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Author Topic: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons  (Read 5997 times)

VisionStorm

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2022, 05:39:21 PM »
By the way, I absolutely love all the changes to race they made in the Unearthed Arcana: Character Origins document*. I was hesitant about them at first, cuz I hate the rationale behind eliminating racial ability modifiers, but from a purely game mechanics perspective prefer they way it frees us to make any character build we want without being bound by racial modifiers as a limiting factor for viability.

I see D&D as a game where you play whatever character you roll up rather than a game where you can build any character you want. If I wanted to play a game where building any character was the design goal, I'd play something like GURPS or Champions. Where cosmetic features of the character, such as race, are entirely optional.

So when the designers of D&D make these changes to races, background, ancestry, etc, they are just playing a shell game, moving points around, without really addressing the main issue. IOW, all these changes aren't making D&D  a better game, they are just turning D&D into a different type of game.

I'd rather play the character I want. Besides, races still have racial traits, so it's not like racial distinctions are completely out of the picture. You just don't get pigeonholed into certain classes (that don't necessarily reflect a race's presumed class preferences) just because of racial ability modifiers. And ability modifiers were never that prevalent till more recent editions. D&D originally gave no ability modifiers (it had minimum ability scores, but that's a different deal I wouldn't mind bringing back), and AD&D only gave like +1 to one Attribute, -1 to another (two if the +1 was to STR, and the -1s were to INT and CHA).

jeff37923

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2022, 06:37:53 PM »
Dude, it's Gizmodo - you lose brain cells just looking at an article from them.

And who cares if it is a hit piece? WotC D&D lost me way back when they made 4e, fuck them and the worm they slither around on. WotC D&D deserves all the grief it gets because they decided to become the woke's catamite.
"I do not want to create a story, I want to create a stage. The player characters will perform on that stage and interact with the setting. When the players talk to their friends about what their characters did, then there will be a story."

Lynn

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2022, 08:20:12 PM »
The interesting thing is the warning about changing the system so much, you'll end up with another 4e debacle.

But if WoTC were to take into account everything these people want, that seems exactly what would be produced - a game that is so suffused with terminology to appeal to a new customer type that those that played before will reject it.

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Fheredin

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2022, 09:58:18 PM »
The most interesting part of the article is when they point to female strength limits as the ground zero of this line of thinking. The argument I've seen as to why female characters shouldn't be penalized is because they are "exceptional" and normal statistical deviation don't apply. This same argument can be made to say that your elf is exceptional so normal ability score modifiers shouldn't apply either.

This is a rare case where the SJWs are the ones being consistent.

To be fair, it's kinda my opinion that Player Characters are exceptions to the normal rules of the universe almost by virtue of existing, and that telling a player, "no, you can't play a chick with the body of a male pro bodybuilder," is uninteresting. Fantasy RPGs are by nature escapist fiction, and I see little reason to force real world structures onto them.

The real problem here is that the simple idea of "race" having mechanical differences in a game is a trigger for the Woke. I disagree with the why of them complaining about it, but fundamentally, I do think the way most D&D-derived games handle races is something between insipidly uninspired and downright unfun. Broken clocks can be right twice a day, and the Woke can take issue with something which should have really been done differently a long time ago.

Lunamancer

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2022, 11:20:01 PM »
The thing is, if I were to put on my "woke" hat but had to adhere to facts while doing so, my conclusions would be the opposite of the ones the article arrives at. If anything, as the timeline advanced forward, the game has regressed despite the ramping up of political correctness, if not flat-out because of it.

Not that facts likely matter, but there are some things I feel the need to point out.

Bioessentialism refers specifically to humans and is specifically behavioral. We know full well certain physical features are determined by genetics. Hair color, eye color, etc. It's not a bioessentialist claim to say halflings are much smaller than humans. Nor is it bioessentialist to expect halflings are going to be less strong due to this difference in stature. Note that as far as the 1E PHB goes, racial attribute adjustments are strictly physical. Not behavioral. The exception that proves the rule is Charisma. That the Charisma penalty for Dwarfs and Half-Orcs does not apply when dealing with other members of their own race strongly suggests that this is the physical attractiveness component of Charisma that is being adjusted. Not leadership ability. Not whether or not the character has a winning personality.

