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(Boing Boing)   Where the white Wood Elfs at?   (boingboing.net) divider line 197
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9286 clicks; posted to Geek » on 12 Apr 2012 at 1:35 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-04-12 10:45:24 AM
In my campaigns, house rules for races are...

If you are from closer to the equator, you are darker skinned. Unless magic is at play or you recently moved from elsewhere.
Unless plot says other wise, every race has an equatorial and polar equivalent. (Or other clime.)
The color of the dragon or anything else does not equate with the alignment of that creature.
 
2012-04-12 11:11:39 AM
some people have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much free time on their hands....
 
2012-04-12 11:14:45 AM
I thought orcs had dark skin.

www.waylanderskeep.com
 
2012-04-12 11:19:48 AM
But...but...the Drow...


OK, now with that out of the way. Fantasy in general is a Eurocentric genre, so, naturally the art is going to reflect that bias. (Aside from Gygax's Oriental Adventures, 1st Edition was so white it glowed in the dark.) So, what is preventing a Fantasy novel or game being set in an African or a pre-Columbian culture? Are their editors actively denying such endeavors?

I don't actively play anymore, but I would philosophically in favor including more diversity in the game. I think it makes for a richer experience for anyone, and Fantasy and fantasy gaming is about opening your mind to different ideas!
 
2012-04-12 11:21:05 AM
Many was the time the Living Greyhawk character whose name I used for my
Fark handle spoke this very same headline, as several Farkers (whose names
I will not divulge) can attest to first hand.
 
2012-04-12 11:32:54 AM
Hey, at least the D&D cartoon had diversity.

1.bp.blogspot.com

I'm sure if it gets remade at least one character will be Hispanic as well.
 
2012-04-12 11:41:19 AM
Considering that high fantasy is based off of pre-Christian European folklore, it would be a biatchallenging to insert racially diverse set of characters that would feel natural to the setting. That's also the reason why you have American actors unsuccessfully attempting the British accent in pieces like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.

But that's the nice thing about table-top RPGs. The storyteller / dungeon master can just insert diversity if he so wishes.
 
2012-04-12 12:03:09 PM

Cythraul:

But that's the nice thing about table-top RPGs. The storyteller / dungeon master can just insert diversity if he so wishes.


And most of us frequently do just that.

i'm currently running a pathfinder adventure path - Kingmaker. the players have built a functional chaotic evil society. diversity? sure! just don't cheat on your taxes. aside from that, not much else is forbidden.
 
2012-04-12 12:33:04 PM
Translation: "I don't know any black people, and I want my hobby to make me feel less guilty about that."

"Social justice" in creative projects is a bullshiat non-solution to a non-problem. It is a non-problem because all those darker-skinned people who aren't sharing your hobby (reading science fiction, gaming, whatever) still have hobbies of their own. That is cultural diversity. Their lives are not necessarily diminished by not parading around your favorite convention.

It is a non-solution because it is cargo cult sociology: it addresses the symptom, not the cause, of the perceived disparity. The real correct for that disparity is to meet and befriend people of other races, and invite them to take part in something everyone can see is excellent. Did Hong Kong film studios put more white people in movies to get Americans to watch? No. They provided translated/subtitled versions, and Chinese people in America put on film fests of the best movies and invited Caucasian friends/critics. And everyone who saw them thought they were excellent, because they were.

Well, guess what? When there is no language gap, the systemic hard work is already done. What remains is the interpersonal hard work, which involves meeting people with other skin tones, and inviting them to do something cool. That acceptance will always be a much more effective social proof than the pictures in a book. But that requires actual work, as opposed to opening up a sourcebook and feeling better about yourself.
 
2012-04-12 12:38:54 PM

gerrymander: Translation: "I don't know any black people, and I want my hobby to make me feel less guilty about that."


There was one black guy that used to play in my Vampire: The Masquerade campaigns. He also loved video games, anime, and could build a mean Magic: The Gathering deck.
 
2012-04-12 12:49:30 PM
"My D&D game manual doesn't have enough minorities in it" has got to be one of the most first world problems I've ever heard of.
 
2012-04-12 01:25:16 PM

Cythraul: gerrymander: Translation: "I don't know any black people, and I want my hobby to make me feel less guilty about that."

There was one black guy that used to play in my Vampire: The Masquerade campaigns. He also loved video games, anime, and could build a mean Magic: The Gathering deck.


What?!? He enjoyed anime, even though the characters are overwhelmingly Japanese? He played Vampire, even without a special clan for Blackulas? How can this be???

Don't even get me started on the "privilege" involved in making the evil dead Magic mana cards be black.

