Monday, 19 March 2018

Would You Play D&D with Donald Trump?

So, apparently WotC are going to introduce sexfluidity in elves by releasing a supplement for you to buy. The main purpose of this entry isn't to speak to that, but if you will, please indulge me digressing for just a moment. It always amazes me how people who define themselves as "geeks", who also I think in general tend to define themselves as being roughly "on the left" so much as they think about those things at all, will so readily and uncritically take on the status of capitalist consumers. A sizeable portion, indeed, will even do this to the extent that they buy (no pun intended) into the notion that progressive values themselves can be happily and unproblematically commodified. Do you want to be progressive when it comes to matters of gender, sex, and sexuality? Great: now buy a product to confirm it to yourself and others. For US$50 no less.

What a strange world we live in. Let's make no bones about it: in D&D you can play a dwarf with three penises married to a genderfluid asexual baboon if you really want to. Your imagination has no limits. Why buy a book giving you permission to enact the values you supposedly hold dear, when you can just do it anyway?

But so much for that. Lately I've been good about using the blog for fewer rants. What I'm more concerned about is the reaction to this announcement. And no, by this I don't mean that I've seen hundreds of blog posts or forum comments or had any conversations in which people have been expressing their opposition to sexfluid elves (who were always pretty genderfluid at least anyway, weren't they? I mean, come on). No: the reactions I have seen can be categorised as follows.


  • Roughly 50% saying "So what?" (The correct reaction.)
  • Roughly 50% saying "I wouldn't game with anybody who would have a problem with this, and I'm glad WotC have done this because it means people who are on the Wrong Side of the Debate will be flushed out and I won't have to game with them as a consequence."


I don't believe that the latter 50% actually proportionately represent half of all gamers. I think they are a tiny minority. But they are becoming ever more vociferous. For these people, social interactions, particularly the games one plays, are not just part and parcel of being a human living in the world, but are vehicles for expression of political stances. For them, being on the Wrong Side of the Debate doesn't just make you misguided or even stupid. No: it makes you worthy of being only an outcast, a pariah, somebody with whom no interaction of any kind can be permitted, least of all pretending to be elves together (sexfluid or otherwise).

I hate that kind of thing. I think it is awful. I look back in my life and think of all the great friendships and conversations I've had with people who hold diametrically or at least very fundamentally different views to mine: Communists, atheists, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, born-again-Christians, Northern Irish republicans, Scottish Nationalists, UKIP voters, Manchester United supporters, Black Supremacists, White Supremacists, gun nuts, Daily Mail readers, Guardian readers, radical feminists, Australians, even fans of Doctor Who. In the abstract I might have thought, or still think, that the views of those people are wrong - in many cases even odious, dangerous and appalling. But almost invariably, when opinions are filtered through the good humour, self-deprecation, negotiation and common sense of face-to-face conversation, they are revealed to be absolutely no reason for anybody not to enjoy another person's company. 

My heart sinks that so many intelligent people are turning their back on the possibility that those who violently disagree can get along. Not to be melodramatic about it, but what future is there for our poor sad species if we get to the point where people are no longer even willing to put certain differences to one side for the sake of having a bit of fun? I mean, hop on a plane to Israel or Kashmir or Belfast and you'll find endless swathes of charitable organisations trying to get people who would willingly actually kill one another for being on the Wrong Side of the Debate to just get together and enjoy a meal or play football or music or whatever. They do this in the entirely creditable and sensible belief that having people set aside their differences to do fun things together might actually help find ways round problems. Meanwhile in nerd land people are busy sticking their fingers in their ears and proclaiming loudly how vehemently opposed they are to playing D&D with imaginary people who wouldn't be in favour of sexfluid elves.

When I write down the list of types of people who I would categorically rule out playing D&D with, it's really very tiny indeed: it's just people I personally don't get along with or people whose behaviour has been such in the past that I would have difficulty trusting them. In other words, people I consider to be dicks. If you are going to be a dick about your opinions, whatever they might be, then fine - that qualifies you as somebody who I probably wouldn't willingly associate with. But in life I tend to find that actually most people aren't actually dicks (except on the internet, that is) - even people whose views I would actively probably find repellent if written down.

105 comments:

  1. I’d play with anyone. It would be cool to see what the president would do in a RPG.

    I don’t think he’s the kind of guy who would enjoy it as a regular hobby but it would be enjoyable to see what would happen.

    As far as WOTC, they have decided to get woke, and damn the economic consequences. It’s worked so well for so many companies so far. Oh well, I’ll always play elfgames regardless of where they decide to take their version of d&d.

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  2. Noisms, I think you are probably a liberal but not a Progressive. The behavior you describe is that of Progressives, and it’s not limited to any particular sphere. They’re always like that around normal people.

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  3. Another point: there are plenty of moderate and conservative d&d players. Tons of them! But you don’t hear about them much because they keep their heads down for the most part. Partly for fear told being de-platformed and othered by the mob, and partly because real world politics has almost nothing to do with elfgames.

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  4. I think your last paragraph kind of sums it up. I think, to borrow a term, it's "problematic" to apply the broadly political or societal to what is essentially interpersonal. A gaming group is a small circle made up, hopefully, of friends, or at least strangers who could become friends thru their shared interest. If you're going to cut ties, it should be for their actions, not their beliefs. Don't game with someone because they're a jerk, not because they subscribe to whatever creed or express whatever proclivities. Unless it applies somehow to the activity at hand, it's *really* none of your business anyway.

    I think one of the emergent problems among people these days is that the old motto "the personal is political" has gotten out of control, and so many people have gotten so caught up in the ideological Ragnarok that's playing out on the screens wherever you look that they're desperate to demonstrate that they're not part of the "out" group, whatever that may be. Or whatever the "in" group might be too. We have no context, just a fire hose of un-vettable ideas and hearsay.

    I think one of the problems of the modern era is that our sense of perspective is blown by these fonts of illusion and information that we bring into our most intimate spaces, TVs and the interwub. Our deep wired band dwelling monkey brains mistake the events and opinions expressed by complete strangers as tribal consensus. You wind up making so many assumptions about what the actual people around you think you wind up tying yourself in knots.

    That's why getting together around the table to bounce some dice and have adventures in your mind is all the more vital and affirmative these days. Get to know somebody's elf ranger or dwarf juggler or whatever, and you'll get a good walk in their moccasins.

    But I dunno. I'm just another block of text on the internet too if you don't know me. I just like gaming. What else do ya need?

