liblarva
 member, 683 posts
Sat 20 Feb 2021
at 19:52
Racism and sexism in historical settings
In reply to soulsight (msg # 39):

That’s a laughably bad dodge. It’s still racism.

Different species can’t interbreed. We’ve had half-elves, half-orcs, and half-dwarfs in D&D for decades. Half-demons. Half-dragons. Half-angels. Half-elementals. They’re all common.

This message was last edited by the user at 19:56, Sat 20 Feb.

soulsight
 member, 319 posts
 Reality is 10% perception
 and 90% interpretation.
Sat 20 Feb 2021
at 20:27
Racism and sexism in historical settings
liblarva:
That’s a laughably bad dodge. It’s still racism.

Different species can’t interbreed. We’ve had half-elves, half-orcs, and half-dwarfs in D&D for decades. Half-demons. Half-dragons. Half-angels. Half-elementals. They’re all common.

Actually, that's laughably bad logic. Elves, orcs, dwarves, demons, dragons, angels, elemental, et al were existing concepts LONG before DnD and continue to exist outside the narrow world of that game and its lineage. In point of fact, the original orcs COULDN'T interbreed with humans, having been created by a non-human (I believe the species was noted as "Istari"). Adding half-elves and half-orcs to the mix could be considered an intentional incorporation of racism in the game BECAUSE it blurs the line between species and race. Unless, of course, the interbreeding is not considered naturally possible and the creatures thus created were produced through some external intervention. Then, even the half-elves and half-orcs and, heck, half-svirfneblin would be their OWN unique species. Thus there is no RACIAL conflict.

Furthermore, although it's true that the differences between the intelligent species can be explained away by giving each inter-species rivalry a history, this doesn't eliminate the idea that the individuals of a species show whether they're evil or good by the color of their skin (red dragons come to mind). No matter how you attempt to explain this, that idea is racist, though it has nothing to do with humans.
Zag24
 supporter, 679 posts
Sat 20 Feb 2021
at 20:58
Racism and sexism in historical settings
praguepride:
It is always a tough call. For every person that does it well with thought and purpose there seems to be half a dozen chuckleheads who just want an excuse to be absolutely toxic individuals.

Since I'm doing it in your game, I do hope that you perceive me as one of the former group.

For context, I'm a 60-year-old white American male.  I'm not stupid enough to claim I am not at all racist, but I will claim that I try very hard never to be, and to be open-minded when it is pointed out to me that I'm being less than sensitive and/or making white-privileged assumptions, and then to stop.

Right now I'm playing (in praguepride's game) a gnome who has grown up in a sheltered gnomish village with a long-standing feud with a group of goblins that live not far away.  My gnome is now out in the real world, and there is a goblin party member.  She started out detesting him reflexively, but keeps being pulled into seeing him as a comrade and even a friend in spite of herself.  My long-term plan is eventually for her to overcome her childhood-trained racism altogether, but I expect it to take a while.

soulsight:
the original orcs COULDN'T interbreed with humans, having been created by a non-human (I believe the species was noted as "Istari"). Adding half-elves and half-orcs to the mix could be considered an intentional incorporation of racism in the game BECAUSE it blurs the line between species and race.

Arneson and Gygax both referred to Tolkien's work as providing much of the original inspiration for D&D, so I feel pretty comfortable drawing on it for the intent.  Tolkien had elves and humans interbreeding, most notably Eärendil, son of Tuor (a human) and Princess Idril (a Ñoldorin Elf of Gondolin).  Eärendil was the father of Elrond, who favored the elves, and Elros, who became the first King of Númenor (the line of humans that led to Aragorn II, a.k.a. Strider).  (So, Elrond is Aragorn's many-greats uncle, something like forty greats, which makes Arwen Aragorn's very distant cousin.)

In Tolkien canon, the origin of the orcs is that they were elves that were tortured and twisted by Melkor.  Since they came from elves and elves could interbreed with humans, I imagine that Tolkien would have assumed that orcs could, too.  In fact, there are suggestions that the Uruk-hai were the result of crossbreeding orcs and men, though it doesn't quite come out and say it.
Razewun
 member, 53 posts
Sat 20 Feb 2021
at 22:02
Racism and sexism in historical settings
In reply to liblarva (msg # 36):

I see nothing wrong with your policy at all. The same goes for your choice to boot players who cannot comport themselves to your policy.