/HTML needs a "sarcasm" tag.
 
2012-04-12 01:27:49 PM

gerrymander: Cythraul: gerrymander: Translation: "I don't know any black people, and I want my hobby to make me feel less guilty about that."

There was one black guy that used to play in my Vampire: The Masquerade campaigns. He also loved video games, anime, and could build a mean Magic: The Gathering deck.

What?!? He enjoyed anime, even though the characters are overwhelmingly Japanese? He played Vampire, even without a special clan for Blackulas? How can this be???

Don't even get me started on the "privilege" involved in making the evil dead Magic mana cards be black.

/HTML needs a "sarcasm" tag.


Hah! Shows how much you know. There was a clan in Vampire for black people. They were called the Assamites.
 
2012-04-12 01:31:00 PM
t2.gstatic.com

Wood Elf, why do you cry?
 
2012-04-12 01:39:38 PM
WE LIKE TO IMAGINE THAT WE LIVE IN A WORLD WITHOUT BLACK PEOPLE!

There, I admitted it. Are you happy now?
 
2012-04-12 01:43:42 PM
D&D is dead. Long live Pathfinder.
 
2012-04-12 01:51:04 PM
Honestly, I'd say it's a legit beef. RPGs is basically in the category of stuff white people like, but it's simple fact that you can open the materials for any game you care to mention and 90% of the art will depict either white folks or fantastic complexions. Art is a big component of the appeal of gaming accessories and I can understand the slight that is "We'll print pictures of blue people but not dark-skinned African-looking ones because that would be silly."
 
2012-04-12 01:58:33 PM

Ennuipoet: (Aside from Gygax's Oriental Adventures, 1st Edition was so white it glowed in the dark.)


And yet, in it's own way, "Oriental Adventures" was even whiter than the rest of the manuals.
 
2012-04-12 01:59:56 PM
Why, Rhett! How many times have I told you to wash up after weekly cross burning?

/See, it's coming off.
 
2012-04-12 02:00:33 PM
I put on my dashiki and wizard kufi.
 
2012-04-12 02:03:22 PM

likefunbutnot: Art is a big component of the appeal of gaming accessories and I can understand the slight that is "We'll print pictures of blue people but not dark-skinned African-looking ones because that would be silly."


Yeah. I find it funny that most of the counter-arguments people were proposing in this thread were explicitly handled in the article.

There's really no good reason not to create a diverse setting. And yes, a DM can do it- but shouldn't the vendor of the game be carrying the bulk of that burden? I mean, that's why we're buying their game in the first place. If I didn't want to use their source materials, I wouldn't be.
 
2012-04-12 02:10:40 PM
It's not a box of crayons, it's a fantasy world. It's ok if you have no blacks.
 
2012-04-12 02:10:45 PM

Skyrmion: And yet, in it's own way, "Oriental Adventures" was even whiter than the rest of the manuals.


As I recall there were relatively few pictures of human beings in Oriental Adventures. Most of the illustrations were of objects, monsters or weapons. Certainly nothing like the 1st edition DMG or Deities and Demigods, with random bare-breasted white chicks presented with only the flimsiest of excuses.

Al Qadim also had a decent ratio of dark-skinned characters in its art and Dark Sun made a point of using non-European complexions in its art and descriptive text.
 
2012-04-12 02:11:13 PM

Cythraul: That's also the reason why you have American actors unsuccessfully attempting the British accent in pieces like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.


I am aware that there were a fair number of Americans in LotR, but GoT is pretty much Britain-centered. The only Yanks in it are Tyrion and Khal Drogo.
 
2012-04-12 02:18:56 PM
1.bp.blogspot.com
 
2012-04-12 02:22:23 PM

Weaver95: some people have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much free time on their hands....

 
2012-04-12 02:22:46 PM
Dark sun was awesome not for it's racial diversity, but because of its equal opportunity assholery towards players of all builds, races, and creeds.
 
2012-04-12 02:26:18 PM
I wonder if there's a single historical example of a black woman wearing plate armor in a battle. I'm not sure, but I doubt it.

Which makes me think of another point: while I suppose I do find the, "It's pseudo-medieval Europe" point satisfactory when justifying the racial breakdown of characters in the books, it doesn't explain why they're willing to stretch the devil out of credibility in creating gender diversity. You'd be pretty hard pressed to find a pre-gunpowder society where more than one in a thousand warriors were women.
 
2012-04-12 02:26:31 PM

Sybarite: Hey, at least the D&D cartoon had diversity.

[1.bp.blogspot.com image 640x496]

I'm sure if it gets remade at least one character will be Hispanic as well.


Indeed.

