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DM Under The Bridge wrote:
This brings up a very important point, however, in that it seems to me a lot of D&D settings, Golarion prominent among them, are not pre-questioning of gender norms at all. That is why women can have such prominence as warriors in large swathes of the world. Patriarchial norms still exist somewhat, but it is quite obvious that the setting is very modern on the issue of gender politics. This applies not just to Golarion, but to Forgotten Realms and Eberron. The three of those together shape a lot of the community.
Furthermore, since it does seem that we are talking about Golarion specifically here, I would also like to challenge the idea that the setting was ever really meant to be historical in an accurate manner, or authentic. Golarion certainly doesn't look like any historical period I know of, what with that eclectic mix of weaponry from centuries apart being used side by side, technology and society that is as Renaissance as it is Medieval, and an strange mix of Medieval and Modern social mores that seems quite common to the fantasy genre. Golarion certainly isn't historical at all. What with all the magic about and interventionist dieties, I would also not expect it to look like any particular period in Earth's history. Therefore, including transgender people in Golarion is not inserting them into a historical period in which they did not exist, because Golarion is so socially and technologically different than any period in pre-modern Earth.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
I found paizo creating and placing a trans orc into one of their adventure paths to be very odd. Orcs are short-lived, focused upon reproduction and there has been no indication of gender dysphoria in orcs previously. That was once the case in Western society, as well. Orcs are so hetero they hurt countries with their numbers. The trans orc came across as tokenism, but one in which didn't fit with the setting that has been presented, but I suspect it will fit with the changing setting into which Golarion is becoming. One can deny there is an agenda, but paizo have been very clear in what they want to represent and add in the future (and they certainly defended placing the trans orc even though it did not fit with orcs as they had been presented).
I am not an Adventure Path reader, nor am I particularly fond of the way Golarion portrays Orcs in general, so I cannot comment here.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
I think you are going to find very few examples on the historical ground you are also going to struggle to make it fit, i.e. rare anthropological examples of non-western tribes recognising a third gender is not the same thing as transgender in the peoples of societies today wanting to move between a gender binary that they feel on the wrong side of while feeling stuck in the wrong body.
I wouldn't call the occurence of third genders in non-Western society rare. On that token, we don't know a lot of the ancient European or even Medieval European views on the issue, and likely never will. With so many cultures and time periods, we just don't have a lot of surviving writings about civilian life, and the Medieval period is a thousand years of culture across an entire continent. More Medieval cultures existed than we can count, and we only know the gender mores well for a minority of those cultures.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
Take the claims that "An estimated 2 to 5% of the population is transgender". This has not happened before. This wasn't the case in your grandfather's time and it wasn't the case before that. Their rise in numbers is new and very much a late modernity phenomenon, unless you can prove at least 2% of a previous culture's pop was transgender previously and in the relevant contextsActually, we don't know close to anything about how many people were closeted transgender people prior to the existence of the label. We can't really say the 2% figure can or cannot hold for any pre-modern time. It comes down to whatever it is that causes transgenderism, and we don't have a full answer to that question.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
(third gender islanders doesn't matter if a game isn't set on those islands. Would you not agree?).
By the same token, Golarion is certainly not set in Medieval Europe, so the demographics of transgenderism in Medieval Europe would likewise be irrelevant here.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
We should not just accept or advance the idea that transgender people have been present all across history and cultures without serious evidence to back up such claims.Neither should we say they haven't. It is okay to not know things, and this is something we don't know. From a biological perspective, we cannot imagine that they did not exist, given that we know just enough about the causes of transgenderism to know there is a biological component, but we certainly cannot know how common they are, and we know almost nothing of how they lived.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
Let us not let current political groups rewrite history. Of course without such evidence, putting them in historically based games does not fit. Hatshepsut wearing a beard to solidify her political power does not prove she was transgender when such a term does not seem to even have existed in that time. Nefertiti also took the authority of a male role, the Pharaoh, but had herself portrayed as a beautiful woman (as the perfect woman actually) and was a mother.
When portraying a game in a time period so far back, the only thing that can be done is to make educated guesses or artistic assumptions, because we have no idea whether or not Hatshepsut felt more a man than a woman, and we never will. There are endless gaps like that, and a lot of them go deeper. We don't know enough about Ancient Egyptian urban life to provide an accurate portrayal of any one time period in an Ancient Egyptian city. If you want to play there, you are going to have to take artistic license somewhere, and it goes far beyond Hatshepsut's feelings on gender.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
With major recent changes, all I would like is evidence for the claims of what apparently was.
We cannot claim anything concrete on most historical LGBT+ issues. Nature of the field.
When does Wednesday come? I may be broke, but I set aside the money for a PDF copy. I need this. Occult is exactly how I like magic. This could be one of the most important books for my worldbuilding, especially the whole thing about not having to use the standard Pathfinder magic system (which I may replace with Words of Power). I'm skittish as all get out having to wait through another four days before I can download it.
Lissa Guillet wrote:
I know that wasn't directed at me, but thanks. I needed to hear that.
