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D&D 5E World of Farland Now Embraces Asian, African, and Indian Cultures

The World of Farland has been online thoughout various iterations of D&D for as long as I've been running this website. So, about 20 years. It's a dark D&D setting, ruled by evil lords based on the Seven Deadly Sins, with an tmosphere a bit like if Lord of the Rings had gone the other way. The new Realms Under Shadow hardcover supplement introduces new locations which are not dependent on European mythology. I've been sent a few previews to share!

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The World of Farland, conquered by evil and ruled by the Lords of Sin, has been online for nearly 20 years. It's a best-seller here at DTRPG. But the setting has focused on European-style fantasy up to this point. That changes now...

The evil Wintervale has conquered the continent of Farland. But other lands lie south and east of the Wintervale. Some of these exotic realms are allied with the Shadow and some resist it, but either way, they have been affected by it. These are the Realms Under Shadow...

The Realms Under Shadow are fantastic places reminiscent of the medieval cultures of Asia, Africa (including egypt), and India. This campaign supplement allows you to play a game that is not in the vein of the traditional European style fantasy. Adventure in diverse and amazing places. Battle characters and monsters that are a far cry from your usual RPG experience. This book is compatible with the 5th edition of the World's most popular RPG and is a supplement to The World of Farland Campaign Setting, although it can certainly be used on its own.

This 235 page campaign supplement includes:
  • Detailed write-ups on many unique and diverse cultures
  • 14 new PC races
  • New player options, including 15 new class archetypes and paths; feats; and equipment
  • Calendars and gods
  • New Languages
  • Tons of adventure hooks
  • Important NPCs and locations
  • Seventeen new monsters
  • A full length adventure set in the Realms Under Shadow
  • Much more!
  • All exclusive new content that will never appear on the website.
This book comes with two maps of the geography, and it is now available in standard color hardcover and gorgeous premium color hardcover!
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Like, just literally Google "my culture is not a costume" for just an endless parade of takes on why dressing up as a culture is a bad idea, primarily written by members of the cultures in question. This isn't really new, or rare, or even all that controversial anymore. I'm not entirely certain why it ever was to begin with.
Outside America, it‘s not. If the US had a cultural dress (outside the military), I’m sure they‘d be on board. Also see “my accent is not a costume”.
 

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Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Outside America, it‘s not. If the US had a cultural dress (outside the military), I’m sure they‘d be on board. Also see “my accent is not a costume”.

To be fair, my (admittedly limited) understanding of race relations outside the U.S. is that there's quite a wide gulf of difference in general. The U.S. has a very, very, very complicated relationship with its racial and cultural heterogeneity.
 




Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Outside America, it‘s not.

I dunno. I think if a member of the British Royal family want to a fancy dress party as, say, Mahatma Gandhi, it might well not fly very well. But, I could be wrong.

Most of Europe has the benefit that they are currently physically distant from the lands they once took as part of their Empires, so it takes an otherwise famous person flaunting the past power dynamic for folks to really notice. The USA currently still occupies the territory, and the minority people affected are still present, so it is much easier for this to become a visible problem.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
And if you wear it without being entitled, we say that person is "All hat and no cattle."

But that's about the worst we do other than grin at you.

Which was my thought as well, there's no power dynamic between a French person wearing a cowboy hat and a Texan. There is however an element of the French person perhaps being a bit of poseur.

Check the link I posted early to the CBC, or look up German Indianers. There's a whole, very weird, thing going on there.
 

And while we are at it, in my house we wouldn't invoke the name of God vainly. I have no authority to make you stop, but while we are on this subject you seem confused about, and since you don't seem to understand my questions, whose sensitivities matter here?
The issue is, that in that case, the answer is clear cut: Its Morrus' site, so its his sensitivities that matter. As you say, he sets the rules as to what sort of distressing behaviour is acceptable, and what isn't. No need for a consensus.

