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The Proper Use of Nudity in FRPG Art


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aco175

Legend
Has anyone used the Tipper Gore definition of pornography for this art. She was the vice president's wife back in the 90s and on a panel for explicit lyrics in songs. She said something along the lines of; "I cannot define it, but I know it when I see it."
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Don't really need an objective one for this discussion - just a functional one, meaning, a definition of the function of art, as used in RPG products. Heck, we don't even need an explicit definition, but we ought to agree that there's some specific functions in mind. And, for RPG products, they mostly depend on the opinion of the person buying the product.

(edit)

Yes, and I was trying to put that into a useful context for discussion on an RPG board, in which creative freedom is not the sole, or necessarily even the largest, consideration. This lofty "I am an ARTISTE!" stuff is largely immaterial when talking about selling RPGs, because there's that annoying bit about selling - which means making something that people want to buy.
It’s an old conundrum for the artist- as old as the first art purchase: doing what you want Vs doing what you can sell.

For most of recorded history, artists didn’t really have to choose one or the other. You could do what you want, and still have commercial success. That’s how many subsidized their “pure” artistic endeavors.

But with the advent of the Information Age, that’s becoming less and less of an option. If you do controversial art today, it’s more likely you’re going to have a tougher time getting commercial work.

And that’s for any form of artistic expression. Look at the backlash Ludacris got when he became a soft drink pitchman. Or how the choice of Kehinde Wiley for the Barak & Michelle Obama official portraits was fraught with controversy.
 

Keefe the Thief

Adventurer
We MUST have nudity, and we MUST NOT have nudity.

"Huh?"

Look at the illustrations in the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual, Players Handbook, and Dungeon Masters Guide. They don't shy away from featuring nudity IN MONSTERS. Succubi don't wear clothes! Harpies don't wear bras! Etc. It would be a shame to illustrate them wearing clothes. You might as well draw a picture of a red dragon wearing a sweater.

On the other hand, in the AD&D core rulebooks there is not a single adventurer running around in a chainmail bikini or similar nonsense. That is NOT how an adventurer dresses. (The only possible exception is the cover of the DMG, with that scantily-clad girl in the efreeti's clutches. I do not interpret her to be an adventurer, though. I interpret her to be a slave girl.) So no "adventurer babes", PLEASE. And no "pumped-up" men, either. Look at the adventurers in the old MM encountering that giant spider. Look at the adventurers in D2: Shrine of the Kuo-toa. Look at the adventurers in the AD&D Fiend Folio. All of them are lean and mean and roughed-up. They look like they are fighting their way through dungeons. They do not look like they just finished working on their six-packs at the gym.

Please note that I have taken my examples from the old AD&D books simply because that is what I have. I do not own the 2nd or the 3rd edition rulebooks. This thread isn't for Edition Wars.
Wow, 18 pages of thread, and here I am replying to the first one. Whew. Should I?

Well, where are the centaur schlongs? Ogre balls? Ettin junk? Oh, sorry, girl monsters are supposed to show tits to increase our sense of verisimilitude, but lets not get further.

Yeah, the adventurers in many books sure look tough and realistic: a white sausagefest on the road. Now and then we have a girl to help us fill the quota.

1.png

Yeah, attack the monster. Distract it! Show it that leg! Sad you forgot your bra when we had to quickly break camp, but stuff like that happens.

Of course, for Dragonlance, this was turned into an art form. Rough adventurers all, and the girls are experts at showing glistening thighs and perfectly styled Farah Fawcett hair. If they are not slave girls, of course, then all bets are off.

1640733531383.png

Play "where is Goldmoon" on this pic. Don't worry, it's not hard, Caldwell added some extra glisten this time.

But I like Caldwell. He was creative.

1640733858970.png

A gargoyle head spewing gems on string from your crotch. Masterclass of understated design!

Ha, I wonder what the official D&D artbook wants to tell us.
1640733941777.png

Oh.

