praguepride
 member, 1643 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 20:10
Re: D&D race restructure
Der Rot Konig:
On another but related note, anyone who states a lack of diversity or any similar statement in regards to RP games, both table top and online, has never spent time learning these games or meeting people who play them.


Really? I know games. Lots of them. I am saying there is a lack of diversity. It has gotten a LOT better, especially in the last 10 years or so but that doesn't mean it's time to stop or get complacent about it.

Vampire the Masquerade relaunched their product to 5E and one of the stated goals was to get away from racial stereotypes to define the clans. No more "savage Africans" or "mysterious Asian" vampires. No "classes" that can be classified as "Italian Mafia" or "Shifty Gypsy" or "Middle East Assassin". Those were actual classes in the game as of 2018 or 2019.

There have been great strides made and especially greater awareness about how the themes and subtext in a game are being perceived by mainstream audiences but there is still a ways to go.
Samus Aran
 member, 443 posts
 Author, game designer
 Part-time Metroid fighter
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 20:18
Re: D&D race restructure
praguepride:
Really? I know games. Lots of them. I am saying there is a lack of diversity. It has gotten a LOT better, especially in the last 10 years or so but that doesn't mean it's time to stop or get complacent about it.


Yep. I know games, too. Played and written for a wide variety of games, genres, and companies over the last almost 30 years. I'm saying there's a lack of diversity. That there are problematic elements within nerddom that are still going strong in the RPG community. We have made strides, but there's still a long way to go, and there are still way too many people who remains invested in those things not changing.

Fortunately, they always lose in the end.
Hunter
 member, 1604 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
 Lurker
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 20:37
Re: D&D race restructure
Der Rot Konig:
On another but related note, anyone who states a lack of diversity or any similar statement in regards to RP games, both table top and online, has never spent time learning these games or meeting people who play them.


If I had a nickel for every Human Fighter, I'd probably be able to retire wealthy.   Truly unique ideas are a rarity, as the saying goes: Good ideas are borrowed, great ideas are stolen.   And many, many games discourage....let's call it creative thinking in regards to character building.

Like praguepride, I've been playing for a long time.  I often see Pathfinder games that either are restricted to Core Races and/or a low point build.   Not much you can do creatively there, especially in the latter case.

IMO.
evileeyore
 member, 354 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 23:58
Re: D&D race restructure
Low Key:
D&D, currently, has an intrinsic message built into it that says to some people "this game is not for you"

People keep saying that, but they refuse to explain "how" that "message" excludes people.

What about Orcs being an intrinsically Evil race, created for Evil, that do evil, is telling someone "this game is not for you?"




praguepride:
I am saying there is a lack of diversity.

I think you're using the term "diversity" where it's not appropriate, especially as you immediately describe a product that was very diverse, but also very stereotyping* in it's presentation.

* I hesitate to say racist†, as many of the sub-clans were meant to literally be a small insular monotype group, for instance the Giovanni sub-clan that was a mafia family that was embraced, so describing them as "old world Sicilian mafia" isn't 'racist' it's accurate.

† Because in some case they were attempting to be earnest, in other strongly stereotyping.  But also keep in mind, a lot of that came about 30 years ago, so some authors were likely sloppier and lazier in their write-ups than they'd be today (despite being very progressive for the times).
witchdoctor
 member, 185 posts
 ᏣᏔᎩ
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 00:40
Re: D&D race restructure
evileeyore:
Low Key:
D&D, currently, has an intrinsic message built into it that says to some people "this game is not for you"

People keep saying that, but they refuse to explain "how" that "message" excludes people.

What about Orcs being an intrinsically Evil race, created for Evil, that do evil, is telling someone "this game is not for you?"


  Okay then, I'll spell it out for you.

  When approach a game and you notice that the Evil Races are coded to represent YOU and your culture it's VERY off-putting.  When the others who you play the game with make jokes about slaughtering said coded race not realizing the implications of their genocidal jokes.  That tells me exactly that I am not a welcome part of said game.  It's not (usually) explicit but it's an implicit message and it rings loud and clear.

