Some very interesting topics coming up in this episode. I think one important thing to note about authors like Lovecraft and Howard is that they have already been foundational to the fields they worked in. For better or worse, horror would look much different without Lovecraft’s influence, and fantasy would look much different without Howard.
Since they have already been so instrumental in establishing the structure, at least in my opinion, it’s less important to try and rebuild a new, parallel structure and hope nothing of theirs creeps in (which is going to be a very difficult task), than it is to point out what’s problematic and destructive about their work and try to divest the modern genre of the worst aspects of those works.
When it comes to modern works, it’s a bit easier to at least say “from this point forward, now that I know, I’m not supporting this person any longer,” but its difficult to separate out what they have worked on in the past, especially if that were was as part of a team.
The bigger something is, the more difficult it is to separate individual elements. I love D&D 5e, but there were several problematic people involved in previous editions, and in the current edition, and there is one big unresolved issue that I wish would be addressed in order to make me more comfortable about continuing to support the line, but despite that, I also know there are people that work for WOTC that I like and respect, and it makes it harder to just cut everything off for me.
I do think that “politics” at the game table is a nuanced thing. I would say it is a true statement to say that all games are political, in that, we bring all of our biases and our interactions with the real world into the games we run and the characters we play. I do think there is a difference between directly referring to real world politics, religion, and current events, and showing what political agendas motivate you in what you add to your games.
As an example, my Tales from the Old Margreve game is a game about dark horror fairy tales, with the underlying theme of fey versus cosmic horror, and I wouldn’t bring literally references to modern politics into the game. However, I did have a villager in the Margreve that was a logger make the statement to the PCs that if his village cleared out an area, anything in that area that wanted to trade with them or become part of the village was fine, but if they got in their way of harvesting materials, it was perfectly alright to wipe them out. The PCs immediately saw this NPC as someone that needed to be set straight.
Obviously, my biases about environmental resources and colonialism inform how I portrayed this NPC, but it was also almost comically over the top as well.
To bring in the Consent in Gaming topic, this is why session zero, lines and veils, and ongoing safety tools can be very important, as well as checking in with players. Sometimes people aren’t going to be able to game with one another, and sometimes they aren’t going to be able to game together in certain genres, but will do fine in others.
And on that note, thanks for the plug!