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D&D General Demihumans of Color and the Thermian Argument

Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
But there's something truly odd in people of the majority (in this case, white) telling people in the minority that their desire for representation doesn't matter, and that we shouldn't be asking for it whatsoever.

So, really, what I'm getting at is this.

Minorities need representation. It normalizes them, broadens worldview, and inspires them to see heroes that look like them, even if the race is different.

Racists use indifference to representation as a weapon. If you haven't seen this, its probably because you're not the target of it. Its real, and you need to believe us when we tell you that its real.

Representation matters. It doesn't matter if it's "fictional species" that people are asking for representation in. That's it.

@Shardstone , where can I find your products?
 

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Renaissance Europe was a heck of a lot more diverse than people fantasize about it.

Rome -intentionally- moved people from one end of the Empire to the other en-masse. We're talking about thousands of Egyptians relocated to Italy, Thousands of Assyrians moved to Spain, thousands of Scythians moved to Egypt. It helped homogenize the culture so that "Roman" became everyone's primary standard.

Damn! That's a REALLY good idea!

It's why white supremacists who take DNA tests are so -shocked- when they learn they've got 30% African DNA

Honestly, it would probably be worth the expense even just for this part alone. That's hilarious.

Please, most D&D settings resemble the US more than they do medieval Europe, especially if the former includes Anaheim.

This is a fair point.

In fact, upon further thought, if this weren't the case it would probably warrant changing the alignment entry for humans to "often evil" or maybe even "usually evil".

Premodern human societies were basically like Drow society: sustained entirely by the power of Evil. Only instead of supernatural evil from another world, these societies were sustained by the homespun evils of slavery/serfdom, child labor, a rigid class system, and draconian punishments that everyone bought into.
 
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Hussar

Legend
@Bohandus - that is a serious rabbit hole to dive down into. I mean, a good chunk of Roman history didn't really even have the notion of long term incarceration for a crime, just off hand. What constitutes a "child" varies hugely depending on all sorts of factors. I mean, we have extended childhood to almost 18 years which would be unheard of in a society where the average life expectancy is something like 40 years. D&D is very much NOT the place to try to untangle these knots.
 


@Bohandus - that is a serious rabbit hole to dive down into. I mean, a good chunk of Roman history didn't really even have the notion of long term incarceration for a crime, just off hand. What constitutes a "child" varies hugely depending on all sorts of factors. I mean, we have extended childhood to almost 18 years which would be unheard of in a society where the average life expectancy is something like 40 years. D&D is very much NOT the place to try to untangle these knots.

That average life expectancy statistic is heavily colored by the fact that over 50% of people died from random nonsense during early childhood. IIRC those who survived past early childhood could generally expect to live into their 60's or early 70' (unless there was a war, or a famine, or a plague)

EDIT:
Also, this thread is already trying to resolve an unsuitably complex issue through the medium of D&D, so what's one more.
 
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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
In fact, upon further thought, if this weren't the case it would probably warrant changing the alignment entry for humans to "often evil" or maybe even "usually evil".

Premodern human societies were basically like Drow society: sustained entirely by the power of Evil. Only instead of supernatural evil from another world, these societies were sustained by the homespun evils of slavery/serfdom, child labor, a rigid class system, and draconian punishments that everyone bought into.
Couple things:

Premodern human societies had evils in them, but were not evil by their nature. Slavery -sucked- in Rome. But slavery in that era was -way- different from the chattel slavery that came much later. To the point where slaves had rights. RIGHTS. Ain't that crazy?

In fact in Carthage slaves had -explicit rights- to walk away from their Master's holdings, find a guard, and ask for sanctuary if their master was cruel. Granted, cruelty was a high bar for the slave to prove. But if the slave could, with the help of the court and his fellow slaves, prove that his master was particularly cruel he could choose a kinder master for himself. As could -all- of the other slaves owned by that master, essentially ruining that dude for being cruel.

This gave slave-owners an explicit reason to be well known among slaves as particularly or exceedingly kind to their slaves and slaves in general, since slaves were a valuable property and it meant that if someone else was a jerk to his slaves you'd get free slaves out of it! Fat stacks of cash right into your pocket!

