More racial diversity in Dungeons & Dragons, please

Illustration for article titled More racial diversity in emDungeons  Dragons/em, please

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.

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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.

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Read Knode's entire piece at Tor.com.

Top image by Wayne Reynolds.

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DISCUSSION

xaotikdesigns
Xaotik Designs

How many medieval countries were melting pots of society? You mostly had Europeans in Europe, you had Asians in Asia, Africans in Africa. Unless you were at war, a trader, or a slave, you probably never saw someone of a different color or left your home land.

The same is true for fantasy worlds. You may have lizard people, but they tend to stay in the swamps. Those wood elves, well, they stay in the woods...

Big cities may have a more multicultural population, but even there, each race of humanoids that aren't in the majority are probably going to live in their own sections of the city.

While the adventuring party may be free to roam the lands and do whatever they want. Most of the people are still bound to their small parts of the world, left to mingle with their own kind. If you want a world to be filled with non Europeans, then don't play in a land based on Europe. Go with Oriental Adventures, or Al Quaddim. Want a melting pot of everything, then base your campaign in Sigil.