So, I was driving home and tossed in The Rat Pack Live at the Sands for the ride. I was muttering to myself about Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy games and how they treat both POC and non-humans as being less dimensional and nuanced. This had been set off by reading through my shiny new pdf copy of Tiny Dungeon 2e, where I was simultaneously elated at the variety of player races and depressed by the stereotypes applied. So, mid-mutter, Sammy Davis Jr came into the set, and I heard his iconic line of “Integration! Integration!” So let’s talk decolonization and integration. And yes, I’m picking on D&D in this, because it set the pattern.
Tag Archives: overt racism
That was the thought that tore through my mind when I saw the posters for “Gods of Egypt”. In typical fashion, the movie houses involved and casting decisions had placed the vast majority (five of six) of roles in the hands of white actors and actresses, with a token Black actor as Thoth. Coming rapidly on the heels of the Noah and Exodus, films lambasted for their whitewashing, this film carries on the long tradition of making POC white. I’ve talked about this in the past, and the problem remains as much as it ever has, but why, even with so much outcry? 
With the arrival of 2015 has come the arrival of movie announcements for the coming year and for 2016. It’s a great looking season for science fiction and fiction, with Star Wars episode VII, The Fantastic Four, a live action Ghost in the Shell, and the announcement of Spider-Man coming to the Disney based Marvel Cinematic Universe all in the pipe, and it has got the nerd world on fire. Unfortunately, it’s not on fire in a good way. Once again, issues of ethnicity and whitewashing have been slammed to the fore of the discussion.
In the military, there’s a great colloquialism we use to describe what happens when someone or a group of people are doing amazingly well, then suddenly thunder in and utterly fail to achieve even the minimum standard. The phrase is “shit the bed”, and that’s what happened with the 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide. It wasn’t all bad, but the part that was bad was really quite disappointing. So lets carry on from the last look at 5e D&D and see what the DMG has brought to the table. 
My ideas about the actions taken against POC in D&D 4e, and what makes a good campaign setting, are well documented.  The art in 4e D&D was almost exclusively of “whites”, or “ambiguously shaded”, and the game structure was torn from the pages of online MMORPGs. Not only did I not feel included, but as someone who doesn’t like or play MMORPGs, the entire edition was a wash for me. Eventually, it spread to friends as well, and D&D fell off the map for us for the majority of 4e’s blighted and controversial production. However, being a sucker who’s played Dungeons and Dragons since about 1993, I was dragged back into D&D by the D&D Next mass playtest. I don’t regret it. In this post, I’ll look briefly at what 4e D&D did wrong, and what 5e D&D is doing about it.