Serfdom, on the other hand, was also a pretty symbiotic relationship rather than the cruelty we're shown in movies. For every 1 person in a community who provides a service that is -not- related to growing food you need around 50 workers in the fields. Town has a Blacksmith? 50 people producing food. Town also has a priest? That's 100. Tavernkeep at the Pub? 150. Not because 50 workers need to supply that one guy with all the food he needs through the entire year, but because every farmer produced only slightly more than they needed, themselves, early on. Later inventions made it easier to get lots of food more rapidly... but.

So to have a single Soldier or Guard you needed 50 people working in the fields. To field 20-30 soldiers, enough to protect the populace from Banditry or Wild Beasts. Enough to go to war on behalf of the community, etc... You needed a -lot- of people in the fields... Not that them being in the fields meant they were overworked, either.

Food Production, back then, averaged out to about 20 hours a week of work. That's not a joke. You'd go out to your fields at around 7am when the sun was up, feed your animals, go over your fields, tend the farm, until about noon. And that was your work day. You'd then hit the tavern, pub, central square, head home to your family, sing songs, and generally chill out. And that's not including all the Festivals and Holy Days you'd take off which were WAY more common.

Oh, sure, during Harvest time it was all hands on deck 80 hours of work in a week barely time to get a meal in. Rushing to try and harvest all the food before it past it's peak and started spoiling. And then there was prepping it for storage or use as food immediately (Threshing Grain, for example, or grinding flour). But then you hit the Harvest Festival and everyone goofed off getting drunk and enjoying the Entertainment your local Lord hired to come perform.

'Cause the Lord's job wasn't -just- to protect the people, or manage the village, it was also to be the central party planner for a thousand or more people who need a -break- every now and then. And the Lord would get a break every now and then when he was Invited to Court. He and his family basically got an all-expenses-paid trip to the Capital to hang around in fancy places eating nice food and drinking great booze for a month or more, depending on what the King wanted for them.

EVEN THE TAVERNKEEPER only worked around 20 hours a week. 'Cause he'd open at noon and close at night. Before then everyone was in the fields, and with no street lights people shuffled home, drunk, as the sun was setting or shortly after dark, letting their feet walk the same path they've walked for years under starlight. Blacksmith? Did his work in the -morning- before it got too hot to be in a freaking FORGE. You'd tell him what you need on your way to the fields, pop back at noon or early the next morning to get what you need unless he had it on hand. When a smith wasn't forging particular tools for people (Plows, Bands for the Cooper, Axes) he was making things like Nails that you constantly need more of. You might only need 1-2 hammers in your life, but -nails-?!

And kids? Yeah. They worked on the farms or in the house with their parents or cleaned tables in a bar if their parents owned a tavern... But they also got the same holidays and festivals and 20 hour work weeks as their parents. And even during Harvest Time they were largely spared the more brutal quantities of work where they might "Get in the Way". You wanna know why we teach kids in the fall? Yeah. It's to keep them out of their farmer parents' hair during harvest. And it's been that way since forever. Though back then they were more likely to be taught by the local Priest than in an actual school.

And Apprenticed kids working with the blacksmith or cooper or fisherman? Same sort of situation. 20ish hours a week and most of it fairly light labor for the first half of their apprenticeship as they learn from the ages of 8 to 12 or 6-10 (depending on culture) and then more full on labor after that, but still capping out around 20 hours a week because the blacksmith isn't going to stay open during the hottest part of the day just so his apprentice can get in a few more hours of practice swinging a hammer.

The Evils of Child Labor and Ridiculous Work Hours weren't a real thing until the Industrial Revolution. Because unlike a Farmer or a Blacksmith who needed a bunch of time off work with his family and general happiness a machine -could- run 24 hours a day and the owners of those factories wanted them constantly churning out product for the maximum benefit to their cost.

