View Profile: BoxCrayonTales - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • BoxCrayonTales's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th March, 2019, 07:41 PM
    The responses have been really great. Thanks. So I guess my original complaints may be summarized as: Doing insufficient research when adapting mythical monsters, resulting in monsters with the wrong names or other erroneous details Adapting a mythical monster in a way that destroys what originally made it interesting without adding anything of equivalent value, or failing to improve upon...
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  • BoxCrayonTales's Avatar
    Friday, 15th March, 2019, 11:12 PM
    Did you know? The name stirge derives from the Greco-Latin strix, meaning “screech owl.” It further gained connotations as “witch”, which remained when it was loaned into other languages. Curiously, a similar phenomenon was observed with the words for “screech owl” in Hebrew and Proto-Algonquin. Both came to refer to various demons. Furthermore: An older English compound for screech owl...
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  • BoxCrayonTales's Avatar
    Friday, 15th March, 2019, 11:01 PM
    I’ve always been frustrated by the inordinate focus on violence in RPGs. Plenty of fantasy stories resolved encounters with non-violent solutions. I’m not suggesting adding mental/social hit points or using a genuinely universal task resolution mechanic a la Risus, but I wish the rules had offered XP for any method of conflict resolution. I wish monster manuals had organized monsters by...
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  • BoxCrayonTales's Avatar
    Friday, 15th March, 2019, 10:27 PM
    Skirmisher recently released a supplement on spontaneous generation. I recommend it to anyone who wants a brief introduction to magical world building... or simply wants to indulge their inner child. I admit, I like magical physics because it delights my inner child. Who didn’t want to hatch their own basilisk after reading about how all you needed was a cock’s egg and a toad?
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  • BoxCrayonTales's Avatar
    Friday, 15th March, 2019, 06:52 PM
    There isn’t anything inherently wrong with the great wheel cosmology, but I find it needlessly byzantine as a result of being haphazardly slapped together by a bazillion writers over forty years. I decided to go back to basics for the sake of my own sanity. Western fantasy games generally take their inspiration from Indo-European cultural mythologies, so I decided to world build a setting based...
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  • BoxCrayonTales's Avatar
    Sunday, 10th March, 2019, 05:05 PM
    I feel I’ve been misunderstood. This is essentially what I have been trying to say. Characters would experience the world the same way that we do, even if the underlying physics aren’t those of our real world. My reasoning for this is that I see, for lack of a better term, D&Disms as being nonsensical compared to adopting a genuinely classical cosmology. The “breaking out of scientific magic...
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  • BoxCrayonTales's Avatar
    Friday, 8th March, 2019, 02:50 PM
    In typical D&D settings, these elemental planes are assumed to be the origin of the material plane. Despite having no other causal connection, unless you’re playing Monte Cook’s Midgard setting in which the elemental planes literally cause the weather. In my experience, planes are more trouble than they’re worth. Unless the setting is about exploring the planes, there’s no reason to have...
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  • BoxCrayonTales's Avatar
    Thursday, 7th March, 2019, 12:21 AM
    I prefer to use fantastical physics because they make more sense when fantastical things exist as part of the world. For example, it makes zero sense for there to be elemental beings and planes based on the four classical elements if the world is composed of the periodic elements. That’s what I loved about the Nephilim game, since it ascribed elemental associations to absolutely everything, even...
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  • BoxCrayonTales's Avatar
    Wednesday, 6th March, 2019, 09:25 PM
    Roleplaying games have a long history of taking monsters from mythology and turning them into encounters. Often the monsters are rendered barely recognizable compared to their mythological origins, assuming that said origin had any interesting aspects that got shorn off. Plenty are already so vague and simplistic that the transition didn’t seem to hurt them overmuch. This is very pedantic, I...
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  • BoxCrayonTales's Avatar
    Wednesday, 6th March, 2019, 04:42 PM
    The responses so far have proven very educational. Thank you. So this sort of, I don’t know what to call it, race building is very disturbing to me. You are writing a race whose sole purpose is to be killed by the heroes, and justly killed at that rather than the heroes being vicious psychopaths. I prefer to avoid that if I can. I did some thinking about how to reclaim the savage humanoid...
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  • BoxCrayonTales's Avatar
    Wednesday, 6th March, 2019, 02:06 AM
    Something I dislike about typical modern fantasy world building is that it basically tacks magic onto a world that otherwise operates according to real physics. I don’t think that is holistic, since the pre-modern societies that laid the foundation for the fantasy genre didn’t think that way. So I rejected this paradigm and world build according to my own invented magical physics. Of course that...
    43 replies | 1449 view(s)
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  • BoxCrayonTales's Avatar
    Wednesday, 6th March, 2019, 01:23 AM
    So I see people online claiming that orcs (or drow or any other savage humanoid race) often unconsciously represent cruel stereotypes of people of color and promote a colonialist narrative. I also see plenty of people claiming that orcs do not and never have represented racial minorities, and that even suggesting such is itself racist. This question is very much politicized. How much truth is...
    624 replies | 14918 view(s)
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Friday, 7th March, 2014