Your game, your rules. If those rules are made clear up front by the GM and agreed to by the player during RTJ: that's what it is, no question.

Within the bounds of RPOL rules; Other games, other rules. But always, it's the GM's call.

For GM's and players alike: If the game is not a good fit...move on to other games.

For myself I have no issue with playing a Half-Ling (Does anyone know the stats for a full blooded Ling?)

A Half-Ling who is half-sized, half-witted, half-baked with an attidue that is half-assed who might just say something like, “You orc-loving, long streak of dark-elven pee... Orcs ate my mother."

To which the ebony skinned Elf replies,"Of course they ate your mother... Males are too stringy... Plus, the female naturally carries more fat; therefore tastier and have a richer mouthfeel. That is just the nature of Orcs... It's not racist you stunty, hairy footed, half-pint... Your mother was a Hamster and your father smells of Ling-on berries. “

How many "isms" in that? What is my OOC take on it...? The only factual thing here is that females do tend to have more fat cells than males... I suppose some folks could spin me according to how mysoginistic or racist I am being, or promoting. (Hint; Finding me to be either, or both, would be projection)
soulsight
 member, 320 posts
 Reality is 10% perception
 and 90% interpretation.
Sat 20 Feb 2021
at 22:14
Racism and sexism in historical settings
Razewun:
In Tolkien canon, the origin of the orcs is that they were elves that were tortured and twisted by Melkor.  Since they came from elves and elves could interbreed with humans, I imagine that Tolkien would have assumed that orcs could, too.  In fact, there are suggestions that the Uruk-hai were the result of crossbreeding orcs and men, though it doesn't quite come out and say it.


Yeah, I knew it was something like that. But the original elves were small supernatural beings that the word 'fairy' was eventually applied to and the original orcs were another term for goblin or specter. Be that as it may, if a game forces the existence of cross-breeding between these species it turns these species into races and CREATES an arena that allows racism. If the question is how to avoid racism then the answer is to stop trying to make the species into races.

As an aside, the DnD fallacy that humans can breed with orcs or elves but orcs can't breed with elves seems too easy to me, but that has nothing to do with this topic.
evileeyore
 member, 461 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined August 2015
Sun 21 Feb 2021
at 01:19
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
Jewwk of Shuu:
I'm curious for the thoughts of more experienced players/GMs: how do people reconcile an open, inclusive atmosphere free of racism in a game that specifically pits different races against each other (e.g., the stereotypical dwarves v goblins grudge)?

There are two different things going on in this question:  There is open and inclusive at the table, that is whom do I allow in my game, whom do I want to game with?  That can be open and inclusive, how you do this should be pretty obvious and simple at this point.

And how to have "inclusivity in play" while maintaining  bigotry in the setting?  Well, I have to half agree with liblarva, I don't bother.  Unless I'm running some pie-in-the-sky utopia where no one hates anyone else for "reasons beyond their individual actions" I don't bother with notions of "complete inclusivity in the setting".  There will be racism, sexism, ageism, bigotry, etc, because that's how a lot of groups tend to operate.

If the hill dwarves constantly pollute the waters that run into the plains goblin's lands and the plains goblins constantly raid the hill dwarves sheep, the stunties and gobbos won't just hate the "exact group" that bothers them, because who knows if this goblin isn't a plains goblin and that dwarves isn't a hill dwarf?  No, they will simply take a strong, probably even racist, hatred against that foe, especially when you dial up to "and this has been going back and forth for centuries".


Now that said, I don't tend to have "genetic" bigotry in my games, IE I don't do ye olde "all elves hate all orcs".  If I have a group of people that is bigoted towards another, they have a reason, even if it's a bad, forgotten, or illogical reason, they had a reason to develop the bigotry.

quote:
On the other hand, "this race is evil, this one good" just smacks of an old school colonial mindset, and I abhor it.

