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D&D 5E The Bedine

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, my young orphan Artificer revolutionary in Waterdeep is a refugee of the war between Netheril and everyone else, curses in Netherese, drinks spiced Kaeth, which was determined in play when I took the group to a cafe run by immigrants from that region, and described different coffee beverages with date-wine.

And then I did more reading on the Bedine…and I cannot in good conscience use them as written. The forgotten realms wiki page reads like a case study in hake not to writeup a culture inspired by a real world Arabic culture.

Anyone got any ideas for how to make them less stereotyped and just less egregious? Anyone have actual in depth cultural knowledge of the Bedouin, who they’re based on?

I mean one way to go is to just have my family be a mix of Bedine and Shadovar heritage, and have lived in cities for the 100 years or so before Elminster war-crimed Thultanthar and Myth Drannor into rubble.

In an FR game I run, that never happened and instead the enemies of Shar broke her hold and assassinated her princes and priests, and Netheril is in the midst of internal strife trying to figure out what to do now. But this game is mostly by the book.

It’s not like Kid is deeply tied to her heritage, she’s an orphaned refugee that sees herself as Waterdhavian. It’s just fun to sprinkle in little bits like the salted coffee and curses in Netherese and Loross, because she has grown up knowing she can get food and water from other refugees, and she wants to belong somewhere.
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Probably better to ask about this topic over at candlekeep.

It’s frustrating, getting excited for an aspect of the setting, and then the canon material for that thing is just badly stereotyped and weird.

Like their environment is so harsh that they are super violent, but they don’t practice any medicine or have any clerics!? They’re hyper-patriarchal except the all-female clans that just live to raid and kill men?

I had a mind to have one of my PCs parents be Bedine, and one Shadovar, but maybe it’s best to just say that her heritage is mixed and her parents are from one of the cities under Netheril’s banner.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It’s also dumb that 4e made them just…become “Netherese”!? Like…

“hey there’s grass now! Should we look into using horses instead of camels? No! Let’s give up nomadic living! It was only fun while we could barely survive!” - The Bedine, apparently.

Ugh. Just hire a writer who knows literally anything about South Asian and North African cultures and who wants to write fantasy stuff. There are many.
 



Were there...other posts here? This looks like a thread where only one person's replies remain.

I can't help you with the Bedine, as I know literally nothing about them. However, I can tell you what I did with Jewel of the Desert, my Arabian Nights Dungeon World game. First, I took inspiration from Al Qadim, which itself takes inspiration from real-world traditions in various ways. The Bond of Salt, for example, really does connect to traditions from North Africa and Arabia (e.g. the poet Rumi extensively uses "bread and salt" as the exemplar of forming the guest-host bond repeatedly in the Masnavi (also called the Mathnawi). I also very intentionally incorporated Al Qadim's principle that most races considered "monstrous" (like orcs, ogres, and minotaurs) are perfectly acceptable in polite society, and that there is a strong sense of shared regional culture even for very divergent expressions thereof. Frex, the Nomad Tribes vs the city-folk; it would be a grave insult to call a Nomad a "barbarian" and even poorly-educated city-folk would know and understand that.

From there, I asked some people I know who have expertise on the subject (one of whom is of North African descent) and got a plethora of pointers, both direct and to literature to check out. Both pre-Islamic Arabia and the Golden Age of Islam had many fascinating traditions, and from these pointers I built up quite a bit of stuff. As an example of an indirect thing, there's something of a tradition of the "gentleman rogue" in literature of the period, people who were wealthy and cultured but still got up to some Shenanigans. Other class-related stuff:
  • Druids (and, for my setting, Shamans) are "Kahina," those with ties to the natural spirits of the world. This has been iterated on several times, so the actual specifics of my Kahina do not conform cleanly to any particular Arabic traditions, but I tried to maintain some connection. I also made a clear distinction from more classical European conceptions of druids, that is, these folks are not at all a-political and are perfectly happy leading societies and fomenting social change (be it peacefully or not).
  • Bards are Rawuna, those who paint the sky with their tales. This hasn't been as key as it could be, but the party has seen at least one master of the old ways of these arts, from before mortal-kind took control of the cities.
  • Wizards are Waziri, extremely talented scholars, but ones that must carefully navigate the space between tradition and novelty because their powers can very easily do Bad Things if used willy-nilly. This ties into elements like Islamic jurisprudence and the ulama (scholars), and the idea of emphasizing teacher-to-student connections rather than institution-to-student connections.

I'm absolutely certain it's far from perfect. But I've tried very hard to represent many different aspects of society: religiosity, the tension between the Old Ways and the relatively New Faith, class struggles and the gap between haves and have-nots, the complications that come from having a great deal of lost or misremembered history, and the convictions that arose out of a society formed specifically in opposition to the rampant slavery practiced by the ancient genie-rajahs. Their lives are not depicted as caricatures, but as real people going through a variety of circumstances. Commerce and personal wealth are a big deal, of course, but reputation also matters a ton, and magic, faith, and blood-relations tend to complicate matters greatly.

