Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Pathfinder Society

Pathfinder Beginner Box

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Comics

Pathfinder Legends

Discussion and Analysis of Sex and Female Characters in Paizo's APs


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion

1 to 50 of 195 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | next > last >>

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

...
..
.

Hi,

[TRIGGER WARNING] - The following post will contain moderately mature themes and sexually triggering subject matter.

[SPOILER WARNING] - The following post will contain mild to moderate spoilers pertaining to the Kingmaker adventure path.

Lately I've been thinking about the prospect of authoring APs in the distant future, and so I have recently begun to familiarize myself with Paizo's body of work outside of the core sourcebooks and the ISWG (all the better to aid me in my relatively new endeavors as a publisher of PFRPG-compatible products). In that spirit, I've decided to run - for the first time in my long "career" as a GM - a pre-published module for my usual stable of players. Specifically, the Kingmaker Adventure Path, from Paizo Publishing.

In reading through the first module, I have noticed a pattern pertaining mainly to the female characters featured in the first chapter, Stolen Land. Whether this pattern persists throughout the rest of the AP I cannot say - I'm still reading. The pattern I feel that I am picking up on? Heavy themes of rape, prevalent with regards to just about every female NPC.

The Stolen Land module itself makes mention of only four female characters (not counting monsters, such as fey and fairies, who do not receive backstory information or character development). Each of the four female characters mentioned in the chapter contributes to this theme (though some in very different or even opposite ways). There are also one ore more male characters who may actually pursue one of the PCs in a sexually violent manner. These characters are as follows:

Spoiler:
Nyrissa - A villainous character who had sexual intercourse with a troubled boy or young man (age unspecified, but not prepubescent) while the aforementioned male character was unconscious.

Svetlana Leveton - The wife of Oleg Leveton. Bandits attack the trading post where Oleg and Svetlana live and work. The bandits steal the Leveton's trade goods, and threaten to abduct Svetlana and subject her to mass rape at their camp if the couple does not comply with the theft. On an unrelated note, fear for his wife is all that keeps Oleg from taking on the bandits himself. Oleg hands out several quests related to the killing of bandits and the destroying of monsters. Svetlana hands out a quest related to the gathering of vegetables, so that she can make a special dinner for her husband.

Kressle - Kressle is a fairly strong and well-respected villainous character. Upon her arrival to the Stolen Lands, several bandits attempted to rape her. The rape attempt failed, and Kressle thereafter joined the bandit organization in question (although the particular members that attempted to rape her were outcast by the bandit lord for their actions.) Despite her history, it is Kressle herself (who is described as having a "black sense of humor") that threatens to abduct Svetlana Leveton and subject her to mass rape by the men at the bandit camp.

Rosilla - While not an NPC per se, Rosilla is a character that features heavily in the background exposition for a potentially important NPC named Akiros Ismort. Rosilla, a married woman with a wealthy husband, had an affair with Akiros Ismort. When the matter of their affair was made public knowledge, Rosilla falsely accused Akiros of raping her, fearing that confessing to actual nature of the affair would threaten her marriage (and thus her wealthy lifestyle). Overcome with anger, Akiros murdered her, and fell from paladinhood as a result. Consequently, Akiros' life was ruined and he fell in with bandits.

Dovan from Nisroch - A male character and a minor villain in the Stolen Lands module, Dovan has a taste for mixing sex with torture and murder. It is not expressly stated that his mentally-handicapped ally, an enormous man named Auchs, also participates in such activities... although it does mention that Auchs also loves torture and the sounds of screams, (and that he more or less obeys Dovan in all things). The module suggests that if Dovan escapes the encounter that he appears in, he may continue to plague the party, choosing a particular PC as an intended victim for his tortures. The suggestion does not expressly specify a female PC, however. Dovan "prefers blondes."

Ayles Megesen - Ayles is a minor NPC who is described as "enjoying torture the most, among the bandits." Presumably, this includes even Dovan and Auchs. The text states that Ayles (and this is a quote) "spends hours after each fight 'exploring' the survivors."

