Jarodemo
 member, 911 posts
 My hovercraft
 is full of eels
Mon 25 Jan 2021
at 17:28
Racism and sexism in historical settings
I have recently joined an intriguing looking game set in the Wild West. I was wondering how players dealt with issues surrounding racism and sexism in historical settings? I am thinking in particular of the reaction of a white character to a black character in post-civil war US. I want to be able to convey a realistic setting with appropriate language should the need arise but donít want to offend or upset fellow players, or break any rules.

Any thoughts, hints, etc.
Ski-Bird
 subscriber, 147 posts
Mon 25 Jan 2021
at 17:50
Racism and sexism in historical settings
Itís not a genre Iím terribly familiar with, but Iíve always though of the Wild West as a bit of a Ďfringeí setting.  That is, the folks that couldnít quite make it, or didnít quite fit in in the big cities could make a future for themselves in the desolate spaces between the coasts.

I think a question of racism/intolerance would be very character specific (as opposed to locale-specific). If someoneís background meant that they were less inclined to accept a fella ... there might be ten more that wouldnít even blink as long as he could sling a six-gun, or rope a calf (or whatever it is they did back then).
Ski-Bird
 subscriber, 148 posts
Mon 25 Jan 2021
at 17:56
Racism and sexism in historical settings
^^ I think it would be accurate to have the Chinese be an oppressed minority though.  They supplied a lot of railroad construction labor, and so saw quite a bit of the country.

Iím almost positive that they werenít greeted with open arms everywhere they found themselves. This led to developing/maintaining insular, assimilation-resistant communities ... which served to drive the Ďotherí wedge a bit further. Sort of a negative feedback loop.
ladysharlyne
 subscriber, 2991 posts
 You get out of a game the
 effort you put in it !!
Mon 25 Jan 2021
at 17:58
Racism and sexism in historical settings
In my Western there just isn't that as Ski-bird said.  It is a fringe area, same as the North and South soldiers that fought against each other, individuals might mentally not like something but there is no prejudice towards any outwardly and the majority accept the race or the sex.  Females can own ranches, shops, etc and no one dwells on these things they just play their characters.  Maybe some other westerns area bit more strict on keeping  these things in game.  I just don't have any in game problems and even a man and a woman or vice versa can be a mixed couple.  There is no enjoyment in being racist or sexist to me and my players.
Cygnia
 member, 303 posts
 Amoral Paladin
Mon 25 Jan 2021
at 18:03
Racism and sexism in historical settings
Deadlands (in all incarnations) point blank tells its GMs to not be racist/sexist.
nauthiz
 subscriber, 701 posts
Mon 25 Jan 2021
at 18:42
Racism and sexism in historical settings
The first thing to do is encourage the GM (since it reads as if you're a player) to have a frank, open, honest discussion with the group about the matter.

The group needs to know people's boundaries and set expectations across the board.  This will be useful for both the GM as well as for the players.  Historical accuracy generally isn't worth making people uncomfortable, especially if they're blindsided by it, and there's plenty of other ways to introduce conflicts and tension.

That's really going to inform everyone of how best to handle the situation.

As Cygnia mentioned, Pinnacle's Deadlands setting has had to deal with this, and it's worth noting that last year they actually pushed out a huge setting update that retconned how the setting dealt with the Civil War as part of what they termed the "Morgana Effect".  It might be worth giving it a Google to read the reasons why, written by Shane Lacy Hensley, the game's creator.
SunRuanEr
 subscriber, 363 posts
Mon 25 Jan 2021
at 18:46
Racism and sexism in historical settings
I think that as GM, I would explicitly state that while racist/sexist attitudes exist within the setting, PCs should not be the ones embodying them - at least not in terms that the players of the characters might find offensive.

It's also important to remember that even back during those times, not everyone shared the same views, and that lots of people just keep their views to themselves anyway. In certain aspects, it's no different than (for instance) playing an Elf that doesn't like other races in a D&D game... the party might have other races, but the Elf character probably just keeps their mouth shut/their views to themselves in the interest of not getting killed/run out of the PC group for <insert whatever reason here>.
ladysharlyne
 subscriber, 2992 posts
 You get out of a game the
 effort you put in it !!
Mon 25 Jan 2021
at 19:47
Racism and sexism in historical settings
I really think these replies to you are brilliant.  One more thing is prominent, talk with the games as a group.  I as a GM just won't allow anything that would make any player uneasy.  Best to talk to the game group you are in so everyone knows how everyone feels about it.  A game is not just one person but a group of two or more players and they need to talk together.
Jarodemo
 member, 912 posts
 My hovercraft
 is full of eels
Mon 25 Jan 2021
at 19:51
Racism and sexism in historical settings
Thanks, that is great everyone.

