A Look at "Sexism in Fantasy"

If you haven’t read Jon Schindehette's article about Sexism in Fantasy, I suggest you go read it. I will reference it a fair bit in this post.

The portrayal of female characters in fantasy art, including how sexism affects the art process, is an important subject to me. When I read Jon’s article, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I know and am friends with many people at Wizards of the Coast. I have had chats with Jon on this subject among others. We even had him on a Tome Show episode. I write a column for the website celebrating the company. Yet the words I read on the screen left a mark.

You might ask why. For one, the “poll” set up to show that sexism isn’t well defined is a bit flawed as was the definition used. Like many academic terms, it’s easily misunderstood or misapplied. It is full of nuance. Whether or not something is sexist depends on lots of things, including context. While his test might have proved that the term is misunderstood by people in the community, it doesn’t mean we should stop trying to understand it, even if it makes us feel uncomfortable and perhaps even triggers guilt. It’s those feelings that cause some to feel that the term is “convenient, inflammatory, and polarizing,” a phrasing that itself is often used as a derailing and silencing technique.

Photography: © Zhang Jingna; Model: Natalia Bonifacci/Ford LAPhotography: © Zhang Jingna; Model: Natalia Bonifacci/Ford LASo, let’s talk about those two images quickly. One of the issues faced by women is that they are seen as being present mostly for decoration. If most images of women looked like that first image, our artwork would play into that expectation and gender-based constraint of women. Another issue is that women are often put into the role of nurturer. So while a woman in that role is not automatically sexist, if the only times we depict women are when they are in that role, that can be. Finally, a third issue is what is commonly called the virgin/whore dichotomy, something that is illustrated when the two pieces are presented together. In one, we have the nurturing woman in modest dress, devoid of most if not all sexuality. In the second, it seems that if she uncrossed her arms, we would see her breasts. That hint of sexuality that goes beyond the normal bounds of our society is part of what makes that picture exciting.

Now that we’ve addressed the “sexism poll” Jon constructed, I’d like to discuss the issues of the portrayal of women in D&D. I don’t want to limit it just to the art because to be honest, both the art and the text often amplify each other in ways we might not intend. Beauty comes up often in the article, implying that women are beautiful objects and that artists are drawn to creating that sort of art. This, to me, points out some of the problems present due to latent sexism in our society. Why isn’t an older woman considered beautiful? When it comes to female characters, why is beautiful so often correlated to cheesecake and fan service rather than compelling stories and other aspects of the character? How does the descriptions of what the artists like to create explain the relative diversity of male representations? Wait, doesn't some of his statements assume a male artist?

Also, when I and other people often discuss sexism in D&D art, we’re talking about the art as a whole, across the product and across the entire game. We’re talking about the lack of variety in age, body styles, clothing options, composition, content, and the like when it comes to female characters. We’re talking about how much more often you are to find a character with an exposed midriff or cleavage than someone above the age of 25 and why it is that so many of the images with multiple characters perhaps one or two token women in them, if any at all. If you haven’t looked at which images are chosen for the covers and the half-page vertical images for the classes (and races), I suggest taking a look. William O’Conner appears to be used for just about every class image and he, almost without fail, shows off the female character’s breasts and adds elements like garters.

People often step in at this point and ask why I’m bringing “real world” issues into the game. I’d like to turn the question around and ask why they are insisting on bringing “real world” discrimination into the game. Whether they like it or not, the game world of D&D has a world full of women over the age of 25. The Forgotten Realms is supposed to be a game world where women are equal to men. In a world with magic and healing, there’s no reason why women would have to be relegated to a subservient role in the world.

But the thing that really got me about the article is that Jon goes out of his way to talk about and even demonstrate why he believes that “sexism” is such a loaded term. Ok, fine, but if you honestly believe that, why use it to frame the entire discussion, especially one as important as the role of women in the D&D world? Why feed the trolls who believe that discussions that myself and other people have often, almost every day at times, are just some attempt at political correctness run amok.

That’s what bothered me the most about the post and what led me to feel the most betrayed. I spend many, many hours talking to people about how awesome D&D is, about how much I love being part of this community, and how to get more women to play. Then the very real feelings myself and others have about how women are presented in the game world, in both the art and text, feel dismissed because we dared to use the correct term to discuss them.

As for the circle of finger pointing, the “it’s not our fault because it’s what the customers want or what the artists turn over to us,” well, that’s the reason I started the Prismatic Art Collection. Are there limitations on what people like Jon can do? Sure. But there are many things that they could still do within the constraints.

