Picking Up The Diversity Gauntlet

Talking about race in Dungeons & Dragons is a tricky thing.

First of all, you’ve got a whole range of fictional races–elves, half-demons, part-angels, dwarves and gnomes–to choose from. And then you have what people normally define as “race” to choose from, too–black, white, and the many, many other shades human people can be.

White seems to be the default.

When I made my own setting for a game, I made white my default too. Sure, there were people who weren’t, but if I didn’t specifically state anything on the topic you could pretty much assume a character was white.

Then there was this call for diversity for D&D books. (via BoingBoing)

And when it came time for me to make a new tabletop game, I decided to make an effort to be a little more inclusive. Now the “default” people have a wide range of skin tones. When I’m making character portraits I use people from backgrounds that reach around the world, from Persia to Zimbabwe to Mexico to France, Germany and the Netherlands.

I asked one of my players whether he thought it had changed the game, and he said no, it hadn’t–though there are tensions between two of the primary cultures in the game, and those two cultures do tend to have different skin tones. Neither of the two groups is good or evil–they’re just different.

It’s actually not that hard to diversify, and I’ve found it rewarding so far to have a more inclusive world, beyond dwarves, gnomes and elves.