Then either throw it out and give certain races reasons to hate each other, or roll with the "Tolkenism", the "evil race" is always evil because a god made them evil.

quote:
Edit: To be clear, I realize experienced players/GMs might not have much of an issue playing around this problem. My question is more geared towards dealing with new(-er) players wishing to experience what they may view as a "stereotypical" fantasy setting.

I don't understand this.  What are you "playing around"?  "That all Drow are Evil but yet Dritz?"  In that case, clearly "not all Drow".

Are you playing around tender Players feelings?  You have a choice to make:  Run the game you want to run or run the game they want to run.  No real inbetween on that.
Eur512
 member, 850 posts
Sun 21 Feb 2021
at 03:16
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
evileeyore:
There are two different things going on in this question:



THAT hits the nail on the head.  What is in the story because its the story, and what is for the players.

There is no racism for players.  Of course not.

But if it's banned from the story, we get, what?  Universes where unspeakably horrible evil happens on a regular basis (because heroes need to battle against it!) but not THAT particular brand of horrible evil because that's just too horrible evil to ever even mention?

And then... write all forms of evil out of games or just that particular one?

It's okay to deal with it in a story. Sure.  Of course.  And you can give your villains that and all sorts of other sinister, horrible, evil motivations.  That's what makes a villain.
 But of course its not for players... neither are all those other horrible evil things.  I expect bandits in games to plunder, but tolerating players who provided snacks for the game by robbing a supermarket on the way over to game night is not going to happen.

Now, what about when it's not just the irredeemable, implacable enemy?  What then?

Where does it fit in the story?  It shouldn't be something the protagonists are just "cool with".  It should be something, like any other flaw, that is recognized as something to overcome.  Do you ally with a known racist group?  Do you ally with a murderous bandit king?  What about when you have one of those "for the greater good" dire life or death moments?

These are character moments.  Exploring them is what stories are for.

As a rule I do not permit evil characters in my games.  I don't want characters who glorify any form of evil.  But I wouldn't write it out.  It can be part of the story. Like a dragon with a long history of incinerating villages, if its horrible it's there for a reason, as a challenge to players, not as a "try this, it's fun".

The subject here is specifically about *historical* settings though many of us are talking about fantasy games.  But the same thing applies.  If I were to run a historical game set in a time when racist feelings dominated, expect the baddies to be racist.  If you can accept that Sinister Von Mustache is so evil that he will blow up a train full of innocent people, but the fact that he's also a racist freaks you out... I don't know.
Piestar
 member, 843 posts
Sun 21 Feb 2021
at 03:29
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings

This message was deleted by the user at 07:43, Tue 23 Feb.

evileeyore
 member, 462 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined August 2015
Sun 21 Feb 2021
at 04:47
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
Eur512:
It shouldn't be something the protagonists are just "cool with".

It can be, if your group wants to play the villains.  Having played villains in the past, there are borders I won't cross, and I'm less likely to find blatant villainy fun anymore (I'm not 12-25 anymore), but even now I play some characters with the flaw of bigotry.

quote:
It should be something, like any other flaw, that is recognized as something to overcome.

Or something to hold you back, something to fail at, something that complicates your Character's life.  Not all flaws need to be overcome in your "hero's journey".

quote:
These are character moments.  Exploring them is what stories are for.

Agreed.

quote:
The subject here is specifically about *historical* settings though many of us are talking about fantasy games.  But the same thing applies.  If I were to run a historical game set in a time when racist feelings dominated, expect the baddies to be racist.

In my games you can even expect teh "good' people to racist, sexist, ageist, ableist, etc.

If you're playing a cripple in Sparta, do not expect to be held to high esteem, even if the Spartans are the campaign's "good guys".
Jarodemo
 member, 922 posts
 My hovercraft
 is full of eels
Sun 21 Feb 2021
at 08:38
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
evileeyore:
quote:
The subject here is specifically about *historical* settings though many of us are talking about fantasy games.  But the same thing applies.  If I were to run a historical game set in a time when racist feelings dominated, expect the baddies to be racist.

