D&D 5E Dark Sun, problematic content, and 5E…

Is problematic content acceptable if obviously, explicitly evil and meant to be fought?

  • Yes.

    Votes: 203 89.4%
  • No.

    Votes: 24 10.6%

Synthil

Explorer
Chattel slavery is different, from a moral and ethical perspective
Can you elaborate on that? Sounds like oppression olympics. What kind of oppression is fair game to use? The only actual difference I can see, is if people are still affected by the fallout from a given oppression. Only then is it problematic. Because:

This is deeply offensive to people whose ancestry includes people who actually experienced slavery.
...in the last 200 years, you mean. Otherwise that'd be, like, everyone.
 

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DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
We are where we are with D&D because 1980s D&D culture left huge monuments to itself in text. If 2020s D&D culture doesn't leave equally huge monuments, the reaction to D&D's traditionally colonialist attitudes will be little more than a footnote in the history of the game. Twitter rage counts for nothing; Twitter has no memory.

When the center shifts, and it ceases to be profitable to market progressive ideals, the disclaimers on DMsGuild.com will vanish quietly, and all we will be left with are the picked-over digital remains of a 5th Edition D&D that studiously avoided or excised all controversial topics.

If oneD&D is to course-correct D&D culture, what it needs is a protest-literature stance on these topics. It needs to shout about slavery being evil, and indeed the right that all sapient creatures have to respect and fair treatment, regardless of their cultural, physical, or sexual differences. And it can't do that through avoidance.

oneD&D Dark Sun might not change the world, but it could change D&D -- if the community is prepared to let it.

It is a post-apocalyptic world, and that apocalypse was social as well as environmental. It is a worst-case scenario, but that's ideal for a game of heroic adventure. The classic setting's mistake is in assuming that the worst-case scenario changes the nature of heroism. It does not.

(For what it is worth, neither active nor passive complicity in the social apocalypse has ever been presented to me at table as a Dark Sun campaign expectation, from the '90s on, and I would personally always have walked away from such a table if it was.)

Protest literature isn't clean or easy. It's controversial, and it hurts enemies and allies both. It is supposed to be impossible to ignore; it is a call to action. If we want D&D culture to change permanently, we have to make permanent changes to D&D culture.

If you don't care about D&D changing, then by all means, remove all reference to painful social issues.

But if you do? Get out there and publish compatible material that exposes slavery for the evil that it is. Insist Wizards do the same. You'll be in good company; A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity was published in 1980 and republished in 1986 and 2013, with a sequel released in 2000, and spoiler alert: it does not include rules for playing the slavers.

Could Darksun be rewritten without these problematic elements? Sure, it could. As has been mentioned before, using the model of serfdom or even better (IMO) the corporate town* where all resources are controlled by the sorcerer kings and the templars and the workers have to push themselves to edge of their endurance in order to afford the necessities of life. Before anyone suggests that this is the same as slavery, it isn't. Not in any moral sense of the word. Chattel slavery is different, from a moral and ethical perspective.
You made some good points about Dark Sun's unacceptable casual disregard for morality, but you're just doing the same thing here. Holding up serfdom and the 'company store' as 'non-problematic' alternatives to slavery, fictional or otherwise, is disgusting. Please check your rhetoric.

  • I had one player who kept trying to play a cannibal. I felt a deep feeling of disgust for that character that then became a feeling of disgust for the player.

God, do I rue the day when edgelord scientists discovered cannibalism as the latest in envelop-pushing disgustingness. And when it broke the 90's era containment in RPGs and novels, spilling over into 00's comics and 10-20's movies. There were three movies out last year that use cannibalisms as an allegory for relationships. Three! THREE.
I do not understand this position, or the vehemence of the response, in context. I had thought the characterization of sapient cannibalism as savage or taboo to be just another Euro-Christian colonialist artifact. When we die, we are meat. What am I missing?
 

