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Medusa

Amber Scott's page

Contributor. Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber. 584 posts. 4 reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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I shall be there. Possibly with bells on. :)

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Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Good or bad it's always useful to hear. :)

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Female. I think she's actually the first female protagonist I've written in. Pathfinder fiction. :)

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I'm not a judge in this round, so carry on. ;)

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*furtively cribs notes from this thread*

What? What's that? Oh, nothing. Just carry on.

*slinks off to work on various projects*

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Thanks everyone, this adventure was SO fun to write (and I think you'll like the journal too!)

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Whee, I'm very excited! One might even say...SUPER excited!

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Alright, forget the sexism angle. What about the gimmick angle? Isn’t this basically just a marketing ploy?

I don’t believe so. As others have pointed out, “all women writers!” isn’t exactly a strong selling point, so if it’s a marketing ploy it’s a pretty weak one. From conversations with Louis and the Gamer Girls panel at PaizoCon last week, it seems more likely that it’s an effort by the company to support and develop more female talent in the industry.

Publishers use gimmicks all the time. They publish themed anthologies instead of just taking the best stories. They put popular monsters on covers even if the beastie only appears once halfway through the adventure. They use cheesecake art to get people to pick up the product. They coax tired writers out of retirement to produce lukewarm stories so that the writer’s name can get splashed across the cover. Publishing is marketing, and if women writers sold, you can bet every company in the industry would be hawking their sweet team of superwomen writers by morning. The fact that they’re not shows that an all-female AP is not a marketing ploy, because there are far more lucrative and time-tested marketing ploys.

You keep saying it’s important to develop women writers. Why? Do women really write differently than men?

Of course. Writers from different cultures also write differently. So do writers from different socio-economic classes and writers from different generations. Every individual has a unique existence that shapes his or her writing. Encouraging underrepresented writer groups, of which women writers is but one, invests diversity and a variety of styles and voices into a product line. Gamers are a diverse lot with a variety of tastes and playing styles. It’s unlikely that one subgroup of writers could produce material that appeals to everyone.

This is a ridiculously long post.

Sure is. TL;DR version: I think an all-female AP, in this time and place in the industry, is a good idea that can help develop underrepresented writers and hopefully inspire more women to enter the industry—not because men aren’t doing a good job but because variety is good for the industry.

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But SEXISM!! I mean you basically just said it is totally sexist!

Ok, it’s totally sexist. I have a feeling the schism of this thread will end up being “is sexism ever justified?”

In essence, this is an affirmative action argument. Affirmative action is a set of policies that takes into account non-merit based criteria in order to combat discrimination or to offer opportunities to a historically underrepresented group. The term is American; in Canada we usually call it employment equity. Call it what you will, it’s an incredibly divisive topic. I don’t honestly expect to change anyone’s minds because it is so divisive; this piece is becoming more and more a way to figure out my own thoughts.

In general, I support employment equity provided a number of principles exist beneath the policies. In short:
-the groups who benefit from EE are genuinely underrepresented or discriminated against. Equal opportunity to seek and be considered for jobs does not currently exist at a reasonable level;
-a baseline of merit is required before candidates will be considered, regardless of what group they belong to; and
-enough opportunity exists for members not of that group to find analogous opportunities elsewhere if a specific opportunity is denied them.

My belief system is a bit more complicated than that, but that’s it in a nutshell. In this case, I believe an all-female AP meets the criteria and does more good than harm.

The first point is the most contentious. Women are genuinely underrepresented as writers in my opinion, but hard numbers are difficult to come by. It’s an opinion formed more by experience and anecdote than study. Others have already commented on the baseline of talent required for this AP and there are plenty of jobs available for male writers; there’s not a shortage of opportunity by any means. For these reasons I support this incarnation of EE.

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But ALL women? Isn’t that sexist?

Yes and no. It’s definitely sexist from the point that individuals are being excluded on basis of their gender. The presumed corollary is that all other companies operate as meritocracies and so women have as good a shot as anyone to get into a project. Or at least most of them. But do we really know? As someone pointed out, I was the first female AP writer for Paizo and mine is issue 73. Right up until 72 everyone assumed Paizo was hiring the best writers available and they just happened to be male (right?) Proving that is, of course, impossible. Proving they didn’t and they deliberately sought out male writers is likewise impossible. I happen to be convinced that Paizo hires the best people for the job and it was finally my time; I’m a very experienced writer after all. In fact, I have found Paizo to be the best, most fair and evenhanded company I’ve ever written for.

When you’re a minority writer, it can be difficult to know when you’re losing out on jobs because of your appearance or because of your talent. The default as far as I’m concerned is always to presume my (or others') lack of work is merit-based; I'm (or they're) just not good enough yet. I doubt that's true in every case, though. I’ve experienced sexual harassment and heard of far worse, blatant discrimination levied by experienced writers, publishers, even pretty famous people. I don’t like to name names because, as I said, it’s so hard to prove. But it happens, and it can be very discouraging to non-mainstream writers.

