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Fan Forums => The RPGPundit's Own Forum => Topic started by: thornad on April 03, 2022, 01:18:47 AM

Title: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: thornad on April 03, 2022, 01:18:47 AM
Clayton Whittle (He/Him) Learning Designer, Game Designer, and Design Researcher, Phd candidate at Penn State University, claims “Racial essentialism is, at its core, the idea that racial identity determines the path we take in life,”.

“In the most egregious of real world examples, we can point to the absolutely disgusting practices of scientific racism, the pseudoscientific pursuit of empirical evidence that one ethnicity can be biologically inferior to another,” he continued.

https://boundingintocomics.com/2022/03/25/north-american-simulation-and-gaming-association-author-claims-dungeons-dragons-promotes-race-essentialism-because-humans-cannot-realistically-imagine-a-completely-disconnected-reality/ (https://boundingintocomics.com/2022/03/25/north-american-simulation-and-gaming-association-author-claims-dungeons-dragons-promotes-race-essentialism-because-humans-cannot-realistically-imagine-a-completely-disconnected-reality/)


Original paper:
https://archive.ph/2PSiD
 (https://archive.ph/2PSiD)
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Wrath of God on April 03, 2022, 03:37:45 PM
Most definitely +2 or -2 to attribute is enough to determine fate and path of all race.
I mean obviously dwarven bard is impossible, as they have -2 Cha, simmilarily orc wizard with Int penalty - c'est impossible.

Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: BoxCrayonTales on April 03, 2022, 03:39:55 PM
Another article questions this narrative: https://areomagazine.com/2022/02/04/evil-orcs-accusations-of-racism-in-dungeons-and-dragons/

It seems humans really can imagine a completely disconnected reality, even if we don't want to.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: tenbones on April 03, 2022, 04:06:16 PM
Let's hope this guy never reads any fairy tales.

Of course he can then write more "studies" that claim things like "aging non-males have significant chances to abusing children, including cannibalism, child trafficking, child-slavery, and abuse by making them live in shoes."

Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: GeekyBugle on April 03, 2022, 04:49:52 PM
Clayton Whittle (He/Him) Learning Designer, Game Designer, and Design Researcher, Phd candidate at Penn State University, claims “Racial essentialism is, at its core, the idea that racial identity determines the path we take in life,”.

“In the most egregious of real world examples, we can point to the absolutely disgusting practices of scientific racism, the pseudoscientific pursuit of empirical evidence that one ethnicity can be biologically inferior to another,” he continued.

https://boundingintocomics.com/2022/03/25/north-american-simulation-and-gaming-association-author-claims-dungeons-dragons-promotes-race-essentialism-because-humans-cannot-realistically-imagine-a-completely-disconnected-reality/ (https://boundingintocomics.com/2022/03/25/north-american-simulation-and-gaming-association-author-claims-dungeons-dragons-promotes-race-essentialism-because-humans-cannot-realistically-imagine-a-completely-disconnected-reality/)


Original paper:
https://archive.ph/2PSiD
 (https://archive.ph/2PSiD)

Pronouns in Bio, opinions discarded.

In regards to the bolded text, so Critical Race "Theory"!?

I have years screaming how "White Privilege" is nothing but racism, it assumes we non-whites can't compete with whitey.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Shasarak on April 03, 2022, 05:04:40 PM
Clayton Whittle (He/Him) Learning Designer, Game Designer, and Design Researcher, Phd candidate at Penn State University, claims “Racial essentialism is, at its core, the idea that racial identity determines the path we take in life,”.

“In the most egregious of real world examples, we can point to the absolutely disgusting practices of scientific racism, the pseudoscientific pursuit of empirical evidence that one ethnicity can be biologically inferior to another,” he continued.

This guy is going to absolutely lose his mind when he gets to the Class chapter:

"Class identity determines the path we take in life"
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Trond on April 03, 2022, 06:05:46 PM
Quote
Racial essentialism is, at its core, the idea that racial identity determines the path we take in life,” began Whittle.

Doesn't that mean that CRT is racial essentialism?
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: jeff37923 on April 03, 2022, 07:25:59 PM
Clayton Whittle (He/Him) Learning Designer, Game Designer, and Design Researcher, Phd candidate at Penn State University, claims “Racial essentialism is, at its core, the idea that racial identity determines the path we take in life,”.

“In the most egregious of real world examples, we can point to the absolutely disgusting practices of scientific racism, the pseudoscientific pursuit of empirical evidence that one ethnicity can be biologically inferior to another,” he continued.

https://boundingintocomics.com/2022/03/25/north-american-simulation-and-gaming-association-author-claims-dungeons-dragons-promotes-race-essentialism-because-humans-cannot-realistically-imagine-a-completely-disconnected-reality/ (https://boundingintocomics.com/2022/03/25/north-american-simulation-and-gaming-association-author-claims-dungeons-dragons-promotes-race-essentialism-because-humans-cannot-realistically-imagine-a-completely-disconnected-reality/)


Original paper:
https://archive.ph/2PSiD
 (https://archive.ph/2PSiD)

I thought that Penn State made sub sandwiches......

(https://www.penn-station.com/images/logo.png)
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Nephil on April 03, 2022, 07:42:37 PM
Clayton Whittle (He/Him) Learning Designer, Game Designer, and Design Researcher, Phd candidate at Penn State University, claims “Racial essentialism is, at its core, the idea that racial identity determines the path we take in life,”.

“In the most egregious of real world examples, we can point to the absolutely disgusting practices of scientific racism, the pseudoscientific pursuit of empirical evidence that one ethnicity can be biologically inferior to another,” he continued.

https://boundingintocomics.com/2022/03/25/north-american-simulation-and-gaming-association-author-claims-dungeons-dragons-promotes-race-essentialism-because-humans-cannot-realistically-imagine-a-completely-disconnected-reality/ (https://boundingintocomics.com/2022/03/25/north-american-simulation-and-gaming-association-author-claims-dungeons-dragons-promotes-race-essentialism-because-humans-cannot-realistically-imagine-a-completely-disconnected-reality/)


Original paper:
https://archive.ph/2PSiD
 (https://archive.ph/2PSiD)

I thought that Penn State made sub sandwiches......

(https://www.penn-station.com/images/logo.png)

The way things are going, the graduates are only fit to make sandwiches.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: jeff37923 on April 03, 2022, 07:44:03 PM
...
(https://scontent-atl3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t39.30808-6/277573571_1329038040933495_2377008587786205915_n.jpg?_nc_cat=108&ccb=1-5&_nc_sid=5cd70e&_nc_ohc=IGOW5RJ9zjwAX9t5TMT&_nc_ht=scontent-atl3-1.xx&oh=00_AT-Y1Ggltbfzf-PmP46YgTI0JLjJRlNXLzreSv9nTof1PA&oe=624E71B3)
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Zelen on April 04, 2022, 12:37:29 AM
Pronouns in bio, opinion disregarded. 100% accurate way to disregard idiots.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: thornad on April 04, 2022, 02:12:33 AM
The way things are going, the graduates are only fit to make sandwiches.

I wish this were true. Sadly corporations are creating homes for these people in "fairness & equity" departments to spread their misery on their employees and the rest of society. Well paid I might add.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: thornad on April 04, 2022, 02:13:42 AM
Pronouns in Bio, opinions discarded.

I know, right?
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Ghostmaker on April 04, 2022, 08:02:54 AM
The way things are going, the graduates are only fit to make sandwiches.

I wish this were true. Sadly corporations are creating homes for these people in "fairness & equity" departments to spread their misery on their employees and the rest of society. Well paid I might add.
However, it's the same problem those gender studies graduates have; there are only so many positions and departments to staff. And they are resource drains on the company.

But yeah, in the interim the wokeists will hire other wokeists to keep parasitizing the productives.

That being said... I wonder if they know that you can roll up non-optimal race/class combinations and still have fun with them?
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: oggsmash on April 04, 2022, 08:52:31 AM
   Maybe this guy should turn his incredibly analytical and scholarly mind towards the NFL and NBA to point out what a fallacy those sorts of ideas are instead of a fantasy RPG.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on April 04, 2022, 12:36:46 PM
However, it's the same problem those gender studies graduates have; there are only so many positions and departments to staff. And they are resource drains on the company.
Except the departments are ballooning and positions like diversity consultants are exploding in the private sector. It's a growth industry.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Skullking on April 04, 2022, 01:48:06 PM
Except the departments are ballooning and positions like diversity consultants are exploding in the private sector. It's a growth industry.

AKA: Grifting.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: thornad on April 04, 2022, 04:28:33 PM
However, it's the same problem those gender studies graduates have; there are only so many positions and departments to staff. And they are resource drains on the company.
Except the departments are ballooning and positions like diversity consultants are exploding in the private sector. It's a growth industry.

This is true. And now it is starting to infect companies in Japan. I thought Japan would be a safe haven from wokeism.

