D&D General On Early D&D and Problematic Faves: How to Grapple with the Sins of the Past

MGibster

Legend
I think slavery in RPGs, especially older style D&D is a tricky subject because while the text may make it clear that the slavers are evil and bad, the open nature of play and the fact that human (or humanish) chattel have value in a game where success is often judged by how much value the characters can accumulate makes the evil of engaging in the slave trade potentially tempting.
If you create a game where participants are encouraged to create their own worlds, their own characters, and tell their own stories you'll just have to accept some of them are going to create things you don't like. In the aggregate, I trust the gaming community. My interactions with other gamers for these last 35 years have been overwhelmingly positive. I'm not about to let a few bad actors dictate what we can or cannot have as part of a game's setting.
 
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Hussar

Legend
.)

Does it follow that including a sexist character or culture as part of a game means that the game itself is sexist?

My initial view is no. But I have also read and heard opinions that feel otherwise.
This is a question without answer because context is so important. Single blanket answers are almost never appropriate.

Which isn’t very satisfying but it’s still true.
 


Hussar

Legend
It's amazing to me that people are wringing their hands over Gary Gygax, but I can't find a thread on Neil Gaiman in the media subforum, or anywhere else.

Or the more cynical me isn't actually amazed, sadly.

It would also be helpful if people actually bothered to try to understand the issue as well.

Absolutely no one is wringing their hands about Gygax. The whole thing stemmed from the foreword in a history book about DnD that included some less than flattering bits about Gugax and then how a group of older statesmen representatives of DnD decided to lose their poop over it.

Absolutely none of it is actually about demonizing Gygax.

And this, right here, is the biggest problem with these conversations. This black and white mentality that divides everyone into two simple camps without nuance.

Saying that you think that depictions of orcs are possibly problematic and the game would be improved with more nuanced orcs is not a condemnation of Tolkien or anyone else.

But that’s how it’s interpreted. Zero nuance. Zero attempt to actually understand the issue. Someone said that something is bad and that means they are attacking ME!!!

It’s so tiresome.
 
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Saying that you think that depictions of orcs are possibly problematic and the game would be improved with more nuanced orcs is not a condemnation of Tolkien or anyone else.

But that’s how it’s interpreted. Zero nuance. Zero attempt to actually understand the issue. Someone said that something is bad and that means they are attacking ME!!!

It’s so tiresome.

In fairness people haven't been interpreting things like Tolkien's elves with a lot of nuance either. I don't really have any interest in this particular debate. But I think a lot of these conversations really sort of get bogged down because people have a hard time abiding different interpretations and emotional reactions to the same works of art, literature and gaming.
 

Gus L

Explorer
If you create a game where participants are encouraged to create their own worlds, their own characters, and tell their own stories you'll just have to accept some of them are going to create things you don't like.
Yes - that was a point I made within the post. I may not have been clear enough - I write boilerplate for a living, so I love the hidden gist.

See:
I am sure that some tables do [include chattel slavery in their games] - one can find discussions of how to run such games it in various places online... but that's how RPGs work, people will bend the setting and rules to their own obsessions, and some of those people are awful.

As to your general point:
I trust the gaming community. My interactions with other gamers for these last 35 years have been overwhelmingly positive. I'm not about to let a few bad actors dictate what we can or cannot have as part of a game's setting.
I trust my own gaming community, but if the past 10 years have taught me anything it's that people are awful, hiding under the surface of many is a horrible monster as bad as any Tolkien orc. This includes the folks in the larger (or smaller) gaming community. It's a bummer, and we live in interesting times. That's not really the point though ... I can accept those people buying food at my local grocery and patronizing my local bar without being especially antisocial myself ... so I accept that people with bad ideas return to their filthy lairs every day and engage in whatever forms of sadism, greed, and antisocial malice gets them excited ... including playing D&D in ways I wouldn't.

The question though is largely about implied setting - when we include slavery, sexual violence, hobgoblins dressed like samurai, tinker gnomes, or whatever else other sorts of ugly one can imagine in the rulebooks, or even our own published works, people playing with those works tend to include the same elements in their games. Even though one of the great joys of RPGs is creative endeavor and messing around with implied setting, most people don't do it very much. My take is that of course one won't stop people from putting nasty stuff in their games ... but if one keeps this stuff out of the rules then it doesn't risk becoming a standard part of the game.
 
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Hussar

Legend
In fairness people haven't been interpreting things like Tolkien's elves with a lot of nuance either. I don't really have any interest in this particular debate. But I think a lot of these conversations really sort of get bogged down because people have a hard time abiding different interpretations and emotional reactions to the same works of art, literature and gaming.
And... we're right back to "whataboutisms". At what point did I mention anything about Tolkien's elves? How do interpretations of Tolkien's Elves relate to anything I said? Thank you for so cogently providing a perfect example of what I was talking about.

But EVERY FREAKING TIME these sorts of discussions come up, it's always the same. Deflect and misdirect and spin every freaking example out endlessly so that the actual point of the discussion gets buried and lost.

So many times these discussions would actually be productive if people would stop trying to hijack and actually address the point being made.
 


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