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D&D General Divine Invasion: A Proposal for an Anti-Colonialist D&D Setting

High fantasy is a potentially perfect genre for a dnd game that is about fighting colonialism. I would go through and add some nuance to your factions: maybe there are aasimar that are opposed to the colonial project, and maybe some genasi are collaborators? For those that are collaborators, do they really have a choice, or are they doing what they need to do for survival? etc.
 

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AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Is there a reason to focus on what you don't like when you can spend that word count on what you do like?
. . . Did they not spend the word count on what they do like? That's kind of the point of them making this thread in the first place, discussing what they do like and subverting the typical tropes that they don't like.

Is there a reason to post in this thread criticizing something you don't like when you could have not said anything or posted something constructive?
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
B2 is the patient zero of settler colonialism in dnd. It mimics, in fantasy terms, the ethos of American settlers in places like Wisconsin and their false ideology of manifest destiny. Its genre is as much the Western as it is anything medieval.

<insert something I've probably said in other threads about colonialism in D&D and about B2>

Anyway, here's the idea I floated as a temporary game for my current group while our GM preps the next arc, based on the Goodman reissue of B1 and B2 for 5e with a splash of B/X and Dying Earth. Waiting to hear back from them:

The ages have shifted under the red moonless sky and the forces of "Law" are split into Order, Justice, and Mercy, and the forces of "Chaos" into Aberration, Immortality (aka Undeath), and Temptation, with a plethora of saints, devils, spirits and whatnot making pacts and answer prayers, but no gods. And with a lot of "people" just wishing they'd leave them alone. The pelgranes and sandestins of past ages have mostly been hunted to extinction. Of particular note, the forces of extreme Law along the border are being championed by humano-supremacists (with demi-humans being "ok").

The party members could be anything from Kobolds to Warforged (have the Volo, Eberron, Ravnica, and Tortle races), either "civilized" or not so much, and are racing to the newly opened Borderlands to recover objects and accomplish missions before other competing groups of various motivations do so. Some magical disguises to start with might aid in a bit of infiltration or just getting along when needed, although some of the party might chafe at altering their usual smells, diets, and accents.

[DMs note: "People" includes the humanoids. And of course the people in the keep, B1 area, and B2 area all have varying motivations too -- with many of those running the Keep not being particularly any "better" than some in the back left corner of the caves, for example, and being notably much worse than some of the inhabitants of other parts of the caves.]
 
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<insert something I've probably said in other threads about colonialism in D&D and about B2>

Anyway, here's the idea I floated as a temporary game for my current group while our GM preps the next arc, based on the Goodman reissue of B1 and B2 for 5e with a splash of B/X and Dying Earth. Waiting to hear back from them:

The ages have shifted under the red moonless sky and the forces of "Law" are split into Order, Justice, and Mercy, and the forces of "Chaos" into Aberration, Immortality (aka Undeath), and Temptation, with a plethora of saints, devils, spirits and whatnot making pacts and answer prayers, but no gods. And with a lot of "people" just wishing they'd leave them alone. The pelgranes and sandestins of past ages have mostly been hunted to extinction. Of particular note, the forces of extreme Law along the border are being championed by humano-supremacists (with demi-humans being "ok").

The party members could be anything from Kobolds to Warforged (have the Volo, Eberron, Ravnica, and Tortle races), either "civilized" or not so much, and are racing to the newly opened Borderlands to recover objects and accomplish missions before other competing groups of various motivations do so. Some magical disguises to start with might aid in a bit of infiltration or just getting along when needed, although some of the party might chafe at altering their usual smells, diets, and accents.

[DMs note: "People" includes the humanoids. And of course the people in the keep, B1 area, and B2 area all have varying motivations too -- with many of those running the Keep not being particularly any "better" than some in the back left corner of the caves, for example, and being notably much worse than some of the inhabitants of other parts of the caves.]
awesome!

It could be made more 'medieval' too. I remember traveling to Wales a few years back and seeing so many beautiful castles. And then realizing, oh those were English military outposts, and there are so many of them because that's how many it took to subdue the local population...
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
. . . Did they not spend the word count on what they do like? That's kind of the point of them making this thread in the first place, discussing what they do like and subverting the typical tropes that they don't like.

Is there a reason to post in this thread criticizing something you don't like when you could have not said anything or posted something constructive?
I didn't criticize, or say I didn't like something. I asked if there was a reason, and you took it as criticism?
 
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awesome!

It could be made more 'medieval' too. I remember traveling to Wales a few years back and seeing so many beautiful castles. And then realizing, oh those were English military outposts, and there are so many of them because that's how many it took to subdue the local population...

Well in defense of the "English" there, the most famous of those castles were from a time when the rulers and ruling class of England benefiting from such structures of oppression (literal and figurative) were in many ways less "English" than they were a whole separate culture and ethnicity of "Anglo-Normans" who would rather have nothing to do with that dirty peasant language we're conversing in the derivative of. Which draws us to the fact that world history is just invasions and subjugation all the way down, and the history of the British Isles doubly so.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I don't get the reasoning of this question.
I think OP is just identifying something that is a problem for them (colonialism in dnd) and spending the majority of the 'word count' on their solution, i.e. focusing on what they do like.
Because walls of text are a disincentive to read something, and it seemed cutting to the chase and diving in to the idea itself would be a better use of the brief attention you can usually ask of a stranger. But maybe there is a good reason to spend that attention on why you dislike the part you're addressing, so rather than assume I asked him.
 