We had a pretty long thread about this a couple years ago, and much has happened in the LGBT+ world since then. So, I'd like to posit the question again. Do you portray these topics in your games? If you do, how do you do so? Are you happy with the way Pathfinder Adventure Paths and Modules handle the subject?
Personally, I tend to cover LGBT+ issues quite a bit in my worldbuilding, largely because I belong to the community. I much prefer industrial fantasy over medieval fantasy, and I portray social unrest, changing social mores, and protest movements as issues in my setting. One of the major issues being publicly debated in the acceptance of homosexuality in society. I also really like 1920s art styles, and this was a period where Berlin had a thriving gay subculture. I find that a good fit for my setting. I also portray the trans community quite a bit, often as something that gets conflated with the gay and drag communities even though this isn't correct.
I also like portraying societies with third genders that have some acceptance of trans people. Though, even societies with third genders can be bigoted. I wrote up one that is fine with transwomen, but not with transmen, because women acting like men is okay and therefore there is no necessity for a masculine woman to become a man and a woman who does so is incredibly strange and possibly deluded, whereas a man acting like a woman is not okay and therefore a feminine man is better off becoming a woman. This is, of course, based on a fundamental ignorance of what transgenderism actually is, as well as no small amount of misogyny, but that is the point. Just because a society has some acceptance of trans people and more than two genders does not mean it understands trans people or treats them fairly, or that said society can't have a large amount of sexism.
So, to me LGBT+ issues are part of the social fabric of the setting, and have a large role in urban culture and politics. What about you guys?
I don't like medieval fantasy that much, at least as a worldbuilder. I play Dragon Age and Skyrim and Neverwinter Nights and have fun with them, but when I build my own worlds for Pathfinder I never go for something medieval.
I despise small sized races. That's why my worldbuilding never includes them.
I think guns do belong in fantasy, and I no longer build settings without them. I feel the same way about railroads and public transportation, but that's probably because I study Urban Planning and Geography with a focus on transportation in college. I'm so exposed to the subjects that I can't not include them.
I have no objection to Asian elements in my fantasy. In fact, I have few objections to letting some Anime elements bleed in, as long as it doesn't get out of hand or touch certain things like all the women looking or being underage.
I don't really go for traditional adventures. Most of the stuff I build is relatively high when it comes to development and industrialization and has competant police (at least in well settled areas). Adverturer behavior wouldn't logically be tolerated, and the government would of course have it's own professional monster and mage hunters to deal with things that get out of hand. I address this by making those government agents the player characters.
My worldbuilding tends to be pretty optimistic and look like something that'd be pleasant to live in, unlike the standard fantasy setting where peasant life is meh at best and harsh as hell at worst. Since things are pretty stable and prosperous, conflict comes from the idea that the constant efforts of government agents to keep monsters, demons, and rogue mages suppressed are what allows the world to be such a nice place. All that fighting and killing the players do allow the average civilian to live such a comfortable life.
I tend to look towards American history and geography a lot in my worldbuilding. Lot of advantages, especially in terms of making both Western Europeans and East Asians very easy to fit together in the same territory in a logical manner (which is something that is quite important to me), while opening up the game to Native Americans, Mexicans, Africans, Polynesians, and much, much more in terms of characters that have a well established place in the region they live in. An American focus also fits perfectly with my heavy inclusion of railroads and firearms, considering how much popular American history emphasizes trains and guns.
Perhaps it is time to institute volunteer community moderators who have limited power. Just enough to deal with spam and shifting around threads posted in the wrong forum.
captain yesterday wrote:
If I'm a martial, the most optimal combat choice by far is to full attack every round. Even as a Swashbuckler. If I want a cool martial ability, I have to pick one or maybe two, and invest almost all my feats in being able to do those one or two schticks. A caster has neither problem. Plus, casters can typically outdo skill monkeys. Climb? Fly. Stealth? Invisibility. Linguistics? Know Language. Acrobatics? Dimension Door. Not to mention the ability to use save or suck spells that basically no sell characters.
That said, I do think there are solutions. Path of War makes me very happy, and I just got Spheres of Power, which seems so far to be a much better way of handling casters. If I combine the two...
Yes, we'll rally round the flag, mates,
The Golem forever,
We are springing to the call
The Golem forever,
We will welcome to our numbers
The Golem forever,
So we're springing to the call
Kinda-sorta. I'm shifting away from the idea of ban lists and towards the idea of inclusion lists, so as to tell players what they can have, rather than what they can't. The reasons I ban are thematic, and are aimed mostly at spellcasters. I have a specific vision on what magic should be, and not everything in Pathfinder fits that vision. Witchcraft and shamanism are the faces of magic in my setting, not arcane or divine magic. This means Witches, Shamans, Sorcerors, Oracles, and Druids fit outright, as do directly related classes, but a lot of others don't. The main issue is that magic comes from dabbling in mysterious forces or being born to those mysterious forces, and not from plain old book study or a god, and if I refluff everything outside that to be like Witches, Shamans, Sorcerors, Oracles, and Druids, I essentially have a bunch of different mechanical setups that all go into filling the exact same theme. I'm not really sure I want that, so for the moment spellcasters outside those five are excluded. The Alchemist is not excluded (I don't consider it a spellcaster, though I do consider it a magic user). Alchemist derived classes, namely the Investigator, are likewise not excluded. Non-spellcasting Rangers are allowed.