To be clear, I donít want to play my character as racist or sexist, but it is likely that certain attitudes will exist in a white male character of the age, even if they arenít actively pursued.
praguepride
 member, 1748 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Mon 25 Jan 2021
at 20:30
Racism and sexism in historical settings
1. Remember that these are games. Even the most historically accurate game is not tied to real life in any way. It is a realm of imagination so while it is easy to say "well that's how people acted back then" it is just as easy to say "people don't act that way in this setting" and call it a day.

2. As mentioned above it is very easy to say most people aren't raging bigots in any setting and you can make allowances for player characters. Maybe they are famous. Maybe they've got the papers that say they are legit free and you can say that the NPCs and other players have to respect that (except for obvious card carrying antagonists).

3. The priority is always for players & GM to have fun together. If your table can't happily come to an agreement about the balance between not having a hostile table and being "historically accurate" then perhaps you should get another setting that everyone can agree to.




Ultimately it is important to remember that the idea of "that's how my character would act" or "that's historically accurate" is bull poopy of an argument. You as players/GM ALWAYS have complete control in how these things work so if you have bigotry in your game that is a choice you are making. Nobody is putting a gun to your head and telling you that you have to treat someone like crap. Or if they are it should be very obvious that this is a bad thing and the person forcing you to do this is a very bad evil antagonist.

It is a work of fiction. Make better choices.

This message was last edited by the user at 20:31, Mon 25 Jan.

evileeyore
 member, 449 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined August 2015
Mon 25 Jan 2021
at 23:56
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
praguepride:
You as players/GM ALWAYS have complete control in how these things work so if you have bigotry in your game that is a choice you are making.

And it's a perfectly valid choice to make.  It's fiction, it can be as grim, dark, nasty, vile, evil, etc as you and your group want.
CrazyIvan777
 member, 316 posts
Tue 26 Jan 2021
at 00:08
Re: Racism and sexism in historical settings
I had a GM for a while who ran a game in which people from various periods were transported into a magical post-apocalypse. Without really thinking, I ran a character from the 1920's, and the GM pushed me to play up the racism and sexism. Like really pushed. And part of it, I believe, was to be able to have those aspects in a game to poke at other players without the blame or responsibility falling on him. Eventually the game fall apart, and part of it -was- due to my character's attitudes. I wish I'd realized it in advanced, and backed off of it. It was years ago, and I'm older and wiser.
The deal, perhaps said already here, is that the game is an expression of both the GM and the players. If they want to have those things in the game, great, let them. If one or more of them doesn't? Probably not the best game for them to be involved in, whether it be player or GM. It's good to start things with people being on the same page about it all, but if not, having the ability to say, "Hey, this thing in the game bothers me, can we either talk about it or excise it" is a real good thing.
facemaker329
 member, 7310 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Tue 26 Jan 2021
at 00:09
Racism and sexism in historical settings
It's also worth noting that, in a great deal of the Old West, racism was not as prominent as many people assume it to have been.  A lot of cowboys were ex-slaves that decided they didn't want to keep farming the way they always had, even if it was theoretically for their own benefit now.  A lot of the people who went west, initially, had to depend on their neighbors for help and survival, and you couldn't afford to be too picky about what their skin color was.

Later, as things became more established and more of an upper class began to develop, racism became more prevalent, so how racist a character or group might be would depend largely on what their background was...but if you're talking about an Old West cattle baron, he was as likely to hate an Irishman as anyone of Chinese or African ancestry, just because they were a lower social class, and therefore likely to be an obstacle to be removed.  Even different Native American tribes had different reputations, so while there was plenty of prejudice, it wasn't necessarily racism.
OceanLake
 supporter, 1151 posts
Tue 26 Jan 2021
at 00:50
Racism and sexism in historical settings
Various biases/prejudices there certainly were, ranging fr4om the oafishly overt to the poisonous polite. In a game with NPs like that, is the intention window dressing or wold elements for the characters to struggle with or giantess (or to work for a better society)?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/..._suffrage_in_Wyoming