In my games you can even expect teh "good' people to racist, sexist, ageist, ableist, etc.

If you're playing a cripple in Sparta, do not expect to be held to high esteem, even if the Spartans are the campaign's "good guys".

The issue in my OP was about general attitudes, not specifically about hate. In the setting of this game, a Wild West game, my character is a white, male, 40+ ex army officer. I am trying to play him as a nice guy, but would expect him to have certain attitudes towards women, black people, native Americans, Chinese people, etc. He doesn’t hate any of these groups, but may naturally see himself as superior to them due to his upbringing and the environment he has lived in all his life. Does that make sense?

In an encounter with a young female Chinese store owner I had him being happily surprised that she was allowed to run the store on her own and make business decisions without her father’s input and consent. No hate there, but still an attitude that would be regarded as sexist by modern standards.
Piestar
 member, 844 posts
 once upon a time...
 ...there was a little pie
Sun 21 Feb 2021
at 08:49
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
In reply to Jarodemo (msg # 49):

So a world where even the 'good' characters would be racist, because it was the norm. Yes, that is a stickler, not sure I would be comfortable running in that game.

Mind you, there was a great western TV show from the late fifties, which was still a pretty racist time, and the main character was notably respectful of the minorities, even though the world itself showed limited opportunities to them, as in the menial jobs by the American society of its day.

I guess if I were to run in such a game, I would want to play a character who isn't even as racist as your character sounds like he would be, even if it was period.

If I were to run one, I think I would go out of my way to highlight the humanity of the minorities, and the inhumanity of the people who demean them.

Sadly I have heard there are role-playing games on the dark web that play to the opposite extreme, even the idea that people want to play an RPG in that way seems disturbing.

This message was last edited by the user at 00:08, Mon 22 Feb.

Eur512
 member, 851 posts
Sun 21 Feb 2021
at 18:46
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
Jarodemo:
The issue in my OP was about general attitudes, not specifically about hate. In the setting of this game, a Wild West game, my character is a white, male, 40+ ex army officer. I am trying to play him as a nice guy, but would expect him to have certain attitudes towards women, black people, native Americans, Chinese people, etc. He doesn’t hate any of these groups, but may naturally see himself as superior to them due to his upbringing and the environment he has lived in all his life. Does that make sense?



That's a complicated thing, and that was the issue throughout most of history.

A Roman didn't "hate Germans because they were different".  He might respect and befriend Germans.  But if you asked him, he'd say something like "Germans are lazy and hard to motivate.  They are crude and childish and don't take well to education.. mind you they are nowhere as stupid as Slavs.  Naturally there are exceptional individuals among them.  Do I hate them?  Don't be ridiculous.  I reserve hate for those conspiring against me."

Many people simply took it as "natural order of things" that their group was superior, and others were lesser.

Today, it's racism.  But we get into the thorny problem of playing historical characters by modern day ethical standards.  That same Roman would have done many horrible things while considering it perfectly normal.  And he'd consider himself a fine, morally upstanding individual for not beating his slaves unless they really deserved it.

Until fairly recently, in historical terms, virtually everyone was, by modern day standards, an evil person.  On the top, on the bottom.. they all did things we would consider vile.

Heck, the average medieval peasant considered public torture and execution to be entertainment.

So generally, I stick to modern day ethics, or a close Disney version thereof.  Not writing historical novels, here!
evileeyore
 member, 463 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined August 2015
Sun 21 Feb 2021
at 20:32
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
Jarodemo:
The issue in my OP was about general attitudes, not specifically about hate.

Some people mistakenly conflate racism, bigotry, and hatred.
gladiusdei
 member, 845 posts
Tue 23 Feb 2021
at 00:34
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
I know this is probably a big flaming dump of a thread to join in, but to me, the strangest thing about dealing with racism in role playing games set in fantasy settings is how many games seem to take such a strange, unrealistic take on it.
A good example is the old rpg Rifts.  The main book vilifies the Coalition as this horrible, monstrous regime that is wholly based on the Nazis.  But the idea that they are totally evil because they hate non-humans is so silly in a setting where hordes of human eating monsters have literally poured through portals to wipe out most of humanity that I am not sure why they decided to make it their main villain.