  Moving away from cultural coding is a step in the right direction.  D&D has been moving in that direction quietly for a while, and so have most other games, but in the current climate I'm personally glad to hear companies like WotC acknowledge that they're making efforts to put exclusivity and insensitivity behind them.
PCO.Spvnky
 member, 445 posts
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 00:52
Re: D&D race restructure
So how exactly are orcs "coded" to be humans that aren't white when there are actually humans in the game that aren't white?  I think that is stretching things a bit.  Literally the 5e PHB has 9 different human ethnic choices in it.  The forgotten realms has always had humans of every color in it and none of them are considered "evil" in general.  I understand that many games do not include such diversity in them but I am specifically talking about D&D.
phoenix9lives
 member, 1011 posts
 GENE POLICE!  YOU!
 GET OUTTA THE POOL!
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 01:00
Re: D&D race restructure
In reply to PCO.Spvnky (msg # 50):

Well, there are the Thayans, who are apparently predominantly white in appearance.  But their evil is more national than racial.
Carakav
 member, 662 posts
 Sure-footed paragon
 of forthright dude.
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 01:13
Re: D&D race restructure
In reply to Hunter (msg # 47):

What's wrong with human fighters? Isn't it how you play them that matters, not what they play specifically?
evileeyore
 member, 355 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 02:37
Re: D&D race restructure
witchdoctor:
  When approach a game and you notice that the Evil Races are coded to represent YOU and your culture it's VERY off-putting.

How are Orcs "coded" to represent you and your culture?  (If you meant another race, then please swap out 'Orc' for that other fantasy race)
Hunter
 member, 1605 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
 Lurker
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 02:51
Re: D&D race restructure
In reply to Carakav (msg # 52):

Nothing, but they're probably one of the top five character builds....again IMO.   As for how races behave, there's always the phenomena where we project our own prejudices onto them.  Which is why I'm always glad to have things better defined by a game designer and/or studio.
Kagekiri
 member, 191 posts
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 02:57
Re: D&D race restructure
Carakav:
What's wrong with human fighters?


...they're dirty humans. (joking)

Seriously though. This is how I feel. Pathfinder characters with three archetypes stacked on each other (not sure if this is actually possibly, just hyperpolizing) don't really strike me as inherently more creative or interesting than a vanilla fighter. I'm much more interested in what a character thinks, wants, is hurt by, etc.
CaptainHellrazor
 member, 44 posts
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 03:07
Re: D&D race restructure
It's amazing the lengths some people will take to get noticed.  D&D is a game, played mostly in the privacy of people's homes and the people who criticize the loudest are often those who know the least about a subject.  D&D will always have it's detractors, that will never change, nor will the attitude of the critics, most of whom have so little imagination they would not know how to paint one of our miniatures.  If someone wants to buy Oriental Adventures who cares?  If someone is so offended by Oriental Adventures they want it banned, well good luck with that.  It's a game!  It's a Fantasy Game, it's a Fantasy Role Playing GAME.  IT'S NOT REAL!!!!!  People do all sorts of things in games they would never do in real life, including being a racist.  I don't know about the rest of you, but given the choice I would rather see people be racist in a game instead of real life (and no I am not condoning racism).

It seems to me the problem is not and never has been, the game.  The problem is a small percentage of people who play the game and a big percentage of people who DON'T play the game.

If you want to change the real world then doing something constructive in the real world is probably a better place to start than in a fantasy, make believe, made up world.

So now I have to tell my asian girlfriend we can't play oriental adventures any more, I might start a game where we enslave santa clause and hunt easter bunnies and tooth fairies.  That should offend sufficient numbers of Christians and Dentists to start a whole new movement!
Low Key
 subscriber, 238 posts
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 08:40
Re: D&D race restructure
evileeyore:
witchdoctor:
  When approach a game and you notice that the Evil Races are coded to represent YOU and your culture it's VERY off-putting.

How are Orcs "coded" to represent you and your culture?  (If you meant another race, then please swap out 'Orc' for that other fantasy race)


I know the reason I didn't get into the how of the message being given is that it's a large, complex subject not well suited to explaining via an internet forum and especially not suited to RPoL with it's restrictions on politics in public forums (which I understand).

