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Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)» Forums » General

Subject: Ethnicities rss

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Jeremy Avery
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I just started playing Descent yesterday, and I'm enjoying it enough that I'm researching all the expansion content for the game.

As I am looking at all the content (!!!), it seems like all the heroes are the conventional white fantasy races (e.g. white humans, white elves and white dwarves). Are there any heroes of other ethnicities?

I know Magic: The Gathering is starting to break away from the white-dominant fantasy archetype. Just wondering if Descent is making any similar moves.
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Allan A.Y.
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I think the biggest variety is in the new H&M pack shards of everdark, you get an orc, a minotaur, a giant and a backpacker!
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Jeremy Avery
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Altasia wrote:
I think the biggest variety is in the new H&M pack shards of everdark, you get an orc, a minotaur, a giant and a backpacker!


I think you misundertand me. I mean, are there heroes that correspond to black Africans, Arabs, East Asians, etc.
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Karl Schreiber
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I too lament the lack of Asian elves in this game!
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B-Rad
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I've often pondered this same thing regarding pretty much all fantasy properties. I think some video games have addressed it much more progressively than the board-gaming world, though I don't think it's intentionally exclusive.

Examples where ethnicity was engaged well include Skyrim (Redguard) and Diablo 3 (and maybe the previous titles before part 3, but I can't remember). I've definitely seen more African-American characters popping up in Lovecraftian games, such as the Arkham Horror series, but you're right...most of the "mainstream" (more popular titles) don't seem to have a diverse ethnic roster, unless I'm missing some prime examples.

 
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Jack Eddy
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I know what you mean. I wish there was a bit more diversity but it doesn't seem to be the direction they are taking. That said the base set imperial assault minis has some diversity in skin color.

Also, not that you should have to, but you could always paint the minis reflective of whatever race you want. I actually did this with my Middle Earth Quest minis. I had an extra set of every hero, so I painted "pallet swaps" of the characters. My new rider of Rohan is black and my dwarf definitely came out looking fairly middle eastern. it's not a great solution, but if that's what you are looking for in your game, it gives you some options.
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It is strange to me that there are nearly a hundred characters yet all the humans are white.

It's not as if other ethnicities don't exist in the world -- Kala from the Zanaga expansion of Runebound is black.
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Michael Anderson
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I always thought Red Scorpion was Asian, although the new art in Runebound says otherwise.

Sahla previously looked like an Elf, but the new art/mini could easily be Asian.
 
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JH
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familygaming wrote:
I think you misundertand me. I mean, are there heroes that correspond to black Africans, Arabs, East Asians, etc.

There are a few that look like they could be American Indian or South American (like Tatianna), East Asian (Serena), Middle Eastern (like Sahla, Tahlia) etc. But not a wide array at this point.
 
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Trevor Taylor
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I think it's an issue of Lore vs historic bigotry. In this modern would we are become less accepting of casual discrimination and will notice it and call it out far more readily. However, a lot of the Lore/'history' for the game worlds we frequent were written in a time where it was not so 'open'. So it involves very carefully introducing the elements that should have been there from the start without making it feel too much like it's been shoe-horned in.

I don't have a simple answer to this, but I certainly feel companies should try harder to avoid too many 'white male only' scenarios, especially when creating new IP.

(I think I remember Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit films having some black elves? I've never seen a black Dwarf, of the mythical persuasion, however)

Difficult subject, so I hope nothing I've said has caused any offence.
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Raymond Morehouse
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The hands on approach would be to simply paint your minis with the diversity you are looking for. Obviously, some sculpts will work better than others.

I am white, and so I admit I hadn't thought of it before. I can totally understand why gamers would want heroes (and villains) corresponding to the colour of their skin. Maybe a few tactful emails to FFG will bring about a needed change? I have really appreciated the portrayal of women (overall, there are some exceptions) in their games, so I would guess they would be at least sympathetic.

