[Petition] Help make D&D art more inclusive

Hi everyone!

Many of us have been saying for a while that D&D art could stand to be a bit more representative. We'd like to see images of women who aren't just cheesecake, and people who aren't almost exclusively white-skinned. For instance, did you know that across the core rulebooks for editions 1-4 of D&D, there were only two images of non-white characters? I didn't.

Jon Schindehette, the art director for D&D Next, has been making some encouraging noises in this general direction. But he's also made it clear that he has to justify every little thing to what he has called "the beancounters" at Wizards. So, he needs the fanbase to come out and tell Wizards that we want more diverse, inclusive art.

That's why I've started a petition, calling on Loren Greenwood (CEO of Wizards) to sort this out. If you agree with me that D&D can do better, go and sign it (there's also a bunch more information there if you want to know more about the issue).

www.thepetitionsite.com/522/618/587/dd-s...

Thanks for your consideration


Rabalias
I'm all for inclusion of variety in the depicted characters shown in the manuals however I wouldnt wish WotC to go huge deal out of the ordinary in doing so. Maybe its just me, but when I looked through the rulebooks I never noticed that fact you gave, its not something I notice in most instances but even less so when it comes to a book where a limited number of the characters actually human.

The last thing I want to hear of is a new rule at WotC where a percentile of the characters have to have a certain ethnicity, it should be what comes natural to the artists at the time. 

+1 anywho  
The last thing I want to hear of is a new rule at WotC where a percentile of the characters have to have a certain ethnicity, it should be what comes natural to the artists at the time. 



Thanks for the comment, Orwellianhaggis (nice nickname, by the way - I'm intrigued to know what you're referencing there).

I just wanted to point out that the artists will have very little discretion in what they draw anyway. It's nice to think that they're putting in whatever feels right to them, but it just ain't so. In fact it's more than likely they already have ethnic quotas etc.

The petition does call for at least 20% images (where applicable) to be non-white, which I think is a low bar and not much of a constraint on artistic freedom. I hope you agree! Smile    

More olives and cinnamons and cocoas and less peach eh?... weird why does skin give me food imagery (no cannibalism comments thank you)., maybe I associate skin color with sensuality rather than racism. Hey look I have the long hair.. not old enough to actually be a hippy though.
 
Me I want broad diversity of subjects (like landscapes) and full on WOTC magic the gathering artists would do me fine.
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"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

i watched Jon's gencon panels and i've read his art column, if he's the art director for 5e, it'll be just fine when it comes to equal representation.

You're also misconstruing what he said about "justifying things to the beancounters". no one in the year 2012 is going to mandate that all the characters in the books be white. his problems are more with getting the budget he wants for things like art books and other special projects.

i will say that the percentile thing is pretty silly. it would be better for them to just remind everyone involved with the art and visuals of the game that humans come in a lot of different flavors. once you add a stiff race qota to things, it stops being about natural diversity and becomes this awkward idea that really doesn't solve the problem. 
Heres the question, is it 20% of characters or 20% of humans?

They more than meet their quota if its just characters :p 
Heres the question, is it 20% of characters or 20% of humans?

They more than meet their quota if its just characters :p 



That's what I meant by "where applicable"! The character has to be capable of being white or not white. So e.g. an orc doesn't count. 
i watched Jon's gencon panels and i've read his art column, if he's the art director for 5e, it'll be just fine when it comes to equal representation.




I dunno. I'm not going to criticise Jon here, but this article: www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4... effectively says "yes, sexism is bad and we should avoid it, but most people really love cheesecake". Like I said, I'm encouraged by what he's saying but the point of the petition is (a) to give people in Wizards who want greater representation ammunition, and (b) to make it clear to those who think representative art doesn't sell that they have plenty of customers who disagree.

For instance, did you know that across the core rulebooks for editions 1-4 of D&D, there were only two images of non-white characters? I didn't.

