D&D General Modules with a political message?

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Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
I'm not sure that inclusion is 'always' forced. If you have a diversity of creators, you should have a natural element of inclusion. I wonder how many of the diverse creators have reduced the inclusivity in their works to conform to the white straight cis het stereotype.
What I mean is that there is no circumstance of including a minority character in a piece of media that won't be accused of having the inclusion be "forced". And the conscious choice to include a minority character in a piece of media is inherently "forcing" their inclusion. Choosing to include something is always "forcing" its inclusion in the story. There is no representation that won't be accused of being "forced" because all inclusion is a conscious decision.
 

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But it is not also forced inclusion, when a white cis men showing of his toxic masculinity traits front and center is the spotlight of a Movie?
Why is it a "politics", when a badly problematic minority is written in the spotlight, but the 100 years of television and movies before putting badly written white straight guys front and center is not "politics".
It is the same.
But the "no politics" Crowd is not in Arms over badly written white guys, only when it is badly written minorities. That is the hypocrisy and the actual problematic behaviour. Giving minorities double standards. They need to be perfectly written, while white guys didn't needed that for like forever.
I mean, yes. The element of representation is political whenever you have an ethnic divide that's politically charged. (If the political charge fades away, it tends to fade into the background as a discussion--you don't hear much argument over Irish or Italian villains anymore, for instance, but it used to be a point of contention with Mafia movies.)

Overall I agree, though the last bit went back and forth a few times. First you had a lot of 'ethnic' villains (one of the initial '10 commandments of detective fiction' back in the early 20th century was 'No Chinaman should figure in the story', there being a whole bunch of quite racist stories at that time about Chinese villains--ever heard of Fu Manchu?), then starting after the middle of the last century you had the pattern where minority characters had to be, as you said, perfectly written. Now you have the counter-pattern where the bad guy's the straight white guy (the new Cowboy Bebop adaptation and Star Wars come to mind); even in the Boys Hughie's only allowed to be good because he doesn't display any stereotypically masculine traits (though I'm a few seasons behind).
 

Ixal

Hero
But every time there is a mainstream movie or book or video game with a non-white, non-male, non-cis, or non-straight character, it's review-bombed and attacked as being "political".

If people are upset about a character's race, sexuality, or gender identity being represented, then they deserve to be preached to.
I am unaware that Brooklyn-99 for example got review bombed despite one of the main characters, or at least important side character, being a gay african american. Because in my opinion B99 does inclusion right. Its not hidden, but (apart from a few episodes in later seasons) him being gay is not the defining trait of this character. Its just something he is and no special attention is paid to it.

That is in stark contrast to another character in the same show who later came out (was made?) Bi and over the next few episodes everyone couldn't stop talking about how this character is Bi and how ok and normal that is. Nothing about that felt natural.

Another type of forced inclusion, to come back to RPGs is when by lore there is no reason for this person to exist, or at least be very uncommon.
This is seen for example by the recent additions of disabled people in wheelchairs to Pathfinder and Starfinder.
The problem is that in Starfinder there are a lot of ways to overcome being disabled. Cybernetics are very cheap and magical healing also exist. In fact its cheaper to get organs regenerated or replaced than it is to buy a mid level wheelchair. So in the lore of the setting a person in a wheelchair, especially a affluent one, would be very strange as they voluntarily choose to be disabled.
But that is something you are not allowed to question as this person is there for representation purposes and thus "transcents" the internal logic of the setting.

So when people say they do not want politics in their show/games, they do not want this type of "this person has to be in to show inclusion even though it does not make sense for the setting at all". Many (of course not all) complains about the recent LotR and not so recent wheel of time series fall into this category, but got all lumped together into a "everyone who complains is racist" defence.
 
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John Lloyd1

Explorer
I won't pretend to know anything regarding Clive Barker's pressure but I imagine much of that pressure is also borne for financial reasons. An obvious example are movies that need to be sanitised for China's viewing audience as per their rules. Now this would happen in other forms of entertainment (books, theatre, games) as well.

EDIT: So thinking about that, diversity in RPGs is also a financial incentive. So there is pressure to include diversity and not necessarily for egalitarian reasons. We've messed up and are pretty much a money driven society.
Another factor is the mirror problem. For example, I have heard that the publishing world is particularly lacking in diversity. They end up publishing for themselves. Since they lack diversity as a cohort, the books that end up getting published aren't diverse. And, they perceive the audience to be pretty much a version of themselves. They select authors who re-enforce their own view point.
 


