Apart from some awesome illustrations to blow our minds thinking about giants and illithids, these images may be a coming of age of the roleplaying imagery. They are not just another set of busty female paladins, and that is something.
D&D Next playtest keeps moving forward, and a new set of rules was recently released. Combat damage is still an issue for some character classes, but the rules in general are a good update within the boundaries of the D&D legacy.
Conceptopolis is a company of illustrators who work for the entertainment industry. They obviously do what they are commissioned to do, and in this case Wizards of the Coast has asked them for some concept art, different from the usual. In their deviantart gallery you can see all the images, but I want to comment two of them.
It seems Wizards of the Cost is making an effort to introduce ethnic diversity in their worlds, and this is a difficult task. Most of the role players want to have impressive characters, epic adventurers who match the ideal concept of the class. I know there are exceptions, but we usually play characters of our own race, better handsome than ugly. And players were usually males, so females adventurers usually had exagerated breasts and thin waists. I guess they were just focusing on their target.
However, the teenagers who played in the 80s and 90s have grown up, and they are looking for something different. More women have also come to the game, and we want them to keep coming, not scare them with sexual harassment.
So I believe the Turami bard is a step in the good direction, and the Northern barbarian is also slightly more human than usual. I still think the drums are too big and the robes too thin for a bard planning to fight with a sword, but lets be optimistic.
I encourage you to check the northern female barbarian, and the diferences between lightfoot halflings and strongheart halflings. The female halflings and dwarves are also a nice improvement over previous versions.
I always thought the new rules and systems increasing in popularity these last years are the result of role players getting past the 30s. Adult players demand different sets of rules, and it seems to me that settings and imagery are also changing.
Is it a matter of age? Just modern thinking? Or are you totally sceptic about this illustrations?
(you can read some insightful comments in Spanish in the blog La Marca del Este)