Friday, April 12, 2024

Where'd the Grot Go?

Watching Delicious in Dungeon and Frieren: Beyond Journey's End (which are both great, so watch them), I've noted that both display very D&Dish world, but ones completely without even token gestures toward the gritty and grime of Medievalism. They are grot free, nothing like this to be seen:

This could be put off to the style of anime or cultural differences between U.S. and Japan, but I noted this same thing back in my review of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Compared the production design and costuming of that film to something like Excalibur (which is pretty gritty despite all that gleaming plate) or even Jackson's Lord of the Rings

I think it's even in the art of a number of 5e products, too, and in The Legend of Vox Machina animated series (at least the parts of it I've seen).

I'm sure there are counter examples, but these are fairly high profile works in the D&D world, some of them official, so I think we're in a moment where D&Dish fantasy worlds partake of more of a fairytale feel, perhaps, in regard to depict of their environments. Nothing wrong with that, really, just an observation.


bombasticus said...

This is great. I suspect "the kids" (creative + consumers) aren't confident enough in their ability to stay clean in the real world right now to be all that eager to make mud pies in their recreational fantasy. Admittedly, real life is probably not all that grotty . . . but after the last few years, they'll choose a convivial and well-lit meal, a sparkly fresh outfit, a little glamour.

It reminds me of how the initial reaction to the economic collapse of the UK in the '70s was punk but then the blitz kids came in looking for a new romance. In that scenario, I welcome the end of OSR grunge for a few years, hello glitter.

Rory said...

With at-will spells like prestidigitation that immediately clean your gear, staying fresh would be fairly cheap in a D&D economy. Even an apprentice magic user could set up a roadside laundromat and churn out 1 cubic foot of clean stuff every 6 seconds. The presence of magic in the world changes things like this in weird ways.

Now I doubt that particular consideration was at play in setting the cleaner look for these various IPs. I think more that people are getting a bit tired with grit and grimdark. (Though FromSoft games like Elden Ring certainly are exceptions.) Hopepunk is rising.

Dick McGee said...

As much as greatly prefer the art style in that second piece to anything WotC's art directors have ever put in a product, I do have to ask - where exactly is the light source that's casting that shadow supposed to be? It sure isn't that torch, and would almost have to be underwater to have the right angle.

Really not a great example of hand-drawn art when looked at in terms of basic artistic skill, unfortunately.

Trey said...

I think Iain McCaig (I believe is who it is,) brings enough style I'm not really going to quibble about shadows.

Dennis Laffey said...

One of my friends can't get enough grimdark, but I have been over it for years now. He finally stopped pitching his demon-infested shithole campaign ideas to me, which has been a relief.

My younger son and I have really been enjoying Delicious in Dungeon. It's a lot of fun.

Trey said...

Yeah, it's good stuff.