Irlo

Hero
I do not understand this position, or the vehemence of the response, in context. I had thought the characterization of sapient cannibalism as savage or taboo to be just another Euro-Christian colonialist artifact. When we die, we are meat. What am I missing?
You might be missing the murder and mutilation that accompanies the cannibalism.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
You might be missing the murder and mutilation that accompanies the cannibalism.
Is that it? Is it a question of lurid, graphic depiction? I get that. I don't typically even narrate combat outcomes in any detail. I didn't get that impression from the other posts. They sounded like more of a moral judgment.

Or are you suggesting that murder itself is immoral and out of place in D&D, because if you are, good on you, but that's a whole forum's worth of additional threads.
 

Irlo

Hero
Is that it? Is it a question of lurid, graphic depiction? I get that. I don't typically even narrate combat outcomes in any detail. I didn't get that impression from the other posts. They sounded like more of a moral judgment.

Or are you suggesting that murder itself is immoral and out of place in D&D, because if you are, good on you, but that's a whole forum's worth of additional threads.
Hard to say, as Magister's example didn't describe how the cannibal PC was played. I just suspect that it wasn't ritual cannibalism of the already dead but rather killing sentient creatures to make meat out of them.

At least one of the movies that Vaalingrade referenced involved AFAIK harvesting meat from a living victim, which is about as lurid a depiction of cannibalism as you can get. (I didn't see the movies mentioned, so I could be wrong.)

No, I'm not suggeting that murder is out of place in D&D, but I do recognize that murder and/or torture to facilitate cannibalism could be a step too far for many folks, especially when it's PCs engaged in that behavior.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
Holding up serfdom and the 'company store' as 'non-problematic' alternatives to slavery, fictional or otherwise, is disgusting. Please check your rhetoric.
Mod Note:

Speaking of “checking rhetoric”, the poster you quoted did not use the term ”non-problematic”- that’s YOU inserting it in order to respond to them. They merely used those exemplars as being lesser evils as compared to chattel slavery,

Let’s be more civil & accurate when throwing hard accusations, OK?
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I do not understand this position, or the vehemence of the response, in context. I had thought the characterization of sapient cannibalism as savage or taboo to be just another Euro-Christian colonialist artifact. When we die, we are meat. What am I missing?
1) Yes that is why edgelords love it: they're doing something taboo that the man doesn't want them to do and that makes them Kewl with a capital K.

2) The reason it's a taboo is actually super solid: prion disease. Sweet, delicious, brain destroying prion disease.

3) Very few creators are trying to say something poetic about the futility of life. They're just saying 'Look, I'm doing a turbo-evil! I'm so growed up!'. Its why they like having SA and slavery and child murder in.
 

Maybe it is not our fault, nor TSR neither WotC but by some group without true links with the hobby. The IP could be used by these, and then the franchise could be tainted ideologically.

Other point is the Tablelands of Athas are too small to be explored (compared with other settings) if the campaign is not linked with the overthrow of the sorcerer-kings. And players could start to face too many ethical dilemmas and Sadducean traps, too many and it stops to be fun.

And it is not only the lack of a system for the psionic powers, but also they have to choose about the return of the speces linkes with these. What if any body suggest the fraals(little gray aliens) a new psionic specie? Or the blues, the goblin subrace.

07181c2e440726adb5d77ada1ea8ae17--the-creation-empire.jpg


Other point is the survival is one of the key elements of the setting. If it was unlocked in DMGuild, then more of one 3PP would start to create crunch to help in the survival.

* Could corporal undeads need water in hot dessertic zones because dehydrated muscles can't move?

* There are radical changes in our current society. The people from 2022 and 2024 aren't going to be the same after some historical facts.

* Articles about DS in 4th Ed in Dragon Magazine weren't too far in the time. Do you remember the Athasian genasi (sun, ember, magma and sand)? What happened in the last years?

1678397409176.png


* Wild halflings can eat sentient beings, but that doesn't meant it could be allowed for players without serious consequences. And the jerren can do worse things. And even the kenders living in Sithicus (Ravenloft) could be dreadful against unwellcome visitors.