Once society largely shifted over to an industrial one, the idea of a 40 hour workweek went from "Brutal but sometimes needed to be done" to "The bare minimum" in the eyes of society. It is not how humans have existed for the -vast- majority of time we've lived.

We exaggerate how terrible the past was in order to make our present seem more palatable. That's not to say that violence wasn't more common in those times. It -absolutely- was. Or that the world didn't have cruelty in it. It -absolutely- did. But that cruelty was just as shocking and drastic in those eras as it is, today.

And people's day to day lives? WAY less cruel, even for slaves before the transatlantic kicked up, than we imagine today.
 

TheSword

Legend
Couple things:

Premodern human societies had evils in them, but were not evil by their nature. Slavery -sucked- in Rome. But slavery in that era was -way- different from the chattel slavery that came much later. To the point where slaves had rights. RIGHTS. Ain't that crazy?

In fact in Carthage slaves had -explicit rights- to walk away from their Master's holdings, find a guard, and ask for sanctuary if their master was cruel. Granted, cruelty was a high bar for the slave to prove. But if the slave could, with the help of the court and his fellow slaves, prove that his master was particularly cruel he could choose a kinder master for himself. As could -all- of the other slaves owned by that master, essentially ruining that dude for being cruel.

This gave slave-owners an explicit reason to be well known among slaves as particularly or exceedingly kind to their slaves and slaves in general, since slaves were a valuable property and it meant that if someone else was a jerk to his slaves you'd get free slaves out of it! Fat stacks of cash right into your pocket!

Serfdom, on the other hand, was also a pretty symbiotic relationship rather than the cruelty we're shown in movies. For every 1 person in a community who provides a service that is -not- related to growing food you need around 50 workers in the fields. Town has a Blacksmith? 50 people producing food. Town also has a priest? That's 100. Tavernkeep at the Pub? 150. Not because 50 workers need to supply that one guy with all the food he needs through the entire year, but because every farmer produced only slightly more than they needed, themselves, early on. Later inventions made it easier to get lots of food more rapidly... but.

So to have a single Soldier or Guard you needed 50 people working in the fields. To field 20-30 soldiers, enough to protect the populace from Banditry or Wild Beasts. Enough to go to war on behalf of the community, etc... You needed a -lot- of people in the fields... Not that them being in the fields meant they were overworked, either.

Food Production, back then, averaged out to about 20 hours a week of work. That's not a joke. You'd go out to your fields at around 7am when the sun was up, feed your animals, go over your fields, tend the farm, until about noon. And that was your work day. You'd then hit the tavern, pub, central square, head home to your family, sing songs, and generally chill out. And that's not including all the Festivals and Holy Days you'd take off which were WAY more common.

Oh, sure, during Harvest time it was all hands on deck 80 hours of work in a week barely time to get a meal in. Rushing to try and harvest all the food before it past it's peak and started spoiling. And then there was prepping it for storage or use as food immediately (Threshing Grain, for example, or grinding flour). But then you hit the Harvest Festival and everyone goofed off getting drunk and enjoying the Entertainment your local Lord hired to come perform.

'Cause the Lord's job wasn't -just- to protect the people, or manage the village, it was also to be the central party planner for a thousand or more people who need a -break- every now and then. And the Lord would get a break every now and then when he was Invited to Court. He and his family basically got an all-expenses-paid trip to the Capital to hang around in fancy places eating nice food and drinking great booze for a month or more, depending on what the King wanted for them.

EVEN THE TAVERNKEEPER only worked around 20 hours a week. 'Cause he'd open at noon and close at night. Before then everyone was in the fields, and with no street lights people shuffled home, drunk, as the sun was setting or shortly after dark, letting their feet walk the same path they've walked for years under starlight. Blacksmith? Did his work in the -morning- before it got too hot to be in a freaking FORGE. You'd tell him what you need on your way to the fields, pop back at noon or early the next morning to get what you need unless he had it on hand. When a smith wasn't forging particular tools for people (Plows, Bands for the Cooper, Axes) he was making things like Nails that you constantly need more of. You might only need 1-2 hammers in your life, but -nails-?!