The other problem is that the standard fantasy world is set in what is basically Western Europe. Medieval hamlets and Gothic castles are populated with white people before we even think about it. If other parts of the "world" were explored I would hope to find greater diversity. How about a little pressure on FFG for some more diversity in the game world, and corresponding diversity in the characters. The game can only get better!
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Sean Houston
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People tend to create things from their own state of mind and perception. Whites will tend to create white things, blacks black, and so on. I don't recall ever seeing anyone complain that Tyler Perry movies have a lack of diversity, for instance. Nothing is stopping a "minority" developer from creating things that are entirely non-white. In fact, I can think of plenty of products across various mediums created by Asians that are almost entirely Asian-centric, with again, no diversity. And again, there's no outcry. What's with the double standard?

In the days of Kickstarter (and other crowd-funding facilitators), there's nothing at all stopping people from creating what they'd like to see. Complaining that some white people created something primarily white is... well what's the point? Go create.
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Daniel Kearns
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Shadows of Brimstone has the same problem. I just paint them with different skin tones when I feel like it. Who cares if they don't match the cards. Here's a pic of my runebound 3rd and some SoB dudes.





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Enon Sci
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familygaming wrote:
Altasia wrote:
I think the biggest variety is in the new H&M pack shards of everdark, you get an orc, a minotaur, a giant and a backpacker!


I think you misundertand me. I mean, are there heroes that correspond to black Africans, Arabs, East Asians, etc.


I haven't read through all the responses just yet, but there are indeed characters of Arabian descent in the Runebound universe (especially from the 2e Sands of Al-Kalim expansion).

I don't remember seeing anybody of East Asian or sub-Saharan African descent, though.

As to why this is, well.. at best, it's due to the very eurocentric roots of Tolkien-esque fantasy tropes (i.e. why we don't see much diversity in films set in France, circa 12th century). This is no excuse, however. I for one welcome it.
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Andrea Landaker
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I agree, that is something that's missing. However, it is not too hard to make your own character sheets, paint their minis or use your own.

For example, using these resources:
Descent 2E Character Template and the GIMP
Descent Fonts

I made this (sorry for the bad paint job, it's my first mini!):



Blog post about making Descent 2E characters with the kids
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SeanLuc wrote:
People tend to create things from their own state of mind and perception. Whites will tend to create white things, blacks black, and so on. I don't recall ever seeing anyone complain that Tyler Perry movies have a lack of diversity, for instance. Nothing is stopping a "minority" developer from creating things that are entirely non-white. In fact, I can think of plenty of products across various mediums created by Asians that are almost entirely Asian-centric, with again, no diversity. And again, there's no outcry. What's with the double standard?


I'm not sure I understand the comparison of Tyler Perry films with generic fantasy board games?

It's not as though whiteness is a dominant aspect of Descent (whereas yes, Tyler Perry's films are primarily targeted towards a black audience). People don't play Descent because it has white heroes in it, and I don't think anyone is asking that they completely get rid of white heroes and replace them with a different race. It would just be nice if there was more balance so, y'know, there's something for every board gamer to enjoy.
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Jeremy Avery
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SeanLuc wrote:
What's with the double standard?

In the days of Kickstarter (and other crowd-funding facilitators), there's nothing at all stopping people from creating what they'd like to see. Complaining that some white people created something primarily white is... well what's the point? Go create.


What double standard? I would like to play as a non-white character in Descent. That's it. That's a preference.
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Jeremy Avery
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There are some great suggestions and resources in this thread! Thanks!
 
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Sean Houston
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familygaming wrote:
SeanLuc wrote:
What's with the double standard?

In the days of Kickstarter (and other crowd-funding facilitators), there's nothing at all stopping people from creating what they'd like to see. Complaining that some white people created something primarily white is... well what's the point? Go create.


What double standard? I would like to play as a non-white character in Descent. That's it. That's a preference.


