Author Topic: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?  (Read 5327 times)

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Offline Cory Magel

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #20 on: December 24, 2021, 10:54:03 AM »
As I said above, it's not the what that counts, it's the why.

Pretty much that, yeah.

At worst, create a reason so that people don't assign meaning where there was none.
At best, give your dang world a proper background.
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Offline jdale

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #21 on: December 24, 2021, 02:06:54 PM »
Maybe Scottish people don't like being portrayed as grumpy 'little people' that are often pre-occupied with rocks and precious metals.  I mean, it's pretty much the norm in fantasy that they have a Scottish accent.

If we're to assume that any association to any ethnicity has social commentary implications then we pretty much have to tell the creative world it's not allowed.  At all.  They'll have have to come up with their own, unique cultures.  Nothing throughout actual human history is acceptable.  Is that really where we need to go?  I don't think so.

Coming up with our own, unique cultures is, ultimately, better worldbuilding. Just cribbing off the real world with a heavy dose of stereotypes (including those about Scots) is lazy and skips over the steps of thinking why a culture is the way it is, and tends to jumble those cribbed cultures all into poorly thought out proximity. That short cut is serviceable if you can't devote the time to worldbuilding, but at this point there is so much material written for so many fictional worlds, I don't think we need to rely on it anymore.

Outside of RM, I help run a LARP which has been going for 25 years. It started with a very simple world and more and more depth has been filled in as we went. There is a lot of those kind of parallels to real-world cultures. For the most part we did it respectfully but it's also very selective (we didn't copy the entire world) and some people feel the absence of things we left out (e.g. if you want to use the game to explore your French or Japanese heritage, it's there, but not so much sub-Saharan Africa). Our campaign ends at the end of 2022 with the next starting the following season and we've been looking hard at that question of how can we make something that is really uniquely ours, building on the depth of play that spanned centuries. I think the result is much more interesting. We also made some changes to how we handle races, for example decoupling what is a racial benefit and what is your personal background, including racial backgrounds so the race has a palette of options instead of all fitting one stereotype. (And we also tossed the word "race" in favor of "folk" which is another matter.) So all in all, thinking about these things has pushed us not just to think about people's sensitivities but also to create something which is objectively better; it turns out those goals are complementary rather than conflicting.
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Offline jdale

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #22 on: December 24, 2021, 02:13:37 PM »
You can easily solve the problem by throwing balance out the window - give credit where credit's due, nothing more and nothing less. Don't try to artifically balance species just because of gameplay issues. Yes, Laan and Loari/Linaeri are dominant species when compared to Shay folk [Shadow World reference here] - that's written in the world description, why try to cancel it technically ? Just make sure the players know what they are doing and why, and understand the in-world consequences of their choices. If everyone wants to play a high elf, why not ? Sure, you get the high stat modifiers. You also get the reputation, the peer pressure, the cultural drive to excel at any cost, the appearance that makes you stick like a sore thumb in most environments, and the family feuds.

And once in a while, an all-Shay party, just country boys and girls who barely escaped the razing of their hamlet by your run-of-the-mill hill gark raid, will put the high-elf view in perspective.

But that kind of psychological balancing is not easy to do for generic systems.

D&D in particular has a very strong culture of maximizing stats. Witness hundreds of guides to how to build the optimal wizard/ranger/archer/whatever. Using psychology as a balancing factor puts a lot of work on the GM to make up for imbalances in the mechanics. That's going to be fine for some GMs and some parties but I don't think it's going to hold up for a system like D&D with its existing culture.

On the other hand there is a growing crop of simplified narrative-focused games in which the idea of stat modifiers doesn't have anywhere to fit and is easily left behind.
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Offline EltonJ

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #23 on: December 24, 2021, 06:07:39 PM »
As I said above, it's not the what that counts, it's the why.

Pretty much that, yeah.

At worst, create a reason so that people don't assign meaning where there was none.
At best, give your dang world a proper background.

I felt different about orcs after playing World of Warcraft (yes, I played the Horde).  The orcs in WoW reclaimed their "orcity" by defeating the demons that corrupted them.  When Skyrim came along (I played Morrowind and Oblivion before), they tried to work the orcs out by giving them "orcity".  Orcs didn't have to be violent.  And they certainly weren't in Skyrim or WoW, unless they were forced to.  Both the worlds of the Elder Scrolls and WoW broke the stereotype created by Tolkien and D&D.