I am considering implementing a mysterious form of rune magic to encompass the arcane classes I have excluded, plus the Cleric, Warpriest, and Inquisitor, all of whom make perfect sense as classes focused on magical writing, as do the Wizard and Bard. If I do this, the runes will predicated on the understanding of specific concepts, not on a magical language, so they can be written in Arabic or Chinese calligraphy as easily as Nordic runes. Also would explain why prepared casters are a thing. The runes must be prepared in the morning, for they require a patient and steady hand and time, and are then used later. If I go with that explanation for Vancian magic, all non Rune Mage spellcasters would become spontaneous casters, and Druids would fall into the Rune Mage category as the intermediaries between that which is civilized and that which is wild. Under this system, Paladins would be excluded from the game for thematic reasons, as Warpriests handle my envisoned role for them just fine, and the the whole theme of a God directly empowering a champion of good does not fit my setting at all.
I've been lving near an Asian supermarket for two years, and this is my first day shopping there. I should not have waited so long. I got:
Taiwanese Cumquat juice with lemon (Never had this sort of thing before, but it tastes amazing)
Not too bad for $18 and change.
What really hit my bank account was university supplies.
What'd I miss? School happened again. Now I have six weeks off, though. I just became the first college graduate on my Mom's side of the family, though not on my Father's side. Sure, it's an associate's degree, but that's more than anyone else related to her. I go on to university for my bachelor's in the last week of August. Until then, I have time to spend here. Then I'll probably get buried again, though maybe not so bad, since I've been overloading on units this past year in order to transfer quickly, and don't plan to continue overloading in university.
Also, saw Jurassic World twice. I don't typically see movies in theaters, so that should convey my opinion of it well enough.
If your goal is to make your dwarves come across as primitive then you've succeeded. Reading this I feel like I can replace "dwarf" with some isolated amazon tribe or pacific island culture. Or one of the goblinoid races.
I don't see my dwarves as primitive. They are an industrialized urban people.
At the moment, I feel like it is a good time to talk about what I want my world to feel like in terms of visual and storytelling themes, rather than describing specific nations, territories, history, or what have you. In essence, I want to talk about the overall purpose of the setting. This is a roleplaying game setting, which I designed with a modified version of the Pathfinder system in mind, but which could be ported over to Dungeons and Dragons 3.5. As such, this setting is designed for long term use over multiple stories with many protagonists, and the rules of the game do influence my worldbuilding choices.
I suppose I should start with the overarching theme of the world. Since this is a roleplaying setting, the most important thing is what the player characters are doing. The role of the player characters can be summed up in a quote I am quite fond of, whose author is unknown:
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
As I build my world, I am noticing that I have a definite tendency to create a setting that is optimistic, and in many ways a place I would enjoy living. This is quite at odds with the need to provide a plethora of problems for adventurers to address, and the solution I came upon is to not have adventurers. I do lean towards high technology levels and centralized governments, and the police aren’t necessarily fond of vigilantism. I also imagine that a centralized government which exists in a world where spellcasters, demons, dragons, fae, sea monsters, kaiju, the undead, and various other magical things exist openly would have people trained to deal with them when they pose a threat. Otherwise, the world wouldn’t be a particularly pleasant place to live. This is a perfect role for the player characters, as it provides instant and unlimited motivation for conflict. They go out and fight monsters because they are the government agents tasked with doing this. The world seems so pleasant because brave men and women stand ever vigilant, constantly fighting, bleeding, and all too often dying to keep the dark side of the world contained.
As to the cultural flavor of the world, I am used to most of my fantasy being Western European or perhaps East Asian, but I wanted to move beyond those roots while still embracing them. I do this by taking a lot of inspiration from my native California. I based the terrain of my most focused-on country on the US West Coast, along with a lot of cultural elements of the setting. I really like a California/Cascadia focus as opposed to the standard Western Europe or East Asia focus, because California easily accepts Western European and East Asian themes at the same time, whilst leaving room for more. Mixing British, Mediterranean, East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian, American Indian, Latin American, Polynesian, Middle Eastern, Germanic, and African themes together in something highly reminiscent of California feels completely right to me. The idea of California based fantasy does suggest a high degree of multiculturalism and a mostly immigrant or immigrant-descended populace, and the variety that provides is wonderful. I do include a much greater East Asian, especially Chinese, influence than real life California had, to the level that people speak a creole language based primarily on English, Chinese, and Spanish with influence from several other languages, notably Italian, Japanese, and Greek. There isn’t a majority racial group at all, with Western Europeans and East Asians being neck and neck as to who is a plurality of the population, and a significant portion of the population is neither.