I feel as though this theme - while perhaps unintentional - is not exactly modern or progressive in that literally every female NPC described in the module either commits rape, is threatened by rape, or accuses another character of rape. There is no theme, sexual or otherwise, that links every male character in the module in such a way. Too often, themes of sex (in general, and rape or pregnancy in particular) pervade female characters in fiction and in the media, who are often vehicles for sexual themes and scenes. As it stands, I will likely alter or ignore the vast majority of the material described in the spoiler block above, as the depiction of rape is a serious trigger for one of my players, and I feel no need to saturate the game with themes of rape and sexual violence. Furthermore, I certainly don't plan to threaten her character with the possibility of sexual assault.

I'd like to ask Paizo's many fans (of which I am one - a big one!), and female gamers and Paizo fans in particular:

How do you feel about this apparent theme in Stolen Land? In your opinion, am I reading too much into the pattern that I've described above?

Do you find themes of rape, weakness, victimization, or sex to be tied so prevalently to female characters featured in other adventure modules? In the tabletop gaming world in general? Do you notice fewer such themes as it pertains to male characters?

I'd also like to open up this thread as a general forum for the discussion of the themes and ideas addressed above.

Cheers,

Daron Woodson
Abandoned Arts


2 people marked this as a favorite.

... compared to how harsh the world was for women in the *real* medieval period. Why the fixation on sexual violence? What about all the other violence? I think the idea was to make a harsh fantasy frontier setting and using rape, torture and other kinds of violence is how an author accomplishes that.

btw, Nyrissa never actually had sexual intercourse with the boy. He had a dream that they did. Seduction is sort of her MO.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

...
..
.

The way I read it, the implication that the "vivid" dream was not at all a dream, but did in fact happen, is quite clear. He woke up with a lock of her hair, the dream was uncharacteristically real, and the text even refers to the woman as "his nocturnal visitor." Furthermore, the event marks the moment when the character in question "becomes a man."

Daron Woodson
Abandoned Arts


6 people marked this as a favorite.

Stolen Land is about bandits.

It's a wilderness adventure among lawless cutthroats. If they had sanitized the dangers inherent in such a place, I would consider that disingenuous. That they treat the material the way that they did (maturely, I think) is commendable.

Also, I think it is somewhat unfair to exclude the "monstrous" female personalities, because it cuts a little too neatly along the lines of your analysis. Tyg the Grig, for instance, is notably feminine, but also powerful in her way, and not scripted with any sexual issues at all.

As for Nyrissa, I think it's fair game to include sex (even of the unwitting nocturnal variety) as it is very much in line with the mythology. Powerful female fey royalty have a rather raunchy reputation, after all, based in an older sensibility. Shakespeare got to get paid, son!

There are a lot of things they could have done with these plot threads that would have crossed a line. Heck, Rise of the Runelords comes much, much closer to provoking objectively sensitive issues. I'm okay with it as long as the characters in question aren't poorly written, with motivations that entirely embody male fantasy.

Cheliax

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I agree with Evil Lincoln, in that it fits that AP. But taken as a whole I think Paizo does a very good job of including a wide variety of things. They dip their toes in some stuff but not enough for it to become common place. Which I like, variety is the spice of life after all.


Abandoned Arts wrote:

The way I read it, the implication that the "vivid" dream was not at all a dream, but did in fact happen, is quite clear. He woke up with a lock of her hair, the dream was uncharacteristically real, and the text even refers to the woman as "his nocturnal visitor." Furthermore, the event marks the moment when the character in question "becomes a man."

I can see how you'd interpret it that way. I think the writers may have left it to the reader's interpretation on purpose. I didn't take the fact that the ring being physically in his hands to mean that everything that happened in the dream was real but, rather, that was what he was being led to believe. Nyrissa has seduced many different NPCs in similar fashion never really getting her "hands dirty" so to speak so I just assumed it was the case there too. "Nocturnal visitor" I took as a play on words for some other nocturnal sexual phenomena that occurs in young men that shan't be mentioned here...

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Does one part of an adventure path indicate a pattern? I'd be curious as to whether these themes remain consistent in the AP. Further analysis would probably be needed, I'd be curious to see your analysis on the rest of the path.

Of course, I would be surprised if this theme continues in the AP. At Gencon 2012 in the editing seminar, Paizo's editing crew specifically mentioned how they try to treat female characters with respect and avoid offensive stereotypes and themes, yet remain faithful to the setting, subject matter, and authors intent.


I'm pretty surprised by this post. It's not long since I read the Kingmaker AP myself, and I never got a vibe like that from it.