Well in defense of the "English" there, the most famous of those castles were from a time when the rulers and ruling class of England benefiting from such structures of oppression (literal and figurative) were in many ways less "English" than they were a whole separate culture and ethnicity of "Anglo-Normans" who would rather have nothing to do with that dirty peasant language we're conversing in the derivative of. Which draws us to the fact that world history is just invasions and subjugation all the way down, and the history of the British Isles doubly so.
And the English were very good, whether in Ireland, North America, or India, in characterizing those whom they subjugated as uncivilized, barbaric, pagan, and as a threat worthy of eradication, enslavement, and (later) the object of a civilizing mission. B2 and similar scenarios ask, what if there were a fantasy world where all those things were actually true, rather than just the dangerous projections of an invading power.
 



I have to agree with Greg. Keep on the Borderlands takes place in a fantasy world where the Humans were there first, and the Non-humans have migrated in to kick them off this land. In this one specific adventure, the PCs are tasked with resisting the colonizing efforts of the non-humans. I won't excuse all the rest of D&D, though. Most of it's pretty favorable of colonialism.
 

Hiya!

The thing that kept popping up in my head when giving the OP's post a "solid skimming over" was this: "So, why do all these other races seem like humans in funny suits?".

The majority of what "vibe" I got from each 'race' as a motivation was basically human. That's it. I didn't get any sense of "not a human" from them.

I think if some sort of "defend our land from invaders" campaign was to be had, and it wanted to focus on non-human creatures, well, wouldn't the first thing be to distinguish all the non-human creatures as...er... not human?

I don't know. Maybe it's just me. But when I hear "Aaracokra" I don't think "just a dude with wings". They would have VASTLY different ideas of what is right/wrong, good/evil, acceptable/unacceptable, desired/undesirable, etc. For example, I can easily see the Aaracokra having a huge sense of superiority over any non-flight-capable race to the point where there would be specific rules/laws that are granted to Aaracokra, then "other flight-capable" creatures, then "ground-limited" creatures being their 'slave/serf race'. Aaracokra (or Dragonborn, Tiefling, Genasai, etc) are not human, and reducing them to nothing more than just "humans in funny suits", to me, is missing a potentially HUGE opportunity for a campaign.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
I think the only solution to the glorification of colonialism in RPGs is to not glorify colonialism AT ALL. Just dehumanizing (or humanizing) the participants doesn't really change anything for the better.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
B2 is the patient zero of settler colonialism in dnd. It mimics, in fantasy terms, the ethos of American settlers in places like Wisconsin and their false ideology of manifest destiny. Its genre is as much the Western as it is anything medieval.
You are welcome to use the text of the actual module to make your point.

But just glancing at it, the set up is resisting invasion. Thats literally what it is.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!
I think the only solution to the glorification of colonialism in RPGs is to not glorify colonialism AT ALL. Just dehumanizing (or humanizing) the participants doesn't really change anything for the better.
I guess "glorification of colonialism" in an RPG is bad...but "glorification of murder and theft" in an RPG is all fine and dandy then?

;)

We're talking about RPG's here...games of make believe. We don't bat an eye when the PC party see's a bandit camp, then sneak in and murders the captain, his guards, and any others that get involved. We don't worry when the PC's come into a small village, all packing WMD's because they are "just a wand of fireballs and a ring of invisibility". We think "Cool!" when the barbarian rages during a bar fight and almost kills 6 famers and a pair of guards who now have to deal with, you know, "not dying" as they recover (not to mention the sudden lack of income for their families). ...etc...etc...

My point is this: If someone is going to do some kind of "colonial" or "anti-colonial" story line in their campaign...it's not "glorifying colonialism" and more than the game is "glorifying murder" or "glorifying theft, political destabilization, or violence against animals". ... ... The OP had an outline that sounded like it might be fun...but it sounded like none of the actual "races" were anything more than just humans in funny suits; there wasn't enough thought put into just how potentially ALIEN the thought processes, desires, hatreds, loves, fears, etc of these races might be, and I thought that was too bad. Missed opportunity for something "similar but different", I guess.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

TheSword

Legend
My DM set the Keep on the Borderlands a couple of miles from Rappan Athuk. We didn’t have time for any colonial oppression we were too busy trying to stay alive in the face of demon worshippers. 😱
 

It's no secret that there's been a lot of criticism lately about certain aspects of D&D, chiefly that certain "monstrous humanoids" are described in ways that are too close for comfort to how European colonists described the peoples of the lands they invaded. Many older D&D adventures like Keep on the Borderlands are very easy to identify as colonialist by portraying a "civilizing force" driving out the indigenous people, who are portrayed as evil threats just because they live nearby.
...
Instead of attacking creatures coded as indigenous people and looting their ruins, in this outline you'd be driving out colonial forces and looting the ruins of their settlements. If you go into any other ruins it's to clear them of occupying colonialist forces and recover treasure belonging to the heritage of the player characters.

If you disagree with the premises of the OP, listed above, then I think you will not have very much to add to this thread
 

Bird Of Play

Explorer
Thanks, but I'm going to keep colonialism into my rpg, just as I'm going to keep my wars, violence, diseases, treacherous political bulls**t, income inequality, racism, sexism, and anything that I feel would suit the theme of whatever questline I'm currently making.

I say the most ancient origin of the narrative act is exactly to focalize and talk about problems and issues, sometimes in an abstract manner.

However, this is me. I'm not gonna police how others want to enjoy their own game, so if you want to imagine some kind of anti-colonialist world, go for it! ......And then tell me about it, because it's going to be something very hard to create without making it absolutely unbelievable: tribal conflict and pushing away other groups to get the resources all for ourselves is a core element of the entire ecosystem of our planet, including viruses, bacteria and plants.... so it's probably hard to think of a setting which doesn't involve anything that resembles some form of colonialism.
 

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