However its a lot trickier where it comes to your earlier point (to the point where I don't think it was even understood by some). There is no consensus. If one person is OK with it, does that make it acceptable? If one person objects, does that make it unacceptable? It probably depends on who you ask.

In general, its probably best to err on the side of simply being nice: Try to avoid doing stuff that might upset people if you can.
You probably have less invested in needing to wear a particular costume for fancy dress than the amount you might upset someone else by wearing it for example.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Which was my thought as well, there's no power dynamic...

I have complex thoughts about the power dynamic argument. As you might have gathered, I personally wouldn't wear costumes depicting myself in an ethnic manner and encourage others not to, but my belief is that most of the arguments as to why you shouldn't are false and tend to come from dark places with less than savory motivates. As evidence that I'm correct in that, I invite you to look at the hypocrisy involved in supporting Justin Trudeau or Ralph Northam. Power dynamics indeed...

Check the link I posted early to the CBC, or look up German Indianers. There's a whole, very weird, thing going on there.

Yeah, I've been aware of that for over 20 years. I had a close friend who was Swiss who was married to a Southern man who told me about the European fascination with aboriginal American culture in his travels in Europe. And again, it's not something that I would do, but this sort of reenactment thing actually cuts tangential to my major argument against wearing costume, and likewise I think cuts tangentially to the one you've been offering the last few posts. There isn't a power dynamic between the Cherokee, Lakota, Comanche, or Creek and East Germans either. So while I find it a bit weird I'm inclined toward tolerance as well. Indeed, I'm inclined toward tolerance in everything.

My advice to the tribes, if they were inclined to ask it, would be to engage in cultural hegemony. Get them to pay you to go over there as advisers and show them how it ought to be done. But that gets back to the problem of, "Who do you ask?" Because you'd likely have some natives that would be totally on board with that and some that are totally offended by it. So if you get permission from one or two or ten, does that make it all right?

Full disclosure. I don't count myself as native, wasn't raised that way, and would consider it false and presumptuous of me to claim title to it or to speak on behalf of anyone but myself, but I do have an ancestor on my mother's side on the Creek Dawes roll which is more than some people who claim the ancestry actually have.
 

Celebrim

Legend
The issue is, that in that case, the answer is clear cut: Its Morrus' site, so its his sensitivities that matter. As you say, he sets the rules as to what sort of distressing behaviour is acceptable, and what isn't. No need for a consensus.

I totally agree. But logically, that would put him agreement with anyone else who decided their own sensitivities were the ones which mattered. Which was the point I was going for.

In general, its probably best to err on the side of simply being nice: Try to avoid doing stuff that might upset people if you can. You probably have less invested in needing to wear a particular costume for fancy dress than the amount you might upset someone else by wearing it for example.

I think we are probably in pretty close agreement.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
Yeah, I've been aware of that for over 20 years. I had a close friend who was Swiss who was married to a Southern man who told me about the European fascination with aboriginal American culture in his travels in Europe. And again, it's not something that I would do, but this sort of reenactment thing actually cuts tangential to my major argument against wearing costume, and likewise I think cuts tangentially to the one you've been offering the last few posts. There isn't a power dynamic between the Cherokee, Lakota, Comanche, or Creek and East Germans either. So while I find it a bit weird I'm inclined toward tolerance as well. Indeed, I'm inclined toward tolerance in everything.

From the documentary they seemed seemed pretty sincere. I'd suggest misguided maybe, since no native peoples every actually looked like that. Following link has a pretty good run down of why some people find the whole thing incredibly inappropriate.


My advice to the tribes, if they were inclined to ask it, would be to engage in cultural hegemony. Get them to pay you to go over there as advisers and show them how it ought to be done. But that gets back to the problem of, "Who do you ask?" Because you'd likely have some natives that would be totally on board with that and some that are totally offended by it. So if you get permission from one or two or ten, does that make it all right?

I'm generally of the opinion, if somebody is upset I should at least listen to them. If I don't care about somebody being upset, that's on me for be a jerk and not caring about another person.