The main reason for that is probably that the rape/abuse is a minor part of each character referred to. It can be omitted in every case without affecting the story.

Also, in some cases I think you might see rape where in fact violence is the actual meaning.

- Kressle is sadistic, so abducting Svetlana for "their amusement" could just as easily be referring to subjecting her to violence or torture.

- Ayles, especially, doesn't have anything indicating sexual abuse. He's specifically stated as loving to torture, more than any other. That's what's meant by him "exploring" survivors.

Edit: - Dovan also is only listed as liking torture. He escaped a place where murder and sex were mixed, but the book never says he does it himself.

To me, the few cases remaining don't indicate a theme of rape or abuse. I certainly understand that you want to eliminate any mention of such for your player, though. It's a sensitive subject.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Also regarding Dovan, He comes from a city in Ustalav ruled by a 'blonde' who happens to have 'violent tastes'. Further, he left that city when he found out he was scheduled to become the main attraction at such an occasion. Granted, the individual I referenced is also a woman, so the likelihood his preference for blondes being because of her also increases the likelihood that he prefers blond(e) 'women'.

As far as the rest of the AP following this trend, not to my recollection. As Evil Lincoln pointed out, 'Stolen Land' is about clearing out some pretty bad bandits as much as it is about pacifying a wilderness. What is one of the best ways of showing that somebody is really bad? You show that they have few if any boundaries in 'how' they are bad.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As an additional point of reference, inspiration for Brevoy and the River Kingdoms is heavily drawn from George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. Anyone who has read that series of books knows for a certainty that the world is very dark and gritty and often tends to refer to violent sexual appetites harbored by many of the seedier personalities. Rape is a prevalent happening in war-ravaged Westeros.

I'd be willing to bet that some of this mentality slipped over into Kingmaker--and Stolen Lands specifically--because at its beginning the area is untamed and wild and intended to be dark and gritty. When a land is lawless and ruled by the ruthless, sexual abuse becomes far more rampant within its borders. Sadly, that's often the ways of lawless and ruthless men, as well as women leaders seeking to fit into a society of that nature.

Rest at ease, good sir. This particular phenomenon centers around the area Kingmaker takes place; it's not a typical trope found throughout Paizo material. They're simply trying to be true to how the River Kingdoms has been established in Golarion.


Welcome to the Stolen Lands. While it may be a First World area in terms of Fey activity, it is hardly a "First World" country in terms of progressiveness. Banditry, the occupation of violence, theft, and exploitation, is the #1 problem plaguing the nation. Lets take the US and replace, say, smoking or obesity with banditry. How horrible would the US be then?

It's window dressing, it sets the tone for the lawless frontier. Anything more than that is a case of "if you look hard enough, you can find anything."

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Also it's fair to say: These elements can be toned down by a GM. As it was in my game. I did make Dovan of Nisroch a monstrous deviant (one of my players took up one of his victims from the 6 player conversion as his PC). Otherwise I played the Bandits as being a problem to trade and control of the wilderness.


I'm reading the series pretty heavily as I prep to run it, and I hadn't really noticed rape as a theme. It's there if you look for it in this first one.

Part 2 doesn't have it in there, IIRC, but there are two female fey (nymph, nixie or dryad), but they don't appear to be the "lure men to their deaths" type.


there is a great focus of very strong, and often evil and cruel females

Spoiler:
Gyronna features quite a lot and I think they missed something by not featuring her more.

There arent many females in distress in the mod, quite the opposite especially after mod 1

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

I think you are reading too much into it possibly because your friend makes you hyper aware of the situation.

Seriously this sort of stuff is hinted at in the first volume of the AP with a few characters but it is not a central trait of any of the characters. It can be easily removed

Looking at other AP's I can think of several strong and powerful female NPC's who have nothing to do with rape.

Shalelu Androsana: A goblin hunter and self appointed protector of a small town.

Ameiko Kaijutsu: A tavern owner and former adventurer with a secret she doesn't even know about.

Samritha Beldusk: A cyphermage who leads an expedition to claim a mysterious prize (and absolutely won't dress as a succubus.)

Laori Vaus: An utterly insane follower of Zon Kuthon who surprises everybody by actually being... well... nice.

Kendra Lorrimor: The no nonsense daughter of the PC's dead friend who acts as their supporter and friend throughout the first book of the AP.

Almah Roveshki: A trade princess leading a force to retake her birthright.

