D&D General The Art and the Artist: Discussing Problematic Issues in D&D

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Mod Squad
Staff member
There are only two paths to a good future: the difficult way or the painful way.

Or as my friend says it: If youre gonna be stupid, you better be tough.

The problem is that you being stupid usually means that someone else has to be tough.

We are not isolated individuals. We live in very large communities. Our failures in judgement impact others.

And this is exactly my problem, looking at the past with the specific goal of making it look bad. Never with a more balanced and less judgemental view, noting that there are bad things, but also some good things along with the bad. And for certain, never look at good things in particular, because it would invalidate the whole "crusade".
I think this is an intellectual dishonest approach, sorry dude. I know you don't mean it to be but I don't know quite how else to put it..

To me it appears that you're letting your feelings as a fan get ahead of being realistic about this. You're making some really wild claims about how people operate, that absolutely do not hold up to the facts. That you think this reflects on you, and your views, but not at all on reality. People aren't "crusaders" because they point out issues. That's really extreme language for something like listing issues with a product.

Also, you complain about people putting words in your mouth, but you're asserting entire complex motivations to people here. That's far worse.
It's not "valid", it just shows your biases and therefore totally invalidates whatever point you are trying to make, just as the way you try to steer a discussion by putting words in my mouth.
This doesn't seem reasonable.

You tell me all this stuff about how I'm being unfair to accuse you of saying people can't do this, and then you literally say "It's not valid". Sorry, it absolutely is valid to make specific investigations into issues with products, positive or negative. It's laughable to suggest otherwise. If I want to write 1000 words on why the Ninja class from OA is amazing, and not mention how the Bushi sucks, I can do that. That's valid. If I want to write 1000 words on specific problematic elements in OA, I can do that, that's valid. If I want to write 1000 words on how OA has merits and flaws, I can do that, that's valid. If I want to write 1000 words on the best things about OA, I can do that, that's valid.

What is nonsense is you suggesting those things aren't valid. Which you just did. What is you actual position here? That we literally should not be allowed to write about something unless we list all negative and positive points, or that everyone who lists only bad points is what, "a bad person"? Surely not?

You promoting a particular view of that faith, and me responding by saying I don't want to be converted to your denomination, doesn't make me a non-believer.
It's a bit face-palm that you don't get how you're in fact proving my point, esp. re religious language. It seems like you won't even reason this out without resorting to the language of religion, and that's rather sad.
No, I think people are pushing back on being labeled a sinner, when they do not believe they have sinned.
I think there is an element of that, but what you don't seem to get is, the "labelled a sinner" is often 95% on the person who is being talked to, or more. Like it said, it doesn't matter how polite you are, how clear you are that the other person isn't "evil" or "depraved" or "a sinner" to use your religious language, some people, not bad people, note, just habitually push back on ANY suggestion that they change their behaviour or thinking in ANY way for ANY reason. Very often the same people then rationalize their pushing back as being told they're a "bad person", even if when they literally told the opposite. I've seen this happen countless times. Some ultra-nice person is like "Hey, maybe we could use this language instead because it's a bit more inclusive, I know this is new, please don't feel bad!" and somebody is still going to say "OMG!!! HOW DARE YOU! HOW DARE YOU SAY I'M A BAD PERSON!!!!!!!!!". You can't tell me this doesn't happen. It happens all the time. It even happened in a work situation to one of my friends, where they got in an amazingly polite and kind person to basically do very mild racial sensitivity training, which went to huge lengths to not demonize anyone or point anyone out as bad, and still one staff member was horribly offended and was abusive to the person doing the training to the point of reducing her to tears.

Now, let's be clear, not everyone is nice or polite. Some people are quite jerky and point-score-y about it (I'm certainly not holding myself out as a saint here). But they get about the same reactions as people who are nice or polite, or only slightly worse.

I do think religion plays a part here in that a lot of people get quite worn down early in life by being told they're "sinners" or "bad people" continuously by religious figures, when they know they're not, and then later in life, when a secular person makes a narrow request to change a behaviour, even without labeling them a "bad person", it's easy for them to feel this is just a further burden/attack, especially if they already went to lengths to meet the requirements of the religious figure (or suffered consequences from failing to do so). I do agree again that sometimes people are overbroad or lazy in talking about these issues. But as I said, even when they aren't, the reaction is often nigh-identical.
Also I think you really can't tell much about how impacted a person is by racism, or what their life experience is with things like equality and access to power, what their level of wealth or poverty, by something like an Avatar and a handle on a gaming forum.

But you can get a pretty good idea about how impacted by racism (specifically), they are*, pretty quickly from the attitudes people have and how they talk about themselves and certain issues. The other elements can be harder to gauge, or they can be very easy to gauge, depending on what the person reveals about themselves. It's also worth noting that a lot of people are kind of fooling themselves about their level or wealth/influence (absolutely in both directions). There was a great example in the UK a while back, when during a debate a politician mentioned the average national wage was X, and an angry audience member stood up to exclaim that this was nonsense, and the average wage was actually "above 4X", as he was earning 4X and he "knew" he was earning "less than average". Of course in fact the average wage was X and the dude was relatively wealthy - but he absolutely wouldn't accept it even when all the people in the debate (on all sides!) and even other audience members were like "LOL dude ur wrong".
The curse of the left wing firebrand is to live long enough to turn into a reactionary conservative.
It's a bit different with Rowling and the whole transphobia issue in the UK. That transition does happen, but it's pretty rare now (for complicated socio-economic reasons definitely not fit for ENworld - it used to be fairly common, even routine). With Rowling and the TERF crew, the issue quite temporally bound - we're really talking about a less-than-twenty-year age range of British leftist academics (who have a few younger followers in the way a lot of outdated sociological approaches do), who all went to uni when certain trends were in fashion, and never updated their thinking, and where this came out because US anti-trans campaigners (of a very different background) started pushing the issue, and Rowling et al realized they agreed with them and decided to push the issue too (despite being fundamentally opposed on most other issues).