It seems unfair that writers would be excluded from a project because they’re men. Writers are excluded from projects for a ton of reasons that are not merit-based, however. I’ve been excluded from projects because: it’s not my specialty, because I just did something like that, because I’ve never done something like that, because they want someone local, because I’ve written too much for the company recently, and probably because the editor just doesn’t like me. None of those reasons are merit-based. Because an all-female AP is non-merit and gender-based, though, it’s seen as "more" unfair—male writers can’t help being male. That’s true. But writers also can’t help having never worked on monster articles or having written a lot of projects with the word “righteous” in the title (at least, they can’t be responsible for knowing that would make a difference down the road) and no one bats an eye when they are excluded. Sexism is much dicier, and understandably so. It's full of emotion and questions of ethics. Yet I think in this sort of instance, when the balance is so heavily skewed towards men and women are still struggling to contribute to the industry, it can be understood.

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I’d love the chance to jump in here with my thoughts. Ever since the AP was announced I’ve been considering what the ramifications of it are and what objections could be raised. I have a few thoughts on why people might resist the idea of an all-female AP and why I support it. I started writing out my points and it turned into a ginormous megapost so I'll break it up into smaller posts.

(This is all imho/ymmv/etc.)

Why restrict the writers to women? Why not take the most talented writers?

If writing jobs were limited to the most talented, there would be very few of us writing. I know I personally was not as developed a writer when I first started out as I am now. It seems a logical assumption that most jobs are placed via a sort of flowchart where the most talented writers are in the top bin, and if they’re not available you move on to the B-list writers, and so on. But that’s not always the way it works (nor should it be the way it works).

The most important reason for searching for non-A list writers is because if you don’t, you run out of talent quickly. Writers can only produce so much material and there are so many publishers who need material. If you only hire the same people over and over again, you run the talent well dry (and all your products start to look the same). Offering opportunities to new writers is a way to discover and develop new talent and keep the writing fresh. RPG Superstar is an example of this—you could easily make the argument that Paizo shouldn’t be offering jobs to untested people via a contest when they could be using their most talented staff all the time.

RPG Superstar, though, is seen as a meritocracy, and in a lot of cultures merit is seen as a neutral, laudable method for selecting individuals. It’s hard to argue with “the best person gets the job.” Where meritocracies fail is when individuals are barred from entry on non-merit based criteria before the selection process (and there are other potential issues, but entry criteria is the one I’ll focus on, as the others are much more philosophical and convoluted).

I’ll probably come back to this idea of self-opting out of a system later, knowing me, but for now I’ll say that there are not many women in writing, and for a publisher to consciously solicit and develop female talent is a smart way to build new blood in a company.

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Thanks for the well-wishes everyone. :) Things are much better now I'm happy to say. I'm looking forward to chatting about CotR and other projects at PaizoCon this year with the people I meet!

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This should be fun! I might even bring a PowerPoint. Put my business degree to good use.

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I can't tell you all how glad I am to hear all these comments. I wrote this book during pretty much the worst year of my life. I remember sitting in the sun with Wes at PaizoCon and telling him about a friend of mine who had just passed away and how fresh and raw everything was.

I returned to Canada, went back to school, and in between classes and helping my newly-widowed best friend and dealing with my own grief (and an unexpected medical issue--yeah, it was quite a year), I wrote this book. It was comforting, in a weird way, to leave behind "earthly" things and contemplate what the ultimate good in a multiverse would look like. I tried very hard to give capital-g Good a lot of nuance and a lot of different dimensions. To think of all the different kinds of suffering and what would provide a balm. I hope I invested in it the gravity and peace and joy that I imagined during the writing.

Of course I tried to put in a lot of fun flavour and mechanics too, a lot of cool options and awesome crunch. I love how the mystery cultist turned out, particularly the capstone ability. I love the spells. And the mortification rituals! The empyreal lords, as you can imagine, were the most fun to write. I've always loved fairy tales and myths and legends and I tried to draw on them to make the lords epically fantastic, like Tabris covering seven leagues at a step, or Ragathiel wrestling in the Maelstrom for 16 years, or Eritrice's origin. I love Arshea and Bharnarol and Irez and of course Vildeis and who am I kidding, all of them.

This is not to say the book is perfect and those who have complaints, I will take them to heart. I just wanted to say that this book was a labour of love and also healing and I'm so glad it turned out the way it did.

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Reading these comments has pretty much made my month. Possibly year. So glad everyone is enjoying the book!

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I'm so excited to see this in print. Very cool hearing all your comments. :)

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Thank you, everyone! Yes this is my first AP and while I'm no stranger to long, complex projects, an AP installment was certainly a dragon of a different color. The Paizo team gave me a tremendous amount of support and guidance, as always, and I think this series is going to be amazing. Can't wait to see it in print!!

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I am also a Female Gamer (though I didn't know until now that I qualified for capital letters -- yippee!) and a Female Game Designer and I like the occasional scantily clad woman as well. What I don't like is a pervasive, unchanging image of the scantily clad fantasy-woman as the only available model in RPGs. Variety, after all, is the spice of life.

-Amber S., who likes sexy medusas


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