In response to the "Caucasian Hair" discussion you had awhile back what do you think of how companies like paizo and gamesworkshop have changed the orcs and goblins (the standard "savage" races) skin tones from vaguely brownish to nuclear green?
There’s a lot of squicky elements jammed into this one tiny image. For one thing, you have a lady, shiny with sweat, bound with rope, with her cleavage exposed. Being that this piece is called “Kidnapper’s Lair”, it’s not a leap to assume she’s a kidnap victim, so inherently being held against her will. What I did not notice at first glance was the boobplate on the table; her attackers have clearly stripped her. Classy.
Add into the equation that even the lady-kidnapper has been sexualized via a huge boob-window (something I somehow doubt her male counterparts are treated to), and the end result is some pretty epic-level squick.
“I have always considered myself the kind of person who relates equally to male and female characters, but Shepard is the first time where I’ve honestly gone “Oh, I get it. This is what boys get in basically every game they play”.”—cephiedvariable via Escher Girls
To celebrate SGA’s 100th Squicktastic post, we have compiled 100 random squicky images just for you! Each is from 3e or 3.5e Dungeons & Dragons official sourcebooks, and together they represent but a small sample of the types of squick found in the gaming hobby. Though each is but a single example, know that it is not unique. The images are from a variety of artists and several different books (but not all that many books; the ratio of squick to non-squick is not as favorable as one would like). Where possible, the title and artist of the piece have been specified. If not, just the book title is given.
"Anointed Knight" by Ron Spencer, Book of Exalted Deeds.
"Thral of Graz’zt", Book of Vile Darkness.
"Ensul’s Soultheft" by Lucio Parrillo, City of Splendors: Waterdeep.
"Resounding Justice" by Jason A. Engle, Champions of Valor.
"The Urban Druid" by Ralph Horsley, Cityscape.
"Berronar Valkyrie" by Kalman Andrasofszky, Champions of Valor.
"Cordelia Flametongue" by William O’Connor, Champions of Ruin.
"Shadowdancer", Epic Level Handbook.
"Shadowmind" by Monte Michael Moore, Complete Adventurer.
"Horrsin Zespar" by Jason A Engle, Champions of Ruin
"Revenants" by Vince Locke, City of the Spider Queen.
By Warren Mahy, Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk.
"Apect of Lolth", Miniatures Handbook.
"Jealousy and Secrets Prevail" by Warren Mahy, Champions of Ruin.
"Half-Dragon" by Steve Prescott, Draconomicon.
"Ambush", Miniatures Handbook.
"Constant Guardian" by Franz Vohwinkel, Drow of the Underdark.
"Portal User" by William O’Connor, City of Splendors: Waterdeep.
"Soneillon, Queen of Whispers" by Marc Sasso, Champions of Ruin.
"Daggerspell Warriors" by William O’Connor, Complete Adventurer.
"Surprise!" by Lars Grant-West, Drow of the Underdark.
"Kezef" by Thomas M. Baxa, Champions of Ruin.
"Spell — Lesser Dragonmark Whip" by Warren Mahy, Dragonmarked.
"The Matron Watches" by Steve Ellis, Drow of the Underdark.
"Wild Shifter" by Monte Michael Moore, Complete Adventurer.
All the single ladies, all the single ladies All the single ladies, all the single ladies Put your hands up!
"Centaur" by Larry Elmore, Dragonlance Campaign Setting.
"Tkala Surprises the Patrol" by Jason A Engle, Champions of Ruin.
"Themes" by William O’Connor, Champions of Ruin.
"Prestige Class — Wind Wraith" by Warren Mahy, Dragonmarked.
"Rainbow Servant" by Ron Spencer, Complete Divine.
"Dueling Wizards" by Jeff Miracola, Complete Arcane.
"Wizards of High Sorcery", Dragonlance Campaign Setting.
"Cover Art" by Stephen Tappin, Miniatures Handbook.
"F’hazzi is Blessed by Lolth" by Lucio Parillo, Champions of Ruin.
"Prismatic Bow" by Ron Spencer, Complete Mage.
"Krinth" by Lucio Parillo, Champions of Ruin.
"Divine Crusader" by Ron Spencer, Complete Divine.
"House Phiarlan — Elvinor Elorrenthi d’Phiarlan" by Fred Hooper, Dragonmarked.