  • 08:40 PM - Mordikenn mentioned BoxCrayonTales in post [GM Tool] Monster Generator - Free Program to Create New Monsters
    Hello everyone~ Just wanted to let a new crowd of people see the program. It's still a great free way to save time making enemies! I clicked random a few times and then fiddled with what it gave me to make the monster below. @Raneth: I have no plans to overhaul this program to perform CR calculations backwards. Unfortunately I've moved on to other projects with the majority of time, including making a few games. However, you can add racial bonuses to skills to monsters under the 'special qualities' menu already ( just click on the bonus to skills options, any of those display as a racial bonus). The majority of those monster rules are already in the program under the powers menu, and you can specify your own custom powers to add to the program. There are details regarding how to do that in the readme, you just go and add things to 'custom_powers.txt' in the data files. If you were thinking about learning to program in order to make that program yourself, be my guest... Just bear in mind that...

Wednesday, 5th March, 2014

  • 01:39 AM - Tovec mentioned BoxCrayonTales in post What qualifies a creature as an extraplanar outsider, an extraplanar animal/humanoid/etc or an extraplanar native outsider?
    Raneth I think you have some misconceptions. I'll clear up what I can. But over all Keldin is right. Especially in that you would have to ask the original authors why an outsider is an outsider as opposed to a magical beast. In the case of the tenebrous worm, according to this: http://paizo.com/PRD/additionalMonsters/tenebrousWorm.html It is typed: N Medium outsider (extraplanar) It is therefore NOT a native outsider. So let me start with terms. Specifically the three you brought up. A. extraplanar outsiders, B. extraplanar creatures of any other type, C. native outsiders that are native to an outer plane or similar. I'm starting with C. (Native Outsiders). By this I assume you mean creatures with the type of Outsider (native), as it is the only time I can remember 'native' being tied in relation to the creature type. You'll note that regardless of its origin, outsiders do not universally gain the "native" subtype just for being on a different plane. Native outsiders, as defined by that same wi...

Thursday, 20th February, 2014

  • 02:57 AM - Quickleaf mentioned BoxCrayonTales in post Skill Groups and Level-Based Skills
    Raneth What you propose looks a lot like 4e's skill system. Which is little surprise since Mike Mearls was the mind behind Iron Heroes and 4e. For example, Pathfinder's physical skills Climb, Jump, Swim, and Ride can be readily grouped as Athletics. And that's precisely what 4e does (well, forgetting the Ride skill). I think you'd need to spend some time determining what constitutes a trained skill use, since all characters can make all skill checks now. For example, when my fighter gets a lucky roll on Knowledge: engineering check, are there limits on what he can do/knows compared to a character trained in Knowledge: engineering? Do you plan to adjudicate that ad hoc, or prepare in advance?

Monday, 26th August, 2013

  • 10:57 AM - Tovec mentioned BoxCrayonTales in post Consolidating monster types further
    In the system I've been working (for the past year and a half or so) has very similar consolidations. Part of the issue I'm still grappling with is the names of certain types (like your "aberrants") but I'll gladly share my thoughts on this subject. This kind of came and went a little while ago, discussing 5e's types/subtypes, with (I think it was) KM making very similar suggestions - though a more consolidated list. Anyway. Oozes not being a type. I completely agree here. But I think you are doing a disservice putting them in the Aberration category. Why isn't ooze simply a subtype that is applied to creatures without discernible anatomies. Water elementals are basically oozes. Air and fire elementals, debatable so. Earth probably not (I make them out to be either outsiders or constructs, depending on source). Undead, also agreed, not a type; but a subtype fits them well. Again, as a subtype there is no reason to simply lump them in with "animated" but I do agree in principle. I wou...

