A screencap from the Inventory screen which shows Karlach's camp clothes are "Karlach's Infernal Trousers" "Torn and hell-scented, these trousers have seen a good deal of action - though not perhaps the sort Karlach might prefer."

BABD Crosspost: Baldur’s Gate 3 (Part 1 – Introduction)

Originally posted on Bikini Armor Battle Damage.

It’s a great time to be an old school Dungeons & Dragons player, you get to smugly observe millions of people realizing the game is good actually… or at least that the game can facilitate heart touching romances with imaginary, terrible people.

Screencaps to provide front-on photos of Astarion and Shadowheart, similar to a line-up.
(To be clear, I’m not judging you – these two are, but I’m not)

As one of the biggest AAA games of 2023, it’s unsurprising that it’s big and complicated – and there’s a lot that can be talked about with many aspects of it – including female armour and costumes. Indeed, there’s already a lot of commentary on it and community activity, from the confusing, to the life affirming.

It has also been the topic of how corporate practices continually reward those who participate in the creation successful art with notice of dismissal.

And of course, both Dungeons & Dragons and Larian Studios have histories that we’ve touched on before – and I can confidently say it represents a huge improvement in quality, style and attitudes. Plus sometimes their advertising is just gay.

A screencap of the Patch 6 promotion, which was released two days after Valentine's day and used an image of Lae'zel & Shadowheart kissing.

In General

It’s pretty good. Most of the costumes and armors are essentially gender neutral and the ones that do change seem to do so in response to social conventions, rather than a desire to sex shit up sexy – but where you can sex shit up sexy, it applies equally across genders. (Seriously, Lae’zel’s lingerie looks amazing on Gale (nsfw 🖼️) and he’s not the sort you’d think could rock it).

Looking at the artbook that I have because I’m one of those people who buys deluxe editions – it looks like there might have been a few early stumbles in concept but these were smoothed out before release.

There are some amazing examples (Minthara), and some baffling designs (all Githyanki armor), some interesting (Orin’s) and some that are complicated (Dame Aylin’s).

But overall it’s pretty good and I would certainly like to see more fantasy media take it’s lead from these sorts of designs.

So let’s start with a few examples of how everything is complicated

Why goblins have sexy armor?

The goblins in Baldur’s Gate 3 are disgusting, sadistic raiders who are primarily interested in killing, torturing and enslaving all other races. They don’t seem to have any crafts people of their own, preferring to steal and adapt.

So it’s puzzling that, statistically, when most players encounter them they get this cutscene to showcase a goblin in sexy leathers.

Now, these goblins don’t have a sense of shame – or at least not one related to things like nudity taboos. They’re not exactly tactical masterminds or great crafts people.

So there’s no reason for her to have masterwork armor, or hide her body… but this particular piece looks like pretty lovingly crafted lingerie made specifically to be sexy and flaunt as much skin as possible.

And the couple of goblins that have this, stand out among the rest of the goblins… who are mostly wearing scraps and bits and pieces they’ve cobbled together with nowhere near this level of craftsmanship.

Obviously, this outfit is not ideal with the sharp bits poking out… but it’s pretty intimidating and it’d make it things more difficult for an enemy trying to stop Zurga from killing them so it works.

The end result is weird… but also oddly foretold.

Great armor, terrible disguise

A capture of Shadowheart from a conversation, with statements and pointers on the virtues of her armour: "Effective multi-layering" "Decorations can catch weapons but not harm the wearer." "Gaps would be difficult to exploit".

Honestly this is one of the best examples of armor that is designed to be fancy without becoming completely unworkable. It has layers and while you would expect it to quickly become damaged beyond recognition, if you needed to be ready for a surprise scrap – it’d do the job and do it well.

(Though as a random reminder, if you’re going for the very realistic approach – helmets should be a top priority.)

But Shadowheart is a priestess of Shar, and if you accept her as a companion she will happily tell you all about that and how an important part of being a priestess of Shar is secrets and concealing your faith from the masses…

There is also an explanation for why she happened to be in her ceremonial attire… but for most of the game, she demonstrates no awareness that she was in vestments when you met.

Now I understand that a lot of these choices are due to various experiments, iterations, etc. Shadowheart being an “authentic” priestess of Shar is not as important as her being an interesting companion in a fun game.

And now that I’ve definitely made sure nobody is going to “well actually” about the armor design or Forgotten Realms lore… a conspiracy theory:

Karlach’s outfit #freethenipple

So when you meet the tiefling muscle-mommy known as Karlach, her default outfit indicates that she does not partake in bras. (She’s barbarian which is a class in D&D that protects themselves not with armor, but by getting so angry weapons do less damage to them… just go with it…) and despite the forced sexiness of this design – it kinda fits her backstory:

A screencap of Karlach where I've highlighted that her swimsuit style leathers have both "elaborate and complicated designs" and "underboob" via the many windows made by the straps and piecework.

So, she has a definite look, and apparently does not partake the wearing of bras… good for her! She’s literally so hot that fire flickers off her, the boob sweat has got to be epic.

Interesting, Karlach is one two female characters who’s “camp clothes” are listed specifically as “trousers”.

A screencap from the Inventory screen which shows Karlach's camp clothes are "Karlach's Infernal Trousers"
"Torn and hell-scented, these trousers have seen a good deal of action - though not perhaps the sort Karlach might prefer."

The other one is always in pants and bra on female characters (but not male), but for some reason Karlach’s trousers include this top that… just doesn’t match the rest of her style and is nothing like her underwear (which also doesn’t match her style):

A screencap that demonstrates that Karlach has a single-strap sports-bra type top in camp - with none of the detail or styling of the main costume.
The caption: "Karlach: Well, well! Scuttlebutt around camp says I'm not the only person you've got all-a-flutter."

So it seems this seems to be an odd case where in a game where you can access full nudity easily, and they gave her sexy armor… they did a last minute cover up to prevent the woman who would have the epic boobsweat imaginable walking around camp topless… and her model has a lot of detail that gets hidden by that top and her armor. (nsfw 🖼️)

And I know I am not the only one (nsfw link) who has had this idea.

Unless you just go into inventory and take her clothes off…, then toggle so she’s always in “camp clothes” and always nude. It’s just weird that the players are fully able to make her a nudist, but the game seems to have stopped at the last minute at making her go casually topless.

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