The Race Isse --- WotC, you need to progress already!

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Got your attention right? Good. Because here is my stand on an issue I will be discussing on other RPG boards in the near-future, because it's beginning to get out of line.

My wife teaches in the inner city. She teaches in a high school with 95% African American children. She is an alumni of TFA and has been hard at work trying to shorten the education gap in this school, just like all other TFA members are doing.

In a school like this, where the minorities are both lacking good education due to both their poverty level and race, they're raised in their neighborhoods learning only what keeps them surviving in the streets and are not really taught anything else.

Here is my cue --- I began a D&D Club at the school. After school, some of the students stay after to learn to play and continue playing after school. D&D is perfect. It keeps their minds engaged, aids their reading comprehension, gives them a wide imagination, helps with their math, supports teamwork, and most importantly, keeps them off streets away from the violence and drugs.

My issues --- the game, even to this day, speaks to a specific demographic beyond just "geeks" only. It specifically always seems to speak to "white geeks" only. Which is a damn shame. Since I've been playing for almost 15 years already, and barely see any progress.

For starters, the sort of advertising D&D is streamed, it's not in places where the non-white geeks would be normally exposed to. That needs to change.

Maybe if WotC, and other RPG publishers, were to reach out to the destitute areas of minorities, particularly the hispanics and blacks of our country, and entice them to , it will kill two birds with one stone. More revenue for you, since you are a corporation after all, and something to aid these kids in keeping off the streets and engaged in purely mental activities.

But my one issue was this --- the lack of racial diversity in the images of the D&D pictures. Why am I not seeing dark-skinned dwarves? Darker skinned elves? The eladrin? Even more important, the HUMANS?! I see ONE dark-skinned halfling in the 4E Player's Handbook. It looked as if she was drawn in there as an afterthought. That's it. . I see ONE sort-of Asian looking half-elf in the Paladin chapter. I continue to see this trend throughout the books and magazines. Let's not get into the fact that, well, all the dark-skinned races are considered EVIL (granted, it's more of a fantasy jet black, obsidian color, but they're not going to see a difference). Back in 3E, what did we have? A black female iconic monk and...an astral deva? Two!? Oh, and that one obscure dude in Lords of Madness, in the prestige class section.

These kids, already in an environment where they are led to believe white people lead better lives, are more educated, and represent a pinnacle of success they feel they don't belong in because they are ostracized by those very same people, see these images and it can tear them down without you even noticing. Were I a minority, and I looked through these images to get a feel for the game, I'd notice the subliminal message of "Look at these HEROIC lightskinned races." and be just as offended, especially if I ever turned to the Drow Elf or Duergar pages in another book.

Shall we go to the novels? Name one dark-skinned well known hero that's NOT Drizz't, is human or dwarf or elf (drow DO NOT count), in the Forgotten Realms novels? Any hero Chultans or Turmics? Nah. All the are caucassian, or light-skinned, it seems. Wulfgar, Bruenor, Elminster, Elaith, Mirt, Halaster, Alustriel...the list never ends. At least Dragonlance made that progress, the darker-skinned humans were a sea-faring race (both present and not a stereotype, kudos to the DL folks!). Heck, I particularly remember the guy that had the silver arm and crafted the Dragonlances for the war, a memorable character indeed.

It's silly, it's ridiculous, it's a shame, it's downright just wrong!

Step up your game, WotC, and please start to do something about it. Maybe donating to the poor, inner city schools (and I'm not saying the one I DM at, I have that taken care of, thank you very much) would help with your reputation on the matter, for one. And being more diverse with your artwork will be a BIG help in stifling the image that you only want a specific demographic to play your game!
It would be nice to see some more diversified art in the game. I support that request. I don't know what they can do about the dark skinned races being evil anymore, though. They have been a part of the core D&D fluff for so long that to get rid of things like the drow might ruffle some peoples feathers in a bad way (not that I necessarily think it wouldn't be a good move. The race suffers from so much pseudo-latent/implicit racist and sexist imagery that I often find myself trying to avoid its use in my own games).

I mean, I certainly think new campaign settings should do what they can to divorce themselves of that idea! But they seem to already be doing that. The drow in Eberron are not evil. They are just a race of tribal elves on another continent. And the new FR books, despite making the very unfortunate mistake of saying that the drow's dark skin is a result of a curse due to the culture's overall evil tendency, still makes a point of noting that such stereotypes are often false. More and more drow are coming to the surface, and proving that they can be as good and heroic as anyone else (hence them making it a PC race). But simply removing the race completely, however distasteful I happen to find it personally, would probably have many of the game's fans flying into a hysterical rage. Still, at the very least they should try and clean up the race's fluff a little. Removing the claim that their dark skin is a result of their evil nature is a big step that should have happened ages ago. It would be nice if the division between good and evil stopped being so frequently represented by men vs. women as well.

All right. I am off on a tangent now. Back to the hole with me...


Isn't the wizard girl on the cover of the PHB black?  Isn't the human male racial picture black?  There's also a darker black halfling chick.  Honestly, I kind of thought it was weird that there weren't any white humans, since the human woman was--actually how would you describe her in a world with no Asia?  "A woman of the Ki Power Source?"
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Isn't the wizard girl on the cover of the PHB black?  Isn't the human male racial picture black?  There's also a darker black halfling chick.  Honestly, I kind of thought it was weird that there weren't any white humans, since the human woman was--actually how would you describe her in a world with no Asia?  "A woman of the Ki Power Source?"