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    1. That mangled thought/sentence in the first paragraph should read: "You should only stop gaming with someone because they're a jerk, not because of whatever creed they believe in or preference they express." I wrote the original too hastily and you kinda have to squint and tilt your head to grok what I said there... Sorry. :-\

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    2. I think your first sentence is absolutely on the money. The rest of the comment I agree with wholeheartedly too.

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  5. If not wanting to play with bigots makes me a *dick*, then I guess I'm a dick.

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    1. Anyone who doesn't agree with him politically on everything. Duh :P

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    2. Well, yeah. You are a dick. Unless you're restricting it to your-version-of-bigots who can't stop bringing up their views at the table. In which case they're the dick and you'd be reasonable.

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    3. Not a dick, but I think you're missing out. Yes, I genuinely think that. I've had plenty of interesting and fun experiences with people who, in the abstract, you (and I) would describe as bigoted.

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  6. If I get to GM for Trump, okay; maybe even if we are both Players; but him GMing... I'd have to see his GMing chops in action first before I'd feel comfortable playing my ethicsfluid Dark Star Elf.

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  7. I've always found the barriers lies with difficult or conflict-driven personalities. Those whom I've decided not to game with run the gammut, but it always boils down to the fact that they were decent people who were just hard to get along with.

    As for D&D....I'm not sure it's as exciting or notable as it sounds, but it is an interesting addition to FR lore (not actually a case of all elves being genderfluid, but elves gifted with a blessing of Corellon). Lots of interesting story potential without having GMs stuck wondering how to retcon an entire species in their campaign as genderfluid. As a magical effect it suggests it could be extended to other species as well.

    As for the problem of the almost militant progressive movement....no idea what or where to go with it, there's a new generation that is learning an interesting new lesson on intolerance toward the intolerant. I have a hard time fighting with that stance, but agree it's got its own range of problems since "the other side" doesn't just go away. People have, it seems, stopped learning how to reach out and work with each other, and that's a shame....but not unexpected as human nature goes.

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    1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

      I don’t know how much I agree wth it, but there is a fairly extensive philosophical framework regarding intolerance for intolerance know as the paradox of tolerance.
      It has a whole lot to do with how emotions and informational network effects collide and, agree or no, makes for an interesting read.

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    2. As far as it being an interesting piece of lore. Not really.

      Drow society is built on the matriarchy. Giving males the ability to wake up tomorrow and be female destroys that social order. If the lower class can decide to join the upper class, why wouldn't they? Why then wouldn't the upper class find a different prerequisite for being one of them?

      If WotC's people were not just hell bent on pandering, they'd have thought about that and realized how stupid it sounds.

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    3. Did you read the original article? It's a second hand account but it sounded like they were trying to address this issue. Part of it ties in to the fact that this sounds like a gift for worshippers of Corellon, and part of the FR lore with drow ties in to their abandonment of Corellon (I'm not FR savvy, could be mucking up some details). So it's not a universal trait, requires Corellon worship, and those drow who do this are definitely causing a disruption.

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  8. I don’t think the purpose of this is to give people on the left some sense of self affirmation for being progressive. I think the goal is to make genderfluid or trans people feel welcome. Jeremy Crawford has been involved in the lgbtq community for a while and its common knowledge that he does the queer as a three sided die panel at gen con every year. Theres a Mary Sue interview with him and Mearls from a few years back regarding sexuality in the player handbook that talks about just that. Crawford cares personally and wants people to feel more welcome than they may have in previous editions. But even if you want to get cynical on WotC’s behalf, most people don’t care, and you’ll make a very small part of the market that is currently underserved in the traditional rpg market customers for life. This type of stuff buys loyalty.

    As far as pushing any gamers out...the whole point is to be more inclusive, not to shut people out. 5th edition is going the big tent route, and the best way to sell more product is to expand your market while avoid alienating the base.

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    1. I agree that's probably not its purpose. But I think that's how a small minority of gamers are using this opportunity - to purchase a bit of extra progressive street cred (unaware of the irony of doing so).

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  9. I don't see how D&D isn't exclusive but then again gender identity has never actually mattered in my game. The players are adventurers. We adventure for treasure and glory, isn't that fundamentally the game? I don't prescribe to the current thinking that all things must be explicitly stated otherwise the box cannot be checked. I also wonder if this is a business or politically (identity) driven decision, but if this gets sales all the power to WotC . Whatever floats your boat.

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    1. I think it is both business and politically driven. But yeah, I subscribe to your stance - just imagine what you want to imagine unless it's obviously not actually fitting in with D&D as it's being played at your table.

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    1. You could just have posted "I won't game with people", Kent. :p

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    3. Now that's a streaming game that I would watch...

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  11. Interesting stuff.

    I have read from reputable sources - i.e. real, paid-to-do-it game designers - that Mr. Trump "is the disruptive sort of player that no one wants at their game table" ( https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Byor_o1KfAaTLTl4R0JpSW4wZTQ/view ), while Mrs. Hillary "counts the pieces before you start assembling the jigsaw puzzle". Nevertheless, I would rather sit down with Mr. Trump for a game - he might turn out a no-nonsense D&D gamer who'll take the lead in the dungeon, while the scary lady would probably call me out for misgendering an elf.

    With respect to the people I game with, I don't select my friends on the basis of their politics. When I started out, the gamers I had around me in that suburban dystopia were, shall we say, rather well to the right (that is, they were by and large skinheads and racists). Those were the people I could rely on to game with, sorry. Today, I mainly play with a company of godless liberals and city slickers where I stick out far in the opposite direction - people in my other (local) gaming group are too busy with their kids, mortgages and small businesses to game regularly anymore.

    Most of these people have brought worthwhile things to the table, and the ones who didn't, were disruptive due to issues that had little to do with their politics. I have found that people are fun when you can talk politics with them on a forget-and-forgive basis - this was part of the Old Internet's draw when it was a big free-for-all filled with cranks and oddballs. It is fine to tell people to fuck off and die in a ditch, as long as you can let things go and not let it poison the ground. It is the magic of free speech. This is something the SJW left (and by extension the New Internet) has forgotten, and they will learn it via a judicious application of karma that there is a hell of a backlash when you burn a few bridges too many.