  • Create a safe space for female fans to provide feedback. It feels so strange to me that I have to point out that many women don’t feel comfortable commenting publicly, either as comments on a post or in forums. There are many reasons for that. Give them a space to leave comments and listen to what they say.
  • For D&D Next, create a less restrictive license, even if it’s only for certain groups. I want to create D&D content that is more socially aware for the current version of the game since past versions aren’t always conducive to that sort of content. It’s also easier for the people I want to reach with it to get the newer books than the older ones and for them to get support from the community.
  • Create groups (not races) within the D&D world that hold a variety of beliefs about gender, sexuality, and the like. Then divide the characters presented in the artwork among those groups. Then the artwork and the game text will more often align with each other. Cheesecake art will be presented in a context where it makes sense instead of feeling like it’s fanservice to a presumed heterosexual male audience who wants that sort of artwork.

I think those would at least make a good start. I’ll have more to add once we get to the commissioning stage of the Prismatic Art Collection project.

Put Me in the Dungeon

Or at least make me create one. Paul Hughes, the person behind the Random Dungeon Generator as a Dungeon Map Kickstarter asked me if I'd be willing to design a dungeon if his project hit $20,000. It's close, but only a few days are left.

Many of you know how I feel about dungeons but I promise if it makes $20k, I'll give this project my all and create a dungeon I would love to play in. Who knows, maybe after I'll start singing the praises of Dungeons & Dungeons instead of Dragons & Dragons.

The $20k mark will also unlock dungeons by Mike Shea of SlyFlourish.com fame and Mike Mornard. Paul has a few interviews with Mornard on the Blog of Holding site and I've linked to a few of them in Joining the Party articles.

Backstab, Sneak Attack, and suggestions for a more modular design

A few days ago, Rob Schwalb posted his ideas on Backstab and Sneak Attack for D&D Next.

Everyone would have access to sneak attack:

Backstab: When you have attack advantage against a creature, you can give up advantage to deal 1d6 extra damage on a hit.

As part of leveling, rogues would have the opportunity to invest in Sneak Attack:

Sneak Attack: Whenever you backstab a creature, you deal 1d6 extra damage. Each time you gain this benefit, increase the extra damage by 1d6.

Let me say right away that I love this idea. I still want it tested and might change my mind about it later, but nothing I’m about to say negates the fact that I love the idea. My argument is more about presentation. The designers have said repeatedly that D&D Next will be modular. I’m really interested in this idea, in particular the idea that we could have a fairly light core, something that people new to the game can pick up quickly but has lots of hooks, to use a techy term, for future expansion and exploration. My argument is that this version of Backstab and Sneak Attack could be more modular and I’d like Backstab to not be part of the core.

I work a lot with Application Programming Interfaces (API), an important part of modular design for computers. The term attack advantage is our interface hook. Whenever a player character has an attack advantage the player can choose to apply the benefit. In the basic case, this is an attack bonus. Have an attack advantage? Add a bonus to your attack roll. Very basic, everyone can pick it up easily, and no real decisions needed.

We could add an optional list, either as a sidebar or in an appendix, that lists other ways to spend your attack bonus. This could include backstab or any number of other benefits that match the story being told during attack. Groups with new players or DMs could ignore these additional uses and add them later after they’ve become more comfortable with the game. Groups that suffer from too much analysis paralysis could also reduce the number of decision points during a turn. Future books could add to the list more easily since we’ve grouped them together and given them a name. Finally, especially if we move them to an appendix in the back of the book, it doesn’t bloat out the combat rules, leaving the impression that combat is the most important part of the game, and potentially makes it easier to reference them later.

End results: DMs feel more in control of the game and the rules they want to use, advanced players still get options, and the core game is pretty lightweight, making it easier to pick up and learn.

The one issue is dealing with Sneak Attack. As written, it requires the rogue employ Backstab to use. I’m curious if that’s really necessary. Does the rogue need to give up the accuracy bonus to get the additional damage earned through training? I don’t have the math in front of me, but I have a feeling we could just change the wording a bit to make it work.

What do you think?

Beyond Random: Plot Points and Dynamic Worlds

One thing I’ve learned over the last three years is that people play Dungeons & Dragons many different ways. Some like sandboxes. Others like rails. Some like meat grinders. Some like tons of story. A few like a little of everything in every game. There really is no one way to rule them all.

