D&D General The Rakshasa and Genie Problem

I'm all for talking about and reconsidering previously published products.

But I agree with Lyxen (and probably everyone else) that we don't need to start talking about purging all materials of anything related to culture.
And so do I. But a question was asked. It deserve an answer don't you think?
 

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If I don't like or feel comfortable with halflings, I just wouldn't use them. It's DMing 101.

If the question is "this makes me uncomfortable, what should I do?" The answer is pretty simple. Whatever makes you comfortable. Replace, ignore and never use, put them in polos and khakis, whatever. I worry when the question becomes "This makes me uncomfortable, what should we do?" That is the harder question to answer and its been the one asked repeatedly for a lot of different things.

And to be honest, I'm reaching the point where my tolerance for nuance is being stretched. So I opted for the most radical position to solve the problem. So nuke the raksasha in Eberron. Add a dozen new continents full of people with appropriate cultures. If things are wrong, break them and start over. But just fix the problem.
I understand your answer a lot more then. You will find a sympathetic ear in me. It may just be that I have a bit more patience for these...
 

I hear you about retreads, and would never expect WorC to do anything more interesting. I just don't want it to get any worse.

See, I don't have that worry. To me, the retreads are basically the nadir. It's hard to get worse than that. Trying new stuff will at least give me more variety. I know that people complain about how little fluff was given for the 4E MMs, but some of the sparse fluff is just way more interesting. Cyclopes are way, way more interesting as the middle-managers of evil Feywild Formorians than what they are in 5E.

the reason these ideas get push back is because they have an impact on the culture of the hobby and what is permissible creatively. You see this in how word approaches certain topics now but also in what gets called out in games online (and that has an effect of what is creatively permissible).

I disagree. Talking about if something is problematic is good because it helps us understand how to integrate things respectfully rather than just tossing them in for the sake of exoticism. You talk about what is "creatively permissible", but I think it's more about creating an awareness of bad tropes and how to avoid them. In effect, it's not about creativity but quality and how to improve it.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Sometimes though I think we fetishized ‘authentic’. Authenticity can be good.
It absolutely can be, but (speaking solely to my own experiences) authenticity is often presented as the antithesis of pastiche, which is the primary vector of presentation for most campaign settings that I'm aware of.
 

I disagree. Talking about if something is problematic is good because it helps us understand how to integrate things respectfully rather than just tossing them in for the sake of exoticism. You talk about what is "creatively permissible", but I think it's more about creating an awareness of bad tropes and how to avoid them. In effect, it's not about creativity but quality and how to improve it.
I think our positions are not really reconcilesbke, which is part of the issue perhaps. I understand this is your belief about the result, but just as you believe it leads to better quality, I believe it stifles creativity, leads to less interesting and fun content, and doesn’t really do anything to fix the problems it is purporting to address (I don’t think changing media is going to fix societal ills, and I think attempts to do so, very quickly can slip into propaganda and move us away from engaging in layered and interesting art). I also think the awareness you describe really just raised the bar to entry: people either need an advanced degree or need to have been deeply invested in a long conversation about tropes to make art, to design games. I just don’t think this is a healthy mindset (either on the creative end, nor on the receptive end as an audience; with the latter, I think it leads to very simplified consumption that ignores layers of meaning and stops at the most obvious superficial potential meaning of something).
 

So let's take it back to the OPs premise: raksashas exist in Eberron. Raksashas are Indian-coded due to their rw origin. There is no India analog in Eberron. How do you fix this?

One of the suggestions is that if the setting lacks a stand in for a particular culture, the monsters from that culture shouldn't be included. I've seen similar arguments about things like monks or samurai as well. Eberron, lacking analogs for real world cultures, shouldn't use those elements. I suggest if that's going to be the case, then break it up by culture so that it becomes part of the package deal. You want Chinese elements in your game? Get the China supplement. It's been researched and written by experts in Chinese culture and is faithful to the source material and respectful to the culture.
And my suggestion is, if that particular aspect bothers you, do some research on Indian and Chinese cultures, and find ways to make those elements make sense, or find ways to represent those cultures more effectively in-setting.

