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    Canonfire :: View topic - Politically correct Greyhawk?
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    Politically correct Greyhawk?
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    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
    Posts: 541
    From: Canada

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    Fri Jun 04, 2004 12:54 pm  
    Politically correct Greyhawk?

    Something I've found mildly annoying, when comparing the writings and mood of more recent publications and modules as compared to old ones, is the amount of political correctness that seems to be seeping in. Countries/institutions/business that formerly practiced slavery, or would not cater to women and/or demihumans, now accept both, and how the less acceptable (by modern standards) things are being dropped. Examples:

    -The reference in "The Adventure Begins" to the Savant Inn now having a mixed crowd instead of simply catering to human men.

    -The reference in TaB to the Sages' Guildhall remaining a "highly conservative, all-male, all-human organization, to the disgust of many in the city".

    -Greyhawk abolishing slavery in all its forms across the Domain.

    Forgotten Realms also has some references to this:

    -A Mulhorandi city dropping its taxes on nonhuman visitors, and re-organizing the inheritance laws to make them more equitable.

    Such things are wonderful, beautiful things in real life, but they don't necessarily make for a more evocative campaign setting. That's what, I admit, appeals to me about these things-stuff I find abhorrent and disgusting in real life can be, to a degree, shown here. People always want the colors to be shown in shades of grey, and the Flanaess is no exception. I feel that by keeping these "incorrect" elements in place in some entries in my own writings helps to blur the lines between good and evil, instead of making things too black and white. Any thoughts?

    P.S.: This is done for aesthetic reasons as well-can any of us imagine our beloved Greyhawk abolishing a profitable industry like slavery, just because morals were involved? Confused
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 30, 2003
    Posts: 26
    From: Greensboro, NC

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    Fri Jun 04, 2004 3:02 pm  

    Here, here! I totally agree with you (thus my recent inquiry regarding the legality of slavery).

    I GM a gaming group of all females going thru the A 1-4 series (I'm male). Try imposing pseudo feudal realism there! It isn't always easy. Actually 1/2 my group revels in the cultural differences; the other frowns often.

    I believe in sticking to the genre in most cases to varying degrees. I can't imagine playing in a politically correct Hyperborean World. I wish that we had more such "negative" cultural coloring to contend with in most RPGs. Most forget that they can crusade against it if they don't like it (said Hermione to the House Elf), but it needs to be there in the first place.

    Cheers,
    Zephirum
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 12, 2002
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    Fri Jun 04, 2004 3:36 pm  

    I might add that political correctness could be dangerous. My party was once captured and sold into slavery by a large (and enterprising) patrol in North Province. Considering the fact that the alternative was death, I was quite happy to have my character enslaved for a time! Wink
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 10, 2003
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    Fri Jun 04, 2004 5:51 pm  

    Very well said CruelSummerlord, I would agree with your statement though I believe a little bit of being politically correct as well as someone in marketing saying hey we might be offending some of the demographics were trying to reach (female). So while I agree with your statement I know why such things have creep into the game. Isn't it funny that they will force feed us politically correct material while also producing Tome of Blood and other forms of Demonic material. I would think the latter would be more damaging then not allowing women into an Inn.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
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    Fri Jun 04, 2004 7:07 pm  

    Argon: I fully understand what you're saying-so I don't look like a total jerk, I've made sure to include several countries-Geoff, Veluna, Onnwal, Sunndi, Dyvers and even Greyhawk-treat women and demihumans in an equal way, as they should be.

    My intention was to mirror the real-life situation where white men seem to be the dominant group, sad as it may be. Only in this case, it's human men. Rest assured I have no political agenda with this. :P
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 10, 2003
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    Fri Jun 04, 2004 7:44 pm  

    I know you were only explaining a fact of published material for all of us. But I don't see a problem with using racism in the game. In real-life I have a problem but in the game racism and sexism are ok as long as everyone involved in the game understands this. Heck if killing and maiming as well as wizards and demons can exist in the game world then why not these other factors as well.

    Heck most campaigns I've played in show elves as being elitest type or dwarves referring to other races as weak or infantile and lacking any true art or crafting ability. So if it can be used with demihumans then why can't it be the same with human characters in the game.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: May 13, 2004
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    Fri Jun 04, 2004 11:54 pm  

    Political correctness tends to be overlooked by my particular group. Being female, some would think I would be ready to attack any sexisms in a game with both barrels blazing. Not so at all. Wasn't it amazons, or barbarian women or some such, that received a certain bonus on attacks for the simple fact that she would be underestimated for being female?

    I agree totally with Argon when saying in r/l racism and sexism is not okay, yet I, and the rest of my group, haven't a problem with it in game play. And I do dislike seeing things like CSL pointed out in the first post slipping into things.

    Interesting that this was brought up as I'm facing a few sexist problems now in a current campaign as a young female theif. Yet, having to playing two characters, the other is a young male fighter dashing in and out of any house of ill repute he can find with a very sexist outlook on women. So I'm dishing it out and taking it at the same time.

    If a group wants to play with political correctness around every turn that's fine. Though I think that things such as sexism, racism, and human rights issues are not going to be addressed in a setting such as Greyhawk in the same manner that they are in r/l. So it is a little 'eye rolling' to see it crop up in publications.