Um, I just checked the front cover of my PHB. I see a white skinned girl with long, black, straight hair. I then looked through all of the race pictures and found a black halfling and an asian human. I did not, however, find a black male picture. I found a white male with short blond hair in full plate armor though... if the picture of the woman on the front cover of the PHB is supposed to be black, or the picture of the male in the human race writeup is supposed to be black, they are the most white-washed black people I have ever seen.

I agree I would like to see more diverse images in player sources although i have to admit there is something to be said for the eye of the beholder. when I look at the PHB1 cover the woman seems Latin to me. I can see how depending on who you know and where you live you might see her as black or white. D&D might benefit from broadening it's racial identity. D&D is a great way to socialize and I would love to see a more diverse crowd at the local conventions. Those whom I have played with in the past who come from radically different backgrounds often bring something unique to a table.
I wish people would stop going to the PHB1 for this.  Yeah, the PHB isn't that diverse.  Look at the other books.  Every single one of them has people of various ethnicities, more than the PHB1.
I'm not convinced that adding ethnic art will bring diversity to this game, but if it might work, I say go for it. I've played D&D for 30+ years in five different states; I've played with a grand total of one black guy, one latino guy, and 3 females (two whites and one latina). Everyone else has been a white male.
I think this has less to do with art and more with outside perceptions. I attend a historically black college, and many of the folks on my campus wouldn't be caught dead doing anything "too white," because of the social stigma attached to this. In minority groups there tends to be even more pressure to fit in and conform than in middle-class white society, so a lot of times people will ignore something that might interest them just because they don't want to be shunned from a social group that contractually accepts them on certain terms, because they're afraid that other groups won't accept them and it's better to be safe and unhappy than unsafe and unhappy.

The original core books said that this was our game too. It doesn't feel like that anymore.

To be fair Adun, these things that are seen as "too white" might not be if the product was presented to minorities at a younger age, as the OP is doing.

The lack of varied ethnicities in the core book makes that introduction potentially harder for disenfranchised minority youth.  So young minorities don't play, and thus the product is relegated to whites, and the cycle continues...

The OP makes a fair point, and more directly "Why not?"  It's not like I, as a middle-class enfranchised male, will be less likely to play if there were more ethnicities represented in the art.  The lack of ethnicity in the art is likely an innocent oversight, but one that is easily corrected.
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Well ---- it's not bad enough you have to bring politics & race into the world around us but into our fantasy too. This is a role playing game which engages the mind & the IMAGINATION. If you have a problem with the images you see then the only one having a problem is YOU. Why does this have to become a "racial" issue? For an educated person, that seems like a stupid thing to post here. I hate to break it too you, my friend -- but there is only one race on this planet & it is called HUMANS. Skin color is only a trait that would be considered a regional sub-species of the larger group. I really am getting tired of people constantly throwing the "color" card everytime an issue arises. Why is it important to describe a color of skin as a defining attribute of a certain class of people you are trying to aid? Why do you feel it necessary to belittle the issue you seem to feel so strongly about? Why does a group of people with like interests & hobbies, have to be encumbered by a simple-minded individual clouding the facts with useless data? I applaud your wife's efforts. Teaching anywhere is a tough job with little to no praise from the people around them. I also applaud you for your effort to involve young people to participate in our hobby & promote education & not violence. I cannot, however, sit idly by & allow this tragic-comedy to continue in the name of children. I have played this game & many more for more than 25 years & I refuse to accept the excuse of "racial bias". This game promotes many things, sir ---- but racism has never entered my mind in all those years & I take exception to the very mention of it. Flame if you must, but this is my opinion & I proudly stand by it. Everyone is welcome around the great tavern table at the Old Skull in Shadowdale. Leave your problems at the door, grab a tankard & tell the tales of valor & adventure; but leave the differences of man ---- at the door.
The OP makes a fair point, and more directly "Why not?"  It's not like I, as a middle-class enfranchised male, will be less likely to play if there were more ethnicities represented in the art.

Since I like D&D, I will play it no matter what the art looks like.  It's butt ugly now, after all, and it hasn't stopped me (maybe someday they'll give me less Conan and more Han Solo, but it doesn't seem likely).  So, I don't know, maybe it's just me, but if they're not playing because of the art in the book, they probably didn't want to play in the first place and needed an excuse.

Isn't the wizard girl on the cover of the PHB black?  Isn't the human male racial picture black?  There's also a darker black halfling chick.  Honestly, I kind of thought it was weird that there weren't any white humans, since the human woman was--actually how would you describe her in a world with no Asia?  "A woman of the Ki Power Source?"



Um, I just checked the front cover of my PHB. I see a white skinned girl with long, black, straight hair.

First, wow, dude.  Black chicks can have straight hair.  Secondly, maybe it's just my copy--or your copy--but it sure looks like a black chick to me.  I've worked with a woman that looked just like her, and her dad was very much black.  Never met her mother, so I guess she could have been hispanic, but there's at least half black in there.

I did not, however, find a black male picture. I found a white male with short blond hair in full plate armor though...

What? You think that guy is white with blond hair?  There must be something wrong with one of our copies, then.  I mean, I guess he's on the lighter side of black, but it looks pretty unmistakable to me.  Are you one of the people that doesn't believe Vin Diesel is black or something?  They don't all need to be deep brown with dreadlocks like the halfling girl.    

if the picture of the woman on the front cover of the PHB is supposed to be black, or the picture of the male in the human race writeup is supposed to be black, they are the most white-washed black people I have ever seen.