This doesn't have to be hard. I don't know Eberron very well, but from what little I already knew or can find:
  • The Dhakaani Empire could easily have had significant influences from various historical Indian Subcontinent cultures, such as the Mughal Empire, or the Chola Empire, which spawned from a dynasty that--no joke--lasted over a thousand years. That would fit in extremely well with the Dhakaani, who ruled what is now called Khorvaire for several thousand years. The Rakshasa could have adapted to that culture as part of their efforts to awaken their overlords, and to them, the three or four centuries that the new nations of Khorvaire have been around is nothing.
  • The dragonborn of Q'barra and Argonessen prove it is possible to expand the world with new elements by finding appropriate places for them. Keith Baker, the creator of Eberron, even seems to have been pretty enthusiastic about incorporating Dragonborn into the setting--to the point that, if they were building Eberron today, he'd consider making them a dragonmarked race. Perhaps they are the ones who have the samurai and other such things, traditions they had for thousands of years before the Dhakaani drove the early dragonborn out of Khorvaire. They continue to uphold the true source of the traditions behind said fighting styles and armor types.

Far from perfect, to be sure, and you'd want to do some work to be sure things fit together properly. But surely better than trying to just rip the Rakshasa out entirely, and thus having to rewrite major parts of the setting? Good-faith efforts have got to be better than flippantly ignoring the issue and better than cutting everything up into perfectly segregated, non-interacting pieces, "how dare you try to run an Arabian Nights setting without the Official Arabian Nights Book (Coming 202X!)"

It just seems both reductive and counter-productive to take "this is kinda iffy, lifting aesthetics and behaviors from real or historical cultures without any real basis or merit in it" and thus conclude "burn it all down, slice everything up into its own neat little totally separated non-interacting boxes."
 

I dunno if I entirely agree with that. I think they fit more into either the Greek daimon or Roman genius loci concepts. That is, genies bound to objects are real dang close to the idea of the "spirit of a place," just swapping "place" for "object." And daimones, to the ancient Greeks, were...spirits of any kind, regardless of their nature; what we call "demons" today would have been called kakodaimones then, specifically evil spirits, to be contrasted against agathodaimones, overtly good spirits.

So you could quite easily shift them in the direction of Greco-Roman stuff instead. Particularly since you could leverage the tale of Pandora's urn for the idea of powers (evil and good) being trapped inside vessels of various kinds. Perhaps call them "pandorians" or the like.
Classically, djinn aren't always bound to an object or place. Shahrazad uses that a couple times (they aren't entirely different form daimon) but other myths have them quite free.

There's a lot to draw from, if one is so inclined.
 

Classically, djinn aren't always bound to an object or place. Shahrazad uses that a couple times (they aren't entirely different form daimon) but other myths have them quite free.

There's a lot to draw from, if one is so inclined.
Sounds like an even better fit than I'd thought. I'd been under the impression that "free" genies were extremely rare. Guess I need to read more of the Thousand and One Nights again!
 

I think our positions are not really reconcilesbke, which is part of the issue perhaps. I understand this is your belief about the result, but just as you believe it leads to better quality, I believe it stifles creativity, leads to less interesting and fun content,

I don't know how thinking about things stifles or leads to a less creative project. Typically speaking I think it leads to less lazy stuff because it forces you to actually think about what you are doing rather than just tossing things in that look cool.

and doesn’t really do anything to fix the problems it is purporting to address (I don’t think changing media is going to fix societal ills, and I think attempts to do so, very quickly can slip into propaganda and move us away from engaging in layered and interesting art).

Yeah, uh, this is nonsense? No one thinks that doing this is going to fix racism, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't think critically about what we take from other cultures. Like, what propaganda would be made? Who would be making it?

I also think the awareness you describe really just raised the bar to entry: people either need an advanced degree or need to have been deeply invested in a long conversation about tropes to make art, to design games. I just don’t think this is a healthy mindset (either on the creative end, nor on the receptive end as an audience; with the latter, I think it leads to very simplified consumption that ignores layers of meaning and stops at the most obvious superficial potential meaning of something).