The thing is, E. Gary Gygax could have done something different with his orcs in the Monster Manual and regular D&D.  But he didn't, he based his orcs off of what Tolkien wrote.  Now people are complaining about the stereotype.  When in the Elder Scrolls universe and the WoW universe, the orcs had "orcity."   I think the Elder Scrolls universe and the WoW universe are a breath of fresh air for orcs.  When I'm going to codify my Elemental World, I'm taking inspiration from WoW and the Elder Scrolls in how orcs are treated.  And that's my own decision.  I tend to think, "if orcs were real, how would they act?"

Offline MisterK

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #24 on: December 25, 2021, 02:02:13 AM »
D&D in particular has a very strong culture of maximizing stats. Witness hundreds of guides to how to build the optimal wizard/ranger/archer/whatever. Using psychology as a balancing factor puts a lot of work on the GM to make up for imbalances in the mechanics. That's going to be fine for some GMs and some parties but I don't think it's going to hold up for a system like D&D with its existing culture.

On the other hand there is a growing crop of simplified narrative-focused games in which the idea of stat modifiers doesn't have anywhere to fit and is easily left behind.
D&D roots are in wargaming, and you get what you pay for, in a way (the only 'psychological balancing' in wargames is the unit cohesion and morale). I'm still surprised by how many people still play TTRPGs as if they were tactical wargames - especially now that we have computer games that do it better.

I don't think rules are *that much* of a hindrance if you know what you want and if the players are onboard with it. As I said, balancing does not need to be explicit or computed (that's why I removed most of the talents in my RM games, and the very concept of background options - I simply don't need them). And D&D5 really missed the point with their background concept - this was *the* part where they could have expanded the nontechnical aspects, adding social benefits and obligations, and basically inserting characters into the setting instead of keeping them as perpetual rootless wanderers. But I guess the dungeon crawling reflexes were too strong to ignore :)

Offline EltonJ

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #25 on: December 25, 2021, 11:32:14 AM »
Quote from: MisterK
I don't think rules are *that much* of a hindrance if you know what you want and if the players are onboard with it. As I said, balancing does not need to be explicit or computed (that's why I removed most of the talents in my RM games, and the very concept of background options - I simply don't need them). And D&D5 really missed the point with their background concept - this was *the* part where they could have expanded the nontechnical aspects, adding social benefits and obligations, and basically inserting characters into the setting instead of keeping them as perpetual rootless wanderers. But I guess the dungeon crawling reflexes were too strong to ignore :)

Yeah, D&D 5 really jumped the shark as far as roleplaying opportunities are concerned.

Offline terefang

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #26 on: December 27, 2021, 04:45:40 AM »
but arent we just talking in circles here ?

Yes ... the "Narrative Trope" gave us the "Session Zero" and a copious amount of "Safety Tools"
to arrange that everyone on the table is happy and agreed with the theme and tone of the game.

But then take me to an (extreme but synomymous) example.

Lets pretend:
  • the theme and tone is Gritty in a Dungeon-Crawl
  • you have a player that wants to play a non-binary female-to-male trans half-orc druid in a wheel-chair

the only answer i (as a gm) can give is:

"please change your character concept to the agreed theme and tone, or you are not gonna playing at my table".

as i could be considered a "old white male man" (by people that really dont know me),
how could i avoid being dragged into a discrimination discussion,
even if the only objection i actually have is the wheel-chair ?
I'd swallow cthulhu whole, with sushi and soy-sauce.

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Offline MisterK

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #27 on: December 27, 2021, 06:56:33 AM »
but arent we just talking in circles here ?

Yes ... the "Narrative Trope" gave us the "Session Zero" and a copious amount of "Safety Tools"
to arrange that everyone on the table is happy and agreed with the theme and tone of the game.

But then take me to an (extreme but synomymous) example.

Lets pretend:
  • the theme and tone is Gritty in a Dungeon-Crawl
  • you have a player that wants to play a non-binary female-to-male trans half-orc druid in a wheel-chair

the only answer i (as a gm) can give is:

"please change your character concept to the agreed theme and tone, or you are not gonna playing at my table".

as i could be considered a "old white male man" (by people that really dont know me),
how could i avoid being dragged into a discrimination discussion,
even if the only objection i actually have is the wheel-chair ?
If your only issue is the wheelchair, you can explain *why* there is a problem with that - if it is a fear that the character's disability will actually be crippling for the whole group in the campaign, then a group discussion would likely allow to reach a compromise - a disability is possible as long as it is not crippling and that the character is not an undue burden on the others (in other words, if the other players are OK with it and come up with solutions on how this could play out). If no compromise can be reached, then I guess you are short one player.