How to explain it without risk of unconfortable misunderstanding?

In the universe of (ultimate) marvel comics Miles Morales wasn't too popular before the animated movie. In the end he could accepted by the fandom when he was showed as a spin-off of Spiderman, not as a replacement of Peter Parker. When Ororo Munroe, "Storm" arrived to the page of X-Men the idea was the new group would be with members from different lineages. And Storm is one of the most popular character because she is an interesting character, powerful, but not a Mary Sue. Fandom also love Jubilee, and other no-Caucasian characters. But later readers started to miss character with the personality of Kurt Wagner "Nightcrawler". When marvel comics lost their political neutrality then also a lot of readers, and DC followed the same mistake. Now the parents don't want to buy comics for their children because these aren't "kid friendly".

When the actress Eartha Kitt played Catwoman in Batman(66, that with Jim West, and that crossover with Green Hornet) she wasn't wellcome for that age and she only could be in a little number of episodes. Then the audience was not ready for the race-swamp of characters in the action-live adaptation. But a different things is in Netflix is a no-Caucasian actress for a historical character as Ana Bolena. Please, both extremes are wrong.

* In the next action-live movie of D&D I want an aasimar and an elf among the main characters, and a gnome and halfling in the animated serie.
 

Ixal

Hero
I won't pretend to know anything regarding Clive Barker's pressure but I imagine much of that pressure is also borne for financial reasons. An obvious example are movies that need to be sanitised for China's viewing audience as per their rules. Now this would happen in other forms of entertainment (books, theatre, games) as well.

EDIT: So thinking about that, diversity in RPGs is also a financial incentive. So there is pressure to include diversity and not necessarily for egalitarian reasons. We've messed up and are pretty much a money driven society.
Yeah just look at how Disney handled Mulan compared to Snow White.
The Chinese market gets ethnic uniformity and the western market gets race blind casting because that's what promises the most money.
At no point did Disney even entertain the idea to cast non Chinese actors in Mulan to have the same diversity standard as in the west or to have exclusively German (or even European) actors in Snow White like how they casted for Mulan.

Its all about the money.
 

What I mean is that there is no circumstance of including a minority character in a piece of media that won't be accused of having the inclusion be "forced". And the conscious choice to include a minority character in a piece of media is inherently "forcing" their inclusion. Choosing to include something is always "forcing" its inclusion in the story. There is no representation that won't be accused of being "forced" because all inclusion is a conscious decision.
I think, maybe, the issue comes about when the advertisement/message is about the diversity instead of characters. And when you have a series of movies coming out year after year that are just remakes with an all-female cast or all PoC-cast, then it can be seen as a bit too much in your face.

Personally, I think we, as customers, should be demanding better writers. There is too much rubbish out there.
 

M_Natas

Adventurer
I think, maybe, the issue comes about when the advertisement/message is about the diversity instead of characters. And when you have a series of movies coming out year after year that are just remakes with an all-female cast or all PoC-cast, then it can be seen as a bit too much in your face.

Personally, I think we, as customers, should be demanding better writers. There is too much rubbish out there.
Bur that is a very skewed view on things. It is not movie after movie getting such a remake.
There are thousands of movies and series made every year and the "No politics in my media"-Crowd is flocking to the few movies and series, that are more inclusive and "criticise" then for "forcing an agenda".
In reality it is the "No politics"-Crowd who has a political agenda ("no minorities in my media! No Liberal stuff in my media, in any media!").
 

Chinese censorship has certain rules...and you may not like at all



I dare to say Hasbro wishes the Chinese market, but they fear the Chinese censorship, and I wouldn't blame them. The worst part may be when the rules haven't enough coherence and clarity.

And if this was not enough Japanese, South-Korean and Chinese aren't "friendly neighbour". Then when you try to be polite with ones because reason of marketing strategy then you could unintentionally offend others.
 

In reality it is the "No politics"-Crowd who has a political agenda ("no minorities in my media! No Liberal stuff in my media, in any media!").
I'm not convinced that is true.
The Wire for instance is a predominantly black cast and there is an argument to be made that it is the best show ever aired. How do you explain that?
 