...really?  Did you miss out on Michael Jackson?  Or is that too soon?

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Out of curiosity, which places do you want WotC to advertise? You mention places where "non-white" geeks would frequent, but where exactly are these places? All of the typical "geek" places I know are frequented by geeks of every ethnicity, not simply white geeks. re there other "geek" places I am unaware of that are frequented b ethnicities other than Caucasians? Or is this simply an issue based on my location, Montreal, which may have a different geek demographic?

I think that your cause is more or less noble in intention, but you have taken a less than fair path towards your goal. Going through the PHB, there are many images of clearly non Caucasian characters. The fault here is that they are not immediately recognizable as a distinct ethnicity. I agree that this should, to a degree, change.

The big issue I can see is:

WotC is a for-profit business, with the clear goal of creating profit. They have business models in play as to how they should go about this. I would venture a guess to say that they have looked into advertising and distributing their product in lower income areas, and found that it is simply not cost effective. As a business, they have to make these sorts of decisions. I would suggest that a community outreach type of program might be worth the attempt. Promote the game internally to entice the young people to play. If the community wants, they could possibly reach out to WotC to see if a small number of rule books could be donated to help encourage the kids to play. Expecting a company like Wizards to go out of their way to do such a thing on their own strikes me as unlikely.
  
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My issues --- the game, even to this day, speaks to a specific demographic beyond just "geeks" only. It specifically always seems to speak to "white geeks" only. Which is a damn shame. Since I've been playing for almost 15 years already, and barely see any progress.



No. You are wanting this issue to exist, therefore it does in your mind. Like most so-called racial issues in America, it is a joke.

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Thank_Dog wrote:

2Chlorobutanal wrote:
I think that if you have to argue to convince others about the clarity of something, it's probably not as objectively clear as you think.

No, what it means is that some people just like to be obtuse.

Well ---- it's not bad enough you have to bring politics & race into the world around us but into our fantasy too. This is a role playing game which engages the mind & the IMAGINATION. If you have a problem with the images you see then the only one having a problem is YOU. Why does this have to become a "racial" issue? For an educated person, that seems like a stupid thing to post here. I hate to break it too you, my friend -- but there is only one race on this planet & it is called HUMANS. Skin color is only a trait that would be considered a regional sub-species of the larger group. I really am getting tired of people constantly throwing the "color" card everytime an issue arises. Why is it important to describe a color of skin as a defining attribute of a certain class of people you are trying to aid? Why do you feel it necessary to belittle the issue you seem to feel so strongly about? Why does a group of people with like interests & hobbies, have to be encumbered by a simple-minded individual clouding the facts with useless data? I applaud your wife's efforts. Teaching anywhere is a tough job with little to no praise from the people around them. I also applaud you for your effort to involve young people to participate in our hobby & promote education & not violence. I cannot, however, sit idly by & allow this tragic-comedy to continue in the name of children. I have played this game & many more for more than 25 years & I refuse to accept the excuse of "racial bias". This game promotes many things, sir ---- but racism has never entered my mind in all those years & I take exception to the very mention of it. Flame if you must, but this is my opinion & I proudly stand by it. Everyone is welcome around the great tavern table at the Old Skull in Shadowdale. Leave your problems at the door, grab a tankard & tell the tales of valor & adventure; but leave the differences of man ---- at the door.

I agree with this post.

If the original poster feels that Dungeons and Dragons is too "racist" simply because the Art Department decided that majority of the races should be fair-skinned ("white"), then either he's being too shallow, or he's looking it at the wrong angle.


While one could acknowledge that D&D has always had racism in it -- with Duergar, Drow, Svirfneblins, goblins, being the enemy of most races [sometimes due to race alone], and you have your typical Elf-Dwarf love-hate relationship, among other things -- it's highly unlikely that you have the game actually being "racist" in the sense that the game promotes that only "white" players would be playing it.  Aside from the alleged art (which in fact isn't all 'white' -- seriously, you'd think that if they wanted Dragonborn to be shown as "white", they could easily have drawn them with white scales and all), where does the game show any sign of being racist?


Just because the art in one Player's Handbook doesn't have a balanced number of 'non-white' folks compared to 'whites', doesn't mean the game itself is for whites only.  Heck, look through Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, and you already see the books showing off a variety of skin colors.  Also, when you look at the Player's Strategy Guide, you have this certain picture where heroes of all races -- humans, elves, dwarves, etc. -- lifting their tankards as they celebrate their new levels.  Does that seem 'racist' to the original poster?


This is likely going to get locked anyway, just wanted to get this out before then.   Long story short, D&D does have racism, but doesn't promote it.  "OMG dude! This game's racist 'coz they don't have black dudes in their pictures!" doesn't really cut it, if you ask me.

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The OP makes a fair point, and more directly "Why not?"  It's not like I, as a middle-class enfranchised male, will be less likely to play if there were more ethnicities represented in the art.

Since I like D&D, I will play it no matter what the art looks like.  It's butt ugly now, after all, and it hasn't stopped me (maybe someday they'll give me less Conan and more Han Solo, but it doesn't seem likely).  So, I don't know, maybe it's just me, but if they're not playing because of the art in the book, they probably didn't want to play in the first place and needed an excuse.

Isn't the wizard girl on the cover of the PHB black?  Isn't the human male racial picture black?  There's also a darker black halfling chick.  Honestly, I kind of thought it was weird that there weren't any white humans, since the human woman was--actually how would you describe her in a world with no Asia?  "A woman of the Ki Power Source?"