When it comes to technology, I bundle it together with art. I do this because I tend to decide my technology based on what looks cool, making it in effect a matter of artistic desires. As such, the prominent visual artistic elements and the prominent technology are somewhat interrelated to my mind. Though I prefer a very high technology setting, based largely within 20th Century technology as opposed to Medieval technology, I have about as much an eye towards avoiding anachronisms and accurately depicting the time period my setting is based off of as Dungeons and Dragons has. A lot of technology is heavily used because I thought it looked pretty and no other reason. For example, I like trains. The dominant style of train is based on the early EMD F series, such as the F3. This is because the F3 is downright gorgeous:
When I think of transportation in my setting, that is one of the first things I think of. As an urban planning student focusing on transportation, I think about the subject a lot. I really like public transit, so, while my setting most certainly does have automobiles and airlines, trains, streetcars, subway, and busses are all big. And the old PCC streetcars aren’t exactly bad looking:
My setting most certainly has these. Even a 1950s Greyhound is a looker:
Yet another thing for my setting to borrow. A pattern is forming with my choices of vehicles, of course, and it continues with cars:
A clear image is coming along, in which is is very much a 40s-60s setting in terms of technology. Might as well match that with popular culture. That means early rock & roll and surf rock. Elvis and the Beach Boys are obvious inspirations, though I imagine some East Asian elements have crept in. Also major Mexican inspiration. This boils over to food, too. Modified versions of Chinese and Mexican cuisine are not just ubiquitous, these modifications form a recognizable national culinary tradition. This is still very much in development, however. I’m trying to put a lot of thought into what an Anglo-Sino-Latin creole should look and feel like, and most of the research isn’t done yet. Pop culture needs to be much more than just Elvis and surfing (That isn’t even any sort of innovation, really.), and actually have some unique aspects to it that real life California lacks, and it will when I’m done. I have decided that redheads do face serious discrimination and that ginger is a serious slur. There something a tendency to assume anyone with red hair must be a Tiefling, and Tieflings are not treated well.
Airplanes, and here is where I started doing weirder stuff. All aircraft use propellers or rotors, because I think propellor driven airplanes are sexy in a way jets just aren’t. Especially the Corsair.
I love it so much, I wrote dragons in such a way that the most effective way to fight them is a spellcaster piloting a fighter. Dragons versus wizard fighter pilots in Corsairs. Yes.
I also really like hueys. So we have helicopters kinda like that. Also flying boats:
I love Catalinas. Great if you have a bunch of widely spread out islands that aren't heavily developed. Which can be worked into the whole California concept. No reason we can't have a huge offshore island chain that is so rugged that the population is very dispersed. Can base off of Hawaii, but way bigger.
Weapons-wise, assault rifles, shotguns, and such are pretty ubiquitous. Tanks are about mid-50s level.
On the subject of magic, I wrote it in such a way that enchantments have to constantly be recast, because they don’t last. This makes maintaining magic items extremely difficult. For government agents who themselves have some knowledge of magic (even a Fighter knows something about ki, which is inherently magical) and the resources of the government, this is not an insurmountable problem, but in industrial capacities magic is used to do things in the moment, not to create items that are themselves magic. Enchanted items are the playthings of the rich, who can afford to maintain them. In fact, wizardry itself is the province of the rich and powerful, because they can afford the necessary instruction. Sorcery is inborn spellcasting ability, and do to the law of numbers, is associated with the lower income masses. It is also dangerous, with the modern day being the first time Sorcerers were more likely to survive to adulthood than blow themselves up during puberty. Needless to say, people find them scary. Sorcery is as old as civilization, but wizardry is fairly new. Potions last far longer than enchantments, which gives them a far bigger role in society. Alchemists are more common than actual spellcasters are, and it is common to see a nonmagical object powered via magical alchemy. There are also divine spellcasters, who practice a magic passed down from the long disappeared old gods to their priesthoods. Those who practice this magic outside the priesthoods are witches, and while they aren’t executed anymore, historically they were, as practicing such magic without proper sanction was a grave offense indeed. Raise Dead, Resurrection, and Reincarnate are all outright banned, except for the Reincarnate Druid's class feature (Reincarnate Druids don't die when they reincarnate, though. Their soul is too slippery for Death to grasp, so they go back into the world. Seriously considering a Rogue version of this, because flavor. "I'm so quick, sneaky, and agile, not even Death can catch me!".). The basic idea is that once Death takes a soul, this is literally nothing anyone can do to ever get it back. It is far beyond the power of mortals. However, it takes a few minutes after the heart stops before the soul departs. If you can get the character's HP above the death threshold in that timeframe, their heart will start up again and they will survive. This has to be done with one spell, not multiple spells. Since every minute is 10 rounds, which is a lot in this sort of emergency, a fallen PC is much more likely to be revived than lost permanently.
Religion in this setting is complicated. At one point there were gods, yes, but people don’t know where they went. They were replaced by the Celestial Bureaucracy, who took control of the priesthoods as the so-called children of the gods. This organization was headed by these demigod figures and their angelic armies, and kept humanity (elves, dwarves, magni, orcs, and others are all subspecies of human) safe from demons, dragons, fae, and other threats in exchange for service and obedience. The especially loyal were taught the secrets of divine magic. Though it kept humanity safe as best as it could manage, the Celestial Bureaucracy was a totalitarian organization that saw people as pawns to be used to acquire power, had massive factionalism and infighting issues, did not seem overly concerned with getting thousands of humans killed in wars between demigods, was hard into racial determinism and not into giving people freedom to choose their own destiny, gave the churches of individual demigods a massive amount of control over people's daily lives, and was absolutely brutal in suppressing any form of dissent. Eventually these shenanigans went too far, and the Celestial Bureaucracy was broken, most of the demigods were killed, the angels were stripped of their powers and forced to live as humans, and humans were left ruling over themselves. For the first century and a half, the demons and fae lacked the power to be too much of a threat do to how long the Celestial Bureaucracy had spend grinding them down, but they've had time to regain their strength with the organization destroyed. Which is exactly why the player characters are needed.