I think this was intentional. But I don't think the motive was to shut up a bunch of twerps strangely obsessed with bioessentialism decades after the fact. I think it was to clear the path to allow the players to play their characters any way they saw fit. As time went on and as gamers got more obsessed with "just playin' muh character" we would later see players deferring "playing as they see fit" in favor of some preconceived notions about how the character ought to be played according to its characteristics--among those characteristics being the character's race.

So you could make the case for bioessentialism creep if you wanted to. But to play a character rather than playing yourself in that character's shoes is something that takes additional effort. It's not something automatically inherent to the RPG form. And bioessentialism is explicitly not a part of the old school rules. It would be factually incorrect to claim that the game is rooted in bioessentialism. To the extent it exists in the game, it came later on down the line.

In fact, by 1.5E, Unearthed Arcana provided additional race options for player characters. And some of these did involve adjustments to INT and WIS. I feel it's unfortunate. But it's still pretty minimal. Note that this is where the Drow is introduced as a playable race. And in UA it specifically states the player character drow may be of any alignment. This is another thing the article gets factually incorrect. The biology of drow does not make the character essentially evil. This is spelled out explicitly in the UA rules. There are no alignment dictates on any player character race at this point in the timeline.

Speaking of alignment, I think one of the key lines for how alignment works in 1E is, "Basically stated, the tenets of good are human rights, or in the case of AD&D, creature rights." Here you see there is some addressing of the fact that AD&D has non-human creatures that ought to be considered as humans in terms of such ethical concerns. But the rules do not tell us precisely where that line is drawn. Presumably, that will be up to each individual DM.

First, it's worth pointing out that this circles back to the definition of bioessentialism where I had indicated it specifically referred to humans. With this understanding of alignment, it's possible to see clear where bioessentialism can also refer to other creatures in the fantasy world in a way that doesn't render the idea meaningless. But it still wouldn't apply to every and all creatures. Again, it's going to be up to the DM where the line is drawn. If the DM decides orcs are monsters, not on the human side of the line, the question of bioessentialism becomes inapplicable. They would all be evil, and so Lawful Good characters could slay them without any alignment infractions, including women and children prisoners.

Personally, I think the most natural place to draw the line is between PC-playable and non-playable races. I don't use UA. So drows are not playable races in my campaign. Hence they are monsters. Hence, I follow the alignment guidelines from the Fiend Folio. But if I did decide to allow them as a playable race, I would allow PC drow to be of any alignment, per UA rules, and they would be on the human side of the line. Lawful Good characters couldn't just go around killing drow indiscriminately. That would be considered an evil act.

I'm not entirely sure why alignment is so hated by the author. As I describe it, it's not a relative thing. It's not a, "oh, we're the good guys, and those others over there are the bad guys" that could be equally claimed on each side. It's not like the game designer just has to arbitrarily pick a side they like better and define them as good. No. It's specifically tied to respect for "human" rights. Does the author of the article find this idea offensive? Honestly? Maybe. After all, she also sees people of color when she looks at orcs. I could see how any one of these accusations individually come off more like a cheap shot. But when they start stacking up, it starts to look like a pattern rather than a coincidence.

Of course maybe she just doesn't understand alignment. Most people don't. The 1E DMG is where the 9 alignment system is gone over in detail. If you never read another thing about alignment after that, I think alignments are perfectly clear. But every edition that came after kept tweaking and tweaking it, and it got more and more confusing over time. Another fact that fits my theme that the game regressed as the timeline moved forward.

The next factual inaccuracy I want to address is the author's claim that male and female stat adjustments were introduced in 1976 and were not overturned until 1989 with 2E. Of course those of us in the know know that there never were separate stat adjustments for male and female characters. You know what was different in 1989's 2E regarding males and females? That there was a section noting that only masculine pronouns would be used. In core 1E, pronouns were a lot more inclusive using "he or she" "him or her" etc laboriously throughout. This dropped off in late 1E, but there was no announcement. So you go from gender-inclusive 1.0 to mostly masculine-only pronouns in 1.5 to a big announcement in 2.0 saying that masculine-only pronouns would now be the standard and consistent throughout all official publications. Regression. But if you believed sex modifiers became official in 1976, you would get this trend absolutely backwards. Facts matter.

