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Author Topic: Kobold Press bends the knee  (Read 3050 times)

Hixanthrope

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Kobold Press bends the knee
« on: September 14, 2022, 12:14:36 PM »
"Last week, we were rightfully called out for culturally insensitive ideas presented in Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design, a title in our back catalog.
Since the collection of essays was published, we have grown and changed our design ethos to ensure that characters are from the areas they adventure in, as opposed to being tourists. We wholeheartedly agree: real-world cultures are not playgrounds for characters to run wildly in.
We have amended the offending essay and replaced it on our website and on DriveThruRPG.com.
We are incredibly sorry for the hurt our essay has caused."

PulpHerb

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2022, 12:47:56 PM »
So, two questions:

1. Does that mean no modern world games and no games whose culture draws from any real-world culture, past or present?
2. If the answer to #1 is no, what can we use to build game world cultures from?

Brooding Paladin

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2022, 12:59:32 PM »
Exactly, PulpHerb.  It makes zero sense.  Every culture would have to be totally alien and I don't think there's a GM around that could do that, and maintain it, for every possible culture out there.  One or two, sure, but everything but be completely unique/not-of-this-world?

This is where it goes to straight up lunacy.  And what "hurt" does this cause?  I mean, if someone uses their game platform to mock a certain culture, ok, call them out on it and make them stop or don't play.

But the mere suggestion that certain game places could be based on real world cultures?  This inflicts hurt on someone?  We need a term that is more fragile than "snowflakes" any more.

PulpHerb

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2022, 01:17:08 PM »
But the mere suggestion that certain game places could be based on real world cultures?  This inflicts hurt on someone?  We need a term that is more fragile than "snowflakes" any more.

I think Mr. Welch got to the heart of it here when he notes most people are excited when they find out you want to use their culture in their world and can't help but tell you tons of things to use.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiaPFOaas50

Jam The MF

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2022, 01:18:35 PM »
"Last week, we were rightfully called out for culturally insensitive ideas presented in Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design, a title in our back catalog.
Since the collection of essays was published, we have grown and changed our design ethos to ensure that characters are from the areas they adventure in, as opposed to being tourists. We wholeheartedly agree: real-world cultures are not playgrounds for characters to run wildly in.
We have amended the offending essay and replaced it on our website and on DriveThruRPG.com.
We are incredibly sorry for the hurt our essay has caused."


So they are now saying that characters should only adventure in the place where they are from?  Is that a 50 mile radius?  A 100 mile radius?  The country in which they were born?  The continent upon which they were born?

This sounds like "Anti-Colonialist" garbage.
I was Banned from RPG.net a long time ago, for Having Common Sense.

Plagued

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2022, 01:27:04 PM »
"Last week, we were rightfully called out for culturally insensitive ideas presented in Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design, a title in our back catalog.
Since the collection of essays was published, we have grown and changed our design ethos to ensure that characters are from the areas they adventure in, as opposed to being tourists. We wholeheartedly agree: real-world cultures are not playgrounds for characters to run wildly in.
We have amended the offending essay and replaced it on our website and on DriveThruRPG.com.
We are incredibly sorry for the hurt our essay has caused."


So they are now saying that characters should only adventure in the place where they are from?  Is that a 50 mile radius?  A 100 mile radius?  The country in which they were born?  The continent upon which they were born?

This sounds like "Anti-Colonialist" garbage.

real-world cultures are not playgrounds for characters to run wildly in.

But real world left wing PC antics are allowed? Well, it's good the pronouns-using trannyfuckers are here to set us straight. Pun.


Foul Plague Games - TTRPG games and more

Brooding Paladin

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2022, 01:33:05 PM »
Well, it's good the pronouns-using trannyfuckers are here to set us straight. Pun.

OK, I'll admit to laughing at this.

OK, so "run wildly in."  I guess I could see the issue here, but again, only if people were deliberately making mockery of a place, etc.  But have the balls to have a conversation with people that act like jerks.  It's almost like everyone is so conflict-averse that rather than having a tough conversation with someone who's behaving poorly, they just want a law that someone else, therefore, has to enforce.  Pretty ironic since it's coming from the defund crowd.

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2022, 01:34:09 PM »
I have no idea what the fuck is actually going on. What was the original essay and what is the revised version for comparison?

PulpHerb

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2022, 01:36:48 PM »
I have no idea what the fuck is actually going on. What was the original essay and what is the revised version for comparison?

I'm looking at my copy to figure that out now.

My guesses are it is one of the following:

How Real is Your World? On History and Setting by Wolfgang Baur
Bringing History to Life by Keith Baker

I can't say I'm surprised. I saw volume 3 at the FLGS and looking through it thought it would make Monte Cook Games blush while being asked out by Evil Hat.