With the fall of the Celestial Bureaucracy, the priesthoods maintain faith in the old gods (it is known for a fact that at some point they were real, after all), and many people do continue to worship, but agnosticism and lack of faith that the old gods will ever return are common, as well as questions about whether their return would actually be desirable.
As it stands, Elves and Gearforged are the races I have put the most work into by a wide margin. With Elves, I really wanted to touch on the whole forest living aspect, but I also love the idea of bohemian city Elves hanging around coffeeshops being hip but more reasonable than their effete reputation gives them credit for, so I took on both images. Since my friends and I are mostly LGBT, we do tend to bring those themes into our games, which is why I put so much thought into Elven sexual mores. I wanted them to not be totally accepting, because bigotry means story fuel, but I wanted them to be bigoted for different reasons.
Elves are the children of the Sun, open and energetic. They are sociable and full of ideas, and their art is characterized by bold, broad strokes, brand new ideas, and bright colors. If you look at their treetop cities, they show little planning or subtlety. Elves throw up what looks cool and what is nice to live in, and have a thing for bold architecture. Elven social interactions are pretty direct, and elves can be considered somewhat flighty. As a race with magic in their veins, they are more likely have the blood of a sorcerer than any other race except the drow, and sorcerers make up the majority of Elven arcane spellcasters. With the advent of industrialization, urbanization, explosive population growth, and technology such as trains, running water, and cars, Elven cities have proven quite inadequate to housing a modern population. The rich can keep their cities as they traditionally have been, at the cost of shutting the poor out to slums that aren't even able to provide the poor quality of life one could find in slums in non-forest dwelling races. This has led to a big rift between those who get to live in the beautiful tree cities and those who don't, and massive numbers of Elves are leaving the slums for the cities of the Magni, Dwarves, and Drow. Hence there is a split between Aboreal Elves and City Elves. Elven society preaches environmentalism, though City Elves would say that Aboreal Elves don't know the first damn thing about environmentally friendly city design and that forest cities just aren't sustainable and can't be the basis of Elven society anymore, whereas Aboreal Elves would concede past mistakes and talk about the need for smaller populations and a less technologically reliant lifestyle while deriding the places City Elves live as wasteful, concrete Hells with no connection to nature. Elves value education, but not formal schooling. They like their learning in pieces the size of their attention spans.
They are commonly considered promiscuous by other races, which doesn't fully reflect Elven sexual mores. Elves do attach a degree of importance to sex, but they don't restrict themselves to one partner, even though they practice monogamous marriage. Elves feel that love naturally comes in a spectrum, and your spouse should be that person you love above all others. Having sex with someone other than that spouse is both acceptable and perfectly normal (in fact, it'd be seen as unjustly controlling and a sign of an abusive relationship for an Elf to demand their spouse not have sex with other people), but giving another partner more love and attention than your spouse is adultery, which is an extremely serious offense that will ruin not only a marriage, but one's friendships and other romantic relationships. Divorce has a huge social stigma attached to it. Gay sex has no almost no stigma in Elven culture, as Elves don't see any problem with a man having a male lover or a woman having a female lover, but being exclusively homosexual leads to a lot of anger and ridicule from other Elves, and gay marriage is considered downright ridiculous. Many Elves do not accept the fact that some people do love others of the same gender as much as one loves a spouse. Other Elves don't understand why a gay man wouldn't just become a woman. If a child is born to the union of an unmarried partner and a married partner, the married partner gets full custody and their spouse is considered the opposite sex parent of the child. Elven society teaches that spouse should raise the child as their own without stigma, though society's rules aren't necessarily always followed. The unmarried partner has no parental rights and is not considered related to the child in any way. If both lovers are married, one must get full custody and the other will not be considered related to the child at all. Traditionally the family with fewer children will get the child, with the mother's family getting the child if both have the same number of children. If that arrangement is somehow unworkable, the two sides either come to an agreement as to who's child it is (joint custody would be considered unacceptable) or it turns into a court fight. If both lovers are unmarried, they either get married or the child is taken away and given to a suitable family. A gay couple would never be allowed to raise a child.
Male to female or female to male gender transition has little stigma, but Elven culture does not understand the fact that somebody can be born with the body of one gender and the mind of another. To an Elf, a person who transitions is changing their gender (which most Elves don't see as bad, just weird), not bringing their body over the gender of the mind. Elves do have poorly defined gender roles, as feminine acting men and masculine acting women aren't stigmatized, but they have a feeling that everybody needs to identify with one or the other, even if they can't explain exactly what feminine or masculine is.