It's not about having long conversations all the time because you don't always need to. But in the case of randomly cribbing things from other cultures, then yes, you probably should think about what you are doing. You talk about gatekeeping, but shoddy inclusion and racially-charged language are far greater gatekeepers because they actively make minority members of our community feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. This whole thing comes off less about not wanting to have a conversation and simply wanting to ignore that D&D has problems.
 

Remathilis

Legend
The Dhakaani Empire could easily have had significant influences from various historical Indian Subcontinent cultures, such as the Mughal Empire, or the Chola Empire, which spawned from a dynasty that--no joke--lasted over a thousand years. That would fit in extremely well with the Dhakaani, who ruled what is now called Khorvaire for several thousand years. The Rakshasa could have adapted to that culture as part of their efforts to awaken their overlords, and to them, the three or four centuries that the new nations of Khorvaire have been around is nothing.

So two problems.

The Dhakanni Empire are goblinoids. All of them. What you're doing is giving goblins an Indian culture is a big no no. Humans wouldn't make it to Khovaire until after Dhakanni's fall fighting the Daelkyr.

Raksashas ruled Khorvaire earlier than that, during the Age of Fiends until they were banished by the Coutals and bound by the Silver Flame. Goblins were still beating each other over the head with sticks culturally when this happened, and it's only the fall of the Raksasha that allows the Dhakanni to rise.

So your suggestion works if we're willing to completely rewrite Eberron's history. Which going by WotC's stance on cannon is potentially a valid option. But at that point you might as well add a new continent for as much disturbance as it's going to cause.

[QUOTE="EzekielRaiden, post: 8507540, member: 6790260] It just seems both reductive and counter-productive to take "this is kinda iffy, lifting aesthetics and behaviors from real or historical cultures without any real basis or merit in it" and thus conclude "burn it all down, slice everything up into its own neat little totally separated non-interacting boxes."[/QUOTE]

The crux if the issue is raksasha are Indian and thus tied to that culture. If that bothers you, you either remove raksashas from non-Indian settings or add India to the settings that have raksashas. I fail to see why this is controversial after all the criticism about appropriating things like samurai or phylacteries into the game.
 

So let's take it back to the OPs premise: raksashas exist in Eberron. Raksashas are Indian-coded due to their rw origin. There is no India analog in Eberron. How do you fix this?

One of the suggestions is that if the setting lacks a stand in for a particular culture, the monsters from that culture shouldn't be included. I've seen similar arguments about things like monks or samurai as well. Eberron, lacking analogs for real world cultures, shouldn't use those elements. I suggest if that's going to be the case, then break it up by culture so that it becomes part of the package deal. You want Chinese elements in your game? Get the China supplement. It's been researched and written by experts in Chinese culture and is faithful to the source material and respectful to the culture.
That's a valid solution.

Anther one is to incorporate the necessary cultural elements into the setting without adding a new analog. The idea of going to a monastery to seek spiritual enlightenment doesn't have to be east-Asian coded (it's a thing in many other places), so you can mix and stir a little and make monks fit into a pseudo-Euro setting with a little work. It changes things beyond the character (basically adding a new religion) and might change things about the monk class (names of powers should follow the local language conventions) and so on. It's not easy exactly, but it's not really hard either.

For Rakshasa, it's not really hard to remove specific Indian/SE Asian elements other than the name. Cat people are a pretty universal concept in fantasy by now.
 

I don't know how thinking about things stifles or leads to a less creative project. Typically speaking I think it leads to less lazy stuff because it forces you to actually think about what you are doing rather than just tossing things in that look cool.

Thinking about things is fine. Designers should think about all kinds of things when they make a game. Personally I have developed the habit of thinking for a full week for each entry, before writing anything down, when there is time to do so (obviously this may vary from project to project depending on timeline). So it isn't thinking about things, or researching things, that I object to here. What I object to is the bolded. I am talking about taking a method of design (in this case say having to think about content from a lens of whether it is problematic, having to incorporate cultural elements in an authentic way, etc) and making that mandatory (which these conversations are increasingly doing).