Most everyone gets names of an Arabic or North African (generally Moroccan) style; I have very gently implied that the Moroccan-style names tend to come from the northeast of the region, while Arabic-style names come more from the central and southern regions. And since this is Dungeon World, that means we've had a LOT of named people over time, easily over a hundred named NPCs in the years we've been playing. Even names from other cultures tend to be transliterated; the only times the party has gotten non-transliterated names are when they've directly interacted with outside cultures, such as the Celtic-influenced "elf forests" to the south (where the village elder they met was named Cadwgan) or when they hired a very experienced captain native to the Ten Thousand Isles of the Sapphire Sea (Hakina Kawhena, meant to be vaguely Polynesian-like), or their secretly-a-dragon dragonborn priest friend, Tenryu Shen (native to Yuxia, the Jade Home, far to the west across the Sapphire Sea).

Also…the Bedouin didn’t wear all white. I’m not sure any desert culture has ever exclusively worn white, but I’d be happy to be corrected.
No idea. Even with modern Arabic clothing, one would wear more white or light colors in summer and darker colors in winter, so there's no singular emphasis.

That was...a bit of a scattershot of random info. But I hope it's helpful to you.
 

I have no idea. Tough challenge. I don't know where the line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation is. But I would make sure not to use any negative stereotypes or "traits" from the Bedouin. I would appreciate someone who know how to do this in a respectful way let us know how.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Were there...other posts here? This looks like a thread where only one person's replies remain.
Yeah when I got no replies I just dropped my further thoughts about the subject.
I can't help you with the Bedine, as I know literally nothing about them.
Trust me, they're Bedouin with less nuance and no horses. Oh and their whole relationship with their gods is fear, basically. And they're afraid of all magic, and don't practice medicine, and....it's justbad.
However, I can tell you what I did with Jewel of the Desert, my Arabian Nights Dungeon World game. First, I took inspiration from Al Qadim, which itself takes inspiration from real-world traditions in various ways. The Bond of Salt, for example, really does connect to traditions from North Africa and Arabia (e.g. the poet Rumi extensively uses "bread and salt" as the exemplar of forming the guest-host bond repeatedly in the Masnavi (also called the Mathnawi). I also very intentionally incorporated Al Qadim's principle that most races considered "monstrous" (like orcs, ogres, and minotaurs) are perfectly acceptable in polite society, and that there is a strong sense of shared regional culture even for very divergent expressions thereof. Frex, the Nomad Tribes vs the city-folk; it would be a grave insult to call a Nomad a "barbarian" and even poorly-educated city-folk would know and understand that.
Makes sense.
From there, I asked some people I know who have expertise on the subject (one of whom is of North African descent) and got a plethora of pointers, both direct and to literature to check out. Both pre-Islamic Arabia and the Golden Age of Islam had many fascinating traditions, and from these pointers I built up quite a bit of stuff. As an example of an indirect thing, there's something of a tradition of the "gentleman rogue" in literature of the period, people who were wealthy and cultured but still got up to some Shenanigans. Other class-related stuff:
  • Druids (and, for my setting, Shamans) are "Kahina," those with ties to the natural spirits of the world. This has been iterated on several times, so the actual specifics of my Kahina do not conform cleanly to any particular Arabic traditions, but I tried to maintain some connection. I also made a clear distinction from more classical European conceptions of druids, that is, these folks are not at all a-political and are perfectly happy leading societies and fomenting social change (be it peacefully or not).
  • Bards are Rawuna, those who paint the sky with their tales. This hasn't been as key as it could be, but the party has seen at least one master of the old ways of these arts, from before mortal-kind took control of the cities.
  • Wizards are Waziri, extremely talented scholars, but ones that must carefully navigate the space between tradition and novelty because their powers can very easily do Bad Things if used willy-nilly. This ties into elements like Islamic jurisprudence and the ulama (scholars), and the idea of emphasizing teacher-to-student connections rather than institution-to-student connections.

I'm absolutely certain it's far from perfect. But I've tried very hard to represent many different aspects of society: religiosity, the tension between the Old Ways and the relatively New Faith, class struggles and the gap between haves and have-nots, the complications that come from having a great deal of lost or misremembered history, and the convictions that arose out of a society formed specifically in opposition to the rampant slavery practiced by the ancient genie-rajahs. Their lives are not depicted as caricatures, but as real people going through a variety of circumstances. Commerce and personal wealth are a big deal, of course, but reputation also matters a ton, and magic, faith, and blood-relations tend to complicate matters greatly.
Yeah that is a much better basis for a society than what the Bedine get.
Most everyone gets names of an Arabic or North African (generally Moroccan) style; I have very gently implied that the Moroccan-style names tend to come from the northeast of the region, while Arabic-style names come more from the central and southern regions. And since this is Dungeon World, that means we've had a LOT of named people over time, easily over a hundred named NPCs in the years we've been playing. Even names from other cultures tend to be transliterated; the only times the party has gotten non-transliterated names are when they've directly interacted with outside cultures, such as the Celtic-influenced "elf forests" to the south (where the village elder they met was named Cadwgan) or when they hired a very experienced captain native to the Ten Thousand Isles of the Sapphire Sea (Hakina Kawhena, meant to be vaguely Polynesian-like), or their secretly-a-dragon dragonborn priest friend, Tenryu Shen (native to Yuxia, the Jade Home, far to the west across the Sapphire Sea).


No idea. Even with modern Arabic clothing, one would wear more white or light colors in summer and darker colors in winter, so there's no singular emphasis.

That was...a bit of a scattershot of random info. But I hope it's helpful to you.
Very. Thank you.
 

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