Even France's PM has stated that Wokeism is America's worst export. France used to be way Left of the US!
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Chris24601 on April 05, 2022, 08:38:41 AM
However, it's the same problem those gender studies graduates have; there are only so many positions and departments to staff. And they are resource drains on the company.
Except the departments are ballooning and positions like diversity consultants are exploding in the private sector. It's a growth industry.

This is true. And now it is starting to infect companies in Japan. I thought Japan would be a safe haven from wokeism.

Even France's PM has stated that Wokeism is America's worst export. France used to be way Left of the US!
Discount the media bullhorn and the US still isn’t Left. A lot of the center to center-right are just hoping this all just passes them over like a bad storm.

But the collapse is coming (look up what’s happening in Sri Lanka who’s got the same debt to GDP ratio as the US, it just lacks the petrodollar and reserve currency status which the Biden regime is intent on tanking) and when it does, I would not want to be one of the Leftist “elites” when the food shortages start in a country that is heavily armed.

They say civilization is just 9 missed meals from complete anarchy. When the EBT cards stop working (or can’t even buy a loaf of bread) I would not want to be anywhere near a big city.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: thornad on April 05, 2022, 11:48:17 AM
Discount the media bullhorn and the US still isn’t Left. A lot of the center to center-right are just hoping this all just passes them over like a bad storm.

I tend to agree. Even polls that show support for very Left wing issues are heavily biased in the way the polls are worded to get the Left wing result the pollsters want. I used to think of myself as center Left, but that center of gravity has shifted so far over I don't know anymore.


They say civilization is just 9 missed meals from complete anarchy. When the EBT cards stop working (or can’t even buy a loaf of bread) I would not want to be anywhere near a big city.

I hope it doesn't come to this. I'm generally optimistic but I do not see how we don't pay the bill for shutting the economy down for 2 years, and then elected a radically far Left administration. And then doubling down on shutting down the global economy for what is going on now in central Europe. When the dollar is no longer on the oil standard Americans will be in for a rude awakening.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Willmark on April 07, 2022, 08:39:32 PM
Discount the media bullhorn and the US still isn’t Left. A lot of the center to center-right are just hoping this all just passes them over like a bad storm.

I tend to agree. Even polls that show support for very Left wing issues are heavily biased in the way the polls are worded to get the Left wing result the pollsters want. I used to think of myself as center Left, but that center of gravity has shifted so far over I don't know anymore.


They say civilization is just 9 missed meals from complete anarchy. When the EBT cards stop working (or can’t even buy a loaf of bread) I would not want to be anywhere near a big city.

I hope it doesn't come to this. I'm generally optimistic but I do not see how we don't pay the bill for shutting the economy down for 2 years, and then elected a radically far Left administration. And then doubling down on shutting down the global economy for what is going on now in central Europe. When the dollar is no longer on the oil standard Americans will be in for a rude awakening.
America peaked roughly around late 1972/early 1973 (could be argued it was July 1969 with Apollo 11). We've been on a downward trajectory for decades. Now its simply arguing about who's to blame for the collapse. Not a bad run from 1945-1973 really.

Whoever's team is in control of the WH its their job to tout their "achievements" of their team as if they are the only ones who can "save America!" Meanwhile, some of us, a very few of us who aren't on either team see that neither the Democrat or the Republicans are singled handedly destroying America, they are using both hands to do it.

I will say that Team Blue sure does want things to implode more than Team Red. After all their dreams of all electric vehicles means no more mean nasty wars for oil! Of course even on this site, left leaning members and those that deny they are left leaning can't even tell us where all this electricity is coming from? Unicorn farts? We are on a gaming site so maybe Ki-rin farts? they do inhabit the air after all. But First Edition MM has them listed as No. Appearing 1, so maybe not...

ETA: to build off the "nine means from anarchy". So spot on its not even funny. If you live in a major city or Europe for that matter? Its already too late, you're already screwed.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Chris24601 on April 08, 2022, 09:31:54 AM
The only way electric vehicles make sense is if it’s preceded by the construction of as many nuclear powerplants as would be needed to support the fleet.

Even then, we need some sort of quantum leap in battery technology for anything other than short range transportation to be viable. Battery tech has been stalled for decades and even the newest prospects can’t come close to matching the energy density of fossil fuels.

And it’s not like we’re going to run out of fossil fuels either; go look up the Deep Hot Biosphere for some insight on that (short-version; oil/gas is constantly being produced as some of the waste products of microbial life deep underground). And given how clean we’ve been able to get it to burn and how relatively low the CO2 levels in the atmosphere compared to other points in history (the alarmists conveniently forget that there were millions of years where Earth had 2-3 times the atmospheric CO2 and no polar ice caps at all and yet life thrived during that time).

All of this idiocy is about control and enriching the people invested in “green energy” (never mind that solar panels take more energy to create than they ever produce and degrade into compounds more toxic than nuclear waste… they’re “green” because all the pollution isn’t in our elites’ back yards).
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: BoxCrayonTales on April 08, 2022, 09:54:20 AM
And given how clean we’ve been able to get it to burn and how relatively low the CO2 levels in the atmosphere compared to other points in history (the alarmists conveniently forget that there were millions of years where Earth had 2-3 times the atmospheric CO2 and no polar ice caps at all and yet life thrived during that time).
Yeah, after everything that couldn't adapt was wiped out. We're currently living in the middle of a mass extinction that was clearly caused by human activities. If we don't switch all our power generation to nuclear by the end of the decade, then we'll pass the tipping point where we could halt the extinction.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: GeekyBugle on April 08, 2022, 01:51:52 PM
And given how clean we’ve been able to get it to burn and how relatively low the CO2 levels in the atmosphere compared to other points in history (the alarmists conveniently forget that there were millions of years where Earth had 2-3 times the atmospheric CO2 and no polar ice caps at all and yet life thrived during that time).
Yeah, after everything that couldn't adapt was wiped out. We're currently living in the middle of a mass extinction that was clearly caused by human activities. If we don't switch all our power generation to nuclear by the end of the decade, then we'll pass the tipping point where we could halt the extinction.

So we're doomed then, there's no way the first world could build in 8 years enough nuclear plants for themselves, and they aren't the ones doing the most pollution anyway. Good luck with building enough nuclear plants for the third world/developing nations.

And that's even if you managed to convince politicians to stop paying attention to the eco-fascists/monetary interests that buy them up.

According to the NEA (Nuclear Energy Agency) it takes between 5 to 7 years to build a large nuclear plant, how much more for all the red tape? How much more for all the eco-fascist funded lawsuits to take course?

If what you say is true then we're already fucked.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: BoxCrayonTales on April 08, 2022, 02:24:45 PM
If what you say is true then we're already fucked.
All the data seems to suggest so. Scientists have been saying that humanity is destroying the planets for decades, but nobody listened and we're going to pay the price for our hubris. If we had all switched to nuclear decades ago, then we could have delayed the ecological collapse plenty long enough to develop a sustainable civilization.

If we want to avoid human extinction, then the cost will be much greater than it could have been if we had done the smart thing decades ago. Now we're going to need to waste a ton of effort on carbon scrubbers and genetic engineering the biosphere that wouldn't have been necessary under a nuclear paradigm.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: SHARK on April 08, 2022, 02:49:08 PM
Greetings!

Humankind going extinct?

*Yawn* GOOD! *Laughing*

A gigantic meteor could strike the earth tomorrow and there isn't a fucking thing anyone could do to prevent it. Gigantic meteor striking the earth=instant annihilation of virtually everything. Cockroaches and rats might survive, and scorpions--but humans would be fucked for sure.

I am not worried in the slightest about not having enough nuclear plants, or all the eco-climate bullshit. It's all grifting bullshit. Humans are not going to go extinct in the next 20 years, or the next 100 years--unless a gigantic meteor strikes the earth, as previously mentioned. All of the climate hysteria is exactly that--hysteria pumped up so that the grifters can rape and plunder the millions of gullible sheep.

All of that being said--there are some definite problems and challenges that human society needs to work on and improve--from air quality to the depletion of entire zones in the ocean--to the over-fishing and wiping out of much-needed kinds of fish and sea-life. The depletion and deforestation of critically important rainforests in South America, for example, which produce oxygen and help to clean the planet--is an issue that needs to be addressed in a responsible manner. All of these things are worthy causes and efforts to make to help in such areas--but they need to be approached with sober-minded seriousness, acute skills, creativity, resoluteness, and dedication--without the fucking grifting, crazy ideology, and shrieking hysteria.

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Chris24601 on April 08, 2022, 04:21:37 PM
And given how clean we’ve been able to get it to burn and how relatively low the CO2 levels in the atmosphere compared to other points in history (the alarmists conveniently forget that there were millions of years where Earth had 2-3 times the atmospheric CO2 and no polar ice caps at all and yet life thrived during that time).
Yeah, after everything that couldn't adapt was wiped out. We're currently living in the middle of a mass extinction that was clearly caused by human activities. If we don't switch all our power generation to nuclear by the end of the decade, then we'll pass the tipping point where we could halt the extinction.
They’ve been saying that we’d all be dead from environmental destruction within 10-15 years unless we subjected ourselves completely to their rule for the last 50 years. Remember when it was global cooling in the 70’s? then it was global warming because we had a few hot years and if we didn’t get rid of fossil fuels we’d all be underwater? now it’s climate change because they don’t have to keep changing it every time there’s a solar minimum or maximum?