And this is OK - as a GM, you can restrict the type of characters that are allowed in game because of the setting ("sorry, I want this campaign to play in human-only lands, so non-human races are off the table"), to avoid group disintegration ("I want to avoid internal fights and backstabs, so no evil alignments or purely mercenary moralities are allowed - the worst you can do is a Han Solo-type"), or simply because they walk on *your* - or another player's - toes ("sorry, I'm not comfortable with a character being an repeated sexual offender, you'll have to think of something else").

If a player refuses the restrictions despite the GM explaining *why* those restrictions are in place, then there's no contract established and the player can't join the group - and there's nothing wrong with that. The issue is when there is a restriction but either there is no reason at all behind it, or when the reason is a social problem in itself ("you can't play a female character - women's place is at home, not on adventures" - note that there is no mention of setting social restrictions here, only a blank real-life related statement ). And even then, the player would not join the group - the only thing is, at least in my opinion, they might be *right* not joining :)

All in all, the point is less to ensure games are all politically correct (if a group on the other side of the world wants to play a bunch of rapists, how can I, or anyone for that matter, stop them ?) and more to ensure that people who *do* play will have an enjoyable experience. If orcs are stereotyped as brown-skinned illiterate heathens that need to be cut down mercilessly for the greater good, that's sad, but as long as everyone at the table is OK with it, that's not really preventable. Games are great to improve societal awareness, but players (and the GM) have to accept being educated. Thus, the social contract.

Now, the point is slightly different in game design - the design team does not engage in a social contract with the potential buyers, and in addition, they actually plan to *publish* something. They do have a responsibility to avoid the kind of language and descriptions that would bring undue legal attention for, say, apology of racism; and they also have a responsibility not to alienate what they consider their core audience with a product that part of said audience would consider opposite to their social values. That they also want to educate their readers is a nice bonus, but it is a personal goal, not an intrinsic part of being a game designer.
And thus, the wider the core audience, the more "generic" the product - you don't want to alienate religious players, but neither do you want to anger the agnosticists and atheists, so you talk about religions in very generic terms and certainly don't go into any significant details about worship. You don't want to antagonise pro-choice nor pro-life people, so you gloss over contraception issues in the game setting. You don't want to sound sexist but don't want to appear as a feminist either, so you don't make any mention about gender-specific conditions or restrictions (remember when AD&D had Strength limitations for female characters ?). And so on, until you get D&D basically - monsters are basically HP cans on legs with arms attached to hit back, and everything else is as bland as possible, leaving all the characterisation in the hands of the GM so that they can please *their* group of players.

Offline terefang

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #28 on: December 27, 2021, 05:14:31 PM »
the major problem that i see is that the general direction (as propagated by WotC and others)
seams to be changed with focus about maximum inclusiveness and political correctness
rather that overall enjoyment.

if the game is not wheel-chair conformant, play the discrimination card.

i just hope that the wheel-chair accessible dungeon does not become mainstream.
https://www.polygon.com/2021/1/12/22225381/dungeons-dragons-candlekeep-mysteries-wheelchair-accessible

IMHO that is a really misguided way of representing the general idea of fantasy.

but than again, i just might be an "european old white male".
I'd swallow cthulhu whole, with sushi and soy-sauce.

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Offline MisterK

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #29 on: December 28, 2021, 02:55:52 AM »
My issues with the link you provide are twofold
- first, the "accessibility" content is not an in-setting property : it does not take an issue in the game world and provide a convincing rationale for the resolution, rather take our modern-world problem and slap the solution onto a fantasy world without even asking "why". I mean, instead of using wheelchairs, it would be much easier to actually heal the injured people of their crippling disabilities when you have the magic for it. Or, hell, ask artificers to provide either floating thrones, magical exoskeletons, or magical prosthetics. Same core problem (disabilities), in-world solutions.
- second is the basic assumption provided by Jennifer Kretchmer. I quote "I wanted people to have the opportunity to see themselves represented in-game". And I think this is a serious twisting of what RPGs are - you are not supposed to be yourself in a fantasy world (that's a delusion, not a game), rather supposed to *play someone else* in a fantasy world. In my opinion, the basic premise is flawed.