Since I love designing adventures, this has led me to thinking a lot about adventure design across editions. In particular, I’ve been thinking about the different ways we produce a dynamic world around the player characters. In general, I see one of three options used:

  • Random - The dungeon master uses random tables or percentiles to determine most of the world around the player characters. A common example of this is a random encounter table or a weather percentile table.
  • Planned Stages - The dungeon master writes ahead of time what will happen when, such as “the town will riot on the third day unless the player characters capture the rebel leaders.”
  • Improvisation - The dungeon master comes up with things on the fly, in reaction to the decisions of the player characters. If she thinks rain would make the atmosphere more appropriate for the scene, it rains.

Each of these has pros and cons associated with them and aren’t appropriate for all groups. For instance, randomness helps ensure the impartiality of the dungeon master, at least to a degree (nothing stops her from including items that aren’t level appropriate) but may make it harder to tell a smooth story. Planned stages risk railroading the players or cause wasted time spent in planning. Improv requires a fair degree of skill on the part of the dungeon master and, if there isn’t enough trust in the group or the group prefers certain play styles, may be interpreted as unfair by the players.

Given that there’s no clear winner, it might be awesome to find a way to serve them all about 80% of the way. In the adventure, Blood Money, Logan Bonner lays the groundwork for such a tactic. The adventure involves the player characters running a caper to steal the treasury of a local tyrant, ensuring that he cannot pay his mercenaries and, thus, freeing the town of Elderwood from his iron grip. Capers can be a bit difficult to run in D&D, satisfying caper stories often have a lot of twist and turns with an ever increasing tension beat. Pure randomness makes maintaining that upward track of tension difficult and the twists make it hard for a DM to plan for all the contingencies. Improv sounds like the best option but many of the guidelines for the DM presuppose planning time; they can be difficult to employ during a fast and furious session.

To aid the DM in responding in a fair manner to player character actions, the adventure gives the DM plot points, currency she can then spend on various defenses or changes to the adventure’s default settings. She spends some before the adventure starts, giving both her and the players enough details to begin play. After play starts, she spends her remaining plot points in response to player character actions and gains additional ones the more they plan. This last point is particularly important. If the PCs decide to do a surprise raid, things will be harder for them overall because the adventure defaults that way, but the reactive defenses will be lower because the DM doesn’t have as many resources to counter the PCs assault. If they take their time, the basic part of the adventure gets easier, sometimes even lowering the DCs, but the reactive defenses increase.

What interests me is that we can do something more general, providing DMs with a plot point currency that she can use in a variety of instances. It’s not for everyone for sure, but might help with those groups where either the DM is newer or the players tend to prefer a more structured or impartial approach to choices in the adventure or among groups that lack trust. Essentially, I see it as a point buy or point array system for the DM.

Here’s my pitch: Have random tables just like in older edition adventures but also provide either plot point costs for the DM in the table or a conversion chart in the adventure. Also provide the rate at which plot points for the DM refresh. In my mind, this does a few things:

  • If the plot point refresh is tied to time, as it is in Blood Money, this makes time important without necessarily making time keeping onerous or overly subject to DM fiat.
  • Groups that prefer random tables still have them while still providing support to other groups as well, including improv DMs who can use the random tables as inspiration for their own decisions.
  • Gives the DM tools for planning things beyond combat.
  • Reactive defense capabilities can make the world seem richer and make the PCs a stronger part of the story since their actions have consequences in the game world.
  • Planning in points where the adventure can differ, whether randomly or in response to character actions, makes it easier to reuse the adventure.

So what do you think?

Three Year Anniversary - Thanks everyone!

Today marks 3 years since I registered SarahDarkmagic.com and started posting about my real-life adventure into gaming. Fortunately, I wrote a bit about what was going through my mind and what happened at my first game session in my very first blog post "So the adventure begins...". A lot has changed in these past 3 years, more than I ever could have imagined.

This isn't everything for sure. I'm really proud of what I've done and can't wait to see what happens in the future. Speaking of the future, my current big project is the Prismatic Art Collection. I've talked about it a few times here, but we'll be raising funds to commission works of art depicting diverse heroes and we're dedicated to fielding a diverse group of artists too. I'm working on the website for it, but in the meantime, I have a Google+ page with posts and an album with some of the potential artists and their bios.

While that stuff is pretty awesome, the best part has been meeting so many great and wonderful people through gaming. I feel truly blessed and much of that has to do with all of you. So thanks for making the last 3 years of my life an incredible time and I look forward to the future.