    And as for Zephirum's referral to "more negative cultural coloring to contend with in more RPG's." I'd say a good example of that is 1890's and 1920's Call of Cthulhu. Though technically you could choose any profession if you really wanted to, there were only certain professions open to most women in those era's. And not to even mention the race issues of those times.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Oct 15, 2003
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    Fri Jun 11, 2004 6:08 am  

    Argon wrote:
    I know you were only explaining a fact of published material for all of us. But I don't see a problem with using racism in the game. In real-life I have a problem but in the game racism and sexism are ok as long as everyone involved in the game understands this. Heck if killing and maiming as well as wizards and demons can exist in the game world then why not these other factors as well.

    Well said. The distinction to make is that behaviours that might be considered acceptable by some elements of a fantasy game are separate and distinct from similar behaviours in "the real world".

    To use an analogy, would we consider an actor to be racist just because they play a role in a film that requires them to be racist? To digress a little further down the film analogy road, I thought Gene Hackman did a marvelous job playing Chris O'Donnell's racist grandfather in the 1996 film, The Chamber. But in doing such a good job portraying a character with loathesome characteristics, do we condemn Gene Hackman as being a real life racist? No.

    At the same time, fantasy campaigns can be good forums for exploring such negative behaviors as racism, sexism, etc. A compelling storyline could be a drow character demonstrating that they're 'Good' despite the racist reactions by most who consider all drow to be 'Evil'.

    Applying common social practices that we accept in our day-to-day living to a fantasy campaign is poor DM'ing IMNSHO. But that doesn't mean that there also can't be a certain amount of modern social beliefs creeping into our games either. In our own medieval history, a woman wearing armor and bearing a sword would be considered unthinkable (and blasphemous as poor Joan of Arc discovered). Yet in fantasy campaigns, female fighter characters can be a welcome differentiation between the Flanaess of our imaginations and Earth of our own history.

    Bah, I've rambled on way too long. Sorry, folks. Can you tell who has the liberal arts degree hanging on his wall at home? Happy
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
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    Fri Jun 11, 2004 12:28 pm  

    Quote:
    To use an analogy, would we consider an actor to be racist just because they play a role in a film that requires them to be racist? To digress a little further down the film analogy road, I thought Gene Hackman did a marvelous job playing Chris O'Donnell's racist grandfather in the 1996 film, The Chamber. But in doing such a good job portraying a character with loathesome characteristics, do we condemn Gene Hackman as being a real life racist? No.


    Exactly the point I've been trying to make, however poorly. ;)

    Quote:
    At the same time, fantasy campaigns can be good forums for exploring such negative behaviors as racism, sexism, etc. A compelling storyline could be a drow character demonstrating that they're 'Good' despite the racist reactions by most who consider all drow to be 'Evil'.


    I think that road's been traveled a few times. :P Maybe an Aerdi citizen traveling through Nyrond, or forcibly relocated there because of war, has to prove him or herself and somehow try and make a living in their new circumstances, since they can't return home?

    Quote:
    Applying common social practices that we accept in our day-to-day living to a fantasy campaign is poor DM'ing IMNSHO. But that doesn't mean that there also can't be a certain amount of modern social beliefs creeping into our games either. In our own medieval history, a woman wearing armor and bearing a sword would be considered unthinkable (and blasphemous as poor Joan of Arc discovered). Yet in fantasy campaigns, female fighter characters can be a welcome differentiation between the Flanaess of our imaginations and Earth of our own history.


    Very good point. I've let my own political beliefs creep in to a certain extent with the multicultural leanings of Geoff and Sunndi (in case you didn't know, I'm Canadian), but for the most part, I've tried to keep it grim and gritty, with shades of gray in some countries (imperialism in Furyondy, and a system of slavery in Nyrond that is only extended to the Aerdi), good nations waging diplomatic conflicts against each other, and trading or even trafficking with evil nations when necessary.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
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    Sat Jun 19, 2004 12:00 am  
    Dang it!!

    The "grey areas" are what originally drew me to Greyhawk. The first time I read through the setting (I was 16 or so), I was almost depressed that there were no "perfect kingdoms".

    As I grew a bit more mature (the point is arguable), I realized that this was a Good Thing. Making a "perfect world" would be boring. I actually like (and the players do, too) throwing them into moral conundrums and giving them problems that have no optimal solution.

    And now you say that they've gotten more PC? Bugger all!

    So it's okay for an Elven kingdom to keep out all Humans, even those fleeing imminent danger. But it's not okay for a bar to keep out all Elves, even though there's an Elven wine-and-fern bar across the street?

    Next thing you know, the Renaissance Festivals will outlaw the word "wench".....

    Telas, somewhat disturbed.
    Novice

    Joined: Jun 28, 2004
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    Mon Jun 28, 2004 8:33 pm  

    Quote:
    My intention was to mirror the real-life situation where white men seem to be the dominant group, sad as it may be.


    and whats with the comment of 'sad as it may be'?
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: May 13, 2004
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    Mon Jun 28, 2004 8:44 pm  

    ecliptic wrote:
    and whats with the comment of 'sad as it may be'?


    I think Cruel Summer Lord meant 'sad as it may be' as in the fact that there is such a thing as a dominant group where race and gender are concerned, not that particular group of race and gender specifically.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
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    Tue Jun 29, 2004 12:37 pm  

    Quote:
    think Cruel Summer Lord meant 'sad as it may be' as in the fact that there is such a thing as a dominant group where race and gender are concerned, not that particular group of race and gender specifically.


    Exactly.
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