"Boccob’s Reading Room" by Miguel Coimbra, Complete Mage
"Brilliant Planning" by Steve Ellis, Dungeon Master’s Guide 2.
"Dive for Cover" by Jeff Miracola, Complete Adventurer.
"Mindspy" by Joel Thomas, Complete Warrior.
"Frenzied Berzerker" by Ron Spencer, Complete Warrior.
"Divine Resistance" by Ron Spencer, Complete Warrior.
"Emberling and Geodite" by Warren Mahy, Complete Psionic.
"Endure Enervation" by Jon Hodgson, Complete Psionic.
"Evansheer the Astral Deva" by Thomas Baxa, Book of Exalted Deeds.
"Fist of the Forest" by Howard Lyon, Complete Champion.
"Highland Stalker" by Steve Ellis, Complete Adventurer.
"Irae Destroys Duneth" by Sam Wood, City of the Spider Queen.
"Kerri Talindras" by Lucio Parrillo, Champions of Valor.
"Kyriani Agrivar" by Lucio Parrillo, City of Splendors: Waterdeep.
"Lesser Temple" by Puddnhead, City of the Spider Queen.
"Lurk" by Ted Pendergraft, Complete Psionic.
"Medieval Court" by Steve Ellis, Dungeon Master’s Guide 2.
"Necromancer" by Vinod Rams, Dungeon Master’s Guide 2.
"Outlier Characters" by Ron Spencer, Dungeon Master’s Guide 2.
"Paragnostic Apostle" by David Griffith, Complete Champion.
"Sanctified of Kord" by Steve Argyle, Complete Champion.
"Sarade Gedreghost" by Lucio Parrillo, Champions of Valor.
"Sibyllic Guardian" by William O’Connor, Complete Psionic.
"Soulbow" by Ron Spencer, Complete Psionic.
"Spider Legs", Book of Vile Darkness.
"Spymaster" by Steve Ellis, Complete Adventurer.
"Squire of Legends" by Steve Argyle, Complete Champion.
"The Controller" by Ralph Horsley, Complete Mage.
"The Generalist" by Ron Spencer, Complete Mage.
"The Shadowspy" by Thomas Denmark, Complete Champion.
"The Source" by Ron Spencer, Complete Mage.
"Throne Archon" by Ron Spencer, Book of Exalted Deeds.
"Vadania’s Menagerie" by Ron Spencer, Complete Divine.
"Spell Trickster" by Howard Lyon, Complete Scoundrel.
" A sorcerer unlocks her brass dragon heritage" by James Zhang, Dragon Magic.
"Ember, apprentice to a silver dragon, channels her ki into a cold attack" by Lucio Parrillo, Dragon Magic.
"Tatiana Flameworthy, a dragonfire adept" by Ralph Horsley, Dragon Magic.
"Dalthyria" by Wayne Reynolds, Champions of Valor.
By Fred Hooper, Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk.
"Drow Assassin" by Beth Trott, Drow of the Underdark.
"Soulheart Pool" by Ralph Horsley, Complete Mage.
"Drow Inquisitor" by Francis Tsai, Drow of the Underdark.
"Drow Options" by Tomas Giorello, Drow of the Underdark.
"Thrallherd" by Monte Michael Moore, Expanded Psionics Handbook.
"Eye of Lolth" by Steve Ellis, Drow of the Underdark.
"Fierna and Belial", Book of Vile Darkness.
"High and Low Station" by Jackoilrain, Drow of the Underdark.
"Inspired" by Lucio Parrillo, Eberron Campaign Setting.
"High Priestess" by Francis Tsai, Drow of the Underdark,
"The Shadow Thieves" by Lucio Parrillo, City of Splendors.
"Unique Abilities" by Steve Ellis-Dungeon Master’s Guide 2.
"Profane Agony" by James Zhang, Drow of the Underdark.
By Ron Spencer, Expedition to Undermountain.
"Quill Blast" by Jim Pavelec, Complete Divine.
"Soulknife" by William O’Connor, Drow of the Underdark.
By Miguel Coimbra, Expedition to the Demonweb Pits.
"Elavdra", Epic Level Handbook.
"Eulad the Wilder" by Monte Michael Moore, Expanded Psionics Handbook.
"Sasha Ivliskova" by Anne Stokes, Expedition to Castle Ravenloft.
