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D&D 5E Don't play "stupid" characters. It is ableist.

Argyle King

Legend
Nobody is talking about what the game is “teaching someone to do.”

You're talking about creating an atmosphere which fosters (and encourages) particular behaviors.

Edit: If a group of people are sitting around and mocking disabled people as a weekly form of entertainment, I would say that's an issue which is independent of whether or not someone is playing a character in D&D.
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
You're talking about creating an atmosphere which fosters (and encourages) particular behaviors.
Yes, within the D&D community. By making it a place where certain people feel welcome and certain people do not.
Edit: If a group of people are sitting around and mocking disabled people as a weekly form of entertainment, I would say that's an issue which is independent of whether or not someone is playing a character in D&D.
I agree. And I for one, don’t want D&D to be a game that welcomes people who do that.
 
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pming

Legend
Hiya.
You, the real people playing the game, are really saying real words, with your real mouths, that are said by bullies to mock people, and then laughing about it.
Yes. But we aren't bullying anyone. We aren't mocking anyone. We're just playing an RPG.

That you’re saying them about an imaginary person is incidental. What matters is that by actually saying mocking things about people’s intelligence and laughing, you are making the environment a place where bullies feel welcome and victims of bullying do not.
I don't have any bullies in my games. In fact, I've never had a bully in my game. So I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that if some people playing an RPG around a kitchen table is somehow going to bring out all these "RPG bullies hiding in the woodwork, just WAITING for a game that lets them bully imaginary people in an imaginary world"...uh...well, I'm just glad I don't live where you do.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Hiya.

Yes. But we aren't bullying anyone. We aren't mocking anyone. We're just playing an RPG.
You are mocking people who have mental disabilities, or who display behaviors typically associated with “stupidity.” There just don’t happen to be such people around to witness it.

I don't have any bullies in my games. In fact, I've never had a bully in my game.
I mean, given that you said “yes,” your group does say words, with your mouths, that are used to mock people, and then laughing about it… It kinda sounds like you do.
So I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that if some people playing an RPG around a kitchen table is somehow going to bring out all these "RPG bullies hiding in the woodwork, just WAITING for a game that lets them bully imaginary people in an imaginary world"...uh...well, I'm just glad I don't live where you do.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
These people do exist, and when they are permitted to pass their bullying behavior off as “just a joke” or “just a game,” within a particular community, they flock to that community - and the targets of their bullying flock away from it. This is the whole “if you let a Nazi stay in your bar, it will become a Nazi bar” phenomenon.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think a main difference is that normally a PC is a protagonist in an heroic story. A racist PC is kind of tought to make heroic (maybe if you plan out a redemption story). I could see a racist PC in another game entirelly, but in D&D I'd never accept it.
I've played some racist (more accurately, species-ist) characters in D&D - and seen others far more so than what I've played - and it wasn't an issue except in the fiction where it belongs.

But then, I'm not often trying to make any of my characters heroic. They just do what they do and any heroism they achieve is purely a side effect, not a goal.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!
Here's exactly where the 'they're fictional' argument breaks down: How would you feel about a player coming to your table playing a character who is a purposeful real world racial stereotype?

Is that okay because it's 'fictional' too? Please explain why or why not.

If it's not okay, how does that differ from mocking neurodivergent people?
I would say... "Dude...kinda stereotypical, isn't he?", then let the Player explain why he think's it'd be fun to play. I mean, stereotypes aren't necessarily bad, they're just 'stereotypical' (re: white guys can't dance, asians are good at math, etc [for the record, I'm "mostly white, but with identifiable asian traits"...think "wuxia viking" and you have my heritage :) ).

Stereotypes don't bother me much. I've had my fair share of "Wait...YOU are Mr. Ming? Really?..." encounters over the years. Before they meet me face to face, they have a "stereotypical idea" of someone with the last name Ming. Which is fine. That's how humans work. But after they meet me, they get to know me. Some of the stereotypes are accurate, some not so much. I don't think any "less" of them for having the initial stereotype. I'd only have a problem if they started to get upset with me for "not being who they expect me to be"...but that's a problem with the individual, not me or the stereotype.

So, I'd pose the same question to you. How would you feel about a player coming to your table playing a character who is a purposeful real world racial stereotype?

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
But if you mockingly play a low-Intelligence character, or mockingly tell jokes, you are engaged in the activity of mocking. You aren't pretending to mock - you are actually doing it, just in a different medium. Mocking in song, mocking in prose, mocking in doodles, mocking in RPG play - it is all still mocking.
And for some of us, mockery among our friends - both given out and taken in return - is just how we roll. :)
*If you are talking about assigning XP values to real people, however, that's a different story. I'd find that problematic. Similarly, building a dungeon in which the monsters are directly representative of your classmates and teachers would be a problem.
A DM of mine, without any forewarning, once ad-libbed an ex-boss of mine into a dungeon as an opponent the session after said ex-boss fired me - does that count?
 

Redwizard007

Explorer
When you play 'stupid' characters are you are saying that there are stupid people and then you are imitating those people.

