Mysteries of the East

So let’s start with a topic that has come up a lot, both on this page and others: Al-Qadim and Oriental Adventures.

First, none of the supplemental settings contradict my point, as I was specifically looking at race as presented in the core handbooks.  I did allow myself to be distracted from my focus on the DMG and PH twice – once to diss AQ and OA, and once to briefly discuss the Drow.  Pushing racial diversity to supplements merely reinforces its absence in the core texts, especially because their very existence undermines the “European” setting argument – with all the various known worlds (if you will) to draw from, why do the core texts show no illustrations of Arabic elves, Persians, Moorish dwarves, Egyptians, Aztec priests, or Asian adventurers?  Each exists as an official canonical part of the D&D universe, yet they unrepresented in the handbooks.

(here let me fully admit to barely looking at 4th edition.  Some people tell me it has changed things, but I’m looking at 30 years of D&D vs. the few months 4ed has been out.  Perhaps a later post can get around to that.)

Second, a few people who have read AQ more recently than I have reminded me that the setting goes out of its way to have various races get along.  Now I am fully admitting to not having read it in over fifteen years, and I am planning on tracking it down to say more about it.  However, some thoughts in the meantime.  I don’t think that explicitly expressing racial tolerance excludes implicitly encoding racism.  Many works that wish to be inclusive fail in the very act of attempting to include: non-white Barbies tend to involve dying a white doll brown or else introducing them as exotic others (Jamaican Barbie in a head-scarf, Hula Honey Barbie, Kwanzaa Barbie, etc.)  There is a (not to) fine line between tokenizing and diversity.   Tolkien had an explicit theme of racial unity – at the end of both The Hobbit and TLOTR, various races band together to win the decisive battle.  While elves and Dwarves DO overcome their adversity, in both cases the good, white, northern and western races band together against the evil, dark skinned races of the East and the South.

All this is to say that Al-Qadim may or may not do what it sets out to.  With those questions in mind, I’m going to track down Al-Qadim so I can discuss it specifically.  In the mean time, if there is anyone who is more familiar with it than myself, please start things off!

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21 Responses to “Mysteries of the East”

  1. mrvandyke Says:

    I’m only two pages into the intro of Al-Qadim, and I have to say I might have to end up reversing everything I said about it. I dismissed in my talk for four reasons: 1) I didn’t have time to go into supplements, 2) supplements still do reinforce the non-central role of diversity in D&D, 3) since it had been 15 years since I looked at it, I just assumed it would be prejudice, and 4) I had a picture of a sexy woman in billowing pants I flashed on Power Point to get a laugh as I said “and the less said about it the better.” Having just started the intro, it looks like I was very wrong to be so glib, as it seems to be fair not just to the various “good” races, but historical Araby and even “evil” races like orcs and ogres. Crap. Maybe everyone else was right. Let me finish reading, and if so, I’m man enough to admit it.

  2. Ben JB Says:

    I also think you need to think more about the institutional vs. affective roles of different books. That is, everyone needs the PHB, and one guy needs the GMB (and the MM–that’s a core book you didn’t really look at); to that extent–because they are “core” rather than “supplement”–I don’t think you’re wrong to call them the Bible(s) of gaming.

    But the supplements are usually where the player’s affective investment is. That is, everyone may want to play a fantasy game, but there’s one guy who really needs to play an Elven sword-mage (Complete Book of Elves) and one guy who needs to play a Ninja (OA & Complete NInja’s Handbook) and one guy who really needs to play an Arabian Sha’ir (Al-Qadim).

    So, while the exotic others may be in the supplements, that’s also where people’s affective investments are.

    WAIT! I know what you’re going to say–making the exotic other excitingly supplemental is tokenizing, and you’re right. But we’re also talking about a game of role-playing, where “winning” in many ways is measured by role-playing, by entering the mind-set of another character. (Heh, let’s not get into GNS Theory, thanks. But in many ways, this has become somewhat institutional, with systemic rewards for good role-playing.) Looked at that way, tokenizing the supplemental (ahem) may be just the foot in the door of recognizing an Other’s pov.

  3. velve Says:

    Pointless article… Its a fictional western setting based on western mythologies… Just deal with it!