Also, there isn't anything wrong or lazy about going by gut instinct sometimes, or by using something because it seems cool. And I think there is something to be said for occasionally going with raw feeling, emotion, instinct in art and design. You can put just as much effort into the design of some cool feature you've pulled from a source, as you can delving into that source. Because a designer or artist doesn't have as their aim doing a deep dive of authenticity and contexualitzation, that doesn't mean they aren't putting the same amount of effort into the creation of the thing (they are just directing their energy and focus elsewhere). It also is pretty obvious that this approach you are advancing, while fine on its own, can also lead to lazy design. I have seen plenty of projects that were just rote inverting of tropes, or taking the blueprint established in conversations like this and applying it (once you know the blueprint, it is just a matter of applying it to the design). I think it is more exciting when designers aren't operating off any kind of blueprint or lens personally.

Yeah, uh, this is nonsense? No one thinks that doing this is going to fix racism, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't think critically about what we take from other cultures.



.
Personally I don't think it is nonsense. I see a lot of posts claiming this is a step in solving things like racism. But more than that, I think it is counter productive and actually reverses progress on racism in many ways. We are doing this thing where people increasingly feel like they have to either stay in their box, or walk on eggshells when going outside their box (i.e. their cultural, racial, religious identity) and I think that creates barriers between people in the real world. I am not saying people should be deliberately insulting or racist, but I think the degree to which we nitpick over minutiae and the way we are dividing people into groups based on superficial characteristics, is making it harder for folks to cross cultural boundaries, to truly get to know people who are different from them, etc.

Like, what propaganda would be made? Who would be making it?

Anyone who is putting ideology before creativity. Not all propaganda is going to be nefarious. Some can be well intentioned (a lot of the just say no messaging was well intentioned, but still propagandistic and it led to a lot of bad art----if somewhat intriguing to look at in hindsight). A classic case of propaganda would be something like reefer madness. It is a very simplistic and exaggerated depiction of drug use, and its primary purpose wasn't to be a moving piece of art, but to promote an anti-drug ideology. I think in most cases, even when the message is a good one, the message or ideology being the primary concern, weakens art because it makes nuance and layers nearly impossible. The message has to be clear and can't be muddy or messy.

It's not about having long conversations all the time because you don't always need to. But in the case of randomly cribbing things from other cultures, then yes, you probably should think about what you are doing. You talk about gatekeeping, but shoddy inclusion and racially-charged language are far greater gatekeepers because they actively make minority members of our community feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. This whole thing comes off less about not wanting to have a conversation and simply wanting to ignore that D&D has problems

I think the opinions on this among minorities in the hobby vary considerably. And I think there is a lot of disagreement on what constitutes racially charged language or shoddy inclusion. This isn't about wanting to ignore problems in D&D, it is that people have genuine disagreements over what is a real problem and what is an exaggeration of a non-problem. There are all kinds of reasons to draw on aesthetics in design (where it is for an rpg, for music, for literature). I think we are at a very rigid point right now, where anything that isn't a full exploration of the original context, and a celebration of the culture from which it comes, is cast in a dark light. But I don't think we ever truly cross these cultural boundaries in a real way, unless we are at a point when people can have fun exploring other cultures. Right now, it doesn't feel like it is very fun. In fact we are in a sirtuaion where the expectation is the artist hires consultants to make sure they are engaging in the right kind of fun when they draw on cultural elements. We've made culture taboo. And I don't think that is good for art. That doesn't mean I think people should be blatantly racist or something. But I do think we have moved way too far in the direction of stifling art and cultural exchange.
 

Bunker

Hero
Then please explain this: "And, honestly, a European, visiting Asia, really doesn't speak to what an American publisher predominantly selling into the American market ought to be doing at all."
I can't because I have no idea what it means or what it has to do with me.
Of course, yeah, right, pardon me for not being a native english speaker, I suppose that's an offense too ?
I don't know what that means either, or what it has to do with me.
Do I need to send you credentials for you to stop being insulting ?
I dont know what that means. Um. Yes, please send me credentials for me to stop being... err... insulting?