Elves are a bit shorter than Magni (think Earth people), and only have body hair on their scalp. Their ears are noticeably pointed, and actually droop or perk up slightly based on emotion. They are light skinned, with red, pink, brown, blonde, orange, green, blue, black, or purple hair and blue, green, brown, orange, or purple eyes. Lighter hair and eyes are more common than darker hair and eyes. Faint colored stripes or spots are not uncommon, though not in the majority either, and can come in any color.
In contrast to their elven cousins, Drow are more methodical about things. They have the same artistic bent as Elves, but spend more time on small details. Their artwork uses fewer strokes and colors, focusing more on high levels of detail, relationships between all the elements, and deeper meanings. As a race that is largely urban, they are known for helping produce a lot of fine, meticulously planned architecture, but don't work with big and bold unless they are decorating something the Dwarves built. Drow and Dwarves as groups tend to get along relatively well, with a long history of cooperation. This can be said of Magni to a somewhat lesser degree, whereas relations with the Elves tend to be rather neutral at the group level, despite the obvious connection between the two races. They like things moderate and functional, but elegantly attractive. They aren't so direct in conversation as Elves, but aren't horribly secretive, either. They have the same slant towards sorcerous blood as Elves, but their more meticulous brains tend to lend them to the path of the Arcanist. They are of Elven height and have the same lack of hair besides that on their scalp. They have black or very dark grey, blue, or purple skin, white, silver, or pale blue, purple, or grey hair, blue, grey, silver, or purple eyes, and the same large, sharp, and expressive ears as Elves.
In my world, to animate a construct with actual human emotions, one needs to consume somebody's body and use the energy to wipe the soul clean. This creates a soul that lacks any memory of its previous life and personality, but because the body is consumed it needs an artificial one. The soul needs to be instructed as to how to act, much like a child, but grows far, far faster, reaching adulthood within a year or two. Whether a Gearforged retains traces of its past personality or not is a matter of much debate. It is known that if a murderer becomes a Gearforged, the Gearforged will probably not become a murderer, but some believe little traces of past personality remain. Good luck proving it, though.
The nation of Vendalia, along with a couple other nations, create almost all the Gearforged in the world. They do so out of a heavy distaste for the death penalty. These governments have come to the belief that it is more humane to use a murder or rapist to create a new life with potential for good than it is to just hang the condemned. The Gearforged are schooled in the basics of moral life for a year or two, then released out into society as free individuals, hopefully to contribute more than their forebears.
Gearforged start out with a very basic skeleton for a body, and add parts as they "grow up" and decide what they want to be like. Gearforged usually have a gender (in that they tend to gravitate towards either a masculine shaped or feminine shaped body, and think of themselves as male or female), but they aren't created with one. Why they tend to have a gender is up to debate, especially since the gender of a Gearforged is not connected to the gender of the condemned that created them, and there are Gearforged who do not fit within the gender binary. A Gearforged cannot be used to create another Gearforged. After about 80 to 100 years, the soul will die.
I do think the existence of the Gearforged brings up some very interesting moral questions. The existence of Gearforged basically stems from the idea that it is better to use a condemned criminal to create a new person with potential to fit into society than it is to just execute said criminal. If this idea is accepted, how far does it go? How bad does a person have to be before it becomes better to create a new person than to try and reform the existing person? There is some pretty big potential for egregious abuse there. What about people who think that maybe the mentally ill or disabled should be used to create new people with more potential? I would call such thinking completely reprehensible, but if someone in power likes the idea, some really bad things could happen. On the face of it, the idea of creating new life instead of just hanging someone may sound more humane to those uncomfortable with the death penalty, but it can be horribly misused. There is also the argument that the process is still an execution, just fluffed up to look like it isn't, since the condemned ceases to exist. All of this is excellent story materiel, of course.
There are also some societal issues. You raise a Gearforged to adulthood and let them into the world, but now what? They have no family. They can't have children. Their community is their fellow Gearforged, so they have to support each other. Since they come from criminal stock, many distrust them (though others look at them with hope that a better way to deal with violent crime now exists). What do they do with their life? I imagine a lot join the military, because it's a way to find purpose in life, have a steady income and a place to live, and feel appreciated by society (soldiers are relatively well respected in Vendalia), and because the military actively targets them in recruitment efforts (Reduced sleep needs, durable frames, immunity to disease and poison, don't get fatigued easily, and don't need to feed them? Army's definitely interested. The fact that a lot of them are lost and searching for purpose, and therefore easy for a charismatic recruiter to talk into enlisting, is icing on the cake.). When a Gearforged fresh into society hears everything the military is targeting directly at them, it has a tendency to look rather attractive.
