Images

Was poking around and found an interesting article on images of women in game materials.  So I decided to do a little data collection of my own, using roughly the same guidelines that the person who wrote the article used.

A few changes and notes: Where the image was a picture of an example character with stats, I checked the text for gender if it wasn’t glaringly obvious; the original checks did not allow this.  There were a couple of examples (e.g. the dervish) in which female characters were wearing basically bikinis, but were engaged in combat; I listed this as active dress if the class was one that did not depend on armor for defense (didn’t provide armor proficiency, had Evasion, etc).  By analogy, men in fur loincloths were also described as being in active dress.  There were a bunch of pictures of things like trolls, where I felt unable to guess gender despite an overall masculine feel; I listed these as unknown, which led to instances–again, the dervish–in which figures that probably should have been counted as male were in passive poses, but weren’t counted.  Bahamut, Tiamat and Lolth were listed (and coded as being in neutral dress) , as they all have definitive genders though none is strictly humanoid.  The picture of the knight protector includes a figure who is pointing in a way that implies “the trouble is over there”; I listed it as passive since it didn’t seem to be intending to help.  The Red Wizard being guarded by the Thayan knight was likewise called passive, along with all characters worshipping Tiamat.  There was one character noted as female because it appeared to be Lidda, the iconic rogue. 

Complete Warrior (Dec 2003): 

female male unknown female dress passive female dress neutral female dress active female stance passive female stance neutral female stance active male dress passive male dress neutral male dress active male stance passive male stance neutral male stance active
39 78 58 0 2 36 3 13 22 0 8 67 12 29 35
22.3% 44.6% 33.1% 0% 5.3% 94.7% 7.9% 34.2% 57.9% 0% 10.7% 89.3% 15.8% 38.2% 46.1%

 

 Complete Divine (May 2004):  

female male unknown female dress passive female dress neutral female dress active female stance passive female stance neutral female stance active male dress passive male dress neutral male dress active male stance passive male stance neutral male stance active
39 43 30 1 10 28 4 10 25 1 6 32 8 15 21
34.8% 38.4% 26.8% 2.6% 25.6% 71.8% 10.3% 25.6% 64.1% 2.6% 15.4% 82.1% 18.2% 34.1% 47.7%

All in all, this is not bad.  The two instances of passive dress, for example, are a succubus and a man in a straitjacket, though one might argue that the rainbow servant should also count.  The overwhelming preponderance of active dress and stance are easily ascribed to the nature of the pictures; they are designed to showcase classes and actions.  Most passive pictures were chapter headings or the opponents of the main character, such as the drunken master’s bar brawl and Hennet’s webbed ghosts.  There are still more men than women, but the women are in general doing things–though, oddly, the only people shown casting healing spells are male.

I have other D&D books I’d like to check, including the PHB, the Epic Level Handbook, Manual of the Planes, Heroes of Battle, Complete Arcane and Complete Adventurer.

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A Model

OK, first go read this.  It’ll take you 10 minutes or less, depending on your reading speed.  This is the kind of stuff RPGs need more of. 

And, my personal ideal campaign (edited to include more information):

Descriptive Rating:  Pragmatic-While I want a little more information than “you take N hit points”, I’m also not interested in graphic description in every single turn.  I’m happy if the dramatic things are carefully described, while normal hits are more like “he slashes you with his sword for N points”.
         PC Lethality:   Pragmatic-No one wants their character to die; I also don’t want it to be impossible.  Death happens in real life, so it should happen in-game too.  On the other hand, PCs are heroes and should be less likely to die than, say, I personally would be.

        Player vs. Player:  Moral (Pragmatic)-The PCs are heroes and shouldn’t be trying to kill each other off.  In the extremely rare case that there is serious intraparty conflict, I want some detail.
        Player vs. Game:   Pragmatic-Sometimes you have to do bad things when there are bad people around.  But the injury of complete innocents is verboten.  [The unborn baby that will become an incarnation of evil is, alas, not a complete innocent.]  Also, being nasty had better lead to some guilt.
        Game vs. Player:   Dark (Pragmatic)-The PCs are heroes; their antagonists by and large aren’t.  Hence, bad things can happen to the PCs if the antagonists are feeling mean.  I still don’t want huge amounts of detail, though; I’m fine with just brief description, dialogue and die rolls, unless it’s a climactic scene.
        Game vs. Game:    Dark (Pragmatic)-What I said above, doubled.  The description part is even a little darker since I’m more likely to be seeing results rather than actions, and I can deal with gory results a bit better.

        Conditions: 
                Before play begins, there will be agreement on subjects which are not to be brought up at all and subjects which are not to involve particular players. (That is, are we not to discuss rape at all because it is a sensitive topic for one player, or is it sufficient that that player’s character is never threatened with rape?)