And kids? Yeah. They worked on the farms or in the house with their parents or cleaned tables in a bar if their parents owned a tavern... But they also got the same holidays and festivals and 20 hour work weeks as their parents. And even during Harvest Time they were largely spared the more brutal quantities of work where they might "Get in the Way". You wanna know why we teach kids in the fall? Yeah. It's to keep them out of their farmer parents' hair during harvest. And it's been that way since forever. Though back then they were more likely to be taught by the local Priest than in an actual school.

And Apprenticed kids working with the blacksmith or cooper or fisherman? Same sort of situation. 20ish hours a week and most of it fairly light labor for the first half of their apprenticeship as they learn from the ages of 8 to 12 or 6-10 (depending on culture) and then more full on labor after that, but still capping out around 20 hours a week because the blacksmith isn't going to stay open during the hottest part of the day just so his apprentice can get in a few more hours of practice swinging a hammer.

The Evils of Child Labor and Ridiculous Work Hours weren't a real thing until the Industrial Revolution. Because unlike a Farmer or a Blacksmith who needed a bunch of time off work with his family and general happiness a machine -could- run 24 hours a day and the owners of those factories wanted them constantly churning out product for the maximum benefit to their cost.

Once society largely shifted over to an industrial one, the idea of a 40 hour workweek went from "Brutal but sometimes needed to be done" to "The bare minimum" in the eyes of society. It is not how humans have existed for the -vast- majority of time we've lived.

We exaggerate how terrible the past was in order to make our present seem more palatable. That's not to say that violence wasn't more common in those times. It -absolutely- was. Or that the world didn't have cruelty in it. It -absolutely- did. But that cruelty was just as shocking and drastic in those eras as it is, today.

And people's day to day lives? WAY less cruel, even for slaves before the transatlantic kicked up, than we imagine today.
Really not happy to read that degrees of slavery are being measured against each other. The suggestion that this type of slavery is better or worse than that type is deeply unpalatable. You can make your arguments by selecting specific places or time but let’s be honest ancient history is a incredibly tricky thing to be categorical about. Judging quality of life by modern standards is a fools errand. All we deal with is examples and hope they aren’t contradicted by other examples.

Owning a person is just wrong. Plain wrong, suggesting it was better in ancient Carthage is really splitting hairs.

The same goes for child labor, whether in fields or industry… just wrong.

The history lesson is ill judged.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
All I can say is that child labor on the farm is still a thing. It's a farm. The family helps out in the summer for most farming families.

Edit: but this is quite the tangent. Some people (of whatever station) had good lives, some did not throughout history.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Really not happy to read that degrees of slavery are being measured against each other. The suggestion that this type of slavery is better or worse than that type is deeply unpalatable. You can make your arguments by selecting specific places or time but let’s be honest ancient history is a incredibly tricky thing to be categorical about. Judging quality of life by modern standards is a fools errand. All we deal with is examples and hope they aren’t contradicted by other examples.

Owning a person is just wrong. Plain wrong, suggesting it was better in ancient Carthage is really splitting hairs.

The same goes for child labor, whether in fields or industry… just wrong.

The history lesson is ill judged.
At no point did I attempt to justify slavery or present any form of slavery as acceptable.

I was only making the point that industrialization made pretty much every aspect of life way worse for every group of people and that life before it was -way- more comfortable and less cruel than most media generally portrays it. Including D&D.

Well. Not -every- group of people. But that's verging on a discussion of class politics.

As far as Child Labor: I agree that -exploiting- child labor is wrong. But to say child labor is categorically wrong means no chores around the house/farm/whatever. As a society we all agree that -some- level of Child Labor is right and good, and it generally revolves around teaching the child personal responsibility for their home and family. Doing dishes, mowing lawns, raking leaves, cleaning their rooms, and the like don't seem like "Real Work" only because those tasks have largely been devalued by unpaid family labor.

But you can hire a Maid and a Gardener to do those tasks and pay through the nose for the same service. Way more than you would ever consider paying your children.
 

