Awhile back, due to someone's recommendation, I joined a Dungeons & Dragons art group on Facebook. Now Melissa and I have made a shitload of art (that link shows like half of what we've done), and I knew there were at least a few illustrations that would catch shit, so I started out playing it safe and posting stuff that I didn't think anyone could possibly object to (and luckily didn't).

The plan was to build up a steady submission history, so that when I got around to posting the "questionable" stuff and someone invariably got forcibly outraged over it, I could point to everything else and prove that we're not about...whatever it was they would pretend to be upset about. Initially we got a lot of positive feedback, and we were surprised that a number of people recognized our art, and really enjoyed it (as well as whatever role-playing game product it was featured in).

And then I posted the sorcerer from Appendix D. Behold her in all her "problematic" glory:

Initially it was a few snide remarks about how she's just wearing rope over her boobs, or that the boobs are "too big". As I am wont to do, I retorted with my own snide comments, like wanting to know where I could get rope that wasn't like rope at all, but nothing major and I just kept posting more art that I figured had the least chance of causing someone to wring their hands to the bone.

I assumed it would blow over in a few days, once the whiners found someone else to pretend to be upset about, but then a larger thread flared up. It was basically three friends, each attempting to feed me their own recipe of word salad that was basically how I "needed" to draw a certain way, based solely on their ever-increasing and shifting, unknowable, often contradicting criteria that would have been impossible to adhere to.

Some of the questions I'd asked and never got answers to were how you can objectify a drawing, which group of men and women should I listen to, what to do when they disagree, which cultural interpretations and audiences should I take into account, what to do when there's also a contradiction there (or if groups of people from the same culture or audience disagree, because surprise surprise not everyone in a given group is a hive mind), and what is the universally accepted ratio of boob and body sizes.

The reality was, of course, that they just didn't like it, and the correct answer to all of my questions was to just ignore people like them and make the art Melissa and I want. You can't please everyone, so don't try. Same goes for game design, really. There's always going to be people losing their shit over what you do, and even if you listen to them someone else is going to lose their shit, anyway.

One of the comments was that I "need" to get a woman's perspective, because the person stating it apparently ignored all the times I mentioned that Melissa does the coloring (which is every time I post colored artwork).

I pointed it out anyway, again, and explained that Melissa and I work closely on the art even when I'm drawing it. This was disregarded, which at this point doesn't surprise me: I've long since been used to people saying that you "need" to listen to women, but then ignoring women when they chime in and say they don't agree, or were the artist behind the offending art in the first place!

So, no one can complain that I'm not getting a woman's opinion: it's actually Melissa's opinion that resulted in the final boob size, anyway. Not just for the sorcerer, but for the barbarian:

And the cambion rogue:

Something that one or more of them implied was something along the lines that I drew the sorcerer the way I did was purely "to satisfy my sexual desires". I apparently can't stress enough that Melissa provides input on everything, but believe it or not, here's what I was actually thinking when I was envisioning the sorcerer:

In Dungeons & Dragons lore, sorcerers having the blood of dragons has been there since 3rd Edition, although you couldn't actually emphasize that unless you picked up likely ill-conceived prestige class. Even both 4th and 5th Edition couldn't pull it off.

For the Dungeons & Delvers sorcerer, I wanted them to be able to manifest their draconic powers right from the get-go: at 1st-level they can grow claws and scales, and humans can pick up a bonus talent that can allow them to grow a tail, and I wanted to showcase this in the art.

Her clothes look so ragged because a key mechanic of the sorcerer is involuntary transformation: when you run out of Mana some talents automatically trigger, reflecting you losing control over your magic. When you are wounded or become sufficiently exhausted, even more changes take place as reflexive defensive measures: you grow scales and horns, and begin to bleed fire.

While dragon sorcerers have fire resistance, this does not extend to their clothes, so as you're taking damage your clothing is starting to burn. Also the scales and horns can tear through it.

So, there you go: ragged clothing that she's had to patch and sew back together numerous times, because that makes sense. I should note that not all of our female characters are like this. The fighter-types have armor and shields and such:

Really, if I wanted to emphasize a more sexual theme I would have just done something like this with the sorcerer:

Where she's deliberately posing, and suggestively looking at you the viewer.

Personally I don't have a problem with an artist drawing all of their women with huge tits. Neither does Melissa. Some artists specialize, whether it's drawing sexy women, or just monsters, or just a certain genre; if they're good at it, great! But, if I want to not see women with huge tits (or with a certain body type, or drawn in a certain style), I can find art that isn't that preeetty easily.

Frankly there's a lot of art I see in role-playing games that I don't like. Sometimes it's because it looks incredibly amateur, to the point where you'd think a child drew it (or it's sloppily Photoshopped creative commons stuff). Other times I think the design of the character or creature is just stupid or appalling, like a short, stocky, frumpy woman with hipster clothes, and dyed hair with half of it shaved off.

Often it's a combination of both.

But I just ignore it. I can find better and more appealing art also pretty easily. To all of the other artists out there dealing with fake outrage mobs: draw what you want (or what you're being paid to draw). There's way more people out there that will appreciate it. And to everyone that likes something an artist creates: let them know, so they don't get overwhelmed by bitter, incompetent, joyless pricks.

You can now get a physical copy of Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book in whatever format you want! We've also released the first big supplement for it, Appendix D, so pick that up if you want more of everything.

If you want more adventures, we just released Escape From the Flesh Catacombs: a bunch of 0-level characters need to escape from the catacomb-lair of a gorgon that was slain, causing everything she's petrified to revert to flesh and rise as undead.

Our latest Dungeon World class, The Apothecary, is now available.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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