It would bother me less, I think, if my town’s local gaming meetup didn’t put up these stupid “Observe Wheaton’s Law” fliers everywhere with his dumb smiling face. Every time I see it, I think about how he wants to deny women (and everyone) their online anonymity. Every time I see it, I remember the people who’ve been harassed and chased off the internet for voicing their opinions. Every time I see it, I remember that disgusting picture that was sent to Liz F. Every time I see it, I think of how on one hand we’re supposed to listen and habeeb while on the other, there’s Wil calling people liars because they’re not on the WW bandwagon. Every time I see it, I wonder “How can the axiom ‘Don’t be a dick’ be attributed to such a colossal dick?”
Dudes taking up the MYFAROG torch.
I’ve written at length in the past about the plight of the greenskin and the tableau of colonization represented by the press into the goblin frontiers. One of the best lampshades on the tropes of fantastic racism and colonialism of greenskins comes from Order of the Stick, where one of the main villain’s motivation is to avenge his people’s cultural status as cannon-fodder. Asparagus Jumpsuit wants to move past the colonial tropes of RPGs. But I think it order to move past them*, we need to backtrack. Before we fell in love with the Noble Savage Orcs of Warcraft and the Proud and Honorable Orsimer of the Elder Scrolls, there wasn’t near as much discussion about the plight of greenskins in fantasy rpgs. Let’s go back much further than the tropes of dungeons & dragons influenced fantasy, further even than Tolkien’s Orcs, who were twisted creations of an evil god, to when “Fey” was what people feared in the wilds.
Greenskins were not noble savages, no race of different men, but rather the more twisted and deformed members of the Unseelie Court, malevolent in intent against humans, soulless and cursed, and bound to the Devil through the teinde, a pact which required them to offer the blood of infants every seven years. We’ve projected our orientalist and romantic ideas onto greenskins in fantasy because it is no longer acceptable to project them onto non-western people.
The only way to rid RPGs of the colonial race trope is to treat monsters as part of Fey, wholly opposed to humanity, God and the Godly. The problem in D&D and any RPG that features goblinoid races is that people will project two different things on the same being, things which are in direct conflict with one another. A goblin cannot simultaneously be a creature of magic and malice whose nature is to act in defiance of God and Man and be a proxy for a brown person. You’re going to need to choose in your setting and choose early, and you’re going to have to deal with that choice, but most importantly, you need to make sure that your players are on the same page. If the goblins of your world are malevolent fairy-kind, make sure that the guy who is insistent upon bringing his white-burden everywhere he goes (including your game table) is aware that the minions of Oberon do not need his guilt sympathies.
*Personally, I enjoy using goblin-folk as nomadic hunter-gatherers who are in conflict with humanity at times out of necessity rather than an evil nature, but at the same time, I don’t use them as stock low-level enemies, either.
I was thinking about this because some article about negative stereotypes in video games was all “Black folks are too stupid to use magic in Elder Scrolls” as one of the several examples.
Just how bad are the starting racial and gender based stat tweaks?
There are no racial (or gendered) limits in any stats. All Races can eventually get 100s in all stats (except for Luck; that shit is hard, yo).
The differences in racial and gender based stats can be overcome within a single level with a little bit of effort and determination.
Racial and gender bonuses may reflect the base societal norms within each “race”. As they are quickly overcome and virtually irrelevant among adventurers, these stat differences say more about the values held by each fictional culture rather than what the developers believe to be the inherent strengths and weaknesses within various races and genders. (Crit theory says I’m 100% right about this, too, because it’s my opinion, and my critical opinion is more meaningful than creative intent)
All of that being said, I’m not really a big fan of systems that alter base stats on whether someone is playing as male or female. Usually, though, base stats are fixed for that character for the rest of the game, outside of magical items. Most systems don’t have any mechanism for a female character to overcome that -2 STR or whatever. But at least with most of the Elder Scrolls entries I’ve played, when a female character goes out and swings a sword for awhile, the game says “Well, since she’s been out there swinging a sword, clearly she’s gotten stronger.”
Racial stat traits or restrictions are more understandable when we’re not talking about the difference between a white guy and an asian or black but rather all whites, blacks, asians, whatever vs. hominid things with non-human morphology. Khajit used to not be able to wear boots, because they were uncomfortable on their kitty feet, until Oblivion (where the restriction would’ve broken the thieves guild and Knights of Nine quest lines).
