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Gorbacz wrote:Ah, the good old "inclusiveness hampers creativity" argument, or "is there a really, really, REALLY good story enhancing reason why this bartender isn't white?".
That's nowhere near what I'm saying, and you know it.I'm not saying there should need to be a reason for it; I'm saying the opposite. I'm saying there should be reason to call attention to it if you do so (like if the character was cursed and shares the story with you, or they have a story that happens to mention it, or if it's just physically obvious and a PC asks). I don't think a character description is going to include "Yeah, this messenger you just met that's going to give you the envelope with your orders in it is human, pretty tall, has brown hair, he's wearing some beaten-up-looking chainmail, has a light mace hung on a loop on his belt, and over his chainmail he's wearing a tabard with the words I'M A TRANSSEXUAL, ASK ME ABOUT IT messily embroidered in a circle around the royal army's emblem in blue thread. He looks to have been waiting here for a while, and so seems happy to see you've finally arrived." and I doubt in casual conversation they'd just blurt out "So, you're on your way to the Scary Forest of No Not-Scary Things, then? By the way, I used to be a woman." It instead would probably be something written on the sheet the GM has, and you could probably find out with a check to gather information just like finding out where his homeland is or what food he hates. Drawing undue attention makes something seem weird and sets people on tangents. It shouldn't be something super-important; it should be just another fact about the character, like their sexuality or their blood type, unless it's relevant. To use your bartender analogy, it would be rather jarring for a character in a movie to go up to him and say "So, what's it like being Asian?" rather than interacting as normal, or for him to bring up a big backstory about "I was always ostracized at college because everyone told me 'Koreans can't be...
Placing text that states a characters ethnicity is not the same as someone asking "What's it like to be xxxx?" There are a number of assumptions made about characters (white, straight, cis, etc), and text or spoken word don't have the visual benefit that film does. Without calling out a character as not conforming to those assumptions they effectively are those things the bulk of the time. This is not the same as asking, "What's it like being xxxx?" It presents information about the character to give that character depth. Noting that a characters parents were killed by gnolls when the character was a child is never challenged because it gives insight into the characters motivations. To say that culture, orientation, gender identification, religion, and many others aren't at least as important in a persons make up is ridiculous. These are things that have shaped and impacted a persons development every single day of their lives.
Do I NEED to have characters that look like me, or act like, me or speak like me in the things I do. No, I don't. I have spent the bulk of my life without those kinds of characters being present in the things I enjoy. I will manage if they're not there. I absolutely do appreciate it when they are though. It's the difference between saying, "Hey, that looks pretty cool! Is it alright if I join in?" and being told, "Hey, here's this pretty cool thing! It would be great if you joined in!"