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DnD and stereotyping


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#1 Enkida

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 06:13 AM

Hey, in an attempt to stop derailing a certain other thread in the forums, I thought I'd open up the discussion here instead.

Someone candidly asked "well, what is offensive in the official DnD universe?"

My quick answer would be "Sune, what she is, what she does, how she looks and dresses, what she represents and encourages, plus her official alignment for having those goals" but I am sure people would debate that, and everyone has different opinions. Then again I always had a lot more respect for Lillith than Eve, so maybe that sort of feminist viewpoint is inherently defined as evil in a Christian society, which was the birthplace of DnD.

Here's something a little more concrete: Jonathan Tweet, author of 3rd edition DnD and his theory of evolutionary biology and therefore why fantasy roleplaying appeals to men more than women:

http://geekfeminism..../Jonathan_Tweet


Feel free to continue that other discussion here, but remember not to get all personal and hatey. We're talking about the forgotten Realms universe, not each other. ;-)

#2 berelinde

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 07:23 AM

At work, so not going to read that link at this very moment, but I tend to get a bit twitchy when folks say that gaming appeals more to one gender than the other. I would be willing to believe that males have more free time to pursue hobbies of any nature than females do, but I don't know if I'd say that one gender finds the concept more attractive. Heck, there are lots of things I like that I'll never find the time for.

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#3 Eric P.

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 07:43 AM

It's always been easy enough for me to ignore Sune (always thought she was kind of absurd, though I also kind of understood her purpose), as I never had any use for her in PnP games I've played. That said, yeah, I'd like to see either a different deity replace her, or else for her to get some sort of overhaul, but that's beyond the scope of BG2.

Interesting comment about Lilith vs. Eve, as I've been fascinated by the story ever since I first stumbled upon it :) (It may be interesting to note there that Adam and Eve aren't meant to be taken as literal, individual human beings, but that's another story). I wouldn't call a feminist viewpoint evil, though. It's patriarchal society that too often drifts into that territory ;) Heh, D&D has had no end of bashing from fundamentalist Christians and such...

Here's something I found on the 'net several years ago, an attempt to compare FR cultures to similar real-world cultures, for comparison's sake (if memory serves, the author's name is Eric Boyd):

REALMS CULTURE NAMES
Region Culture (reference) Names

Al Qadim/Zakhara Al-Qadim boxed set Arabian
Amn Spain and Portugal (FR3) Spanish and Portuguese
Anauroch/Bedine Touareg and Saharan like Touareg and Saharan
desert nomads (FR13) Bedouin
Baldur’s gate Renaissance (Maztica novels Spanish and Portuguese
and FR15)
Calimshan Arabian Sultanate (FR3) Iranian or Turkish
Chessenta Sparta ??? (FR10) Ancient Greek
Chult African (FR16) African
Cormyr English, French (FR0, English, French
Ring of Winter)
Damara Classic Germanic kingdom German
during the Holy Roman Empire
Evermeet Elven/Atlantis (Elfshadow, Elf
Coral Kingdom)
Great Glacier Eskimo Eskimo
Great Rift Dwarven (FR11) Dwarf
Horde lands Mongol (Hordes) Mongol
Ice Peak (the) Eskimo Eskimo
Luiren Halfling (FR16) Halfling
Marsember, Cormyr A clear take-off on Venice,
with its canals
Maztica Central and South American Incas, Aztec
Incas and Aztec (Maztica
boxed set and series)
Moonshaes Celtic (FR2) Celtics, Gaels, Wales
Northern Moonshaes Vikings (Scandinavian) Norwegian, Danish, Swedish
and Luskan (FR2/FR5)
Mulhorand Pharoic Egypt (FR10) Egyptian
Murghom Baghdad (i.e. modern Iraq)
under a caliph, etc.
Plain of Horses Mongol (Hordes) Mongol
Rashamen Ukrainian/Russia (FR12) Ukraine/Russian Peasant
Raurin (The Dust Perhaps some pre-Saharan
Desert) Desert analogue (that area
use to be a verdant forest)
Semphar Oops - perhaps this is the
Baghdad like culture -
instead of Murghom. See FR10
Shou Lung Kara-Tur boxed set Chinese
Tethyr 1. Caravan North Africa (FR3) Arabian and Saharan
2. Classic southern European Middle ages western European kingdom
Thay Derivative of Egypt (FR6) Egyptian (modified)
Turmish Ottoman Empire (I?, Azure Turk
Bonds)
Ulgarth Feudal system (FR16) French
Unther Sumeria/Babylonia (FR10) Sumerian/Babylonian

Regions not listed didn't have any references or suggestions for real-world analogs. Some of these match up better than others in my own vision, while some...not so much.