More Like This Please

Sorry. I know it's been a while since I did one of these but I've been hard at work on the Prismatic Art Collection project which is essentially one big, More Like This Please, except we'll definitely have more like this. I have a few posts on my site about it which can be found through the Prismatic Art tag and I started a Google+ page for the project. As an added bonus, the G+ page has an album full of artist pics and bios. The artists listed below are among those we hope to commission to produce artwork for the Prismatic Art Collection. Primal Elk by Winona NelsonPrimal Elk by Winona Nelson

Primal Elk

What I love:
  • Three members of the party are women (or at least could be, it doesn't really matter if they were meant to be that way). They aren't in the back, using magic, but up front, with melee weapons.
  • By making the elk larger than life and in the center of the painting, its majesty becomes the center of attention, adding to the wonder and awe of primal magic.
Care and feeding of your small human by Susan KnowlesCare and feeding of your small human by Susan Knowles

Care and feeding of your small human

What I love:
  • I think having scenes of parenthood (including fatherhood please) increases the possibility of having PCs that aren't murderous creatures that kill everything that might offer the chance of more XP or loot.
  • While I prefer to play humans, I actually like a game that has the diversity of races often offered in science fiction, like Star Trek or Star Wars.
Abby in the Lab by Emily VitoriAbby in the Lab by Emily Vitori

Abby in the Lab

What I love:
  • Sorry, she just looks like a fun character. I'd probably use her for an alchemist, one who knows to use safety glasses in the lab!
Goblin by Lisa GrabenstetterGoblin by Lisa Grabenstetter


  • So goblins that are obviously evil and do horrible things makes it easier to know to just kill them. I get that. But I love mythological goblins that are more troublemakers than murderous, vile creatures. A playful goblin wearing a human mask sounds like the start of a fair amount of shenanigans.

Legend of Korra

Watch on YouTube

The original Avatar: The Last Airbender tv series on Nickelodeon was awesome and had a lot of great female characters that I love. We even saw previous female avatars. Now we have Korra, a female water bender from the southern water tribe, who is also the avatar. I really like that she's a little older than the previous avatar, Aang, was when he started his adventure. In addition to hopefully connecting with the original audience, it gives the artists the chance to show some muscle tone on her. She's talented and spirited but not without faults. I may be in love.

This Is What Makes It All Worth It

I know, two blog posts in one day. Craziness! But I wanted to share this letter I received in hopes it illustrates the need for a project like Prismatic Art. The author, Charles, contacted me on Twitter because he and his daughters are very interested in the project. I had mentioned that my hope for the project would be that not only would his daughters find artwork they enjoyed but it would encourage them to create their own too.

It turns out they already do and want to share some of it as part of the project. I asked them to send along some samples so I could get an idea of their level of experience (the main project will be for professional art) and this is the reply. Awesome stuff and I'll admit it made me tear up a bit last night when I read it. And don't worry, I will find a home for their art and the art of others even if it's not in the way I originally planned.

Thank you, Tracy!

I read your email to our daughters and they are excited for the challenge. (My daughter J even narrowed her eyes, rubbed her hands together, and declared in her best evil villainess voice, “‘Level of experience?’ I’ll show her my level of experience!” :)

We’re all very excited with what you’re doing both with Prismatic Art and with trying to shift the gaming community to a more respectful place in general. They began playing 4e from the moment I introduced it to them when they were 8 years old, and have probably read every 4e book that WoTC has published, except for the first two Essentials “Heroes of…” books. (They turned their noses up at Essentials until they got over their “edition-ism.” :) They’ve built countless 4e characters and they’ve read the first Dragonlance trilogy multiple times (Laurana is their favorite character) and are still hoping that someday Dragonlance comes back and unseats Forgotten Realms as a D&D setting. (Yeah, I know, not likely…) They’ve also branched out into other RPGs and even had their letters published in Daniel Solis’ “Do: The Book of Letters.”

RPGs and drawing are our daughters’ favorite activities. The majority of what they read is probably gaming books, fantasy novels and articles from D&D Insider (including yours!). I have to admit that we're not always happy with the way female characters are portrayed in what they read, or in the art they’re seeing on WoTC’s site and on DDO (where they spend most of their allowed online gaming time). According to S, “There are too many scantily-clad female characters out there, and not enough in actual armor." Still, instead of censoring, my wife and I have chosen to use such content as springboards for discussion. (I usually join in their party when they play DDO, and I also run a monthly tabletop 4e game for them and three of their closest girlfriends.) We're happy that our daughters have retained their strong self-image despite some of the messages which they’ve been receiving from the gaming culture at large, but we’d rather they just be able to enjoy the culture without those messages. I think you know what we mean.