How about when they said in 1988 that all the oceans would be dead by 1998 if we didn’t abandon fossil fuels? How about when they claimed all the glaciers in Glacier National Park would be gone due to global warming by 2020?

Now the deadline for extinction unless we bow to the fascists is 2030, but they’ll revise it in a few years with the latest claim of Armageddon always conveniently 10-15 years out.

It’s all a load of horse shit. It always has been. It’s all about grifters and control freaks finding ways to profit off a fake crisis. A lot of the stock in the so-called green energy companies is in the hands of the friends and relatives of the same politicians pushing funding for “green energy.” It’s mostly being pushed by WEF totalitarians who are using environmental threats to push their Great Reset… you’ll own nothing (they will own everything) and you’ll be happy (or else).
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Shrieking Banshee on April 08, 2022, 07:14:12 PM
I aproach a simpler: dump less shit in the X angle. Less plastic in the ocean, and mercury in the air, less arsenic in the forest.

And generally not consuming needlessly and being more renewable is solid enough way to live, without needing to submit to "experts".
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Wrath of God on April 08, 2022, 07:20:08 PM
Quote
A gigantic meteor could strike the earth tomorrow and there isn't a fucking thing anyone could do to prevent it. Gigantic meteor striking the earth=instant annihilation of virtually everything. Cockroaches and rats might survive, and scorpions--but humans would be fucked for sure.

If cockroaches, rats and scorpions shall live - so shall human beings.
But if estimations we can fuck planet's albedo are possible - then only chemosynthesis bacteria shall survive. So generally - no massive meteor so far really shown potential to wipe humanity. We are not dinosaurs. Even grand extinctions caused by massive shift in ocean's chemistry would not slay us.



Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Willmark on April 09, 2022, 01:16:47 PM
Quote
A gigantic meteor could strike the earth tomorrow and there isn't a fucking thing anyone could do to prevent it. Gigantic meteor striking the earth=instant annihilation of virtually everything. Cockroaches and rats might survive, and scorpions--but humans would be fucked for sure.

If cockroaches, rats and scorpions shall live - so shall human beings.
But if estimations we can fuck planet's albedo are possible - then only chemosynthesis bacteria shall survive. So generally - no massive meteor so far really shown potential to wipe humanity. We are not dinosaurs. Even grand extinctions caused by massive shift in ocean's chemistry would not slay us.
You forgot Twinkies.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Stephen Tannhauser 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.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: jhkim 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.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Stephen Tannhauser 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.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat 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.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Wrath of God 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 ;)

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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.

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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.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Stephen Tannhauser 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.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: jhkim 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.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Wrath of God on May 13, 2022, 04:07:26 AM
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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.

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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.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: PSIandCO 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.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: RPGPundit 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.

Overt racist terms is one of the few things that can get you banned from this site.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: SHARK on May 29, 2022, 12:51:04 PM
Greetings!

*SIGH*

PSIandCO unfortunately got sucked in and devoured.

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Spinachcat 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. 

Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: RandyB 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.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: BoxCrayonTales 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.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat 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.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: SHARK on May 30, 2022, 04:51:18 PM
Greetings!

Creating alien, non-human races and cultures can, at first, seem daunting to create. As for knowing or not knowing human attributes, certainly, there are numerous tendencies that are universal, very wide-spread, as well as historical. Dig into studying History. History is the study largely of human nature, and human nature doesn't change. Technology changes, outer trappings change, but the essential human nature remains.

In concerning alien and non-human races, I usually detail the various appropriate non-human natures of different kinds of animals and creatures--reptiles, dogs, insects, birds, fish, whatever. There are plenty of non-human traits and attributes. Some are humorous, some are horrifying, while many are simply different, being tailored appropriately to the creature's form, environment, and mode of living.

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: BoxCrayonTales on May 30, 2022, 06:54:41 PM
So your argument is breasts are a social construct? That's a patently absurd argument.
That's not my argument. I'm saying that Western psychologists are confusing nature with nurture and coming to conclusions about human nature where they suppose their specific socialized cultural conditioning are universal aspects (or "tendencies") of human nature when that isn't true.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Stephen Tannhauser on May 30, 2022, 07:37:34 PM
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.

That's partly because of sheer practical space limits on any product somebody's actually going to read for entertainment purposes. The more subcultures you create within any given fictional race/species template, the sketchier the description of each subculture is going to be, of necessity, and the more it will be limited to the most important and game-relevant points of difference.

Real human cultures have the advantage of copious available external sources for anyone who wants or needs them, which is why GURPS Swashbucklers can get away with a few paragraphs per country per period when describing its French vs. German PCs.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on May 30, 2022, 08:16:55 PM
So your argument is breasts are a social construct? That's a patently absurd argument.
That's not my argument. I'm saying that Western psychologists are confusing nature with nurture and coming to conclusions about human nature where they suppose their specific socialized cultural conditioning are universal aspects (or "tendencies") of human nature when that isn't true.
Except that's one of the clearest examples of biological sexual signaling. Just compare human breasts to the breasts of a female chimp. They're radically different. The fatty deposits serve a clear evolutionary purpose, and it's not lactation. There are human and racial universals. Yes, they tend to be expressed as tendencies rather than absolutes, but some  are really, really strong.

But while your specific example wasn't good, you are correct in a broader way: Most of us are from WEIRD cultures, or Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. And much of the social sciences is based on WEIRD cultures, because most of the foundational studies used students from the colleges doing the studies, and those students tended to be extreme outliers even within those cultures (very low proportion of conservative Christians or people from poor rural areas, for example). And WEIRD cultures are, based on historical and even current global societies, extreme outliers. A lot of so-called universals aren't.

That's why I try to use historical sources, and read fiction from authors who understand very different cultures (Poul Anderson is a fairly decent example, with his stories based on medieval Christianity), when I want to create cultures that feel different but grounded. And those cultures are the source of most of the fantasy races, like the fey or dwarves.

It's still a lot harder with players, because the default tendency is to impose our own WEIRD culture on everything. In extreme examples, we end up with parties and worlds that feel like they're composed of 2020s humans in cosplay.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: BoxCrayonTales on May 30, 2022, 10:19:30 PM
So your argument is breasts are a social construct? That's a patently absurd argument.
That's not my argument. I'm saying that Western psychologists are confusing nature with nurture and coming to conclusions about human nature where they suppose their specific socialized cultural conditioning are universal aspects (or "tendencies") of human nature when that isn't true.
Except that's one of the clearest examples of biological sexual signaling. Just compare human breasts to the breasts of a female chimp. They're radically different. The fatty deposits serve a clear evolutionary purpose, and it's not lactation. There are human and racial universals. Yes, they tend to be expressed as tendencies rather than absolutes, but some  are really, really strong.

But while your specific example wasn't good
I don't think this is a bad example. You can read the following links if you want insight into my views:
https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/scientists-still-stumped-by-the-evolution-of-human-breasts
https://www.bellybelly.com.au/breastfeeding/the-sexualisation-of-breasts/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topfreedom
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcrV5hc5k3U

I'm not interested in arguing further. Sorry for the tangent.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on May 30, 2022, 11:18:21 PM
I don't think this is a bad example. You can read the following links if you want insight into my views:
Only one of your links has anything to do with biology, and it doesn't even support your position. But since you're not interested in discussing your example further, I'll drop it as well.

I'm still going to argue against the idea that everything is culturally determined. It's not. If elves were a real race, they'd be wired differently than humans. But how do we represent that in a game? Unfortunately, there I don't think we can take what we know of genetics and neuroscience and extract much gameable material. We're a complex web of innate tendencies and learned elements, and we've only started to untangle the two, and what we do know usually translates into hormone X activates receptor Y and that has a 1.2% association with behavior or trait Z, and it also does 300 other things we don't understand that well. To make it even more complex, the expression is often influenced by environmental factors, which means learned and innate are even harder to separate. Translating that into human behavior or traits is like trying to explain a sonnet using quantum theory.

But I think we can distill two lessons: 1) biology matters, and 2) biology isn't destiny. Think of biology as a set of predispositions or tendencies, and culture as an overlay that can creatively reinterpret or even suppress those tendencies, but can't erase them.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: BoxCrayonTales on May 31, 2022, 11:58:12 AM
I don't think everything is culturally determined either, but it's difficult to determine what is and isn't based on our available (and extremely biased) data. This leads to culture-specific social conditioning original from specific points in space and time (what you called "WEIRD") being mistaken as an innate genetic tendency found universally in humans. This leads to false conclusions being drawn about what humans were, are, will be, and can be, which in turn reinforces close-minded attitudes about human nature and our ability to change and adapt. These attitudes can potentially be detrimental, but that's a whole other discussion.