The idea of 'stupid' and 'smart' is rooted in ableism.

Don't use stats as an excuse. Having an 8 Int means (basically) that the character is slightly worse at memorizing facts than an average human.

Do have traits and behaviours which hinder the character (if you want).

Maybe they are not very knowledgeable.

Maybe they don't pay attention much of the time.

Maybe they engage in risky behaviour and think rashly.

Maybe they lack confidence because they have been called 'stupid' their whole lives.

Maybe they find themselves in a culture which is very different than their own and they struggle to adapt. Their common isn't very good and the way they view the world is different than those around them.

There are lots of possibilities to create interesting characters rather than just a walking insult and punching bag.
How would you compare this to identifying an 8 str score as weak, 8 dex as clumsy, 8 con as sickly, 8 wis as oblivious, or 8 cha as weak willed? Where is it permitted to play a particular character with flaws?
I understand the desire not to marginalize anyone, but portraying a RPG character as consistent with their ability scores doesn't really seem particularly callous.
 

pming

Legend
You are mocking people who have mental disabilities, or who display behaviors typically associated with “stupidity.” There just don’t happen to be such people around to witness it.

I mean, given that you said “yes,” your group does say words, with your mouths, that are used to mock people, and then laughing about it… It kinda sounds like you do.

These people do exist, and when they are permitted to pass their bullying behavior off as “just a joke” or “just a game,” within a particular community, they flock to that community - and the targets of their bullying flock away from it. This is the whole “if you let a Nazi stay in your bar, it will become a Nazi bar” phenomenon.
sigh

We are not mocking PEOPLE. Hell, I can probably count the number of times a Player has mocked AN NPC IN A GAME SESSION on my hands and have several fingers left over.

EDIT: I can't really use any real-world examples of my personal experience and of 1st hand knowledge of friends experiences with the topic at hand...or I'd get banned or another 'infraction point'. So I'm not going to.

Bottom line, your experiences and perception of people and the world are VERY different from mine. I don't think we're going to come to any consensus other than "Agree to disagree".

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
How would you compare this to identifying an 8 str score as weak, 8 dex as clumsy, 8 con as sickly, 8 wis as oblivious, or 8 cha as weak willed? Where is it permitted to play a particular character with flaws?
I understand the desire not to marginalize anyone, but portraying a RPG character as consistent with their ability scores doesn't really seem particularly callous.
Portraying a RPG character as consistent with their ability scores isn't particularly callous.
Mocking other players at the table and claiming that you are "just playing your character, get over it" is.

This is not difficult to understand.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
How would you compare this to identifying an 8 str score as weak, 8 dex as clumsy, 8 con as sickly, 8 wis as oblivious, or 8 cha as weak willed? Where is it permitted to play a particular character with flaws?
I understand the desire not to marginalize anyone, but portraying a RPG character as consistent with their ability scores doesn't really seem particularly callous.

A character with 8 strength can carry 120lbs on their back while sprinting.

This isn't about stats.
 


clearstream

(He, Him)
I've played some racist (more accurately, species-ist) characters in D&D - and seen others far more so than what I've played - and it wasn't an issue except in the fiction where it belongs.

But then, I'm not often trying to make any of my characters heroic. They just do what they do and any heroism they achieve is purely a side effect, not a goal.
Bear in mind the strong differences between rivalries between those on equal ground, relishing differences, and punching down.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
How about we eliminate all racial ASI, everyone starts with 6x 11s and gets 8 points to freely assign at 1st level.
That way, everybody's slightly above average in everything, with a few better stats but nothing overpowered. And then everybody gets a participation trophy.
Mod Note:

Sarcasm is fine and all, but how about we refrain from using rhetorical dog whistles like “participation trophies”?
 
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Scars Unseen

Adventurer
Did you intend to use the term 'mental' here pejoratively?
Just at a glance, I can tell you that they did not. They used it as an adjective, as in "mental process," not as slang, such as in "you've gone mental." A stronger phrase along similar lines would be "mental gymnastics," and that would have been pejorative, but the operative negativity in the phrase would have been "gymnastics," not "mental." As the comment stands, they are saying that a route was taken to get to a conclusion, that route was a mental one, and that they don't necessarily agree that the route actually goes to the destination being cited.
 

Because, as has been said repeatedly in this thread, offense is not the problem. The problem is that you’re creating an environment where people who think it’s funny to mock people’s intelligence are comfortable, and people who have had their intelligence mocked probably wouldn’t be.
I hear what you are saying. So we should think about this:

By that standard, when a goliath mocks the halfling for being short, that should be avoided too. I feel certain in real life, short people have had to deal with comments like that before. They, most likely, did not find them funny.

Just a thought.
 

Bolares

Hero
I hear what you are saying. So we should think about this:

By that standard, when a goliath mocks the halfling for being short, that should be avoided too. I feel certain in real life, short people have had to deal with comments like that before. They, most likely, did not find them funny.

Just a thought.
While I think, yes we should avoid making fun of people because o physical traits... Being short is not a good comparison to having a mental disabilitty.
 



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