Cressida Croft: The head of a large city watch.

What do these characters have in common? No rape, no threat of rape and no mention of rape in any way.

What you could accuse Paizo of doing is having a lot of their female characters kidnapped and captured and generally acting as damsels in distress. Personally I reject this on the basis that it happens to a lot of male characters as well (Ulf Gormandr springs to mind.)

So no not an issue unless you read an issue into it to be honest.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Specific APs have themes and recurring elements.

Specific adventures within an AP have themes and recurring elements.

You have correctly identified that in one adventure in one of the APs, lawlessness and human-on-human predation, including sexual violence, is a thematic element.

What you can take away from this learning experience is that your APs and adventures within an AP can individually pick themes to explore, every one doesn't have to be a big generic mass with all the others.

You can also take away that any element (rape.. guns... slavery... NPC romance...) is something some people will want to cut out of their game for whatever reason, so make sure you know what's mandatory (sorry, have to have ship combat in a pirate AP, don't play it if that's not what you want) vs. an optional subtext and think about making gameplay resilient to the removal of the optional ones.

Sadly you don't seem to be taking away the lessons you should be taking from reading work you want to emulate.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

This isn't a bash on the characters involved or how they were written, but to the best of my knowledge every lesbian couple has either been "one neutral, one evil" or "both evil". Gay male characters have a bit of a healthier range so far, from what I've seen across the setting material.

Ball's in your court, Chronicles of the Righteous. ;)

(unless I've missed a more positive couple somewhere... admittedly the most recent couple possibly falls into potential "love redeems" territory, given one character's Morale section)


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Heck, most of the hetero couples that are major (not background or loitering in some hamlet somewhere, but appearing in part of the plot of an AP) have one or two evil participants as well. It's almost like the world is full of dramatic foils for PCs or something.


Mikaze wrote:

This isn't a bash on the characters involved or how they were written, but to the best of my knowledge every lesbian couple has either been "one neutral, one evil" or "both evil". Gay male characters have a bit of a healthier range so far, from what I've seen across the setting material.

Ball's in your court, Chronicles of the Righteous. ;)

(unless I've missed a more positive couple somewhere... admittedly the most recent couple possibly falls into potential "love redeems" territory, given one character's Morale section)

Mikaze, I generally agree with your egalitarian beliefs, but I absolutely don't think the content creators should be "keeping score" like that.

That's how you end up with "token" minority characters.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Evil Lincoln wrote:


Mikaze, I generally agree with your egalitarian beliefs, but I absolutely don't think the content creators should be "keeping score" like that.

That's how you end up with "token" minority characters.

I'm not saying the numbers need to be carefully equal or anything, just that it was an odd thing I've noticed. I've actually gone to bat defending Paizo when accusations started flying around somewhere else that the portrayal of

Curse of the Crimson Throne spoilers:
Queen Ileosa and Sabina Merrin
was homophobic in all sorts of ways. But there is an odd unintentional absense where gay and hetero couples have a wider range.

Also absolutely not asking for token characters. I'd fully expect any such characters to be fully fleshed out and interesting beyond any notes on their sexuality, which has actually been the standard case with Paizo's approach to non-hetereosexual characters, and something I'm really thankful for.

(this is all putting aside the Schrodinger's Bisexuals here and there in modules/APs and the iconics themselves of course ;) )

(and naturally if ShelynXSarenraeXDesna really is canon, this is all pretty much moot)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

15 people marked this as a favorite.

Considering how many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees work at Paizo or for Paizo as freelancers, it's kind of amusing to consider something we'd publish is homophobic.

Shelyn and Sarenrae and Desna being lovers is indeed canon, although that's a complicated relationship that isn't always ongoing over the ages.

We have had other non-hetero couples in the game, but as a general rule, we don't really bother saying much about them unless it's important to the plot or the region. For example, in Magnimar, Irba Demerios and Archisa Aparna (page 16) are lovers, but it looks like that bit was cut for space in the final product, unfortunately. grrr...

And you can expect some of the iconics to probably get outed in the Pathfinder comic, eventually, since that's the first time we're actually going into detail into any of those characters as actual characters.

Anyway. Just because of this thread, I'm putting more GLBT characters into "Wrath of the Righteous."

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:

Considering how many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees work at Paizo or for Paizo as freelancers, it's kind of amusing to consider something we'd publish is homophobic.