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Monday, 18th March, 2019

  • 08:01 PM - Deset Gled quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Mind if I pedantically complain that monster manuals butcher myth/folklore/fairytale?
    All of this drives the pedant in me crazy, especially since it is now trivial to research this stuff on google. Is this trend creatively bankrupt? Am I making much ado about nothing? Are there other pendants in the audience? Care to share any stories of pendantry as it relates to game monster design? There is a great story of mythology pedantry that I swore came from a post here, but I can't seem to find it now. Either the post was lost during one of the accidental purges, or it comes from elsewhere. Anyway, it went something like this... The scene is of a typical adventuring party, traversing a valley. They are alerted by a magic ward that an attack is imminent from enemies above them. Looking to the sky, they see a pack of winged creatures come from the behind a mountain. As they unsheathe their magic swords and pull out wands for the for battle, they squint into the horizon to identify the monsters. As the swarm approaches, it suddenly becomes clear: it's a school of flying sharks, ...

Sunday, 17th March, 2019

  • 11:26 PM - Saelorn quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Mind if I pedantically complain that monster manuals butcher myth/folklore/fairytale?
    I’ve always been frustrated by the inordinate focus on violence in RPGs. Plenty of fantasy stories resolved encounters with non-violent solutions. I’m not suggesting adding mental/social hit points or using a genuinely universal task resolution mechanic a la Risus, but I wish the rules had offered XP for any method of conflict resolution. That would introduce a new problem, where you get better at fighting by avoiding combat. It's only really an issue with D&D and similar games, which derived from wargames, such that combat is a reasonable assumption for the designers to make. Most other games give you a way of earning XP without killing things, but most other game lack the type of class structure where XP is automatically converted into fighting ability. You may look at D&D, and ask why the monsters are so mythologically inaccurate. I look at your question, and ask why you're trying to fit everything into the narrow framework of D&D.

Saturday, 16th March, 2019

  • 12:48 AM - Celebrim quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Stirges have cemented themselves as my favorite D&D monsters at this point...
    Did you know? The name stirge derives from the Greco-Latin strix, meaning “screech owl.” It further gained connotations as “witch”, which remained when it was loaned into other languages. Curiously, a similar phenomenon was observed with the words for “screech owl” in Hebrew and Proto-Algonquin. Both came to refer to various demons. Furthermore: An older English compound for screech owl was lich-owl (“death/corpse owl”), as they were seen as omens of death. In other words, screech owls are creepy. This is acknowledged by cultures vastly separated in space and time. I like this guy.

Tuesday, 12th March, 2019

  • 04:37 AM - Umbran quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do you design worlds according to fantastical physics?
    Characters would experience the world the same way that we do, even if the underlying physics aren’t those of our real world. Or not, as their world has magic, and ours doesn't. Their experiences of their world could be very different than ours. In most works, they are not, but every once in a while, a writer goes deep, and brings up some truly weird stuff. My reasoning for this is that I see, for lack of a better term, D&Disms as being nonsensical compared to adopting a genuinely classical cosmology. D&Disms work fine, if you include parts of old D&D cosmology - the elemental planes, and the positive and negative energy planes, and say, "Arcane magic is simply drawing upon the energies of these other planes." Any of Earths' classical cosmologies fall apart if you try to use them to predict how something will work, because those classical cosmologies are all *wrong*. Classical magic systems are after-the-fact rationalizations, not actual systems that tell you what will happen if yo...