Jam The MF

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2022, 01:40:16 PM »
So things have gotten so bad, that we now need restrictions on playing make-believe fantasy games?

Homebrew.  Do what you want to do.  Piss on that silly SJW nonsense.
I was Banned from RPG.net a long time ago, for Having Common Sense.

Osman Gazi

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2022, 01:40:38 PM »
RPGs are just another flavor of storytelling and acting.

If one wanted to be consistent about this, then no author could write about about a "real world culture" that they're not a part of, nor an actor play a role from another culture.

What's especially insidious about this is that RPGs allow ordinary people--who may not be authors or actors--to be creative storytellers and to imagine they're someone they're not--even (perish the thought!) from another "real-world culture" of which they're not a part.  But here, it's saying you can't do this...you can't put yourself in the shoes of someone from another "real-world culture".

Kiss goodbye to learning about people who are different from you by trying to see things from another point of view.

RPGs allow a flexibility in imagination that is unmatched in other forms of entertainment.  But these puritanical Nazis are trying to tell others what they can and cannot imagine.  They are literally trying to police your dreams.  Bloody fascists, and that's no exaggeration.

Palleon

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2022, 01:43:44 PM »
Here's the source of the hub bub:
https://whatdoiknowjr.com/2022/09/10/spring-break-and-kobold-press/

In summary woke critic needs to tear down ex-TSR employee's work from 12 years ago that was republished in a 2nd edition of an old book because the current Kickstarter has the audacity to include bio-essentialism in ability scores.

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2022, 01:50:36 PM »
I have no idea what the fuck is actually going on. What was the original essay and what is the revised version for comparison?

I'm looking at my copy to figure that out now.

My guesses are it is one of the following:

How Real is Your World? On History and Setting by Wolfgang Baur
Bringing History to Life by Keith Baker

I can't say I'm surprised. I saw volume 3 at the FLGS and looking through it thought it would make Monte Cook Games blush while being asked out by Evil Hat.


Yeah, those essays are completely absent from the digital copy I just purchased to check. How many essays are there supposed to be? My copy has 40

Here's the source of the hub bub:
https://whatdoiknowjr.com/2022/09/10/spring-break-and-kobold-press/

In summary woke critic needs to tear down ex-TSR employee's work from 12 years ago that was republished in a 2nd edition of an old book because the current Kickstarter has the audacity to include bio-essentialism in ability scores.

"What Makes a Night Arabian?" is still in my copy on page 165-7. Does anyone have the original for comparison?

