DDAL Racism and DDAL4-1 [Spoilers]

Status
Not open for further replies.
And I'd like to note that the quotes describing the Gur as proving "to be as treacherous as their reputations suggested" and such were not taken from the mouths of NPCS, but were included in the background to the adventure and are, therefore, correctly ascribed to the author and editor of the piece.

You might note that in this case, this particular group was treacherous and does seem to be living up to the stereotype that Realms natives have of them. I think that is apt in this case and you will note by my response above, its intentional since we want to depict these individuals as real people with flaws. I also suggest that you are jumping ahead of the story and trying to encapsulate all of it in one adventure as opposed to its development over the course of a season.

It's disappointing that AL once again has to resort to rushed corrections after the fact rather than catching these problems in advance.

Is there another example of offensive material in an adventure that was later edited out of an AL adventure? I can't think of one off the top of my head, but perhaps you are trying to use corrections to grammar or stat blocks unrelated to your argument to support your argument. I understand the need when you target an opponent of racism by calling them a racist to need some sort of evidence to back it up, but I think you might be stretching a bit in this case. That said, in this case, especially after all of the arguments the admins have had on the Facebook groups decrying the use of the gypsy slur and trying to help educate others, it is unfortunate that we did not catch the examples in this adventure.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Is there another example of offensive material in an adventure that was later edited out of an AL adventure? I can't think of one off the top of my head, but perhaps you are trying to use corrections to grammar or stat blocks unrelated to argument to support your argument. I understand the need when you target an opponent of racism by calling them a racist to need some sort of evidence to back it up, but I think you might be stretching a bit in this case. That said, in this case, especially after all of the arguments the admins have had on the Facebook groups decrying the use of the gypsy slur and trying to help educate others, it is unfortunate that we did not catch the examples in this adventure.

Actually, I was just referring to the corrections regarding the exclusivity of launch event materials, the date of the launch of the season's modules, the missing rewards on the DM Quest materials, etc.

I'm glad that you are an opponent of racism. I don't think that I once in this exchange called any one a racist - I merely pointed out that racist stereotypes had made their way into a product. Based on your last sentence, you agree with me. I think it was unfortunate, too. :)
 

I don't think that I once in this exchange called any one a racist

And I'd like to note that the quotes describing the Gur as proving "to be as treacherous as their reputations suggested" and such were not taken from the mouths of NPCS, but were included in the background to the adventure and are, therefore, correctly ascribed to the author and editor of the piece.

So you say the author (Shawn Merwin) and the editors (Travis Woodall and Claire Hoffman) are not racists, just guilty of racism by using racist stereotypes??? I'm not sure I understand your point.
 

delericho

Legend
How about if he has a long red beard and speaks with a pronounced Scottish accent? That's most dwarves I've ever encountered, both at the gaming table and in popular culture.

In general, I find it best if the non-human races aren't direct analogues of any real-world culture. That said, it's certainly valid for them to take bits from one culture and bits from another, all mixed together with a dash of fantasy...

Well, there's a post in the Vistani PCs thread that suggests that the Vistani and Gur are actually the same people -- that's not a theory I subscribe to, but based on the source, it's possible that it will be revealed during the season as 'new lore'. We'll have to see.

Aye, "wait and see" is certainly the best approach on that one.

Let me say that a more thorough response is coming and what follows is more my thoughts than anything official:

...

The Admins have been fighting the fight on Facebook and other forums against using the term gypsy, and rascism/sexism and other bigotries in general. We do plan to provide some additional guidance on this adventure and should have edited this adventure a little more. It likely didn't get as much attention due to the workload associated with the number of Winter Fantasy premiers.

...

To automatically ascribe the motives of some NPCs to the racist/insensitive authors/admins is to ignore the tightly woven story development of this season and prevent us from ever telling a complete story.

Firstly, thanks for the response, and it's good to know this is taken seriously.

Secondly, I would like to note that I wasn't ascribing any such attitudes to the admins/writers/anyone else - I found some of the material described* problematic, but that was all.

* In particular, the OP noted that the use of the word "race" was problematic, since in the D&D context it actually means *species*. An edit to change that to "ethnicity", as suggested by the OP, would be welcome.