I am old. Old D&D art was often sexist trash. It was good, 80s sexist trash, perfect to catch and keep adolescent boys. Yes, there are exceptions. Warrior princesses, maybe someone hid a token black character somewhere in the background.

But mostly its all Alias: men thinking drawing tits on a warrior woman is female empowerment. Stuff that worked 40 years ago, but thank god it wouldn't work today.
 


Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
There are numerous occurrences of music, film and other art forms that have used elements from other cultures that those cultures find deeply offensive, possibly sacrilegious. It is rarely done with the intent to offend.
Hmmmm given how a huge percentage of the religious population consider the gender of someone else's love interest deeply offensive I find that not such a valuable measure of what to avoid
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Hmmmm given how a huge percentage of the religious population consider the gender of someone else's love interest deeply offensive I find that not such a valuable measure of what to avoid
You might not, but (for example) using elements from a culture’s or religion’s sacred ceremony for a pop video certainly displays a lack of respect.

“Respect is a two-way street” is a common aphorism. But so is “two wrongs don’t make a right.” While you might consider their interests in others sexuality disrespectful, it doesn’t follow that you have free license to be equally disrespectful in return. “An eye for an eye” eventually leaves everyone blind.

In any process of ending or de-escalating a conflict or disagreement, someone usually has to be first to let something go in order to convince the others involved that they’re bargaining in good faith. That’s part of why the Golden Rule is central to most major religions and even non-theistic ethical frameworks.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Well, where are the centaur schlongs? Ogre balls? Ettin junk?
Good questions. As someone already said, bring 'em on. :)
Yeah, the adventurers in many books sure look tough and realistic: a white sausagefest on the road. Now and then we have a girl to help us fill the quota.

View attachment 149041
Yeah, attack the monster. Distract it! Show it that leg! Sad you forgot your bra when we had to quickly break camp, but stuff like that happens.
She's not distracting the dragon by showing it her leg, she's got its attention because it's realized (in part due to her lack of armour and warm clothing) that a) she's the caster in the crew and thus the biggest threat, and b) she must have some magic item keeping her warm. :)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It’s an old conundrum for the artist- as old as the first art purchase: doing what you want Vs doing what you can sell.

For most of recorded history, artists didn’t really have to choose one or the other. You could do what you want, and still have commercial success. That’s how many subsidized their “pure” artistic endeavors.

I think you vastly overstate the case of how successful artists are if they just do what they want. If nothing else, for most of recorded history, I suspect most art ever created has been in form of practical goods (clothes, pottery, etc), rather than art that has no function except as art. The form of practical art is dictated by the need of the buyer, not the artist. I make an artwork of a bowl because bowls sell, and I took it as my craft, and so on.

From there, the Warhols, Dalis, and Michelangelos of the world are small in number, a handful, in comparison to the masses who produce art, and cannot make a living at it.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I think you vastly overstate the case of how successful artists are if they just do what they want. If nothing else, for most of recorded history, I suspect most art ever created has been in form of practical goods (clothes, pottery, etc), rather than art that has no function except as art. The form of practical art is dictated by the need of the buyer, not the artist. I make an artwork of a bowl because bowls sell, and I took it as my craft, and so on.

From there, the Warhols, Dalis, and Michelangelos of the world are small in number, a handful, in comparison to the masses who produce art, and cannot make a living at it.
Pfft! The vast majority of artists aren’t successful, period! That’s no secret.

Thing is, up until relatively recently, even though you might know an artist did a work for ________, unless you experienced it in person, you might not be aware of details that might make it controversial.

It could be coded iconography. It could be things that can only be perceived from a certain angle or under certain conditions (Holbein’s The Ambassadors, for instance). At least one operatic solo was composed in such a way that the juxtaposition of high and low notes made a particular soloist bob her head like a chicken.

Now, so much of that stuff is archived so that secrets simply can’t be kept for long. Skeletons will be dug up.
 