Here's the full text in my copy, the edited version:
Quote
24
inbad, Scheherazade, and Saladin. Cinematic action. Deserts, camels,
and full-blooded horses. Rocs, cyclops, and a phoenix. Harems,
star-crossed lovers, and forbidden romance. Ghuls, genies, bandits, and
moustache-twisting viziers.
What really makes an adventure Arabian? How do we define a subgenre?
How much is rules, and how much is execution?
It’s Not Mechanical
What makes an Arabian adventure work is not rules; it’s the story and the
flavor that matter. It’s the glory of huge treasures and quick death beneath
the sands. It’s a change of tone and scenery.
That is hard to design well. Anyone can put a sphinx in the desert
and run a combat. But why is the sphinx there? What questions can she
answer? Is she an oracle? Does she love an androsphinx, perhaps even
pine for him? Now we’re getting somewhere. Having focused, controlled
backstory that drives player action to the center of the story is the trick
to a successful Arabian adventure. Grand, sweeping plots should be
distilled down to their essences. Creating new rules or monsters is useful
if it supports the scenery and simplifies the action. Creating fun, exotic
people and setting them in motion quickly helps a designer capture the
storytelling side of the Arabian Nights.
Great, you say, how do we weave this carpet of compelling, exotic story?
One strand at a time.
S
166 Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design, Second Edition
Clear Heroes and Villains
Other campaign worlds stress shades of grey; a fantasy Arabia shouldn’t. The
appeal of Sinbad or the Thief of Baghdad is that you know where you stand.
Sinbad will sail into terrible danger and escape it through cleverness and
bravery. We know the lover who recovers great treasures to win the hand of
the Sultan’s daughter is going to make it. It is the journey that matters.
Villains make straightforward attacks on heroes without too much
dissembling. They aren’t skulking—well, the assassins are—but many are
quite clearly big bad evil dudes. No misunderstood villains; they really
resonate as the power grabber, the manipulative vizier, or the rapacious
bandit who really does want your money. All of it.
Player Character Attitudes
Antiheroes are out. Rogues and rascals must have hearts of gold,
bandits must have honor, and all true heroes must keep their word. To
do otherwise is shameful. No one—least of all the Sultan—will trust a
shameful oathbreaker.
Indeed, the original Al-Qadim setting included oathbinding genies
as part of the setting, whose task was to magically compel dishonorable
characters to keep their word. This sense of personal honor, even for the
poorest PC, may drive a party of heroes more than gold.
This is something you need to know about the audience as a designer
and know about your players as a DM. Will they go help star-crossed
lovers? Will they choose the right thing over greed? Are they idealists or
pragmatists? Once you know, you’re in great shape. My assumption is that
if you want to play in or run an Arabian Nights setting, you have at least a
bit of a heroic streak, rather than being purely mercenary.
What About the Rubies?
All this is not to say that player characters can’t be greedy. But wealth is a
consequence of correct, heroic action. It is not a goal in itself.
This is the hardest thing for players about Arabian adventure: gaining
and losing treasures in a hurry. I think a great Arabian campaign hits
the heights and the gutter fairly often. Sinbad shipwrecked constantly.
Douglass Fairbanks’ thief only pretended to be a prince, but he was able to
best true princes for love. PC heroes probably aren’t fighting for love (it’s a
tough motive to pin on a party of 4 to 6 characters at once…), but they are
able to rise to the Sultan’s court and return to the status of peasants in the
arc of a campaign.
I think it is entirely in character for a first-level Arabian adventure to
hand the party an insanely expensive, pure white warhorse—and then to
lose it after just a session or two, to a hungry efreet or a conniving horse
What Makes a Night Arabian? h Wolfgang Baur 167
thief (who later offers it back to the party in exchange for a quest). This is
what Fate can mean on an individual level: quick changes of fortune are
part of the atmosphere.
Strange but Familiar
We understand the desert raider and the caliph as stereotypes, enough that
players and DMs are not adrift with the culture. Stereotypes work for us,
providing anchors to start from. It is fun to trade warhorses for war
camels when the underlying logic of the setting is similar, with a few
tweaks around the sacred status of hospitality, the nature of religion, and
the role of the elemental forces in the wilderness.
Nested Stories
For the advanced designer or DM, the nested nature of some Arabian
tales, using flashbacks and stories-within-a-story, could yield excellent
results. In game play, this is easy to do: when the party visits the oracle or
the storyteller in the market, they hear the start of a story. Play out the
primary combat or scene within it, and then return to the main story. The
same thing can be done with a mirror or dream—you fill in the outer shell
as a framing device for the core story.
Or you may decide that it’s more literal, and characters are whisked away
by genies from the present day to the founding of the Sultanate, or the Age
of Giants, or a roiling typhoon around a zaratan. They complete an entire
adventure before the genie whisks them back to report to the Sultan.
Conclusion
Arabian adventure requires mastery of tone and the simple presentation
of the exotic. Clothing, sensory details, monster selection, and all other
elements of the setting are important to convey a culture that is familiar
enough to be playable, but strange enough to appeal to our sense of the
exotic and wondrous. Little bits of extra storytelling will win you big
points with players interested in an Arabian theme, and the subgenre
makes for an excellent break from traditional fantasy