    Because it turns out there are actually plenty of people who have a thing or two to say about genderfluid elves. There are a whole lot gamergaters, identitarians, Trump fanboys, mysogynerds, ironic and honest-to-goodness racists, shitlords, gun-toting libertarians, traditionalists and pretentious young conservatives in gaming. They are typically not that much on social media, which is hopelessly infected with purple-haired politics and increasingly open about censoring right-wing users, but they are out there elsewhere, and growing more numerous as normal people get called out on some bullshit issue or banned from RPGNet or doxxed on a social network. Things add up.

    At the end of the day, Mr. Trump got elected despite all predictions to the contrary, after running against both parties, and the media, and the tech giants and social networks and that stupid industry endorsement. More than that, he did it by running the most fun presidential campaign in recent history (and that's quite something after Obama's 2008 run). The man know entertainment. He would have a place at my table, and I'd even let him use his priceless gold dice.

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    1. I have found that people are fun when you can talk politics with them on a forget-and-forgive basis

      That about sums it up, for me.

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  12. Great post. I wish I had written it, but I probably couldn't have put it so well.

    I would add this. That a "transgendered" person would feel more "welcome" at some random D&D table because there are eight paragraphs in Core Book #2 or Mega-Module #5 that state that good elves are pro-transgender and bad elves are anti-transgender is insane. I mean, if they sit down at a table with a bunch of rude jocks who want to mock them for being different, those paragraphs aren't going to save them. On the other hand, if they're playing with their friends, it's completely superfluous.

    So it's virtue signaling, nothing more. The authors aren't interested in transgendered people per se. They're interested in being liked by, or staying on the good side of, the "SJW" (for lack of a better term) crowd, the vast majority of whom are of course not transgendered. I suppose they're also at a philosophical point where they actually feel that they must insert their politics into their art to validate both and to validate their own seriousness as good human beings or whatever.

    I will say that there has been a fair amount of, not so much opposition per se, but more like mocking, among anti-SJW people. I mean, politics aside, the whole thing just seems so heavy-handed and boring. Wouldn't it be more interesting or surprising or whatever if, say, the bad elves (as bad as they are on most things) were right on this issue and the good elves (as good as they are on most things) were wrong on it? See, things aren't all black and white? Now wouldn't that be a mature lesson for adults as well as an interesting twist for one's fantasy world? But nooo. These days moral complexity itself is probably thought of as White Supremacist.

    And of course you can imagine the howls if Drow (Drow!) were made the pro-transgender ones. What could Wizards be implying with that? There would be SJW mobs with pitchforks outside of their offices.

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    1. Well I think Crawford is an LGBT activist and sees trans people as on his side - so he is interested in them to that extent. I think his boss Mearls just cares about making a good game, wants to keep people happy, sympthasises with left liberal views without being an SJW himself, and is maybe a bit too passive of a personality to keep Crawford in check.

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    2. The only truth here is that identity politics are making it harder to simply recognize what an interesting idea this is, with lots of unique territory to explore in terms of story potential.

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    3. Yes, I think Nicholas put it well. And I definitely agree with Oakes that the really interesting thing would have been to use this as an opportunity to do something genuinely thoughtful and complex.

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  13. Donald Trump? I agree with many of his views, but I think as a player he might well be a dick. So I'd probably be reluctant to play with him. He might be ok as a GM; I'd probably give him a try.

    Nerds didn't use to be 'on the left' as a group; science fiction nerd-dom in particular had a strongly Libertarian bent, and even reading the letters pages of White Dwarf & Dragon from the '80s, to the extent I see any politics (more common in WD) it'd be vaguely Libertarian if anything. Our lovely cultural Marxist friends of course work hard to make everything political and take control of the commanding heights of nerd-land just like everywhere else, but I still doubt that nerds as a group are necessarily left wing. Some groups like HEMA enthusiasts naturally trend right-wing, while Trekkies will naturally trend social-democrat left, and pre-Disney Star Wars had fairly conservative tropes.

    Re the specific controversy, I do worry about this ham-fisted virtue signalling by Crawford causing trouble in real games, especially the kind of open table stuff I do. I guess the easiest thing is just to let someone play a sex-fluid elf if they really want. If I can GM for real transgender players with five o'clock shadow semi-flirting with me at the table, I can certainly GM for imaginary sex-swapping elves, right?

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    1. Well, I think reasonable and rational people take the general view: you can basically be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want at the table as long as you play in the spirit of the campaign. Unfortunately that doesn't work for small minorities (although I have to say I've never actually met anybody that didn't work for - and I've played at some tables with some people with quite fucked-up views of various kinds!).

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    2. "you can basically be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want at the table as long as you play in the spirit of the campaign"

      That's my feeling, and it works for most people. I have had a very few players who joined a campaign then objected to the setting tropes. I had one campaign where a female player objected to the setting being mildly patriarchal while a male player objected to the setting allowing female warriors... oddly enough they were both right wing politically and the female player was basically a warrior IRL, being an experienced bodyguard. At the time Blackwater were trying to recruit her for Iraq!

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  14. I think what you're stating here is incredibly important. In games and in any other aspect (other than politics) of life. I live and was raised in a country (Spain) that was, and still is, deeply polarized, politically speaking. Taken to the extreme, I may end being friends with somebody whose grandfather could have killed my grandfather, or with somebody from the opposite end of the political spectrum.

    Against that reality, I've met many people that stop being friends with other people when they realize that their political inclinations don't match. However, I've always preferred another motto, very similar to your post: "You should be able to be friends with people who believe things that you consider abhorrent." We must separate the person from the political belief. If not... well, we already know how those things end.

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    1. Yes, that is a great motto.

      I think this is more of an American thing than a European one. Much as I love America, I'm always mystified by how readily they seem to embrace divisiveness. But it's definitely happening more and more in Britain too - the crazy things you see written about people who voted the "wrong" way in Brexit, for example.

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    2. Agree with noisms. I don't like how strongly Americanised our British culture has become, how we seem to embrace all these divisive tropes - albeit in a half-arsed British way. >:)

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    3. I've my best friend and a family member living in Britain, so I can relate to your pains.

      I assume the problem of these recent (at least in Europe) changes might lay in a loss of maturity as individuals; the impossibility of thinking that somebody can reach different conclusions or believe different things without being stupid/uncultured/brainwashed.

      Or maybe is the fact that, thanks to the Internet (and I love it, don't misunderstand me), we've grown used to argue over complicated and touchy subjects without first paying respect to the other person.

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    4. "You should be able to be friends with people who believe things that you consider abhorrent."

      So if we take this to an extreme, it should be possible for me to form a friendship with someone who considers women as things to be controlled?

