I started listening in October-ish and I’ve been using my hour long commute to listen through past episodes. I was very excited to listen to this episode because 1. I’ve heard Paige interviewed before and I love how she is an advocate for women in gaming and 2. I wanted to see how Sean and Brett, and the listening community handled this discussion.
As a polyamorous, bisexual woman it directly affected whether I would continue to feel welcomed in this community and I’m so happy that this topic was handled and received well. I don’t see any “how dare this girl tell us how to run our games” posts and I thank you all for that.
That being said, I’m curious if this episode changed anyone’s preconceived ideas approaching their games?
In terms of your ratio of female/male NPCs, in how you approach women in a gaming space, or Brett, how you marketed Evercon?
Have you used any of the ideas Paige presented to bring NPCs to your game from other minorities? Have you made a conscious effort to include more people of color? What about casually queer NPCs? Not the oversexualized bisexual bar wench you may be able to tempt into a threesome (the answer is always no) but a female NPC who mentions her wife, the NPC who uses polymorph to change their body into the gender they identify as, etc.
For a while I’ve been trying to remember the Chris Claremont mantra for his run on X-Men, “but what if this character were a woman?”
In my Zobeck game, the party’s home stomping grounds was the Silk Scabbard, a fighting pit/gambling hall/brothel, and their main contact was a super handsome sex worker that worked there. He preferred women in personal relationships, but had clients of various genders, and I was pretty happy at how well the party took to him as a contact.
In my Tales of the Old Margreve game, I’ve been working really hard to not play up the negative stereotypes that could be mapped to the Kariv, since the Kariv are a Roma analogous culture. I’m leaning way away from any con artist or thief tropes.
In my 7th Sea campaign, I introduced a lesbian noblewoman, and we had a gay romance subplot between one of the guild apprentices that worked with our PC inventor and the farmboy hero who was a secret heir to the throne of Eisen. The Land of Gold and Fire and Crescent Empire books were so good for the setting that it made it very easy to introduce people from those cultures as major engaging NPCs.
While I have remembered to do it a few times, and I’ve had several PCs that have done so, I definitely need to get better at including non-binary and trans characters in my games.
I love the name Silk Scabbard and making the contact your party works with male is such an interesting twist! Not only does it subvert the tropes, it helps to make your game more engaging!
You mentioning avoiding the racist undertones is interesting. I give you so much credit for recognizing the horrible racism the Roma still experience today and trying to avoid playing into that.
On a similar note, do you believe that having “evil” races in 5e is reflective of the every day racism in our real world? As just one example, does showing any Orc the party interacts with as below average intelligence, as bloodthirsty, and as “savage” reflect the real life racism Native Americans still face today?
I’ve never played 7th Sea (should I?) but looking up TLoGaF and seeing the amazing Black Girl Power representation on the cover is breathtaking! I love that it’s a publishing company that isn’t saying “oh well you Could have females in your game” but is instead saying “look at some of the bad ass women in this game. They exist. Right here. Ready for your table.”
Do you believe it’s unfamiliarity with trans and non-binary issues or people that makes it more difficult for you to add these characters to your game? Do you think it is this feeling that keeps others from introducing characters of different cultures to their games? In the game where I am a player, my character is a gambling, swearing, wenching lesbian land pirate and she flirts with every girl she sees. My DM had to pull me aside and tell me, the flirting doesn’t bother him but he hasn’t been giving me very many opportunities to do so because he didn’t know how to role play that convincingly on his end. He just didn’t know how to role play a LGBTQIA+ woman.
I do not believe that Orcs, Beholders, Drow, Elves, Dwarves, Piercers, Dragons, or the like represent real world racial stereotypes or reinforce or dilute issues with real world racial animosity. Honestly, classic aventures such as The Sunless Citidel (Meepo!) subvert those “stereo typical” tropes.
I loved running 7th Sea 2nd Edition, but I mechanically they could have modeled how to do more things in the open ended nature of resolution for better clarity. From a setting element aspect, 7th Sea got way more interesting when they introduced the Pirate Nations, Crescent Empire, The New World, and The Land of Fire and Gold. Unfortunately, John Wick Presents got overextended and sold themselves to Chaosium.
I don’t have a problem with Chaosium as a publisher, but it seems like most of the design work is being done by John Wick himself now, and those previous products, that had more diverse developers working on them, may not be representative of what is coming out next. I’m less excited about the 7th Sea Khitai project, as an example, without having a number of developers that come from an Asian family or cultural background.
The thing about other species in Dungeons and Dragons in other games is that, unless they are portrayed as completely alien, they are built from some commonalities with existing cultures. If a species farms, trades goods, is organized into tribes or mercenary companies, all of that comes from actual cultures.
All the individual pieces, once they have been assembled, may not have been intentionally built, but can still very easily resemble harmful stereotypes. It’s kind of like assembling cultural traits, and having our own biases providing a sort of “autocorrect.” We may not have intended to write out something offensive or insensitive, but if you reread your post and leave something harmful posted, that’s on you once you realize what happened.
Disclaiming any commonality with real world cultures also doesn’t always hold up when looking at our trope originators. While the name of “orc” as a monster may linguistically exist in some cultures, there wasn’t really a culturally relevant interpretation of what an “orc” was until Tolkien assigned the word to creatures in his stories. But Tolkien definitely had a real world culture in mind when he compares orcs to Mongolian steppe tribes.
Regarding how this actually affects my games, this is why I have liked a lot of settings like Eberron or even Midgard, where many sapient species may have a history of conflict, but there isn’t as much of an intrinsic “good versus evil” aspect to those conflicts. There was an encounter in Lost Mines of Phandelver with some orcs that I reframed as a group of orc Diplomats from the Kingdom of Dark Arrows to petition the Lord’s Alliance to pressure the dwarves of the Silver Marches to live up to some of their agreements when the treaty was struck between Obould and the dwarf kings in the past.
I’ve played an orc paladin of Luthic in the Realms who was neutral, and saw her place as defending her people, in part through working with other beings to make sure that orcs only had to war with threats that couldn’t be negotiated with. I also started playing an orc bard in an Eberron game whose mother was a Gatekeeper druid, and who is fascinated with other cultures (I gave him the Anthropologist background). Definitely not a fan of the Volo’s Guide stats for orcs providing the only penalty to intelligence to orcs.
Regarding trans and non-binary characters, I think regarding trans characters, I don’t want to trivialize trans stories by getting too clever (like introducing fantasy HRT potions), or put too much weight on a “reveal” that feels to much like spectacle. I’m still trying to think about this some more. When it comes to non-binary characters, it’s a bad character flaw in that when I come up with a character, my brain still goes to “is this a male or female character,” and I can’t blame anyone but myself. I need to get better at that.