While D&D could certainly be much, much better in this regard, there are a few more than that just in the 4e PHB alone, even ignoring every case where a character could be white, (the Dwarf on page 70, for example, has a sort of medium brown skintone, as does the dwarf on page 165; I did not count them, but you could). The (human/halfling/dwarf/elf/eladrin/half-elf) art is of course dominated by people who appear to be white, but at least there's some art. That doesn't mean that D&D couldn't be doing a lot better in this regard, but it's doing better than "two", at least in 4e's PHB. (The 4e PHB is the only one I have with me at the moment; it's certainly possible that other books are better or worse.) I don't disagree with the main thesis, but they haven't been doing that awful.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
While D&D could certainly be much, much better in this regard, there are a few more than that just in the 4e PHB alone, even ignoring every case where a character could be white, (the Dwarf on page 70, for example, has a sort of medium brown skintone, as does the dwarf on page 165; I did not count them, but you could). The (human/halfling/dwarf/elf/eladrin/half-elf) art is of course dominated by people who appear to be white, but at least there's some art. That doesn't mean that D&D couldn't be doing a lot better in this regard, but it's doing better than "two", at least in 4e's PHB. (The 4e PHB is the only one I have with me at the moment; it's certainly possible that other books are better or worse.) I don't disagree with the main thesis, but they haven't been doing that awful.



Thanks for the comment, Lesp. My take on this (it wasn't my research that came up with the number, and I haven't gone through the books personally) is that many of the images are somewhat tan, but essentially retaining what could be described as European features. They definitely don't look african, asian or any other such ethnicity.

But anyways, I think we agree on your point that the art is dominated by people who appear to be white - probably not too important exactly what proportion this is! 

Hi everyone!

Many of us have been saying for a while that D&D art could stand to be a bit more representative. We'd like to see images of women who aren't just cheesecake, and people who aren't almost exclusively white-skinned. For instance, did you know that across the core rulebooks for editions 1-4 of D&D, there were only two images of non-white characters? I didn't.

Jon Schindehette, the art director for D&D Next, has been making some encouraging noises in this general direction. But he's also made it clear that he has to justify every little thing to what he has called "the beancounters" at Wizards. So, he needs the fanbase to come out and tell Wizards that we want more diverse, inclusive art.

That's why I've started a petition, calling on Loren Greenwood (CEO of Wizards) to sort this out. If you agree with me that D&D can do better, go and sign it (there's also a bunch more information there if you want to know more about the issue).

www.thepetitionsite.com/522/618/587/dd-s...

Thanks for your consideration


Rabalias




Your numbers are very off. You need to actually look through the books if your going to make a claim like this. Another aspect to consider is that skin color is far from the only indicator of ethnicity. The front of the 4th editon PHB has an obviously latin woman and a Dragonborn. The Dragonborn is not white. Continuing to go through you do see many 'white' artwork, I however really don't want all Eladrin suddenly looking like Drow for no reason other than PC. As far as cheese factor, many of the women in all the 4th editon books are depicted in full suits of armor or outfits befiting what one could assume is cultural, such as the lamia. Skimpy outfit sure, cause she seduces people and eats them (and isn't even a woman anyway.) 
 
To me this idea is completely insane, in a game where 90% of the characters depicted aren't even human, you're worried about skin color. No more red Dragonborn as well? Cause I mean that's pretty stereotypical, red dragon and all.  Green goblins get way too much screen time as well, better change them to bright pink. As long as the artwork is epic and continues to be as all inclusive of concepts as 4th was, I think your just picking with the chickens cause your bored. 
Martial power alone has two humans I would identify as of african descent. 

I will say you need to actually research before spouting stuff it makes you look bad.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

imgur.com/a/XMIZf

I did a quick scan through the 4e PHB and found plenty of non-white characters. it's obvious that neither you, nor whoever put this petition together, has ever actually looked through any of the books.
imgur.com/a/XMIZf

I did a quick scan through the 4e PHB and found plenty of non-white characters. it's obvious that neither you, nor whoever put this petition together, has ever actually looked through any of the books.

I have to agree.  The art in the 4e PH is as diverse as D&D has ever been (IMO at least).

That's one good thing I can say about 4e art ;).
/\ Art
I did a quick scan through the 4e PHB and found plenty of non-white characters. it's obvious that neither you, nor whoever put this petition together, has ever actually looked through any of the books.

How dare you let facts and evidence get in the way of a well-intentioned diatribe?!
I would like to point out that the artists have been leaving off the halflings fuzzy feet for some time now.  I would like to start a petition to get those back.

EDIT: I like the mini Favio leaping over the mini Gladys Knight in the 4E PHB1.

