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Author Topic: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?  (Read 7229 times)

Stephen Tannhauser

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #30 on: April 18, 2022, 05:51:37 PM »
I mean obviously dwarven bard is impossible, as they have -2 Cha, simmilarily orc wizard with Int penalty - c'est impossible.

Impossible? No. As plausible and playable an option as any other? Sad to say, also no.

Fact is, most players concerned with being as effective as possible in a chosen method will make the character generation choices which best support that method. Why be an orc wizard with -2 INT when you can be an elven wizard with +2 INT, and not only start off probably with more spells but with a higher limit on number and level of spells ultimately learnable?

Yes, there are players who'll go against the most tactically effective combination of assets just for the novelty or the roleplaying value. But they ain't the majority, at least not in my observation and experience. Gamers like their effectiveness too much.
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jhkim

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #31 on: April 19, 2022, 01:25:53 AM »
I mean obviously dwarven bard is impossible, as they have -2 Cha, simmilarily orc wizard with Int penalty - c'est impossible.

Impossible? No. As plausible and playable an option as any other? Sad to say, also no.

Fact is, most players concerned with being as effective as possible in a chosen method will make the character generation choices which best support that method. Why be an orc wizard with -2 INT when you can be an elven wizard with +2 INT, and not only start off probably with more spells but with a higher limit on number and level of spells ultimately learnable?

Yes, there are players who'll go against the most tactically effective combination of assets just for the novelty or the roleplaying value. But they ain't the majority, at least not in my observation and experience. Gamers like their effectiveness too much.

Yeah. If character generation is choose race and then roll dice for each stat in order, then groups will get some dwarven bards at maybe half the rate of other races. There's a 20% chance that 3d6+2 isn't higher than 3d6-2, to illustrate. But if it is some form of roll and arrange (which was the most common even in the 2E era), standard array, or point buy, then choosing a dwarven bard is ineffective game play. It's always better to take the boost in your highest stat. In my experience, few players do break with that, and even those willing to consider it won't do so regularly.

I'm fine with random roll in order, but if you're going to have choice (like roll and arrange), then there's no reason to penalize dwarven bards. It doesn't create a representative probability - it's just injecting more system mastery and/or limiting choices.

Stephen Tannhauser

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #32 on: April 19, 2022, 02:07:41 PM »
I'm fine with random roll in order, but if you're going to have choice (like roll and arrange), then there's no reason to penalize dwarven bards. It doesn't create a representative probability - it's just injecting more system mastery and/or limiting choices.

Good point. I'm reminded of the old CHA 17 requirement limit on being paladins, for example, or (for a rather more obscure example) the 80%+ likelihood that anybody creating a magic-wielding character in Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys/Mythus fantasy RPG would have to settle for a Partial Practitioner, whose capacities were profoundly (and, more annoyingly, permanently) limited in comparison to the rather devastating Full Practitioner.

In principle things like this are meant to reinforce the rarity of the character type in the game's implied setting. In practice they tend far more often to feel like arbitrary and frustrating limits on how one is allowed to play the game.
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Pat

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #33 on: April 19, 2022, 04:28:06 PM »
I'm fine with random roll in order, but if you're going to have choice (like roll and arrange), then there's no reason to penalize dwarven bards. It doesn't create a representative probability - it's just injecting more system mastery and/or limiting choices.

Good point. I'm reminded of the old CHA 17 requirement limit on being paladins, for example, or (for a rather more obscure example) the 80%+ likelihood that anybody creating a magic-wielding character in Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys/Mythus fantasy RPG would have to settle for a Partial Practitioner, whose capacities were profoundly (and, more annoyingly, permanently) limited in comparison to the rather devastating Full Practitioner.

In principle things like this are meant to reinforce the rarity of the character type in the game's implied setting. In practice they tend far more often to feel like arbitrary and frustrating limits on how one is allowed to play the game.
You just need to treat PCs as disposable.

It could even be fun to randomly roll your character's max level at the start of the game. Instead of dwarves being limited, it might be Bob the Human. It could impact how you play the character, in interesting ways.

Wrath of God

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #34 on: May 12, 2022, 12:37:30 PM »
Quote
Fact is, most players concerned with being as effective as possible in a chosen method will make the character generation choices which best support that method. Why be an orc wizard with -2 INT when you can be an elven wizard with +2 INT, and not only start off probably with more spells but with a higher limit on number and level of spells ultimately learnable?