Monday, 11th March, 2019

  • 01:16 AM - Man in the Funny Hat quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do you design worlds according to fantastical physics?
    Something I dislike about typical modern fantasy world building is that it basically tacks magic onto a world that otherwise operates according to real physics. Logically speaking, magic is a type of science/technology and therefore should independently confirm the same things that real science does if the world operates that way. I guess this has me confused then. You dislike fantasy that simply tacks on magic to real physics, but say that magic needs to confirm the same things that real physics does? Gods explicitly exist in this setting, and it doesn’t make sense that they would design two different sets of physics to govern nature and magic. It doesn’t make sense that whatever non-god responsible for creating reality would do that.Your issue may be with the fact that you're trying to apply logic to that which is inherently NOT logical. Magic DEFIES logic and physical laws - it doesn't conform to them or support their existence. Lurking under the hood of magic is the physics of Schroedin...
  • 12:03 AM - John Out West quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do you design worlds according to fantastical physics?
    Logically speaking, magic is a type of science/technology and therefore should independently confirm the same things that real science does if the world operates that way. Gods explicitly exist in this setting, and it doesn’t make sense that they would design two different sets of physics to govern nature and magic. It doesn’t make sense that whatever non-god responsible for creating reality would do that. In my world, Azurath, the god of Magic, Knowledge, and Mystery, purposefully designed magic so that its rules are always changing and it can never be understood. As the god of mystery, he wanted magic to be a "Endless frontier." That's not to disagree with your main point. I think the world should appear mundane until you explore too far (and find a Beholder), or look too close. (and find everything is made of the same four elements)

Friday, 8th March, 2019

  • 09:57 PM - Umbran quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do you design worlds according to fantastical physics?
    I’ve never seen roleplaying games (or other media) that use fantastical physics run into this problem. Nephilim, Glorantha, and Exalted, for example, didn’t break down into angry complaints over how they made no sense. Tons of fiction uses fantastical concepts like holiday characters, the sandman, etc without falling apart. Well, here's a point - having Santa Claus does not mean that the world uses fantastical physics. Santa is an oft-discussed entity, but there's no general Theory of Santa that tells you how the world works that includes the abilities Santa has. There is no law detailing how Santa literally flies to every home in one night without burning up due to air friction. It is just stated that he *does*, and it ends there. You can have magic in the world - instances in which the universe behaves much differently from our own, without having a *physics* detailing *how* it happens. It just does. This is the old saw of "How does it work? MAGIC!!1!" D&D, by and large, works in thi...
  • 09:00 PM - Saelorn quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do you design worlds according to fantastical physics?
    In typical D&D settings, these elemental planes are assumed to be the origin of the material plane. [...] The spelljammer rules in particular, which are still canon to D&D, pretty much kill any illusion that D&D uses real physics.Where are you getting this? I've never heard the first part, and the second part is only dubiously canon. In either case, D&D as a whole encompasses a lot more than just the Forgotten Realms and the spheres around it. If you want to argue that every published setting is equally as silly as Spelljammer, then I'm not going to argue the point, because published settings are only a tiny fraction of what D&D is built to do. The 5E DMG does a pretty good job of listing out the relevant parameters, by which an individual DM can create a world that is as grounded or as fantastic as they want. If this thread is any indication, it's not uncommon to want a setting that's a little closer to reality (while still allowing the fun fantasy conventions). It’s not like the D&D ecology has...
  • 03:07 PM - Li Shenron quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Mind if I pedantically complain that monster manuals butcher myth/folklore/fairytale?
    Am I making much ado about nothing? No you're not. I always wished D&D was more accurate when borrowing monsters from folklore and mythology (even with the caveat that it's a natural trait of folklore to have many versions of everything), so that we actually learn something. I don't think there was ever any need to modify the nature of folklore/mythology creatures to make them suit the game.