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

I would like to point out that the artists have been leaving off the halflings fuzzy feet for some time now.  I would like to start a petition to get those back.



level your complaints at the Tolkien estate. 

i did see some images of some pretty doofy looking halfings at gencon, so you'll be getting your wish in a way. 
I would like to point out that the artists have been leaving off the halflings fuzzy feet for some time now.  I would like to start a petition to get those back.



level your complaints at the Tolkien estate. 

i did see some images of some pretty doofy looking halfings at gencon, so you'll be getting your wish in a way. 



The doofier the better.  Not all hereos look like comic book champions.


"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

I would like to point out that the artists have been leaving off the halflings fuzzy feet for some time now.  I would like to start a petition to get those back.



level your complaints at the Tolkien estate. 

i did see some images of some pretty doofy looking halfings at gencon, so you'll be getting your wish in a way. 



The doofier the better.  Not all hereos look like comic book champions.





Of course not, but these guys were 3 feet tall, had the beer guy of a veteran tailgater, and a head of planetary proportions. a far cry from old Bilbo Baggins.
While I agree with the concept, I'm not sure I approve of the specifics.

A minimum 50% female?  So you're saying that, if one gender has to be under-represented, then it must be males?  I know that we should be all about equality, but leave a little room for human error.  (The very small minority which plays in a pseudo-European setting where women don't have equal opportunity should also not be neglected - remember that acknowledging history does not mean we condone it.)

It would be easier to take this petition seriously if it said a minimum of 40% female.

The metagame is not the game.

I would like to point out that the artists have been leaving off the halflings fuzzy feet for some time now.  I would like to start a petition to get those back.



level your complaints at the Tolkien estate. 

i did see some images of some pretty doofy looking halfings at gencon, so you'll be getting your wish in a way. 



The doofier the better.  Not all hereos look like comic book champions.





Of course not, but these guys were 3 feet tall, had the beer guy of a veteran tailgater, and a head of planetary proportions. a far cry from old Bilbo Baggins.



Did they look like this?



"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

imgur.com/FXfaf

that's an early concept for halflings from the future look of dnd panel at gencon.
perfect. thks!

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

imgur.com/a/XMIZf

I did a quick scan through the 4e PHB and found plenty of non-white characters. it's obvious that neither you, nor whoever put this petition together, has ever actually looked through any of the books.


True. I think the latest iteration of D&D had enought diversity and hope it continue in this direction.
If anyone's wondering, the 4e PHB has, based on appearance (not counting monsters, although the monsters whose gender is identifiable are overwhelmingly male)

55 Male Heroes
36 Female Heroes
6 Ambiguous Heroes (generally characters with their backs turned)

Dragonborn don't show gender very clearly in their faces, so I counted all dragonborn as male unless there was clearly dragon boob action going on. Because Dragonborn are usually depicted wearing bulky armor, it's possible that I counted some Dragonborn chicks as dudes. There were a few pictures where I couldn't tell what gender the character was supposed to be with perfect confidence, but I only counted the character as Ambiguous if I really had no idea and my first impression was "I can't tell". I also didn't count tiny background figures even if their gender was identifiable; these also tended to be male.

The book contains only two images of characters who could even arguably be considered in completely compromised positions; in one image, a female eladrin paladin has just been pinned by a dragon. She is clearly the party's defender. In another image, a bloody and either dazed or unconscious human or half-elf fighter-type lies on the ground while a human female rogue blocks the approach of some drow and a presumably male Dragonborn Cleric heals the downed man with a spell from a scroll.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
While I have some sympathy for the intent of this petition, I would absolutely hate for D&D art to end up looking like the cast of Seaseme Street.

Plus, I love cheesecake. Tongue Out

The only thing I'm really looking for is a less cartoonish feel. I really enjoyed the older editions (2E and earlier) artwork from that perspective.  

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/12.jpg)

While I have some sympathy for the intent of this petition, I would absolutely hate for D&D art to end up looking like the cast of Seaseme Street.

Because, as we all know, the logical next step is an elf in a wheelchair rolling around in some dungeon.

Sure, the OP might be talking about being PC, but introducing other culture into the art and story besides the same old tried and true faux-European Middle Ages stuff is awesome IMO!  I want to see it happen (without the pseudo-history book nonsense)

Crazed undead horror posing as a noble and heroic forum poster!