I'm excited to see these credentials! Let me know when you've sent them.
P.S.: Also, please ask yourself who regularly starts these censorship threads on the site, in contradiction to the site's policy ?
I don't know. You tell me. Who regularly starts these censorship threads? You? Me?
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I can't because I have no idea what it means or what it has to do with me.

Then why do you butt in without understanding who I was responding to ?

I don't know what that means either, or what it has to do with me.

It has to do with you reproaching my use of the word "offend", again without any real understanding of the situation or what was being discussed.

I dont know what that means. Um. Yes, please send me credentials for me to stop being... err... insulting?

I mean, you accuse me of not being who I say I am, and being "alt-right" whatever that means, but it was clearly an insult in your speech.

I don't know. You tell me. Who regularly starts these censorship threads? You? Me?

Neither of us, but once more, why don't you get a bit more information before butting in ?
 

Thinking about things is fine. Designers should think about all kinds of things when they make a game. Personally I have developed the habit of thinking for a full week for each entry, before writing anything down, when there is time to do so (obviously this may vary from project to project depending on timeline). So it isn't thinking about things, or researching things, that I object to here. What I object to is the bolded. I am talking about taking a method of design (in this case say having to think about content from a lens of whether it is problematic, having to incorporate cultural elements in an authentic way, etc) and making that mandatory (which these conversations are increasingly doing).

Also, there isn't anything wrong or lazy about going by gut instinct sometimes, or by using something because it seems cool. And I think there is something to be said for occasionally going with raw feeling, emotion, instinct in art and design. You can put just as much effort into the design of some cool feature you've pulled from a source, as you can delving into that source. Because a designer or artist doesn't have as their aim doing a deep dive of authenticity and contexualitzation, that doesn't mean they aren't putting the same amount of effort into the creation of the thing (they are just directing their energy and focus elsewhere). It also is pretty obvious that this approach you are advancing, while fine on its own, can also lead to lazy design. I have seen plenty of projects that were just rote inverting of tropes, or taking the blueprint established in conversations like this and applying it (once you know the blueprint, it is just a matter of applying it to the design). I think it is more exciting when designers aren't operating off any kind of blueprint or lens personally.

This is like, massive unhelpful hyperbole and I don't know how to engage with it.

It doesn't really reflect the reality of trying to be thoughtful, but instead creates a fantasy where you have to take massive amounts of time to consider every detail. Rather, the problem is that people don't consider these details at all. You don't have to always do a deep dive into contextualization, but for certain things context matters. Just dropping in something from someone else's culture because it looks cool is exactly how you get these sorts of problems and avoiding them means you have to take a moment of consideration when you do something like that. Acting like this means you have to occupy yourself with weeks on this comes off as trying to create an excuse to not do it at all.

Personally I don't think it is nonsense. I see a lot of posts claiming this is a step in solving things like racism. But more than that, I think it is counter productive and actually reverses progress on racism in many ways. We are doing this thing where people increasingly feel like they have to either stay in their box, or walk on eggshells when going outside their box (i.e. their cultural, racial, religious identity) and I think that creates barriers between people in the real world. I am not saying people should be deliberately insulting or racist, but I think the degree to which we nitpick over minutiae and the way we are dividing people into groups based on superficial characteristics, is making it harder for folks to cross cultural boundaries, to truly get to know people who are different from them, etc.

You said "propaganda", but now you completely walk away from that. What did you mean by "propaganda"? Who is putting it out, and what is is? You can't just drop that in here and not address it, because that is the big part of the nonsense I was referring to.

I don't know what to tell you about "walking around on eggshells", because I don't. I try to be sensitive and and when I make a mistake, I correct it. It's really that simple. The bigger problem is people who don't want to do anything and complain about the mere discussion of this stuff.

Anyone who is putting ideology before creativity. Not all propaganda is going to be nefarious. Some can be well intentioned (a lot of the just say no messaging was well intentioned, but still propagandistic and it led to a lot of bad art----if somewhat intriguing to look at in hindsight). A classic case of propaganda would be something like reefer madness. It is a very simplistic and exaggerated depiction of drug use, and its primary purpose wasn't to be a moving piece of art, but to promote an anti-drug ideology. I think in most cases, even when the message is a good one, the message or ideology being the primary concern, weakens art because it makes nuance and layers nearly impossible. The message has to be clear and can't be muddy or messy.