    As a person who enjoys RPG games and D&D, I have no qualms about how “underrepresented” my racial heritage is. Its just a fantasy game… and a good one at that…

    On the other hand, misrepresenting is guaranteed to raise more than just eyebrows on cultural insensitivity or whatever…

    Arabic elves, Persians, Moorish dwarves… hah… what would arabs & persians think…

    This article reminds me of Tropic Thunder… laughable…

  4. velve Says:

    Hmm, perhaps i was a bit too harsh…

    I found d&d oriental adventures a bit irksome on many points… perhaps if a more sincere effort is placed on the research process without being colored by western ideals and biases… that would be appealing.

    It’s quite possible mainly because I’ve seen it done properly… The movie Kungfu Panda is a great example. It was respectful and reflected the highest ideals of eastern martial arts (hey there is bound to be martial arts in D&D :)) for a western film.

    I would say that was quite an impressive achievement.

  5. mrvandyke Says:

    Velve — if you agree that “oriental adventures is a bit irksome,” then you and I agree on a lot of the key points. There is a BIG difference between presenting a foreign culture’s fantastical tradition in a way that truly represents it without objecting and exoticing. It’s a hard thing to do, as a culture’s mythology embodies the stereotypes a culture WANTS to see in itself, but they are still stereotypes, so when another culture tries to present them it can quickly become troublesome.

    I’d be interested — what is your racial heritage? Since you made a point about not being bothered by it being underrepresented, I’d be interested to know why, as I have yet to hear from a non-white gamer who is not bothered by that. It’s a point of view that’s ben yet to be articulated here, and I’d find it very interesting (no matter what some of the commenters think, I love to hear dissenting points of view, as long as they’re well written and thought out).

    And I’m going to devote an entire post to the “but its just European Mythology” argument someday soon . . .

  6. Snertype Says:

    As someone of actual arab descent, I thought I would chime in with my opinion. Bare in mind that it has been a while since I’ve read any al-Qadim material, so please excuse any errors or false rememberances on my part. Also, bare in mind that I’m what might termed a “half-breed”, and I was raised in the west (although I’ve been to the Middle East several times), so my views may not be totally representative of those held by “pure-bloods”. Sorry, the joke was too easy to resist.

    Firstly, I can honestly say that there is very little, if anything that I would find really “offensive” in the sense of, “these are evil amero/euro-crackers pissing all over my culture in order to make me feel inferior.” It does, however, often feel like standard Europe-style D&D settings with an “exotic” skin wrapped around it. I have no doubt the designers were sincere in their objectives and that they had no intent to offend anyone and they wanted to show respect, but truthfully, the whole thing feels more like it was inspired by 1001 Nights rather than the Middle East itself. I am aware, however, that this is probably more a ‘feature’ than a ‘bug’. For example, al-Qadim genies are pretty much like regular D&D genies; that is they have more in common with a Disney cartoon character than the Jinn of arabian mythology.

    To a large extent, it just seems like there was so much untapped potential in the design. I remember seeing the Sha’ir kit and thinking, “a magic using class called the ‘poet’? Cool!” I also remember being really disappointed to find that their ‘gimmick’ was summoning genies. Oooh! Arabian! The only other spellcasting kit I can think of are the elementalists. Elementalists? Now it is true that the Byzantine empire (and thus the ancient Greeks) had a heavy influence on early islamic thought and that trade with China and the far east was fairly extensive, but surely with several thousands of years of history, something more creative/appropriate/setting specific could have been thought of? How about Caananite snake magicians? Hell, that would even tie in with clichés about snake charmers and the like. Askars were basically standard 2e fighters. Why not show the contrast between Euro and ME warfare by making the fighter kits focus on agility and mobility (no heavy armour, faster attacks, etc.).

    I guess it just feels like the setting is so narrow in scope; it feels a bit like being stuck in Barovia (inspired by stereotypical notions of what Transylvania is like) rather than a full campaign setting. Believe it or not, most people in the ME (besides the Bedouin anyway) actually live/work away from the desert and near bodies of water and/or forests/grasslands. The actual climate of the ME can vary a fair bit – there are even places where it *gasp* snows from time to time.

    In terms of artwork and ‘ethnic representation’, my only complaint is a general one I have with western representations of people in the ME; that is everyone seems to look like ‘Ahmed, the hairy falafel dude’. There are actually lots of people with a variety complexions, blue and green eyes, brunettes (not black-haired) and even some blondes. This gets doubly common in and around Palestine/Lebanon/Syria.