If you genuinely want to understand, go do the research.
There's a wealth of material out there.

If that's too much of an ask, ok. But don't put your responsibility to learn on someone else by expecting them to teach you. If you want to know, find out. Asking is one tool available to you, but from your earlier comment (that no one is explaining the how to you) asking hasn't worked. So try a different tool.
evileeyore
 member, 356 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 12:55
Re: D&D race restructure
Low Key:
I know the reason I didn't get into the how of the message being given is that it's a large, complex subject not well suited to explaining via an internet forum and especially not suited to RPoL with it's restrictions on politics in public forums (which I understand).

No it isn't, it's simple.

For instance, if I say I can't stand Corrie's portrayal of elves, they are problematic.  It's because he portrays those who live in trailers as "the lowest common denominators, white trash, universally uneducated, and lacking in quickness and complexity of thought" and note I grew up in trailers, well, it's very simple to understand why I find that protrayal of white people as 'problematic' is it not?

Likewise, if some aspect of how 'Orcs' (or whatever other race) is presented in D&D speaks to you as being designed to racially misrepresent your tribe, you should be able to explain, or describe, a few of those characteristics, and how they are misrepresentative or problematic.

Otherwise I'm left to believe that you don't actually know (it doesn't actually apply to you), that someone else made this complaint and you're parroting them without understanding (you're getting 'offended' on someone else's behalf and are unable to to articulate the offense).

quote:
If you genuinely want to understand, go do the research.

I'm not going to make your argument for you.

And I've done the research, and as far as I can tell it boils down to "Orcs are portrayal of blacks because blacks are violent and brutish".  Which is a hellish description and false.

quote:
But don't put your responsibility to learn on someone else by expecting them to teach you.

I'm putting the responsibility of making your arguments on you.  Just as I'm making my arguments, which are "Orcs are not representative of any human ethnicity or culture, they do not and were not meant to represent any peoples of the Earth".

Like I said, I've yet to have someone who actually felt that orcs were problematic explain what aspects or qualities of orcs they saw as representative of their own ethnicity or culture, it's always just been "Because I say so" or "educate yourself".

Now, other representations in other RPGS (White Wolf notably)?  Yeah, I've got good reasons for why the Rom in White Wolf are problematic representations of 'gypsy' culture, even singular aspects of Roma culture (like American Traveller families).  Why do I have those reasons?  The people who made those arguments explained their reasoning.

But having good reasoning n one area of this discussion is not blanket coverage for the broad argument of "RPG races are problematic and racist".  We're talking D%D here, not the general category of gaming in general.

quote:
Asking is one tool available to you, but from your earlier comment (that no one is explaining the how to you) asking hasn't worked.

Of course it hasn't worked, refusing to answer, responding with "educate yourself" is the standard response given by Critical Theory, because forcing a view from Critical Theory to be explained most often reveals that it's problematizing for the sole sake of problematizing, rather than for the sake of seeking correction or revealing an actual problem.

And chanting "racist" is the modern day McCarthyism/witchhunt, no one dare stand against the accusers lest they be accused.
Low Key
 subscriber, 242 posts
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 14:10
Re: D&D race restructure
Except I'm not saying Orcs = black people and then refusing to say why.
I also didn't say RPG games are problematic and racist.
I certainly didn't call anyone a racist.

I'm saying D&D sends (or sent, I haven't read 5th edition) a message that some people are not welcome.

And the how and why of that is far more complex than Orcs = black people or RPGs are racist.
And that complexity is exactly why I didn't try to address the how here. It's too easy to take a complex situation and boil it down to simplistic elements like those.

My argument is simply that this message exists.
My evidence is that people have received that message (myself and another poster in this thread, at a minimum).

I'm also saying why and how this message exists and is received is complex, nuanced, and not something I feel equipped to explain in depth in this forum.