PROPAGANDA FOR WHAT? Cultural sensitivity? Who is putting it out? Again, I repeat: this is nonsense. This is creating an enemy where none exists, and using it to try and concern troll for your position.

I think the opinions on this among minorities in the hobby vary considerably. And I think there is a lot of disagreement on what constitutes racially charged language or shoddy inclusion. This isn't about wanting to ignore problems in D&D, it is that people have genuine disagreements over what is a real problem and what is an exaggeration of a non-problem. There are all kinds of reasons to draw on aesthetics in design (where it is for an rpg, for music, for literature). I think we are at a very rigid point right now, where anything that isn't a full exploration of the original context, and a celebration of the culture from which it comes, is cast in a dark light. But I don't think we ever truly cross these cultural boundaries in a real way, unless we are at a point when people can have fun exploring other cultures. Right now, it doesn't feel like it is very fun. In fact we are in a sirtuaion where the expectation is the artist hires consultants to make sure they are engaging in the right kind of fun when they draw on cultural elements. We've made culture taboo. And I don't think that is good for art. That doesn't mean I think people should be blatantly racist or something. But I do think we have moved way too far in the direction of stifling art and cultural exchange.

This is absolutely about trying to ignore problems in D&D, and largely trying to concern-troll around it. Like, the greatest problem with these sorts of discussions is not that people say we can't use these things; I find that these discussions always give me new ideas and new ways to look at different concepts.

What I find a problem are people who solely come here to say they don't find these things a problem and find that these discussions are a problem and that we shouldn't be having them and these are what are making D&D bad. It's just a bunch of "How far do we go?!" instead of actually engaging with the topic being given, trying to act like people who are talking about this are one step away from banning violence in their games or something. It's inane.

If you don't want to talk about these things, then don't. The whole point of this thread is to actually discuss the issue, not discuss the discussion of the issue.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
This is absolutely about trying to ignore problems in D&D, and largely trying to concern-troll around it.

No, it's absolutely about the fact that there are actually very few real problems in D&D, but that some people absolutely want to create some, and are largely trying to concern-troll people into what should be non-problems for reasons of personal agendas.

Moreover, as pointed out, these non-problems are suspiciously orientated, towards Rakshasa and Genies and not towards Vampires or Medusae, for example.

What I find a problem are people who solely come here to say they don't find these things a problem and find that these discussions are a problem and that we shouldn't be having them and these are what are making D&D bad.

Exactly, except that it's more precisely "make D&D look bad", which has happened in the past, and is happening again in particular places.

If you don't want to talk about these things, then don't. The whole point of this thread is to actually discuss the issue, not discuss the discussion of the issue.

And again, which issue is that ? Just look right below.

If I don't like or feel comfortable with halflings, I just wouldn't use them. It's DMing 101.

And that should be the end of the story, not dragging the whole game into discussions about culture or, much worse, about some specific cultures.
 

What I find a problem are people who solely come here to say they don't find these things a problem and find that these discussions are a problem and that we shouldn't be having them and these are what are making D&D bad. It's just a bunch of "How far do we go?!" instead of actually engaging with the topic being given, trying to act like people who are talking about this are one step away from banning violence in their games or something. It's inane.

I think there is close proximity to some of the positions becoming the norm in these conversations and people who wanted, or want, to ban violence from video games. It seems very much rooted in the same understanding and belief about what media does and what media ought to be. I think it looks at media less as art and more as an instructional tool, or more as a shaper of culture.

PROPAGANDA FOR WHAT? Cultural sensitivity? Who is putting it out? Again, I repeat: this is nonsense. This is creating an enemy where none exists, and using it to try and concern troll for your position.

I am not concern trolling. I am expressing an opinion about trends in the hobby which are pretty obvious to most people I think. Some think they are good trends. And fair enough. But I think the trends are well intentioned, but ultimately more harmful than good (for the reasons I have given).