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Hussar

Legend
I'm going to try to lay out a different view on the matter...but it's easier to do so via subject matter rather than visuals because I can articulate so mething that is personal to me.

I do not like roleplaying romance in my games. It makes me uncomfortable. I really only have romantic relationships stated matter of factly, never do I indulge in playing out a scene between individuals (PCs or NPCs alike). Same goes for sexy time encounters. It's just a topic that I don't enjoy roleplaying, have no interest in exploring in an RPG, and quite frankly would be happy never existed.

I don't begrudge others from including romance/sex in their games. I'm sure there are many many people who find that the spice that makes the game worth playing.

This in mind, I don't think it is fair for me to advocate removal of something from the game that I dislike just because it's a sore spot for me.

Now, to transition this to pinup artwork in the game, my personal view is that I can take it or leave it. I don't actually pay that much attention to art in general (other than monster art I show to players) and I have yet to run into anything in RPG art more aggregious than what you can see on Witcher or GoT or at the beach.

Where I take issue with your blanket statements is that you are stipulating that some things are factually true ...

1. A majority of female players did not engage with DnD because of artwork contained in it's books.

2. The rise of female players is caused by (at least in part) better depictions of female characters in the artwork.

While both of those statements MAY be true, I don't think we have enough data to actually answer those questions factually. You may see the trends and assign art as a factor, but there very well may be many more female gamers who push past the content they don't enjoy (like I do with romance/sex) rather than treat it as a hard stop to using that material.

The difference being is that romance has never been a thing in DnD. There’s no rules for it. It’s barely mentioned in any game book. It’s almost never central to any storylines. And it is something you likely will never come across in a published work.

OTOH, pinup art at one time was pretty prevalent. Gracing covers of Dragon magazine and lots of interior art in game books.

So not quite the same thing.
 

FatPandaMonk

Villager
We MUST have nudity, and we MUST NOT have nudity.

"Huh?"

Look at the illustrations in the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual, Players Handbook, and Dungeon Masters Guide. They don't shy away from featuring nudity IN MONSTERS. Succubi don't wear clothes! Harpies don't wear bras! Etc. It would be a shame to illustrate them wearing clothes. You might as well draw a picture of a red dragon wearing a sweater.

On the other hand, in the AD&D core rulebooks there is not a single adventurer running around in a chainmail bikini or similar nonsense. That is NOT how an adventurer dresses. (The only possible exception is the cover of the DMG, with that scantily-clad girl in the efreeti's clutches. I do not interpret her to be an adventurer, though. I interpret her to be a slave girl.) So no "adventurer babes", PLEASE. And no "pumped-up" men, either. Look at the adventurers in the old MM encountering that giant spider. Look at the adventurers in D2: Shrine of the Kuo-toa. Look at the adventurers in the AD&D Fiend Folio. All of them are lean and mean and roughed-up. They look like they are fighting their way through dungeons. They do not look like they just finished working on their six-packs at the gym.

Please note that I have taken my examples from the old AD&D books simply because that is what I have. I do not own the 2nd or the 3rd edition rulebooks. This thread isn't for Edition Wars.
Have you spent eight hours a day, every day, walking around in armor, not eating junk food, swinging a weapon etc? It makes you mean and lean and can give you abs. Those six packs aren't unique to people who go to the gym.
 



Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Didn’t Michelangelo basically do work for hire? It’s not like he made art and then showed it. He made art to spec for specific patrons.
He did. So did a majority of the ones we call Old Masters…and their students.

But many times, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find those artists…taking liberties. See Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Theresa, for example.
1640766229316.png

1640766411799.png

Not only that, just because you do something pure and chaste for Patron #1, doesn’t mean you won’t do a pornographic ceiling for Patron #6.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
"You might not, but (for example) using elements from a culture’s or religion’s sacred ceremony for a pop video certainly displays a lack of respect."