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#4 Eric P.

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 07:44 AM

Sorry for the poo formatting in my above list ;)

Working and playing under Windows 7 Ultimate on a Mac Pro 3,1 running Mac OS X 10.9.4 Mavericks.

~Buion na 'ell! I serve with joy! Your eyes and ears I shall be. Let us hunt together!~
- Erysseril Gwaethorien: a joinable, romanceable NPC mod for BGII - SoA/ToB, in active development.

A female elf warrior and a Bhaalspawn cross paths during their quests, joining forces to share adventure and companionship. Will they find more?


#5 Rhaella

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 08:37 AM

I get not liking the way Sune is portrayed, but what's problematic about the concept of loving people, of seeing beauty (both inside and out), and of the patronage of the arts? In a world where "murder person X because he turned up as evil on an alignment check, even if he hasn't done anything" is the norm rather than the exception, Sune is really a breath of fresh air.

I get not liking Sharess or thinking that Sharess shouldn't be CG (she probably should be CN), but as far as I'm concerned, Sune deserves that good alignment more than anyone.

#6 Daulmakan

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 10:37 AM

I would be willing to believe that males have more free time to pursue hobbies of any nature than females do

Why is that?

#7 berelinde

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 10:47 AM

I would be willing to believe that males have more free time to pursue hobbies of any nature than females do

Why is that?

These days, more guys are willing to share the housework than in the past, but a lot of the time, it's still the women preparing the meals, running the kids around, and generally keeping up the house... in addition to working full-time. Something has to give somewhere, and that something is usually the woman's recreational time. Also note that I said that I would be willing to believe it, not that it's going to be true for 100% of all gaming households. YMMV.

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#8 Enkida

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 10:52 AM

Anyone not familiar with who or what Lilith is supposed to be can glance over this primer. It really is a fascinating read, but might be a little TL;DR for most.

Everything else edited out to conform to forum rules. Apologizes if my atheism came across offensively to anyone else, that certainly wasn't the intent. :-)

Edited by Enkida, 03 March 2012 - 04:16 AM.


#9 Enkida

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 11:07 AM

I get not liking the way Sune is portrayed, but what's problematic about the concept of loving people, of seeing beauty (both inside and out), and of the patronage of the arts? In a world where "murder person X because he turned up as evil on an alignment check, even if he hasn't done anything" is the norm rather than the exception, Sune is really a breath of fresh air.


There's nothing wrong with the concept of loving people and seeing beauty both on the inside and out as being a "good thing." But from what I see, the beauty on the "inside" takes a severe backseat to value judgements placed on physical beauty.

Sune's dogma maintains that physical beauty or lack thereof is more than simply a function of physical factors; to the Sunite, that which is beautiful is good and ugly things are undoubtedly evil, for they believe that beauty radiates from one's inner being and reflects the core nature of an individual. (This outlook when taken literally will often result in the deception of a Sunite by a fair-seeming evil creature.) Followers of Sune do all they can to protect their beauty. Sunites are also often narcissistic, being commanded to love themselves more than anyone except Sune herself. Apart from these specifics, Sune's dogma revolves around nurturing and encouraging love and passion.)


Sounds like you got the Sarelith mod right there, except I hear by the end of the game Sarelith develops, whereas Sune stays the same, hehe. Anyway, defining that kind of a system as "inherently good" is what I find particularly chilling on two levels:

- it propogates the idea that you can only be "good" if you are "beautiful" and then furthermore goes on to give specific standards of how to define beauty: big-chested, scantily clothed, plump red lipped, pale-skinned, and unnaturally red-haired Sune is the definition of true beauty and goodness. There was a reason why, in my childhood, Wonder Woman was my favourite role model. She was the only pop culture female icon I could find who had black hair. Think of what that says to people who have more than just black hair.

- if you are physically beautiful, you are also somehow inherently stupid.

Just... there's just about nothing I can find redeeming in Sune that couldn't be done better somewhere else. All of the "loving beauty on the inside" stuff sounds like it was hastily tacked on as an afterthought when developers realized how one-dimensional the character of Sune was after seeing it on paper.

