Standards

Let’s start with the obvious disclaimer: I think chaimail bikinis are silly. They’re a silly cliche that was ridiculous and sexist when D&D was created in the mid-70s and just as ridiculous when Red Sonja first appeared in comics (at roughly the same time). Now, almost forty years later, it’s hilariously inappropriate. Depictions of women in the game aren’t getting any better, and might even be getting worse.

But that’s not what this is about. This is about the dungeon punk aesthetic of D&D and gaming. It was fine for one campaign setting (Eberron) but seems less suited to the game as a whole. But much of the art of D&D (and a little bit of Pathfinder) has embraced an over-the-top look to armour and weapons.

Some of this is Wayne Reynold‘s ascendency to the position of Grand Poobah of gamer artists. With his being the go-to art style for both games, his personal aesthetic carries a lot of weight. Some of the dungeon punk chic is also the result of a desire to push away from adherence to realism and historical armour to a more stylized and fantastic design. To many gamers, the Tolkien style has becomes a tired old cliche and they want D&D to look new and modern. But to me, the dungeon punk look always reminds me a little of ’90s comic books, where all the character designs got a little more needlessly complicated with leg pouches, chains, spikes, and overly large guns.

I guess I’m saying Wayne Reynolds is the Todd McFarlane of D&D (to Larry Elmore’s John Romita Sr.).