If you don't see the message but want to understand the perspective of someone who does, there are resources out there.
I understand it's frustrating to try to understand something and to feel like no one will answer your questions in a satisfactory way. If you genuinely want to discuss this because you're trying to learn but keep hitting dead ends RMail me. But be aware, I'm not offering to argue or debate, I'm offering to discuss. I won't be setting out to change your mind or 'win', and I don't want to try to have a discussion about a subject like this with someone who is trying to change my mind or 'win'. But I'll answer questions if you have them.

Edit to add: I intend to make this my last post in this thread.
I've made my point.
I've clarified my point.
I don't see the value in repeating myself. I've said my piece, hopefully between the two posts what I'm saying is clear. If not, I've done my best and repeating it is unlikely to help. And if it is but it gets misunderstood (for whatever well meaning reason) the discussion becomes about that rather than what I was trying to say.
So, instead of tying this thread up, I'll leave the floor open to others and leave what I've said for those who want it.

This message was last edited by the user at 14:16, Yesterday.

PCO.Spvnky
 member, 446 posts
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 15:07
Re: D&D race restructure
Low Key:
If you genuinely want to understand, go do the research.
There's a wealth of material out there.


Here is the problem I HAVE done the research.  I spent 4 years of my life getting a bachelor's in cultural anthropology with a specific focus on inequality in the US.  I have read 100s of research papers on the subject, I was a member of the Black Student Union and made it a point to talk to each and every one of them about their personal experiences with racism, I (literally) watched Jane Elliott's "Brown eyed, blue eyes experiment" 20 times in one quarter.  What I want to know (and something that hasn't been explained) is how, in a game that has multiple positive examples of black human kingdoms and cultures, orcs "represent" black people?

I realize that there are racist elements in other games and I have stated that I think a species restructuring is a good idea.  I just don't see the correlation here.
Carakav
 member, 663 posts
 Sure-footed paragon
 of forthright dude.
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 15:43
Re: D&D race restructure
In reply to Low Key (msg # 59):

Not to butt-in, but while I'm totally sympathetic to the idea that DnD and medieval fighting fantasy more broadly has been exclusionary for different groups (and I've read lots of articles explaining why), I also agree with evileeyore that you can't step into a public space, make a broad and challenging statement, then turn around when asked to qualify your argument and basically say "if you have to ask, you'll never know."

That's its own kind of gatekeeping. Regardless of whether you're right or wrong about a subject, or whether you'll ever be able to actually change someone's mind, you can't expect other people to do the work of making your point for you.

evileeyore:

The most important thing I think to understand about this is that the accusation of exclusion doesn't imply intentional racism on behalf of the people who make or play TTRPGs. It really more boils down to how a lot of writers and world-builders, from as early as Tolkeen (and even earlier), have often used Eurocentric thinking as the default, while other peoples/cultures have been used as short-hand for the exotic or even in some cases, for "evil". The most famous example is how Tolkeen wrote about the men of the east: coding them using a lot of Victorian and Edwardian misconceptions of what middle-eastern peoples were like, and not providing any examples in his most read works of Easterlings who were fighting on the side of good. Over the years, some of those things he wrote about slipped into derivative works, and though the clues might be subtle to the point of nit-picky, folks from those cultures tend to pick up on them. Sometimes without even consciously knowing about it.

Again though, most serious scholars of the topic aren't implying that Tolkeen, or fans of Tolkeen, are intentionally suggesting that middle-eastern peoples are inherently evil or prone following evil paths. Nor are they suggesting that you can't have middle-eastern coded cultures anywhere that fall to evil or have evil aspects in fiction. The point is that when the only example given of a people or culture in your world-building is constructed through such a narrow lens, it ultimately does feel exclusionary for people who might come from those heritages.

Women have also struggled for complex representation in TTRPGs, but from what I can tell, we've made a huge amount of progress in that area in the last few decades. I think there's always room for improvement, even when it comes to how we represent men and white historical cultures (*see how we represent vikings and pagans, for a good example, or yes: even rural/poor folks), but I think it's also important for the audience and people in those groups as a whole to enter into the discussion with flexibility and a "thick skin". To try to make the established 'traditions' work, or to make them better, rather than to upend them entirely. Stereotypes work for a reason; the problem is when they are overused or misused.