(I do also find the Gar and Vistani somewhat problematic in general - in the same way as, though less significantly than, the WoD's "Gypsies" sourcebook. However, given the key role of that group in the Ravenloft setting and adventure, I can see it would be difficult to excise the material in this case.)
 

So you say the author (Shawn Merwin) and the editors (Travis Woodall and Claire Hoffman) are not racists, just guilty of racism by using racist stereotypes??? I'm not sure I understand your point.

I think you may be over-reacting a bit, which isn't terribly professional for someone who is publicly representing DDAL. You agreed with me that the passages in the adventure were problematic. You said "it is unfortunate that we did not catch the examples in this adventure." What are these problematic sections examples of? At the least, gross insensitivity - at the most, passing on racist stereotypes. Is every person who contributed to a racist stereotype a racist? Hardly. I make no claims that the author or the editors *intended* to further racist stereotypes. In fact, I assume that they did so unintentionally. But they still did it, and we both agree that they shouldn't have.
 


I think you may be over-reacting a bit, which isn't terribly professional for someone who is publicly representing DDAL.

Please note that I said originally I was speaking my own personal opinions, not as a representative of the AL. For that official response, you should go check the Facebook thread.

I was bothered by your implication that this has been a regular problem and you cite unrelated examples to support your argument. I also note you posted your review/thoughts in several places (DMsguild, Facebook, here) all at the same time so I assumed you were looking for a direct response and to stir up a lot of conversation. You also entitled the threads "Racism and DDAL4-1," so the implication is that 4-1 (and by extension the people associated with it) are racist. You also sarcastically imply that the campaign admins/storyline are rascist when you say "Reading this adventure makes me wonder if future AL scenarios will send the players to "deepest-darkest" Chult to parley with ignorant natives, or head over to Maztica to barter the local's land for beads and "fire water"., so hopefully you will understand that I didn't get from your post that you believed the references to be unintentional.

Now I do better understand that you did not intend to use the word "racism" at all. It was a typo I guess. All those involved are grossly insensitive.
 

kalani

First Post
This is my personal opinion only (removing my AL hat for this post)
As far as the Gur/Vistani being based on a real-world stereotype goes... Historically this is true, they were originally based on a historical stereotype of the Romani (they have since grown into their own distinct fiction, which has diverged from their stereotypical roots). However with that being said, it is very difficult to tell stories relating to Barovia and leave out the Vistani for PC reasons.....They are integral to the setting. Is racism wrong - you betcha, and as I said in the Vistani PCs thread and other threads on the subject, it is my intention to show up the fact that the bigots are plain wrong, and that bigotry itself is objectively evil (rather than subjectively so).

I will also be encouraging my DMs to refer to Vistani as the "travelers" and/or Vistani and to try not to use the word "gypsy" as it is a racial slur of a RW people (there are many other ways to represent the cultural racism toward Vistani without resorting to the word gypsy or any RW slurs) Likewise, I will be encouraging all of my DMs to not roleplay Vistani as one-dimensional stereotypes, and to instead inject some measure of dimension to each vistani (and by extension Gur) they encounter in an adventure. At minimum, each individual should have one or more traits/behaviors/attitudes/quirks/goals/etc which are atypical for their people.

In respect to the Rasia (sp) family
- They are flawed individuals - but they are still individuals. In addition, it is clearly indicated that they have valid reasons for their misguided actions - and those reasons SHOULD be brought to light at the soonest possibility. They should be made to appear desperate, and taking desperate actions. It is unfortunate that the background information paints them as trecherous, thieving, and - basically villains when (as I understand it), that is not the role they actually take in the adventure. Also, as Greg said above - the Rasai family are painted as flawed protagonists and allies who undergo considerable growth throughout the campaign. Land-basing the AL for how they are portrayed in their "prologue" adventure doesn't allow for any growth to occur.