I specified what I meant by propaganda. And I alluded to the types of products I meant, but I am not going to call out a specific product or game, because I don't think that would be fair to designers who aren't even engaged in this thread. My aim isn't to put up a game as an example so that it might be more heavily critiques or attacked (even though I dislike some trends in RPGs, I don't want to draw that kind of attention to anyone). My point is to disagree with the trend, which I think is visible and real. But if you disagree fine. Also, my point about propaganda was that this can lead to art becoming proganda or more like it, when you make an ideological or moral point, the main focus of the conversation. If that is what critics, reviews and people on social media are focusing on, then that is what is going to be at the center of an RPGs selling point. And I think while it doesn't necessarily mean it will all be pure propaganda, I do think it gets into the very heavy handed didactic type of material you saw a lot of in the 80s and in the victorian era.

I think it is propaganda for a range of things, but fundamentally for a view of the world that prioritizes a very specific view about race, identity, power and art (one I think is well-intentioned but reductionist and misguided).
 

It doesn't really reflect the reality of trying to be thoughtful, but instead creates a fantasy where you have to take massive amounts of time to consider every detail. Rather, the problem is that people don't consider these details at all. You don't have to always do a deep dive into contextualization, but for certain things context matters. Just dropping in something from someone else's culture because it looks cool is exactly how you get these sorts of problems and avoiding them means you have to take a moment of consideration when you do something like that. Acting like this means you have to occupy yourself with weeks on this comes off as trying to create an excuse to not do it at all.

You are missing what I am saying. I am saying if you want to do this, fine. I don't object. I think it is great. But it isn't the only way to borrow cultural elements in art, and I think we do art a disservice when we don't give artists the freedom to play with culture in different ways, or when we assume it is automatically bad, because it isn't as deep a dive as you would want. I definitely think we are in a situation where it has gone too far in the direction of always being on the look out for potential problems (and I think you are seeing the result in how guarded people are with their language and their books----there is a discernible lack of freedom of expression is a lot of content). To an extent that makes sense, we live in the internet age. That changes a lot of things. But it also has, I think reached a point, where people who indulge this kind of thinking, feel like the world is looking over their shoulder when they create art (and I don't think that is a good thing).
 

I don't know what to tell you about "walking around on eggshells", because I don't. I try to be sensitive and and when I make a mistake, I correct it. It's really that simple. The bigger problem is people who don't want to do anything and complain about the mere discussion of this stuff.

This is certainly subjective. But I find the more attention I paid to these sorts of conversations, and the more I tried to incorporate this kind of advice into design, the more I realized I was walking on eggshells and the more it was putting me in a mindset of creative fear than anything else. Ultimately, I also think that does put up barriers between people. If you disagree, that is fair. But I think a lot of people have this sense with recent gaming trends, and I think it is especially the case if you are not fully caught up on the latest discourse or don't have the educational background of some of the people advocating for this kind of approach
 

TheSword

Legend
Surely in the case of genies, they are travelling from another plane. So while Eberron may not have a middle-eastern analogue, the elemental planes clearly do… it’s where the genies come from.

  • They do exist in context - travelers from another land
  • They aren’t depicted offensively
  • They fit with the established legend of genies - a legend exported around the world and not owned by any single group.

Make sure your genies are 3 dimensional. Make sure they are interesting and don’t make them offensive. Do that, and I think for any reasonable person you have met the bar of standards.

Now if you have a middle eastern player in your group who wants to have a more detailed exploration of the myths and legends then you may want to do more research. I don’t think people should go out of their way though - provided the ‘is it offensive’ test is passed.

We can’t be setting unreasonable standards… having middle eastern analogues just so you can include a genie - but you never explore that area with your PCs (it’s there for the sake of it) is really just tokenism.

Cultural fusion per se is not a problem. Not when it comes to architectural techniques, shared food, learning other languages, tourism etc. Only when a culture is being taken advantage of is appropriate a problem. I don’t believe using a cultures mythology causes any harm… as opposed to colonialists stealing the Benin Bronzes for their national museums, or multi-million dollar sports teams taking the people whose land they stole as mascots.
 
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