Once you see this trend, you start to see things falling in line. 2E did away with the ranger damage bonus against "giant class" creatures. What did they get instead? A hit bonus against a "hated race."

3E has a barbarian. What's their unique ability? Rage. This is what happens when you don't want to call a berserker a berserker and instead try to make it a generic thing. You end up with a game that suggests indigenous peoples have anger management issues. I can see how that could be taken as offensive in the generic sense. Whereas berserkers going berserk is not.


I should make clear that I'm not saying later editions of the game are hateful or any other such nonsense. I'm just saying that by "woke's" own standards, the facts reveal a pattern that they're screwing everything up even according to their own terms and values. And it's in large part due to their own ignorance. And face it. Incompetent laziness. And unwillingness to wrestle with their own sins, They seem to believe they can instead absolve themselves of those sins by denigrating everything that came before.

And you can see it quite clearly in action. Never forget, the WotC legacy disclaimer was a reaction to bad press WotC got from a disaffected employee of color. Rather than address the issues within their own corporate culture in the here and now, they threw products they never had anything to do with under the bus just to say, "See how good and decent we are, to recognize and denounce this?"


One last thing. I never think to look at the comments, whether it's a blog article or youtube. After reading some of the replies here referencing the comments, I decided to take a look. One hilarious one jumped out at me.

In one of the comments (reply to EpicLevelWizard), the author states, "all my sources are people of color."

Before I'd even read that comment, I had clicked on one of her sources. Rue V. Dickey. Someone who sounded especially ignorant but was hyped up with a stack of credentials. I thought I'd better take a closer look. Got the link right here:
https://ilananight.space/

They/he claim they're/he's "Roma-Indigenous-Welsh." You can see their/his photo for yourselves. Looks pretty white to me.

I'm a mix of Slavic, Portuguese, and American Indian. For those who don't know, Slavic apparently was recently added as an honorary people of color due to their impressive track record of being oppressed. Portuguese is considered by a few federal agencies in the US as being a minority group. Sometimes we're categorized as "hispanic" sometimes simply "other." And, yeah, I've got indigenous ancestors, too.

These all combine in such a way that I pretty much pass as white, aside from a few people who clocked me as Native American when I was younger. Must have been that I had long, straight, dark hair at the time. Maybe if I wore a feather in a headband or something, everyone would have noticed. But I've never claimed to be a person of color. I'm not aware of anyone ever discriminating against me for racial reasons. I don't have that lived experience, and it would be wrong of me to claim to be a person of color, especially in the context in which this is coming up.

And I have a hell of a lot more melanin in my skin than Rue.

But all of this author's sources are people of color.

Effete

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2022, 01:26:39 AM »
There are times, when i think the simple fix to all the angst about racial modifiers; is you get nothing.  Now you have the equality you desired.  You get nothing.  Just play your character, and stop whining about silly stuff.

Precisely!

Just like the logical end to post-modernism is nihilism, the logical end to a post-modernist-infused rpg is NOTHING. You get no ability scores, no skills, no standards of beauty, no rules for interacting (because microaggressions or some shit), no race... hell, you get no character at all! You get a single d20 that you just roll to see if you beat whatever abstract, nebulous, non-descript challenge there is.
DM: "You enter a room. Roll the die."
Player: 16
DM: Ok, you beat it. Do you open the door?
Player: Yes
DM: Roll the die.
Player: Oof... 4.
DM: You die. Game over.

Effete

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #21 on: September 18, 2022, 01:57:50 AM »
I agree with VisionStorm's earlier comment that the change to racial ASI is a good one. I just don't agree AT ALL with their rationale behind it.

I'd rather play the character I want. Besides, races still have racial traits, so it's not like racial distinctions are completely out of the picture. You just don't get pigeonholed into certain classes (that don't necessarily reflect a race's presumed class preferences) just because of racial ability modifiers. And ability modifiers were never that prevalent till more recent editions. D&D originally gave no ability modifiers (it had minimum ability scores, but that's a different deal I wouldn't mind bringing back), and AD&D only gave like +1 to one Attribute, -1 to another (two if the +1 was to STR, and the -1s were to INT and CHA).