Um, I just checked the front cover of my PHB. I see a white skinned girl with long, black, straight hair.

First, wow, dude.  Black chicks can have straight hair.  Secondly, maybe it's just my copy--or your copy--but it sure looks like a black chick to me.  I've worked with a woman that looked just like her, and her dad was very much black.  Never met her mother, so I guess she could have been hispanic, but there's at least half black in there.

I did not, however, find a black male picture. I found a white male with short blond hair in full plate armor though...

What? You think that guy is white with blond hair?  There must be something wrong with one of our copies, then.  I mean, I guess he's on the lighter side of black, but it looks pretty unmistakable to me.  Are you one of the people that doesn't believe Vin Diesel is black or something?  They don't all need to be deep brown with dreadlocks like the halfling girl.    

if the picture of the woman on the front cover of the PHB is supposed to be black, or the picture of the male in the human race writeup is supposed to be black, they are the most white-washed black people I have ever seen.

...really?  Did you miss out on Michael Jackson?  Or is that too soon?


I don't think the book or game is racist but I got out my book, showed it to my wife, and neither of us think that the cover girl or the man in plate are black. The girl seems Latina or middle eastern and the guy is 100% white.
I don't think the book or game is racist but I got out my book, showed it to my wife, and neither of us think that the cover girl or the man in plate are black. The girl seems Latina or middle eastern and the guy is 100% white.


Just a crazy thought here, but since she doesn't live on planet earth, she's none of those.
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Thank_Dog wrote:

2Chlorobutanal wrote:
I think that if you have to argue to convince others about the clarity of something, it's probably not as objectively clear as you think.

No, what it means is that some people just like to be obtuse.

I don't think the book or game is racist but I got out my book, showed it to my wife, and neither of us think that the cover girl or the man in plate are black. The girl seems Latina or middle eastern and the guy is 100% white.


Just a crazy thought here, but since she doesn't live on planet earth, she's none of those.

Just a crazy thought here, but the artist does live on planet earth and so is influenced by what he or she saw here. There are also bears in the MM, so if its not earth, are those not bears? If the bear is drawn with black fur, is it not a black bear? If it is larger than a black bear and also has brown fur, is it not a brown bear? If it is larger than a black bear and also lives in the arctic, is it not a polar bear?

I'm not being difficult, I've read your posts before, you are a reasonable person and I respect your opinions but common on, we all know that art is a reflection of life and even fantasy art reflects the real world. 
Just a crazy thought here, but the artist does live on planet earth and so is influenced by what he or she saw here. There are also bears in the MM, so if its not earth, are those not bears? If the bear is drawn with black fur, is it not a black bear? If it is larger than a black bear and also has brown fur, is it not a brown bear? If it is larger than a black bear and also lives in the arctic, is it not a polar bear?

I'm not being difficult, I've read your posts before, you are a reasonable person and I respect your opinions but common on, we all know that art is a reflection of life and even fantasy art reflects the real world. 


Yes, but the sun bears don't whine about racial inequality. That's the point I'm making.

Color me flattered.

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Thank_Dog wrote:

2Chlorobutanal wrote:
I think that if you have to argue to convince others about the clarity of something, it's probably not as objectively clear as you think.

No, what it means is that some people just like to be obtuse.

Being an old brown guy who has been engrossed with this hobbie for 30+ years, it's way better now than ever before.  Believe me I take notice when I see a dark face in fantasy art, it's rare.   There is a lot more diversity in the art of 4e books than I ever remember in any other edition or series of books for any RPG. 

But try find any Polynesian faces in the art.  That's right you can't.  One reason Star Wars Attack of the Clones, stands out so much for me, is all the Polynesian faces, even if they are only one cloned face.

Anyway I think the industry is progressing in diversifieing the art of fantasy heroes.  if only to increase the market.  Go free market! Go!

Well ---- it's not bad enough you have to bring politics & race into the world around us but into our fantasy too. This is a role playing game which engages the mind & the IMAGINATION. If you have a problem with the images you see then the only one having a problem is YOU. Why does this have to become a "racial" issue? For an educated person, that seems like a stupid thing to post here. I hate to break it too you, my friend -- but there is only one race on this planet & it is called HUMANS. Skin color is only a trait that would be considered a regional sub-species of the larger group. I really am getting tired of people constantly throwing the "color" card everytime an issue arises. Why is it important to describe a color of skin as a defining attribute of a certain class of people you are trying to aid? Why do you feel it necessary to belittle the issue you seem to feel so strongly about? Why does a group of people with like interests & hobbies, have to be encumbered by a simple-minded individual clouding the facts with useless data? I applaud your wife's efforts. Teaching anywhere is a tough job with little to no praise from the people around them. I also applaud you for your effort to involve young people to participate in our hobby & promote education & not violence. I cannot, however, sit idly by & allow this tragic-comedy to continue in the name of children. I have played this game & many more for more than 25 years & I refuse to accept the excuse of "racial bias". This game promotes many things, sir ---- but racism has never entered my mind in all those years & I take exception to the very mention of it. Flame if you must, but this is my opinion & I proudly stand by it. Everyone is welcome around the great tavern table at the Old Skull in Shadowdale. Leave your problems at the door, grab a tankard & tell the tales of valor & adventure; but leave the differences of man ---- at the door.

I agree with this post.