    This narrow scope really comes out when you look at the religions presented; they just seem so Islamo-centric. Granted, I thought the whole lawgiver/Fate thing was kind of neat, but for the most part, the gods of Zakhara seem like typical D&D gods with Arabic names.

    Think about it like this: while most “western-style” D&D campaign settings are set in worlds with technology levels somewhere between the middle-ages and the (early) renaissance, the mythologies and pantheons therein have their roots in the pre-christian religions and traditions of Europe, not in christianity itself. Given that the Middle-East/North Africa has several thousands of years of recorded religious, it just strikes me as odd that the gods of Babylonia/Phoenicia/Egypt/Persia seem to be swept under the rug (oddly enough, some of those gods *do* appear in the FR & Greyhawk pantheons). What about spirit-worshiping Berbers? Beja Shaman? How about a Druid-analogue inspired by the Zoroastrians that hurls cleansing fire against the forces of darkness? Where are the baddass holy-warrior Assassins? If raping/pillaging crusaders can serve as the inspiration for holy warrior paladins, surely drugged out murdering religious zealots could be redeemed as well. Why if in FR/Greyhawk/etc places of worship are called ‘temples’ and not ‘churches’ are the ones in Zakhara called mosques?

    One thing that really bugs me are the names; the names are pretty lame. It seems like they simply decided on a “theme” for each diety/character/location, looked up that word in an English-Arabic dictionary, and than used the first word they saw. Need a city full of rich people? – just look up the word for wealth! Want to create a god of knowledge? – just look up the word for thought! Brilliant! I actually have to wonder if the Chinese/Japanese/Koreans who read OA have to go through this, and if they find it as grating as I do. To put this in perspective, imagine reading an RPG written elsewhere, but set in the “west” that had entries like: Badness!… the city of Bad People! Happy!… the god of joy!

    All the stuff about racial tolerance and hospitality was pretty good, I think. One thing I *do* remember finding offensive was the whole “station” gimmick. Granted, I don’t think it was a bad mechanic (at least insofar as I remember). I just remember thinking that Medieval Europe had all kinds of social and class structures involving status and servitude and the like that is largely ignored in other settings, so why is the ME analogue stuck with being the land of slave owners fixed in some kind of rigid class structure?

    As for this whole, “D&D has its roots in Western CultureTM” bunk, just some thoughts off the top of my head. Isn’t one of the major antagonist groups in the FR (the Red Wizards) based in a splinter province of an empire based on ancient EGYPT? Hasn’t anyone fought a mummy, or a genie (or for that matter, a ghoul)? Where did the names Nibenay, Tyr and Urik come from in Dark Sun? What places were they inspired by again? Where do the names Bahamut and Tiamat come from? More broadly, I’m pretty sure I’ve read that Tolkein’s dwarves were largely based on Jews – (not always flatteringly, unfortunately). Lunar calander? check. Language with 3-consonant roots? check. They all have beards? check. They love jewels and money? check. Interestingly enough, these stereotypes would apply just as equally to Arabs.

    This got a bit… *longer* than I had intended. It’s probably also *rantier* as well. In any case, apologies for such a long post.

  7. ltc_insane Says:

    “the core texts show no illustrations of Arabic elves, Persians, Moorish dwarves, Egyptians, Aztec priests, or Asian adventurers? Each exists as an official canonical part of the D&D universe, yet they unrepresented in the handbooks.”

    if your after Arabic Elves i think the closest you’ll find are the Valenar in the Eberron setting as they have a distinct Arabic look to them.

  8. mrvandyke Says:

    Snertype:

    Wow, thanks for the essay! You want to present with me next time? : ) I’m glad someone of arabic decent (half what? half-elf? half-orc?) decided to opine, as the one thing I can’t ever bring to this discussion is what the actual experience of being a non-white gamer feel like. I can bring the race-theory, but not the race.