I get that the coalition is supposed to be the extreme, that they went beyond simply hating nonhumans to using them as a reason to persecute everyone, but it is still such a strange way of taking on a real world subject.  In a setting where there are tons of creatures who will eat you, or your soul, or flay your family alive, or use you as a living battery for their magic, the true villain is racism?  IT just seems like a strange viewpoint that is far more based on real world views, than anything that would come out of the actual setting of the game.

The same can be said of some D&D settings.  If the worst thing about an NPC is that he is mean to someone because of their race or skin color, as opposed to using dark rituals to raise their relatives as undead solders or drinking their blood or summoning an actual demon, then maybe that NPC is the least of your worries.

This message had punctuation tweaked by the user at 00:38, Tue 23 Feb.

The Stray
 member, 126 posts
 When the Cat's a Stray
 the Mice will Pray
Tue 23 Feb 2021
at 07:24
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
Piestar:
I think there is a misunderstanding of the term here. Racism isn't 'hating a race for doing evil' racism is hating a race because they are different from you.


More specifically, Racism is "the systemic oppression of a racial group to the social, economic, and political advantage of another." It may be caused by various flavors of prejudicial thought (not all of which might actually be hateful, as such, just discriminatory), but there's actually a tangible effect on the world and on people.

Racists don't always hate people who are different than them. But they reliably treat them differently based on a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority or inferiority of a particular race. And that discriminatory treatment is reinforced by society, either through social pressure, selective ignorance, or outright codified law.

This message was last edited by the user at 07:26, Tue 23 Feb.

Piestar
 member, 846 posts
Tue 23 Feb 2021
at 07:39
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings

This message was deleted by the user at 07:42, Tue 23 Feb.

Alex Vriairu
 member, 448 posts
Tue 23 Feb 2021
at 09:38
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
soulsight:
In reply to Jewwk of Shuu (msg # 37):
Conflict among humans, elves, orcs, goblins, kobolds, dwarves, halflings, githyanki, gnomes, svirfneblin, and/or the intelligent shoe people from the Crab Nebula is about species, not race.


In that case, you replace Racism with Species-ism which is just as abhorrently bad and should be frowned upon.
soulsight
 member, 321 posts
 Reality is 10% perception
 and 90% interpretation.
Tue 23 Feb 2021
at 13:03
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
In reply to Alex Vriairu (msg # 56):

I'm not sure you understand the term. Unless you agree that fear and hatred of spiders and/or snakes is immoral, species-ism is not racism.
The Stray
 member, 127 posts
 When the Cat's a Stray
 the Mice will Pray
Tue 23 Feb 2021
at 13:32
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
soulsight:
In reply to Alex Vriairu (msg # 56):

I'm not sure you understand the term. Unless you agree that fear and hatred of spiders and/or snakes is immoral, species-ism is not racism.


Do the snakes and spiders in your example possesses humanlike qualities? Do they laugh, love, cry, contemplate existence, build societies, change through experience? Do they have the capability of being aware of their own feelings and sensations?

Furthermore, is that fear and hatred used as justification for mistreatment, discrimination, denial of opportunity or resources, even murder?

If your fantasy beings talk like humans, think like humans, and have a distinct culture like humans, then they meet all of our brains' requirements for humans, even if they also have scaly skin or crawl on walls. So if that applies, then yes, it is immoral to hate and fear them.

This message was last edited by the user at 13:54, Tue 23 Feb.

drewalt
 subscriber, 117 posts
Tue 23 Feb 2021
at 15:46
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
gladiusdei:
A good example is the old rpg Rifts.  The main book vilifies the Coalition as this horrible, monstrous regime that is wholly based on the Nazis.  But the idea that they are totally evil because they hate non-humans is so silly in a setting where hordes of human eating monsters have literally poured through portals to wipe out most of humanity that I am not sure why they decided to make it their main villain.

