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D&D 5E [Merged] Candlekeep Mysteries Author Speaks Out On WotC's Cuts To Adventure

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In an event which is being referred to as #PanzerCut, one of the Candlekeep Mysteries authors has gone public with complaints about how their adventure was edited.

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Book of Cylinders is one of the adventures in the book. It was written by Graeme Barber (who goes by the usernames PanzerLion and PoCGamer on social media).

Barber was caught by surprise when he found out what the final adventure looked like. The adventure was reduced by about a third, and his playable race -- the Grippli -- was cut. Additionally, WotC inserted some terminology that he considered to be colonialist, which is one of the things they were ostensibly trying to avoid by recruiting a diverse team of authors for the book.

His complaints also reference the lack of communication during the editing process, and how he did public interviews unknowingly talking about elements of an adventure which no longer existed.

"I wrote for [Candlekeep Mysteries], the recent [D&D] release. Things went sideways. The key issues were that the bulk of the lore and a lot of the cultural information that made my adventure "mine" were stripped out. And this was done without any interaction with me, leaving me holding the bag as I misled the public on the contents and aspects of my adventure. Yes, it was work-for-hire freelance writing, but the whole purpose was to bring in fresh voices and new perspectives.

So, when I read my adventure, this happened. This was effectively the shock phase of it all.

Then I moved onto processing what had happened. ~1300 words cut, and without the cut lore, the gravity of the adventure, and its connections to things are gravely watered down. Also "primitive" was inserted.

Then the aftermath of it all. The adventure that came out was a watered down version of what went in, that didn't reflect me anymore as a writer or creator. Which flew in the face of the spirit of the project as had been explained to me.

So then I wrote. Things don't change unless people know what's up and can engage with things in a prepared way. So I broke down the process of writing for Wizards I'd experienced, and developed some rules that can be used to avoid what happened to me."


He recounts his experiences in two blog posts:


The author later added "Wizards owns all the material sent in, and does not publish unedited adventures on the DM Guild, so there will be no "PanzerCut". I have respectfully requested that my name be removed from future printings. "
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

DM Magic

Adventurer
We've used primal while camping. Normally in context if fire and cooking what you kill.
Primal I can see come up, given the context. But no one walks around saying, "Ah, yes. Here we are at the campsite. Why, take a look at those primitive tents! And the primitive general store made from logs! Oops, excuse me, I have to go take a dump in that primitive outhouse."

But white people often do -- and in great numbers -- remark on how primitive indigenous people are, along with their art, dwellings, and culture.
 

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Zardnaar

Legend
Primal I can see come up, given the context. But no one walks around saying, "Ah, yes. Here we are at the campsite. Why, take a look at those primitive tents! And the primitive general store made from logs! Oops, excuse me, I have to go take a dump in that primitive outhouse."

But white people often do -- and in great numbers -- remark on how primitive indigenous people are, along with their art, dwellings, and culture.

It's just a word and it's not even that negative.

It can be used that way but so can lots if words.

The camping thing has been mentioned I've seen it used in reference's to refugee camps and facilities at camp sites.

In the context of the adventure and how it was used it's fine imho.

Might also vary by what country you're from. Not sure if Americans use long drops but we do here and yeah guess what word get used.
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
It's just a word and it's not even that negative.

I mean, I'd wager the Native Americans would disagree, given that they were termed primitive and then had the government and missionaries actively try destroying their culture through "Residential schools". Or Africans who heard how they were to be "civilized" by white colonizers. I'm not sure how this is even an argument anymore.

It can be used that way but so can lots if words.

But "primitive" has much less usage in day-to-day speech compared to anthropological and sociological vocations.

The camping thing has been mentioned I've seen it used in reference's to refugee camps and facilities at camp sites.

I can think of only a few times when it's been used, and generally speaking it's never used as a positive (or by ESL speakers who don't realize how awkward it sounds).
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
There was an initial back-and-forth where the idea was submitted and revised. What came out of that is what was written; not more, nor less. If you haven't yet, you should read his blog posts about this.

I read it. A big portion of his posts are pointing out how much material was cut, and I think WotC was well within their rights to do so; the problem there seemed to be largely that PanzerLion went into the project with very different expectations than what WotC intended.

Now, the adding of language like "primitive" and other content meant to make the Grippli look more uncivilized, that is a much more fair criticism and one that WotC should be roasted for.
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
I read it. A big portion of his posts are pointing out how much material was cut, and I think WotC was well within their rights to do so; the problem there seemed to be largely that PanzerLion went into the project with very different expectations than what WotC intended.

Sure, WOTC has the right, but it also has (given how people have talked about the adventure) seemed to have lead to a poorer adventure overall. I know you brought up Matt Colville's talk about lore and such, but while that's not bad advice normally I think it applies less to the concept of mysteries, especially in adventures. Mysteries are about solving things or discovering things, and generally speaking you need lore to help do that. Taking out the lore takes out a lot of the point of the mystery in the first place.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
It's just a word and it's not even that negative.

