women, free farmers instead of serfs, high levels of literacy, colorful clothing for the peasantry, spellcasters able to set up shop instead of getting burned at the stake, etc., etc.

There is a difference between "appropriately fantastic", and straight out of 18th century fashion plates.
In light of what I already mentioned, who cares? And who decides what type of fantasy clothing is appropriately fantastic?

And again, Ravenloft has always had a much more modern aesthetic:

1620765716572.png

(Van Richten's Guide to the Created)

Which is sad. I feel that the game loses a lot of the heroic Knights vs Dragons flavor it once had by becoming some kind of illogical hodgepodge of styles.
Fortunately, D&D can have lots of different flavors and still be D&D.
 


Jaeger

That someone better.
And that's what PCs can buy--what with the players not likely to do a great deal of research on, or care about, everyday noble clothing in the real world.
Per my OP it was the laziness and inconsistency of D&D's art direction I was noting.

The players can be informed by the art in the books. And it doesn't take an expert in clothing styles of a given era do do this.

Just someone (who is ostensibly in charge of commissioning the art for the game) willing to exert a little effort.

Evidently this would be a bad thing.


It's currently Day 15,000 or so. I think we've moved on.
Yes, Day 15,000 or so of laziness and inconsistency of D&D's art direction.

FR is the default setting of the core books. I assume there is someone in charge of the art commissions?

Times have moved on? OK, fine, looks can change.

But an utter lack of consistency still seems to rule the day.

The vibes I'm getting seem to be: "Yes, it is too much to ask that D&D set a consistent look for each setting it has." and "How dare you question D&D's utter lack of art direction."



And again, Ravenloft has always had a much more modern aesthetic:

Again, Different settings - different looks.

But even Ravenloft can't stay consistent.

Dark ages, middle ages, late-medieval, renaissance, 18th century... Pick one. or pick your in-between era.

But at least be consistent within a given setting. WHFRP is a great example of this.

I must be the only one on this thread that thinks a consistency in art direction adds to the immersion and feel of setting material.



In light of what I already mentioned, who cares? And who decides what type of fantasy clothing is appropriately fantastic?
So consistency in art direction = Who cares.

And IP holders giving their setting IP a consistent look = How dare they!

Ok, Got it.
 

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