By Ron Lemen, Eye of the Lich Queen.
"Wonderworker" by Matthew Mitchel, Book of Exalted Deeds.
"Illithid Slayer" by Wayne Reynolds, Expanded Psionics Handbook.
What was the point of all this?
If nothing else, the message you should take away from this post is how easy it was to find 100 pieces of squick. It wasn’t necessary to jump genres, change systems, or even look at more than a fraction of the available sourcebooks to get this number. It isn’t hard. And even though this post alone contains 100 images, there will be new posts tomorrow. We could probably post 5 or 10 images a day from now until time stops, and never run out of material. Because you never run out of squick.
What do you think of Warhammer 40k's art? Most of it doesn't seem as explicit or offensive as art in other games, but I'm hardly educated on this subject.
Sorry this didn’t get answered sooner! I wanted to take the time to have a good thorough look before addressing 40k, rather than speak from my limited knowledge on the subject. My understanding has always been that one of the primary ways they avoid sexualizing women in 40K is by failing to include them at all (aside from the Sisters, who are not without their problems). Closer investigation has revealed some Non-Adepta ladies as well, but the degree to which the art here is ‘better’ than the art from other tabletop games is arguable.
As an example, here is all the art depicting ladies that I could find in the 280-something pages that is the 5th edition handbook (not including images of miniatures):
On the one hand, 40k is much less likely than some games to show women as terrified victims, and much more likely to show them as stoic or aggressive. On the other hand, it’s no less likely to show them in fetish gear (and may even be moreso) or with skulls on their boobs. They also have no qualms about bending the ladies into funky poses, but I wouldn’t say they are any worse in this regard than roleplaying games. I haven’t yet compared the depictions exhaustively with those from other wargames, so that’s a project for the future.
I guess this is just one of those tricky situations where marginalized folks are asked to choose whether they want to play a game with 100 horrible depictions and 3 stellar depictions, 4 fairly squicky depictions and no stellar depictions, or no depictions at all.
An official image of Chun-Li from the Street Fighter video game series. I’m pretty sure that all the processing power in the world couldn’t get a human body to contort like that.
This is one of the more unique ways I’ve seen to show a woman facing away from us while showing us breast and face. Usually they swivel, this is the first time I’ve seen the boob visible over the shoulder.
“Nothing is served by being upset at criticism of your art. If you choose to use it to improve, or if you keep on trucking, that’s up to you… but screaming about how nobody should be criticizing your art would be immature.”—Escher Girls
I thought it would be a refreshing break from our usual fare to examine the elusive dude squick. While bad-anatomy squick can (and often does) include dudes, particularly when they are of the hypermuscled variety, it is far rarer to see sexualized dude squick. Luckily, World of Darkness has heard our pleas and after searching long and hard I present to you dude squick of the rarest variety.
Favorites include, “Mr. Long-pelvis” and “Does his ass have a tumor?”
For a bit of squick just for squick’s sake, let’s toss in some “Ghost Hands on his junk!” for extra credit (though the subject isn’t sexualized so much as the overall depiction is perplexingly-handsy).
Okay I’m going to be honest here, I do not understand why this image accompanies the section on “Healing”. I do not have a suitable answer. I am not wholly sure I want to know the answer, so let’s just leave it at that.
You mentioned marginalization and exotification of characters. I know there is a serious problem of peoples of various races, ethnicities and cultures being portrayed in a way that is demeaning or racists in tabletop games but how do you depict them? Is it racist to try and play a character inspired by a sub-Saharan tribal culture, while still being respectful as a player to that culture?
An excellent question! Luckily, the opposite of “racist depiction” isn’t “no depiction at all”. Inclusivity can add a lot to games, and playing characters different than yourself is one of the appeals of roleplaying. However, playing a character from a marginalized population you are not a part of is a place you’ll want to tread lightly. You don’t want your character to be a caricature, which is what is likely to happen if you don’t have the context or experience to realize that’s what it is. If your character concept is based on the ‘exotic’ (eww) and romanticized depictions of a group, this is likely to happen.
The short answer is to do your research. If you aren’t able to tell me which sub-Saharan tribal culture you’re trying to reference, than yes, your depiction is probably going to be othering and uncool. What aspect of your character will reference that culture? Will it be their clothing? Do you know what the clothing from a specific sub-Saharan tribal culture looks like, or are you just going off of the way you envision all sub-Saharan tribal cultures, based on the media you’ve consumed?