It certainly was kind of the producers to include a ginger.
 
2012-04-12 02:28:56 PM

likefunbutnot: As I recall there were relatively few pictures of human beings in Oriental Adventures.


I guess I was just referring to the fact that it comes across as a very Western view of East Asian fantasy.
 
2012-04-12 02:31:48 PM
GURPS. Aye, I am very well aware this is a DnD thread, but GURPS specifically addresses diversity OF ALL KINDS in their World Book series (link: http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/). Think AZTECS. ARABIAN NIGHTS. How about characters that aren't even human? BUNNIES & BURROWS, anyone? Or are we looking for some REAL diversity, like a gay necrophiliac with Tourette's Syndrome who is slowly dying of untreated leprosy???

/click & paste the link
//How's that for diversity?
 
2012-04-12 02:32:36 PM
No gol darn it! I said Glorfindel is a ni-BONG!
 
2012-04-12 02:33:35 PM

Cythraul: gerrymander: Cythraul: gerrymander: Translation: "I don't know any black people, and I want my hobby to make me feel less guilty about that."

There was one black guy that used to play in my Vampire: The Masquerade campaigns. He also loved video games, anime, and could build a mean Magic: The Gathering deck.

What?!? He enjoyed anime, even though the characters are overwhelmingly Japanese? He played Vampire, even without a special clan for Blackulas? How can this be???

Don't even get me started on the "privilege" involved in making the evil dead Magic mana cards be black.

/HTML needs a "sarcasm" tag.

Hah! Shows how much you know. There was a clan in Vampire for black people. They were called the Assamites.


What? No way. The Assamites were sand people like the ones we fight in Afghanistan. The Followers of Set and the Samedi were the darkies.
 
2012-04-12 02:35:50 PM

likefunbutnot: Art is a big component of the appeal of gaming accessories and I can understand the slight that is "We'll print pictures of blue people but not dark-skinned African-looking ones because that would be silly."


Maybe they shy away from producing art of dark-skinned African looking characters because the first time they have an African looking Barbarian character someone will flip out and accuse them of racism.
 
2012-04-12 02:37:53 PM

Skyrmion: "It's pseudo-medieval Europe" point satisfactory when justifying the racial breakdown of characters in the books, it doesn't explain why they're willing to stretch the devil out of credibility in creating gender diversity


Here's the thing though: it isn't pseudo-medieval Europe. Oh, sure, there are roots there and some of the D&D settings clearly are, but D&D taken as a whole is this massive amalgamation that has drifted so far away from those roots that it really needs to be taken as its own thing. They've pillaged pretty much every mythology that there's ever been and mashed it all together into this incredibly dense glop.

D&D started as a bunch of Tolkien fans masturbating, but it's gotten so far away from that that the "it's a medieval European setting" doesn't hold water.

And when you get into combat mechanics, any pretense of reality goes right out the window anyway.
Medieval European Falchion: a one handed weapon similar to a machete and weighted like an axe, often very light weapons
D&D3.5 Falchion: a heavy two handed weapon with an extended crit range, implying a strong ability to do crushing or perhaps precise blows.
 
2012-04-12 02:38:26 PM

Weaver95: Cythraul:

But that's the nice thing about table-top RPGs. The storyteller / dungeon master can just insert diversity if he so wishes.

And most of us frequently do just that.

i'm currently running a pathfinder adventure path - Kingmaker. the players have built a functional chaotic evil society. diversity? sure! just don't cheat on your taxes. aside from that, not much else is forbidden.


Diversity in role-playing situations isn't that big a deal.

In the Pathfinder setting mentioned above, there are all kinds of ethnicities. Mwangi, Garundi, Vudra, Kelesh...and those are the (relatively) dark skinned ones. Basically, the characters are about as diverse as the players want them to be.
 
2012-04-12 02:42:46 PM

AdolfOliverPanties: [t2.gstatic.com image 320x117]

Wood Elf, why do you cry?


Because I've only gotten TWO farking army books in 15 years! Farking Ogre Kingdoms have had THREE and they've only been out for 5 Goddamn years! And don't even get me started on the Vampire Counts shiat....

Also, it's obvious that neither the forum poster or the blogger have played Forgotten Realms. Damn near every single human culture is represented in the Realms when you add in Mazteca, Zhakara, and Kara-Tur as official canon (which they are). Also, every demi-human race has multiple skin tones, cultures, and attitudes. FFS, there's 6 different Elven cultures to choose from, not just 'Elf' and 'Drow'.