 

 

Some good pointers for the fellow hobbyist!:

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The last thing I want to hear of is a new rule at WotC where a percentile of the characters have to have a certain ethnicity, it should be what comes natural to the artists at the time. 

+1 anywho  




Honestly, if they can't handle specific requests, they're not doing commission work. Full stop. That's what commission work is.


Continuing to go through you do see many 'white' artwork, I however really don't want all Eladrin suddenly looking like Drow for no reason other than PC.



Eladrin that look like black people and eladrin that look like drow are mutually exclusive.


I would like to point out that the artists have been leaving off the halflings fuzzy feet for some time now.  I would like to start a petition to get those back.



level your complaints at the Tolkien estate. 

i did see some images of some pretty doofy looking halfings at gencon, so you'll be getting your wish in a way. 



The doofier the better.  Not all hereos look like comic book champions.





gods please no. An ugly, awkward or otherwise not action hero character every so often is fine, but don't make an entire race look like doofy bumpkins, please.


imgur.com/FXfaf

that's an early concept for halflings from the future look of dnd panel at gencon.



I...I just threw up in my mouth.



Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
imgur.com/FXfaf

that's an early concept for halflings from the future look of dnd panel at gencon.

Is that Stephen Fry?

Hi everyone!

Many of us have been saying for a while that D&D art could stand to be a bit more representative. We'd like to see images of women who aren't just cheesecake, and people who aren't almost exclusively white-skinned. For instance, did you know that across the core rulebooks for editions 1-4 of D&D, there were only two images of non-white characters? I didn't.

Jon Schindehette, the art director for D&D Next, has been making some encouraging noises in this general direction. But he's also made it clear that he has to justify every little thing to what he has called "the beancounters" at Wizards. So, he needs the fanbase to come out and tell Wizards that we want more diverse, inclusive art.

That's why I've started a petition, calling on Loren Greenwood (CEO of Wizards) to sort this out. If you agree with me that D&D can do better, go and sign it (there's also a bunch more information there if you want to know more about the issue).

www.thepetitionsite.com/522/618/587/dd-s...

Thanks for your consideration


Rabalias

Cheesecake is fun.

I don't know why all art should be serious or cheesecake.
Some adventurers are serious and pragmatic, others are careless and flamboyants.

There will always be conservative or politically correct people pointing at provocative or excentric people. And vice versa.

A fact is there are more provocative or excentric people among "adventurers".

I would have agree for the skin color part if the global tone was not : "burn the witch".

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

D&D has made great contribution towards irradicating racism in it's players.

Around the table it does not matter what skin color you have, what god or faith you adhere to, what age or sex you are, how much money you make, how many kids you have, if your gay or not, even if your in a wheelchair or are physically impaired.

When it comes to D&D you play what ever you want and are not affected by these real life aspects of yourself as a player. (Remember that the default setting is in a medieval european culture. You could ask the same question to Tolkien, why there aren't any Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits and Humans of other skin tones in LoTR.)

While I have no problem on the art of the core books be based on the population of a medieval europe, it would be nice to see the return of other campaign settings like dark sun which depitcs darker skinned humans, Frostburn with Norse inspiration, Oriental Adventure with asian themed illustrations, etc.
imgur.com/a/XMIZf

I did a quick scan through the 4e PHB and found plenty of non-white characters. it's obvious that neither you, nor whoever put this petition together, has ever actually looked through any of the books.



The statement I made about non-white characters is based on research by Chris Van ****. No, I haven't personally gone through all the books to check; but my cursory research suggests the claim is accurate. I suspect there is room for disagreement on this point though; for instance, Ember, the monk depited on page 39 of the 3rd ed (or is it 3.5ed? I can't tell) PHB looks very much like a woman of African descent, while Alhandra (p41 of same) looks as though she might be of some nonwhite descent but very pale skintone and arguably just a tanned white person.

ithout going and doing that research again myself (not going to happen - sorry) I can only rely on what Chris has done. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that even if the numbers are out by a bit, the game doesn't come close to 20% nonwhite, which I set as a frankly insultingly low bar.