Yes, there are players who'll go against the most tactically effective combination of assets just for the novelty or the roleplaying value. But they ain't the majority, at least not in my observation and experience. Gamers like their effectiveness too much.

Well... so what? Rollplayers gonna mini-max their games if there's anything to mini-max, nothing you can do about it.
Making everything flat won't really help with their problem.

Quote
Yeah. If character generation is choose race and then roll dice for each stat in order, then groups will get some dwarven bards at maybe half the rate of other races. There's a 20% chance that 3d6+2 isn't higher than 3d6-2, to illustrate. But if it is some form of roll and arrange (which was the most common even in the 2E era), standard array, or point buy, then choosing a dwarven bard is ineffective game play. It's always better to take the boost in your highest stat. In my experience, few players do break with that, and even those willing to consider it won't do so regularly.

Randomization of race / attributes / class is therefore strongest option ;)

Quote
I'm fine with random roll in order, but if you're going to have choice (like roll and arrange), then there's no reason to penalize dwarven bards. It doesn't create a representative probability - it's just injecting more system mastery and/or limiting choices.

D&D is game based around hefty tacical wargame engine... I want system mastery and uneven choices. Otherwise main part of game is just flat.
I mean 16 as starting Cha for Bard is good stat in basically any D&D.

Quote
In principle things like this are meant to reinforce the rarity of the character type in the game's implied setting. In practice they tend far more often to feel like arbitrary and frustrating limits on how one is allowed to play the game.

Limits can be always removed under Golden Rule really. It's better to make more precise, more limiting base and let people tinker with it - than just grand mass of whatever in my belief.
If races don't matter then... why even have non-humans really.
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Stephen Tannhauser

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #35 on: May 13, 2022, 12:11:31 AM »
Rollplayers gonna mini-max their games if there's anything to mini-max, nothing you can do about it. Making everything flat won't really help with their problem.

Agreed. I'm just pointing out that as long as certain racial templates favour min-maxing for certain combinations, the critique of "race essentialism" is going to have a certain superficial plausibility.

As noted, this can be mitigated by making a racial template a list of optional features rather than mandatory ones, but as you note below, the less consistent and distinctive a racial template the less appeal it will have, to the point where if there is no necessary difference there's little real point to having it at all. (This also loses one of the biggest game design functions of a template in the first place, which is to speed up character creation by cutting down on the decisions you have to make during the process.)

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Randomization of race / attributes / class is therefore strongest option ;)

If the goal is to create a party that realistically represents the distributions the game designer wants the world to have, absolutely. If the goal is to create a game that people are actually going to want to play, well, there's nothing more frustrating than really wanting to play a mage or a paladin or some other specific character type that the dice will only give you on average once in a blue moon, and it does reduce player appeal.
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jhkim

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #36 on: May 13, 2022, 01:24:50 AM »
I'm fine with random roll in order, but if you're going to have choice (like roll and arrange), then there's no reason to penalize dwarven bards. It doesn't create a representative probability - it's just injecting more system mastery and/or limiting choices.

D&D is game based around hefty tacical wargame engine... I want system mastery and uneven choices. Otherwise main part of game is just flat.
I mean 16 as starting Cha for Bard is good stat in basically any D&D.

I prefer that in a wargame, the system mastery should be for in-character choices during the game - not meta-game character creation. I don't want winners and losers based on who chose the right race for their character. Players should start out more-or-less equal as of character generation, and then tactics and system mastery applies for how well they accomplish things in the game.

I agree that 16 starting Cha for a bard is playable - but if 18 starting Cha is available as a choice, why wouldn't you choose 18 instead of 16? I think starting characters should be more-or-less balanced, rather than deliberately making it so that certain race/class combinations are more effective than others. Perfect balance is impossible, but that doesn't mean that one shouldn't try to at least balance out the most blatant effects.

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #37 on: May 13, 2022, 04:07:26 AM »
Quote
I agree that 16 starting Cha for a bard is playable - but if 18 starting Cha is available as a choice, why wouldn't you choose 18 instead of 16? I think starting characters should be more-or-less balanced, rather than deliberately making it so that certain race/class combinations are more effective than others. Perfect balance is impossible, but that doesn't mean that one shouldn't try to at least balance out the most blatant effects.

I have totally opposite sentiment. For me game should be imbalanced, and power level varying heavy, but there should be enough useful stuff, even powerful character cannot really cover all the bases.