Greyhawk is the white-bread setting, where gypsies are what pass for 'exotic'. The Realms is an insanely detailed fantasy setting; appropriate since Ed Greenwood poured as much time into developing it as Tolkien did with Middle Earth. E just never came up with full languages. It's a crying shame that FR has always had to play second banana to Greyhawk.
 
2012-04-12 02:44:44 PM

t3knomanser: Skyrmion: "It's pseudo-medieval Europe" point satisfactory when justifying the racial breakdown of characters in the books, it doesn't explain why they're willing to stretch the devil out of credibility in creating gender diversity

Here's the thing though: it isn't pseudo-medieval Europe.


Not to go all "Monty Python Argument Sketch" on you but, "Yes it is."

The fact that the setting isn't realistic in other respects doesn't change the fact that the literary inspiration for almost all the D&D tropes is western. (Though I'll grant you the monk class as an exception.)

And when you get into combat mechanics, any pretense of reality goes right out the window anyway.
Medieval European Falchion: a one handed weapon similar to a machete and weighted like an axe, often very light weapons
D&D3.5 Falchion: a heavy two handed weapon with an extended crit range, implying a strong ability to do crushing or perhaps precise blows.


It's funny that you bring this up, because I just noticed what they did to the Falchion in D&D 3.5 a couple days ago. It made me laugh.
 
2012-04-12 02:44:49 PM

Weaver95: Cythraul:

But that's the nice thing about table-top RPGs. The storyteller / dungeon master can just insert diversity if he so wishes.

And most of us frequently do just that.

i'm currently running a pathfinder adventure path - Kingmaker. the players have built a functional chaotic evil society. diversity? sure! just don't cheat on your taxes. aside from that, not much else is forbidden.


Don't see how that jives with a chaotic algnment. Any form of govt is inherently non-chaotic.

Haven't played any D&D in about 20 years.
 
2012-04-12 02:45:28 PM

RoyFokker'sGhost: AdolfOliverPanties: [t2.gstatic.com image 320x117]

Wood Elf, why do you cry?

Because I've only gotten TWO farking army books in 15 years! Farking Ogre Kingdoms have had THREE and they've only been out for 5 Goddamn years! And don't even get me started on the Vampire Counts shiat....

Also, it's obvious that neither the forum poster or the blogger have played Forgotten Realms. Damn near every single human culture is represented in the Realms when you add in Mazteca, Zhakara, and Kara-Tur as official canon (which they are). Also, every demi-human race has multiple skin tones, cultures, and attitudes. FFS, there's 6 different Elven cultures to choose from, not just 'Elf' and 'Drow'.

Greyhawk is the white-bread setting, where gypsies are what pass for 'exotic'. The Realms is an insanely detailed fantasy setting; appropriate since Ed Greenwood poured as much time into developing it as Tolkien did with Middle Earth. E just never came up with full languages. It's a crying shame that FR has always had to play second banana to Greyhawk.


The original post was quite clearly about what WotC is doing with D&D now, heading into D&D5.
 
2012-04-12 02:46:43 PM

palelizard: Cythraul: gerrymander: Cythraul: gerrymander: Translation: "I don't know any black people, and I want my hobby to make me feel less guilty about that."

There was one black guy that used to play in my Vampire: The Masquerade campaigns. He also loved video games, anime, and could build a mean Magic: The Gathering deck.

What?!? He enjoyed anime, even though the characters are overwhelmingly Japanese? He played Vampire, even without a special clan for Blackulas? How can this be???

Don't even get me started on the "privilege" involved in making the evil dead Magic mana cards be black.

/HTML needs a "sarcasm" tag.

Hah! Shows how much you know. There was a clan in Vampire for black people. They were called the Assamites.

What? No way. The Assamites were sand people like the ones we fight in Afghanistan. The Followers of Set and the Samedi were the darkies.


I completely forgot about the Followers of Set. And you're right. The FoS had a lot of black people. But here's a little bit of trivia, in the 3rd edition, the older an Assamite was, the blacker their skin got. So even if they weren't born black before their embrace, they became so with age.
 
2012-04-12 02:47:47 PM

Skyrmion: The fact that the setting isn't realistic in other respects doesn't change the fact that the literary inspiration for almost all the D&D tropes is western


The last campaign I played was a planescape one, so my perspective might be a little bit skewed, but it's got its own really bizarre place. There's a clear European origin, I'll grant that, but that's like saying Christians are actually Jews.

Skyrmion: It made me laugh.


In general, D&D combat stats and functions are laughable. They make no sense, and things like spiked chains become incredibly useful, yet you'll never see something like that used in a real-world combat setting (or at least, not very commonly).
 