* = To be more specific, you can generally tell if someone definitely isn't impacted by racism pretty easily - it's harder to tell if someone is personally impacted, or just cares about the issue.
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As a case study, it would be interesting to see how Disney handles this
"To avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film, we are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community. We look forward to sharing more as the film heads into production after a lengthy development period.”


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Back then, as mentioned, the audience was not only very limited, but also very selective. That being said, I should not have put "absence of", rather "very limited".
I guess we just disagree on that assessment.
My problem with this is that it promotes a biased view about the past, only looking at it for mistakes and faults, never for good things, especially when the actual proportion of one to the other is simply incredible. Yes, there are bad things in a few publications out of hundreds, and even in these publications, there are some bad sentences or pictures out of the whole supplement. Again, it does not make it right, but does it justify such global hate ?
Nobody is hating anything. We are critiquing, not hating. Again, we all love D&D and want it to keep getting better, and part of that is looking to its past to see where it missteped. Of course there are good things in D&D’s past, I don’t think a single person here disagrees. It’s just not particularly relevant to the discussion at hand.
For that, see just above. When it's only "the past was bad, but we are really good guys now", how can the arrogance of this not generate defensiveness ?
Who’s saying that? Not I. In both the past and the present, there were/are good and bad things. We are engaged in critically analyzing some of the bad things of the past and present, so as to hopefully avoid them in the future. There will undoubtedly be good and bad things in the future as well, which I hope we will continue to critically analyze.


That is a great post, we (hopefully) come back to the OP and the question, especially about the first two points. Isn't the explanation more simply that these are old books from an era when most people had not realised the impact of their personal work and were only "people of their time" ? Of course, it does not make it right, but it certainly does not make the authors bad persons, it's just that we have (thankfully) come to realise that we should do better, and indeed this kind of mistakes are not made anymore. But does it really need extrapolating into "the past was very bad and they were all bad people ?"
I do feel like it's a mistake to consider these things as limited to products of a past era. Works being published right now, works being written right now to be published tomorrow, also need to be should be viewed with deliberation and scrutiny-- preferably before publication -- if the writers and artists want to avoid that unintentional encoding of exclusionary content. We're human. We can chose what to include and what to exclude from our work and games and art. There will be mistakes. We can listen to our peers and hear them when we make those mistakes.

I really don't hear anyone extrapolating to "the past was very bad and they were all bad people."

I'm sure there's a lot more to say on this subject.


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
And this is exactly my problem, looking at the past with the specific goal of making it look bad. Never with a more balanced and less judgemental view, noting that there are bad things, but also some good things along with the bad. And for certain, never look at good things in particular, because it would invalidate the whole "crusade".
There is no “crusade” and the goal is not to make classic D&D look bad. Classic D&D is awesome, why would we want to make it look bad? The goal is to identify specific issues with it, so that we can avoid repeating them.


Satan’s Echo Chamber! Muhahahaha
There are a lot of tough decisions in life.

I recently was talking with my spouse about what a jerk Picasso was. I see that in the OP! Funny. We also were talking about musicians and athletes and entertainment and people…

if you play six degrees of Kevin Bacon (or moral turpitude in this case) you will need to abandon your geekdom consumerism and fandom.

that way lies madness. The most parsimonious thing for me is to see if the product itself is overtly offensive. If the producer of said product is loud about their idiocy maybe then I have a visceral reaction and avoid them.

but honestly the frailty of people is universal. If you do six degrees of Kevin bacon with this you will be disappointed. Every. Time.

this is individual and visceral. But if you look for reasons to dump the art you will find it.

life is hard. Lots of work. Jobs and money and health…I am not looking for reasons to dump my distractions.

I am not 100% but I do separate art and creator to the extent possible.

It's a bit face-palm that you don't get how you're in fact proving my point, esp. re religious language. It seems like you won't even reason this out without resorting to the language of religion, and that's rather sad.

I am not going to respond to your points when they a framed in an insulting way (i.e. ‘facepalm’, ‘sad’, ‘you won’t even reason out without resorting to the language of religion’). I am happy to continue having a productive conversation, but will bow out if this persists. I brought up religious language in response to a poster who accused people of not listening or hearing the other side. My point was many of us have heard, we understand your arguments, but we are not persuaded by them, and when it reaches that point it isn’t a lack of listening, it is just us saying “no we have heard you but we are not interested in converting to your worldview”.


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
The Jk Rowling case is amazing. Some of her fans consider her now as « She Who Cannot Be Named ». There is something there with some kind of prophetic magic.
The people who call her that are being ironic intentionally.
Overall the Potterverse is a tribute to friendship, to overcome challenge, to cultivate his own identity and specificity. It makes the world a more tolerant and inclusive place. In fact a better place for Trans people to live in.
Which is a huge part of why fans feel so betrayed by her taking an anti-trans stance.
But that work has been toss completely away,
No, it hasn’t. Lots of people who are critical of J.K. Rowling still enjoy the work. How could we not, it was hugely influential throughout our childhoods and young adulthoods. But, many of us also now advocate against supporting the author (with varying opinions on what constitutes support), despite how we feel about her work.
and for some Rowling is now a transphobic.
Not just for some. She literally is transphobic.

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