Where does it end? Any and every movie portraying a religious figure is considered disrespectful in some way by someone. And every cartoon portraying native americans is considered disrespectful by someone else. Whose standard can one use?

There are currently active religious ceremony in my opinion which should be illegalized due to endangering newborns ie just because something is "sacred" does not make it, something to honor. The label is not magical.

While you might consider their interests in others sexuality disrespectful, it doesn’t follow that you have free license to be equally disrespectful in return. “An eye for an eye” eventually leaves everyone blind.
Right(still leaves us without a standard), as when you cannot take their own definitions of what is disrespectful as that is highly suspect you are left speculating and applying your own ... (How can you golden rule based on their assertions?) what they consider disrespectful is often itself just a demand we "respect" their desire for others to conform to their issues, whether it is being in the closet to continue the example, or to refrain from using certain words or clothes worn or whatever. To me it is part of their disrespect ie the one where they want, others to conform to their religions limits. And its not like that desire never ends up entrenched in law, when it is allowed like the illegalization of polygamy by one sect in the guise of government or the existence of blasphemy laws (or even tadah on topic reference ones about obscenity/nudity) or deeper the effective illegalization of abortion by the evangelical church across the south.

Do I lump the "sacred" of both small and larger cultures together yes. Generally because they arent really different save as a question of scale. In either case, it involves granting them arbitrary power. I would rather give less of it to both "sacreds" and not see bibles being used as a magic ceremony in courtrooms for instance.

It is another form of the conundrum about tolerating intolerance ... don't.
 
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Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
He did. So did a majority of the ones we call Old Masters…and their students.

Yes, Bernini took liberties. Why is this angel depicted as a Monk using Deflect Arrows? And why is St Teresa... snoring heavily? Something is definitely amiss!

Not only that, just because you do something pure and chaste for Patron #1, doesn’t mean you won’t do a pornographic ceiling for Patron #6.

Exact, and I wouldn't call the commissionner of an artwork the audience in this case. The audience of a church statue is the faithful, I'd say the commissionner is, by establishing a theme and specifications, is setting limits to the work of art but not strictly the audience.

Let's take a profane example not to risk violating the prohibition against discussing real life religions, Ingres' La grande odalisque. It was painted at the command of the queen of Naples, yet it was widely considered offensive to the audience of the early 19th century. If we consider the patron to be the audience, then the result was she was very happy and the artist conformed to the specific subset of the audience (that one woman who bought the work), but the rest of the world was shocked, and it was a much larger audience. Ingres knew it, yet he did it.
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Mod Note:
How about we not get into religion and politics, please and thank you.
hmmm given the puritanical religious forbiddance of nudity ... I think the subject is is bound to dance mighty close, I think I will just drop out of this one for now.
 

MGibster

Legend
But mostly its all Alias: men thinking drawing tits on a warrior woman is female empowerment. Stuff that worked 40 years ago, but thank god it wouldn't work today.
I think the first work of art I noticed that looked ridiculous to my eyes was an issue of Catwoman way back in 1993 because the gravity defying proportions were just ridiculous. I do have a soft spot for a lot of the old art found in TSR products partly because I prefer the techniques used by the artist but there's a bit of nostalgia there as well. I much prefer Paladin in Hell over a lot of more recent work I acknowledge as technically better. But you're right, stuff that worked 40 years ago won't necessarily work today and vice versa. In 2035, what's acceptable or not acceptable might end up surprising us. Who knows?

Personally, I'll avoid RPGs with over sexualized images on the cover. Admittedly, most of the art from AD&D 2nd edition won't bother me and the image below is one of my favorites. I think the biggest problem with cheesecake in the 80s and 90s is their ubiquity. A lot of young women didn't seem put off by the art in Vampire the Masquerade, some of which was pretty sexy, but I don't recall many instances of art that was just ridiculous. If a vampire woman looked sexy it made sense in the context of the picture whereas in D&D is very often did not.

Adventuring Group.JPG
 

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