If the original poster feels that Dungeons and Dragons is too "racist" simply because the Art Department decided that majority of the races should be fair-skinned ("white"), then either he's being too shallow, or he's looking it at the wrong angle.


While one could acknowledge that D&D has always had racism in it -- with Duergar, Drow, Svirfneblins, goblins, being the enemy of most races [sometimes due to race alone], and you have your typical Elf-Dwarf love-hate relationship, among other things -- it's highly unlikely that you have the game actually being "racist" in the sense that the game promotes that only "white" players would be playing it.  Aside from the alleged art (which in fact isn't all 'white' -- seriously, you'd think that if they wanted Dragonborn to be shown as "white", they could easily have drawn them with white scales and all), where does the game show any sign of being racist?


Just because the art in one Player's Handbook doesn't have a balanced number of 'non-white' folks compared to 'whites', doesn't mean the game itself is for whites only.  Heck, look through Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, and you already see the books showing off a variety of skin colors.  Also, when you look at the Player's Strategy Guide, you have this certain picture where heroes of all races -- humans, elves, dwarves, etc. -- lifting their tankards as they celebrate their new levels.  Does that seem 'racist' to the original poster?


This is likely going to get locked anyway, just wanted to get this out before then.   Long story short, D&D does have racism, but doesn't promote it.  "OMG dude! This game's racist 'coz they don't have black dudes in their pictures!" doesn't really cut it, if you ask me.




I third this notion.

Just because the art doesn't have as many racial colors (for the more human races) as you may like doesn't mean it encourages racism, which I understand is not the point. The point is essentially to get these kids interested. Why should skin color matter? If it's really that much of an issue, make a colored human. There's no rule that says you can't. And if that's an issue for you, play as one of the "raceless" races such as the Dragonborn or the Shardminds or something (which is ironic being they come in different shades too, just not human ones). You have to take into consideration that this is all based off of your typical medieval fantasy setting, generally fair skinned people reign supreme because the base is western Europe. I understand the point you're trying to make and I really do wish more kids would play this game. But skin color really shouldn't impact how much you want to play.
I don't think the OP is suggesting that WotC or D&D as a brand are actively racist.  I think he was pointing out how the product, concieved predominately by white males, owned predominately by white males, run predominately by white males, drawn predominately by white males, and frankly played predominately by white males, has a rather short-sighted view on race.

Not including "enough" people of color is not racist or even racially insensitive, but rather a side effect of our (as humans) tendency to view ourselves as "normal" and those different from us as "not normal".

This goes beyond race, by the way.  In America (where I'm from), we don't consider ourselves to speak with an accent.  British people have accents, Scottish people have accents, Indian people have accents.  Hell, Canadians have accents.  But we speak "normal".  Whereas in England, I'd imagine we have "American accents".

Taking this further, in California (where I live), we speak "normal".  In Boston, New York, The South, The Great Lakes, "they" have accents and speak "wierd".  And the reverse is true for others.  I probably sound wierd to someone from Ohio.

This tendency to group ourselves by our similarities, and define ourselves by how we are not like "others" is the core reason we have racism (when those differences fuel fear and hate).  True, we are all one "Human Race", but these divisions of blacks and whites, asians and latinos, are a profound and very real social construct and to ignore it, or brush it off as being imaginary is foolhardy.  As much as we'd like to pretend otherwise, we are not yet living in a post-racial society.

Once you acknowledge this, you can begin to see how a lack of "color" in the PHB might have an inadvertant effect on minorities reading it.  By no means is WotC saying "Blacks can't be heroes", but they're not saying they can.  It is subtle, and can be very hard for those with privilege (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_privilege) to recognize.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
From a marketing position, I'm kind of lost. You're complaining that WotC is targeting the majority of their public?

From a historical position, I'm kind of lost. You do realize that D&D is based on a mideval setting?

From a biological position, I'm kind of lost. Why could there be dark skinned dwarves/elves/... ? Except for melanism, I don't recall dark skinned puma/tigers/ ... Heck, the fact that there are a multitude of different dragonborn colors, shows the lack of racism.


And heck, its still a game. The monopoly guy is also white. Its not for WotC (or any other game company) to start the fight against racism.
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I don't think the OP is suggesting that WotC or D&D as a brand are actively racist.  I think he was pointing out how the product, concieved predominately by white males, owned predominately by white males, run predominately by white males, drawn predominately by white males, and frankly played predominately by white males, has a rather short-sighted view on race.

Not including "enough" people of color is not racist or even racially insensitive, but rather a side effect of our (as humans) tendency to view ourselves as "normal" and those different from us as "not normal".

This goes beyond race, by the way.  In America (where I'm from), we don't consider ourselves to speak with an accent.  British people have accents, Scottish people have accents, Indian people have accents.  Hell, Canadians have accents.  But we speak "normal".  Whereas in England, I'd imagine we have "American accents".

Taking this further, in California (where I live), we speak "normal".  In Boston, New York, The South, The Great Lakes, "they" have accents and speak "wierd".  And the reverse is true for others.  I probably sound wierd to someone from Ohio.

This tendency to group ourselves by our similarities, and define ourselves by how we are not like "others" is the core reason we have racism (when those differences fuel fear and hate).  True, we are all one "Human Race", but these divisions of blacks and whites, asians and latinos, are a profound and very real social construct and to ignore it, or brush it off as being imaginary is foolhardy.  As much as we'd like to pretend otherwise, we are not yet living in a post-racial society.

