On Tor.com, Mordicai Knode asks Wizards of the Coast to consider a more diverse set of portrayals of fantastic personages in the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons.
A Modest Proposal For Increased Diversity in D&D
That being said, I think it is useful for some rough generalizations. Like the fact that in the Fourth Edition Player’s Handbook there are only four black characters. There are more diabolically red skinned people — tieflings — then there are dark skinned people. By a…fairly wide margin. Still, an improvement over the Third Edition Player’s Handbook in some respects. In the third edition, you’ve got Ember, the human monk — but other than her initial appearance under the class description, she’s absent from the rest of the book. Some artists have depicted Regdar as black, and he along with some of the other character have a generous color palate, by which I mean that their ethnicity is fluid on the page. They are hardly pale but neither are they a deep brown in skin tone, lending them a lot of flexibility for reader identification. (Scott McCloud of Understanding Comics would be proud.) And just for kicks, I flipped through an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition Player’s Handbook; there is an illustration so purple it could be ambiguous, but no, that book, like so much of yesteryear, is entirely Caucasian. Lots of crazy mustaches, though...
I’ve heard a litany of excuses for why there are predominantly white people portrayed in roleplaying art, but I’m not buying it. Maybe your claim is that the people buying the game are primarily Caucasian? Since when did it become a bad idea to have a product that appeals to a wider demographic? Dungeons & Dragons exists in the real world. A world where there are people who aren’t white. People who might want to start playing, if they saw themselves reflected in the product. Why artificially limit your profits by only pursuing a narrow demographic? and what, do you think white players are incapable of identifying with people of color? I don’t agree, and I’d point to the widespread acclaim that Order of the Stick has gotten; even if your motive is unmitigated greed, I can think of 1,254,120 reasons to support a diverse cast and complex story telling.
Here's an abridged translation of a Imagonem interview with Heikki Holmås, Norway's new minister of International Development. Holmås is a lifelong D&D player and LARPer who won the Norwegian D&D championships in 1989 and was sent to GenCon in Milwaukee. Holmås recounts his favorite campaigns and describes how he things RPGs and LARPs can be used for political ends, including settling longstanding, militarized disputes.
- RPGs can be extremely relevant in putting people in situations they’re unfamiliar with. Save the Children have their refugee games. I have friends in Bergen who’ve run human rights-RPGs. But you have to be professional. You create real emotions when you play role playing games, real emotions that stick, he says.
- That’s kind of the slightly scary aspect of role playing games, which has to be considered. At the same time, it’s what makes it possible for RPGs to change the world. LARP can change the world, because it lets people understand that humans under pressure may act differently than in the normal life, when you’re safe.
The minister of Development has taken note of a Norwegian LARP-project in Palestine later this year.
- I don’t know all the details, but there’s no doubt that you can put Israelis into the situation of the Palestinians and vice versa in a way that fosters understanding and builds bridges. Those things are an important aspect of role playing games which makes it possible to use them politically to create change.
At least according to Norway’s new Minister of International Development, Heikki Holmås.
(Photo: Imagonem/Ole Peder Giæver)
Tavis sez, "A mind-blowingly recursive poster that represents the AD&D rules for procedural dungeon generation as a flowchart which is drawn as a dungeon. From the The Mule Abides blog at NYC's intersection between role-playing games, the gallery art scene, and how Kickstarter can jam 'em together. Cory's linked the Mule before as HOWTO have a D&D party for 8-year-olds; also featured in this post is a nifty Kickstarter for the first publication from the Play-Generated Map and Documents Archive, similarly linked for Homemade D&D module, 1981."
Everything is Flowcharts
On Instructables, CaseyBorders's recipe for making stained glass 20-sided dice. A bit tricky to carry these around in your grandad's old Crown Royal bag, but otherwise, they make some pretty smashing (ahem) RPG accessories.
Now we need to cut 20 triangles out of our sheet of stained glass that match the template that we created. The easiest way to do that is to cut a stip of glass the same height as the triangles we cut in the jig. In the example pictures we used a strip that was 1.5" wide because our triangles ended up being 1.5" tall. Place the strip flush across the bottom of your cutting board and set your angle guide to 60 degrees. Follow your angle guide with your scorer so you end up with a 60 degree angle cut off the end of your glass strip. Depending on the kind of glass you bought you might simply need to flip it over to get the other side of the triangle, but the glass in the demo pictures is textured on the back, so we can only cut on the front, so we need to change our cutting guide to 60 degrees the other way. However you end up doing it, make sure that you are making your cuts and angle adjustments as precisely as you can, because if the triangles are not correctly shaped they will not make a good-looking d20.
Once you have 20 good pieces we can etch the numbers on them. Place each triangle in one of the holes of the cardboard template on the laser cutter's cutting surface. Now you can use the same file that we used to make the template but be sure to set your laser to etch only! We don't want to cut around the holes again!
Making a Stained-Glass d20
Courtney sez, "The D&D themed webcomic Order of the Stick has been running a Kickstarter campaign to get some of its out-of-print books back onto shelves. It's now broken $350,000 and is one of the top 10 funded projects of all time on Kickstarter and the most funded comics project of all time."
I've been self-publishing my comedy-fantasy-adventure webcomic The Order of the Stick in paper format since 2005, but one of the hardest parts about doing it all on my own is keeping the older books available. This project is designed to get at least one of those books
back into print. The Order of the Stick: War and XPs was the third compilation of the color webcomic, covering a bunch of cool battle scenes like this and this and even this.
Comic "Order of the Stick" Kickstarter campaign breaks $350,000
The wizards at Sparkfun, an open source hardware company, show us how to make one of these spiffy furry barbarian leather arm-bracers with a charmingly anachronistic D&D dice-roller built into, built around a Lilypad soft Arduino controller.
I’ve got nothing but respect for the DIY/open source community who take conductive thread, LEDs, and Arduino boxes and make them into marvelous little working crafts. I find it all a bit above my metaphorical pay grade. However, if there was anything that was going to convince me to learn how to rig a circuit, it would be the project that Dia forwarded to us yesterday.
It’s a fur-lined leather gauntlet that can roll 100, 20, 12, 10, 8, 6, and 4-sided dice with the flip of a switch and the shake of a forearm. It combines my love of tabletop with my desire to live in the future where we all poke our wrists to get things done.
Theoretically, there's a complete tutorial for this beauty, but it's 404 at the moment. The link below goes to The Mary Sue's writeup.
New Life Goal: Make a Leather Bracer that Rolls Dice
After seeing today's entry on a homebrew D&D module, Chris sends us his own addenda to the Monster Manual, lavishly illustrated with youthful zest.
My Monster Manual
On OffbeatBride, a great (but complicated) HOWTO for making your own polyhedral chocolate dice molds from your D&D dice, and then cast delicious chocolates from it:
How to make your own Dungeons & Dragons chocolate dice mold
Before we begin, some disclaimers. First and foremost: This is about as complicated and expensive (net cost: $100 + shipping) a mold as you're likely to get, for anything reasonably sized. (Well, unless you want molded daleks complete with little plunger-arms or something else that is fundamentally not a convex shape.) That's because it has a lot of little, tiny, fiddly pieces, and it's a two-piece mold meant to create solid 3D shapes with no flat back. And the little fiddly pieces are of variable depth so you need way more silicone than you would if, say, you were just molding your favorite buttons. Chances are, your mold doesn't need to be this insane. But that's fine! You can still use this tutorial, just skip the pieces that are clearly irrelevant.