* I don't mind too much about how the metaplot would continue, but the unrevealed secrets about the setting.

* And in the current generation of videogames D&D cities are too "small" for the standars type "Grand Thief Auto".

* If certain "urband legend" from real life could be true, the antropophagy shouldn't be mentioned in D&D at all, not only in DS but in general.

* If Hasbro hires psychologists and educators for a right content the I am OK with this, but if there is some external pressur to obey certain agenda... then I am not happy at all. The entertaiment industry should try to be the most ideologically neutral possible.

I don't want to accept the imposition of new taboos (in the name of the political correction) without a debate like civilized people.

* The lore or background of the Athasian Tablelands is horrible for a wargame set in DS.

* Crimson Sands or Shaltered Lands could be the title of a DS spiritual succesor.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
1) Yes that is why edgelords love it: they're doing something taboo that the man doesn't want them to do and that makes them Kewl with a capital K.
Okay, so your objection isn't to cannibalism, it's to its pulp-comic use. Got it.
2) The reason it's a taboo is actually super solid: prion disease. Sweet, delicious, brain destroying prion disease.
...Maybe. Even if cultures throughout history have been aware of the connection between cannibalism and madness, it hasn't exactly been 100% effective in stopping the practice.

3) Very few creators are trying to say something poetic about the futility of life. They're just saying 'Look, I'm doing a turbo-evil! I'm so growed up!'. Its why they like having SA and slavery and child murder in.
I'm honestly not trying to say anything poetic about the futility of life either, I'm trying to say that we are organic matter that provides sustenance. Some cultures don't think that's a good enough reason to eat people. Some do. Many animals eat their own. Whatever the reason, a lack of the taboo is clearly a cultural choice and therefore should hardly be labeled a "turbo-evil."

We're too quick to condemn and kill animals as "man-eaters" who eat stupid people doing stupid things, too. We taste like pork, and should be careful about where and when we wave around our delicious, delicious limbs. Human exceptionalism, man. I don't truck with it.

But I'm arguing for the sake of it at this point, I appreciate your point, I don't like edgelords either. Animal abuse is the one that always gets up my nose, because it's PG-13 cruise control for evil. At least everything else on your list is R-rated. Evil can speak for itself, it doesn't need to show off.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
...Maybe. Even if cultures throughout history have been aware of the connection between cannibalism and madness, it hasn't exactly been 100% effective in stopping the practice.
This doens't make prions not a thing.
I'm honestly not trying to say anything poetic about the futility of life either, I'm trying to say that we are organic matter that provides sustenance. Some cultures don't think that's a good enough reason to eat people. Some do.
It will kill you. We also just straight don't eat carnivores for a similar reason.
Many animals eat their own.
Many herbivores eat recently born to recoup nutrients. The don't produce lavish dramas about how naughty and edgy it is.
Whatever the reason, a lack of the taboo is clearly a cultural choice and therefore should hardly be labeled a "turbo-evil."
Tell the edgelords. This is the reason they laud its usage and why Marvel went through a period where you had to eat someone to be a 'real' villain.
We're too quick to condemn and kill animals as "man-eaters" who eat stupid people doing stupid things, too. We taste like pork, and should be careful about where and when we wave around our delicious, delicious limbs. Human exceptionalism, man. I don't truck with it.
We... kill things that have proven the drive to kill us and that's... bad? Also, stupid people doing stupid things', like all those guys dragged out to Tsavo by expansionist jackholes who 'stupidly' slept inside what they were assured as an impenetrable thorn shield? Or the people who get merc'd sitting on their deck when a cougar decides deer are too fast?

A bit of empathy, please? Which is pretty much what this thread boils down to.

But I'm arguing for the sake of it at this point, I appreciate your point, I don't like edgelords either. Animal abuse is the one that always gets up my nose, because it's PG-13 cruise control for evil. At least everything else on your list is R-rated. Evil can speak for itself, it doesn't need to show off.
It does to get the attention of producers. Thank you very much, GRRM.
 

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