Black RPG dude check-in: I’m OK with various takes on simian inspired fantasy & sci-fi playable species as long as they aren’t cribbing notes from RW bigoted stereotypes.
They show up in all kinds of genre fiction, after all.
Thanks for the check-in, sincerely!!
That's close to my feelings on it. Though as a white cisdude I prefer to stay as far away from writing anything that could be possibly seen as an analogue to RW bigotry, even if it can be done respectfully within genre fiction. I'm not saying black people need to be the ones writing all the Simian-inspired fantasy characters (that in and of itself would be an awful suggestion) and the burden and labour of being anti-racist falls on all of us anyway; I just have limited capacity to write NPCs for this hobby which is not my job, so I've prioritized writing stories I'm in safer grounds treading.
I'm actually a big fan of Vanara and Hadozee and other Simian lineages as they can be a lot of fun - IF WRITTEN AND DRAWN CORRECTLY. Sun Wukong/Son Goku is a great source of inspiration, as is Hannuman and his Monkey Army. I love Spider Monkeys and Squirrel Monkeys and Howler Monkeys etc in general and find them beautiful and amazing creatures, and I love the idea of them as a playable character. I just don't want to be the one homebrewing the option, and I don't want to support options that were not playtested with cultural consultants either and somehow missed glaringly racist images and flavour text.
I don't think a lot of people would consider Son Goku from Dragonball a racist caricature. I don't think a lot of people would consider M'Baku in the MCU a racist caricature. I DO think a lot of people would have issues with M'Baku as he was depicted in Marvel Comics, as well as with certain takes on Planet of the Apes
. But those are my guesses and I'd welcome hearing you or others say differently if you disagree.
I mostly meant above that I'd like them to stay away from the bipedal = "more sapiently evolved" trope, since that also leans on real world bigotted attitudes towards other cultures' norms and ways of living (sitting on the floor vs sitting in chairs, types of toilets used, types of clothing worn, etc). Those could be proxies for racist ideas, and I think WotC should tread VERY carefully.
Honestly don't think it's even needed. Just say that these are divine furries, and can look more like Shifters or more like Egyptian Gods or more like Full-on Animal People a la Tabaxi or Loxodon, and leave it at that. Maybe mention that they're related to Guardianals and tied to the Beast Lands too, but no need to say they were once like a Natural Squirrel but now What? Natural Squirrel is evolving!? Natural Squirrel evolved into Squirrel Girl!!! Don't touch her stash of nuts!