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

Hussar

Legend
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.
There is, however, more nuance than that. Tribal conflicts, and, in fact many forms of conflicts are not colonial in nature. The German invasion of France, for example, wasn't colonialist act, for example. Nor were the Crusades a colonialist expansion. Colonialism requires a few more things than just conflict. You need to have one side who isn't just fighting another side but actively trying to exterminate the other side, whether through straight up genocide or assimilation and then that is justifiable because the other side is being "helped" by the colonial power - which is seen as the civilizing force.

Which is pretty much 100% what Keep on the Borderlands IS. It's a colonialist adventure through and through. There's really no other interpretation here. Not when the humanoids are set up the way that they are with family groupings and whatnot. This isn't about protecting the homeland. This is about exterminating the natives.
 

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TheSword

Legend
...


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
I do agree with the premise that colonialism in D&D has to be treated with care. However I disagree with the idea that in Keep in the Borderlands they are being driven out because they are humanoids… Instead these folks are kidnapping local innocents, eating them and sacrificing them to evil and chaos. This is not an innocent group minding their own business. Keep on the Borderlands is also essentially defensive and the background in module text is pretty explicit that the kingdom is under attack from Chaos, not the other way around.

In this sense, Rappan Athuk is as likely a substitute for the Caves of Chaos as anything else.

There is a big difference between settler colonialism and exploitative colonialism as well. The first is pretty eternal and a part of every civilization of significance.
 
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Hiya!

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
I didn't suggest we shouldn't address colonialism, just that we shouldn't glorify it. My take on adventure design is to just present the situation, and the opinions of the NPCs involved at face value. There may be characters in the setting engaged in colonialism, genocide, slavery, murder, etc, but I don't artificially encourage the players' characters to go along with it or especially reward them for making value decisions (unless it's a campaign where we've agreed beforehand that certain value based decisions are rewarded).

Take B2 as an example, that ruleset rewards the players for coming home with treasure. All the drama about the beleaguered keep and the marauding humanoids is just the opinion of the NPCs they meet in the keep. There's no inherent mechanical reward for helping the Keep, or betraying the keep, or ignoring the keep and exploring the area for the hell of it, or opening a dialogue between the keep and the humanoids so they can live in harmony. Putting hands on gold is the only action that's rewarded (and perhaps glorified). Everything else you do on the way to that goal is your choice.

Edit: i meant to also say I don't think you should be glorifying murder and theft either. You get XP for acquiring treasure and defeating monsters that have HD. If you want to kill the kobolds and take their lair treasure, that's one way to do that. If you want to find a way to get those kobolds to willingly part with enough treasure for you to level up, you can do that too.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Edit: i meant to also say I don't think you should be glorifying murder and theft either. You get XP for acquiring treasure and defeating monsters that have HD. If you want to kill the kobolds and take their lair treasure, that's one way to do that. If you want to find a way to get those kobolds to willingly part with enough treasure for you to level up, you can do that too.
I think that's one reason I like story based/milestone rewards better - doesn't give extra encouragement to un-needed murder and plunder.
 

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.
I think they're saying there's a difference between including those things and glorifying those things. I think the term glorification is tricky.

All the scary things you want to keep in your campaign happen in my campaign too, but I don't orchestrate adventures that encourage the player characters to participate in those things. They CAN participate in those things if they want, but I don't tend to put them in situations where the only correct play is to exploit a marginalized sentient NPC. D&D should be a sandbox where the players can explore their own moralities, not one where they're doomed to explore the Dungeon Master's morality.
 

I think that's one reason I like story based/milestone rewards better - doesn't give extra encouragement to un-needed murder and plunder.
I found in my years that story based rewards are worse. You reward XP for what someone thinks is a cool story, then the game is gonna start to be about whatever most entertains the person giving out the XP.

I vastly prefer the old system where XP comes primarily from treasure, with monster-slaying being far less efficient and less safe. Yeah, it leads to a lot of lair-raiding for treasure, but what about forgotten ancient ruins where the only threats are traps and enchanted automatons? There's plenty of gold in them there hills that's not the property of a living creature.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I found in my years that story based rewards are worse. You reward XP for what someone thinks is a cool story, then the game is gonna start to be about whatever most entertains the person giving out the XP.

