5E Thoughts on this article about Black Culture & the D&D team dropping the ball?
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  1. #1
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    Thoughts on this article about Black Culture & the D&D team dropping the ball?


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    So, what ARE your thoughts?

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    In general, I think that WoTC has been very progressive in their latest edition, making sure all kinds of people are represented and not in any negatively stereotypical way.

    I'm not entirely sure I understand what the point of the article is. Yes, this is a fantasy culture that is based on African cultures. Similarly to how other products are based on European cultures. This means that most of the images will feature black people in african-style clothes. Isn't that what you'd want? The characters aren't caricatures and I feel most of the book is quite respectful and avoids harmful stereotypes. The links to colonialism, aren't glorifying racism, in fact they are doing quite the opposite. At least, that is my opinion.

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    And, to be fair, even the Euro-centric elements of D&D aren't really terribly historically based. They are pulled from pretty stock fantasy stuff and all jammed together. I don't think I'd expect a whole lot more from any D&D treatment set anywhere.
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    I believe the sort of general sentimentality of the article was akin to "It's not so much offensive as it is lazy." I get that. But that is arguably what defines the Forgotten Realms is that it is a sort of "lazy" assembly of its various parts and pieces of real world regions and cultures. (Sorry, Ed, but it is lazy.) Faerun is a lazy mishmash. Let us pray that the author does not also glance at Maztica, Zakhara, or Kara-Tur.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
    I believe the sort of general sentimentality of the article was akin to "It's not so much offensive as it is lazy." I get that. But that is arguably what defines the Forgotten Realms is that it is a sort of "lazy" assembly of its various parts and pieces of real world regions and cultures. (Sorry, Ed, but it is lazy.) Faerun is a lazy mishmash. Let us pray that the author does not also glance at Maztica, Zakhara, or Kara-Tur.
    I'm no PoC, so take my following comments with a grain of salt.
    I guess I agree with your statement. FR is a (culturally speaking) often lazy adaptation of various RL cultures. As a European, I can see strange mish-mashes of various stereotypes all over Northern Faerun and I have to admit that the most redeeming part of the setting was the general idea of magic and the interdependency between the divine and mortals. (Oh and the bad guys were usually cool as well. At least to a 18 year old girl which I was when I first read through the Campaign Setting).

    I guess Kara-Tur or Zakhara or Maztica or Chult might feel similar for someone who's from Asia (not all of Asia is a mix of feudal Japan and Chinese folklore) or the Middle East (although the Persian empire did span over a vast area, it became a LOT more complicated during/after the middle ages) or Middle/Southern America (don't just mix up Mayans and Inka and jungles and human sacrifices ...) or, as said, Africa.

    Now I do like racial and cultural diversity in a setting, as well as having maybe settings which specifically use only one region of the world as inspiration point to take a deeper dive into a variety of sub-cultures.
    7th Sea uses a multitude of RL-inspired mythical european cultures as basis. the Avatar-verse uses Chinese, Japanese and Inuit cultures and adds its own mythological stuff on top of it. Zeitgeist mixes up southern America, victorian England and an overall pretty black populace as well as it makes its "elves" based on indian cultures and myths.

    Now I think what should be really avoided are harmful stereotypes. And I guess we should ask someone who's from that origin point whether a stereotype we might have used in our writing is too much or even harmful. For example, I'm from Germany. And I'm so annoyed whenever a "german based" person or a "Germany based" region in a fantasy setting is somehow related to this setting's version of Nazis and autoritanism or is overly focused on overly masculine traits like hardness and steel (We're not all metalheads ). I don't mind as much when it comes to using a stereotypical inventiveness/focus on science or orderliness or a complicated beurocracy or a strange, stern humor. Because there are stereotypes many of us like to laugh about
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inglorin View Post
    So, what ARE your thoughts?

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    Oh im not touching this with a 10ft pole. Just curious on what others think. My problem is more with Kotaku itself. They like to stir up , and the internet as a whole tends for the same. News sites post these incredibly negative articles, which is fine, Im not against point out things like that, but would it be too hard to ask for some articles about things that are praised in the game as well? And even furthermore since the writer is so impassioned about this, I'd love to see her and others actually create something in the vein of what they say was WotC faltering on. Actually producing something would be a meaningful step forward so we can point to how things should be handled. And there's no excuse to not do it, especially feeling about stuff like this as strongly as people do.There's literally no barrier to entry on this stuff since we have the D&D store to sell your product as well as a myriad of sites (Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc etc) to promote your product.

    But no, making stuff like this actually takes hard work in research, game mechanics, etc etc. So people just bitch about stuff, cause turmoil then .... nothing, then they move on. There's no actual effort into addressing the problem then producing something that takes a step forward to fix the problem.
    Last edited by Evenglare; Friday, 20th October, 2017 at 10:02 AM.
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    I don't know a whole lot about the Forgotten Realms: Is Chult the only "Africa- analogue" in it?
    I was under the impression that Chult was more like Madagascar: an island full of lost species, with its own human culture, but an offshoot of a larger and more varied continent.

    As I understand it, the reason that FR is full of so many recognisably earthlike cultures is because it is: It was populated by actual humans from earth coming through portals and suchlike. Throw in magic and actual, meddling gods, and the cultures warped somewhat, but are still generally recognisable.

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    The root of the problem really seems to be a need to bring in a cultural correspondant. At least someone to tell you what is offensive or not. (mad monkey disease)

    Can't even do a Year of the Monkey thing, referencing Chinese New Year, without some offense.


    As for the colonial attitude? That's dnd as a whole. If that's racist... then the entire game is a lost cause
    Last edited by Mephista; Friday, 20th October, 2017 at 11:10 AM.
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    but all this does bring up a very curious question. What is black fantasy? Wu xia is basically chinese fantasy. Japanese fanatasy takes place in the Warring States period. We all know european fanatasy; egyptian fantasy invariably revolves round the mummy and the sphinx along with osirus, isis, set, anubus and bastet. Early American fantasy tends to shape around the Aztec and Incan civilizations. Arabian fantasy invariably revolves around the idea of djinn and early mesopotanean religions, along with 1001 arabian nights and sinbad.

    Now, I don't know about austrailia or pacific islanders either, but black fantasy is a great big question mark. I don't even have a starting point to even guess.
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