    You have hopefully supplied us with a lot of discussion fodder — there’s a lot in your post, and it seems to line up with my “dyed white Barbie” v. “exotic Barbie” dichotomy. In some ways it seems AQ is just Euro-D&D painted Arabic, and in others it seems to be “Welcome to the exotic land of the other!” I also am glad you pointed out the Islamo-centric nature of the setting, as it perfectly reflects that same bias in our understanding of the middle-East. There is no one culture, no one tradition that one can just point to and say “this is the middle east.” Of course, no game setting (even a boxed set!) can come close to capturing the complexity and variety of the real middle-East. I’m sure we’ll get a few comments saying “It’s not their fault! What do you expect from a bunch of white-guys from the midwest.” To that I’ll say “I expected nothing, but perhaps they should have known better.” Good intentions mean very little, and don’t save a game from being troubling when it’s troubling. I also like that, while you note they are going more for 1,001 nights than araby proper, the game still seems to hit only a small segment of the vast mythos available.

    A few thoughts along the lines of what I said to Velve. I complain that many of the settings “exoticise” other cultures, but of course that is their very appeal: they are exotic. The whole point of Al-Qadim is to provide an exotic campaign setting. Part of me thinks I can hardly blame that, as much of the desire from FRPing stems from a desire for the exotic, to travel (at least in imagination) to fantastic, far flung regions of great mystery and adventure, and for most of post-Medieval western history, that has meant the middle- and far-east. Of course, that is exactly the problem as well, because when you encode these regions so directly into fantasy realms you are exoticising for entertainment places that are real, and places that tend to be far removed enough from our experiences that we scarcely consider them to be actual places at all. Most western understanding of the middle-East, Arabia, and Persia can be boiled down to a few otherizing cliches, most of which are negative, or, at the very least, dehumanizing. (for an excellent blog that critiques our media’s representation of Muslim women, check out Muslimah Media Watch) For those who just tuned in, let me say again — I am NOT saying that D&D makes you racist or that Al-Qadim makes you racist towards arabs, but I am saying the language and images we use to code our understanding of other cultures is important.

    I am wondering, Snertype, if you had any thoughts on the racial tolerance that is explicitly worked into the game. That’s the main point everyone has raised, and while I am more concerned with how the game implicitly represents culture and race, I would also like a few thoughts on what it explicitly sets out to do.

    As for the whole “D&D has its roots in Western CultureTM” bunk (as you so nicely put it), I’m devoting my next post this weekend to that. Come back and take part in what is sure to be a heated discussion, because that seems to be everyone’s favorite knee-jerk repost.

    Goddamn bittorrent has been at a snails pace, so I haven’t finished downloading the massive “Everything Forgotten Realms Ever!” set which I started days ago. It should be done soon, however, then I can set myself down with AQ. Then OA. Then Maztica. Then the mongol horde book . . .

  9. Joe Says:

    I admire cultural studies discussions, but really, if you think D&D is a vehicle for keeping down “the other” you need to log off your fucking computer and help a real flesh and blood person. I’m a “white guy,” as if THAT term even begins to describe my Balkan ethnic heritage. It seems to me that the cultural studies style argument– such and such eurocentric/white/anglo/western cultural product is keeping (insert victimized category) down, is the last resort of already assimilated minorities in the “developed” world; in other words, bourgeois imperialists who want to hide their participation in the global exploitation system by hiding behind their grandparents’ culture that they no longer possess. I speak from experience, as I do not speak the language of “my people.” If you are reading this in standard English on a computer, you are just another privileged asshole keeping the poor masses down, whatever your race, ethnicity or culture.

    I don’t like it any more than you do.

  10. Ilithaur Says:

    I can appreciate where this conversation is coming from, but there is one thing you have to keep in mind: the core rules (although seemingly “western”) are the bare bones of the game.

    Yes, the pictures of people and gear (as well as their names) are based off of European mythology, but that’s just the jumping off point. You will note that the world is not fleshed out in any way. THAT is why there are supplements. If you want to play in a world based off of Oriental culture, there is a book for that, just as there is a book for other cultures.

    Just to say this now, one of the core tenets of the game is: if you don’t like something, change it. One of the things you have failed to bring up thus far is that the game is driven by the individual. I am a DM of 13-14 years, and I have never really thought about race within the game. If I had wanted to represent a given culture, it’s as simple as altering this or that (or even going through a major overhaul as I am sometimes driven to do), and there you go! The basic ideas of the game are the same, and although you could argue that a katana is different than a bastard sword in reality, they would ultimately work similarly (if not exactly the same) within the rules. You don’t take into account the different cultural significance, just that they are both 2-handed weapons that can be gripped in one hand if desires, and they would probably deal the same damage, and you can adjust the weight.

