Saturday, December 6, 2014

Femen Demonstration

Six members of the activist group Femen pose in front of WOTC
headquarters before rolling up characters and buying equipment.
There was no OSR Art Friday post yesterday, due to this author's desire to express a day of blog silence in solidarity with three Femen members still detained by Washington authorities.

RENTON, WA, December 5 (AP) – Members of the topless feminist group Femen staged a demonstration today against the “anti-sexual prudery” of the new 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons and against “New School” gaming mechanics in general, stripping down to what one activist called “our sacred chainmail bikinis” in front of the gates of Wizards of the Coast headquarters in suburban Seattle. Three members were arrested.

More than twenty demonstrators stood silently for ten minutes with slogans etched in black marker across their chests, such as “Take your Clothes Off My Body!” "Imagine the Hell Out of It!" and “Fight On!” They then unfolded a card table and proceeded to “role play” a game of what one demonstrator called “Holmes Basic”, led by an activist wearing nothing above her waist except a three-paneled cardboard screen emblazoned with the words “Dungeon Mistress”.

A spokesperson for Wizards of the Coast commented, “I have no idea why they are mad at us. For the text of 5e we consulted all the experts on game design and gender equality. We believe our product reflects the latest consensus of people whose opinion we care about. Where did we go wrong?” When informed of this statement, one of the demonstrators held up what she called a “twenty sider” and shouted, “Save or die, Fascist!”

“What’s all the fuss about,” said Sally Layton, a software engineer from Microsoft, who happened to be on her way to work. “5e is the new thing by the dominant company in the industry. That means it must be good. So, why are these women, like, getting naked or whatever?”

“I find it appalling and highly offensive,” said Matt Vickers, another software designer, who was recording the event with a high-resolution video camera.

Irina Gygaxocova, a representative of Femen from the Ukraine, said the demonstration was intended to highlight how the corporate patriarchy intended to keep women out of tabletop gaming by making the new editions as stupid and boring as possible. “1974 was a liberation for us. Soon there was so much to choose, including Warriors of Mars, original Boot Hill and Gamma World. It was a love orgy of freedom that lasted for more than a decade. But beginning with 3e, and even more with 4e and now 5e, they tried to re-enslave us with their rules for everything, $50 core books and sexually repressive art. (Bleep) them! We can now get whatever OSR games and modules we want from Lulu and RPGNow for less than 1% of the cost of a leather skirt.”

Femen calls its form of protest “Hextremism”.

Natalia Arnesoneskva, a Femen member currently serving five years of hard labor in Moldova for possession of a paperbound copy of Labyrinth Lord was more circumspect. Reached for a comment during her weekly five-minutes exercise period, she said, “I support my sisters, but I now feel that edition wars are counter-productive. As long as the game group is having fun, that’s all that matters. I intend to make that point during my next parole hearing.”

Police detained three demonstrators after they refused to remove a banner they had pinned to the company gates. The banner contained the letters “OSR”--thought to be the abbreviation of a political slogan used by Danish feminists. In a press release on their website, Femen stated that lawyers were working to get the three released as soon as possible. “No laws were broken. They’ll be out quicker than the time it takes to fight a melee engagement in 4e.”

Uncharacteristically, the RPG Pundit had no comment.


  1. Wow! Thanks for sharing that.

    While I totally agree with their message about the boring, prudish art used in the current books, I feel that WofC did a fairly good job at reaching out to the OSR community with the 5e rules, as well as the LTGB community with their notes on character gender.

    If I was calling the shots at WotC, I would keep the 5e rules about the same (well, scaled-down and made to be more affordable), but I would give the art a more pulp-like theme, which would include more macabre imagery to highlight the perils of the game, a fair amount of blood and intensity to highlight the thrill and dangers of combat, and tasteful nudity to highlight the exotic (but not necessarily erotic) nature of a fantasy setting. That is, I would not add the content for their own sake, but to set the tone and themes of each aspect of the game, as any good gaming art should.

    1. Thanks! To be honest, I didn't start out by wanting to push the prudery thing again. Rather, the post was prompted by a google+ post by Jeffro Johnson who recently honored Save Versus All Wands by including it on a list featuring many fine blogs. He then quipped that the award might prompt a Femen demonstration. Since that (sadly) did not occur I thought it would be fun to imagine one, though with a different target.

    2. Plus, I should say that if you read the piece closely, the activists seem just as interested, if not more interested in protesting bloated "New School" game design mechanics as they are in the prudery issue. In my mind I thought that was a humorous idea. Many people think I'm perverse.

      I don't completely agree with you about the social, political or design related "reaching out" of 5e, but I respect your opinion, and it's obviously fairly widely shared by many reasonable people. :)

      We've talked about the "sex" issue before but I think your current distinction between the "exotic" and the necessarily "erotic" is about as good a way of putting it as I've ever heard.

  2. Pussy Riot, meanwhile, want the old Vampire back.

  3. Regardles of content, art, or rules mechanics, someone is always going to stage a hissy fit. I'm bored with it all at this point.

  4. Haha. Good job; thanks for the fun.

  5. This made my day, honestly :) And "Dungeon Mistress" is a beautiful combination of words ... far more beautiful than Dungeon Master will ever be.

    Also: Throwing dice at company officials, screaming "Save or die, fascist!" = Pure gold. :D

  6. If you're reading statements about LGBTQ rights in a fantasy game, you've destroyed the fantasy right there and then. As for flesh in the artwork, D&D has always been prudish. The average 1970s gamer would get more of a thrill watching Charlie's Angels on primetime TV. It was and is a non-issue. However WotC, Paizo et al earnestly showing how PC they are by banning all flesh is today's equivalent of them banning demons and devils back in the day. Not principled, not worthy, just caving into pressure from self appointed busybodies.