Dragon's-Eye View: Sexism in Fantasy

Rather than get into the topic of sexism in fantasy art, I am going to focus on what I would do if I were in charge of the visual guidelines for Dungeons & Dragons, starting with what I said about wizards awhile back; have characters that are dressed for the occasion. Like, no female wizards scantily clad in skirts while going dungeon crawling, or warriors with "boob" windows, breast-molded armor, or shoulder pads with little-to-nothing else. I guess a simple rule of thumb would be for artists to think about what a male character would wear, and then have them change it into a woman (pose and all).

In a similar vein outside of profile images intended to show off what races and gear look like, I would not want characters--men or women--to be drawn as if they knew they were posing for an art piece in a role-playing game book. Along with fighting monsters, I also want to see characters preparing to go into a dungeon, telling stories and keeping watch around a campfire, searching a room for traps and loot, kicking back in a tavern after cleaning up a dungeon, and doing other things that are not adventuring. To me these are much more interesting to me then a party standing around posing and staring at me with their meta-glares.

I would also like for the art to imply an actual world: 
  • Give me a diverse array of adventurers; young and old, men and women, a variety of skin tones, tall and short, thin and fat, and varying degrees of attractiveness. I am not saying that the entire spectrum needs equal treatment, but I want there to be visual evidence that there is more to the world than heavily muscled men and painfully contorted women. 
  • Adventurers are probably not going to have clean, polished weapons, armor, and...nothing else. Warriors are probably packing more than one weapon, wizards should be carting around actual spellbooks and pouches for components, almost everyone should be carrying their own backpack, bedroll, waterskin, rope, and more.
  • The appearance of various cultures should also be indicative in the architecture, as well as their clothing and gear. I guess kind of like how 4th Edition did it with the jagged weaponry of tieflings and the geometric armor of a dwarf, just...maybe not so uniform. For example, not all dwarves need to have "dwarfy" armor or wield "dwarfy" weapons. Why not have a human wearing chainmail with a blocky-looking axe, or a halfling with a jagged dagger?

That it is for now. There is probably more, and you can see what other people think in the comments section at the bottom of the article.


  1. Awesome article. Great to read something so progressive. I totally agree.

  2. Totally agree as well. Quit following Hollywood.

  3. Ditto. I don't understand the reasoning behind all that. WotC, there are younger players too!


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