D & D got woke and that's good because you should have all been playing that way (or not if you didn't prefer))

Okay, I’ve never seen someone do something in a D&D game that influenced my perception of that person. But that’s hardly surprising, as I’ve only ever played with people I already knew well. I agree with the point you are making.

Completely agree.

Huh, that seems completely wrong.

Of course, I take Tolkien as canon… and orcs are fallen elves.

(I don’t know where those drow came from)

I’ve played D&D at cons.


I still remember when two new players answered the ad we’d left on the bulletin board at the nearby gaming store. One was fine. The other wanted to play an albino Drow- not just pale-skinned but actually albino. The DM hesitantly said okay to his munchkin character. Upon learning that the character, though still mighty, was not as supremely asskickingly powerful as he wanted- the player said ‘I point both my swords at my chest and run into the wall.’ He then packed his stuff and left. Sadly the other player (who seemed like a good sort) was dependent on the munchkin for his ride and had to leave as well.

good riddance

Yup. My goblin-baby-murdering-paladin experience was at a con. Takes all kinds, but that’s part of why I’m not gaming at cons anymore. Instead I’ve got a yearly (well, not last year, not this year) gathering of 50 friends from across the state, country, and occasionally world who come to a state park, stay in cabins, cook communally, and game like hell for a long weekend.

Damn I look forward to that tradition’s return.

Yeah, I miss my cons, but I pretty much stick to board games and war games, and a very occasional RPG with con friends and reliable GMs. Pick up games work out about 70% dull, 20% cringe, and 10% the best game you will ever play in your life, and I don’t have time for those odds anymore.

Before the Plague Years, my friends would do a similar “private con” thing, but there was only about a dozen of us, and we’d find a place on AirBnB that could sleep the lot of us. Fifty people sounds wild!

I hear you. Last game I played at Gencon with strangers, I walked out on, after the woefully unprepared GM killed another player’s character during the first combat and wouldn’t let him roll a new character. “He can have mine,” I said, and left the table. It was way ruder than I’m used to being, in public, but fuck sitting at a table for four hours on my biggest vacation of the year in order to be polite.

It’s pretty amazing. One guy comes from New Zealand when he can swing it. There are always half a dozen games going on, some scheduled and some pickup. Folks rotate through cooking showcase meals for everyone. Some of the folks who come have published games and will playtest their new ideas. It’s where I first played Dread and Fiasco and Microscope and Tales of the Serpentine and Timewatch and a host of other brilliant games.

I never thought of orcs as being any real “human” color but my vision of them was influenced by early art (plenty to say about depictions of women in those paintings but at least the orcs weren’t racist!) and the D&D cartoon. When I saw Return of the Jedi, it was “Hey, neat… orcs!

It’s interesting how you and I see such different things there. American racist mythology doesn’t rely on naturalistic skin tones. Minstrels in blackface adopted a perfectly inhuman skin hue for their racist caricatures, and lawn statues were similarly unrealistic. Our mythology suggests that the lighter the skin, the more civilized, and the darker the skin, the more savage and brutish.

In those two examples, orcs have inhuman skin tones, but they’re definitely darker than White people skin. The first picture shows a light-skinned lady menaced by a savage, brutish dark-skinned horde.

We’re not talking naturalistic skin tone, but I see that picture as well within the tradition of American racist mythology.

And it’s not just about skin tone: it’s about caricature of physical features. Compare entire picture to this one, especially the orc closest to the women to the black person on the left.

While there is a long tradition in our culture of “light” = good and “dark” = black, I don’t think it’s racist in origin. I think it’s ultimately mostly just because humans (on every continent) are mostly diurnal. When it’s light out is when we’re active and when we see well, and when it’s dark out is when we’re vulnerable, and dangerous animals and people who wish to remain unseen like criminals are about.

Most things/colors are.

Most things/colors aren’t skin tones on savages threatening White women.

Sure. But, short of them being albino Morlocks or neon pink/cyan, they’re probably going to be darker than Euro-flesh because that’s just how the color wheel works.

Is it just coincidence, in your eyes, that the woman in the picture is light-skinned and the orcs are dark-skinned, rather than vice versa? And do you see no parallels between the orcs’ facial features (heavy brows, faces shaped like wedges) and the facial features of the Black caricature in the Bettie page picture?

That picture is, to my eyes, absolutely part of the artistic tradition of “White women threatened by dark-skinned savages.”

Coincidence? Not entirely. Fantasy art is very Eurocentric so it wasn’t by happenstance that the woman is white. That also means that most antagonists are going to fall darker than her on the spectrum.

The orcs are painted to look brutish. The Page natives are designed to make African natives look brutish. This doesn’t reverse engineer into “orcs must be Black people”, it just makes the Page artist a dick.

At this point, I’m not even sure what to say: the gulf between our understanding is too wide.

After reading this thread, i bought some 5e source books. I can fantasize about playing even if i never actually do it. :wink:

Fair enough. I get what you’re trying to say. If you weren’t able to make it, I’m pretty confident that I could hold your TED Talk off your notes. But I just don’t feel it. There’s too big of a gap to mentally leap between a couple points and maybe you can make those jumps but it’s not working for me.

This is a very typical response of someone brought up on a culture steeped in systematic institutional racism but who rarely faces the sharp end of the stick. Yeah, you don’t feel it. That’s part of the point.

Even the Supreme Court has acknowledged the psychological effect on non-white children whose heroic models are all light-skinned heroes and the sole dark-skinned characters are rarely anything but antagonists.

I as a nonwhite person grew up idealizing whiteness because all my heroes were white.

This isn’t just an American phenomenon. In Hindu mythology. The vast majority of good guys are light skinned—Krishna is the notable exception. And monsters and antagonists are routinely depicted as dark-skinned. And just like in Western culture, skin hues aren’t always realistic skin tones. And guess what, skin color is a huge issue in a Indian society—it is obvious what role mythological monstrous non-realistic dark people plays in the cultural stew.

The Betty Page artist wasn’t just individually an asshole by chance. He was the product of a systematically racist society. He was doing what countless others influenced by societal racism did.

Depictions of white women being threatened by darker skinned antagonists are not just done to “well, the majority of people are white in Europe.” They have long been part of an institutional program to instill fear of desecration of who’re women by dark savages.

And the monstrously unrealistic depiction of the dark-skinned savages is not an attempt to depict something other than real dark-skinned people. Just the opposite—it is part of a program to paint real nonwhite people as monstrous savages.

We can also throw lookism into the mix—why should a fantasy game support the assumption that ugly equals evil?

(typo edited by @puzzlegal )