Thursday, 7th March, 2019

  • 10:55 AM - 5ekyu quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do orcs in gaming display parallels to colonialist propaganda?
    So I see people online claiming that orcs (or drow or any other savage humanoid race) often unconsciously represent cruel stereotypes of people of color and promote a colonialist narrative. I also see plenty of people claiming that orcs do not and never have represented racial minorities, and that even suggesting such is itself racist. This question is very much politicized. How much truth is there to this assumption? Are there any academic analyses of such comparisons? Is there an ironclad argument either way?Huh... late to the party but werent orcs ariginslly in LotR z dur on communism? Political baiting, not race baiting? I remember one of the first reviews of StarTrek: Next Gen which concluded "Klingons are no longer slur at communists, but against african-americans." But, as for what happens "in gaming" mostly anything happens in gaming somewhere. Me, I have used historical political and societal models for part of the foundations for NPCs many times. But usually, its just one seed among man...
  • 10:00 AM - Li Shenron quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do you design worlds according to fantastical physics?
    Something I dislike about typical modern fantasy world building is that it basically tacks magic onto a world that otherwise operates according to real physics. I don’t think that is holistic, since the pre-modern societies that laid the foundation for the fantasy genre didn’t think that way. So I rejected this paradigm and world build according to my own invented magical physics. Of course that is really difficult on its own, so I like to read pre-modern philosophy and religion and obsolete scientific theories to get ideas for fantasy physics. This leads to a lot of interesting results, like spontaneous generation, four humors, flat world, hearts used for thinking, all diseases being caused by spirits, fighters developing superpowers by training really hard, and so forth. There are a few roleplaying games which did something similar like Nephilim, Glorantha and Exalted. These served as inspiration for myself as well. Do you world build according to magical physics? How so? I always loved th...
  • 12:46 AM - Saelorn quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do you design worlds according to fantastical physics?
    I prefer to use fantastical physics because they make more sense when fantastical things exist as part of the world. For example, it makes zero sense for there to be elemental beings and planes based on the four classical elements if the world is composed of the periodic elements.I can certainly imagine such a world. Maybe it's the Star Trek influence, but alternate dimensions don't really phase me much. A world with periodic elements isn't necessarily inconsistent with elemental planes, as long as those elemental planes are far-removed from the material plane and only accessible through magic. This creates new avenues for characters to interact with the world. If a villain wanted to, they could cause a drought by killing the local rain dragon or river god. Thus setting in motion a quest to find a new spirit/god to replace it. To me, that feels more like mythology and folklore than the overwhelming majority of published adventure paths.I don't disagree. The difference is that I have zero interest in...