      I would hope that, if you believe something to be right and good, you have the balls to stand up to people who believe the opposite and call them out for their shitty beliefs.

      Not that I'm trying to pick a fight ~ I'm trying to understand how anyone can live with that sort of cognitive dissonance.

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    5. It isn't possible to be friends with somebody and tell them that something they believe is bullshit?

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    6. There's a big different between what people are and what they believe in. To begin with, what a person believes is good and correct can change many times during a lifetime; I know because I've experienced those changes first-hand.

      Also, a person can show me kindness, love, respect or friendship while not matching my beliefs. It's precisely that what makes me engage in conversation with such person. You might end changing their mind or, even them changing yours, who knows.

      To summarize: people != their opinions.

      Dehumanizing the other is in the syllabus of "How to create fanatics and zealots 101", and that's precisely where equating a person with their beliefs leads to.

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    7. This seems to be a position that blatantly ignores observable phenomena.

      If I were to say to you, "I'm a vegan," and proceed to eat a hamburger in front of you, you would think I'm either delusional or up to something ~ because how could I possibly claim to be something when my actions demonstrate that my claim is a lie?

      Can a person claim a belief if he behaves in a manner that demonstrates that belief is false?

      It is possible to be friends with a person who behaves like this. I would tell him he's full of shit, but I would still be his friend because there's no discernible impact to the lie.

      Now let's substitute this belief with something far more reprehensible: misogyny, racism, bigotry, take your pick.

      I'll return to my first example: if you learn that a friend and fellow hobbyist, who's been sitting at your table for years, is a rapist ~ like, no shit, you're out drinking one night and he relates a story of a time that he forced himself on this girl who was passed out but it's okay because she was totally into him earlier in the evening ~ you're okay with saying, "Well, I disagree with your beliefs, but you're still welcome at my game?"

      I get it. We want to be inclusive. We want to like people. We don't want to start fights over truly petty, inconsequential differences.

      But isn't there a point where that ideal is an unreasonable extreme?

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    8. I don't think this parallel is correct. In the first scenario A had a belief (veganism) that turned out to be false, and B was okay with it. In the second scenario A had a belief (misogyny) that turned out to be true.

      It is implicit that B has a belief in the second scenario, but not necessarily in the first one.

      Also, it is worth saying that there _is_ a difference between actually treating someone as an object and making half-serious jokes about how women cannot drive, just like there is a difference between being less friendly and trustworthy with a foreigner and actually lighting their car on fire.

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    9. ...this is why I shouldn't blog while drunk.

      You're correct, I meant to compare a vegan with a misogynist, as both representative of actions based on beliefs.

      At the same time, there is such a thing as a false belief, and I think that's where we tend to get confused.

      A person may claim a false belief ~ like saying meat is bad for you but you still eat it ~ or claiming to be Christian but never observing the rites or rituals of the religion ~ and in those cases, I think it's accurate to say, "The person =/= the belief."

      But I don't think false beliefs are the same as true beliefs, and it's the latter that are concerning when they're about terrible things.

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    10. I'm afraid I just don't follow the points being made here.

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  15. I'm reminded of an old episode of the US show Northern Exposure (early 90s). It was the 'Thanksgiving' episode of one season or another. In it, the retired astronaut Maurice and two semi-regulars who portrayed openly gay characters were at the town's final dinner gathering. Maurice, by the writers' admission, was supposed to embody 'the best and worst of the United States'. At the dinner, he lets the two gay characters know that he is repulsed by what they are and what they do, but nonetheless admires them for other reasons. They respond by saying they despise almost everything Maurice stands for, but then go on to say how much they personally admire and respect him. That was supposed to be where we were heading in terms of agreeing to disagree and being open to other opinions.

    Somewhere between the late 80s/early 90s and the early 00s, that changed. Why, I can't guess. But change it did. Tolerance and diversity mean nothing today, except a buzzwords. I could go on forever about the possible reasons. But it's clear that there is no real desire for tolerance, any more than there was a desire to understand Communism from Communists' POV in the 1950s. But unlike the 1950s, this new intolerance is not condemned as much as supported by those institutions that once guarded against such developments (arts and entertainment, journalism, academia). Thus we're seeing some people feel they must keep their objections hush-hush, or go underground to some extreme counter-movement. Especially as this new intolerance finds its way into every nook and cranny of society - including gaming.

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    1. I increasingly think the world is divided into people who can remember those days you describe, and people you don't.

      I can remember going out for a drink with actual honest-to-God "Apartheid was a great idea" South African and an actual honest-to-God "White people are money-grubbing cockroaches" Black former-US Marine and them both having a great laugh chatting about girls and music they both liked. The way you see things described on the internet these days, I must have been hallucinating that because it is literally impossible that it could happen.

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    3. Three observations:

      1) Nobody said that society was ever tolerant. We were making the observation that at one point tolerance was generally described as being a goal. Now it isn't except as lip service.
      2) You haven't explained why tolerance isn't "generally feasible". In my life, I've found that it is.
      3) It is possible to be friends with somebody while challenging their beliefs. That's part of what being friends is.

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    4. 1) I phrased it a little unclearly, you're right. I mean that we (if I can be insane and presumptuous and speak for disenfranchised minorities generally) were never tolerant of those who, in belief or in action, sought to maintain/further our oppression. And of course they were never tolerant of us. (They may have had us for drinks but they were still voting against us.) The kind of tolerance we called for is tolerance of *us*. We want a society that's tolerant of differences with respect to gender, race, sexuality, etc. Not an ideologically tolerant society. This sort of tolerance was generally described as a goal by those with nothing to lose from it---the straight cis white christian moderate. Not by the people fighting for their freedom.

      2) Are you a member of a disenfranchised minority? How often, in your life, have you faced people who directly believed that your existence is a sin, or that you are inferior by birth, or that you are in fact insane? If that happens often, I really want to here your strategies for peaceful coexistence. If it does not, I don't see why your thoughts on the matter are particularly relevant. I do face those people, regularly, and it sucks.

      3) Of course it's possible! Just really really hard, if you're the minority they are prejudiced against. I can be more detailed about the difficulties if you like, but it'd be exhausting and awful. So if you aren't a disenfranchised minority, I'd prefer you just take my word for it: it fucking sucks. And then, of course, you do have to actually challenge their beliefs. But it seems to me that's not what you're expressing elsewhere on this page---as it stands you're saying something more like "We should all just get beers and talk about other things".