Yes. In my reevaluation of earlier versions of D&D, I gained a new appreciation for "race-as-class" mechanics. If you wanted to play an elf, you adjusted your scores to match what it REQUIRES to play one. You don't simply pick the race you want and THEN adjust the scores. You had to roll exceptionally well in many cases to make the adjustments (such as with B/X rules), which justifies the reason demi-races were slightly more powerful. The fact that these earlier versions put much more emphasis on "player skill" over character stats is an important factor too, since it meant rolling low stats wasn't really that big a deal.

The shift to more focus on character stats led to min-maxing, and that led to this idea of "endless customization." And in a game with rigid class structures, that just leads to bloat since the barking seals always want "moar content."

In short, what I'm saying is simpler is better, but WotC are gonna fuck it up both with their politics and with ballooning the version with crap.

FingerRod

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2022, 07:20:03 AM »
Just want to take a moment to acknowledge Lunamancer’s post. Outstanding read.

VisionStorm

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2022, 09:25:34 AM »
I agree with VisionStorm's earlier comment that the change to racial ASI is a good one. I just don't agree AT ALL with their rationale behind it.

I'd rather play the character I want. Besides, races still have racial traits, so it's not like racial distinctions are completely out of the picture. You just don't get pigeonholed into certain classes (that don't necessarily reflect a race's presumed class preferences) just because of racial ability modifiers. And ability modifiers were never that prevalent till more recent editions. D&D originally gave no ability modifiers (it had minimum ability scores, but that's a different deal I wouldn't mind bringing back), and AD&D only gave like +1 to one Attribute, -1 to another (two if the +1 was to STR, and the -1s were to INT and CHA).

Yes. In my reevaluation of earlier versions of D&D, I gained a new appreciation for "race-as-class" mechanics. If you wanted to play an elf, you adjusted your scores to match what it REQUIRES to play one. You don't simply pick the race you want and THEN adjust the scores. You had to roll exceptionally well in many cases to make the adjustments (such as with B/X rules), which justifies the reason demi-races were slightly more powerful. The fact that these earlier versions put much more emphasis on "player skill" over character stats is an important factor too, since it meant rolling low stats wasn't really that big a deal.

The shift to more focus on character stats led to min-maxing, and that led to this idea of "endless customization." And in a game with rigid class structures, that just leads to bloat since the barking seals always want "moar content."

In short, what I'm saying is simpler is better, but WotC are gonna fuck it up both with their politics and with ballooning the version with crap.

I don't necessarily have an issue with (some) min/maxing per se, but I do think that racial ability modifiers promote the wrong kind of min/maxing, where you begin to see your race as stat adjustments for your "build". It provides the wrong kind of incentive, and makes everything about race a cost/benefit analysis, focusing on treating ability differences as hard bonuses and (once upon a time) penalties, rather than just tendencies.

One of the design benefits of treating racial ability differences as min/max REQUIREMENTS rather than modifiers is that you have to qualify for races, rather than your race just piling on a bunch of benefits. Which serves as a balancing mechanism rather contribute to more stuff that could beef up your character. And it also helps minimize the prevalence of some races, or at least make you pay for them somehow.

3catcircus

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2022, 01:18:02 PM »
Quote
“Dungeons & Dragons will continue to fail unless—or until—they fundamentally change their approach to race,” said tabletop RPG designer Connie Chang.

Fail at what? Being the #1, greatest selling and most recognizable TTRPG of all time, specially now more than ever? Words either mean something or they don't, and these people are clearly pulling their words right out of their ass to paint their own imaginary version of reality, the way they want it to be. The only time D&D has ever even remotely approached the realm of being a "failure" was when it shot itself in the foot during the 4e era, and maybe briefly in the 90s when Vampire gained popularity, and even then it was still #2. So not a failure even then, just not #1.

This is all imaginary nonsense baked for clickbait outrage with no basis in reality but their own delusions.

By the way, I absolutely love all the changes to race they made in the Unearthed Arcana: Character Origins document*. I was hesitant about them at first, cuz I hate the rationale behind eliminating racial ability modifiers, but from a purely game mechanics perspective prefer they way it frees us to make any character build we want without being bound by racial modifiers as a limiting factor for viability.

I do think that there are mechanical issues with tying ability bonuses to Background specifically, though, since it incentivizes picking backgrounds with bonuses that match your class's key ability, or going with the custom Background option, which defeats the point of tying them to background. They should just give everyone a +2 bonus to one or two abilities of choice and leave it at that, or maybe make players pick the bonuses from either race, class and background, like I did when trying it out in my own game.