I get that the coalition is supposed to be the extreme, that they went beyond simply hating nonhumans to using them as a reason to persecute everyone, but it is still such a strange way of taking on a real world subject.  In a setting where there are tons of creatures who will eat you, or your soul, or flay your family alive, or use you as a living battery for their magic, the true villain is racism?  IT just seems like a strange viewpoint that is far more based on real world views, than anything that would come out of the actual setting of the game.


In defense of RIFTs, while I agree with you, I still have some of the old source books and if you read through it there is a bit more nuance to be had.  If you read out beyond the core book and get into the history of the Coalition, it originally wasn't so extreme as it is at now, yes, they shot anything that came out of a rift for very understandable reasons, but it was radicalized by power seeking aristocrats to cement their power at a critical point in its political development.  The way I read it, the lesson isn't that "the real villain is racism" it's "the real villain is extremism/demagoguery/fascism".  You get the impression that you can believe either:

1) The Coalition is just pure evil
2) The Coalition is a Necessary Bad Thing that has the potential to be a Good Thing but good flipping luck fixing it

It's sort of the same vibe as the Imperium of 40K, it's a horrible organization, but the world it exists in sucks so bad you can understand why and how it developed and why it's successful.  Its values and modus operandi are deplorable, but the world it operates in is so extreme you understand why it's there and why people feel the need to support it; it's a black spot with some gray swirled around the edges.

It is an interesting idea, the Coalition, because it's very easy to believe that someone who lives in Chi-Town whose whole life is controlled by propaganda probably believes that everything outside the walls is 100% horrible and an existential threat to humanity.  On the other hand if you live in a frontier settlement where you probably conduct life sustaining trade with magic-users and non humans, you might well be a Coalition citizen but your POV is probably quite different.  I've always imagined it as full of some True Believers, but mostly scared, helpless people whose alternatives are to carry a flag for the fascists in the awesome black skull shaped death robots that swoop in and kill all the horrible monsters and, well, being eaten by the horrible monsters that laugh at your little laser rifle because you didn't carry the flag for the fascists in the awesome black skull shaped death robots.

That's actually kind of the point of the new Savage Worlds edition, was the other forces in the setting cooperating to give those people a viable alternative.

It's worth remembering the Coalition themselves are tremendous hypocrites, they have no problem using psychics, mutants, non-humans etc. to advance their own agendas under the banner of "it's okay when WE do it" and that's solidly in the lore without head-canon (see Dog Boys).  I've always portrayed them as having spies and traitors in enemy factions. That doesn't make them not evil, rather it makes them a little bit less cartoonish and a bit more realistic.

There is some nuance there to explore if you really want to, but I would say it depends a lot, possibly too much, on the Gamemaster to add some fiber to it and make it a more believable depiction.  If you're just reading the core rulebook I get that you do not get that impression of nuance or believability anywhere.  Siembieda... he's a very creative writer, but he's not a novelist he's a world builder.  That roughness is part of the charm of RIFTS, because it's raw and it's somebody's unfiltered vision and I love stuff like that even when it is a bit unrefined, but it does mean you have to work at it harder to make an actual narrative.

But then again, that's any game.  You can have flat, irredeemable and unbelievable villains if you want, that works for some games sometimes it's even best.  Or you can put the work in and make villains that players can understand the motivations of, which actually makes the players hate the villains even more in my experience.
DaCuseFrog
 member, 118 posts
 SW Florida
Tue 23 Feb 2021
at 17:15
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
The Stray:
More specifically, Systemic, or Institutional, Racism is "the systemic oppression of a racial group to the social, economic, and political advantage of another." It may be caused by various flavors of prejudicial thought (not all of which might actually be hateful, as such, just discriminatory), but there's actually a tangible effect on the world and on people.

Racists don't always hate people who are different than them. But they reliably treat them differently based on a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority or inferiority of a particular race. And that discriminatory treatment is may be reinforced by society, either through social pressure, selective ignorance, or outright codified law.


Your bolded statement in the second paragraph is the primary definition of racism, and the key word is BELIEF.  ANYONE (even the oppressed) can hold racist beliefs.  It is the application of racism by those in a position of power that LEADS to oppression.  Racism by itself does not equal oppression.  It is when you qualify it, by saying "systemic racism" or "institutional racism" that it takes on that definition.