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    5. "Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them."

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    6. I'm not sure how playing a game of D&D with, say, a devout Jehovah's Witness who is against gay marriage indicates a failure to defend a tolerant society from the intolerant.

      It's very easy to take radical and extreme stances on the internet. I'm more interested in actual real life.

      Canyon: I'm not sure how this blog entry has come to be interpreted as me suggesting that gay people should play D&D with outright homophobes or black people should play D&D with people who are openly discriminatory. In both those circumstances, the person in question would be behaving like a dick, and I specifically said I wouldn't game with somebody I thought was a dick.

      What I'm saying is that there is a vast territory of human interactions in which people who have extreme opinions in the abstract can get along with one another, and part of that territory is playing games. And in the long term that territory is where the battle for tolerance will be fought and won. Not with everybody on the sidelines sticking their fingers in their ears and grandstanding about how much they hate bigots.

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    7. But having a belief *only* in the abstract is rare. (Well, for vices. It's certainly common to believe in the goodness of charity in the abstract without this belief ever manifesting in action.) They tend to manifest, and not just in obvious ways.

      Somewhere in the comments here you talk about a super-racist friend with crazy thoughts on miscegenation. You also say his beliefs were entirely in the abstract. But that's obviously false, because he talked about them all the time, and saying "I think mixed children are an abomination!" is certainly both a manifestation of the belief and dickish. And I promise you he's made reasonable people uncomfortable with that kind of talk.

      But people can be prejudiced, say homophobic, without behaving like dicks. They just have to be strange and uncomfortable to be around when, for instance, gays kiss near them. Or vote against gay marriage. Or make stereotyped assumptions. And it's actively unpleasant for a gay person to be around someone like that as they manifest their homophobia.

      Moreover lots of these sorts of behaviors can't be cured by just exposing someone to queer culture and people. Oftentimes they seem totally unproblematic to the person doing them. You have to show them that they are being a bigot before they are willing to try and change.

      Everything you've said so far has been about how you had a great time despite their beliefs. As I'm trying to express that's only rarely an option for the people in the minority the person is prejudiced against. And you've left these people exactly the same. Perhaps I am wrong. If so, I would love to hear stories about how you've made them better just by hanging out.

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    8. "You have to show them that they are being a bigot before they are willing to try and change."

      My views precisely. And you don't do that by ostracising them. That's not how human nature works. People don't react to that by examining their behaviour. They react to it by getting pissed off and becoming more extreme.

      You seem to know an awful lot about me from the comments you're leaving here, for somebody who's never met me. What evidence am I going to give you? I could tell you the truth, I could tell you lies, whatever. I don't know you from Adam and I suspect no anecdote I could give you would convince you. So what's the point? Let's agree to disagree. I have lived in different countries, different places, known lots of people from lots of different places around the world with all kinds of different beliefs. Everything I've learned from that suggests to me that making grand statements about not associating with people who have views X, Y or Z will get you absolutely nowhere in life, and will make the world more polarized and extremist. You experience things differently. Fine!

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    9. I think Canyon is missing that Noisms is making a general point, not just about people Canyon dislikes. Should one play D&D with extremists like Canyon? IMO, if they can keep their politics to themselves and play D&D. If they're being a dick, then not.

      Luckily, being a dick is much more common in Internet comments threads than IRL.

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    10. >>Everything I've learned from that suggests to me that making grand statements about not associating with people who have views X, Y or Z will get you absolutely nowhere in life, and will make the world more polarized and extremist. You experience things differently.<<

      I'm pretty sure he experiences things the same way we all do. But for extremists like him, making the other side more extreme is a goal - it 'demonstrates the violence inherent in the system' etc, and thus helps justify their own extremism.

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    11. noisms: I'm fine with agreeing to disagree. (And I've deleted my first comment because it was a) off base b) needlessly aggressive c) muddled my point hopelessly.) But I'd like to clarify something first.

      I don't know you at all, obviously. I've never met you. Everything I'm saying is based on what you are saying here on this page. That's why I keep asking you to say more about the kind of person you are and the things you've done. Because AS IT STANDS you've talked exactly 0 times about actual attempts to free people from their racist or sexist or homophobic beliefs USING THE METHOD YOU DISCUSS HERE. All you talk about is trying to get along with racists, sexists, and homophobes in spite of their beliefs. I don't ask these questions because I doubt your good will, just the efficacy of your methods. Similarly that's why I ask if you're a member of a relevant minority. Because I don't know. But the answer has important consequences for the general applicability of your advice.

      S'mon: We all have the same *form* of experience; that's part of what it is to be human. But (at the risk of stating the obvious) we do not all have the same content in our experience. Moreover different reasonable people can judge the same event differently because different features will be relevant to them, and some of these features will carry connotations for one viewer that they do not carry for the other. These connotations can be painful. This fact is often mysterious to a person who doesn't recognize those connotations. Consider for instance the situations in which you might say: "What's your problem? It was just a joke!"

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  16. "But almost invariably, when opinions are filtered through the good humour, self-deprecation, negotiation and common sense of face-to-face conversation, they are revealed to be absolutely no reason for anybody not to enjoy another person's company. "

    I've heard this numerous times - that I should be able to enjoy the company of people advocating for the death and/or removal of human and civil rights for me and my loved ones as long as they are done in good humour. Because politics shouldn't interfere with friendship or something. Because if I don't I'm trapping myself in an "echo chamber" and that such echo chambers are a far worse thing than having "friends" that actively work towards erasing your existence.

    I call BS.

    There is zero benefit to me to game with bigots.

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    1. Dyson Logos appears to believe that the world is filled with D&D tables made up of smiling people advocating or desiring that he and his loved ones be put to death. I cannot believe he actually believes this. If he does, he is quite literally insane.

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    2. Wait, who is trying to destroy civil rights and erase people?

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    3. Where did I say that you should enjoy the company of people advocating your death or who are actively working towards erasing your existence? You went from 0 to 11 pretty quickly there.

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    4. It's ok not to play D&D with people who are trying to murder you.

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    5. Who do you believe is trying to kill you, and why?

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    6. Dude. There are literal nazis marching in American streets. White supremacists are terrifying if you're not one of them. As a gay person who games there have always been hot gay orcs and genderfluid elves.

      But as a gay person I also believe that the white supremacist reactionary people in this country want me dead-end that's what they say when they go on TV.

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    7. Antifa and BLM and their ilk are definitely terrifying. You’re right about that. So it’s a good thing that we elected the most pro-LGBT president in history, isn’t it?