Yeah, there was a lot more going on there I think, but it's not releppropriate to bring up here.

Also, "WOO!" to a lot of things in that post. :D (yeah, that connection between Irba and Archisa didn't stick out in teh final, but it may be a thing in our Shattered Star game since their museum is going to be getting use in it and there's going to be plenty of multifaction intrigue going on!)

Looking forward to WotR even more now. :)

Taldor

This kind of reactions are really out of touch with medieval times.

I can only advise readers of this forum to read some medieval fables just to see how heartless, selfish, or even evil (by modern standards) some characters described then as heroes truly acted.

If you want a taste of medieval times, read about current North Korea or Somalia.

I myself thank Paizo for including mature themes in their setting.


James Jacobs wrote:

Considering how many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees work at Paizo or for Paizo as freelancers, it's kind of amusing to consider something we'd publish is homophobic.

Shelyn and Sarenrae and Desna being lovers is indeed canon, although that's a complicated relationship that isn't always ongoing over the ages.

We have had other non-hetero couples in the game, but as a general rule, we don't really bother saying much about them unless it's important to the plot or the region. For example, in Magnimar, Irba Demerios and Archisa Aparna (page 16) are lovers, but it looks like that bit was cut for space in the final product, unfortunately. grrr...

And you can expect some of the iconics to probably get outed in the Pathfinder comic, eventually, since that's the first time we're actually going into detail into any of those characters as actual characters.

Anyway. Just because of this thread, I'm putting more GLBT characters into "Wrath of the Righteous."

Yes, but are they into the "group activities" that fanart often shows then doing? With this litle revelation you'd think Calistria and Shelyn would get along more.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Stereofm wrote:

This kind of reactions are really out of touch with medieval times.

I can only advise readers of this forum to read some medieval fables just to see how heartless, selfish, or even evil (by modern standards) some characters described then as heroes truly acted.

If you want a taste of medieval times, read about current North Korea or Somalia.

I myself thank Paizo for including mature themes in their setting.

What's Medieval about Golarion? What Renaissance does it precede? What Classical era does it follow? Does it really resemble historical Europe all that closely, let alone a single period thereof?

Sorry, pet peeve. It's fantasy.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Golarion draws more from the traditions of the ancient world (Rome, Babylon, Egypt, etc.) and from pulp fantasy than it does from medieval lore and mythology anyway.


Abandoned Arts wrote:
Do you find themes of rape, weakness, victimization, or sex to be tied so prevalently to female characters featured in other adventure modules? In the tabletop gaming world in general? Do you notice fewer such themes as it pertains to male characters?

No. No. No.

I've read maybe 12 AP books and your experience is unique to only Kingmaker as far as I can tell. Maybe it's because Stolen Land is set on a frontier land that's savage and brutal, and there are no laws. I guess that's what happens and they're trying to be realistic.

But no, it's not a common theme at all, and I can't think of a single book where it mentions rape.

Ummm... there are some sexual scenes, but I don't think Mamma Graul counts. :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber
Jason S wrote:

No. No. No.

I've read maybe 12 AP books and your experience is unique to only Kingmaker as far as I can tell. Maybe it's because Stolen Land is set on a frontier land that's savage and brutal, and there are no laws. I guess that's what happens and they're trying to be realistic.

But no, it's not a common theme at all, and I can't think of a single book where it mentions rape.

Ummm... there are some sexual scenes, but I don't think Mamma Graul counts. :)

Congratulations on giving me the best 'non-spoiler spoiler' yet to give to my players! They saw the map I was printing and asked, "What's the Graul farm and why are we going there?"

So I sent 'em your quote verbatim.

They stopped asking.

Paizo Employee Editor

Evil Lincoln wrote:

Mikaze, I generally agree with your egalitarian beliefs, but I absolutely don't think the content creators should be "keeping score" like that.

That's how you end up with "token" minority characters.

Though at the same time, such reflection helps us avoid accidental gaps in who we portray and how—who's absent from our world.