Really not happy to read that degrees of slavery are being measured against each other. The suggestion that this type of slavery is better or worse than that type is deeply unpalatable.

No, I get what they're saying. It's on a completely different level down from what we're thinking, while still being completely terrible. Like going in to the doctor thinking you have liver cancer and the doctor tells you it's only hepatitis, or like the guards drag you out of your cell to the gallows but it turns out it's only a mock execution, there's only a couple inches of slack on the rope and after you've dangled choking for a minute they cut you down.
 
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TheSword

Legend
At no point did I attempt to justify slavery or present any form of slavery as acceptable.

I was only making the point that industrialization made pretty much every aspect of life way worse for every group of people and that life before it was -way- more comfortable and less cruel than most media generally portrays it. Including D&D.

Well. Not -every- group of people. But that's verging on a discussion of class politics.

As far as Child Labor: I agree that -exploiting- child labor is wrong. But to say child labor is categorically wrong means no chores around the house/farm/whatever. As a society we all agree that -some- level of Child Labor is right and good, and it generally revolves around teaching the child personal responsibility for their home and family. Doing dishes, mowing lawns, raking leaves, cleaning their rooms, and the like don't seem like "Real Work" only because those tasks have largely been devalued by unpaid family labor.

But you can hire a Maid and a Gardener to do those tasks and pay through the nose for the same service. Way more than you would ever consider paying your children.
I think you know that child labor isn’t considered to be doing the dishes and mowing the lawn, and never has been. I’m not interested in a quality of life debate that has nothing to do with the topic and can only be argued by your assertion. That’s by the by.

My main point was that it is very distasteful to read a fairly shallow argument saying slavery at X time ‘sucked’ and wasn’t anything like modern concepts of slavery. By citing a few examples at very specific points in time. Saying it was different is one thing, but as far as I’m concerned it was the same in the main way that counts. Attempting to lesson the unpleasentness of it is distasteful. As if atrocities can be arranged by degrees. It’s just bad.

… and totally off topic.
 

TheSword

Legend
No, I get what they're saying. It's on a completely different level down from what we're thinking, while still being completely terrible. Like going in to the doctor thinking you have liver cancer and the doctor tells you it's only hepatitis, or like the guards drag you out of your cell to the gallows but it turns out it's only a mock execution, there's only a couple inches of slack on the rope and after you've dangled choking for a minute they cut you down.
Well it isn’t like that at all is it. Because Steampunkette was still discussing slavery. Not ‘mock’ slavery. Or ‘benign’ slavery. Because in the context those things don’t exist.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I'm sorry that it was distasteful for you to read that slavery has existed in different manners across time with different expectations while still being categorically wrong in what you consider to be a "Shallow" argument. I find it distasteful that you're attempting to rephrase my general condemnation of modern reinterpretation of labor and cruelty in history using period examples across European History as being slavery apologetics. Less Cruel or Labor-Intensive slavery remains slavery, on this we clearly agree. And as previously noted I'm not attempting to justify or present slavery as acceptable.

And it's nice that we agree that society does not consider Children performing unpaid labor in the home as Child Labor, but instead the instilling of personal responsibility, even if the free labor garnered from that child's actions would otherwise cost quite a bit from an employed adult performing the same tasks. Including how that extends, in a farm environment, to feeding animals, mucking pens, grooming animals, and performing entirely separate forms of unpaid labor that an adult would be paid for performing.

It amuses me further that groups like 4H exist that cost money to join in order for the child to perform unpaid farm labor for "Fun" and competition. A situation where you pay money for someone to employ your child with no pay in the performing of agricultural labor... Modern Agricultural Apprenticeship.

Neat!
 

Hussar

Legend
Well it isn’t like that at all is it. Because Steampunkette was still discussing slavery. Not ‘mock’ slavery. Or ‘benign’ slavery. Because in the context those things don’t exist.
The problem though is, how do you define slavery?

After all, a significant portion of the US economy is propped up through prison labor which, by many definitions, qualifies as slavery. In fact, depending on how you define slavery, there are considerably larger slave populations in the US today than there were in the 19th century.