#10 Rhaella

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 11:21 AM

How is Sune supposed to develop? She's a goddess, and half of what you quoted refers to her followers more than herself. I'm quite happy with the concept of a Sunite developing enough to take a more nuanced approach to his or her faith, and I can't believe that Sune would have a problem with a follower's conception of beauty changing over time. She herself, however, is more a Platonic idea than a person, and really can't be judged as a mortal would be. Yes, there are problems with extremism when you take her faith and apply it literally, but that goes with every religion, both in the FR setting and in reality. No faith is really perfect -- and if Sune were perfect, we'd be into madonna territory, which is even worse, IMO -- but I'd honestly take a good-aligned deity who encourages a degree of naivete over the many, many others who incite their followers to genocide.

Also, it really doesn't say you can only be good if you're beautiful. It might say that you're probably good if you're beautiful, but it's a logical fallacy to say that these two things mean the same. She's not the only good deity. She's not even the only good female deity. You've got Tymora, and it's very much implied that she's not beautiful. (Her "sister" Beshaba got the beauty.)

I also wouldn't say that Lolth's predominance over Sune and Sharess means men are uncomfortable with female sexuality. Lolth gets a lot of attention because of the drow thing (and yes, I agree that the drow are a racist and sexist concept beyond belief), the next most represented deity is probably Mystra, who's not exactly asexual and IS good, and aside from that, I don't really think any of the gods are significantly more or less described than any other. Well, Bane may be a bit more, and probably Cyric.

Okay, I just read the Jonathan Tweet stuff. Holy [insert profanity here]. In my experience, male gaming groups tend to focus more on battle and female groups more on inter-party relationships (which is why I enjoyed gaming more back in college at a women's school), but my god, his reasoning is one of the most sexist things I've ever heard, barring anything that comes out of Santorum's mouth. Also way to miss the point of gymnastics, not to mention the fact that guys compete in both those sports as well.

Edited by Rhaella, 02 March 2012 - 11:29 AM.


#11 MiLeah

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 11:22 AM

That's interesting about the whole Lilith and Eve thing. I think that's my first time reading about. Or I might have read it awhile ago and my brain just pushed it out (That happens a lot). And I agree about the whole 'Good=Beautiful. 'Evil=Ugly'. I've read about these kind of women in way too many books, and seen them in way too many movies and games.

One thing I wanted to say in defense of the writers, though: their work was always at the mercy of producers, editors, etc. So they may not be entirely to blame. In some cases, they may not be at all to blame.

Just curious, what race and gender do you think these producers, editors, etc, are?

#12 Rhaella

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 11:42 AM

Hmm? I'm not defending the producers and editors. I'd try to look it up, but my Amtrak internet is going in and out. Most likely white males, but to be fair, the problem is that they're thoughtless and ignorant (and quite possible were involved in D&D 40 years ago, when the entertainment industry wasn't considering these issues at all), not that they're white and male. Some of the most sexist stuff I've seen comes from women.

But yeah, the FR campaign setting has come a long way since the 70s, and as much as continuity means that the older material can't be thrown out altogether, I really don't care for the tendency to ignore where it is now in favour of where it was back in the dark ages. Because stuff has evolved. Not always as much as I'd like, but I do think it's better these days than the simple wiki might indicate.

Edited by Rhaella, 02 March 2012 - 11:48 AM.


#13 MiLeah

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 04:21 PM

How is Sune supposed to develop? She's a goddess, and half of what you quoted refers to her followers more than herself.

I was thinking on this, and actually they could have taken a more intelligent/philosophical approach with her. Maybe have it that she doesn't have a true appearance, as beauty is subjective. So this means that no one has ever seen the 'true form' of Sune.
Because of this, maybe she could then test her followers by posing as different people as a way to test their faith in her (These tests are for inner beauty, not so much the outer part.)
Like, if she posed as an old hag of a lady and was begging for help, but none of her followers helped. But then when she posed as a young, gorgeous female she had more help then she could handle. So, it's more like a trickery test of who rejected her, and who accepted her for her inner beauty.

And then for the outer beauty part she gives out beauty/pleasure tips to her followers from time to time. :lol2:
At least this way now she doesn't come across as something to just lust after visually. But that's just a thought.

#14 Rhaella

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 08:55 PM

(Gods, I'm in a livid rage right now due to the newest developments in the whole contraception controversy. Deep breaths, deep breaths.)