At the end of the day this is all really about making a choice: do you want to appeal as broadly as possible with your product? If the answer is 'yes', then you have to give other people from different cultures/races/genders broad and positive representation, and take care not to use things they associate with exclusively as a short-hand for 'evil' or 'other'. If you find that your product does do those things, even if you didn't intend for them to, then it doesn't imply that you're racist or sexist unless the examples are particularly egregious or unless they get paired with other statements you make. It just implies that you either didn't know, or that your focus was elsewhere, or that you had a broader point or context that you could maybe clarify.

At least, that's my limited understanding of the situation.
evileeyore
 member, 358 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 23:39
Re: D&D race restructure
Carakav:
It really more boils down to how a lot of writers and world-builders, from as early as Tolkeen (and even earlier), have often used Eurocentric thinking as the default, while other peoples/cultures have been used as short-hand for the exotic or even in some cases, for "evil".

Okay, if you're coming at it from that direction, I agree.

I also don't see what it has to do with Orcs, Drow, and other Evil races getting a revamp in D&D.

If someone wants to say "Oh and the Red Wizards of Thay are getting a cultural update", well, then okay.  That's on point for your argument... but that's not what we have going on here.

quote:
Women have also struggled for complex representation in TTRPGs, but from what I can tell, we've made a huge amount of progress in that area in the last few decades.

I keep hearing this, I keep hearing anecdotes, but I've never seen it.

No, I don't "listen and believe", I'll accept that individuals have had problems, but as a hobby I don't accept it was "institutionalized".  Not when I've seen plenty of female gamers at cons, at local gaming stores, and in my games over the years (by "plenty" I do mean they're at a lower representational ratio, but then there have been far fewer girls and women that I've met who wanted to game or viewed gaming as a positive activity - the majority always sneered "no, I'm not a neeeeeeeeeerd" and that was that).

quote:
Stereotypes work for a reason; the problem is when they are overused or misused.

Agreed.

quote:
If the answer is 'yes', then you have to give other people from different cultures/races/genders broad and positive representation, and take care not to use things they associate with exclusively as a short-hand for 'evil' or 'other'.

Perhaps you should bend WotC's ear, as this is not what they are doing, and what they are doing doesn't really even apply.
Carakav
 member, 664 posts
 Sure-footed paragon
 of forthright dude.
Fri 3 Jul 2020
at 00:04
Re: D&D race restructure
In reply to evileeyore (msg # 62):

I was merely trying to explain the assertion that some people feel 'othered' by misrepresentation, that Low Key decided not to provide. As for what WotC is specifically doing, I believe I already voiced my opinion on that earlier in this thread.

As for what you said about women's representation: your anecdotal personal experience isn't a solid counter-argument. The simple fact is: older versions of the game, and the broader genre of fantasy they derived from (again, see Tolkeen's work as the baseline example. I mean: The Hobbit literally had not one active female character in it. Only three are even mentioned, but they don't actually appear in the story. It was all men.) had very limited, and sometimes even nonexistent female representation. The hobby was marketed toward men and boys, most because it had its roots in wargaming (which is/was definitely dominated by men, even today) and largely designed to appeal to their interests for that and other reasons. That isn't to say that there was no representation, or that some women didn't break-through and enjoy the hobby for what it was, but it definitely, irrefutably, favored men. Especially before the 2000's. Just like video games, sci-fi films, comic books, and most other forms of genre media at the time. There were exceptions of course, but they were definitely exceptions, not the rule.

But like I said, the last 20 years has seen so much progress, that it's even being said that women are actually a major driving factor in the current "DnD Renaissance". So as far as I can tell, that battle is mostly resolved, and it was a win for everyone involved.
evileeyore
 member, 359 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Fri 3 Jul 2020
at 03:26
Re: D&D race restructure
Carakav:
I was merely trying to explain the assertion that some people feel 'othered' by misrepresentation, that Low Key decided not to provide.

Again, if that's what WotC was doing I'd have no contentions with the "this is a good thing" crowd.

quote:
As for what you said about women's representation...

I've never met a woman who said "I can't get into roleplaying because there are no females being (positively) represented in it".  It's literally always been "That looks boring" or "I'm not a nerd".