But other than that I prefer the new treatment for races—including the addition of Orcs as a standard race—and it's what I'd use from now on.

"EDIT/PS: Except for Ardlings. I absolutely hate that stupid furry-angel concept they pulled out of nowhere. It's like they didn't know WTF to do with Aasimar, so lets just make them furries. Cuz furries have a lot to do with angels, amirite?

I'd just make them Aasimar that look like angels and drop that stupid "Ardling" name and concept. You don't need to make angels furries to make them cool, you just need to make them angels.

Imo they ahould just remove the ability mods all together and add a few more points to their point buy/standard array, maybe just add +2 +1 to the pragraph on rolling for stats. I have no idea how someone could complain about that...they may find a way though.


There are times, when i think the simple fix to all the angst about racial modifiers; is you get nothing.  Now you have the equality you desired.  You get nothing.  Just play your character, and stop whining about silly stuff.

You forgot the rest of  "You get nothing." I'll help you out. "You lose! Good day, sir!! I said, 'good day!!!'"

FIFY  ;D
« Last Edit: September 18, 2022, 01:19:58 PM by 3catcircus »

Aglondir

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2022, 01:18:42 PM »
ICE had an interesting take in their Middle Earth game. You rolled your scores and then assigned them to atts. If you were non human, you had to assign your highest or second highest to X. This resulted in Dwarves having better Con than humans on the whole, but no individual Dwarf had a higher Con than an individual human.

Lidless_Eye

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #26 on: September 18, 2022, 01:28:59 PM »
I am reminded of this.

Effete

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #27 on: September 18, 2022, 05:36:52 PM »
... It provides the wrong kind of incentive, and makes everything about race a cost/benefit analysis, focusing on treating ability differences as hard bonuses and (once upon a time) penalties, rather than just tendencies.

One of the design benefits of treating racial ability differences as min/max REQUIREMENTS rather than modifiers is that you have to qualify for races, rather than your race just piling on a bunch of benefits. Which serves as a balancing mechanism rather contribute to more stuff that could beef up your character. And it also helps minimize the prevalence of some races, or at least make you pay for them somehow.

Yes. This is what I was trying to say, but couldn't put the right words together.

Gettong rid of racial ASIs is not a bad thing. Doing it because of "bioessentialism" nonsense and not for balancing purposes is missing the point and sets WotC up for creating a mess of the mechanics.

Ghostmaker

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2022, 06:24:29 PM »
... It provides the wrong kind of incentive, and makes everything about race a cost/benefit analysis, focusing on treating ability differences as hard bonuses and (once upon a time) penalties, rather than just tendencies.

One of the design benefits of treating racial ability differences as min/max REQUIREMENTS rather than modifiers is that you have to qualify for races, rather than your race just piling on a bunch of benefits. Which serves as a balancing mechanism rather contribute to more stuff that could beef up your character. And it also helps minimize the prevalence of some races, or at least make you pay for them somehow.

Yes. This is what I was trying to say, but couldn't put the right words together.

Gettong rid of racial ASIs is not a bad thing. Doing it because of "bioessentialism" nonsense and not for balancing purposes is missing the point and sets WotC up for creating a mess of the mechanics.
The whole argument to get rid of racial attribute adjustments has always been kind of weaksauce to me. The adjustments aren't THAT limiting and playing against type can make for an interesting character.

ShieldWife

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Re: Another hit piece against Dungeons & Dragons
« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2022, 08:49:49 PM »
There is no way to make these sort of people happy. They’re hate filled fanatics and they are consumed with racial animosity, part of which involves a constant search for anything they can attack as being racist. The more they are placated, the worse they get, which is why they are so nasty now.

If I were running a 5th Edition game and someone asked me to switch around the racial modifiers for their character, let’s say they want to play an orc wizard and want +2 to Int instead of +2 Strength, then I would seriously consider that request depending on the nature of the campaign and other circumstances. If the player said that they objected to those racial modifiers because orcs somehow represent blacks people and that racial modifiers were bioessentialism, then I think I’d probably tell the player to find another group.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2022, 08:51:30 PM by ShieldWife »