J even had one of her “rants” published by New Moon Girls magazine:
> I was on a gaming website and saw a game called “Nerdy Girl Makeover.” The description of the game is this: “School is out! Put those books away and give this girl a hot new look!” I find this really offensive. The girl wore glasses, was reading, and had a T-shirt with an atom on it. Why do so many people think that smart, intellectual girls who like reading and academic subjects are “wrong” and “ugly”?
> J, Washington

In any event, both our daughters' first love in gaming has remained D&D and powerful fantasy heroines and villainesses are still their favorite subjects for drawing. (They’ve drawn for hours every day since they could hold a crayon.) J’s favorite characters to play and draw (in no particular order) are barbarians, rangers, sorceresses and rogues. S said that her favorites are wizards, witches and mages which led to an argument about whether those three are all the same or not so you see, our daughters really are gamers! :) We're looking forward to seeing what they draw for you. I’ll scan it and send it along and we’ll go from there. If their art doesn’t fit with Prismatic Art, then perhaps we can collaborate on something else in the future.

Above all, please know that you have a family of supporters out here in the Pacific Northwest! You are an inspiration to our daughters and as parents of girls who are passionate about D&D, we wholeheartedly support your initiative!

All the best,

Both Charles and his wife Jung game with their daughters and they write about their experiences.

Why Prismatic Art?

For those who missed Monday's announcement, I'm working on a new project, Prismatic Art Collection, with Daniel Solis. Our hope is to use Kickstarter to raise enough money to commission artists to create works of art that push the boundaries of what a fantasy hero is and can be. We want to pay the artists reasonable rates for the work and then turn the art over to the Creative Commons, using a license that allows the work to be used in personal as well as commercial projects.

Our hopes are the following:

  • Artists will respond to the economic incentive to create inclusive fantasy artwork that can be used in role-playing games.
  • Increase awareness of the diversity within the artist community with the hopes of getting artists from traditionally underrepresented groups more exposure.
  • Publishers will have a list of artists eager to create this type of art.
  • Publishers, blogs, and other efforts will have stock art images for women and people of color that aren't cheesecake or caricatures.
  • The RPG fan community will have more art that they love and feel embraced by.

I came up with these goals after talking with people publicly and privately about this topic for going on three years now. I've listened to a lot of people from many different circles within the fantasy role-playing games community. Most people recognized the issues while a few served as stark examples of what the issues are. Some have told me for a while now to stop complaining and do something so with Daniel's help, that's what I'm trying to do.

Tackling the issue of lack of diversity in the art isn't that controversial. With more and more stories like the teenage girl who convinced EA Sports to include a female avatar in the NHL video game, the need for diversity and artwork becomes apparent. That doesn't include the large number of messages I get from parents who want game books they can share with their children, especially their daughters. While some people, including commenters on this site, will try to say that we can't change the art, the truth is they are just incorrect. Fantasy literature and tales appear across cultures, ethnicities, and genders. The hero's tale knows no limit. The only limit is our own desires and imaginations.

The other issue, the lack of diversity in the artists on projects, is much harder to tackle. There's no easy answer. The overall landscape is one that is tilted in a direction against diversity. There are lots of reasons for that, some understandable, some not. The problem could be approached in two ways, one excluding the other. I could make this project an example of egalitarian hiring and hope a diverse group of artists contact me, or I could say specifically that I'm interested in having a diverse group of artists working on this project. I went with the latter and I stand by that decision.

One of the issues with a general call to artists is that the artists I most want to work on this project will often self-select out of the project for a number of reasons.

  • One reason for the lack of diversity is because parts of the community (and sometimes people who seem like leaders within it) tell them that they are not really wanted. I've lost count of the number of times I have been told that D&D is a game for men, particularly those of European descent, and that I should just accept that. These artists have been told that too. For many of them to respond to a call for artists, they need to know that it's ok, that this project is a safe space that embraces their ideas of what fantasy is and can be too.
  • Another reason is a fear of a lack of talent. Now I realize this isn't just limited to these groups, but when combined with the above, it means it's harder for me to find and recruit a diverse artist pool. If I didn't put the limit on the first round, my notoriety would likely elicit a strong response from established artists, many of whom are white men. In fact, a fair number of these artists approached me individually to see if there was something they could do to help. Their gender isn't a problem, but I wouldn't be surprised if their responses made the people who are traditionally underrepresented feel like they were not good enough. I mean, it wouldn't be surprising for some of them to think if I get well-known artists wanting to do work for me, why would I want to work with someone lesser known. Even with wording it the way that I did, I had women reply with "well, I'm not really professional, I mean, I did some work for a few RPG books, but..." It's heart breaking and is a result of how we socialize women and think about their contributions to society. I want to change that.
  • Without specifically noting my desire to hear from artists from those groups, people might not remember to recommend members of those groups or ask them to participate. I learned this lesson from the tech conference scene. We tend to think of our friends and the people who get the most attention first. I'll be honest, I have a pretty decent list of artists I could go to for this project already, but I really want this project to expand the diversity and knowledge of diversity not only in the art, but in the artist community as well.
  • Many of the people in these groups have either been brought up that it's proper to wait to be asked or have heard no so often they are afraid to put themselves out again. Without knowing each individual artist, this was the best way for me to invite them in a way that was as clear as possible that I was interested in them.