Hell, I hear that from males as well, ones who enjoy other types of games (board games, video games, tactical miniatures games, etc), so it's not like it's a "females only" thing.  I just hear "yeah that looks cool" far more often from guys.

Unless it's LARPing, and suddenly there are a ton of chicks who all think it's cool.  Though to be fair, it might be the 'vampire' thing.  I've known way more women who played White Wolf's Vampire games than any other rpg ever, enough so I've been in more groups where the ratio was reversed than not.

This message was last edited by the user at 03:32, Today.

Carakav
 member, 665 posts
 Sure-footed paragon
 of forthright dude.
Fri 3 Jul 2020
at 03:46
Re: D&D race restructure
In reply to evileeyore (msg # 64):

I think that it's rare for any person to openly articulate why they aren't into something, and that's even assuming they had the desire or ability to.

You may have had some positive anecdotal experiences. My own experiences have been quite the opposite. So they aren't really a basis on which to have a discussion.

I'm also not really sure what you're trying to say. Are you refuting that representation matters when it comes to gender in TTRPGs? The numbers strongly suggest otherwise, especially the further back you go.
Kagekiri
 member, 194 posts
Fri 3 Jul 2020
at 05:37
Re: D&D race restructure
Carakav:
...especially the further back you go.


Yeah... I probably dodged the worst of it (I was a kid at the time), but I did read a pretty sweaty Ed Greenwood module. Half dressed damsels in distress, you know, the usually thing. Nothing morally reprehensible, but yeah, not a big selling point for female audiences. I believe this would fall under the "other reasons" you cited in regard to early RPGs being " largely designed to appeal to [male] interests." =)

Love Ed Greenwood btw. No qualms.
Hunter
 member, 1606 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
 Lurker
Fri 3 Jul 2020
at 07:58
Re: D&D race restructure
In reply to PCO.Spvnky (msg # 60):

I'll respond to what you've said with several thoughts of my own.   We've seen a drastic rise in the general toxicity of Western culture.   At the core, we find social media: sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube allow dispersal of ideals unchecked.   Back when I was a kid, hate and discrimination typically required face to face contact.  Now, you can go to site like YouTube and get the worst and latest instantly; and it often goes unrecognized due to the sheer volume of material.

But I digress.  My personal thoughts/feelings on the subject of race and gender boil down to this: Perception equals Reality.   And sometimes, clarifying things only make it worse.
brokenlogic
 member, 9 posts
Fri 3 Jul 2020
at 09:35
Re: D&D race restructure
So I have a couple of thoughts about this.

I don't think the bad vibes about race are specifically because - for example - rapacious, belligerent, culturally incurious orcs are riffing on a negative stereotype of white people. Rather it's the broader philosophy that race determines a character's capability and moral proclivity that is out of touch with today's values. I can see why a commercially astute company wouldn't want to embed that message in its products.

But I also think that making race so central and indispensible to character creation limits the game. It leads to settings that are stuck in the Tolkien and Star Trek inflected fantasy tropes of the 1980s - like Dragonlance and Discworld (itself a parody of those tropes). And a lot of contemporary fantasy literature has moved on from there: Westeros, for example.

By which I'm saying, not that settings with race (fantasy race anyway) as a major theme are bad, but it would be better for the rules mechanics to make it less central. Yes, you can say to your players, "You have to play humans," but you then lose a major axis of character creation. I specifically chose not to use D&D in a campaign I started recently because the character mechanics made it so difficult to run a setting without race being a big consideration in how it worked.
Low Key
 subscriber, 245 posts
Fri 3 Jul 2020
at 09:45
Re: D&D race restructure
I know I said I was done, but there are two quick things I want to say:

1. I like how the RPoL community can and does discuss potentially contentious topics in a mature way despite there being a variety of opinions.
It's refreshing to see and it makes RPoL a great place to be.

2. Having thought about it, I've taken on board evileeyore and Carakav's point.
The way I phrased what I was saying it was a Declaration of Fact. If I offer something that's presented like that then I should be willing and able to explain and defend it.
So, that's a learning point for me, thank you both. :)