Something really cool happened last night, as I was winding down from a really fun and exciting rehearsal for my current theater production. I was wearing my Dungeons & Dragons “Carpe DM” shirt, and one of my castmates comes up to me and compliments my shirt. I then ask if they play, and they said yes!
Then began a really fun conversation about the game they were playing, what kind of character they played, and stuff about the homebrew world in which they played. I then came back with a bit about my homebrew world, Muluth, and about how we were currently playing Curse of Strahd.
Then, ANOTHER castmate comes over and it turns out THEY are in that very same campaign as the first one!! Then, YET ANOTHER castmate comes over and talks about how they’ve been playing since they were 8 years old!!
So the four of us stood there, talking about Dungeons & Dragons, how we got into it, and why we love it. We also talked about Critical Role, and how cool that show is.
But, honestly, the best part of this whole experience was that all 3 of my castmates who joined me in this nerdy little discussion were women. I even flat out told them that. I said that it was so cool that, of all the people in the cast, three women ended up telling me about how much they loved playing Dungeons & Dragons.
I think it’s widely considered that, since the game’s inception, there’s been a lack of proper representation in both the stories and the players – which has definitely, vastly improved in the recent editions of the game.
I remember seeing an article somewhere about a woman who picked up the 5th Edition Player’s Handbook, and turned to the page for the Human race section, and saw a black woman standing there, and how much she truly appreciated that – that it was someone who looked like her that Wizards of the Coast decided would be the face of the Human race in the handbook. And I agree, I think that’s awesome.
In the 5E Player’s Handbook, the pictures for the Dwarf, Halfling, Gnome, Half-Orc, Human, Tiefling, and Elf are all women. That literally leaves just the Dragonborn and the Half-Elf races depicted as male (the Elf section also shows Drizzt, so technically there’s male representation there too). And a case could be argued for the Dragonborn being female also.
Let’s move on to the Classes in the 5E Handbook. The Barbarian shows both a male and a female. The Bard shows a somewhat androgynous character first, but then shows a male later. The Cleric shows two males. The Druid has a male and a female. The Fighter has a male. The Monk shows a female. The Paladin shows a male. The Ranger depicts a female. The Rogue could be either a male or female, but I’m leaning toward female based on the design of the character’s leather armor. Both the Sorcerer pictures appear to be male. The Warlock is a female, and the Wizard shows two males.
So that’s 12 female characters, and 14 male characters in those two chapters of the book. That is nearly equal representation of the genders.
Now let’s take a look at the Critical Role show, and their current, regular cast of characters. We have Vax, Grog, Scanlan, and Percy being male; and Vex, Pike, and Keyleth being female. That’s 3 to 4. And that’s not even to mention all the female NPCs that Matt runs.
And then there’s all the representation for the alternative lifestyles in the D&D games. Curse of Strahd does have a couple of homosexual (at least) NPC characters in it. Critical Role features a number of alternative lifestyle characters too, which is awesome. I love that Vax is in love with Keyleth, but also was heading toward something physical and meaningful with Gilmore as well. Vax has, on many occasions, displayed bisexual or even pansexual traits, and that’s awesome (being bisexual myself).
One of the characters in our Curse of Strahd game is mentally assembling a “bang list” consisting of the other characters – including NPCs – based on how badass and sexy they are. This list isn’t exclusive to one gender, with the character of topic being female, and being played by a female player. This player told me that they always play the strong, stoutly asexual and unfeeling character when they D&D, and wanted to try something different this time, so I think that’s awesome. And it’s proving to be really fun at the table. (Currently, the NPC Ezmerelda seems to be winning)
My first 5E game involved a few female players too. Heck, in my first game of D&D ever, my DM was a woman (the one with the “bang list” I mentioned above). Our current game has only 2, which is great, but I wish it were more. And that sounds weird to say – like I feel like that’s a strange thing to say. But what I mean is that I want my game to be as inclusive as possible, and I guess I’m feeling guilt (???) by having a substantially larger amount of male players at the table than female.
In any case, I love that lately it seems we as a society – and a tabletop community – are seeing more and more women playing the games and having as much fun telling these stories. It’s awesome, and I want to continue seeing more of it!
Until next time – Well Met!