It can be used that way but so can lots if words.

Here are three definitions of primitive (thanks Oxford!):

1. relating to, denoting, or preserving the character of an early stage in the evolutionary or historical development of something. "primitive mammals."
2. having a quality or style that offers an extremely basic level of comfort, convenience, or efficiency. "the accommodations at the camp were a bit primitive."
3. a person belonging to a preliterate, nonindustrial society. "reports of travelers and missionaries described contemporary primitives."

I agree that not every usage of that word is insulting, but when used against a specific group or culture, yes it is pretty insulting.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I mean, I'd wager the Native Americans would disagree, given that they were termed primitive and then had the government and missionaries actively try destroying their culture through "Residential schools". Or Africans who heard how they were to be "civilized" by white colonizers. I'm not sure how this is even an argument anymore.



But "primitive" has much less usage in day-to-day speech compared to anthropological and sociological vocations.



I can think of only a few times when it's been used, and generally speaking it's never used as a positive (or by ESL speakers who don't realize how awkward it sounds).

People put dictionary definitions earlier.

And context it wasn't used in game in real world culture or even fantasy culture.

At that point you're really looking to be offended. Context, nuance etc.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Here are three definitions of primitive (thanks Oxford!):

1. relating to, denoting, or preserving the character of an early stage in the evolutionary or historical development of something. "primitive mammals."
2. having a quality or style that offers an extremely basic level of comfort, convenience, or efficiency. "the accommodations at the camp were a bit primitive."
3. a person belonging to a preliterate, nonindustrial society. "reports of travelers and missionaries described contemporary primitives."

I agree that not every usage of that word is insulting, but when used against a specific group or culture, yes it is pretty insulting.

I agree with the specific culture thing. It wasn't used in that context though.

Wasn't even used on a fantasy culture in that context.
.
 

Scribe

Hero
I mean, I'd wager the Native Americans would disagree, given that they were termed primitive and then had the government and missionaries actively try destroying their culture through "Residential schools". Or Africans who heard how they were to be "civilized" by white colonizers. I'm not sure how this is even an argument anymore.



But "primitive" has much less usage in day-to-day speech compared to anthropological and sociological vocations.



I can think of only a few times when it's been used, and generally speaking it's never used as a positive (or by ESL speakers who don't realize how awkward it sounds).
I'm trying to think of the last time I said 'primitive', and even in a camping setting I would use 'rough' or bare bones, or basic, before I would think to use primitive.
 


Any word associated with technological advance will be associated with colonization, as, going at least as far back as Bronze Age Greek colonists effortlessly massacring Stone Age tribes, and no doubt earlier, colonization is enabled by technological supremacy. You can delete the word "primitive" from the English language, but since technological evolution happens, some word to refer to the earlier, simple technologies will arise, and this word will once again be associated with colonialism, because it will inevitably be applied to technology in the hands of those people who were conquered by dint of a technologically superior neighbor marching across the mountains/riding across the steppes/sailing across the ocean/hyperjumping across the wormhole/etc.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Sure, WOTC has the right, but it also has (given how people have talked about the adventure) seemed to have lead to a poorer adventure overall. I know you brought up Matt Colville's talk about lore and such, but while that's not bad advice normally I think it applies less to the concept of mysteries, especially in adventures. Mysteries are about solving things or discovering things, and generally speaking you need lore to help do that. Taking out the lore takes out a lot of the point of the mystery in the first place.

I don't really agree with this... I don't think lore is that important is solving a mystery. Maybe knowing more about character's motivations (and culture sometimes plays a role there), but reading PanzerLion's post he mentioned a lot of history and lore that was cut from his product, including things like the Batrachi. That seems like unnecessary fluff for a short adventure, especially if the intent is to make it easy to drop in a homebrew game.

PanzerLion's blog posts even admit this, with him writing that if WotC had told him it needed to be more setting-generic, he would have done the cutting himself to make it so. That didn't happen, and instead WotC went and did it themselves. Maybe that made the adventure worse, maybe it made it better; it's a little "he said she said" at that point.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Any word associated with technological advance will be associated with colonization, as, going at least as far back as Bronze Age Greek colonists effortlessly massacring Stone Age tribes, and no doubt earlier, colonization is enabled by technological supremacy. You can delete the word "primitive" from the English language, but since technological evolution happens, some word to refer to the earlier, simple technologies will arise, and this word will once again be associated with colonialism, because it will inevitably be applied to technology in the hands of those people who were conquered by dint of a technologically superior neighbor marching across the mountains/riding across the steppes/sailing across the ocean/hyperjumping across the wormhole/etc.