Hmm. That would be an interesting idea. That's sort of what they do for Selune -- our lovely goddess of the moon doesn't have a true form but takes many. Doing it for two of the mystical CG goddesses may have been a bit much, and Sune... honestly, altering between numerous traditionally beautiful forms (though of all races, rather than just PORCELAIN WITH RED HAIR) may have been a better choice for her: this is beauty. And this is beauty. And this is beauty.

I should also say, much of what's wrong with Sune is probably also wrong with Lathander, so it's not necessarily an issue of sexism. Lathander is young looking, attractive, vain, and so forth.

Hmm. It's weird how many goddesses are associated with mysticism. Mystra, Selune, Sune. Eilistraee. Most of the rest of the elven pantheon as well, male or female.

...oh, thank god. I found a couple of female deities associated with planning, logic, etc. I was worried there for a moment. The Red Knight, the deity of tactics and strategy, the general's patron, is female. And also a LN goddess who can have paladins! Very cool. Siamorphe, the LN goddess of the nobility, is described as "usually appears as an older lady of the nobility, her hair touched with grey but well kept, and her iron-gray eyes missing nothing." And then there's Loviatar, who's sort of the LE goddess of S&M... >_> Not as many lawful goddesses as I'd like, perhaps, since I'm not aware of any besides those three, but much better than nothing.

Oh, I should also say! When it comes to gods, the gods of Faerun are not necessarily the gods of other places. The Mulhorandi have their own pantheon, and their goddess of love looks Egyptian (and actually is the Egyptian goddess Isis, don't ask). I'm really not sure how the mechanics of 4e works, because I try to ignore what they did to the FR, but one thing I did like about the deities was the revelation that a lot of them were actually the same people. The elven goddess of love was actually a fey aspect of Sune herself rather than a separate entity. Don't ask me how it works or if more foreign goddesses of love were also her as well, but it is an indication that Sune is more culturally expansive than it would originally seem. Or you could probably argue that if they're all subservient to her, then her ideal is more real than theirs, and let's not go there because eww.

#15 Miloch

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 01:50 AM

TLDR, but the Mulhorandi gods are exactly the Egyptian ones. Not just reflections of them, but the same ones, Isis, Osiris, etc.

Also, for every Aphrodite (i.e. vain but hot goddess of love) there's an Athena (goddess of wisdom and war). Same as in FR.

As for more guys being into RP, that's bogus. I know 3 females for every male that are into gaming. Maybe I just know more ladies but still, heh. It's true.

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#16 -JR-

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 02:05 AM

I must ask you to mind your words; this forum does not permit insensitive remarks about any religion. Furthermore, we also ask that you avoid even respectfully debating religious beliefs, as it tends to lead to emotional escalation and hurt feelings. Our stance on contemporary politics is similar. I considered locking this thread due to the sheer number of infractions and the rapidity of their appearance, but decided to give you another chance. Please stay on topic.

Edited by -JR-, 04 March 2012 - 10:00 AM.

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#17 MiLeah

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 10:03 AM

Also, for every Aphrodite (i.e. vain but hot goddess of love) there's an Athena (goddess of wisdom and war). Same as in FR.

That was actually my complaint in the other 'Request' topic. I mean, I understand that they took something familiar and relatable from real life and added it into a fantasy realm. But that's just my problem: It's fantasy. No laws, no rules, no boundaries. Just whatever the mind can imagine is what becomes our fantasy world.
So, to have the choice and option to take something like the goddess of love/beauty/pleasure and not do something different, or more intelligent with is, to me, what becomes offensive (And this goes for race and gender as well).
It now kinda comes off as 'Oh, we'll change what we see fit. So this will be fantasy, and this well be more 'realistic' (or plausible)'.
So when 'plausible' only seems to be applied to a certain race(s) and gender, yea...not cool.

#18 Dakk

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 08:48 AM

Anyone not familiar with who or what Lilith is supposed to be can glance over this primer. It really is a fascinating read, but might be a little TL;DR for most.

Everything else edited out to conform to forum rules. Apologizes if my atheism came across offensively to anyone else, that certainly wasn't the intent. :-)

Huh, what's wrong with atheism? It's awesome, second only to Pastafarianism... :D I suppose you've read the fantastic The God delusion by Richard Dawkins?

TL;DR be damned btw, I enjoyed the link. A good read about the implied threat (female) sexualism poses to the (male) society.

#19 -JR-

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 09:58 AM

As far as this forum is concerned, there is nothing wrong with any religion or lack thereof. Please stay on topic.
"Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil." - C.S. Lewis

#20 Dakk

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 10:01 AM

Oh right, that wasn't actually on topic. Sorry.