Which doesn't give a very good foundation for imaging how genuine non-human intelligences might operate. In a lot of speculative fiction, non-humans are basically assigned monolithic cultures that are conflated with their biology and little to no attempt to made to explore cultural differences within the species that defy supposed biological truths. I get that it's really easy to default to these stereotypes and that explains their continued prevalence, alongside LotR just being hugely popular and influential and basically reducing most following fantasy fiction to Tolkien-clones. It still frustrates me.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: GeekyBugle on May 31, 2022, 12:06:19 PM
I don't think this is a bad example. You can read the following links if you want insight into my views:
Only one of your links has anything to do with biology, and it doesn't even support your position. But since you're not interested in discussing your example further, I'll drop it as well.

I'm still going to argue against the idea that everything is culturally determined. It's not. If elves were a real race, they'd be wired differently than humans. But how do we represent that in a game? Unfortunately, there I don't think we can take what we know of genetics and neuroscience and extract much gameable material. We're a complex web of innate tendencies and learned elements, and we've only started to untangle the two, and what we do know usually translates into hormone X activates receptor Y and that has a 1.2% association with behavior or trait Z, and it also does 300 other things we don't understand that well. To make it even more complex, the expression is often influenced by environmental factors, which means learned and innate are even harder to separate. Translating that into human behavior or traits is like trying to explain a sonnet using quantum theory.

But I think we can distill two lessons: 1) biology matters, and 2) biology isn't destiny. Think of biology as a set of predispositions or tendencies, and culture as an overlay that can creatively reinterpret or even suppress those tendencies, but can't erase them.

The experiment has been done, Sweden IIRC produces far less women engineers than India, the proportion of women choosing traditional female careers is greater than in other western countries and much larger than in the developing world or third world as long as women are allowed to study (islamic countries don't apply), and it's considered the more egualitarian country.

Human evolution doesn't stop at the neck.

It's why the woke hate Evolutionary Psychology and do everything in their power to discredit it.

Socialization can curb our impulses and in some cases that's a good thing, but it can't change them fundamentally. Or shoulkd I say to change them fundamentally it needs a very long time and it will only happen if said changes improve your chances to reproduce/survive.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: SHARK on May 31, 2022, 12:13:19 PM
I don't think this is a bad example. You can read the following links if you want insight into my views:
Only one of your links has anything to do with biology, and it doesn't even support your position. But since you're not interested in discussing your example further, I'll drop it as well.

I'm still going to argue against the idea that everything is culturally determined. It's not. If elves were a real race, they'd be wired differently than humans. But how do we represent that in a game? Unfortunately, there I don't think we can take what we know of genetics and neuroscience and extract much gameable material. We're a complex web of innate tendencies and learned elements, and we've only started to untangle the two, and what we do know usually translates into hormone X activates receptor Y and that has a 1.2% association with behavior or trait Z, and it also does 300 other things we don't understand that well. To make it even more complex, the expression is often influenced by environmental factors, which means learned and innate are even harder to separate. Translating that into human behavior or traits is like trying to explain a sonnet using quantum theory.

But I think we can distill two lessons: 1) biology matters, and 2) biology isn't destiny. Think of biology as a set of predispositions or tendencies, and culture as an overlay that can creatively reinterpret or even suppress those tendencies, but can't erase them.

Greetings!

Excellent commentary, Pat. I agree.

I'm reminded of what several of my professors in college explained. Biology and Culture are both enormously powerful factors in influencing human beings. Many things absolutely hinge on biology, while many aspects are interpreted and influenced by culture. Where *exactly* such a line exists, where one factor ends and another factor begins, is at least for now, honestly unknowable. I have had biologists, sociologists, anthropologists, and more offer opinions and theories, and all have essentially confirmed such a consensus.

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: BoxCrayonTales on May 31, 2022, 12:51:29 PM
I don't think this is a bad example. You can read the following links if you want insight into my views:
Only one of your links has anything to do with biology, and it doesn't even support your position. But since you're not interested in discussing your example further, I'll drop it as well.

I'm still going to argue against the idea that everything is culturally determined. It's not. If elves were a real race, they'd be wired differently than humans. But how do we represent that in a game? Unfortunately, there I don't think we can take what we know of genetics and neuroscience and extract much gameable material. We're a complex web of innate tendencies and learned elements, and we've only started to untangle the two, and what we do know usually translates into hormone X activates receptor Y and that has a 1.2% association with behavior or trait Z, and it also does 300 other things we don't understand that well. To make it even more complex, the expression is often influenced by environmental factors, which means learned and innate are even harder to separate. Translating that into human behavior or traits is like trying to explain a sonnet using quantum theory.

But I think we can distill two lessons: 1) biology matters, and 2) biology isn't destiny. Think of biology as a set of predispositions or tendencies, and culture as an overlay that can creatively reinterpret or even suppress those tendencies, but can't erase them.

The experiment has been done, Sweden IIRC produces far less women engineers than India, the proportion of women choosing traditional female careers is greater than in other western countries and much larger than in the developing world or third world as long as women are allowed to study (islamic countries don't apply), and it's considered the more egualitarian country.

Human evolution doesn't stop at the neck.

It's why the woke hate Evolutionary Psychology and do everything in their power to discredit it.

Socialization can curb our impulses and in some cases that's a good thing, but it can't change them fundamentally. Or shoulkd I say to change them fundamentally it needs a very long time and it will only happen if said changes improve your chances to reproduce/survive.
Evopsych is mostly pseudoscience. It's a series of just-so stories based on arbitrary (and often faulty) premises that can't be tested the overwhelming majority of the time. Most evopsych hypotheses boil down to "why/how did humans evolve to engage in [insert social conditioning from the asker's WEIRD culture]?"

I say that as someone who genuinely believes the argumentative hypothesis of reasoning (http://imperfectcognitions.blogspot.com/2017/06/hugo-mercier-on-argumentative-theory.html). Long story short: humans invented reasoning to win arguments, not to find truth. Which explains so much of online "discourse."
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on May 31, 2022, 01:12:27 PM
I don't think everything is culturally determined either, but it's difficult to determine what is and isn't based on our available (and extremely biased) data. This leads to culture-specific social conditioning original from specific points in space and time (what you called "WEIRD") being mistaken as an innate genetic tendency found universally in humans. This leads to false conclusions being drawn about what humans were, are, will be, and can be, which in turn reinforces close-minded attitudes about human nature and our ability to change and adapt. These attitudes can potentially be detrimental, but that's a whole other discussion.

Which doesn't give a very good foundation for imaging how genuine non-human intelligences might operate. In a lot of speculative fiction, non-humans are basically assigned monolithic cultures that are conflated with their biology and little to no attempt to made to explore cultural differences within the species that defy supposed biological truths. I get that it's really easy to default to these stereotypes and that explains their continued prevalence, alongside LotR just being hugely popular and influential and basically reducing most following fantasy fiction to Tolkien-clones. It still frustrates me.
I'm ignoring the activism part, because I think the so-called cures are often worse than the disease.

And the WEIRD part isn't really about the incomprehensibility of the alien, but why a lot of current understanding of how humans work isn't universal even within the human experience -- all those psych studies that were done on students in top tier universities in the West are horribly misleading because those students are completely anomalous compared to the rest of the world, and the entire rest of history. Western civilization is a true outlier, in the human experience. You'd have a hard time picking a less representative sample.

But I also agree that extrapolating from what we do know about how the human mind works to truly alien minds is very hard, likely impossible. We have a case study of 1: Us. That tells us very little about what may be possible. That's probably why my favorite science fiction which deals with the concept of the alien often punts. The Strugatsky brothers' Roadside Picnic, Lem's Fiasco, etc. -- they're all about the gulf between the human and the alien, and how it may be fundamentally unbridgeable.

Which is why all the aliens in RPGs are humans in funny suits, with a few minor tweaks. And that's not a bad thing, but it does mean that RPGs are ill-suited to really deal with the truly alien. The best we're likely to get are something like Traveller's aliens, Jorune's whatevers that almost nobody played, or some of the better treatments of the fey or faeries.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on May 31, 2022, 01:27:03 PM
I say that as someone who genuinely believes the argumentative hypothesis of reasoning (http://imperfectcognitions.blogspot.com/2017/06/hugo-mercier-on-argumentative-theory.html). Long story short: humans invented reasoning to win arguments, not to find truth. Which explains so much of online "discourse."
I'd phrase that more as humans developed the ability to argue and support their points in an attempt to rationalize their pre-existing beliefs and convince others, rather than reasoning for the purpose of coming to a rational conclusion. We start with the answer, and use logic to justify it, instead of starting with logic and seeking the correct answer. But beyond a few changes in wording, I agree. We -- all of us, including you and me -- are fundamentally irrational.

Have you read Sapolsky's Behave? It's an extraordinary summary of what we currently know of how people think, using everything from genetics, to neuroscience, endocrinology, anthropology, psychology, sociology, and more. It covers a lot of what I've been talking about regarding genes, brain structure, and the influence of culture, as well as the point you just made, and lots more.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: BoxCrayonTales on May 31, 2022, 01:57:15 PM
I'm ignoring the activism part, because I think the so-called cures are often worse than the disease.
Activists argue tabula rasa not because they're interested in exploring human potential but because they're pornsick istaphobic fascists.