These are the main reasons I made the decision I made. Another one is that I want this to be a safe space led by people we don't normally see in positions of leadership. I use the word "partnership" in describing the relationship with the community and the artists and I really mean that. This is going to be as much their project as it is Daniel's and mine. So while I decided to call specifically to certain groups during the initial call for artists, I'm not excluding anyone from the project, but diversity in the artist pool is going to be just as important to me as diversity in the art itself.

I created a twitter account for this project, @PrismaticArt. Feel free to follow it to stay up to date on news and announcements. I'm hard at work on getting the business backend set up as well as recruiting artists. More soon.

Tome Show i4e Giveaway Announcement

The kind folks over at i4e gave us some codes to giveaway to the fans of SarahDarkmagic.com and The Tome Show. The application runs on iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad, allowing you to build your a character through the app (no DDI account needed) or upload your character builder files and view your character sheets on those devices. The app lets you track things like hit points and conditions at the table. They have a number of tutorials on their website.

i4e Features

  • Multiple characters (never be without your favorite character again as long as you have your iPhone with you).
  • Import characters from D&D Insider Character Builder .dnd4e files using the fully editable import site
  • Easily enter and track hit points, healing surges, power points, temporary hit points, milestones, action points, and item usage.
  • Track powers attack bonus, damage, and calculated critical damage.
  • Track power usage (All types of powers, as well as ones that burn healing surges or return hit points from their usage).
  • Easily accessible list of skills with the bonuses for your level and current ability scores.
  • Track Conditions, treasure, and experience

Contest Info

So, how do you enter our contest? Thanks for asking! Between now and March 11th at 11:59 pm ET, answer the quiz questions below, enter your name and email address, and submit! We'll pick 4 lucky winners on or about March 12th. As a hint, the answer to question number 3 can be found over at The Tome Show website. Keep an eye out for more hints on Temporary Hit Points, my twitter account, @SarahDarkmagic, and Jeff's twitter account, @squach.

If the quiz doesn't load for you, you can also take it here: http://app.snapapp.com/tome_show_i4e_giveaway

Prismatic Art: Call for Artists

A few weeks ago, Daniel Solis and I mentioned that we are working on a new Kickstarter project. We aren't quite ready to release all the details yet, but since it's an art project, we wanted to put out a call for artists now so we could have a list for the announcement. So, without further ado, here are the main details of the project.

Prismatic Art Collection is a free library of art representing heroes of all backgrounds.

In geek culture, there are plenty of Lukes, but not enough Landos or Leias. We want to change that. We'll be raising funds to hire female and ethnically diverse artists to create fantasy art depicting heroes of all backgrounds. Together, we want to make it easier for underrepresented artists to find work and for everyone to find more varied depictions of heroes. We want to pay the artists reasonable rates and release the art to the Creative Commons under the Attribution Share-Alike license.

All submissions will depict women, people of color, or differently abled people in fantasy heroic roles. No cheesecake, ethnic sidekicks, or caricatures, please. Just straight-up fantasy heroes in settings full of swords, dragons, dungeons, wizards, and the like.

If you're a female or ethnically diverse artist and are interested in this project, we want to hear from you. Please contact us at prismatic_art@sarahdarkmagic.com. We're open to all styles of art, but we want professional-grade quality stuff. In all cases, accepted submissions will be released to the Creative Commons under an Attribution Share-Alike license.

If you're interested in supporting the project, keep an eye out for the upcoming Kickstarter. We have a twitter account for this project, @PrismaticArt

Edit: Follow-up on the reasons why we singled out particular groups in this early call. We're not restricting the artists, but we are seeking a diverse artist pool.

Send feedback using the contact form or through twitter, @sarahdarkmagic.

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