Now is it important to have games where disabled people can be viable characters ? Certainly, as part of the 'awareness' factor I was talking about (personal goal). But you design the setting and the game for it - in high fantasy worlds you can have magical substitutes, in high tech worlds you can have technological substitutes (or complete body resleeving a la Eclipse Phase) or you can play a ghost in the matrix or a rigger in a Cyberpunk or Shadowrun game, or you have those wonderful little indie games that take one specific issue (american indian protesters in the 70s, asylum inmates...) and make a game focused on that specific issue. All of those are interesting and viable solutions because they respect the setting.

But D&D never respected its setting (especially the generic ones). They want to have their cake (have a generic medieval fantasy world) and eat it (slap modern-world solutions on any perceived problem without ever thinking about how the problem is perceived in the setting). Which fits their carefree idea of adventuring : characters are not supposed to have roots in the setting, they are supposed to go from place to place and be the fantasy equivalent of troubleshooters-for-hire, because it's easier to publish material for that kind of party. As a result, any problems the characters have (such as disabilities) are not rooted in the setting - rather, you slap whatever solution the author feels is right and dictate it is good enough.

That's not a problem of being politically correct, that's a problem of both trying too much (educate the players) and not trying enough (build a game world before/instead of writing scenarios).

Offline jdale

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #30 on: December 28, 2021, 10:09:23 AM »
Doing a lot of LARP, I suppose I have a different view of people seeing themselves in a fantasy setting. People LARP within their own physical constraints. Sometimes that means they can't do everything, but we still want to make it enjoyable. Tabletop is imagination so in principle you can play anything, but for example most people prefer to play a character of their own gender. You could say a rule that, for example, women have lower strength (as appeared in early D&D) does not discriminate against female players, because they could play a male character. But that forces a choice between playing a character less like themself (a man) or one that is less effective (a female fighter) or one that is constrained in classes (fighters are for men and women are supposed to be healers anyway, right?). That doesn't make the game better for anyone.

I think the wheelchair accessible dungeon is really a bit of a strawman though. It's one scenario in a book of 17. The other 16 scenarios are not wheelchair accessible. Clearly it is not part of a campaign to transform every feature of gaming. If it allows a certain set of players the opportunity to indulge in a personal fantasy, that's great. Good for them, and it's good for gaming because it invites people in. Is it how I would handle giving mobility to a disabled character? No, but that's ok. Not everything is written for me personally. Different people want different things out of gaming and the vast array of options available lets them find what they need. We shouldn't be trying to drive them out for needing or wanting different things than we do.
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Offline Cory Magel

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2021, 11:43:35 AM »
Quote
You could say a rule that, for example, women have lower strength (as appeared in early D&D) does not discriminate against female players, because they could play a male character.
There's a problem with using that premise in this discussion.  If we're trying to represent real life, the average male is stronger than the average female in the majority of cases in our world (not talking just humans).  There do exist species where this is not at all true (spiders for example), which ironically tangentially relates to the D&D Drow topic in a way.  If we're talking humans there are also obviously women that are stronger than men (and systems should have a mechanic for that), but we're talking baseline species attributes and 'real life' tells us there are differences between human men and women.

However, if we're talking about a fantasy world (which we are), there's no reason to hold to that and I see no reason to make one stronger.  It's a fun/balance thing (see my tagline Fun>Balance>Realism).  Which means I see also no reason to assign meaning to other aspects of racial differences that are being claimed as discriminatory... because we aren't representing real life.

If someone wants to argue something should be removed from a game because it doesn't accurately represent real life they don't get to cherry pick when to apply it and retain the higher moral ground.  Either we're trying to represent real life or not... and I don't think we are.

One of the the biggest problems with many of societies issues today is that you're often hearing from the most extreme and vocal individuals, on both sides of an issue.  If you look at the USA's political parties they are two starving people arguing over how to divide up an apple while it rots in front of their very eyes. The only reason one side needs to say NO is that the other side said YES.  They don't actually represent the average American.  They are vocal minorities.  Most the population agrees on most topics.  It's like 80%.  The average member of a group that someone claims is being marginalized typically doesn't feel as strongly, or sometimes even at all, about the topic.  Bowing to the vocal minority often doesn't promote cooperation between groups, it often breaks it down.
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Offline MisterK

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #32 on: December 28, 2021, 01:29:08 PM »
Which means I see also no reason to assign meaning to other aspects of racial differences that are being claimed as discriminatory... because we aren't representing real life.
I don't think the issue was that parts of any game were discriminatory. The issue was that They were, sometimes, insensitive and, in that sense, heavily depends on who the reader is.