The real problem is the uselessness of cultural understanding as a mechanic within the Elder Scrolls. I’ve been playing as a high elven linguistic anthropologist in Daggerfall on and off for maybe 3 years now, and while I’ve got a full suit of elven armor, elven blunt weapons and dwarven edged weapons, I still can’t start the main quest because I’m only level 2. At best, all of that cultural understanding merely allows her to improve her backstab and critical strike skills on the 1 out of every 10 orcs who aren’t immediately hostile. “I strike you down in the name of the most benevolent Mara!”
I seriously couldn’t keep reading after I got to that.
You guys know that I usually hate making a post just to share a link, but damn, this lady has it spot on in her article “The Silencing of Gamergate”.
So, once I finally got my Rakasta rolled up, my previous speculations about his cowardice found their justification.
Str 7 (-1 damage and +1 to Thac0; this is important)
Cha 7 (He is not the most likable fellow)
Though he lucked out maxing his HP, he’s beyond useless in combat, but he’s okay with that! Fighting means he might die, and that’s no good for him!
Sometimes, when it’s clear the day is won, he might charge in with his gladius (which he can’t actually attack with) waving about wildly. He managed to do 2 points of damage the whole session; one was knicking an elf a thrown dagger (thank goodness for minimum 1 damage rule!) and one was punching a skeleton who was on its last HP (“J’Rhazha has defeated the bone man!).
The coolest thing he managed was to use a Phantasmal Force to create a likeness of the statue of an elf queen we’d seen earlier; we played the whole ‘we’re with her’ card while exploring an illusory* elven village, but it ended up all being for nothing since we had to fight our way back out once we got the key from the skeletons*.
He cowered and hid, occassionally firing off a nearly useless cantrip or two, during the climactic fight of the session, though, as one of the last men standing, he was able to help patch up the wounded. Victorious, without taking a single hit!
The DM is using a rule that I’ve not seen about 3 dart attacks per round, which makes darts suck a lot less than I imagined, so the gnomish magic user is a lot better in combat than my cat-man. If I wanted to power-game, I guess I could ask if I could switch my weapon proficiency from dagger to dart, but really I’m pretty okay with sucking and being useless in combat and I don’t want to knick the gnome’s dart bit. I’ll only change if it becomes a problem with the other party members.
Meanwhile, I’m coming up with various ways to find my way into the mage’s guild. The first test to join is to find the entrance. I’ve chosen to interpret this as ANY entrance. I think first I’ll try changing my shape to the apprentice who told me about the test and throwing rocks at the windows. If I get caught, I’ve got my answer planned out “J’Rhazha was merely taking a test, involving powerful wizard magic and mystic forces. Perhaps he answered the first question wrong. Perhaps he did not. Now go away, while I work to serve the guild.” ::continues throwing rocks at window::
Also, I know what the elf queen and elf king look like now, so I can work them into illusions in the future. Yay!
*:The megadungeon under the city is, I’ve gathered, the work of a mad mage who modelled portions of it based on set pieces from his memories of the past. The village was, therefore, a rather complex illusion representing the final days before it was destroyed by war. On one side of a tower, we’d see elven generals discussing battle plans during the day; on the other side of the tower, it was night and the place was littered with skeletons and charred grass. As an experiment, J’Rhazha left the tower to see if he could see his companions fighting skeletons; nope, on that side of the tower, the generals were still discussing battle plans.
I’ve chipped in a bit to this. If you’re an artist, hurry up and apply!
The Darkzel Scholarship ends in five days.
I’d like to raise a little more money.
I’d like to see young artists entering their work for consideration.
I’d Like to Donate#
Go HERE and do so, or you can donate via the paypal link on this page, to the right.
Alternatively, if you have no money, you can donate art as stoc art,which will be sold to raise funds each year to go into the pot for the scholarship.
Otherwise you can PLEASE help by passing on word about the scholarship.
Donations will be accepted for the next five days, art can be donated at any time.
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If you’re an art student at high school, college or university with an interest in science fiction, fantasy, horror or other genre fiction you can enter by sending a high quality (300 dpi) image of the…
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Suddenly all of those cartoonish D&D elves jumping around shooting a million arrows at things doesn’t seem like such bullshit anymore…