Once you acknowledge this, you can begin to see how a lack of "color" in the PHB might have an inadvertant effect on minorities reading it.  By no means is WotC saying "Blacks can't be heroes", but they're not saying they can.  It is subtle, and can be very hard for those with privilege (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_privilege) to recognize.



I'm not "brushing it off". I understand that there is still racism, nowhere near the extent to where it used to be, but still. And I stated, I know that's not the point. And yes, I know people from other places consider me different just as I consider them different.  The point is that this isn't really an upstanding issue and it shouldn't prevent people from playing the game. Do I think there probably should be more "colored" people in the book. Yeah. Do I think it really matters. Not really.

And I wanted to bring this up too, but was a bit hesitant. But as Qube stated, last I checked, dwarves and elves are generally white. It's rare to see them in any other color really. Lord of the Rings, Runescape, World of Warcraft (there are darker dwarves there, I admit), etc. I think a big point here is that it isn't Wizard's fault really. It's nobodies really. The point is that it's a general standard for them to be white. Plenty of other people have been doing this for much longer. There are plenty of other companies and groups to hound about the same issue. While I understand there's motivation to come out against Wizards' specifically I think it should be said to most companies and should be acknowledged that it's not just Wizards.
I think a big point here is that it isn't Wizard's fault really. It's nobodies really. The point is that it's a general standard for them to be white.



And is this okay?  Should "White" be the standard by which others are judged or compared against?  Is white "normal"?  Is white the "blank slate" to which ethnic qualities are added?

Plenty of other people have been doing this for much longer. There are plenty of other companies and groups to hound about the same issue. While I understand there's motivation to come out against Wizards' specifically I think it should be said to most companies and should be acknowledged that it's not just Wizards.



Just because other companies and groups have been doing this for much longer, it doesn't justify it now.  And I doubt the OP is saying that only WotC is doing it.  He sees an opportunity for WotC to expand their market and make changes in race relations, and is letting them know.

Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.

I read the OP, and thought that what you have is a good idea. A bit inflamatory, but a good idea none the less.
The best way you're going to get the word out is to advertize. If you can get a proposal to the WotC staff, they may be able to help you set up an event in your area. If not, there is always the word of mouth.
Find fantasy art on the web, or better yet, see if you can get some local artists to donate some (your cause is a good one). You may have to get some setting going based on either home brew or use Toril with the Maztica/Chult/Al'Qadim  tie ins.
Possibly a pirate theme

I think a big point here is that it isn't Wizard's fault really. It's nobodies really. The point is that it's a general standard for them to be white.



And is this okay?  Should "White" be the standard by which others are judged or compared against?  Is white "normal"?  Is white the "blank slate" to which ethnic qualities are added?

Plenty of other people have been doing this for much longer. There are plenty of other companies and groups to hound about the same issue. While I understand there's motivation to come out against Wizards' specifically I think it should be said to most companies and should be acknowledged that it's not just Wizards.



Just because other companies and groups have been doing this for much longer, it doesn't justify it now.  And I doubt the OP is saying that only WotC is doing it.  He sees an opportunity for WotC to expand their market and make changes in race relations, and is letting them know.




Now, sir, you are taking me out of context and assuming. I never said that it was "okay" or a justification. I merely said that it's been going on for a while and is in no way (specifically) Wizards' fault. I'm saying that it is more than that. That this is the standard for Fantasy Roleplaying games due to the where the setting originates (Western Europe as stated). I'm not saying that the standard is right. The standard should be human. If you want a real game with a more racist approach play Oblivion. The whites and blacks are seperated as different races completley (Redguards and Imperials).

And I could easily make a similar argument that women may be detracted from the game because a fair amount of the pictures have them wearing impractical armor that hardly covers the essentials.

And maybe it's me, and maybe I read it wrong, but the OP didn't seem to be expressing it in such a way as "hey here's an idea". It seemed a bit angry or frustrated.

Now, sir, you are taking me out of context and assuming. I never said that it was "okay" or a justification.



Didn't mean to imply that you thought it was okay.  I was merely probing if you might not have considered it before, via a rhetorical question aimed to illuminate how we, as whites, might not recognize the advantages we routinely experience.  So often in the media and in plain old regular life whites are portrayed as "normal" or the "standard" or "baseline".  Other races are "different from white" rather than just different. 


And I could easily make a similar argument that women may be detracted from the game because a fair amount of the pictures have them wearing impractical armor that hardly covers the essentials.



And I would agree with you.  The chainmail bikini can be disenfranchising towards women.

Slightly different issue though.  Depicting women in chainmail bikini is reducing their role to merely a sexual object.  That would be like only portraying the included ethnicities by their overly glorified stereotypes, like Asian Wizards ('cuz they're smart!) and Monks ('cuz they know Kung-Fu!) or Super Athletic looking Black Warriors ('cuz they're good at sports and athletic things!) etc etc.

The relative absence of minorities is akin to having a relative absence of women.  Sure the rules don't say you can't be a [insert X], but the art does little to show examples of [insert x].

And maybe it's me, and maybe I read it wrong, but the OP didn't seem to be expressing it in such a way as "hey here's an idea". It seemed a bit angry or frustrated.



Not disputing that.  There was certainly a frustrated tone.  But I don't think it was accusatory or claiming that WotC was the only offender.  It sounded to me like one who is still frustrated with the casual ignorance of racial bias and tension that persists to this day.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
Why do you want more black kids to play D&D? I can think of about a million healthier, more educational things for them to be doing. And most of those cost a lot less money.