I vastly prefer the old system where XP comes primarily from treasure, with monster-slaying being far less efficient and less safe. Yeah, it leads to a lot of lair-raiding for treasure, but what about forgotten ancient ruins where the only threats are traps and enchanted automatons? There's plenty of gold in them there hills that's not the property of a living creature.

What's the XP reward in the classic system for saving the small village from a plague or natural disaster if there are no treasures and no monsters?
 

Why does that need an XP reward? If you think it needs an XP reward, then create a reward structure around things like that.

D&D wasn't about saving villages from floods, or throwing a ring into Mt Doom. D&D was about getting treasure. If you wanted to use the majority of D&D's rules to play games like that, you could, but you would have to overhaul the XP reward system to drive the sort of play your game is gonna be about.

These sorts of story-based XP rewards were hinted at as optional reward structures, but didn't really become explicitly codified until 3rd edition.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Why does that need an XP reward? If you think it needs an XP reward, then create a reward structure around things like that.

D&D wasn't about saving villages from floods, or throwing a ring into Mt Doom. D&D was about getting treasure. If you wanted to use the majority of D&D's rules to play games like that, you could, but you would have to overhaul the XP reward system to drive the sort of play your game is gonna be about.

These sorts of story-based XP rewards were hinted at as optional reward structures, but didn't really become explicitly codified until 3rd edition.
So, it's been about other things than just beating monsters and getting loot for at least 30 years or so now? (When did 3e come out?).

I'd rather ask why gold needs XP value. Isn't $$$ a reward In itself :)
 

grimslade

Doddering Old Git
The OPs world sounds like it would be fun to play a campaign. I love the concept of divine invasion and the fractious nature of the primordial alliance. I wonder if the tieflings would fare better as Aasimar allies serving the evil deities. The aasimar seem a little monolithic as the heavies of the setting; some variation and divided goals might offer a richer world.
 

TheSword

Legend
Why does that need an XP reward? If you think it needs an XP reward, then create a reward structure around things like that.

D&D wasn't about saving villages from floods, or throwing a ring into Mt Doom. D&D was about getting treasure. If you wanted to use the majority of D&D's rules to play games like that, you could, but you would have to overhaul the XP reward system to drive the sort of play your game is gonna be about.

These sorts of story-based XP rewards were hinted at as optional reward structures, but didn't really become explicitly codified until 3rd edition.
D&D was about getting treasure? That’s a new one to me and I’ve been playing for 30 years.

I thought it was about having experiences… 🙄
 

grimslade

Doddering Old Git
D&D was about getting treasure? That’s a new one to me and I’ve been playing for 30 years.

I thought it was about having experiences… 🙄
Why does that need an XP reward? If you think it needs an XP reward, then create a reward structure around things like that.

D&D wasn't about saving villages from floods, or throwing a ring into Mt Doom. D&D was about getting treasure. If you wanted to use the majority of D&D's rules to play games like that, you could, but you would have to overhaul the XP reward system to drive the sort of play your game is gonna be about.

These sorts of story-based XP rewards were hinted at as optional reward structures, but didn't really become explicitly codified until 3rd edition.
There is a lot of badwrongfun posts in this thread. The OP posted an example of a campaign world where you play as the colonized instead of the colonizer. D&D is flexible to support lots of different styles of play. You want to earn some sort ENnie karma points for your type of play? Start another thread.
 