I'm not an activist. I used to think that activists had a point about D&D promoting race essentialism, until I saw the statistics (https://areomagazine.com/2022/02/04/evil-orcs-accusations-of-racism-in-dungeons-and-dragons/) showing that it has no real world implications. Using orcs doesn't have any correlation with racist attitudes.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: GeekyBugle on May 31, 2022, 02:25:58 PM
I'm ignoring the activism part, because I think the so-called cures are often worse than the disease.
Activists argue tabula rasa not because they're interested in exploring human potential but because they're pornsick istaphobic fascists.

I'm not an activist. I used to think that activists had a point about D&D promoting race essentialism, until I saw the statistics (https://areomagazine.com/2022/02/04/evil-orcs-accusations-of-racism-in-dungeons-and-dragons/) showing that it has no real world implications. Using orcs doesn't have any correlation with racist attitudes.

So evopsych is BS but Tabulla rasa is also Bs...

And yet evopsych does have explanatory and prediction powers...
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: jhkim on May 31, 2022, 11:55:01 PM
But I think we can distill two lessons: 1) biology matters, and 2) biology isn't destiny. Think of biology as a set of predispositions or tendencies, and culture as an overlay that can creatively reinterpret or even suppress those tendencies, but can't erase them.

The experiment has been done, Sweden IIRC produces far less women engineers than India, the proportion of women choosing traditional female careers is greater than in other western countries and much larger than in the developing world or third world as long as women are allowed to study (islamic countries don't apply), and it's considered the more egualitarian country.

Human evolution doesn't stop at the neck.

From my view, we don't have to answer the real-life question of nature vs nurture in order to play a game -- and especially, it doesn't have to be encoded into the RPG rules system. If a player wants to play a woman engineer, it doesn't matter if the rules designer thinks that women's brains are genetically encoded to be worse at engineering. The question can and should be passed to the GM and players. If the GM allows a woman engineer as a PC, then the game system should handle it as an equal choice, in my opinion.

The same goes for fantasy races. The game designer doesn't have to enforce how much dwarfness is from the environment of typical dwarven upbringing versus encoded in their dwarf DNA (if dwarves even have DNA). If we're doing straight random-roll, then the dwarf package should reflect how we expect a dwarf PC to be raised. If a GM wants to allow an elf raised in a dwarven community, then the GM can come up with a new package and/or extrapolate. Do they get dwarven knowledge of stonework? The GM can pick.

If characters are designed/chosen (like roll and arrange), then the rules should remain neutral and just try to make options be equal. Can dwarves even be wizards? We can let the GM decide. If dwarves can be wizards, then the rules should try to make dwarven wizards an equal choice in character creation, rather than trying to enforce rarity by game balance.


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.

Sure, most non-human PCs and NPCs will just be humans with funny ears or accents - and the races are likely to be monocultural and thin. But that doesn't mean that those tendencies should be enforced or encouraged by the rules. They can just happen to the degree that the GM and players want.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Stephen Tannhauser on June 01, 2022, 12:34:30 AM
From my view, we don't have to answer the real-life question of nature vs nurture in order to play a game -- and especially, it doesn't have to be encoded into the RPG rules system.

You're right that a game's rules don't have to encode a nature-nurture distinction in order to produce workable characters, but I think it is true that in most settings that make a nod to detail in verisimilitude, this distinction will get acknowledged and explored sooner or later.

Hence I think it's generally inevitable that the rules will define how to make this distinction (albeit without necessarily requiring any one campaign or setting to do so), if only so that the GM has a quick shorthand to distinguish template elements which can be easily changed from those which can't.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: GeekyBugle on June 01, 2022, 01:23:36 AM
But I think we can distill two lessons: 1) biology matters, and 2) biology isn't destiny. Think of biology as a set of predispositions or tendencies, and culture as an overlay that can creatively reinterpret or even suppress those tendencies, but can't erase them.

The experiment has been done, Sweden IIRC produces far less women engineers than India, the proportion of women choosing traditional female careers is greater than in other western countries and much larger than in the developing world or third world as long as women are allowed to study (islamic countries don't apply), and it's considered the more egualitarian country.

Human evolution doesn't stop at the neck.

From my view, we don't have to answer the real-life question of nature vs nurture in order to play a game -- and especially, it doesn't have to be encoded into the RPG rules system. If a player wants to play a woman engineer, it doesn't matter if the rules designer thinks that women's brains are genetically encoded to be worse at engineering. The question can and should be passed to the GM and players. If the GM allows a woman engineer as a PC, then the game system should handle it as an equal choice, in my opinion.

The same goes for fantasy races. The game designer doesn't have to enforce how much dwarfness is from the environment of typical dwarven upbringing versus encoded in their dwarf DNA (if dwarves even have DNA). If we're doing straight random-roll, then the dwarf package should reflect how we expect a dwarf PC to be raised. If a GM wants to allow an elf raised in a dwarven community, then the GM can come up with a new package and/or extrapolate. Do they get dwarven knowledge of stonework? The GM can pick.

If characters are designed/chosen (like roll and arrange), then the rules should remain neutral and just try to make options be equal. Can dwarves even be wizards? We can let the GM decide. If dwarves can be wizards, then the rules should try to make dwarven wizards an equal choice in character creation, rather than trying to enforce rarity by game balance.


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.

Sure, most non-human PCs and NPCs will just be humans with funny ears or accents - and the races are likely to be monocultural and thin. But that doesn't mean that those tendencies should be enforced or encouraged by the rules. They can just happen to the degree that the GM and players want.

Even creation ex nihilo allows for evolution after the fact.

If there's half-elves, half-orcs, etc this implies those are related to humans, ergo ADN. Why would darves be different?

Nothing HAS to, and nothing HAS NOT to.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: jhkim on June 01, 2022, 01:34:08 AM
The same goes for fantasy races. The game designer doesn't have to enforce how much dwarfness is from the environment of typical dwarven upbringing versus encoded in their dwarf DNA (if dwarves even have DNA). If we're doing straight random-roll, then the dwarf package should reflect how we expect a dwarf PC to be raised. If a GM wants to allow an elf raised in a dwarven community, then the GM can come up with a new package and/or extrapolate. Do they get dwarven knowledge of stonework? The GM can pick.

Even creation ex nihilo allows for evolution after the fact.

If there's half-elves, half-orcs, etc this implies those are related to humans, ergo ADN. Why would darves be different?

Nothing HAS to, and nothing HAS NOT to.

Regarding DNA, fantasy worlds often don't work identically to modern science. In some fantasy worlds, the elements are explicitly air/earth/fire/water rather than hydrogen/helium/etc. - and the heavens might be celestial spheres or aether. In Glorantha, elves are animate plants and dwarves are living stone. There are lots of possibilities, as you say.

For a system that is intended to adapt to multiple settings, I think it's better to not build into the rules particular setting assumptions.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: GeekyBugle on June 01, 2022, 01:58:00 AM
The same goes for fantasy races. The game designer doesn't have to enforce how much dwarfness is from the environment of typical dwarven upbringing versus encoded in their dwarf DNA (if dwarves even have DNA). If we're doing straight random-roll, then the dwarf package should reflect how we expect a dwarf PC to be raised. If a GM wants to allow an elf raised in a dwarven community, then the GM can come up with a new package and/or extrapolate. Do they get dwarven knowledge of stonework? The GM can pick.

Even creation ex nihilo allows for evolution after the fact.

If there's half-elves, half-orcs, etc this implies those are related to humans, ergo ADN. Why would darves be different?

Nothing HAS to, and nothing HAS NOT to.

Regarding DNA, fantasy worlds often don't work identically to modern science. In some fantasy worlds, the elements are explicitly air/earth/fire/water rather than hydrogen/helium/etc. - and the heavens might be celestial spheres or aether. In Glorantha, elves are animate plants and dwarves are living stone. There are lots of possibilities, as you say.

For a system that is intended to adapt to multiple settings, I think it's better to not build into the rules particular setting assumptions.

Glorantha ISN'T D&D tho.

SOME Fantasy worlds don't others do follow science up to a point. In D&D in particular you have lead, bronze, iron, steel, alcohol, gold, silver precious gems (the same as earth mostly), etc. And some fantasy materials...

Then you have half-this or that, plus humans with different skin tones... All of which points to evolution AND DNA.

But even if you had plant elves... Plants have DNA, we can't interbreed with them but we also can't interbreed with most mammals and probably only with two primates (chimps and bonobos).

Now lets postulate an alien species, sexually dimorphic, reproduces sexually, even if their biology was totally different from us they would need something LIKE DNA.

As soon as you introduce sexual dimorphism/reproduction you introduce evolution. And we KNOW D&D dwarves (and all other sentient species) have male and female.

So why would their evolution stop at the neck? And don't give me another "because Dragons!" (that's all your last two posts have been).

We KNOW humans can build boats to sail the seas... And yet there's never been a Tibetan navy...