It's mostly used in relation to the past.
"the V1 flying bomb had a primitive guidance system". Cutting edge in 1944.

So depends on how you use it and what you're referring to.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I don't really agree with this... I don't think lore is that important is solving a mystery. Maybe knowing more about character's motivations (and culture sometimes plays a role there), but reading PanzerLion's post he mentioned a lot of history and lore that was cut from his product, including things like the Batrachi. That seems like unnecessary fluff for a short adventure, especially if the intent is to make it easy to drop in a homebrew game.

PanzerLion's blog posts even admit this, with him writing that if WotC had told him it needed to be more setting-generic, he would have done the cutting himself to make it so. That didn't happen, and instead WotC went and did it themselves. Maybe that made the adventure worse, maybe it made it better; it's a little "he said she said" at that point.

That's splatbooks material. 3E lost Empire or Serpent Kingdom book covered that.
Something 5E is avoiding there is a large hole there. Lots of sub standard Adventures are ok but yeah wrong edition if you like deep lore.
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
People put dictionary definitions earlier.

And context it wasn't used in game in real world culture or even fantasy culture.

At that point you're really looking to be offended. Context, nuance etc.

I actually used context and nuance, but you seemed to ignore it. And the whole "these are fantasy races" excuse is just lazy given that it's been used to alienate and others in the past; using it in a game because "these people aren't real" doesn't suddenly eliminate how its been used in the past and how offensive that can be to the people who have had to live with the consequences of that language.

I'm trying to think of the last time I said 'primitive', and even in a camping setting I would use 'rough' or bare bones, or basic, before I would think to use primitive.

Yeah, seriously. "Primitive" has a real image attached to it that makes it difficult to use in modern parlance beyond the implications itself.

I don't really agree with this... I don't think lore is that important is solving a mystery. Maybe knowing more about character's motivations (and culture sometimes plays a role there), but reading PanzerLion's post he mentioned a lot of history and lore that was cut from his product, including things like the Batrachi. That seems like unnecessary fluff for a short adventure, especially if the intent is to make it easy to drop in a homebrew game.

PanzerLion's blog posts even admit this, with him writing that if WotC had told him it needed to be more setting-generic, he would have done the cutting himself to make it so. That didn't happen, and instead WotC went and did it themselves. Maybe that made the adventure worse, maybe it made it better; it's a little "he said she said" at that point.

Given the current reaction, I'd argue its to the detriment. Mysteries are about discovering things, particularly knowledge. Stuff like lore gives people to investigate and look into; clearly that was part of the first part of his adventure and honestly it's really disappointing to see it removed given that's the whole point of the book: solving a mystery. I mean, if you're going to do that just call it "Adventure hooks from old books" and drop the whole mystery part of things.
 

BigZebra

Explorer
Primal I can see come up, given the context. But no one walks around saying, "Ah, yes. Here we are at the campsite. Why, take a look at those primitive tents! And the primitive general store made from logs! Oops, excuse me, I have to go take a dump in that primitive outhouse."

But white people often do -- and in great numbers -- remark on how primitive indigenous people are, along with their art, dwellings, and culture.
Yikes. How racist of you.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
At that point you're really looking to be offended. Context, nuance etc.

Mod Note:

I have to admit that it takes some nerve to handwave "nuance" in an incomplete sentence as a form of dismissal. The irony involved is thick, indeed.

But, at this point you sure read like you're looking to offend. Time for you to stop. Find another discussion, please.
 
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Yikes. How racist of you.
Grand Theft Auto Game GIF

"The term 'reverse racism' is also sometimes used to characterize the mistreatment that individual whites may have experienced at the hands of
individuals of color. This too is inaccurate. While any form of humans harming other humans is wrong because no one is entitled to mistreat anyone, we should not confuse the occasional mistreatment experienced by whites at the hands of people of color with the systematic and institutionalized mistreatment experienced by people of color at the hands of whites"
(Sherover-Marcuse, 1988).

"When a group of people [such as racialized individuals] has little or no power over you institutionally, they don’t get to define the terms of your existence, they can’t limit your opportunities, and you needn’t worry much about the use of a slur to describe you and yours, since, in all likelihood, the slur is as far as it’s going to go. What are they going to do next: deny you a bank loan? Yeah, right. … White perceptions are what end up counting in a white-dominated society. If whites say Indians are savages (be they of the “noble” or vicious type), then by God, they’ll be seen as savages. If Indians say whites are mayonnaise-eating Amway salespeople, who the hell is going to care? If anything, whites will simply turn it into a marketing opportunity. When you have the power, you can afford to be self-deprecating, after all" (Wise, 2002).

“White people may feel aggrieved at the words they read on the internet, but they are not experiencing racism. Racism has nothing to do with feelings. It is a measurable reality that white people are not subject to, regardless of their income or status” (Harriot, 2018).
 

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