I'd generally suggest that that permission is important, if I have can genuinely say such and such a community gave me such and such an item to wear, or song to sing, or whatever I'm good to go. Some other person, or persons, might be upset but that's for them to take up with the original people that gave me permission.

For gaming products, its about engaging experts in the subject matter whole can make the writers aware of any potential pit falls. That way if nothing else they writer can basically says, "Look, I did my best, I asked people who know more than me, what do you want?"
 

Celebrim

Legend
I'm generally of the opinion, if somebody is upset I should at least listen to them. If I don't care about somebody being upset, that's on me for be a jerk and not caring about another person.

In practice, we always carefully pick and chose which upset person we care to listen to.

I'd generally suggest that that permission is important, if I have can genuinely say such and such a community gave me such and such an item to wear, or song to sing, or whatever I'm good to go. Some other person, or persons, might be upset but that's for them to take up with the original people that gave me permission.

Did the original person have the right to give that permission? How can you know? Again, why pick and choose the feelings of the person who gave you the permission over the person who is upset about it? Isn't that obviously self-serving?

For gaming products, its about engaging experts in the subject matter whole can make the writers aware of any potential pit falls.

Fundamentally so much of this comes down to opinion though. It's like asking a Cajun what's the authentic way to make gumbo. The answer turns out to be, "However your mama made it." There may be things that are definitely not authentic gumbo, but the question of what is authentically gumbo isn't one that can be answered definitively because ultimately the culture was just making do with what they had.

As for your link, I read it as one guy complaining how his opinion wasn't picked as the right one, while other Natives who were giving permission for this stuff by selling people the culture and the wares were treated as the right ones. And the whole "It's the 2018 version of colonialism" is to me unintentionally funny. Honestly, the whole thing reads like an Onion article. If Natives selling goods in Germany to gullible Germans is the 2018 version of colonialism and "white supremacy", well either you are trivializing colonialism and white supremacy or yeah, you are trivializing colonialism and white supremacy.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
As for your link, I read it as one guy complaining how his opinion wasn't picked as the right one, while other Natives who were giving permission for this stuff by selling people the culture and the wares were treated as the right ones. And the whole "It's the 2018 version of colonialism" is to me unintentionally funny. Honestly, the whole thing reads like an Onion article. If Natives selling goods in Germany to gullible Germans is the 2018 version of colonialism and "white supremacy", well either you are trivializing colonialism and white supremacy or yeah, you are trivializing colonialism and white supremacy.

He does read as complaining for sure, but as I said the particulars, separate from what's obviously a political stance that is nearly unique to Canadian First Nations, a common sentiment for being people that do feel incredibly offended.

Drew Hayden Taylor has a more nuanced take on the subject. He's the fellow that made the documentary I posted previously. I highly recommend it, not because of the subject we're discussing specifically, but because its actually really interesting. Plus, Mr. Taylor's near constant befuddlement at the the Germans is amusing in and of itself.
 

Celebrim

Legend
He does read as complaining for sure, but as I said the particulars, separate from what's obviously a political stance that is nearly unique to Canadian First Nations, a common sentiment for being people that do feel incredibly offended.

What I was trying to draw out is how incoherent your own viewpoints were.

First you link to a post by a Native complaining that other Natives go to Germany and give permission to people there to hold Pow-Wows, and how those Natives are treated like royalty while his feelings are ignored.

And then you tell me "I'd generally suggest that that permission is important, if I have can genuinely say such and such a community gave me such and such an item to wear, or song to sing, or whatever I'm good to go. Some other person, or persons, might be upset but that's for them to take up with the original people that gave me permission."

Can't the people at those Pows Wows generally say, "I got permission. Some other persons might be upset, but take it up with the original people that gave me permission?"