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2022, 01:56:44 PM »
Okay, here's the original version for comparison (from the 1st edition, I couldn't find the unedited 2nd edition):
Quote
24
inbad, Scheherazade, and Saladin. Cinematic action. Deserts, camels,
and full-blooded horses. Rocs, cyclops, and a phoenix. Harems,
star-crossed lovers, and forbidden romance. Ghuls, genies, bandits, and
moustache-twisting viziers.
What really makes an adventure Arabian? How do we define a subgenre?
How much is rules, and how much is execution?
It’s Not Mechanical
What makes an Arabian adventure work is not rules; it’s the story and the
flavor that matter. It’s the glory of huge treasures and quick death beneath
the sands. It’s a change of tone and scenery.
That is hard to design well. Anyone can put a sphinx in the desert
and run a combat. But why is the sphinx there? What questions can she
answer? Is she an oracle? Does she love an androsphinx, perhaps even
pine for him? Now we’re getting somewhere. Having focused, controlled
backstory that drives player action to the center of the story is the trick
to a successful Arabian adventure. Grand, sweeping plots should be
distilled down to their essences. Creating new rules or monsters is useful
if it supports the scenery and simplifies the action. Creating fun, exotic
people and setting them in motion quickly helps a designer capture the
storytelling side of the Arabian Nights.
Great, you say, how do we weave this carpet of compelling, exotic story?
One strand at a time.
S
166 Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design, Second Edition
Clear Heroes and Villains
Other campaign worlds stress shades of grey; a fantasy Arabia shouldn’t. The
appeal of Sinbad or the Thief of Baghdad is that you know where you stand.
Sinbad will sail into terrible danger and escape it through cleverness and
bravery. We know the lover who recovers great treasures to win the hand of
the Sultan’s daughter is going to make it. It is the journey that matters.
Villains make straightforward attacks on heroes without too much
dissembling. They aren’t skulking—well, the assassins are—but many are
quite clearly big bad evil dudes. No misunderstood villains; they really
resonate as the power grabber, the manipulative vizier, or the rapacious
bandit who really does want your money. All of it.
Player Character Attitudes
Antiheroes are out. Rogues and rascals must have hearts of gold,
bandits must have honor, and all true heroes must keep their word. To
do otherwise is shameful. No one—least of all the Sultan—will trust a
shameful oathbreaker.
Indeed, the original Al-Qadim setting included oathbinding genies
as part of the setting, whose task was to magically compel dishonorable
characters to keep their word. This sense of personal honor, even for the
poorest PC, may drive a party of heroes more than gold.
This is something you need to know about the audience as a designer
and know about your players as a DM. Will they go help star-crossed
lovers? Will they choose the right thing over greed? Are they idealists or
pragmatists? Once you know, you’re in great shape. My assumption is that
if you want to play in or run an Arabian Nights setting, you have at least a
bit of a heroic streak, rather than being purely mercenary.
What About the Rubies?
All this is not to say that player characters can’t be greedy. But wealth is a
consequence of correct, heroic action. It is not a goal in itself.
This is the hardest thing for players about Arabian adventure: gaining
and losing treasures in a hurry. I think a great Arabian campaign hits
the heights and the gutter fairly often. Sinbad shipwrecked constantly.
Douglass Fairbanks’ thief only pretended to be a prince, but he was able to
best true princes for love. PC heroes probably aren’t fighting for love (it’s a
tough motive to pin on a party of 4 to 6 characters at once…), but they are
able to rise to the Sultan’s court and return to the status of peasants in the
arc of a campaign.
I think it is entirely in character for a first-level Arabian adventure to
hand the party an insanely expensive, pure white warhorse—and then to
lose it after just a session or two, to a hungry efreet or a conniving horse
What Makes a Night Arabian? h Wolfgang Baur 167
thief (who later offers it back to the party in exchange for a quest). This is
what Fate can mean on an individual level: quick changes of fortune are
part of the atmosphere.
Strange but Familiar
We understand the desert raider and the caliph as stereotypes, enough that
players and DMs are not adrift with the culture. Stereotypes work for us,
providing anchors to start from. It is fun to trade warhorses for war
camels when the underlying logic of the setting is similar, with a few
tweaks around the sacred status of hospitality, the nature of religion, and
the role of the elemental forces in the wilderness.
Nested Stories
For the advanced designer or DM, the nested nature of some Arabian
tales, using flashbacks and stories-within-a-story, could yield excellent
results. In game play, this is easy to do: when the party visits the oracle or
the storyteller in the market, they hear the start of a story. Play out the
primary combat or scene within it, and then return to the main story. The
same thing can be done with a mirror or dream—you fill in the outer shell
as a framing device for the core story.
Or you may decide that it’s more literal, and characters are whisked away
by genies from the present day to the founding of the Sultanate, or the Age
of Giants, or a roiling typhoon around a zaratan. They complete an entire
adventure before the genie whisks them back to report to the Sultan.
Conclusion
Arabian adventure requires mastery of tone and the simple presentation
of the exotic. Clothing, sensory details, monster selection, and all other
elements of the setting are important to convey a culture that is familiar
enough to be playable, but strange enough to appeal to our sense of the
exotic and wondrous. Little bits of extra storytelling will win you big
points with players interested in an Arabian theme, and the subgenre
makes for an excellent break from traditional fantasy

I used a text compare site and it turns out that the two versions are identical except they excised that one paragraph that the blogger complained about.

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Kobold Press bends the knee
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2022, 02:32:31 PM »
Honestly, the essay is kinda useless before and after the revision. Especially the “Strange but Familiar” section. Obviously fantasy Araby is a stock fantasy counterpart and not an actual depiction of the Middle East, but that section is needlessly dismissive of worldbuilding based on research and doesn’t present useful advice. And the bit about Araby just being a momentary theme park attraction in an otherwise pseudo European campaign really is offensive to any GM who wants to set their whole campaign there or any designer who spends effort on making whole books about it.

I do think it’s making a mountain out of a molehill and cutting out the paragraph doesn’t accomplish anything. It needs to be completely rewritten to be actually useful to GMs and not insulting to people who like Arabian settings