PG or not PG, That is the Question

So now that the Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual is humming along so well (more than half the finished art completed, all edits received and more than half reviewed applied to the master document), I have a minute to think about the next book; the Game Masters Toolkit.

Now, for this, I’m thinking about having a more “edgy” cover, involving nudity (in-context, of course, not merely gratuitous), but it brings up the question of whether I have two versions of the cover. One would be the full-monty version, and the other would be a PG version with some bits of cloth placed in strategic locations.

Now, the question I’d like to pose to the Peanut Gallery is, would having a nude on the cover offend your sensibilities to the point that you wouldn’t buy the book? 

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

24 thoughts on “PG or not PG, That is the Question

  1. It would not offend my sensibilities at all. However, I recently* discovered that I am probably an outlier in these sorts of things. A lot of people seem to get all worked up over the depiction of certain human body parts.

    *I'm kidding. I've been aware of this for years now.

  2. It wouldn’t offend me. I’d still buy it.

    But, I would like my kids to be able to take it to their mom’s house without me getting static about it. Or take it to school without getting into trouble. Or not offending the parents of any friends they might play the game with. It seems like lots of potential to raise minor annoyances but with no offsetting upside.

    That said, I could certainly find workarounds.

  3. I honestly don't mind PG, R or even hard versions. NC-17 or X versions are harder to use since most of my gaming these days are with my kids.

    So I guess I have to get two copies then. The "kids" version and "my" version!

  4. I seem to recall most books have an inner page with the title again (call it restating the title perhaps??) and another full page or almost full page graphic. Maybe put the non-PG graphic there? You then get the best of both worlds! The art is there, but not on the cover for when "delicate viewers" casually look.

  5. Speaking from a purely marketing perspective. Having nudity on the cover will undoubtedly have a negative impact on potential sales due to obvious factors. Personally I don't see the need for it and yes, I would hesitate to purchase a product with a nude figure on the cover. It would be one thing if I was a single guy, but I'm married with kids. It's not worth the hassles associated with it.

  6. As a gaming retailer, if this goes into full distribution, it presents a headache. I'm sad to say every retailer isn't as informed as I am. So I'd prefer the PG version only.

    However, from a POD standpoint, as the author you should explore your desire as much as you want. Heck, in the comics industry, DC has a Justice League cover with 52 variants. Go nuts!

  7. Whatever. I am probably not the target audience, but when these questions gets asked I want to chip in my 2 cents. I would buy any game book with whatever level of nudity on the cover. There are way to many people who get worked up over those things.

  8. If all else fails, you could possibly find your answer within the overall mission of your whole undertaking, i.e. would Gary's vision of the next version of AD&D likely have included nudity on the cover of one (or more) of the books?

  9. If you are choosing to grossly objectify women on the cover of your book, id honestly like a refund of my kickstarter backing if that can be arranged.

  10. My $.02: like Robert and others above, I wouldn't be offended by an R-rated cover, and it likely wouldn't stop me from picking up the book, but such a book would be more awkward to have lying around the house with young kids (and guests, etc.) running around. I do run the occasional games for kids and young teenagers too. So on the whole it'd just be easier for me if the cover was PG.

  11. It wouldn't offend me, but to be honest if it were 'full monty' I probably wouldn't like it. There are ways of doing nude figures without actually showing explicit nudity (look at Frank Frazetta's artwork!) and that's the kind of artwork I like on my gaming books.

  12. quantumflux makes a good point, I think. I'd also point out that by the time 1e rolled around the T-n-A pictures were mostly relegated to interior illustrations (such as the weeping succubus in the back of the DMG). If you're lookig to capture the "feel" of a Gygaxian second edition then I'd suggest having any pictures with nudity in them done as interior pieces.

  13. Back in the O(L)D&D days, soft nudity was used in the infamously cliché sacrificial type picture.

    Even used in context, I can't see why it's really necessary. Too many negatives nowadays with victimization of women, flagrant sexism, whatever. The other argument is artistic censorship.

    Shades of Lamentations. 🙂

    Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea pulled it off because it captured that pulp fantasy style and feel.

    Adventures Dark & Deep feels different than that to me.

    As long as it didn't look too silly or shocking for shock's sake, I'd still buy it.

  14. I would not be offended by it. But some people would, no matter how tastefully done, and maybe it's not worth the flap it would cause. You call as to whether that's a bettle you'd like to fight.

  15. I'd be happy either way.
    Also I would note that I (and many others) do not subscribe to the puritan notion that there can be no nudity anywhere because of the kids. The earlier people get exposed the less of a big deal it is. Look at Europe, they seem to be fine with boobs at the beach. I'm of the opinion that if the female characters are doing rad things, its fine (ie like in Conan the barbarian when he runs away lika a pansy and she saves herself)

  16. It would not offend my sensibilities in any way, nor would it make me less likely to purchase the book.

    I also think that it would, at the very least, make it more eye-catching. Despite how vogue it's become to bash on it, sex sells, or at the very least demands attention.

  17. Wouldn't offend me but I don't need it. I'm old enough not to have to make these points. A PG cover might help you get on the shelves of your local FLGS more easily. You can do what you like inside.

  18. I would not be bothered by nudity so long as it's well done. Which basically means that, as long as she's not doing some kind of "See my tits" pose (or the image is structured to the same effect), you should be fine.

  19. If it's not signifcant to your concept and it would offend a part of your market, it's a bad idea. Small publisher products have a hard enough time succeeding without losing any sales because of this.

    I don't think that anybody will buy this specifically because of the nudity*, but some people would not buy it specifically because of the nudity.

    *People will buy stuff specifically for good art, but I'm assuming that the nude and non-nude covers would both be of equal quality.

  20. Interesting to see commenters assuming that the nudity will be female nudity: I don't see anything to that effect in the original post.

    I have no objection to non-gratuitous nudity (of either gender, or both), but I do agree that it will probably cut into sales. So I'd agree with your suggestion (offer two covers) or with the one proposed by a previous commenter (put the nude image inside the book rather than on the cover).

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