I personally trust that the admins have the best interests of the program at heart, and while specific terminology and phrasing that may be received poorly may slip through their editing net, overall I trust that they know what they are doing and would never present the Gur/Vistani in such a light if there wasn't a valid story-based reason for doing so. I know they have worked incredibly hard to weave this tightly-focused story arc together, and there are just too many details that none of us have been given yet. This is especially true once you consider that the playtesters are only just now playtesting the first of the tier-2 adventures

Erasing historical references to racism only drives it deeper. It doesn't solve the issue
Finally, I have to agree with some of the points made in this thread. Portraying Gur/Vistani as flawless and removing all trace of their former stereotypes does nothing to solve the problem of racism. In some ways it can be interpreted as a form of racism itself - as you are still refusing to allow them to be individuals, and are keeping the culture/identity segregated from the rest of the population as some "other" group. Inclusivity (not just integration) is required in order to address this problem head on.

Eliminating all traces of racism out of a sense of political correctness only serves to make the problem invisible. It doesn't address the underlying causes that lead to the intolerance and stereotypes in the first place. Just because you can no longer see racism, doesn't mean that it vanishes...

No, the only way to remove such attitudes (both in real life and at the game table) is to treat people as individuals IRL, and to portray fictional characters (of all ethnicities/races/etc) as having the full range of human virtues and failings and be represented as being distinct individuals with a shared, yet insular cultural ethnicity/identity. Only when we stop presenting characters (in general) as one-dimensional stereotypes will the issues start to resolve themselves.

Part of that work falls to the DM to breathe life into the NPCs and make them their own, as there is only so much information that can be written about any given character before it becomes information overload, and starts to overwhelm the DM. As such, fleshing out each character so that they are more than a stereotype, and leap from the page as a fully-realized character has (and always will be) the DMs job.

In cases of cultural sensitivity such as with the Gur/Vistani - this job is doubly as important, as only by showing people that each NPC is an individual in their own right will we slowly but surely take steps toward removing racism within our cultures, and at the game table. Healing the issues of racism (both fictitious and real) starts with the Individual. It always has.
 
Last edited:

warfteiner

First Post
Here is the AL's official statement on this current topic:

We understand that the description of certain elements in this adventure may be viewed by some gamers in a less-than-desirable light. To that end we will be reviewing the adventure and are aiming to post some more descriptive elements on our site in the next day or so. While we are sensitive to the needs to of the gaming community at-large, we also want to point out that gaming is, at its heart, structured around conflict on one level or another - and that conflict may be difficult for some people to accept. It is not our intention to create a polarizing environment, and we are optimistic that any further clarifications on this topic should be sufficient in addressing the concerns of the global D&D community. The interactions of the Gur and the Vistani within the overarching storyline of Curse of Strahd is pretty tightly regulated and may be deeper and more far-reaching than some folks realize based on this adventure alone. Thanks for your feedback; additional comments can be emailed to community@dndadventurersleague.org.

(as originally posted in the ongoing Facebook discussion)
 

smerwin29

Reluctant Time Traveler
First and foremost, I want to thank Aaron for voicing his concerns. When any work of creativity is placed into the public sector, it is fair game. As the designer of the adventure, I do not feel personally attacked by Aaron or anyone else who has issues with the text. The text needs to be able to defend itself.

There is always a risk when presenting potentially provocative material in a text, especially when the point of the material is to present a very nuanced situation. As Greg very succinctly pointed out, the story of the PCs and the Rasia family is not over--it is only just beginning. The townsfolk of Phlan were meant to be portrayed as being prejudiced against the Gur family. The words I used, both when "speaking in character" and when just providing exposition, were meant to portray that prejudice felt by the townsfolk. Aaron correctly points to those places where the inflection of the words points to prejudice, and they were chosen that way to reinforce the attitude of the townsfolk. If the words imply that I, as the writer, feel that way about any real-world group, that is my failing. Writers must be clear, even when writing nuanced material in a fantasy RPG.

As the AL admins have said here and elsewhere, another look will be taken at the text to make it clearer for the DMs presenting the story: we want them to portray Sybil, Hricu, Rilynin, Kehkim, and Papa as "real people" (in the fantasy sense), scared and flawed and misunderstood and fighting for their survival in the terrible world that is descending upon them.

So thanks to everyone who has taken the time to comment and care. I welcome anyone who wishes to discuss it further with me to do so here or PM me directly.
 

Status
Not open for further replies.
Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top