Recently, an article over at Salon tackled the portrayal of race in Game of Thrones and the racial legacy of J.R.R.Tolkien. Now, Tor.com's Mordicai Knode notes that another high-fantasy favorite, Dungeons & Dragons, has its own racial issue, namely Eurocentric homogeny. And it's time for that to change.
Knode points out that, while games like Pathfinder have made great strides in portraying a wide range of skin tones and cultural inspirations in their game art, Caucasians are still treated as the default race in the D&D materials. For example, the Player's Handbook for the game's Fourth Edition contains only four black characters — and they're far outnumbered by the red-skinnged tieflings. Knode is hoping that, in the next version of D&D, Dungeons & Dragons Next, Wizards of the Coast will include characters whose features and manner of dress suggest non-European origins:
Maybe your claim is that Dungeons & Dragons is based on a fantasy feudal Europe? Maybe your game is, but the whole point is that you can make whatever game you want; a diverse cast in your illustration just encourages that. And for that matter, are you seriously telling me that you think having a person with darker skin is somehow more of a strain on your suspension of disbelief than…a lizard lady or a devil dude? That somehow a polytheistic world of high fantasy is somehow inherently Caucasian? Pull the other one.
You wanna see a neat trick? "The now-vanished Nerath was a highly cosmopolitan empire encompassing many tribes and kingdoms, with immigrant populations from the far flung corners of the world." There; just like that. Fixed.
Read Knode's entire piece at Tor.com.
Top image by Wayne Reynolds.