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TSR Running list of potential problematic issues in TSR era DnD

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Sacrosanct

Legend
Ok, a disclaimer is going to be needed for this thread. First, this in no way is saying people who played, continue to play, enjoy, or designed/worked on TSR era DnD are bad in any way. It was a product of its time, and people largely did the best they could with what they knew at the time.

I LOVE old school DnD. 1e is my favorite edition that I’ve played from 1981-2012 continuous as my go to game of choice.

So...that means there are 2 rules for this thread I’d kindly ask people to adhere to
1: refrain from implying anyone who enjoys old school DnD is a bigot just for the reason of enjoying the game (if someone defends bigotry, well, I can’t help that)
2. Please don’t threadcap and argue that there ARE no potential problem areas of old school DnD

Ok, with that out of the way, what I’d like to discuss are identifying any potential pitfalls of TSR DnD that if designed today, would be problematic. For example, if one wants to create a bunch of old school emulations, what are examples of things to avoid. As a cishet male, I know I have blinders on.

What I’ve got so far are the pretty obvious ones:
Nipples in chain mail bikinis
Harlot tables
Excessive cheesecake or topless women everywhere.
Cultural stereotypes from Eurocentric assumption perspectives
Nearly every hero represented as white
Monsters that are depicted using the same imagery as real life groups have had done to them as pejorative stereotypes.

Anything else? I’m sure there are more.
 

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guachi

Explorer
Humans being overwhelmingly white. There was Oriental Adventures but that highlighted that the core game was white and non-white was the alternate. Though I appreciate the inclusion of Oriental Adventures and the depiction of Asian-derived play being worthy of being the center of a campaign.

It wasn't so much what was in the game as what was left out of the game.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Humans being overwhelmingly white. There was Oriental Adventures but that highlighted that the core game was white and non-white was the alternate. Though I appreciate the inclusion of Oriental Adventures and the depiction of Asian-derived play being worthy of being the center of a campaign.
This is a great point. Even when diverse ethnicities are presented in many games even today, they are in Eurocentric dress and armor. (I’m guilty of this myself). On one hand, I get how it’s to avoid potential cultural appropriation concerns or accidentally using a stereotype, but in this Internet age, it’s not hard to find someone of that culture to do a review.
 

HJFudge

Explorer
This is a great point. Even when diverse ethnicities are presented in many games even today, they are in Eurocentric dress and armor. (I’m guilty of this myself). On one hand, I get how it’s to avoid potential cultural appropriation concerns or accidentally using a stereotype, but in this Internet age, it’s not hard to find someone of that culture to do a review.

If I recall correctly (and I might not) but Oriental Adventures DID have asians called in as consultants to help review/critique it. They may have raised objections prior to publication, I am not sure. But getting someone of that culture to do a review won't be as helpful as people might suppose.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Here are two quick examples that illustrate my comment above. Two pieces I recently had commissioned. Both were diverse artists I had hired. One is an artist of Mesoamerican heritage, doing a piece inspired from their culture. The other is from an African American, but his dress is wholly European. I should have caught that and did better.

rs=w:1280


rs=w:1280
 


Zardnaar

Legend
Big ones probably the art. Most of what's left is personal preference.

Oh and 1E harlot tables and gender ability maximums. That's only 1E though not OD&D, B/X and most clones.

Some "monsters" as well with cavemen and the like hasn't aged well.

Most mechanics are probably fine racial and alignment restrictions mostly personal preference.

Level limits kinda silly though.
 








J-H

Adventurer
How is this going to generate actual good things happening, versus the destruction or censorship of old material?

I'm actually not a fan of the cheesecake/beefcake for religious and modesty reasons.... but if you want to cancel beefcake and cheesecake, you will have to go back a few hundred years to some of the best artists of all history and start putting clothes on their work. Artists like to show muscles and curves as a way of displaying their mastery of their art, or something like that. It's certainly harder to draw a barbarian (either gender) with 20d6 individual muscles on display than it is a person in featureless plate armor.
 

Reynard

Legend
I don't feel like these discussions are particularly useful or achieve their intended purpose, mostly because they lack nuance. Usually they just result in folks pointing out the obvious and congratulating themselves on their ability to perceive the wrongs of the past. Don't get me wrong, that's important, but in and of itself it isn't especially important.

If we really want to learn from the mistakes of the past we need to examine them far more critically and ask why they were present in the first place. We need to be willing to admit our own culpability (either personal or by class) as well as ask tough questions about our hobby, its industry and its fans.

For example, let's talk about that harlots table. Let's examine the inclusion, asking not only why it was there but also why it took the form it did. Let's look at those terms in the context of the author and the fans of the time. Let's look at the response to it and find out when it was disavowed and under what circumstances.

All that takes work and a willingness to do more than agree that a bad thing is bad. Are folks participating in this thread willing to do that work for all the problematic bits of D&D -- old and new; I don't know why we are giving WotC a pass. I doubt it and so I don't forsee a valuable, educational discussion.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I don't feel like these discussions are particularly useful or achieve their intended purpose, mostly because they lack nuance. Usually they just result in folks pointing out the obvious and congratulating themselves on their ability to perceive the wrongs of the past. Don't get me wrong, that's important, but in and of itself it isn't especially important.

If we really want to learn from the mistakes of the past we need to examine them far more critically and ask why they were present in the first place. We need to be willing to admit our own culpability (either personal or by class) as well as ask tough questions about our hobby, its industry and its fans.

For example, let's talk about that harlots table. Let's examine the inclusion, asking not only why it was there but also why it took the form it did. Let's look at those terms in the context of the author and the fans of the time. Let's look at the response to it and find out when it was disavowed and under what circumstances.

All that takes work and a willingness to do more than agree that a bad thing is bad. Are folks participating in this thread willing to do that work for all the problematic bits of D&D -- old and new; I don't know why we are giving WotC a pass. I doubt it and so I don't forsee a valuable, educational discussion.

Gary did tables for everything and idk why he put it in. Product of its time?

Gone by 2E wasn't in OD&D or B/X afaik.
 

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