Essentially, you seem to be angry that Hasbro's subsidiary, WotC, isn't marketing their expensive, conceptually bloodily violent, educationally near-valueless sedentary entertainment to children blatantly enough.
I doubt anyone would accuse Rokugan/L5R of being racist because it portrays its heroes with eastern features.

At its core, D&D is a setting that generally simulates fantasy adventures in an imaginary version of medieval Europe. Simple as.
The assumption that there should be black elves, or black dwarves, or that half the human population should magically be black because is preposterous. Most fantasy worlds (such as FR) have rich cultural backgrounds that include countries where different ethnic groups are prevalent, but the core imaginary is still tied to the medieval-Europe-through-a-lens idea, and there's positively nothing racist about that. It's like saying every movie about ninjas is racist because they're not black.

We don't need more black people in fantasy medieval Europe (even if they can fit quite well, as I've played quite literally in fantasy medieval Europe and the best character in the group was a black man from Africa); if anything, we need more adventures set into an environment where either black heroes make sense on their own (such as an extremely multicultural fantasy world - see Eberron and its melting pot, and the art fully represents it) or where simply black heroes are portrayed in the equivalent of the translation of european history that most fantasy settings show. We don't need a black Knight of the Round - not only it doesn't make sense, it's also risking of just being a white guy painted black. If anything we need D&D settings that are closer to representing a situation where black fantasy men and women are in the forefront. Painting some of the FR people black would be racist in my eyes; creating a setting where the white ethnicity isn't in the forefront or even takes a back seat is much more interesting, and on this, I'd point you to the recently released Dark Sun setting, which features basically every ethnic group and where the white caucasian dude is an endangered species.
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
...their expensive, conceptually bloodily violent, educationally near-valueless sedentary entertainment...



No more violent than any other form of media.
Promotes math
Logical thinking
Creative thinking
Decision-making skills
Cooperation
Social skills

And just because the game is played while sitting doesn't mean the game is passive.  Studies have shown that people who regularly stimulate the creative and analytical segments of their brain are healthier and live longer and more productive lives.

Hardly valueless...
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
Foxface - I've looked at pictures of gaming conventions. Gamers are, as a general rule, not healthy. Exceptions exist - but they prove the rule.

As for not being any more violent than other media? Hm. Romance novels. Flower arranging. Papercrafting. Formal Debate. Creative writing. Cross-Country running. Yes, in terms of media consumption, it is no more violent than the average action/horror movie - this is not a recommendation.

D&D games are generally about killing things and taking their stuff. Again, there are exceptions, again, they prove the rule.

As an aside to the previous post - there was a Saracen/pagan/Middle Eastern/African knight of the round table. Depending on the reading, Palomides/Palomedes was black.
As an aside to the previous post - there was a Saracen/pagan/Middle Eastern/African knight of the round table. Depending on the reading, Palomides/Palomedes was black.



And yet for some reason he didn't make it in the common imaginary.

My point is simply that it's silly to ask WotC to bring Gilgamesh into King Arthur's world. Creating a setting for Gilgamesh's world wouldn't be so, but they are already doing it. The complaint that "there's too much white people in medieval Europe" can't be received.
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
In the end it is all about fluff. You can make your characters whatever you want.


For instance, whenever I consider the idea of elves, I can come up with a thousand different possibilities. Maybe Elves are incredibly fair skinned, red/blonde haired and covered in woad paintings? Effectivly, I have now got celtic/norse inspired elves.
   Or, maybe my elves are the decendants of the Eladrin, a mighty empire that created a lot of the worlds inventions, like paper and gunpowder and hundreds of other things. Here, I have Eladrin inspired by far eastern cultures.
   Or indeed, I might have elves are are dark skinned and live in tribal societies in the realms version of the wasteland? Here, we have elves inspired by African nomads.

There are hundreds and hundreds of possibilties for the races of the world. You can do whatever you like with them. Have turkist inspired Dwarves and African humans and Native American gnomes.

Eh, I'd say that generic run of the mill D&D doesn't resemble Europe.  Sure, at one point mideival Europe was the primary source of inspiration, in that Tolkien was "European", but even that is a bit of a misnomer.

I'd posit that classic D&D, and Tolkien and other mythic high fantasy for that matter, only seemed European because of a temperate climate and light skinned characters.

But now, 30 years out and tons more references and sources of inspiration, I'd hesitate to put D&D into any ethnic box.  Certainly, the text depicts a multi-cultural world.  Humans are described as having as varied of skin tones as our real world, yet most every picture is of a white person.  Why the disconnect?  If humans are supposedly as varied as they are described, why not show it?
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
Foxface - I've looked at pictures of gaming conventions. Gamers are, as a general rule, not healthy. Exceptions exist - but they prove the rule.



Of course, if you don't excercise and eat poorly, you will not be healthy, no matter how much you stimulate your brain.

But I don't think D&D, or any PnPRPG, is the cause of obesity or general ill-health.

Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
I think it's unfair to say that the D&D books can't contain certain imagery because their setting is based on medieval Europe. The setting in the core D&D books has always been vaguely described, in part because it is supposed to be a blank canvas on which each gaming group can create their own setting.

More to the point, I think it's perfectly reasonable to say that the books should reflect the interests of those who play the game. There were no tieflings and dragonborn in medieval Europe, yet the designers of 4th Edition added them to the core rulebooks because they thought it would accurately reflect what gamers think of as an exciting fantasy world. (In fact, some claim that they added them specifically to attract MMO players.)