Oh, and Mikaze:

Spoiler:
There's a neutral-good lesbian couple in the fourth installment of Kingmaker, Blood for Blood... not sure where else, will ponder.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Judy Bauer wrote:
Oh, and Mikaze: ** spoiler omitted **

Ah, thanks! That explains how I missed that one. :)

chalks up one more reason to be sad our Kingmaker campaign stopped

Paizo Employee Senior Editor/Fiction Editor

Also, don't forget the interracial lesbian couple in The Asylum Stone! Herifax is kind of evil--I mean, she *is* a harpy--but Kanya's just conflicted and out for herself.


Mikaze wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:


Mikaze, I generally agree with your egalitarian beliefs, but I absolutely don't think the content creators should be "keeping score" like that.

That's how you end up with "token" minority characters.

(and naturally if ShelynXSarenraeXDesna really is canon, this is all pretty much moot)

Never heard this. Since when?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Odraude wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:


Mikaze, I generally agree with your egalitarian beliefs, but I absolutely don't think the content creators should be "keeping score" like that.

That's how you end up with "token" minority characters.

(and naturally if ShelynXSarenraeXDesna really is canon, this is all pretty much moot)
Never heard this. Since when?

Gods & Magic.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Please know PF designers, that many would not want PF to be turned into be a naive fairytale fantasy setting.

Personally I like serious fantasy settings where good, bad and ugly things can happen.

Keep doing what you do. :)


Abandoned Arts wrote:

...

..
.

Hi,

[TRIGGER WARNING] - The following post will contain moderately mature themes and sexually triggering subject matter.

** spoiler omitted **...

I ignored it for the most part, and we're getting to the end of Rivers Run Red at the moment.

Knowing a rape victim IRL, I find the whole thing pretty damned tasteless and insensitive, even if it was "appropriate" for the AP.

You're free to disagree with me, but the fact that this kind of material can bring harm to an actual victim shouldn't be dismissed with a handwave.

The Golarion version of ogres are a good example of rape used for shock value, and it's probably highlighted that they usually attack women rather than men.

Deserk wrote:

Please know PF designers, that many would not want PF to be turned into be a naive fairytale fantasy setting.

Personally I like serious fantasy settings where good, bad and ugly things can happen.

Keep doing what you do. :)

I hope you're not putting words in other people's mouths when you say that.

Also, all within good taste is a good creed to go by, even when things turn bad or ugly. I otherwise agree with your statement with no complaints.


Icyshadow wrote:


Deserk wrote:

Please know PF designers, that many would not want PF to be turned into be a naive fairytale fantasy setting.

Personally I like serious fantasy settings where good, bad and ugly things can happen.

Keep doing what you do. :)

I hope you're not putting words in other people's mouths when you say that.

Also, all within good taste is a good creed to go by, even when things turn bad or ugly. I otherwise agree with your statement with no complaints.

I said many, not most. So I'd think that'd be more than a fair assessment. :)

I imagine it would be difficult to depict rape in "good taste", so do you think Paizo should never ever make references to that ever happening?

Also, just because a theme is present in a story doesn't mean an author endorses it. So what reason do you have to be offended?

Personally I want a realistic edge to my campaigns at least. I don't want a sugar-coated fantasy setting. And I'm very sure I'm not the only one. Especially with the prevalence of dark fantasy literature these days (and by that by mean, complex fantasy worlds/characters).

I really think Paizo is brave to be cross the lines and deal with subjects WotC typically never would have even referenced. Especially in regards to there being actual bi/homosexual characters.


Deserk wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:


Deserk wrote:

Please know PF designers, that many would not want PF to be turned into be a naive fairytale fantasy setting.

Personally I like serious fantasy settings where good, bad and ugly things can happen.

Keep doing what you do. :)

I hope you're not putting words in other people's mouths when you say that.

Also, all within good taste is a good creed to go by, even when things turn bad or ugly. I otherwise agree with your statement with no complaints.

I said many, not most. So I'd think that'd be more than a fair assessment. :)

I imagine it would be difficult to depict rape in "good taste", so do you think Paizo should never ever make references to that ever happening?

Also, just because a theme is present in a story doesn't mean an author endorses it. So what reason do you have to be offended?

Personally I want a realistic edge to my campaigns at least. I don't want a sugar-coated fantasy setting. And I'm very sure I'm not the only one. Especially with the prevalence of dark fantasy literature (and by that by mean, complex fantasy worlds/characters) these days.

I really think Paizo is brave to be cross the lines and deal with subjects WotC typically never would have even referenced. Especially in regards to there being actual bi/homosexual characters.

