[Rant] Spikes in 3rd Edition Art

SpuneDagr

Explorer
First of all, please don't get me wrong. I love 3rd Edition. I think it's the best thing to happen to D&D. As a rule, the art is great. However, I am becoming increasingly annoyed at the tendancy to depict creatures as "monsters for the PCs to kill" rather than interesting characters in their own right.

There seems to be an inexplicable trend to, if nothing else comes to mind, to cover a creature in spikes. "It's evil? I'll just give it a bunch of spikes and call it a day!" Certain creatures make sense with a bunch of spikes sticking out, like dragons. Others make no sense whatsoever, and seem to simply point to laziness on the part of the artist. Maelephant: A roughly-humanoid creature with an elephant's head, hailing from the lower planes. "Lower planes, you say? SPIKES!!!"

Cases in Point: Vrock (demon), Osyluth (devil), Displacer beast, Manticore, Armanite (demon), Narzugon (devil), Canoloth (yugoloth), Braxat, Advespa (devil), Amnizu (devil), Ethereal slayer, Hook horror, Kopru, Shadow spider, Wastrilith (demon), Armadon (formian), Khaasta, Maelephant (this one is probably the WORST).

Many of these creatures were featured in previous material (I'm getting most of my outsider opinions from Planescape stuff) and used to be mysterious and interesting. Now they're just supposed to be Axe-fodder, so what does it matter how much depth they have?
 

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Aaron L

Hero
Spikes indicate lack of creature depth? The inclusion of spikes removes mystery from a creature?

Um.... ok.


Especially funny is the inclusion of manticores in your list, which have always had spiked tails as one of their most prominent features.
 
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LGodamus

First Post
Umm alot of those monsters have always had spikes....

besides your whole argument is flawed...all the good guys wear spiked armor.:rolleyes:
 

SpuneDagr

Explorer
I just think that adding a bunch of spikes to a creature is kind of a cop-out. There are plenty of other ways to make something unique and memorable.

A manticore is a lion with wings and a scorpion's tail. Now we gotta give it a bunch of spines all over it's chin and down it's back. As if it didn't have enough identity problems!
 

billbo

First Post
I'm not big on the whole Gothic Punk aesthetic of D&D, but I can't see how the presence of spikes detracts from whatever "depth" a creatue was previously purported to possess.

Is everything always a case of "it used to be better when..." ?

I'm scratching my head trying to remember a time when the bad guys weren't usually just evil axe-fodder.

There are only a couple of ambiguously-not-quite-evil-and-interesting creatures I can think of... actually, I can only think of the githyanki. They're the only monster that springs to mind where I can easily see them swinging from being villains to heroes, depending on circumstances.

And I don't remember there ever being a time when this was different.
 

SpuneDagr said:
A manticore is a lion with wings and a scorpion's tail. Now we gotta give it a bunch of spines all over it's chin and down it's back. As if it didn't have enough identity problems!

Actually, it's a creature with a lion's body, a dragon's wings, a human head, and a spiked tail, not a scorpion's.

I suppose it might be a scorpion in the original myth (though I think I remember it being spiked), but at least in D&D, it's had spikes since 1E.

I agree with you on a lot of the others, though. Spikes aren't inappropriate on any of those individually, but taken together, it's a bit much.

Then again, I hate the whole "spike-punk" look for the armor as well. Call me nuts, but I preferred it when a knight in plate mail looked like--well, a knight in plate mail.
 

billbo

First Post
As the guy above says, spikes aren't something evil creatues have; now spikes are something EVERYONE has.

A movie strives for a unified production design, a unified look; and so has D&D 3rd edition. The look of the creatures is unified by "punky" features like spikey hair, chains, leather straps and buckles, and spikes, spikes, spikes everywhere.

It's a unifying visual motif. I don't really care for this motif, but I don't really see it having any effect on D&D's "depth."

AFAIK, no one has ever really accused D&D of being very sophisticated about Evil, now have they?
 

SpuneDagr

Explorer
I guess I've had too much Planescape.

Fiends aren't just monsters, they're people. (Evil people, but let's not split hairs here. :)) They had much more humanoid faces and motivations. An amnizu used to be someone you could speak and deal with. He'd screw you over and eventually eat your soul, but you could see the hideous human expression when he did so. Now it's a piggish monster that will destroy you with its axe and spiked bracelets!

An osyluth was a hideously withered old man (with a scorpion tail). Fiends were creatures you could see a bit of yourself in. That made them all the more frightening and scary!
 

MeepoTheMighty

First Post
mouseferatu said:


Then again, I hate the whole "spike-punk" look for the armor as well. Call me nuts, but I preferred it when a knight in plate mail looked like--well, a knight in plate mail.

And call me nuts, but I find it hard to believe that a world with giants, dragons, demons, and other nasties would develop weapons and armor identical to that created on Earth. The first time a giant comes along and picks me up, you can guarantee I'll find some spikes to stick on my armor.
 

Gnarlo

Gnome Lover
Supporter
Well, the only folks that have any technology going on are the gnomes. And we aren't sharing the secrets to Post Its with anyone. So you gotta have someplace to stick all those little notes saying "Send a party to pick up the kids at the Citadel on Thursday," "Remember to get loaf of bread, jug of wine, and longsword silvered on way home from work," and "Xyzzy."

Not to mention they make handy places to tie all those bags and packs onto for carrying around all the stuff you've got when the DM doesn't use the encumbrance rules.
 

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