2012-04-12 02:50:12 PM
I don't think the author's complaints are pointless, but there has to be some logic underlying a setting's diversity--if you have an insular medieval European setting, why would you expect the demographics to reflect those of contemporary and cosmopolitan first world nations unless you're operating under a paradigm of Disney diversity (in which racial phenotype is random rather than genetic)? If your character has immigrated to the setting from a faraway land, then his complexion probably doesn't require much exposition beyond the far more interesting cultural differences that might be tied to it, but if he was born in a land with a thousand years of history yet his lineage remains distinct racially from that of his countrymen, questions arise. Is it a caste system? A miscegenation taboo? On whose part? Where is the racism that is preserving these ethnic differences? Or is it just magic? In which case, why?

These aren't trivial questions, since a lot of detailed backstory goes into world-building for roleplaying games. Maybe it would be less important if the art was all just random, but if you've got "iconic characters" that are supposed to be running through your rulebook pages and existing in your flagship campaign setting . . .
 
2012-04-12 02:50:29 PM

Ennuipoet: But...but...the Drow...


OK, now with that out of the way. Fantasy in general is a Eurocentric genre, so, naturally the art is going to reflect that bias. (Aside from Gygax's Oriental Adventures, 1st Edition was so white it glowed in the dark.) So, what is preventing a Fantasy novel or game being set in an African or a pre-Columbian culture? Are their editors actively denying such endeavors?

I don't actively play anymore, but I would philosophically in favor including more diversity in the game. I think it makes for a richer experience for anyone, and Fantasy and fantasy gaming is about opening your mind to different ideas!


From what I understand Pathfinder does a pretty good job of having rather diverse art. D&D did make some moves to add some cultural diversity, the "New Lands" added on near the end of 3rd edition Forgotten Realms is a good example, but they invariably peopled those lands with monsters (Yaun-ti in this case) to the exclusion of different hued humans.
 
2012-04-12 02:53:40 PM

t3knomanser: Skyrmion: The fact that the setting isn't realistic in other respects doesn't change the fact that the literary inspiration for almost all the D&D tropes is western

The last campaign I played was a planescape one, so my perspective might be a little bit skewed, but it's got its own really bizarre place. There's a clear European origin, I'll grant that, but that's like saying Christians are actually Jews.

Skyrmion: It made me laugh.

In general, D&D combat stats and functions are laughable. They make no sense, and things like spiked chains become incredibly useful, yet you'll never see something like that used in a real-world combat setting (or at least, not very commonly).


I just thought it was funny that some dude could kill a 50 ft long dragon with a 3ft long sword, after being lit on fire 10 times.

I always had to change the rules for D&D to make dangerous things more lethal and stupid things not lethal. for example, the common housecat did 1-2 damage. that could kill a level 1 wizard in two hits.

/ my info could be wrong, it's been over 10 years since i played d&d
 
2012-04-12 02:56:04 PM

RoyFokker'sGhost: It's a crying shame that FR has always had to play second banana to Greyhawk.


Greyhawk has been an also ran-since late first-edition AD&D when the first Forgotten Realms box set was released.

Click Click D'oh: Maybe they shy away from producing art of dark-skinned African looking characters because the first time they have an African looking Barbarian character someone will flip out and accuse them of racism.


There could just as easily be a dark-skinned wizard or a D&D cleric in full plate mail.

It might be interesting to compare depictions of generally "evil" humanoid races (Orcs, half-orcs, ogres, hobgolbins, whatever) with depictions of typically African features as well. Doesn't one of the WoW Horde races speak with a Jamaican accent?
 
2012-04-12 02:57:24 PM

pute kisses like a man: I always had to change the rules for D&D


Yeah. Going back to 2nd Edition, I always got a kick out of Spelljammer- you fall for more than a mile, you catch on fire. Nobody skydives in that universe without a spell to reduce fire damage, apparently.
 
2012-04-12 02:58:27 PM

Cythraul: I completely forgot about the Followers of Set. And you're right. The FoS had a lot of black people. But here's a little bit of trivia, in the 3rd edition, the older an Assamite was, the blacker their skin got. So even if they weren't born black before their embrace, they became so with age.


Was that true for the Assamites or the Assamite antitribu or both?
 
2012-04-12 02:58:41 PM

t3knomanser: In general, D&D combat stats and functions are laughable. They make no sense, and things like spiked chains become incredibly useful, yet you'll never see something like that used in a real-world combat setting (or at least, not very commonly).


For a while, I ran a campaign with my own heavily-modified version of 3.5 rules. One of the first things I did was ban all the double-weapons. (and "cleave")
 
2012-04-12 02:58:52 PM
Elfs? Really subby. Elves

/lern 2 spel
 
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