Lol. The forum thinks Chris Van, uh, synonym for Levee, rhymes with "Mike", has a rude surname.
Martial power alone has two humans I would identify as of african descent. 

I will say you need to actually research before spouting stuff it makes you look bad.




Is martial power a core book?
While I agree with the concept, I'm not sure I approve of the specifics.

A minimum 50% female?  So you're saying that, if one gender has to be under-represented, then it must be males?  I know that we should be all about equality, but leave a little room for human error.  (The very small minority which plays in a pseudo-European setting where women don't have equal opportunity should also not be neglected - remember that acknowledging history does not mean we condone it.)

It would be easier to take this petition seriously if it said a minimum of 40% female.



I realise that read strictly it's a bit harsh. But I don't think there's any danger it will be read that way - I would guess that Wizards will read the petition in the spirit it was intended rather than as though it were a legal contract. And even if they do read it that way, worst case scenario we end up with slightly more female characters than male. I can live with that.

My argument to you would be: if you agree with the broad aim of the petition, to ask for more inclusive art, then don't let a minor detail of the wording stop you signing it.
I'm in!

While we are at it could we dial back on the blatant sexualisation of every female character? 
Another petition note - the 4e PHB doesn't describe any races as exclusively pale-skinned. The sum total of its comments on skin tone are:

"You should also decide what color skin, hair, and eyes your character has. Most races approximate the human range of  coloration, but some races also have unusual coloration, such as the stony gray skin of dwarves or the violet eyes of some elves."

"Dwarves have the same variety of skin, eye, and hair colors as humans, although dwarf skin is sometimes gray or sandstone red and red hair is more common among them."

"[Eladrin] have the same range of complexions as humans, though they are more often fair than dark."

"[Elves] have the same range of complexions as humans, tending more toward tan or brown hues."

"Half-elves have the same range of complexions as humans and elves, and like elves, half-elves often have eye or hair colors not normally found among humans."

"Halflings have the same range of complexions as humans, but most halflings have dark hair and eyes."

"Humans come in a wide variety of heights, weights, and colors. Some humans have black or dark brown skin, others are as pale as snow, and they cover the whole range of tans and browns in between."

"[Tiefling] skin color covers the whole human range and also extends to reds, from a ruddy tan to a brick red."

That's every race in the book except for the dragonborn, who have chromatic or metallic dragonscales for skin.

It's certainly the case that white people are overrepresented in the art, but the text descriptions talk a good game and certainly don't describe any demihuman as exclusively pale-skinned.

For completeness sake, 3.5 does describe Dwarves and Elves as "typically" and "tend[ing] to be" lighter-skinned, respectively, and gnome skin "ranges from dark tan to woody brown" (although the gnomes in the art are always super white). Halflings are "ruddy". So it's definitely the case that 3.5's descriptive text is a lot narrower. (It even prescribes eye colors for Elves, Half-elves and Gnomes - green, green and blue, respectively.)

The 2e PHB makes relatively little mention of skin tone, although dwarves have "ruddy cheeks". As in 3.5, gnomes allegedly have "dark tan or brown skin".

The Next playtest is a little narrower; Dwarves are back to being "typically deep tan or light brown", and "Elves tend to be pale-skinned and dark-haired, with deep-green eyes." Halflings' "skin is ruddy". Humans, of course, still get to be ethnically diverse.

EDIT: Pathfinder is silent on Dwarf coloration, Elves display greater diversity of coloration than humans, gnomes (which are more unnatural and fey in Pathfinder) "range from earthy browns to floral pinks, and gnomes with black, pastel blue, or even green skin are not unknown", and their skintone is not hereditary. Halfling "skin tends toward a rich cinnamon color".
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
Thanks Lesp - that's really interesting. The D&D Next stuff is what's referred to in the petition, but I hadn't realised that earlier editions had actually been more inclusive in terms of demihuman skintones. That is quite surprising. I'm not really sure why they did that.

What I really like about this is that it knocks down a counterargument I've been anticipating, i.e. that you can't change how elves look to match modern sensibilities - turns out we would just be changing it back to how it was in recent editions. (Not that anyone has actually made this argument - a pleasant surprise - but always handy to have that in the back pocket if they do.)
They who are guided primarily by nostalgia...
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

They who are guided primarily by nostalgia must have a very bleak future ahead of them.
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