That being said, it is true that racism does not equal hatred, necessarily.  It is discriminating based on race.  It can come from a position of hate, of course, but does not have to.  Traditionally, some plantation owners in the South looked at their racist actions towards their slaves as simply those of a parent taking care of a wayward child.  The lack of hatred does not make it any less racist.



The Coalition States in RIFTS is a very good example of systemic racism due to beliefs of the powerful, leading to oppression.  But a closer look at some of the anecdotal stories in the books shows that individuals have the ability to challenge those beliefs on a personal level, when confronted with situations that run counter to what they were taught.

When you have a campaign dealing with the Coalition on a large scale, it is difficult to separate it from the policies and beliefs held by them as a nation.  When roleplaying in such a setting (or any historical setting), it is disingenuous to completely ignore the political and societal norms of the period.  That does not mean that those ideas have to be a focus, nor even in the forefront.  The players should not typically be the ones embracing those racist ideals, though a minor case to build and learn from is always a popular trope.



All in all, it always comes down to personal preference when roleplaying.  If a player is not comfortable with it, they will avoid it.  If a GM doesn't want it to be a part of their campaign, they will avoid it.  As long as people are upfront and open about it from the beginning, it will make it easier to have an enjoyable experience together.
gladiusdei
 member, 846 posts
Tue 23 Feb 2021
at 19:17
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
like I said in my post, I understand there is nuance to the coalition in the written material.  But when the authors make them literal Nazi stand-ins, with every aspect of their army covered in death's heads and lightning bolts, they aren't really trying for a morally grey group.  They want the players to hate them.

I just think it's funny that the authors put more effort into painting the coalition as bad guys than they did showing how horrible it would be to live in a world full of dinosaurs, xiticix, psi-stalkers, and trans-dimensional horrors like the splugorth.  It's just a weird mix to try to put in a morally gray, nuanced enemy in a world with such obviously evil antagonists.
phoenix9lives
 member, 1060 posts
 GENE POLICE!  YOU!
 GET OUTTA THE POOL!
Tue 23 Feb 2021
at 21:48
Racism and sexism in historical settings
Even the Third Reich was more nuanced than most people think.  There were true believers, the rebels, the oppressed, and the average person who was just trying to get by day-to-day without the gestapo showing up on their doorstep to drag them away because they inadvertantly said or did something that classified them as an enemy of the state.
And, there were plenty of great advancements that came out of Nazi Germany, as well.  The jet engine, the rocket engine, the Volkswagen, high fidelity audiotape, the connection between alcohol and liver disease, and even the connection between tobacco and cardio-pulmonary disease.  Be advised, I am not advocating for the fascists, but their scientists did much to advance knowledge.
gladiusdei
 member, 847 posts
Tue 23 Feb 2021
at 22:01
Racism and sexism in historical settings
I agree with everything you said.  What I was saying was that the game intentionally depicts them as the clear villain of the setting.  They emphasize their evil over almost anything else.  Most people view Nazis as totally evil, so using them as your intentional reference point for your fictional villain usually isn't going to invoke nuanced consideration.

All I am trying to say is that often, when modern games take on racism and sexism, it is emphasized as worse evil than the utter horrors that the game also contains.  I think this is a strange way of doing it, and shows the mindset of many modern writers and players.

It reminds me of the show Chicago PD that my wife watches.  For several seasons they've had literal murderers on their police force, including their sergeant, but when an act of racism occurred, then they all had to stand against the corrupt cop that did it.  By writing their episode like that, they're showing that a person having a racist mindset was a less tolerable sin than actually killing someone.  It's just a very strange take to have.  Maybe it shows how desensitized people are to the violence inherent in most roleplaying games.
Shannara
 moderator, 3880 posts
 When in doubt,
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Wed 24 Feb 2021
at 05:28
Racism and sexism in historical settings
Given that this topic cannot be discussed without reference to real world politics and political situations, this thread is being closed.  Thank everyone for keeping the discussion civil.