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.

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

GrendelKhan
Erik Sofge

Feel free to stone me to death for this one, but...what about the Drow? Or are they just elves in blackface?

But seriously, folks, racial issues are the least of D&D's worries. The fact that it hobbles around on one of the worst, grandfathered-in systems (with updates like temporary patches slapped onto a bald, threadbare tire) makes all of this seem kinda moot to me.

And for the record, I never pictured anyone in Dark Sun being particularly white.