And this gets to what I've been trying to say for pages now, that "permission" is a terrible standard because it (in typical racist fashion) presumes that The Other has a single mindset, single culture, single opinion, and can be represented therefore by some single person who acts as a token or window or whatever you want from that group of people. And no such touchstone exists because out in the real world, no group of people has a single opinion, single mindset, single feelings on a subject or even has entirely the same culture - as if culture could solely be defined by ethnic heritage. We don't think of our own culture in this manner, but we persist in imagining you can do it with other cultures.

And we pick and choose who the "authentic voices" are as suits our own needs.

But back to this whiner, I treat him in my mind exactly I'd treat someone who wasn't a person of color. He's prone to generalities, unqualified absolutes, exaggerations, false analogies, and thinking of himself as being some sort of authority figure.

"...I shared my experiences as a person of colour with Indigenous heritage. I received numerous interview requests from some of the largest media outlets in the country, but they never got the story right."

It's journalists. They don't get the story right if you are white either. But, in this case in particular, his idea of "getting the story right" turns out to be only taking his opinion over that of other people with equally valid opinions. He goes on to say:

"we only ever hear about the hobbyists or the Indigenous there to sell products and perform ceremonies because they heard about the “Indian craze” and want to get on the European “pow-wow” trail. Not ones that live and work there full-time."

So he's got beef against Indigenous people who hire themselves out as expert consultants and speakers at these events. And his credentials that supposedly prove his opinion weighs more than there is he lives and works full time in Germany. How does that give you more ownership of the culture than anyone else? Moreover, he's actually wrong, because researching this I did find quotes from Native residents in Germany who were impressed or flattered by the whole deal. Was the press self-servingly picking out only Natives who aren't offended? Maybe so, but again why is his opinion better than theirs?

Again, how many people do you need to get permission from anyway?

Again he complains:

"Visiting Indigenous invited to perform (only traditional regalia and songs!) are treated like royalty while resident Indigenous in jeans and t-shirts with cropped hair, are either un-recognized as Indigenous or scorned by hobbyists who believe they alone can recognize authentic indigeneity."

But who can say what is authentic anyway? Are the visitors somehow less authentic than he is? Who gets to give their opinion on that? This guy? His comments about "in jeans and t-shirts with cropped hair" echo my own earlier about how people want to pin Natives down into a static culture of the past, but if "jeans and a t-shirt with cropped hair" are authentic, it's not authentically native but rather authentically consensus American culture. We've done a really good job of exporting it worldwide, but I don't see how you can complain that if you look like an American people just assume you're an American.

"Indigenous North Americans who live abroad often deal with rejection from relatives who only support or recognize those who choose to live in North America. They report negative experiences such as abandonment, disrespect of their heritage and lack of cultural support. This trauma leads to depression, anxiety and frustration because Indigenous living in Europe can’t simply be themselves."

So are his beef with the Germans, or is his real beef with the Natives back home that are saying, "If you wear jeans, a t-shirt, have cropped hair, and live in Germany, you've abandoned us and the culture." (See a parallel complaint at the heart of the movie 'Whalerider', only with native Maori.) This has all sorts of complexities about whether ethnicity is blood or culture that I can't begin to unravel, but the point is that this guy has complex real complaints that he seems to be just trying to rationalize by blanketing them with terms like "colonialism" and "white supremacy". Personally, I don't appreciate trying to simplify the discussion down to trigger words like that, especially using them so vaguely and so broadly that they cease to have a clear meaning.

And as a larger point, I think you're ultimately picking him as an authentic voice we are supposed to be sympathetic to because it fits your politics, even though - as I pointed out earlier - your opinions don't actually fit together in a logical fashion.

Is he right to be offended? Are the other Natives right to go to these Pow-Wows and offer permission for them to continue? I don't know. But I do know it's a complex question that you can't answer by saying, "I am the sort of person that listens to upset people, and if you don't you are a jerk." Because even by this guys account, there are several - not even just two - sides to this story.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
Is he right to be offended? Are the other Natives right to go to these Pow-Wows and offer permission for them to continue? I don't know. But I do know it's a complex question that you can't answer by saying, "I am the sort of person that listens to upset people, and if you don't you are a jerk." Because even by this guys account, there are several - not even just two - sides to this story.