      And not to worry, regular folks will take care of Antifa. You have nothing to fear from the racist left.

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    8. Guys, let's please not turn this into a place to fight American culture wars.

      The intention behind this post was never to say that I advocate white supremacy or gaming with white supremacists, and certainly not that I advocate gaming with people who want you specifically to be dead - that would be obviously stupid apart from anything else.

      The only reason "white supremacists" came up was in the context of a list of people with crazy or opposite views to mine who I have at times been able to have interesting conversations or even friendships with. I have known a handful white supremacists in my life. The vast majority of them are very sad and lonely people without great prospects who fell sway to a silly ideology because it helps provide an explanation for why they've failed in life. My overwhelming opinion of those people is pity, and I don't see any virtue or benefit in ostracising people who are piteous or casting them out of mainstream society. That doesn't help anybody. The best thing for those kinds of people is to engage with normal people and often, when they do, they become normal themselves.

      The exception was a white South African I worked with for years who openly said all kinds of crazy things about racial mixing but who in reality was perfectly happy to form friendships with people of other races and who was a very interesting guy in other respects. I'm sure in the abstract he believed the daft opinions he had, but they had no effect on his actual behaviour and I took my cue from black and Asian colleagues who basically saw his views as kind of amusing but otherwise liked him and were perfectly happy to go out for drinks, meals, and whatever with him.

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    9. Speaking from a position of power, you're probably right. If you're well-off, successful, safe, probably the best thing to do with a white supremacist loser is to treat him like a normal person, maybe some of it'll rub off.

      But if you're in a position of weakness? If you are the kind of person that is actually discriminated against, if your ancestry, or sexual preference, or views have been held against you and used as a motivation to actually, practically harm you, is it really the best thing to engage with someone who expresses a desire to do so again? Is it even safe?

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    10. "I have known a handful white supremacists in my life. The vast majority of them are very sad and lonely people without great prospects who fell sway to a silly ideology because it helps provide an explanation for why they've failed in life."

      How do you suppose that their ideology persists? If the vast majority are sad and lonely, with few prospects in life, fallen prey to a silly ideology, then how is it that their ideology hasn't died out over the years?

      And no offense meant, but isn't this issue of tolerance an issue for all cultures throughout the world? I've read quite a bit these past few years about Europe's growing racism problem; how is it necessarily just an American issue?

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    11. An example of what I mean: these ideologies are being supported, advanced and propped up by people like this.

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    12. Well, it persists because there are lots of very sad and lonely people out there with few prospects in life.

      I also think that the polarization happening thanks to social media and the internet is forcing people of all political persuasions to get more extreme, and this includes racists.

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    13. And a way to push back against this polarization and extreme is to correct someone in person when they say or do something that is inappropriate.

      And we have the opportunity to do that every time we sit at the table with fellow gamers.

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    14. Well, exactly! And you don't get anywhere on that front by not gaming with people who have views you don't like, do you?

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    15. Correct.

      However...

      In order to be in a position where you have a reasonable chance of positively influencing their beliefs ~ moving them away from bad beliefs ~ you have to be willing to put in the time. Which means putting up with their bad beliefs.

      Sorry, I keep going back and forth on the topic. I guess what I'm driving at is the idea that it's not possible to settle on a prescription for these sorts of relationships. Each individual has to decide for himself whether it's worth the effort, on a case-by-case basis, to continue any kind of relationship with someone who holds such diametrically opposing views.

      Not that my conclusion is going to settle this argument, either, but I think I'm trying to say: noisms and Canyon are both right, from a certain point of view.

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  17. @ Noisms:

    I get where you're coming from, man, but I have to say I'm more on the side of Dyson. I've happily gamed with (and will continue to game with) people outside of my "norm:" different political parties, different religions, different sexualities, different genders, different races. But I have a complete intolerance against folks who are intolerant. Sorry, but I'm probably NOT going to game with someone who proudly sports a swastika on their sleeve.

    That being said, I can see a lot of reasons besides bigotry for not wanting to include "sexfluid elves," not the least of which has to do with putting money into the pockets of WotC just for the privilege. To me discrimination against sexfluid elves is the same as discrimination against "dragon born" or "tieflings;" it isn't bigotry, it's editing to taste. Players interested in exploring issues of non-binary gender identification at the game table are welcome to do so, but issues of SETTING, including the magical biology of elves, is the DM's prerogative.

    [I suppose one could call that "a slippery slope" towards intolerance and bigotry, but it is what it is: the DM's role BY DEFINITION is to create setting for the players' exploration. There are other RPGs besides D&D that have more shared narrative responsibility when it comes to setting. When playing with D&D's rules, the DM acts as final editor of the imaginary setting]

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    1. I dunno. I think it's easy to point to the pantomime Nazi. The reality is that the person you're thinking of - the in-your-face racist or thuggish white supremacist - is going to fall foul of the "don't be a dick" rule pretty straightforwardly.

      Life's more complex. Those people are bogeymen of the liberal left and don't actually exist except in absolutely miniscule numbers.

      I'm more thinking: one of my best friends is a Jehovah's Witness. He's not so devout anymore. But when he was, he was anti-gay marriage, anti-non-binary gender identification and all that jazz. That's true of Mormons and Muslims I've known too. But those people were all brilliant, nice, wonderful people - polite, interesting, great company. They would never have actually behaved anything other than perfectly politely and decently towards a gay person. In the abstract they might be "intolerant". But in actual reality, they were anything but.

      Fact is, I can think of plenty of "intolerant" Mormons I'd rather hang out with than your average "tolerant" left-liberal type.

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    2. And I’ve gamed with people that some might consider “dicks,” and stil had a good time. A homophobic Mormon isn’t the same as a person willing to do violence to someone else for reasons I consider bigoted.

      (as an aside...the practicing Mormons I’ve come in contact with didn’t really want to hang with ME, though they were nice enough, in general)

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    3. Well yes, but I mean, seriously: the number of people who would actually willingly do violence to somebody else for reasons you'd consider bigoted is really miniscule and those people by their behaviour will just fall foul of the requirement not to be a dick.

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  18. A blog post about hypothetical people who like social progress just so they can be mad at hypothetical people. The irony is only exacerbated by the fact that you made a point to call it "sexfluidity" while knowing that's not the term being used to talk about the topic.

    It wouldn't be possible that there are people who just like something, right?