Wednesday, 6th March, 2019

  • 10:35 PM - Bedrockgames quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Mind if I pedantically complain that monster manuals butcher myth/folklore/fairytale?
    Roleplaying games have a long history of taking monsters from mythology and turning them into encounters. Often the monsters are rendered barely recognizable compared to their mythological origins, assuming that said origin had any interesting aspects that got shorn off. Plenty are already so vague and simplistic that the transition didn’t seem to hurt them overmuch. This is very pedantic, I know. Sometimes this is a cosmetic thing like the D&D gorgon and wight actually corresponding to the mythological catoblepas and draug. Or an undead sorcerer being called a lich, even though that only means “corpse/death” as shown by English words like lich-gate, lich-field, lich-way, lich-owl, lich-wake, etc. This should be easy to rectify by using compound names to maintain continuity: catoblepas gorgon, gorgon medusa, draug-wight, elder lich lord, lich mage, etc. For example, Pathfinder tweaks the demilich (literally meaning “half corpse”) to a decayed and weakened lich mage, with the awakened variant being...
  • 09:49 PM - Autumn Bask quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Mind if I pedantically complain that monster manuals butcher myth/folklore/fairytale?
    I could go on for pages about my beef with the fantasy taxonomy mechanics unique to D&D. But I digress. All of this drives the pedant in me crazy, especially since it is now trivial to research this stuff on google. Is this trend creatively bankrupt? Am I making much ado about nothing? Are there other pendants in the audience? Care to share any stories of pendantry as it relates to game monster design? Well, if we're going to be pedants here, no, it is not creatively bankrupt to re-imagine monsters as something different from their lore. However, taking my pedant hat off and looking at the heart of what you're saying, I definitely agree that there is a lot of missed potential in the monster designs. But this isn't a product of them taking liberties with the lore. That's perfectly valid and expected, and is part of being creative. I think it's as you say here: this is probably symptomatic of the fact that the vast majority of roleplaying involves violence. If a monster only exists for the player...
  • 07:33 PM - Umbran quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do orcs in gaming display parallels to colonialist propaganda?
    So this sort of, I don’t know what to call it, race building is very disturbing to me. You are writing a race whose sole purpose is to be killed by the heroes, and justly killed at that rather than the heroes being vicious psychopaths. I prefer to avoid that if I can. Well, remember that we are playing a game, not building an actual world. The elements in the game world do not actually have a purpose other than to serve the game, and the plaery's goals for the game. If their goals do not include particularly deep consideration of the morality of violence, then yes, the bad guys are just going to be bad, and we are not supposed to feel much for them when they come to harm at the hands of the PCs. You have seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, right? The bad guys are there to be a difficulty for Indiana Jones to overcome, often by punching or shooting them. And they come to a bad end, because they are *bad*. If, for example, you want a deeper consideration of the morality of violence in your ga...
  • 07:04 PM - billd91 quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do orcs in gaming display parallels to colonialist propaganda?
    I did some thinking about how to reclaim the savage humanoid horde trope and in my opinion to comes down to two extremes. On one end, you can depict them as people with the same depth as humans and demihumans (i.e. elves dwarves, halflings, tieflings, dragonborn, etc), although that often unfortunately results in replacing negative stereotypes with positive(?) stereotypes (e.g. all elves are beautiful, all dwarves are good workers, all halflings live in the shire, etc). But I digress. There's nothing wrong with certain amounts of stereotyping. After all, these are supposed to be different cultures/races from our current norms. Without some kind of difference, there's not much point to them being from different cultures and you need some way to communicate how they differ from us as players. All you have to do is say that these things tend to be averages or cultural values - not that every individual needs to conform to them. Halflings may generally be confined to a particular enclave or set of enc...
  • 06:08 PM - S'mon quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do orcs in gaming display parallels to colonialist propaganda?
    On the other end, you could strip away any semblance of humanity and write them as essentially aliens or bioweapons. I recommend 'The House on the Borderland' by William Hope Hodgson - Orcs as Cthulu-esque alien horrors!
  • 05:04 PM - Umbran quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do you design worlds according to fantastical physics?
    Something I dislike about typical modern fantasy world building is that it basically tacks magic onto a world that otherwise operates according to real physics. I don’t think that is holistic, since the pre-modern societies that laid the foundation for the fantasy genre didn’t think that way. Well, here's the thing - those pre-modern societies didn't think that way... but they were also *very wrong* about what was actually happening in the world. And, since they were wrong, you quickly find that if you follow their lines of reasoning for any distance, they become self-inconsistent. I'm a physicist by training. Putting together a world that runs on fundamentally different physics, but has the characteristics you see in the real world (like gravity, and light, and such) is very, very, very hard. I don't recommend it.
  • 04:20 PM - Umbran quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do orcs in gaming display parallels to colonialist propaganda?
    How much truth is there to this assumption? There are actually three questions here. 1) Did the author *intend* for orcs (or any other race) to stand in for a real-world race group? 2) Did the author unconsciously mold orcs to be a stand in for a real-world race group? 3) Are there sufficient similarities that, regardless of the author, is it reasonable for us to see them as a stand-in for a real-world race group? To answer (1), we must ask the author. To answer (2), we must play armchair psychologist. Imho, it would not really be fair to the author to do this unless you can cite multiple disparate elements in their works over time that suggest they have an unconscious tendency to such. To answer (3), we must look inside our own minds. (1) and (2) are really about trying to figure out what kind of person the author is/was like. (3) is more about whether we should use these elements as-is in our games.
  • 03:40 PM - Doug McCrae quoted BoxCrayonTales in post Do orcs in gaming display parallels to colonialist propaganda?
    Yes, there are parallels between orcs in gaming and racist ideas that were used to justify colonialism and imperialism. But that doesn't go far enough. The idea of orcs and other 'savage humanoids' derive in part from 19th and early 20th century notions of race. Not deliberately, and not always directly, but via the unexamined use of Appendix N authors, Westerns, and so forth. Have a look at 19th century cartoonist Thomas Nast's racist depictions of the Irish. They look remarkably similar to orcs. I also see plenty of people claiming that orcs do not and never have represented racial minorities, and that even suggesting such is itself racist.It isn't racist because we're not saying that orcs correspond to colonised peoples. We're saying they correspond to a coloniser's idea of colonised peoples.


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