My point being, it's a REALLY complicated issue that is far, far beyond the scope of a game to untangle. Good grief, really smart people writing PHD's can't untangle it, nor come to anything approaching consensus. It's pretty unrealistic to expect an RPG to do it.
 

TheSword

Legend
I'm sorry that it was distasteful for you to read that slavery has existed in different manners across time with different expectations while still being categorically wrong in what you consider to be a "Shallow" argument. I find it distasteful that you're attempting to rephrase my general condemnation of modern reinterpretation of labor and cruelty in history using period examples across European History as being slavery apologetics. Less Cruel or Labor-Intensive slavery remains slavery, on this we clearly agree.

And it's nice that we agree that society does not consider Children performing unpaid labor in the home as Child Labor, but instead the instilling of personal responsibility, even if the free labor garnered from that child's actions would otherwise cost quite a bit from an employed adult performing the same tasks. Including how that extends, in a farm environment, to feeding animals, mucking pens, grooming animals, and performing entirely separate forms of unpaid labor that an adult would be paid for performing.

It amuses me further that groups like 4H exist that cost money to join in order for the child to perform unpaid farm labor for "Fun" and competition. A situation where you pay money for someone to employ your child with no pay in the performing of agricultural labor... Modern Agricultural Apprenticeship.

Neat!
Your claim was that it was less cruel is reductionist, impossible to prove and in poor taste. That is precisely the element I take issue with.
 

Well it isn’t like that at all is it. Because Steampunkette was still discussing slavery. Not ‘mock’ slavery. Or ‘benign’ slavery. Because in the context those things don’t exist.

I was talking about what WE were going in assuming, not what they were.

In any case, what about the liver cancer vs hepatitis metaphor?
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Your claim was that it was less cruel is reductionist, impossible to prove and in poor taste. That is precisely the element I take issue with.
IMO, it's pretty clearly a "less cruel version of slavery" where the slaves have the right to walk away from a bad slave-owner than the American equivalent. I'm absolutely not advocating for slavery in any way, but they're slightly different shades of a very, very, very dark gray.
 

lingual

Adventurer
It amuses me further that groups like 4H exist that cost money to join in order for the child to perform unpaid farm labor for "Fun" and competition. A situation where you pay money for someone to employ your child with no pay in the performing of agricultural labor... Modern Agricultural Apprenticeship.

My kids did 4H 🐱

I don't think those of us living in (I assume), wealthy "Western" nations with public services and social welfare really have the right frame of mind to criticize "child labor" on a family farm. In olden times when there was no public education, I assume that your children were pretty much your apprentices at a young age. If you combine the fact that you could very well be a serf or sharecropper of some sort and that agricultural technology was a lot lower than it is today, then "child labor" could mean the difference between starvation and survival.

Another example (probably more on the extreme end) - my daughter is only 17 but graduated from high school and wasn't doing anything this summer so I helped her get her first job. Not sure if that is what those critiquing you would qualify as "child labor". It's not child abuse in my book. She's actually happy to be getting some spending money and a checking account, etc.
 

TheSword

Legend
IMO, it's pretty clearly a "less cruel version of slavery" where the slaves have the right to walk away from a bad slave-owner than the American equivalent. I'm absolutely not advocating for slavery in any way, but they're slightly different shades of a very, very, very dark gray.
You’re talking about something that actually happened as if it is theoretical and abstract. The fact that some slaves were able to walk away, firstly is based on Steampunkettes unreferenced examples, secondly we have no idea how widespread those examples were, or to what extent they represented slavery across the Mediterranean. Or if they were a narrow time period or covered several thousand years of ancient history. We also don’t know whether a right in principle is also a right in practice.

At best we are fumbling in the dark. Therefore it’s sensible not to make assumptive statements that slavery in ancient mediterranean states was less cruel because we have a theoretical idea of what one right in one city state was like on one issue in isolation.

[Edit] I’ve just realised that people are thread hopping similar discussions as they get excluded or the threads get closed. I didn’t realize that. So I won’t be responding any more on the subject.
 
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