    The major thing about the game is… well, it’s a game. The rules themselves are generic enough to represent anything, and you can change whatever you want however you want. Even though certain things may have enormous differences in real life culture, it is simple enough to change a name and alter something a little and you’ve got exactly what you were looking for. Then you add in what those rules represent (the “fluff” of the game, as the term goes), and you have something different.

    I believe someone earlier said that an Arabic fighter type needed to wear less armor and focus on speed more. Okay, so take the fighter, lower their armor, increase their reliance on Dexterity, and there you go. Then just describe what it is you’re looking for, and you’re done.

    The thing to keep in mind is, again, the core rules are left intentionally vague enough to accommodate any setting you want. That is why they are able to add in supplements representing different cultures/worlds/planes later.

    The major argument I have heard thus far is that non-western cultures are not represented in the core rules. Well, would you rather have a book ten times bigger that covers all cultures you could possibly want in excruciating detail? It is easier to focus (vaguely) on one culture in the basic rules, and then add on to them with supplemental rules later.

  11. Ilithaur Says:

    sorry to double post…

    as an aside, by limiting the discussion to D&D, you have ruled out other big time publishers who have focused on other cultures. Exalted is based entirely off of a fantastic representation of Oriental mythology.

    I realize D&D is the “biggest” rpg out there, but trust me, there are thousands, if not tens-of-thousands, of other games out there. And yes, D&D does have serious competition if you look into the role-playing subculture a bit.

  12. Ilithaur Says:

    I have to admit, I was expecting a rousing debate… but it seems, mrvandyke, that you only respond to those who agree with you.

    Suffice to say, I rate your argument among those that decry Magic: The Gathering (and other such games) as being “demonic”. It’s a noble idea to point out that there aren’t many people in the core rule book that are not white, but your execution is flawed.

    The fact that you said something about Al-Qadim (without reading the book) only to them correct yourself later (when you read the book) speaks against your credibility, to be honest.

    Again, I have nothing against you making this argument, but your execution is questionable, as well as your lack of response to those who challenge your view.

  13. mrvandyke Says:

    @Ilithaur: I’m very confused as to which comment thread you’ve been reading. I went back and checked, and while I admit I may have missed a few, I responded 21 times to comments on the main article, 11 times to “debate in a rousing fashion” with people who disagreed with me, 10 times to add on to comments that agreed with me.

    I wasn’t refusing to “respond to your challenge to my view;” I’ve abandoned this blog, as I find comment threads to be perhaps the single worst possible venue in which to attempt an intelligent discussion. In addition to the tone of hostility and mutual defensive misundestaning it tends to engender, I also found my self endlessly responding to the same arguements ad nausium, as most people post a) without reading all the previous comments and often b) without reading most of the article.

    If you check the dates, your comments came a full seven months after I last wrote anything on this page; I continue to approve each and every comment that is left, though that tends to happen about once a month these days. So yes, you were being ignored, but not because I didn’t want to engage in your ideas, just because I’ve become bored doing so.

  14. Ilithaur Says:

    I apologize, as I saw the person who posted right before me, as well as just watching your general behavior regarding the posts that did happen last year.

    To be honest, I was no aware of your other posts, nor that you had left this one. I was mostly referring to your responses here, which seemed to pertain only to those who agreed with you on this topic in particular.

    Suffice to say, I’ll leave this specific thread alone, given that you want to let it pass in favor of other threads on the same or different topics.

  15. Omar Says:

    Hi there, another “Half Breed” here. I live in the Middle East (and have done for 15 years), my father is Arab and my mother is European. I don’t want to go over what Snertype says, as I agree almost entirely, but I will expand on some key differences and what I think he missed.

    Difference: I don’t mind them being called Mosques when original DnD would call them Temples. I don’t require the supplement to match the core’s style entirely, a difference in style of that subtlety can be hand waived as a difference between Jeff Grubb and Gygax, than “treatment of Arab content vs Western content”.

    I agree it’s perhaps Islamocentric though, and maybe the terminology in that regard reinforces this, but I think using it as an example of racism (even accidental) is a stretch. Oddly enough, I think it stinks of a kind of racism on your part, why do you expect all authors to use parallel terminology, aren’t they all individuals? 😛

    More seriously however: I really enjoyed Al-Qadim and Sandstorm. A lot. I enjoyed the idea of an Arabian setting, and getting to play something from my own culture. I also really liked Oriental Adventures (I love Martial Arts movies and my first character was a Monk).

