I just signed a lovely artist named Luca Mastrantonio to serve as Art Director for the reboot of the Neiyar campaign setting. We’ve been going back and forth for the last few days regarding art requirements. In particular, a set of six images will feature male and female members of each of the races that live on the island for illustration purposes. She asked specifically about the Amphikin (which are a humanoid frog-like race) insofar as how to portray females of the race because “a frog with breasts should look very curious!”
This isn’t the first time I’ve had this issue come up. When I was working with the artist for the Races of Neiyar: The Krakodons supplement, the preliminary sketches of female krakodons came back with breasts. I remember asking him “How many reptilian species do you know that have mammary glands?” To his credit, he understood completely my point and came back with some wonderful revised images.
But the whole thing gets me thinking about how we portray female fantasy characters in general. Flip through almost any monster manual for an RPG. Look at the Yuan-ti, for example. This is a humanoid snake race. They shed their skin as they grow and are covered in scales. Females give live birth to litters of three to six at a time and are self-sufficient at birth. What evolutionary reason is there for her to have breasts? Sure, the official racial right-up says purebloods “appear” human in order to infiltrate human society. How in the blue hell does she “appear human?”
I don’t want to read too much into it. Maybe it just boils down to laziness. It is easier to draw a pair of breasts on something to indicate a female than it is to actually think about how something would really look. Maybe it is a reflection of our hardwired need to impose human qualities on everything. Like in science fiction movies where every intelligent race looks human except for maybe having a different skin color or pointy ears or some other cosmetic change. Maybe it’s marketing and male gamers are still easily distracted by boobs in books. (Though in all honesty I can’t image a frog with boobs being all that much of a turn-on).