You guys want to have dwarves/elves/halflings/gnomes/kender/etc of all human colors WITHOUT evolution... HOW?
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: BoxCrayonTales on June 01, 2022, 10:10:47 AM
D&D "science" is an incoherent mess that no thought was put into. It's a nonsensical mishmash of obsolete scientific theories like the classical elements as well as modern science like evolution that the classical philosophers had no knowledge of (they thought the world and life in it was eternal and unchanging). It's impossible to make sense of because it's an ad hoc creation rather than a product of first principles.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on June 01, 2022, 11:34:57 AM
D&D "science" is an incoherent mess that no thought was put into. It's a nonsensical mishmash of obsolete scientific theories like the classical elements as well as modern science like evolution that the classical philosophers had no knowledge of (they thought the world and life in it was eternal and unchanging). It's impossible to make sense of because it's an ad hoc creation rather than a product of first principles.
It was written by modern people who have spent their entire lives under the shadow of modern science, and their core assumptions about how our world works form the bedrock for how the fictional worlds of D&D work.

Throwing in a few retro things like the classical elements is the anomaly. Even magic is usually treated like a science, and not like magic.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: jhkim on June 01, 2022, 12:41:49 PM
SOME Fantasy worlds don't others do follow science up to a point. In D&D in particular you have lead, bronze, iron, steel, alcohol, gold, silver precious gems (the same as earth mostly), etc. And some fantasy materials...

Then you have half-this or that, plus humans with different skin tones... All of which points to evolution AND DNA.

But even if you had plant elves... Plants have DNA, we can't interbreed with them but we also can't interbreed with most mammals and probably only with two primates (chimps and bonobos).
As soon as you introduce sexual dimorphism/reproduction you introduce evolution. And we KNOW D&D dwarves (and all other sentient species) have male and female.

So why would their evolution stop at the neck? And don't give me another "because Dragons!" (that's all your last two posts have been).

First of all, in the real world, evolution started long before sexual reproduction.

And I didn't say anything about evolution stopping at the neck. I'm saying that evolution doesn't matter for a game. In the real world, our genetics most certainly affects how we think - but in a game, there's no need for rules differentiating genetics from environment. As GM, I can come up with a complex backstory for my fantasy world where humans evolved mitochondrial DNA encoding a cellular link to magical energy from the eighth dimension, and most likely none of that is going to matter for fantasy adventures.

Also, there can be inheritance and half-breeds without there being modern science or evolution. In a fantasy world, half-elves could be formed by the merging of the divine sparks of a human and elven parent, or the essential bodily humors, or whatever. Elves could be born inherently with their skill with the bow as part of their blood and bone, or it could be taught to them at a young age.


An issue for the game is that the player Lee is asking to play a dwarf wizard. How is that handled in the game? As GM, I can say that he can't play a dwarf wizard because they don't exist in my world or because they are too rare and are NPC-only. Or maybe dwarf wizards are normal, or they're rare but he can still play one. I'm saying that's something for the GM to decide based on his setting.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: GeekyBugle on June 01, 2022, 01:34:31 PM
SOME Fantasy worlds don't others do follow science up to a point. In D&D in particular you have lead, bronze, iron, steel, alcohol, gold, silver precious gems (the same as earth mostly), etc. And some fantasy materials...

Then you have half-this or that, plus humans with different skin tones... All of which points to evolution AND DNA.

But even if you had plant elves... Plants have DNA, we can't interbreed with them but we also can't interbreed with most mammals and probably only with two primates (chimps and bonobos).
As soon as you introduce sexual dimorphism/reproduction you introduce evolution. And we KNOW D&D dwarves (and all other sentient species) have male and female.

So why would their evolution stop at the neck? And don't give me another "because Dragons!" (that's all your last two posts have been).

First of all, in the real world, evolution started long before sexual reproduction.

And I didn't say anything about evolution stopping at the neck. I'm saying that evolution doesn't matter for a game. In the real world, our genetics most certainly affects how we think - but in a game, there's no need for rules differentiating genetics from environment. As GM, I can come up with a complex backstory for my fantasy world where humans evolved mitochondrial DNA encoding a cellular link to magical energy from the eighth dimension, and most likely none of that is going to matter for fantasy adventures.

Also, there can be inheritance and half-breeds without there being modern science or evolution. In a fantasy world, half-elves could be formed by the merging of the divine sparks of a human and elven parent, or the essential bodily humors, or whatever. Elves could be born inherently with their skill with the bow as part of their blood and bone, or it could be taught to them at a young age.


An issue for the game is that the player Lee is asking to play a dwarf wizard. How is that handled in the game? As GM, I can say that he can't play a dwarf wizard because they don't exist in my world or because they are too rare and are NPC-only. Or maybe dwarf wizards are normal, or they're rare but he can still play one. I'm saying that's something for the GM to decide based on his setting.

Yep, evolution starts before sexual reproduction... So why is it that there's none in a fantasy world?

As for dwarven wizards... You would need to remove their magic resistance IMHO.

You're correct that there's no need for rules to encode evolution, it's just a part of the setting. Like I said: Even Creatio Ex-Nihilo allows for evolution after the fact.

You can harp all you want about how half-anything doesn't need it, everybody will assume it to be a part of the setting. Same goes for different skin colors. Double so if you put them where we know they should be, and if you change their environment people will find it hard to accept and immersion breaking.

So the Drow should be paper white, or they don't live in perpetual darkness, their environment somehow resembles Africa. They should also be the stem Elves.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: BoxCrayonTales on June 01, 2022, 02:07:36 PM
D&D "science" is an incoherent mess that no thought was put into. It's a nonsensical mishmash of obsolete scientific theories like the classical elements as well as modern science like evolution that the classical philosophers had no knowledge of (they thought the world and life in it was eternal and unchanging). It's impossible to make sense of because it's an ad hoc creation rather than a product of first principles.
It was written by modern people who have spent their entire lives under the shadow of modern science, and their core assumptions about how our world works form the bedrock for how the fictional worlds of D&D work.

Throwing in a few retro things like the classical elements is the anomaly.
As well as young earth creationism. Even down to having dinosaurs still alive. Because that makes perfect sense.

Quote
Even magic is usually treated like a science, and not like magic.
Speaking of, Kim wrote an article about this years ago: https://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/magic/antiscience.html
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on June 01, 2022, 02:38:47 PM
D&D "science" is an incoherent mess that no thought was put into. It's a nonsensical mishmash of obsolete scientific theories like the classical elements as well as modern science like evolution that the classical philosophers had no knowledge of (they thought the world and life in it was eternal and unchanging). It's impossible to make sense of because it's an ad hoc creation rather than a product of first principles.
It was written by modern people who have spent their entire lives under the shadow of modern science, and their core assumptions about how our world works form the bedrock for how the fictional worlds of D&D work.

Throwing in a few retro things like the classical elements is the anomaly.
As well as young earth creationism. Even down to having dinosaurs still alive. Because that makes perfect sense.
Is Prachett a flat-earther?

Of course not, Discworld is a fantasy world. It doesn't represent his real world beliefs. Using "young earth creationism" to describe a fantasy world is equally ridiculous.

Quote
Even magic is usually treated like a science, and not like magic.
Kim used to not be an idiot. A long time ago.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Shasarak on June 01, 2022, 05:00:55 PM
D&D "science" is an incoherent mess that no thought was put into. It's a nonsensical mishmash of obsolete scientific theories like the classical elements as well as modern science like evolution that the classical philosophers had no knowledge of (they thought the world and life in it was eternal and unchanging). It's impossible to make sense of because it's an ad hoc creation rather than a product of first principles.
It was written by modern people who have spent their entire lives under the shadow of modern science, and their core assumptions about how our world works form the bedrock for how the fictional worlds of D&D work.

Throwing in a few retro things like the classical elements is the anomaly.
As well as young earth creationism. Even down to having dinosaurs still alive. Because that makes perfect sense.

I can accept having Dragons in my Dungeons and Dragons but having Dinosaurs is just absurd.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Stephen Tannhauser on June 01, 2022, 07:13:34 PM
Even magic is usually treated like a science, and not like magic.

That's because to be a valuable tactical resource in a game, magic's effects have to derive reliably and predictably from the choices made by the player, and the player has to know what output he'll get from a given input. Magic that didn't obey any rules the players could actually figure out about how to use it would pretty swiftly be abandoned as a tool.

Considered as a game element, any template designed to be mostly consistent whenever used promotes "essentialism" for characters of the type covered by that template, because a group's "essence" is whatever is common to the vast majority of members of that group.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on June 01, 2022, 07:37:44 PM
Even magic is usually treated like a science, and not like magic.

That's because to be a valuable tactical resource in a game, magic's effects have to derive reliably and predictably from the choices made by the player, and the player has to know what output he'll get from a given input. Magic that didn't obey any rules the players could actually figure out about how to use it would pretty swiftly be abandoned as a tool.
You're conflating rules with science. They're not the same thing.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Shasarak on June 01, 2022, 07:53:32 PM
Even magic is usually treated like a science, and not like magic.