    But here’s the thing I don’t think you appreciate. I like that my culture is being viewed as exotic and different and exciting. I don’t mind that they think it’s all lamps and carpets. Stereotypes, archetypes, cliches, and tropes, all exist for a reason. People find them exciting. The Dragon slaying knight. The mysterious prince riding his flying carpet. The Wise old Kung Fu master.

    People want to emulate and be these people. That’s fantastic.

    I don’t like that Ghouls are bastardized as speedy zombies instead of the shapeshifting desert dwellers they’re supposed to be because that robs them of their uniqueness, and their coolness.

    Where I think you and I differ most though, is in the brand of multiculturalism we preach. I’m a big proponent of racial equality, and opportunity (When living in the UK, I was attacked on a regular basis, had bricks thrown through my window, and other unsavory events throughout my time there in the late 80s/early 90s). However, I think you’re trying to say something actually quite problematic. “All people are the same”.

    No, they’re not. All people are equal. That’s different. You don’t seem to be saying “Black people are equal to white people”, you seem to be saying “There are no differences”. You do not solve the race problem by saying “Whenever you see a black person, pretend they’re white”, you do it with a fundamental understanding that a red T-shirt is not inferior to a yellow one, no matter what Star Trek tells you.

    The elves can have their +2 dex, -2 con, that’s what makes them different. Not worse, not better.

    What you seem to be saying is “well they’re different, so they must be unequal”. Think about that line very carefully. Isn’t it the basis of every racist mindset? In incapability of someone to recognize that different can be equal?

    If you’re saying “all races must have identical stats”, you yourself don’t believe that anything different from “the norm” can be equal. Balance issues aside, I think you have to believe they can.

    (Also, I never really felt under-represented in DnD, but then again, I didn’t play properly until 3rd edition, and even then our campaigns weren’t ever specific published campaign worlds, and we played with an extremely multicultural group. (American, South African, American, Middle Eastern, English, Indian, Armenian, of Jewish/Athiestic/Christian/Muslim worldviews). As I always imagined the players as themselves but fitted to their character, I probably have a very different impression to someone who played at an all white table).

  16. Omar Says:

    Sorry, just to add, I agree with a lot of what you say, I’m just concentrating on the differences.

    One final point: Races in DnD are more akin to Species.
    Tigers are bigger than Lions. It makes sense for there to be numerical differences. Sure, you can have a Lion as big as a tiger, and the record is actually held by a Lion (see American Lion on wiki), that doesn’t mean you can’t model a trend. They can interbreed to make Ligers and Tigons (Like Halforcs are a mix between two parents).

    Incidentally, I use Halforcs to represent Orc elders (weaker due to age, wiser due to age). My Halforcs use the Sharakim stats from RoD, as I prefer them immensely. I play any Halforcs as struggling against the misonceptions and therefore being more studious and having more “ambition” than their human counterparts.

  17. Jackie Cagle Says:

    If I had a buck for every time I came here… Amazing article!

  18. Chris Van Dyke Says:

    If anyone out there is still following this thread nearly two years later (I have gotten a few new comments in the past few months), I’ll be giving an encore presentation at NerdNiteNYC on September 10th at Galapagos in Brooklyn. If any of you are in the area and want to support/criticize me live and in person, that would be awesome. Or tell New York friends you know — encouragement or rotten tomatoes would both be welcome. Just don’t throw a 100 sided die at me. Those suckers hurt.

    http://nyc.nerdnite.com/

  19. Tisha Jones Says:

    I just saw your talk at Nerd Nite and thought it was fantastic. I have brought that point up somewhat with fantasy books, movies and television shows and although I haven’t been out right dismissed by my white friends when I get on the topic, there is usually some stuttering, half-hearted agreement and a quick change to a new subject. Your talk was really enjoyable.

    • mrvandyke Says:

      Thanks — both for coming and enjoying the talk! I had a lot of fun writing and presenting it, and I hope that most people can see that I have a balance here: making a serious point, while making some nerd jokes and having fun. . .

  20. Bobby James Says:

    I’m just going to leave this here: Japanese and other non-US editions of the D&D books have been known to change cover and interior art to reflect the market their being sold to. I mentioned the Japanese version specifically because in the past they were released with anime-style art and armor, which is very out of character for D&D.

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