    Honestly, this post comes off as one hell of a lot of projection. If your post describes a reality in which people live, you act in accordance to it.

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    1. Yep. You sure told me. Good for you.

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  19. What I find fascinating in all this nightmare of identity politics is just how blatantly corporate it is and how easily you can shill out a presumably bland, uninteresting or even terrible product and people will defend it solely for preaching 'the right thing'.

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    1. I do think the elephant in the room here is that this book costs 50 US dollars. 50 US dollars! So 5th edition is a broad tent but it's 40 quid for a book that 20 years ago you would have been able to buy for 10. If you're on a low income you're stuck with the non sexfluid elves.

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    2. It's still clear that WotC (unsurprisingly owned by Hasbro) has made it clear that they 'chose a side' in making and releasing this book. They want the money of gullible 'modern geeks' who will happily pay for a book about elf sexuality just to be sure to use as a detector for any player who doesn't share their ideology and also so they can tell everyone they bought this book and what a good person they are for doing it.

      The thing is, do we really need such a book? A game's world exist only in the head of the GM and player and my guess is that people who would buy it already have their world filled with gay, lesbian and transgender characters to begin with. Does one really need a book for this? Do you badly need an official WOTC seal of approval to add diverging sexual orientations to your world?

      My gut says no but this book's existence seems to imply the answer is apparrently yes.

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    3. "The thing is, do we really need such a book?"

      The *book's* not focused on this rule option. It's probably one text box in 300 pages.

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  20. Avowing and disavowing more vociferously than anyone else is an excellent way to attain status if you can't actually make anything of value. Tolerance and diversity quickly become code for submission and homogenisation when applied to anything larger than a small group. All the diversity-cult wants is a gang of palette-swapped true believers, and business is happy to cheer them on so long as it gets its own herd of palette-swapped consumers.

    Good article on secular puritanism here: http://jcrao.freeshell.org/Americanism.html

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  21. Terrific post, noisms. Stridency in our (online) public spaces has all sorts of ill-effects, but perhaps the worst is that it puts barriers between people where none should be, including in leisure activities as these are increasingly organised online.

    Sport is a bit of an exception at the moment, perhaps: when you're all muddied oafs together, which party you might support at the next election is far less important than making sure that everyone's got a drink after the game. That should be the norm, but I fear that our in-group/out-group tendencies have been so inflamed by social media that it's becoming less common - especially as we can know so much more about each other in advance of having a conversation.

    I've certainly played sport with people who held some fairly bigoted views (especially in Asia, where you hear plenty of prejudices aired that would be far less acceptable in the West). And you know what? I'm fairly sure that quite a few of those people ended up *less* bigoted as a result of conversations with me and other teammates. That's got to be a good thing, surely.

    On "sexfluid elves": I ran a one-off game of Tales of Blades and Heroes for my kids and their friends at the end of 2016. One girl swiftly developed an elaborate backstory for the male elf she was playing (TBH is miniatures first, characters developed from them after), which included a spontaneous/magical sex change in order to become a better fighter (with the possibility of a change back when s/he returned to the forest). And that was terrific.

    So I've no objection to elves changing their sex (and it might even have a certain folkloric resonance, in that elves were associated with incubi at certain times, and there's a tradition that holds that succubi turn into incubi ...).

    But I do think that most of the background fluff put out for D&D is pretty weak. Indeed, I'd argue that it's never been a strength of the game. The great thing about D&D is that it's this mad gonzo sandbox with little dog-men and nasty pig-men and owlbears and whatnot. Trying to impose any sort of coherence on that really should be the job of the players and DM, I think. Whenever TSR and WotC have attempted it with their background stuff, it's always struck me as utterly lame - not a patch on the sheer invention and coherence of Tekumel or Glorantha, and without the real-world resonances of Dragon Warriors or Warhammer FRP.

    So, while sex-changing elves are fine by me, I always struggle somewhat with idea that anyone does anything with this sort of D&D background content: unconvincing religions and one-per-species cultures and so on. I glanced through the Volo's monster book recently and was amused by how half-orcs are stated to be *only* the result of political alliances between humans and orcs: no Sarumanic breeding pits here - heaven forfend! Like so much official D&D background stuff, it's just all a bit *bland*, with all the jaggedness and horror of the source material leeched out.

    I fear it was ever thus, though: I recall The Orcs of Thar being an astonishingly dull supplement when compared with Trollpak. For me, D&D is at its best when it keeps things bare-bones (like the original Monster Manual) and invites the players to fill in the many blanks.

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    1. This is what happens when you 'sanitize' and 'gentrify' something for mass appeal: it lose all sort of interesting story elements and end up a much less mature product in the process. The fantastical, uncomfortable and terrifying become mundane and tamed. It lose any resemblance to the rich (but often fucked up) mythology and fantasy literature which inspired it.

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    2. Welcome to the end-stages of the commodification of the geek culture and its symbols. This, always, is the fate of successful subcultures under capitalism (and I say this as someone who doesn't despise capitalism).

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    3. In my case it's mildly disturbing because I am quite young compared to a lot of people who look at OSR blogs, being 26. This makes me old enough to recall a time of being ostracized for being a 'nerd' and a 'weirdo' but young enough to interact with people whose only exposure to Tabletop RPG come from crap like Critical Role and whatever that crummy show Will "Shut up, Wesley!" Wheaton did.

      I'm also old enough and lucky to have a Trekkie father so I see this guy for the permanent turd that he is and it horrifies me he's been crowned some sort of 'Geek Royalty'.

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    4. JC: I think you're right, although I'm not sure it was quite as "ever thus". AD&D 1st edition was bland, but I think a lot less bland than the current iteration.

      That said...yeah, I totally get you. I can't imagine people actually doing stuff with the "official" D&D background content - except 11-year-olds maybe?

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    5. Well, there are exceptions but they are few and and far between. Not to mention far less popular than the semi-default of Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms of 3e and 5e.

      As 'heretical' as it may seem, 4e certainly had one of the better default and implied settings in that it embraced that default D&D was a more gonzo place than the barely-medieval place other settings use. As for actual, published settings: they're, from my limited experience, never anywhere as popular. Eberron and Dark Sun may be interesting worlds with unique ideas but good luck getting a group of nu-D&D players to even take a glance at it and not think it's too weird.

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  22. Shortly after my friends and I reached adulthood, a number of my friends became doormen (read "bouncers") at the hot new nightclub in town, where they worked for a few years.