Cultures are remarkably different, and though some are tribal in that their groups are arranged into tribes, the word “tribal” itself evokes a certain flavor these days. Tribal tattoos, for example, attempt to depict that which is considered primitive and savage, and the term is often used interchangeably when referring to “the caveman times” (which is similarly horrible). Just as you wouldn’t want someone trying to roleplay a woman whose primary attribute is “I’m a woman!” and whose personality is comprised entirely of lady-hating stereotypes, it’s profoundly disrespectful to reduce a large region with a plethora of cultures down to the stereotypical dress and perspectives of the mystical.
A solid example of this would be the extreme diversity of Native American cultures that are frequently remixed and repackaged, with the artist using dress, customs, and other traits from multiple distinct, different cultures, and selling them to you as “Native”. This is a shitty, racist thing to do. You do not want to do this. Whether you’re roleplaying or creating fantabulous art, avoiding stereotypical depictions is important. You need to consider the climate of appropriation before charging headlong into your awesome character concept.
Wayne Reynolds is a sneaky artist. He is great with textures, he can convey motion in his art, and the facial expressions are almost uniformly piercing. What’s interesting about the way he layers his subjects in buckles and belts and capes and cloaks and buttons and leather and bottles is that they actually do a really great job of distracting from the actual silhouette of the character.
Here’s a fun game you can try if you’re playing along at home! Get some tracing paper and one of his images (or MS paint and .jpeg, if you prefer) and just find the edges of his bodies. Find the spots where the background shows through because there isn’t anybody there. You may notice some interesting features!
Let’s look at an example. Here’s Feiya:
Okay, so now let’s try and find the lines that represent the edges of her body*.
Alright, looks about right. Now let’s get a better look at her outline.
Yeah. I bet you wondered how he always managed that cocked leg pose he gave every character from Gimble forward. The answer is to make one leg significantly longer than the other, then break her knees.
Just to be super extra thorough, let’s now give the same treatment to a human woman of similar body proportions in approximately the same pose, and compare the results.
Our human model is uncommonly skinny, but she still looks as though at least two Feiya-Torsos(tm) could ride around comfortably in her ribcage. Notice also that despite cocking a hip, the waist does not jut abruptly inwards above the hipbone, but instead slopes gradually. Though the human model is facing the viewer more directly than Feiya is, even turning sharply away from the camera would not produce those angles.
Here, let’s see what happens when our model pivots in the direction Feiya is facing.
Again, the human woman on the right comes nowhere near those angles. She has narrow hips and narrow shoulders. She is very thin. She still requires ribs to protect her organs. This means that (unlike Feiya) she must possess a torso of at least the minimum size required to house them.
Whatever Feiya is made of, it doesn’t appear to be flesh, muscle, and bone. It is possible the setting mentions she is actually made of PVC or vinyl, but I imagine someone would have noticed if that was the case.
* The shading he added to emphasize Feiya’s hips indicates her pelvis is quite high up on the body, resulting in absurdly long snake-legs.
This is a picture from Hunter - The vigil by White Wolf. I don’t know where to begin when looking at the woman in the picture but… But the monster looks great!
Bizarre fighting stance and torso twist aside, those are some REALLY tiny arms.
The monster does look good! But maybe it only looks good to our human eyes. What if monsters of that species look at this picture and go “WTF, WE CAN’T BEND LIKE THAT! AND WHY ARE THE TENTACLES SO SMALL?” xD
Often people who complain about this sort of carry-on are told that these women are SUPER FLEXIBLE and have abilities beyond the scope of everyday women. In fact, their fighting abilities and super abilities and what-not are put on display with this sort of illustration! This is just aiding the show of strength in this woman and by complaining about that, we’re complaining about the depiction of strong, able women in comics! Yes, I have seriously heard this argument before. Guess what? Unlike Supergirl, it doesn’t fly. If it did, we’d be seeing male heroes like this.
Women’s skeletons contain the exact same amount of vertebrae as that of men. If that is the case, and if men look ridiculous in these poses, then SO DO WOMEN. And they do. You don’t even KNOW the amount of groaning and eye-rolling that goes on when we see this shit.