On the subject of Dwarves, I am thinking of them as a race known for their hospitality and general approachableness, and hold their arguments and grudges behind a veneer of politeness (Not to say that all Dwarves are vindictive, secretly malicious, or unable to let things go, because that's an outright falsehood, but those that do have beefs conspire in private rather than bringing them out in public. Dwarven politics can get extremely nasty without the quarreling parties ever seeming anything but friendly towards each other to an outside observer.). On the one hand, Dwarves are always welcoming to a guest, and the key component of measuring one's level of wealth and success is how much one can afford to spend on gifts and feasts. They are a race known for building big things, but outside of grand sorts of projects they don't have a reputation as scholars. When it comes to arcane magic outside of Alchemists (the most common magic user setting-wide, because potions last in a way enchantments don’t), Dwarves lean towards Wizardry (fits their grand works style of creating things, as Wizards have more sheer power than Rune Mages or Divine casters), and aren't any less likely to produce arcane casters than anyone else. Dwarves do mine plenty, but don't actually hail it as the, or even primary, way of life, and the majority of Dwarves aren't miners.
The Magni are most common race in the world. Make up the majority of the population in Vendalia by a large margin. They are of a wide range of heights, and skin color generally depends on ethnicity. They are noted primarily for not having their own culture, but rather being split into countless different cultures. This is extremely rare, as races such as the Elves, Drow, and dwarves have just one or two cultures, even across multiple ethnicities and languages. This makes it almost impossible to generalize about Magni, other than that they are a bafflingly diverse people who can’t seem to live a few hundred miles apart without forming an entirely different culture for no reason the Elves or anyone else can figure out. The one generalization that can be made is that they do tend to have a lot of endurance and very good senses of direction, traits that allow them to expand wherever ambition takes them. This in turn has led to some Magni feeling their race is obviously superior to others, using their global spread as evidence. Some governments use this idea to form policy, which does not lead to good things.
Seraphim are the descendants of angels forced to live as humans. They are about 5’10” on average for males and 5’6” on average for females, and tend to be sturdily built. They have well tanned skin, metallic or jewel colored eyes, brown or black hair, and magnificent feathered wings, usually white or brown (other colors are not unheard of). Each wing is about as big as the Seraphim is tall. Seraphim used to be able to fly, but the demigods stripped that ability from them during the fall of the Celestial Bureaucracy, while leaving the wings to remind them of what they lost. Now, their wings are heavy and don’t curve enough for proper lift generation. Many have turned to magical and technological solutions to this problem, but have only found solutions that work for rare and very skilled individuals, not something that can be applied to the race as a whole. As a people, they tend to do their best to integrate into society, though their appearance makes them stand out. They usually live in cities, and there is a high cultural emphasis on work. Do to their wings, they tend not to do factory work that requires fitting into small spaces. They are commonly scholars, engineers, lawyers, alchemists, or wizards. A lot of them find the idea of becoming a pilot extremely attractive, to the point that a lot of people on airfields or aircraft carriers quip that you can’t swing a stick around without hitting a Seraphim in a flight suit.
There is also the phenomena of people so interbred that they have no discernable race, which is becoming increasingly common. These people have a character “race” they can select that makes them the most versatile of all races (even the Magni have fixed stat modifiers at +2 Con, +2 Wis [no race has a negative stat modifier]). There are Orcs (not an evil race) and some other races I haven’t got to yet. There shall be Catfolk.
A demon is an emotion with a physical form. Just one emotion. A succubus feels only constant lust, and nothing else. A rage demon only ever feels anger. It's why demons can't really be called evil, despite being a constant threat. They literally cannot comprehend how to be anything but what they are. They can fake emotion, and do spawn with humans, but they don’t actually feel or even much think. They do as they are programmed to do without being able to consider why. In fact, humans don’t know why they do what they do unless a human spellcaster or other magical being dominates a demon. Don’t even know why they want half-human babies. A fae has more emotional depth than a demon, but is still narrow in what it is capable of feeling. They do tend to be rule driven, but their rules can seem rather chaotic and perplexing, and some fae seem to follow rules that encourage chaos. Some are relatively benign or even helpful, but dangerous if crossed, while others are just bad. There are some that steal children. Like demons, fae are usually made, not born (with several exceptions), and therefore have a much more fixed personality than a human (a gnome will act as a gnome acts, because gnomes are made and lack any sort of genetic variation). Incidentally, the argument has been made that the Celestial Bureaucracy's problem was in trying to treat humans as if they were fae, which, if true, would be problematic in that humans differ from each other and fae do not. It would explain why the Celestial Bureaucracy believed in racial determinism so much, as such an attitude could work if you were dealing with fae instead of people. People don’t know what dragons are, just that they have been around longer than anything else except possibly the gods, have a deep wealth of knowledge, possess powerful magic in true Dungeons and Dragons style, and they are easily provoked. Most of them aren’t immediately hostile, just aloof and largely isolationist, but there are a lot of dragons in the mountains, and enough of them try to exert dominance over humans to make dragonslayers a necessity.
So, there is some of the basic theme and flavor. Do ask questions. Questions are great. They provide ideas by making me think about stuff. Need ideas for what to write next, and whether there are some broad themes I haven’t hit yet or if I should start getting into specifics.
Now I want to play a Moulin Rogue.