I think his main problem, and this an assumption on my part given that I've never spoken to the man, is that he says "I'm a native person." Germans look at him funny and act like, "No you aren't." His personal experience has been a bunch of white people basically telling him he's not Native American because he doesn't act or look like how they think he should. I can see how he might be really put off by that given the historical stance of the Government of Canada regarding native people.

On him be an authenticate voice, hardly. I just happens to be an article I found directly related to the context of the documentary I referred. I'm sure I could probably find other articles, but I was specifically looking for the ones I'd caught previously regarding Searching for Winnetou. I think Drew Hayden Taylor provides a more nuanced view.

As for how I feel, I actually agree with you. My personal feeling aren't actually relevant to this whole discussion in a larger context. My desire to wear any particular piece of clothing, or participate in any particular event, is not as important as the feelings of people that say that they are hurt by what I am or want to do.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I think his main problem, and this an assumption on my part given that I've never spoken to the man, is that he says "I'm a native person." Germans look at him funny and act like, "No you aren't." His personal experience has been a bunch of white people basically telling him he's not Native American because he doesn't act or look like how they think he should.

I can see how off-putting that would be, but I'm not sure it's accurate to describe that as white supremacy or colonialism.

But I think there is an even deeper complaint that he touches on in the text and that is that people back on the reservation at home look at him funny and tell him he's not a "Native Person" as well. The feelings of alienation that he describes himself having don't come primarily from the Germans being characteristically insensitive, but from the fact that he has feelings of abandonment from what he considers his own people. And that sounds rough too and I wouldn't want to walk a mile in his shoes, but I don't think that's "white supremacy" or "colonialism" either.

Nor do I think we can blame most of that very human experience on "the historical stance of the Government of Canada regarding native people."

Ethnicity is a really complex issue because historically all the separate facets of ethnicity were tied up together - person, place, culture, language, sovereignty - it was all a bundle. In the modern world, in the world America helped create, that package has come untied. Now your blood heritage, your place of residence, your culture, your language, and your national identity aren't all aligned, and this creates all sort of new possibilities but also all sorts of new challenges of figuring out who you are and how you get along with your neighbors.

I grew up as an 'ex-pat', even though I became an 'ex-pat' at such a young age that I ended up culturally knowing more about the place I grew up in than the place I was born. When I moved back to the place of my birth, I considered myself as much or more of a Jamaican as a I did an American. But now, both I and Jamaica have moved on. That culture that I grew up in decades ago hardly exists any more. In it's place is a culture that emerged from the culture I knew, just as I have emerged as an adult from the kid that I was. If I were to return to Jamaica it would be as a stranger - not a total stranger, I'd know my way around a good deal more than someone how hadn't lived there - but it wouldn't be 'home' any more and I'd have a lot of learning to do.

So now this guy is living in Germany but also identifies as a Native American. He's got far more challenges than I would. I have a lot of sympathy for that.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for describing these problems as "white supremacy" and "colonialism".
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
I can see how off-putting that would be, but I'm not sure it's accurate to describe that as white supremacy or colonialism.

But I think there is an even deeper complaint that he touches on in the text and that is that people back on the reservation at home look at him funny and tell him he's not a "Native Person" as well. The feelings of alienation that he describes himself having don't come primarily from the Germans being characteristically insensitive, but from the fact that he has feelings of abandonment from what he considers his own people. And that sounds rough too and I wouldn't want to walk a mile in his shoes, but I don't think that's "white supremacy" or "colonialism" either.

Nor do I think we can blame most of that very human experience on "the historical stance of the Government of Canada regarding native people."

You'd be surprised on that one. We had a whole government commission about it. I'm kind of assuming you don't live in Canada as well for that, given your reference to Dawes Rolls I'm guessing currently USA.