M_Natas

Adventurer
I'm not convinced that is true.
The Wire for instance is a predominantly black cast and there is an argument that it is the best show ever made. How do you explain that?
The wire is from 2002 till 2008. The right wing pushback on media just started at this time (with Obama becoming president). If the wire would be made today, the "No politics" Crowd would push back against it, too.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
When marvel comics lost their political neutrality then also a lot of readers, and DC followed the same mistake. Now the parents don't want to buy comics for their children because these aren't "kid friendly".
Marvel never had political neutrality, neither did DC. The complaints started when these companies started being more active with their diversity efforts because now the stories weren't all about or for their prior core audience - white males. And that's exactly the way it is in other media as well. And it's going to remain a problem until the people privileged enough to be represented in these media accept that the representation they had in the art and in the stories needs to be shared.

The truth of the matter is that representation and inclusion are intensely political topics and not just the push for inclusion. The resistance to inclusion is intensely political as is the incessant, tut-tutting, nit picking at how the push for inclusion is accomplished. There's a reason so many efforts at inclusion seem "forced" to certain observers - it HAS to be made visible for it to work. And for every group for which there has been progress, there's another group that needs that push next, and the next, etc. And some forms of making inclusion visible are more obvious than others. The ones that are less obvious need more frequent and active reinforcement.
 

dave2008

Legend
Is there political content in published adventures: I don't know - I don't run published adventures!

Should there be political content in published adventures: Yes, probably. If people want to play those types of games, there should be content for them.

Do I want to run or play RPG adventures with overtly political themes: No. I play D&D to escape such real world troubles as much as possible. I feel bombarded enough in everyday life that I don't want it in my game time.
 

The wire is from 2002 till 2008. The right wing pushback on media just started at this time (with Obama becoming president). If the wire would be made today, the "No politics" Crowd would push back against it, too.
I think you're 100% off on this because The Wire only became a phenomenon with the public after it had finished airing.
Many more people discovered it much later.

Wikipedia said:
During its original run, the series received only average ratings and never won any major television awards, but is now often cited as one of the greatest television series of all time.

At the close of the third season, The Wire was still struggling to maintain its ratings and the show faced possible cancellation.

EDIT: This is my issue, there are currently many terrible writers right now in Hollywood and they for some reason seem to be doing all the work in these big budget series and shows where diversity should be playing a role. Instead with their atrocious writing skills they are alienating the fan bases and creating this perceived dislike for diversity. And the media amplifies this ugly message.
 
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Marvel never had political neutrality, neither did DC.
Yep, Marvel had Captain America punching Hitler when Hitler was still alive and the head of state of a nation with which America was (nominally) at peace, and who had a lot of support among Americans. Honestly you can't get can't more overtly, deliberately political than that.

But to repeat the blindingly obvious - there's no such thing as a completely politics-free story, or campaign, or narrative. We all bring our own politics to the table, conscious or unconscious. Who are the heroes of the story? Who are the villains? Why are the villains doing villainous things, and what makes the things the villains are doing, villainous? Do the heroes crack down on the seditionist cults and terrorists in the name of the rightful king, or do they help the resistance against the tyrant? Two sides of the same coin.

Though it's got me thinking - has anyone here ever played, in good faith and not in an 'evil PC' game, a PC with political convictions and ideals completely opposite to theirs? How did it go?
 

Laurefindel

Legend
There is a huge difference between a social commentary or depicted inequality in RPG material and a political stance or clear editorial message in a specific adventure.

[edit] got interrupted. There more to this simple evidence but I think it should be mentioned
 
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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
When I was planning the ZEITGEIST adventure path, I intentionally built the core conflict of the campaign around questions of 'what would be the best world, and whose idea of best?'
In a similar vein, the background campaign for MegaTraveller also built some of the factions of the Fractured Imperium civil war with different ideas of the role of the Imperial government. Archduke Dulinor was a reformer who wanted the Imperium to make more efforts to benefit poor worlds. Duchess Margaret represents a very conservative view of the Imperium as benefiting commerce and just ruling the space between the worlds but not investing locally in resources to improve lives (except by commerce). Other factions represent local separatism and alien perspectives. The Rebellion Sourcebook offered a review of each of the factions and their ideologies.
 


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