Quote
Agreed. I'm just pointing out that as long as certain racial templates favour min-maxing for certain combinations, the critique of "race essentialism" is going to have a certain superficial plausibility.

Certain mitigation of it, could be born from some dunno special feats that are allowed for specific options of class/race and so on.
But you know wokesters are angry because it's WACISM. People who are really into both VERY SPECIFIC CONCEPTS and MINI MAXING gonna be angry their concepts are not that mini-maxed.
I shrug honestly. -2 to Cha for dwarves gives you notion they are generally less charming and influential socially, and it's not nearly enough to make Cha based characters really really weaker.

Difference between minimaxed human bard and dwarven bard is 1 on roll. Considering how swing d20 rolls are, any mini maxing dwarven bard whining about how this difference make dwarven bard unplayable deserves boot.

Now we can discuss dunno -4 Int for pureblood orcs as real problem with them being wizards (because spellcaps). But if you whine about 16 in your primary at level 1 - you deserve to be wiped out from multiversal memory ;)

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I prefer that in a wargame, the system mastery should be for in-character choices during the game - not meta-game character creation. I don't want winners and losers based on who chose the right race for their character. Players should start out more-or-less equal as of character generation, and then tactics and system mastery applies for how well they accomplish things in the game.

If you play D&D as a poor wargame then you minimax everything to hell. If you play it normally, then you just don't care about lack of one +1 to roll.
TBH I can totally imagine wargame where you kinda roll your units, like some card games where you not collect, but randomize your hand and then deal with it.
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PSIandCO

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #38 on: May 28, 2022, 10:25:27 PM »
Even France's PM has stated that Wokeism is America's worst export. France used to be way Left of the US!

There is a Nostradamus prophecy that describes the wave of islamic "refugees" wreaking havoc all over Europe,
And only one nation will successfully oppose them, France. Nostra calls the islamic invaders "The Cammel"...
The wheloon* (? I dunno) French who strive to protect france, french art, french culture, french faiths, french language uses the "rooster" or "Cock" heraldry symbol. "The cock shall ruin them"...
the actual quatrain describes The camel invading europe and mentions rivers here and there, mountains here and there, and the general chaos the
Sand "people" animal fuckers start. At some point, the french get mad enough to to nuke.

The holy bible, ISAIAH  the prophet, says something along the lines of "Damascus is wiped from the earth in one day, the people's eyes and tongues burning out of them, even as they stand."
The sand "people" donkey fuckers book (kwhoran) states that Mecca and Medena are instantly and utterly obliterated and allah is utterly powerless to stop this from happening.

It is my hope that some day soon, some towel headed donkey fucker will behead the wrong (Rich as F +politically connected) person whilst crying
"My anus for allah" or whatever the sand nigs say and finally trigger these french "surrendercrats" into fulfilling these prophecies.

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #39 on: May 29, 2022, 06:52:51 AM »
Even France's PM has stated that Wokeism is America's worst export. France used to be way Left of the US!

There is a Nostradamus prophecy that describes the wave of islamic "refugees" wreaking havoc all over Europe,
And only one nation will successfully oppose them, France. Nostra calls the islamic invaders "The Cammel"...
The wheloon* (? I dunno) French who strive to protect france, french art, french culture, french faiths, french language uses the "rooster" or "Cock" heraldry symbol. "The cock shall ruin them"...
the actual quatrain describes The camel invading europe and mentions rivers here and there, mountains here and there, and the general chaos the
Sand "people" animal fuckers start. At some point, the french get mad enough to to nuke.

The holy bible, ISAIAH  the prophet, says something along the lines of "Damascus is wiped from the earth in one day, the people's eyes and tongues burning out of them, even as they stand."
The sand "people" donkey fuckers book (kwhoran) states that Mecca and Medena are instantly and utterly obliterated and allah is utterly powerless to stop this from happening.

It is my hope that some day soon, some towel headed donkey fucker will behead the wrong (Rich as F +politically connected) person whilst crying
"My anus for allah" or whatever the sand nigs say and finally trigger these french "surrendercrats" into fulfilling these prophecies.

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SHARK

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #40 on: May 29, 2022, 12:51:04 PM »
Greetings!

*SIGH*

PSIandCO unfortunately got sucked in and devoured.

Semper Fidelis,

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #41 on: May 30, 2022, 12:02:46 AM »
I'm quite cool with race essentialism for fantasy & alien races.

I want my non-humans to be...not human.

And if that bothers retards, kewl.