That's because to be a valuable tactical resource in a game, magic's effects have to derive reliably and predictably from the choices made by the player, and the player has to know what output he'll get from a given input. Magic that didn't obey any rules the players could actually figure out about how to use it would pretty swiftly be abandoned as a tool.
You're conflating rules with science. They're not the same thing.

Science is the process of finding the rules of magic.

If magic has any rules then Science can find them.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Ghostmaker on June 01, 2022, 08:22:37 PM
We've been over this. If the magic system is too erratic, players aren't going to use it as much.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on June 01, 2022, 08:23:44 PM
Even magic is usually treated like a science, and not like magic.

That's because to be a valuable tactical resource in a game, magic's effects have to derive reliably and predictably from the choices made by the player, and the player has to know what output he'll get from a given input. Magic that didn't obey any rules the players could actually figure out about how to use it would pretty swiftly be abandoned as a tool.
You're conflating rules with science. They're not the same thing.

Science is the process of finding the rules of magic.

If magic has any rules then Science can find them.
Like the rules of quantum theory?

No.

What makes magic a form of science in most fiction is they treat it like an energy, specifically an external force that's overlaid on the otherwise physics-following world. What makes magic in much of folklore and mythology magical and wondrous is that magic is integral to the world, often acts in a numinous fashion, and modern physics isn't the underlying paradigm. For instance, talking animals. They're a very common trope in folklore, where they act as messengers or omens. But they're otherwise normal animals. You don't need to give them ecologies and treat them as a different species, or give them cultures or explain why they still act like animals despite being able to talk. Because they don't stop being normal animals. It's just that normal animals sometimes take on a special role. You can come up concrete criteria why they do so, usually involving significant events or messages that need to be conveyed. It's not rules vs. no rules, it's a very different approach to thinking about the world.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on June 01, 2022, 08:25:29 PM
We've been over this. If the magic system is too erratic, players aren't going to use it as much.
No, we haven't been over this. Don't fall into the trap of treating the strawman argument that Tannhauser created as a real argument someone in the thread made.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Shasarak on June 01, 2022, 08:29:55 PM
Even magic is usually treated like a science, and not like magic.

That's because to be a valuable tactical resource in a game, magic's effects have to derive reliably and predictably from the choices made by the player, and the player has to know what output he'll get from a given input. Magic that didn't obey any rules the players could actually figure out about how to use it would pretty swiftly be abandoned as a tool.
You're conflating rules with science. They're not the same thing.

Science is the process of finding the rules of magic.

If magic has any rules then Science can find them.
Like the rules of quantum theory?

No.

Quantum theory is not science now?

Maybe you are thinking of string theory.

Quote
What makes magic a form of science in most fiction is they treat it like an energy, specifically an external force that's overlaid on the otherwise physics-following world. What makes magic in much of folklore and mythology magical and wondrous that magic is integral to the world, often acts in a numinous fashion, and modern physics isn't the underlying paradigm. For instance, talking animals. They're a very common trope in folklore, where they act as messengers or omens. You can come up concrete criteria why they do so, usually involving significant events or messages that need to be conveyed. But they're otherwise normal animals. You don't need to give them ecologies and treat them as a different species, or give them cultures or explain why they still act like animals despite being able to talk. Because they don't stop being normal animals. It's just that normal animals sometimes take on a special role. You can still have rules for that. It's not rules vs. no rules, it's a very different approach to thinking about the world.

Folk tales that people make up as an entertaining story are not magic.  That is many different people each telling a story about magic.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on June 01, 2022, 08:41:10 PM
Quantum theory is not science now?
I didn't say that.

Folk tales that people make up as an entertaining story are not magic. 
Didn't say that, either.

Are you reading what I wrote?

Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Stephen Tannhauser on June 01, 2022, 11:05:35 PM
You're conflating rules with science. They're not the same thing.

No, but anything that follows rules consistently -- as, I repeat, anything used as a player option in a game has to do -- is going to be used in practice more like science than like the magic of folklore, myth and legend, because science is also about figuring out what the consistent rules are and how to exploit them. Even quantum theory has rules about its parameters of unpredictability.

I should repeat at this point that I am talking strictly about magic as a player-controlled capacity for action in the game -- much of the atmospheric elements of a magical setting (which you rightly point out) represent things that are not in player control; it's the difference between knowing a unicorn horn can cure disease (which is about how the players respond to the plot of finding a wild unicorn and persuading it to cure a dying comrade) and figuring out exactly how much ground horn is required to cure which particular ailments (which is about the players figuring out how to exploit resources under their control).

It's the same difference between pulp fantasy stories, in which magic was largely an antagonist force belonging to villains or to wild nature and so could do whatever the author needed it to do, and Sanderson-type fantasy with extremely strictly defined rules so that magician protagonists can't simply circumvent all challenge and drama. (One of the critical elements of the Dresden Files, as a series, are the Laws of Magic which very specifically forbid the wizard hero from shortcutting around the typical problems of noir mysteries by reading minds, abusing mortals, etc.)
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: jhkim on June 02, 2022, 12:05:19 AM
You're conflating rules with science. They're not the same thing.

No, but anything that follows rules consistently -- as, I repeat, anything used as a player option in a game has to do -- is going to be used in practice more like science than like the magic of folklore, myth and legend, because science is also about figuring out what the consistent rules are and how to exploit them. Even quantum theory has rules about its parameters of unpredictability.

I think quantum mechanics isn't so much a model for non-scientific systems, as problems like "how to get a date" or "how to make a painting that sells for a million dollars". These can be concretely defined, but they aren't easily amenable to the scientific process, because there aren't repeatable with controlled environmental conditions - and further, publication of the answers may change how the systems work. i.e. Art collectors will read analyses of popular paintings, and it may change their valuations.

These are models for how magic of working with spirits might be. The spirits have their own behaviors and motivations, and there are rules to those, but the attitude that you take to them will determine how well you do - and they may be aware of the content of grimoires that direct magicians about how to talk to spirits.

A step further is if magic depends on the inner mental state of the practitioner. i.e. You can only cast spells if you can bring inner calm to yourself to tap into the mystic states needed. Then taking a scientific attitude of repeating may destroy the mental state needed for casting.

This is getting away from race - but it's relevant to how fantasy worlds don't have to work by the same sort of rules that the modern real world does.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Stephen Tannhauser on June 02, 2022, 12:22:47 AM
I think quantum mechanics isn't so much a model for non-scientific systems, as problems like "how to get a date" or "how to make a painting that sells for a million dollars". ...These are models for how magic of working with spirits might be. The spirits have their own behaviors and motivations, and there are rules to those, but the attitude that you take to them will determine how well you do - and they may be aware of the content of grimoires that direct magicians about how to talk to spirits.

Agreed, in terms of how the game events are described to or envisioned by the player. In terms of how such magic takes effect under the rules, in the end, it's still going to come down to "Player choice X modifies chance of outcome Y by Z measure of probability", and the values for X and Y and Z and how they mutually relate have to be at least somewhat specific and consistent, because that's what you need for the rules of a game to work.

(One could theoretically have the best of both worlds by confining everything mechanics-related solely to the question of whether a spirit actually shows up, and then resolve the matter of whether the spirit obeys the conjurer solely by roleplaying with the GM, but I tend to be suspicious of any rule set that explicitly gives the GM the power to declare all a player's efforts wasted by sheer fiat.)

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... fantasy worlds don't have to work by the same sort of rules that the modern real world does.

By the same rules or the same sort of rules, no, not necessarily. By some set of consistent rules, yes, or you can't have reliable drama and objectively fair challenges.

Which goes back to the charge of racial essentialism: a template that makes every character built with it similar enough to every other such character to usefully predict is ostensibly "good" by rules consistency, but can undermine both setting verisimilitude and tactical challenge. So templates have to walk a balance between reliable consistency and freedom-permitting flexibility.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on June 02, 2022, 05:15:38 AM
You're conflating rules with science. They're not the same thing.

No, but anything that follows rules consistently -- as, I repeat, anything used as a player option in a game has to do -- is going to be used in practice more like science than like the magic of folklore, myth and legend, because science is also about figuring out what the consistent rules are and how to exploit them. Even quantum theory has rules about its parameters of unpredictability.

I should repeat at this point that I am talking strictly about magic as a player-controlled capacity for action in the game -- much of the atmospheric elements of a magical setting (which you rightly point out) represent things that are not in player control; it's the difference between knowing a unicorn horn can cure disease (which is about how the players respond to the plot of finding a wild unicorn and persuading it to cure a dying comrade) and figuring out exactly how much ground horn is required to cure which particular ailments (which is about the players figuring out how to exploit resources under their control).

It's the same difference between pulp fantasy stories, in which magic was largely an antagonist force belonging to villains or to wild nature and so could do whatever the author needed it to do, and Sanderson-type fantasy with extremely strictly defined rules so that magician protagonists can't simply circumvent all challenge and drama. (One of the critical elements of the Dresden Files, as a series, are the Laws of Magic which very specifically forbid the wizard hero from shortcutting around the typical problems of noir mysteries by reading minds, abusing mortals, etc.)
Fair enough, though I still disagree with your use of "science". Using logic to find answers isn't science. Exploiting repeated patterns isn't science. Science is a specific (albeit hard to bound and open-ended) and formal set of processes for expanding knowledge, rather than all knowledge and logic. Though in this situation, I think it's more about the expression of science than the method.