Few magicians are actually able to cast spells. In everybody lies some sort of primal magical energy that isn't really understood. Some people can consciously manipulate this energy, focusing it into a power called ki, others use it to keep magical energy under control (allowing them to become spellcasters), and Barbarians can let this power loose, but most use it unconsciously. By training extremely hard, by being extremely motivated, or by being scary smart, one can become so good at something that they tap into this power, allowing them to transcend human capabilities. This sort of person is still a magician, just not a spellcaster. Any player character who doesn't use spells or ki falls into this category. The main result of this system is that Fighters, Rogues, and the like work off of anime/wuxia rules of physics. Which is why a properly trained swordsman can cut bullets in half and pose a legit threat to someone with an assault rifle - they are literally using magic to achieve that.
You know what kind of sucks? Oversensitivity to strong flavors. A lot of Autistic people have this, but I have it worse than most. I have to be extremely careful about tasting anything I didn't grow up with, and I grew up with processed frozen food and fast food, so I only eat very mild things, and if an ethnic cuisine hasn't been Americanized it might well make me sick. I can eat Americanized Chinese food amd stuff like that, at least.
It's part of why I love the Japanese. Most of their cooking is so mild that it tastes just right to me.
This is all the argument I need against allowing businesses to discriminate. I'm perfectly happy letting people's ability to know they can shop as they desire regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, or nationality override the freedom of businesses to decide not to sell to certain groups.
I'm on a bus. I like this bus. I can totally zone out and not pay attention to the road because I'm busy texting, and who cares? I can also get drunk and Still get places safely. I got disposable income, too, because I don't buy gas or insurance. So I can give Paizo more money. Public transportation for life (No, seriously, that's why I study urban planning).
That doesn't prove that gendering isn't a natural human inclination, though. Many human inclinations do not apply to the full species, and our natural inclinations can and do cause harm.
Homosexuality itself should demonstrate that. We are hardwired to find the opposite sex romantically desirable, but there is a segment of humanity that instead finds the same sex romantically desirable, or that finds both sexes romantically desirable. There is no reason to believe that homosexuality is abnormal or undesirable rather than just the act of existing outside the majority inclination towards heterosexuality, but its existence shows that a human inclination towards something is not a universal trait that every human will have.
The evidence I've seen does suggest that gender is similar, in that we do have a natural inclination to fall into an identity as either male or female, and that this does usually match our sex. Just look at how pretty much every single culture has a concept of male and female. It is not, however, a universal rule. We have people who do not identify as male or female, or who identify as both, and we have people who's gender does not match sex. To go back to my statement of every culture having a concept of male and female, many cultures do have concepts of other genders. That does not disprove the overall inclination any more than the existence of homosexuality disproves the preponderance of opposite sex attraction. In cultures with multiple genders, the majority still fall into male or female, and those definitions of male and female exist. It is also known that testosterone and estrogen do cause some behavioral differences, and that these differences have a tendency to factor into gender roles. The issue is that we are talking about extremely broad trends here, and any trend so broad has a massive number of outliers. It is also very easy to misstate exactly how deep these trends go. We don't actually know the answer to that. We do know that there are tangible differences between male, female, and gender variant brains, but we cannot explain how big an effect those differences actually are and where culture steps in. Every human culture genders people in some way or another, but concepts of what is feminine and what is masculine do not fully line up across cultures, which Anthropology tells us means a mix of biology and culture is responsible, and you can't just throw the whole thing at culture. Nor can you discount a human inclination because that inclination is harmful. A lot of human inclinations are harmful.
The problem doesn't lay with the fact that we gender, the problem lies with the fact that society acts bigoted against those who do not fit the majority's gender system. That's what we need to address. Women need to be free to act masculine if it suits their personality, men need to be free to act feminine, and we need to understand that some people will be both or neither, and some others will have a sex and a gender that do not match.
Take it from somebody who's seen multiple members of her family use alcohol as a coping mechanism - it almost never ends well. I have enough depression issues and stress not to mess with that. I do love my liquor, but I only drink when I'm in a good mood. Like when watching really stupid SyFy movies. Those are pretty much tailor made for drunkenly mocking with a group of friends.
Easy enough to do. Kinda hard to make it really Hitleresque, though.
When I was 18, I moved away from California to Colorado. At 20, I moved to Montana. At 22, I tried to go to college in Montana, and they classified me as nonresident (yes, there was a logical reason why). That means $35,000 a year to attend, and Colorado was charge about the same.
California charged me in state and gave me enough state aid to be set, despite me not having stepped foot in the state in four years. Obamacare mandate comes in? Free state health insurance. Public transit? Actually fairly reliable. It gets me where I want to go every day with a minimum of displeasure. Environmental policies? Well, we're trying. Our government is very far from perfection, and I could rant a long time on several glaring flaws, but damned if I'm not better off back in my home state than anywhere else I could have gone, and damned if I don't love and appreciate my home state.
Move to California. It's bloody Spring weather already. F&ing climate change.
Oh, and from what I understand the polar vortex is being intensified by warming sea ice dumping ice melt into the ocean. So getting warmer can make winters colder. I'd exult the amazing and fascinating wonders of science if it wasn't causing damage to infrastructure, making people freeze, and convincing some people that global warming must be fake because it's freakishly cold out.
David M Mallon wrote:
There's something perversely amusing about doing it in Grand Theft Auto, though.