As for min/max crap, that's been with us since forever. There's no good answer. Even rewarding players who play "oddballs" causes its own issues. It will always come down to individual groups and their particular group dynamic.

If you as a GM don't want min/max issues at the table, then pick a game where that's less of an issue, or curate the chargen process.

Personally, I find it interesting for uber-specific characters to find themselves in situations where their min/max can't save them and the player discovers the value in teamwork or roleplay or making more well-rounded PCs. 


RandyB

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #42 on: May 30, 2022, 10:37:52 AM »
... curate the chargen process.

This is part of the GMs job, full stop. And it solves-by-prevention so many potential problems.

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #43 on: May 30, 2022, 04:18:20 PM »
I'm quite cool with race essentialism for fantasy & alien races.

I want my non-humans to be...not human.

And if that bothers retards, kewl.

As for min/max crap, that's been with us since forever. There's no good answer. Even rewarding players who play "oddballs" causes its own issues. It will always come down to individual groups and their particular group dynamic.

If you as a GM don't want min/max issues at the table, then pick a game where that's less of an issue, or curate the chargen process.

Personally, I find it interesting for uber-specific characters to find themselves in situations where their min/max can't save them and the player discovers the value in teamwork or roleplay or making more well-rounded PCs.
A lot of times I don't find attempts to create genuine aliens convincing unless they are radically non-human (e.g. giant bugs or energy beings). Most of the attempts to be inhuman come across as confusing nature with nurture and applying specific cultural traits across an entire species. For that matter, non-humans are generally assumed to have a single species-wide culture.

Human cultures can get pretty diverse and challenge what our enlightened Western civilization considers normal human behavior. For example, in cultures where women routinely go topless breasts are not sexualized like they are in the West, which neatly disproves all those bunk scientific studies claiming than men are hardwired to sexualize breasts. Aside from being social creatures with thoughts and feelings, we have no clue what human behavior is hardwired and what is socialized.

So trying to make non-humans non-human when we don't even know what is essentially human... well, it's not a good foundation.

Pat

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Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
« Reply #44 on: May 30, 2022, 04:36:32 PM »
I'm quite cool with race essentialism for fantasy & alien races.

I want my non-humans to be...not human.

And if that bothers retards, kewl.

As for min/max crap, that's been with us since forever. There's no good answer. Even rewarding players who play "oddballs" causes its own issues. It will always come down to individual groups and their particular group dynamic.

If you as a GM don't want min/max issues at the table, then pick a game where that's less of an issue, or curate the chargen process.

Personally, I find it interesting for uber-specific characters to find themselves in situations where their min/max can't save them and the player discovers the value in teamwork or roleplay or making more well-rounded PCs.
A lot of times I don't find attempts to create genuine aliens convincing unless they are radically non-human (e.g. giant bugs or energy beings). Most of the attempts to be inhuman come across as confusing nature with nurture and applying specific cultural traits across an entire species. For that matter, non-humans are generally assumed to have a single species-wide culture.

Human cultures can get pretty diverse and challenge what our enlightened Western civilization considers normal human behavior. For example, in cultures where women routinely go topless breasts are not sexualized like they are in the West, which neatly disproves all those bunk scientific studies claiming than men are hardwired to sexualize breasts. Aside from being social creatures with thoughts and feelings, we have no clue what human behavior is hardwired and what is socialized.

So trying to make non-humans non-human when we don't even know what is essentially human... well, it's not a good foundation.
So your argument is breasts are a social construct? That's a patently absurd argument. And while there's a lot we don't know about human behavior, we do know a lot. The problem is you're trying to draw a false dichotomy. Almost all our hardwiring seems to be tendencies, not absolutes. There's almost nothing we can point to say and that's an absolute universal. But we can still draw conclusions, and point to near-ubiquitous universals like incest taboos or fear of snakes.

And the discussion about the nature of the alien runs up against the limits of the medium. RPGs are low-bandwidth: You can write all the pages you want about some alien concept, and players will zone out, and turn it into a soundbite. They also bring their own preconceptions and stereotypes to the game, and that will often override any attempt at subtlety -- "I want to play an elf" trumps nuanced worldbuilding. You'll be lucky if you make one or two significant changes to a race, and make them stick.

That's why broad stereotypes, exaggerated focus on one human characteristic, and monocultures exist in RPGs. It's what the medium supports. If you want to create an alien culture with the diversity and range of all human cultures, you're going to have to write a book or a monograph; it simply won't work at the table.