I do agree that much of what makes the magic of folklore and myth so interesting comes from the DM's side of the table. It's about atmosphere, consequences, poetic justice, uncertainty, serendipity, omens and portents, and more.

But I do think the player-side version of magic can be rules-based without treating magic as a science. One good example in D&D proper is the Dark Powers checks in Ravenloft. It's a specific mechanic, but it doesn't feel like science.

Conversely, the very concept of anti-magic is antithetical to the magic of myth and folklore. Magic in folklore tends to be innate and part of the natural world. There are things that are more numinous or magical than other things, but it's as much about circumstance as it is about objects. A tree might be old and wise and partially sensate, but arranging a set of otherwise fairly ordinary objects in a particular way, say twining a piece of straw, is also magic. And the magic isn't in the ritual, the ritual just brings out the innate magic in ordinary things. You can't subtract magic from that world view, because there's not a mundane world underneath. It's turtles... I mean magic... all the way down.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Ghostmaker on June 02, 2022, 08:10:33 AM
We've been over this. If the magic system is too erratic, players aren't going to use it as much.
No, we haven't been over this. Don't fall into the trap of treating the strawman argument that Tannhauser created as a real argument someone in the thread made.
Actually, yes, yes we have. https://www.therpgsite.com/pen-paper-roleplaying-games-rpgs-discussion/magic-reliability-and-literary-precedence/msg1207355/#msg1207355

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Using logic to find answers isn't science.

I cannot even begin to address how silly this is.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Banjo Destructo on June 02, 2022, 09:40:39 AM
I don't think a game that sets forth rules for how to use fantasy, imaginary, monsters inside the context of a game that has you fighting monsters to get treasure, and using magic and other imaginary things to fight these monsters, had any bearing at all on real world people.

Only people who think about racism all the time will try to equate race essentialism to things like.. orcs being evil,  and things like that.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Stephen Tannhauser on June 02, 2022, 09:57:44 AM
Fair enough, though I still disagree with your use of "science". Using logic to find answers isn't science. Exploiting repeated patterns isn't science.

Granted, but logic, pattern recognition and probabilistic prediction are critical tools in the scientific method, and any approach to problem-solving which relies on them is going to evoke that feel. (Consider the popular inversion of Clarke's Third Law: "Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from technology.")

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I do think the player-side version of magic can be rules-based without treating magic as a science. One good example in D&D proper is the Dark Powers checks in Ravenloft. It's a specific mechanic, but it doesn't feel like science.

I would suggest that that's partly because the criteria defining the severity of a Powers-attracting crime/sin are inherently subjective, so no two GMs are going to assess them quite identically, and partly because there's no explicit rules structure incentivizing the taking of that chance in return for a consistent benefit -- if there were ways for players to get regular mechanical bonuses to magic or combat effectiveness by risking Dark Power checks (cf. getting Force bonuses for taking Dark Side points in STAR WARS), I'll wager you would suddenly see a lot more analytical study of how to game those probabilities.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on June 02, 2022, 10:55:54 AM
Quote
Using logic to find answers isn't science.

I cannot even begin to address how silly this is.
Your failure to understand is the silly part.

Logic and science aren't synonyms. One may be a prerequisite for the other, but saying they're the same thing is like saying all mammals are bears.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Ghostmaker on June 02, 2022, 11:12:55 AM
Quote
Using logic to find answers isn't science.

I cannot even begin to address how silly this is.
Your failure to understand is the silly part.

Logic and science aren't synonyms. One may be a prerequisite for the other, but saying they're the same thing is like saying all mammals are bears.
Except that's not what you said.

Lay off the tequila.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: BoxCrayonTales on June 02, 2022, 11:13:15 AM
@Pat I would love to have RPG sourcebooks exploring that kind of casual folkloric magic. Modern D&D media feels completely disconnected from the old fairy tales and myths. Or even real occult traditions.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Stephen Tannhauser on June 02, 2022, 11:25:13 AM
@Pat I would love to have RPG sourcebooks exploring that kind of casual folkloric magic. Modern D&D media feels completely disconnected from the old fairy tales and myths. Or even real occult traditions.

Likewise down with this.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on June 02, 2022, 01:17:27 PM
Quote
Using logic to find answers isn't science.

I cannot even begin to address how silly this is.
Your failure to understand is the silly part.

Logic and science aren't synonyms. One may be a prerequisite for the other, but saying they're the same thing is like saying all mammals are bears.
Except that's not what you said.

Lay off the tequila.
It's exactly what I said.

Take a basic course in English.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Pat on June 02, 2022, 01:37:41 PM
@Pat I would love to have RPG sourcebooks exploring that kind of casual folkloric magic. Modern D&D media feels completely disconnected from the old fairy tales and myths. Or even real occult traditions.
Agreed. I tend to lean into the fairy tale feel in my games, but it's not always that consistent, and it fights with many components of the game. The magic system would need a significant re-work, for instance. It's too energy-based and kitchen sink. In addition to obvious sources like Grimm, Anderson, and Lang, I'd also look at sources like Ovid, Spencer, Hearn, the Matter of France, Taoism, collections of folklore from the British Isles and Russia, the Kalevala, the Mahabharata, and many more. I recently glanced at a few of the old Enchanted World Time Life books, and they seem to be surprisingly good.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Ghostmaker on June 02, 2022, 01:40:49 PM
Quote
Using logic to find answers isn't science.

I cannot even begin to address how silly this is.
Your failure to understand is the silly part.

Logic and science aren't synonyms. One may be a prerequisite for the other, but saying they're the same thing is like saying all mammals are bears.
Except that's not what you said.

Lay off the tequila.
It's exactly what I said.

Take a basic course in English.
Whatever. LOL.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Shasarak on June 02, 2022, 04:56:53 PM
Or even real occult traditions.

Like Scientology and Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn?
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Armchair Gamer on June 02, 2022, 08:59:53 PM
I recently glanced at a few of the old Enchanted World Time Life books, and they seem to be surprisingly good.

  Several years ago, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia and managed to hunt down the complete series, piece by piece. They really are rather good.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: RPGPundit on June 07, 2022, 03:28:01 AM
@Pat I would love to have RPG sourcebooks exploring that kind of casual folkloric magic. Modern D&D media feels completely disconnected from the old fairy tales and myths. Or even real occult traditions.

Have you looked at Lion & Dragon? And The Invisible College?
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: BoxCrayonTales on June 07, 2022, 11:25:11 AM
@Pat I would love to have RPG sourcebooks exploring that kind of casual folkloric magic. Modern D&D media feels completely disconnected from the old fairy tales and myths. Or even real occult traditions.

Have you looked at Lion & Dragon? And The Invisible College?
I haven't looked at Lion & Dragon yet. I have looked through Invisible College.

Have you read BRP Enlightened Magic? I think that's a really good implementation of what I mean, particularly the alchemy system. It takes concepts from real occultism and turns it into something that is readily gameable.

The alchemy system has three levels of proficiency that correspond to body, mind, and soul in the manner of production and the application/target of the effect. The first circle involves creating alchemical reagents in a laboratory that are applied in the field, or modifying objects or people in the laboratory. The second circle involves creating works of art, such as paintings, sculptures, instruments, or sheet music, that create the desired response in audiences. The third circle involves meditating and going on vision quests to create effects, which are then applied by touch or pointing at the target. Each named spell exists at all three circles with a corresponding application of the effect, in accordance with the principle of "as above, so below."

Mythras also has folk magic but I'm not familiar with it.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: RPGPundit on June 09, 2022, 01:17:42 PM
Well, my point is both IC and L&D totally change the D&D magic system to fit authentic magic from occultism or myth/legend.
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Stephen Tannhauser on June 09, 2022, 01:21:43 PM
Well, my point is both IC and L&D totally change the D&D magic system to fit authentic magic from occultism or myth/legend.

From your own playtesting of the L&D magic system, out of curiosity, how does it change the feel of magic-user characters in play? What do people used to D&D style magic have to wrap their heads around to make it work?
Title: Re: D&D Promotes Race Essentialism?
Post by: Effete on June 10, 2022, 07:10:22 PM
The way things are going, the graduates are only fit to make sandwiches.

I wish this were true. Sadly corporations are creating homes for these people in "fairness & equity" departments to spread their misery on their employees and the rest of society. Well paid I might add.
However, it's the same problem those gender studies graduates have; there are only so many positions and departments to staff. And they are resource drains on the company.

But yeah, in the interim the wokeists will hire other wokeists to keep parasitizing the productives.

That being said... I wonder if they know that you can roll up non-optimal race/class combinations and still have fun with them?

But that would mean not absolutely dominating their field... something completely antithetical to these power-hungry narcissists. Their idea of "fun" is putting down others to elevate themselves.