TheSword

Legend
There is a lot of badwrongfun posts in this thread. The OP posted an example of a campaign world where you play as the colonized instead of the colonizer. D&D is flexible to support lots of different styles of play. You want to earn some sort ENnie karma points for your type of play? Start another thread.
How is saying I thought D&D was about having experiences bad-wrong fun? I thought that was a truism considering they’re called
experience points? Or have I misread your post.
 

grimslade

Doddering Old Git
How is saying I thought D&D was about having experiences bad-wrong fun? I thought that was a truism considering they’re called
experience points? Or have I misread your post.
I don't disagree with your point, just it has no relevance in this thread.
 


pming

Legend
I didn't suggest we shouldn't address colonialism, just that we shouldn't glorify it. My take on adventure design is to just present the situation, and the opinions of the NPCs involved at face value. There may be characters in the setting engaged in colonialism, genocide, slavery, murder, etc, but I don't artificially encourage the players' characters to go along with it or especially reward them for making value decisions (unless it's a campaign where we've agreed beforehand that certain value based decisions are rewarded).
Very close (if not exact) to the way I do it too. :)
Take B2 as an example, that ruleset rewards the players for coming home with treasure. All the drama about the beleaguered keep and the marauding humanoids is just the opinion of the NPCs they meet in the keep. There's no inherent mechanical reward for helping the Keep, or betraying the keep, or ignoring the keep and exploring the area for the hell of it, or opening a dialogue between the keep and the humanoids so they can live in harmony. Putting hands on gold is the only action that's rewarded (and perhaps glorified). Everything else you do on the way to that goal is your choice.
On the nosey, as the saying goes. Again, I'm in agreement with you.
The only thing I'd like to comment on is...
"...or opening a dialogue between the keep and the humanoids so they can live in harmony".
Great option and I have had a group of PC's actually do that (but it was using "Little Keep on the Borderlands", the Hackmaster remake, using the Hackmaster 4th Edition rules). It was with the Hobgoblins. They made a deal, but didn't read the 'fine print'. The hobgoblins got food, gold, and goods for not attacking anyone from the keep. Of course, anyone going TO the keep...fair game in their minds.

Point being, any "dialogue" with evil humanoids is, at best, a temporary reprieve. It'd be like making a deal with a serial-killer husband and wife duo....they may abide by the agreement, but only up to the point where they think they can get away with breaking it. Because, you know, EVIL. ;)

That was sort of a sub-text to my initial comments about the "humans in funny suits" thing; these races are not human, and attempting to ascribe "normal human thoughts, emotions, etc" to them is fine and all, but some things are just going to be completely alien.

Edit: i meant to also say I don't think you should be glorifying murder and theft either. You get XP for acquiring treasure and defeating monsters that have HD. If you want to kill the kobolds and take their lair treasure, that's one way to do that. If you want to find a way to get those kobolds to willingly part with enough treasure for you to level up, you can do that too.
Too many people use "glorifying"...I used it to make a point (or tried to). My reason for using the word was to emphasize some people's disconnect/bias when talking about things they feel comfortable about, but find other things completely unacceptable. For example, nudity in the west here (Canada/America). In Europe, a woman's breasts or a mans penis are seen as, well, just nudity. Nothing really "bad" about it...also in Europe, they see guns as dangerous and scary tools that should have heavy restrictions if not outright illegal. But here in Canada/America... you can have a kids and teens "Gun Safety Camp" where kids between 9 and 17 learn all about guns and go out shooting at targets...but have the 27 year old woman change her shirt around the corner but 6 teens see her boobies? INSTANT calls for a veritable tar-and feathering of the woman for "corrupting the poor, innocent youth".

Point being, we "accept" murder and even torture in a game of D&D...but bring up "colonialism" and suddenly we need to "not make light of it and point out how bad it was so that the players all feel guilty about something they had nothing to do with". It's... weird, if you ask me.

Oh well...just as long as I get to roll some dice and play make-believe, I'm happy! :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 




TheSword

Legend
"these races are not human"

A lot of real world colonial situations involve eliminationist and dehumanizing rhetoric denying the humanity of the other side. So the twist to make all this ok and comfortable to tell stories about is to just imagine that the rhetoric were true?
Yes. Because what something is, counts for more than what it resembles, or reminds you of.

When you write fiction you get to decide things that in real life aren’t so simple to determine. In real life we can only guess what someone is, while in fiction we get to choose.

It’s how we get heroes of our imaginations in our TTRPGs, when we know in real life heroes have feet of clay.
 

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