Right, and both of the responses to my post truncated the part where I said you can create your own content and/or game if there are things you would like to see that aren't getting created. I guess I grow weary of the constant calls for "diversity" ham-fistedly being shoved into anything white, but nothing of the sort for any other race/ethnicity's creations. Everything is always "too white," never "too _____."

That's the double standard I speak of.
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Enon Sci
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SeanLuc wrote:
familygaming wrote:
SeanLuc wrote:
What's with the double standard?

In the days of Kickstarter (and other crowd-funding facilitators), there's nothing at all stopping people from creating what they'd like to see. Complaining that some white people created something primarily white is... well what's the point? Go create.


What double standard? I would like to play as a non-white character in Descent. That's it. That's a preference.


Right, and both of the responses to my post truncated the part where I said you can create your own content and/or game if there are things you would like to see that aren't getting created. I guess I grow weary of the constant calls for "diversity" ham-fistedly being shoved into anything white, but nothing of the sort for any other race/ethnicity's creations. Everything is always "too white," never "too _____."

That's the double standard I speak of.


It's only a double standard if all else be equal, and that isn't the case.

For example, is it a double standard that people always talk about helping those in poverty instead of helping those who are rich? No, because -- by virtue of their unequal positions -- the rich don't need help.

For all the Tyler Perry examples you can cite, a FAR larger list could be cited that are white only -- and what you seem to not understand is that the existence of the Tyler Perry phenomena is precisely in reaction to what I'll call the Friends phenomena.

That said, you're comments are wildly off base because they presume everybody at Fantasy Flight is white. This is an unknown proposition, so your presumption speaks volumes.
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mateo jurasic
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western fantasy has a historic bias towards having the humans be white.

Now that I think of it, even the elves and dwarves are white, unless they are the dark elves in Forgotten realms...

I bet if you sent an email to FFG requesting more ethnic diversity in the numerous Descent heroes, it would happen. I know Il'd prefer it. Its not the 50s anymore.

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Sean Houston
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mateooo wrote:
western fantasy has a historic bias towards having the humans be white.

Now that I think of it, even the elves and dwarves are white, unless they are the dark elves in Forgotten realms...



Yes, this is what I reference in my supposedly "wildly off base" comments. Whites created western fantasy, that's an indisputable fact. I don't see how that's off-base. Thanks for the assumption I'm some sort of jerk who needs to be called out though, Enon Sci/Anarchosyn.
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Enon Sci
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SeanLuc wrote:
mateooo wrote:
western fantasy has a historic bias towards having the humans be white.

Now that I think of it, even the elves and dwarves are white, unless they are the dark elves in Forgotten realms...



Yes, this is what I reference in my supposedly "wildly off base" comments. Whites created western fantasy, that's an indisputable fact. I don't see how that's off-base. Thanks for the assumption I'm some sort of jerk who needs to be called out though, Enon Sci/Anarchosyn.


Based purely off what you're saying.

1. Your assumption that FFG is white, which is the implication of your comment that "whites make stuff with whites in it" presumption. Even if that was true, and not also lamentably regressive, it's an assumption which lays bare your views.

2. See my original commentary in this thread -- I effectively made the same observation about the eurocentric roots of fantasy you did. However, there is a large distinction between noting a cultural disparity and assuming it's some eternal truism that could never change.

For example, I could say it is a indisputable fact America was founded on principles that oversaw slavery and women not voting, but that "indisputable fact" has no bearing on future developments (as cultures change).
 
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Jeremy Avery
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Welp, I just sent them an email. I told them how much I enjoy the game, and how great the app is (since it allows solo play!).

Then I just asked them to develop storylines that would allow characters from other parts of that game universe to join the Descent adventures (e.g. black and Arab characters).

I'll let you know if I hear back from them!

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Sean
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Oh, not all this again!

Make your own characters and backstory anyway you like before this thread ends up in RSP.
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