Friday, July 3, 2009

OK, this image from Divine Power kind of bugs me.

Hi there, my name is Princess Mia. Not sure if you have seen this image from the upcoming Divine Power supplement.  At first glance it is not a bad picture, even if she does look a bit like Anne Hathaway from The Princess Diaries

However, when you blow things up a bit, it looks a little odd.  Specifically, when you look at her waist.

Her armorer has been playing a bit too much Tomb Raider: Underworld.

Apparently, she is wearing a chainmail bodysuit and low-rise plate leggings.

Despite the anachronistic nature of this fashion statement, I think this wouldn’t bug me as much if it wasn’t supposed to be armor.  Even in a fantasy world, chainmail shouldn’t act like spandex!  Even worse, I can’t even conceive how low-rise plate leggings would work.  To quote my man Morbo, “Platemail does not work that way!”

Ready for the beach or for battle! Granted, it is no less realistic than a chainmail bikini.  I guess for me the difference is that, like it or not, the chainmail bikini has become a classic of the fantasy genre.  So I tend to cut it a little slack.

On the other hand, the chainmail bodysuit and low-rise legging combo just seems like a cheap attempt to sex up the picture.

It just seems so unnecessary.  I personally feel that the artist did a beautiful job at making a picture that screams cleric.  She seems to be strong and in control of the situation.  In fact, this picture would make a great character portrait for someone playing a female cleric.

Which is probably the root of my problem.  It is so rare to find women in fantasy artwork who are not dressed in revealing clothing.  This one was so close, but using the chainmail bodysuit and low-rise legging combo sex it up compromises it for me.

I’m not opposed to pictures like the Red Sonya one above.  After all, Conan is just as naked and idealized in his pictures as Red Sonya is in this one.  The difference is that it is relatively easy to find fantasy artwork of fully armored men or ones whose body types deviate from the heroic mold.  I just wish that other options than “sexy” were available for female characters.


Scafloc said...

I am with you on both counts. My own theory on why the chainmail bikini doesn't bother me probably comes from RenFaire, where they are commonly worn as adornment. I think that nobody would mistake the chainmail bikini for armor (though I think Sonja is actually wearing it's close cousin the scale bikini there), though I suppose it could be a sign of a warrior woman by the fact that most medieval girls would never consider bearing that much skin.

rook103 said...

I have to disagree with you on an issue in this post. Are we looking at the same picture? IMHO Anne is clearly wearing leather armor with a loincloth, over emphasized pauldrons (shoulder guards), and a pair of dramatic lance rests to simulate genitalia. Now she may be wearing a chainmail shirt, but I will concede that the artist did not give us enough details to be sure. Is there some other detail in the Divine Power supplement to indicate that she is wearing a chainmail bodysuit?

Sorry...been painting too many miniatures...looking to decipher artist's intent and then paint them correctly.

Anonymous said...

As an aside...chainmail would chafe some places that Anne would not recover from.

Medraut said...

RE: Anne is clearly wearing leather armor with a loincloth.

I puzzled over of the nature of the armor for a bit as well, but I still maintain she is supposed to be wearing chainmail or platemail. Here is a link to a slightly higher resolution version.

Looking at her feet is what convinced me that it is meant to be plate armor down there. I will admit that it is difficult to tell with any certainty though, especially because her lower half resembles tight jeans more than anything else.

Dennis N. Santana said...

I'm going to be asking for platemail thighhighs in my next campaign...because I had honestly never thought of that idea, and I've come up with some crazy stuff before. Feasbility be damned, that's just awesome.

Scafloc said...

Perhaps we could all split the difference, and call it hard cured leather designed in imitation of plate? Even if it is leather armor, leaving a coverage gap right on each hip can do no less hurt to it than if it was plate.

Norman J. Harman Jr. said...

@rook103 I think you need to look up what genitalia menas.

For a cleric, plate mail makes much much more sense than leather. But metal or leather it's ridiculous and the artists intent is obvious. Draw a hottie that appeals to the adolescent mind.

Keith S said...

so, Red Sonja gets a pass, but the cleric doesn't? I'm not sure I buy your logic on this. Most of the armor and weaponry depicted in D&D art is patently ridiculous from a functionality standpoint. From an artistic standpoint (IMHO) it's mostly cool. What's your judging criteria? Must all depictions of armor in D&D meet functionality requirements? Is there a percentage of bare flesh that can be shown, or do you require that certain areas be covered? Are suggestive costumes OK in fantasy art, but not OK in D&D art?

Big picture, I'm not sure that art like the Red Sonja piece is going to attract a particularly diverse audience (it may even turn some people away). The cleric image, OTOH, is far less blatant. I'd be interested to hear what female readers and players thought.

Medraut said...

RE: Red Sonja gets a pass, but the cleric doesn't?

I was being mostly tongue-in-cheek about my acceptance of the chainmail bikini. I will admit that probably wasn't obvious from the text of my blog.

After reading your post, I feel a little bad for picking on the Divine Power picture. It is really not a bad piece of artwork.

In fact, I would posit that the reason it bugged me so much is because when I first saw it, I thought "What a nice piece of non-cheesecake artwork". Then I noticed the waist.

I will admit that my rant was a bit out of proportion to the crime here. After all, Red Sonya or even the woman on the cover of the Player's Handbook, are a lot more egregious examples of cheesecake than the Divine Power picture could ever be.

Keith S said...

Thanks for your clarification. When I reread my comment, I realized I came across a lot snarkier than I intended. You're right, it is hard to convey tongue-in-cheekiness when writing.

The art is a tough call. Visit any comic book store over the last 10 years and you'll see a massive increase in "cheesecake" covers. D&D, in general, has a similar audience...

While it doesn't offend me, I do wonder what impact it might have on my daughter (who has started playing the game.)

Thanks for your blogwork and comments!

Scafloc said...

@Rook: I found her "falsies" to be inoffensive, since they are essentially an over-sized pair of cloak coins (see any image of doctor doom). A pair of heavy discs on either side of the chest is actually a pretty common affectation for men wearing a full length cloak, as they help to balance the weight of the thing while also serving to pull back the shoulders in an impressive and manly way. Seriously, go to Bristol this summer and check it out at the shops.

@Norman: I really don't think that plate makes much sense at all for a cleric in most cases. If they are based on the crusaders, chain is far more applicable, and if based on the traditional fantasy world, most are similar to magicians. The only spots where plate becomes the obvious choice for a cleric are D&D (where it is far and away the best armor available, and was free to the cleric until very recently) and games sent roughly in the 15th century (where the clergy would largely use the same armor as the nobility).