There aren't many D&D characters who look like this.

Today I’m going to put on my nerd hat. I’m a tabletop roleplayer. I’ve been playing D&D and similar games since I was 12: 24 years. Over on Tor.com Mordicai Knode wrote a great editorial calling for a greater depiction of diversity in the human characters from the art directors of the upcoming new edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Most commenters are in favorite of the idea. Some even pointed to a great Kickstarter project to hire artists to create a free library of art depicting diverse heroes for other creators to use. I applaud this project and encourage you to donate.

Some dudes are all bent out of shape. There were even charges that the original plea and the Kickstarter are “race baiting”. I want to focus on one comment from one commenter, though. You see there’s a totally-not-racist guy calling himself leame who has a hard time identifying with people of color and proposes a “Separate but Equal” approach to fantasy gaming art:

As we can see, leame is making a few important points:

  1. He’s totally not racist. He recognizes that you can’t blame brown people for liking weird things.
  2. Adding token non-white characters is kind of cool because how else will you get ninjas?
  3. He’s white and he hardly ever sees anyone who isn’t white so a game that represented the demographics of the United States would seem to dusky to him. If brown people want to be in his D&D they should move to his neighborhood in the Midwest because any fantasy realm that doesn’t resemble Iowa (I guess, maybe?) is weird and makes him uncomfortable.
  4. Asking a company to consider diversity is the same as forcing them to do something.
  5. Black people should make their own D&D and leave his alone.

Does anyone seriously not see the problem with all this? You can all see that this sort of thinking is actually racist, right? You understand that you don’t have to lynch anyone to be a racist. Good.

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6 Comments

maniacalnewworldApril 20, 2012 10:51 pm

First, I love your writing style. Second, if you have to preface your comments with denying a possible inference then you know you are full of poo. Hey I am totally not racist but could you not drink out of that water fountain? You guys have perfectly good one over there.

Reminds me of when I was eleven and bought a black Barbie doll. My parents didn’t understand why I would want one. I had all white ones and the time and one Pocahantas doll. I have always liked diversity.

Not sure where this guy is from, definitly not the south west.

AnthroslugApril 22, 2012 12:56 pm

I remember, as a kid, hearing someone on television state something to the effect of “I’m not a racist! I don’t think that one race is superior to the others, I just think that we should all be separate from each other!”

As I got older and began studying history and anthropology, I realized just how laughable the notion that races are these defined entities that can be separated really is. While I suppose you really engage in some mental gymnastics and you could stretch the definition of the term “racist” in such a way that it might not include racial separatists in the strictest sense, I have a hard time seeing anyway that you could make a separatist argument and not be just plain ignorant of reality.

Barbarian of GorMay 15, 2012 5:03 pm

Frankly, I think it’s time for “Political Correctness” to die a slow, painful death…

The biggest readers and writers and consumers of “Fantasy Fiction” are White Males and while modern ones have been raised to be less racist, the foundation is still in the “Pulp” era that did use a lot of stereotypes. Most Pulp writers/stories were actually a bit forward thinking for the time, but they had cool stereotypical characters all over. Making RPGs somehow more “Diverse” will just kill them quicker than it did the giant paperback sci-fi / fantasy market of the 70s, spitting on the main consumer with “PC” and not managing to get any readers from all the races, and whatever else they catered to.

IMO we need a RPG world with a “Jungle of the Cannibals” part of the map and it’s a good “Treasure Expedition” area for mid level characters, but the jungles are full of cannibals with filed teeth who yes are BLACK just as an “up yours” to these PC types…

Sasha May 15 2012 17:44 pm

Is this a thing for you? "Go to anti-racist blog and leave super racist, ridiculously ill-informed comments." That's seriously your hobby?

A few points, though I'm sure you're not listening or open to changing your hateful little mind:

1. As a white dude who reads fantasy I can assure you that the only white people who feel spit upon by the inclusion of racially diverse characters in their fiction are racist white people. Like yourself, apparently.

2. Modern fantasy fiction is very diverse. Diverse in its fans, its creators, its characters, and its influences. The only people who don't know this are people completely unfamiliar with the genre or people who are racists that avoid and fear change. I'm assuming you are in the latter camp.

3. You really are a horrible person. Go drink bleach or something.

ologies May 15 2012 17:44 pm

I'm not sure where to even begin on your response, so I guess I'll just take a deep breath and dive in.

"Political correctness" is a meaningless buzzword used primarily by people who are too stubborn/lazy/arrogant/angry to consider how their words, actions, and habits affect others, especially when someone tells them that what they are doing is hurtful. "PC" is a term used by immature people who are afraid that if they can't say the word 'nigger' whenever and wherever they want, somehow the end of the free world as we know it is coming, starting with our unbridled right to free speech.

But do you know what "PC" really is? It's a bullshit term used by people who think that being more considerate of others is just too much damn work.

More than that, I am truly and deeply sorry that the idea of having to see people of color in games offends you so much that you would stop playing. I'm so sorry that you feel that straight, white, heterosexual men must absolutely rule everything or else the world is going to come crashing down around you and games will all suck forever and ever. What a sad, small worldview that is. What a narrow and colorless and frightful little place you must live. I'm so sorry that you think you're the only demographic that gets to be the boss and that the idea of more people enjoying the same things you do is something you're very obviously scared and hateful of.

I hope someday the idea of treating others with dignity isn't something that causes you to regress into racist tangents. And if you don't, I hope someday your kids listen to you say these things and feel disgusted, but simultaneously grateful that they live in a world that has made people like you completely and utterly irrelevant. You and your mindset are a relic. You are an antique in the making. I hope you enjoy being obsolete, because the future is not in your favor.

AnthroslugMay 15, 2012 5:44 pm

I see, Barbarian…so, you advocate taking a step backwards socially and isolating a product away from a large portion of a potential customer base simply so that your own sensibilities regarding race and alleged “political correctness” (read: you not liking it when people call you on racist bullshit) won’t be questioned.

My, with such sharp business acumen and cutting intelligence, it’s a wonder that you have the time to step away from the wildly successful game publishing company that you are no-doubt helming to comment on our humble blog. We are truly honored by your presence.

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