    A handful of the regulars were pimps and drug dealers. They were also very personable, and were generally among the doormen considered to be "good guys", once you got to know them. I'm sure they would have been perfectly pleasant to game with. Never mind that they victimized women and/or murdered people for a variety of business related reasons. I know at least some of them ended up dead themselves.

    Now, the above is a fairly dramatic example, but I’ve seen countless, subtler examples of “good guys” doing bad things for my entire adult life. Sadly, my career often has me dealing with the aftermath of various types of extortion, graft and corruption, generally committed by apparently ordinary people.

    These “good guys” always seem to have plenty of support among other apparently ordinary people. Because most people seem to have a nearly limitless capacity to accept shitty behaviour from other people as long as it is not directed at them. I think people think the really bad behaviour is rare because, in reality, it is so common that it can be pretty tough to get along in life if you don’t find a way to not see it.

    In short, I dispute your proposition that truly shitty people will be dicks at the table. To the other players, that is; I find people tend to reveal themselves through play.

    Now, I share your concern regarding the lack of civil discourse and threat to the principle of freedom of speech. But I reject the proposition that in order to support such discourse I have to invite someone who openly espouses values I find repugnant (otherwise how would I know of them) into my private leisure activities. That time is for people I actually like.

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    1. I think I'm being misinterpreted here. I'm not advocating anybody go out and actively solicit games of D&D with career criminals and racists.

      I'm saying that limiting your sphere of potential fellow gamers to those you agree with about everything, or most things, will severely limit your opportunities for fun and enjoyment. I'm also saying that real life is complicated and quite often it will be possibly to "actually like" people who also espouse values you find repugnant in the abstract.

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  23. I have had an eye on this for a few months. YouTuber found guilty in the UK today of a Hate Crime. 'Offence', properly fake outrage or narcissism, is having a real impact on freedom of speech in the UK.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/20/youtube-user-convicted-hate-crime-pet-dogs-nazi-salutes/

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    1. Let's not turn this into a thread bemoaning the death of freedom of speech. There's enough ink being spilled on the internet about that to kill every squid in the ocean.

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    2. So you want to discuss the freedom to express your real world opinions within a Dungeons & Dragons community without being outcast or ostracized but do not want to discuss the freedom to express opinions in the real world.

      OK nerd.

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    3. No. I'm not discussing the freedom to express real world opinions. I'm saying real world opinions are no reason on their own not to be friends with anyone.

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    5. ...insert long, slow clap...

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  24. "Why buy a book giving you permission to enact the values you supposedly hold dear, when you can just do it anyway?" -> virtue signalling of course, it shows you "care" and are on the right, errr left, side :-)

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  25. Yeah, I don't need a book. All I need is for someone to say, "Wouldn't it be cool if elves had no gender? Like, if they could literally choose their sex at some point during their childhood?"

    Boom. Done. Elves in my world are now gender-neutral until they go through puberty.

    Now to go about incorporating that into their culture...

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  26. You know, the answer the silly question in your title: I don't know, I mean, sometimes even narcissistic 'assholes' can be decent players provided they have the right game and the right group. There are certain types of games where a dickish person with a strong personality, when the group is willing to follow him along within reasons, can be a boon as a group leader who will generate situations of constant mess where anything can happen. Many good leaders in real life situations are assholes to some extent and sometimes it can work to have an enthusiastic prick as long as there is a way to get him in check.

    Before one of my games collapsed (amusingly, for political reasons), I had this player who was clearly the more strong-headed of the bunch and either took charge or, even when he didn't, always made his opinion clearly known on any situation the group encountered. The less assertive players defaulted to him as a leader of sort but never to the point of blind obedience. Anything he'd do they disagreed vehemently they put their foot down but for smaller decisions? They were fine to let a hothead lead.

    That said, this is sadly not the discussion we're having! ;)

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  27. Very thought-provoking post. I suspect it would take a full blog post of my own to fully articulate my response. To try and be brief, I'm glad to agree that those who are obsessed with advancing whatever political agenda they hold to the point of excluding others or wedging it into every activity they pursue are a tiny minority. The internet amplifies this minority. Sadly it's in the tiny, not-so-profitable corners of the Geek Ghetto like tabletop games and print comics where these strident few can really set the tone, because it's just not that big a scene to begin with. For all the sturm und drang about videogames in the last five(?) years, there will never be a practical end to violent games starring square-jawed 35 year old white men as long as those sell, no matter how much progressive lip service EA drops on social media/industry presentations. It's in the thinly-profitable cottage industries I mentioned where there's a risk of the entire scene balkanizing. WotC's D&D crew and Paizo are very small outfits of a few dozen people; tradgames don't make a lot of money but the overhead basically consists of paying a few writers, artists, and bookbinding so even on the big KORPORATE RPGs, there's less oversight; if you personally convince Mike Merls over twitter that making rules for genderfluid elves will help even one person out in the real world feel better about themselves, he can simply have it done. In that sense it just takes one or a few loud voices to have an outsize effect on our little hobby. There is something very tiresome about watching this agonized theater from the sidelines even if you have zero stakes in it whatsoever (like, I don't play 5e anyway so....)
    It is sad that instead of one big online tradgames forum where you might see a greater concentration of activity and, at the risk of the occasional rude exchange, more cross-pollination, the scene has chosen to splinter into countless little neighborhoods of the like-minded where not much goes on.

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    1. Yeah, I think that's a pretty astute set of observations.

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  28. I'm a little late to this discussion but, as someone who enjoys your blog and is also non-binary (not male or female) - it's true that nothing ever stopped me from imagining characters like me in my role-playing games if I wanted to. But also, "no one's stopping you from (doing a thing)" and "an option for (doing a thing) is right there in the 'canon' material" have very different feelings to me. Although I doubt I'll play a genderfluid elf - too much like a wish-fulfillment-y self-insert for me to not be horribly embarrassed about it - it's nice to know that I *could*. Too often I and others in the lgbtq community have to perform mental gymnastics to see ourselves in stories, even just in the background, never mind the starring role.

    So I agree - spending $50 to get permission to play a genderfluid character is unnecessary. Spending $50 on a book in order to demonstrate your "progressive" credentials is even sillier. But knowing that I don't just have to fit myself into the margins - that I'm actively welcome to be part of this game? That's rare and valuable to me.

    Though personally, I'm much more excited about the drow. ;p

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    1. Has it ever occurred to you that this 'welcoming message' is just as much making you a sucker as any other demographic pandered to?

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