Does this mean that WotC would have to add humans of all colors to their books in order to attract people from all parts of society? As several users have mentioned, it's hardly a silver bullet—I don't think anyone made that claim.

That being said, I don't think it's enough to say that D&D reflects a certain type of setting, and that anyone should be able to enjoy that no matter where they're coming from. After all, few male gamers would be able to enjoy a stereotypically female Player's Handbook set in pink headings and dominated by colorful images of fairies and elves. Obviously, presentation matters, so I think it's unfair to reject any and all requests that D&D should reflect the people who play the game, as well as the people who could be interested in playing the game.
Eh, I'd say that generic run of the mill D&D doesn't resemble Europe.  Sure, at one point mideival Europe was the primary source of inspiration, in that Tolkien was "European", but even that is a bit of a misnomer.

I'd posit that classic D&D, and Tolkien and other mythic high fantasy for that matter, only seemed European because of a temperate climate and light skinned characters.

But now, 30 years out and tons more references and sources of inspiration, I'd hesitate to put D&D into any ethnic box.  Certainly, the text depicts a multi-cultural world.  Humans are described as having as varied of skin tones as our real world, yet most every picture is of a white person.  Why the disconnect?  If humans are supposedly as varied as they are described, why not show it?



Tolkein was mainly inspired by Norse mythology, and the norse, as a rule, are the lightest coloured people adise from albinos.
   There is a strong connection to dwarves and semetic races, including him basing their language on hebrew, and ofc the fact that the north-western part of middle earth was meant to represent north-west europe. Middle earth had more lands than were shown in lotr, including the Haradrim.
I doubt anyone would accuse Rokugan/L5R of being racist because it portrays its heroes with eastern features.



No, because it is quite open about it's source of inspiration.  As I've previously said, I don't think D&D is all that "European" anymore.  Was Jack Vance European?  Lieber?  Burroughs?  I believe they only seem European because of the general complexion of the characters' skin, and a lack of explicitly stating "This setting is Asian/Middle Eastern/Pacific Islander/African etc.  it is European because it's not anything else.

And then we're back to things being white by default.

We don't need more black people in fantasy medieval Europe (even if they can fit quite well, as I've played quite literally in fantasy medieval Europe and the best character in the group was a black man from Africa); if anything, we need more adventures set into an environment where either black heroes make sense on their own (such as an extremely multicultural fantasy world - see Eberron and its melting pot, and the art fully represents it) or where simply black heroes are portrayed in the equivalent of the translation of european history that most fantasy settings show. We don't need a black Knight of the Round - not only it doesn't make sense, it's also risking of just being a white guy painted black. If anything we need D&D settings that are closer to representing a situation where black fantasy men and women are in the forefront. Painting some of the FR people black would be racist in my eyes; creating a setting where the white ethnicity isn't in the forefront or even takes a back seat is much more interesting, and on this, I'd point you to the recently released Dark Sun setting, which features basically every ethnic group and where the white caucasian dude is an endangered species.



A quick browse through my Eberron books doesn't feel anymore "ethnic" than base D&D, although I haven't done an exhaustive comparison.  I do see some cultures that are vaguely analogous to real world non-white cultures, but most of these are non-human cultures, like the Orcs in the Eldeen Reaches.

Dark Sun certainly feels more ethnic, with very little European culture filtering in.  Hellenic Balic comes to mind, but is joined by Chinese Nibenay, African Gulg, Mezo-American Draj, Mesopotamian Urik etc.  Still, I don't see much in the way of ethnic characters beyond some of the SKs and costume.  Most races are either fair skinned or completely alien, like Half-Giants/Goliaths or Thri-kreen.  Aside from race, the setting is described as mutating people (Pristine Tower does that right?) with fangs or blue skin or other wierd stuff.  Where's my blue skinned human?
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.

Tolkein was mainly inspired by Norse mythology, and the norse, as a rule, are the lightest coloured people adise from albinos.
   There is a strong connection to dwarves and semetic races, including him basing their language on hebrew, and ofc the fact that the north-western part of middle earth was meant to represent north-west europe. Middle earth had more lands than were shown in lotr, including the Haradrim.



Elven culture as Tolkien described it was inspired by Nordic myths, not LoTR as a whole.  The Dwarven/Semetic connection is proof of that, and the Levant is hardly European.

Nor was the north-western part of Middle-Earth meant to represent north-west Europe.  Tolkien was very clear in saying that LoTR was not an allegory of the real world, but rather used real world cultures as inspiration for a unique fantasy world.  Was North-West ME inspired by Temperate North West Europe?  Sure.  But it was no more "meant" to be European than Dune was meant to be Arabic because it was set in a desert.

All this is really beside the point.  The text describes a varied and diverse human race.  The art doesn't support that supposition.  Enough said.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
I'm not going to get into a discussion about lotr cause it would take too long and be offtopic. =)

D&D as a whole is meant to be a game that is easily adapted to whatever the players want. WotC only give a bare minimum of what is needed to inspire and get across what they think the races should be based on. The text description talking about varied and diverse human races is basically saying, humans are whatever you want them to be.

However, this is a game that has a huge number of different fantasy cultures and races, and trying to give humans everything while also developing cultures for the other races would be very difficult. Alternative races are given fantasy counterpart cultures based on real world human cultres because it is very difficult to create a whole new culture from scratch.