Either you don't care (and assume the readers have a tough enough hide), or you do and try to do something about it.

You can also claim ignorance ("I never meant anything with that"), but only once. Once someone indicated that it was insensitive to them, you can only claim that you don't care (or at least, don't care enough to change it). It's all a question of perception (how the reader perceives what you've written, how you perceive their claim, and how the public at large perceives your reaction to it).

Offline EltonJ

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #33 on: December 28, 2021, 02:35:38 PM »
I think the Fantasy should be defined by the Author or GM.  The GM defines the world, and then invites the players to play.  If the fantasy is medieval (Surprise, surprise everyone!).  Then I don't see the wheelchair character being a trope.  I could see that in Shadowrun (Wheelchair hacker or technomancer), but I don't see it in medieval Fantasy.

The thing is, D&D and Rolemaster should be generic, allowing the GM to define the world. But there is a lot of people bending over backwards to make sure they don't offend anybody.  The problem with Wizards is that they are trying to expand their audience.  I think it's a marketing move as to what they are doing.

However, I think they need to define new worlds though.  If they want more black people to buy D&D for an example, then they have a whole new opportunity to define a new world for them.  We have enough knowledge of Africa that we can make an African themed world.  Atlas Games did just this for Nyambe.   However, they want to change the game to avoid stereotypes.

I think an Africa themed world might be just the ticket.  A GM just needs to do his research.

Offline jdale

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #34 on: December 28, 2021, 04:59:03 PM »
As with many things, wheelchairs show up thousands of years ago in China but are post-medieval in Europe. So if you are doing a historical European setting it doesn't quite fit, but it's plausible in a fictional world. Technology in D&D and Pathfinder is all over the board, with spring-loaded gauntlets, repeating crossbows (also China-only), telescoping poles, spring-loaded bear traps (1700s), etc, so it's especially plausible there.

Rolemaster has had animated prosthetics since forever, so in that sense it's more inclusive than D&D has been (unless you want to count the hand and eye of Vecna, which maybe is not sending the desired message).

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Offline EltonJ

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #35 on: December 28, 2021, 05:33:45 PM »
My issues with the link you provide are twofold
- first, the "accessibility" content is not an in-setting property : it does not take an issue in the game world and provide a convincing rationale for the resolution, rather take our modern-world problem and slap the solution onto a fantasy world without even asking "why". I mean, instead of using wheelchairs, it would be much easier to actually heal the injured people of their crippling disabilities when you have the magic for it. Or, hell, ask artificers to provide either floating thrones, magical exoskeletons, or magical prosthetics. Same core problem (disabilities), in-world solutions.
- second is the basic assumption provided by Jennifer Kretchmer. I quote "I wanted people to have the opportunity to see themselves represented in-game". And I think this is a serious twisting of what RPGs are - you are not supposed to be yourself in a fantasy world (that's a delusion, not a game), rather supposed to *play someone else* in a fantasy world. In my opinion, the basic premise is flawed.

Now is it important to have games where disabled people can be viable characters ? Certainly, as part of the 'awareness' factor I was talking about (personal goal). But you design the setting and the game for it - in high fantasy worlds you can have magical substitutes, in high tech worlds you can have technological substitutes (or complete body resleeving a la Eclipse Phase) or you can play a ghost in the matrix or a rigger in a Cyberpunk or Shadowrun game, or you have those wonderful little indie games that take one specific issue (american indian protesters in the 70s, asylum inmates...) and make a game focused on that specific issue. All of those are interesting and viable solutions because they respect the setting.

But D&D never respected its setting (especially the generic ones). They want to have their cake (have a generic medieval fantasy world) and eat it (slap modern-world solutions on any perceived problem without ever thinking about how the problem is perceived in the setting). Which fits their carefree idea of adventuring : characters are not supposed to have roots in the setting, they are supposed to go from place to place and be the fantasy equivalent of troubleshooters-for-hire, because it's easier to publish material for that kind of party. As a result, any problems the characters have (such as disabilities) are not rooted in the setting - rather, you slap whatever solution the author feels is right and dictate it is good enough.

That's not a problem of being politically correct, that's a problem of both trying too much (educate the players) and not trying enough (build a game world before/instead of writing scenarios).

