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Are people having trouble with Fantasy?

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Are people not understanding the fantasy in Fantasy Roleplaying any more?

I looked at the Dark Elf thread, and I understand it was locked. What I mean is it's okay to have a race of villains in your own campaign setting.  It's a fantasy, something people make up.  When did someone's fantasies become political? I think people are confusing politics with fantasy.

Cory Magel:
Don't know what you're referring to specifically, but I know what you're talking about in general.  And you are right, in recent years people are dragging politics into fiction, often on the topic of racism, and assigning intent where there is none... or at least no way to legitimately say they know for sure there was.  Unfortunately that is the nature of the pendulum that swings back and forth over time.  Any one of line of thinking becomes dominant you will often see an opposing faction rise up to push back against it to a degree that matches or surpasses the others extremism.

It's been done to Tolkien's work and, while I can't say I've dug into the topic extensively, what I have seen of that topic was doing something similar.  They claimed that because Tolkien used a certain real world race to represent a fantasy race that he was politically commenting on the real world race.  I've seen no real evidence of that.  I've seen Tolkien say that he DID use a real world race to represent a fantasy one, but I've seen nothing that would lead me to believe it was with ill intent.  It's extremely common for writers to base their fantasy races on real world ones.  Or, more accurately, I should say real world cultures or ethnicity.  'Race' simply isn't correct (and actually kind of annoys me that we still use it when discussing racism).

As long as
- you know what you're doing and the boundaries you have to maintain
- you don't try to preach your ideas as gospel

It's up to individual sensibilities. I mean, I can see why some people could be offended by how some fantasy species are depicted based on the colour of their skin, for instance - yes, it *is* fantasy, but the players are living in a world where those things happen in a bad way. You can have the same issue trying to introduce other sensitive topics (drug use, sexual abuse, blatant gender bias, child exploitation, you name it). Most "fantasy" cultural content is based on real world history one way or another (or reaction to it).

It's not what you talk about, it's how you talk about it and who you talk about it with that counts.

In a gaming group, you can have a quick preliminary session to set boundaries so that everyone is comfortable.

On an open forum, less so. Which means that you have to walk on eggshells.

Fantasy is informed by our beliefs about people. Tolkien even said: "I am historically minded. Middle-earth is not an imaginary world . . . The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary. The essentials of that abiding place are all there (at any rate for inhabitants of N.W. Europe), so naturally it feels familiar, even if a little glorified by the enchantment of distance in time."

I thought this was a pretty good literary/historical discussion about race concepts in Tolkien's work:

In any case, if you want to understand the perspectives that are at work right now, which are having an impact in how newer RPG material is being written, rather than simply railing against their conclusions, I would recommend reading some of those perspectives. I found this blog to be very helpful in that regard:  and if you start with that one be sure to continue into the followup  because it fills in some gaps that I, at least, thought were important.

And here's a good case in point from the creator of Frosthaven about how these perspectives were prompting some rethinking in their game:  (And he links the source I linked above.)

I don't feel a need to start a debate about it here, but understanding other perspectives should be a thing that roleplayers are good at. Different people will make different decisions based on that knowledge, which is fine, but I think it's better if those decisions are informed and not just kneejerk reactions.

Would it be bad on ICE's part to make up a fantasy Africa?


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