A huge portion of what I've had the opportunity to learn about can be ascribed in a large part to the historic context of the government. And I mean within living memory, not Trail of Tears historic I mean 1960 historic.

Ethnicity is a really complex issue because historically all the separate facets of ethnicity were tied up together - person, place, culture, language, sovereignty - it was all a bundle. In the modern world, in the world America helped create, that package has come untied. Now your blood heritage, your place of residence, your culture, your language, and your national identity aren't all aligned, and this creates all sort of new possibilities but also all sorts of new challenges of figuring out who you are and how you get along with your neighbors.

Very true. From a Canadian perspective though the government actively tried to suppress, and that's being kind, native people's cultures. They forcibly adopted children into white families both here and in Europe in the 1960s. Residential schools happened. If you aren't familiar (Celebrim seems well read so I'll assume he is) here's a link. The last one closed in the mid 90s. There's a very, very broken relationship between the The Crown and First Nations in Canada.

I grew up as an 'ex-pat', even though I became an 'ex-pat' at such a young age that I ended up culturally knowing more about the place I grew up in than the place I was born. When I moved back to the place of my birth, I considered myself as much or more of a Jamaican as a I did an American. But now, both I and Jamaica have moved on. That culture that I grew up in decades ago hardly exists any more. In it's place is a culture that emerged from the culture I knew, just as I have emerged as an adult from the kid that I was. If I were to return to Jamaica it would be as a stranger - not a total stranger, I'd know my way around a good deal more than someone how hadn't lived there - but it wouldn't be 'home' any more and I'd have a lot of learning to do.

Fair enough. I've only ever lived in Canada so I can't really compare.

So now this guy is living in Germany but also identifies as a Native American. He's got far more challenges than I would. I have a lot of sympathy for that.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for describing these problems as "white supremacy" and "colonialism".

I do agree, that's a more than a bit of an extreme view point.

Anyhoo, I suppose what it comes down to for any topic is education and respect. Engage people that are experts on a culture to learn what's important and why. Then apply those people's lessons. If I were going to try to write gaming product involving aboriginal Australian culture I'd be contacting both academics and Australia as well the actual people about whom I'd like to write.
 
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Celebrim

Legend
Very true. From a Canadian perspective though the government actively tried to suppress, and that's being kind, native people's cultures.

I'm familiar with what happened in a very broad outline, but being American had never done a lot of reading about Canada (sorry Canadians). In the brief survey, I didn't really find anything I didn't expect. The broad outline is similar to what I know of Australia, some aspects of American history, and finds parallels in the Soviet treatment of indigenous Asian tribes or the present treatment by the government of China of its indigenous minority groups or in the present day Turkish treatment of the Kurds.

Which is to say that I've no doubt that a great deal of injustice went down, and lots of acts were committed that were horrible and regrettable. There is a different but also very broken relationship between the "First Nations" and the US Government.

A full discussion of what I think of these things is well beyond the bounds of EnWorld. There are a ton of complexities that aren't really relevant to a discussion that is ultimately about what it means to be respectful in an RPG that is inspired by real world cultures, but I'll get into them if (for example) people persist in adhering to the (I believe false) "permission" argument.

That this all ties to my statement about how what it means to have an ethnicity and what it means to be a 'nation' has radically transformed in the last 200 years, and we collectively as a human race haven't figured out how to adapt to that. The Canadians, for better or worse (seemingly more for the worse), were trying to figure out what to do about this new notion, where as the older model that worked for humanity back into prehistory was for the stronger tribe to just wipe out the weaker one, and maybe take the surviving women as slaves/concubines. Now that we are trying to live together and end the cycle of one darn genocide after the other that has been human history, we don't know how to do it. I personally think "multiculturalism" is a well-meaning but false and inadequate answer, but I also freely admit I don't know what the full answer is.

It's got something to do with Tolerance though, of that I'm sure.
 



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