I think her attempt at being compassionate has defeated the purpose of roleplaying.  I'm currently a mage in a Shadowrun game I'm playing.  Instead of making me, I made him to be a card shark combat mage from New Orleans.

Offline Cory Magel

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #36 on: December 28, 2021, 05:58:55 PM »
...heavily depends on who the reader is.
(and)
Once someone indicated that it was insensitive to them...
People can be very creative about coming up with things they think are insensitive to them (and then try to apply that logic to a larger group).
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Offline pantsorama

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #37 on: January 03, 2022, 03:12:24 PM »
the major problem that i see is that the general direction (as propagated by WotC and others)
seams to be changed with focus about maximum inclusiveness and political correctness
rather that overall enjoyment.

if the game is not wheel-chair conformant, play the discrimination card.

i just hope that the wheel-chair accessible dungeon does not become mainstream.
https://www.polygon.com/2021/1/12/22225381/dungeons-dragons-candlekeep-mysteries-wheelchair-accessible

IMHO that is a really misguided way of representing the general idea of fantasy.

but than again, i just might be an "european old white male".
So your complaint is that the fantastical element the designer chose is too fantastical?  And therefore they can't discern fantasy from reality?

Offline Vladimir

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #38 on: January 03, 2022, 05:53:45 PM »
  Since I retired, I haven't been keeping up with the new games on the market but my GM calls me regularly to keep me up to date with our mutual friends and gaming trends. One of the trends is the number of games that have been simplified (dumbed-down...) for today's gamers.
  Fred has a massive game collection dating from the 1970s. Games by defunct companies like SPI and TSR and hundreds of small independents. Fred likes to refer the latest RPGs as designed "for people who don't know what role playing is." Unfortunately, some of these people have temporarily joined my games and they never bothered to read the Rolemaster material available, or learn how the rules worked. RM is not D&D or Pathfinder. These players drop in Rolemaster like flies. I give everybody a chance to learn but some players want somebody to hold their hand and spoon feed them answers. I couldn't play a simple Call of Cthulu game with these people because none of them were interested in solving the mysteries, and they were more interested in arming up to fight. It's as if none of them heard of HP Lovecraft...

As far as Fantasy is concerned, during the 1970s while everybody was gushing over The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, I was reading the Conan and Kane series (a major departure from my usual historical literature and Greek classics). Most of the people nowadays learn about fantasy through movies (usually dumbed down for Americans...) and stories pushed by political ideologues in the publishing companies (also dumbed down). That's my theory... 
   
When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
-Lao Tzu

Offline EltonJ

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Re: Are people having trouble with Fantasy?
« Reply #39 on: January 03, 2022, 06:14:29 PM »
  Since I retired, I haven't been keeping up with the new games on the market but my GM calls me regularly to keep me up to date with our mutual friends and gaming trends. One of the trends is the number of games that have been simplified (dumbed-down...) for today's gamers.
  Fred has a massive game collection dating from the 1970s. Games by defunct companies like SPI and TSR and hundreds of small independents. Fred likes to refer the latest RPGs as designed "for people who don't know what role playing is." Unfortunately, some of these people have temporarily joined my games and they never bothered to read the Rolemaster material available, or learn how the rules worked. RM is not D&D or Pathfinder. These players drop in Rolemaster like flies. I give everybody a chance to learn but some players want somebody to hold their hand and spoon feed them answers. I couldn't play a simple Call of Cthulu game with these people because none of them were interested in solving the mysteries, and they were more interested in arming up to fight. It's as if none of them heard of HP Lovecraft...

As far as Fantasy is concerned, during the 1970s while everybody was gushing over The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, I was reading the Conan and Kane series (a major departure from my usual historical literature and Greek classics). Most of the people nowadays learn about fantasy through movies (usually dumbed down for Americans...) and stories pushed by political ideologues in the publishing companies (also dumbed down). That's my theory... 
   

The theory could be right. I have a large collection myself.  And I find vintage D&D to be more roleplaying focused.  The D&D Gazetteers are full of fluff and adventure hooks.  However newer stuff just doesn't have the RP magic anymore.  Shadowrun 2nd edition encouraged RP, and 4th edition still had the RP in it.  Shadowrun Anarchy is in a different direction.  Rolemaster is written for a more creative audience.  I have a copy of HarnMaster, but I prefer Rolemaster to HarnMaster.