Bolded part was putting words in my mouth, buddy.

I'm unimpressed rather than offended, and those are not the same thing.

Please refer to my earlier post instead of bashing me for not fully agreeing with you.

Also, original D&D (WotC published included) does have Half-Orcs and we know how most of them are born in those settings.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Icyshadow wrote:
The Golarion version of ogres are a good example of rape used for shock value, and it's probably highlighted that they usually attack women rather than men.

On the contrary, they don't seem to have a preference for gender or even species.

Icyshadow wrote:
Knowing a rape victim IRL, I find the whole thing pretty damned tasteless and insensitive, even if it was "appropriate" for the AP.

Your point is certainly valid, there is a line that should not be crossed. There is some leeway afforded to subject matter, for instance, the monstrous hillbilly horror trope is meant to be repulsive. So are the bandits in Kingmaker, I think; without the GM's window into their depravity, it would be too easy to consider them merely lovable Merry-Men. Instead, you have the PCs with a warrant for execution, and good cause to employ it.

It's worth noting that the above background isn't limited to rape, it includes murder, theft and betrayal as well. The GM is armed with real examples from the NPCs' backgrounds of how despicable and evil they are. Whether or not she reveals that in gameplay is a matter of taste, and the GM's responsiveness to her players' needs (which is the mark of a great GM).

But, as long as it is within the acceptable conventions of fiction, portraying rape as a real event with real consequences for the victims (and hopefully the perpetrators), then I think the writers are on solid ground. It's up to the GM to filter for the players not only in this case, but in any other scenarios that might cut close to home — for example, using wolves in encounters against a character with a pathological fear of dogs, or hearkening back to some other real and serious trauma someone's experienced in their life.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Maps, Modules Subscriber

As I'm reading this thread, I keep thinking about my first impressions of the Skull & Shackles AP. At the very beginning of that path, the PCs get press-ganged into a pirate ship's crew.

In that first adventure, the idea of rape doesn't really come into play. In fact, despite all the cruel and evil things that various bad guy NPCs are represented as doing, I don't recall anything indicating there is any chance of rape occurring. On the contrary, there are many female NPCs (randomly scattered thru the crew, among the officers, even the male captain's female "cabin boy" who seems to be loyal and neither abused nor necessarily sexually involved with the captain) - and the presence of this mix of male and female crew makes it seem highly unlikely that the pirates would take such liberties...

I compare this to Kingmaker's first chapter, and I'll admit, I can see a bit of where the OP is going with these observations. When I ran Stolen Land, I remember that I thought very carefully how to present the bandits so that, when it came time to go against the Stag Lord, if the PCs wanted to try infiltration, they wouldn't think that female PCs were especially at risk. I did downplay a couple of the instances mentioned by the OP. And I wouldn't have put that energy into thinking it through if I hadn't run into the same resonances that the OP mentions.

I can confirm that the rest of the path didn't give me any moments of concern. And that the vast majority of Paizo products, likewise, don't create those sorts of concerns. (The ogres in Rise of the Runelords obviously do, but the ogres are so egalitarian in their tastes - anything that breathes is equally at risk of being victimized - that it certainly doesn't fit the females-as-victims theme.)


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Cintra Bristol wrote:
(The ogres in Rise of the Runelords obviously do, but the ogres are so egalitarian in their tastes - anything that breathes is equally at risk of being victimized - that it certainly doesn't fit the females-as-victims theme.)

I really don't want to have to correct you on this one, but I corrected IcyShadow above...

Breathing is optional too.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cintra Bristol wrote:

As I'm reading this thread, I keep thinking about my first impressions of the Skull & Shackles AP. At the very beginning of that path, the PCs get press-ganged into a pirate ship's crew.

In that first adventure, the idea of rape doesn't really come into play. In fact, despite all the cruel and evil things that various bad guy NPCs are represented as doing, I don't recall anything indicating there is any chance of rape occurring. On the contrary, there are many female NPCs (randomly scattered thru the crew, among the officers, even the male captain's female "cabin boy" who seems to be loyal and neither abused nor necessarily sexually involved with the captain) - and the presence of this mix of male and female crew makes it seem highly unlikely that the pirates would take such liberties...

Honestly, the lack of anything approaching sexual realism was one of the things that made me hate the beginning of Skull & Shackles, so much so that I quit the game. It was like playing a video game, where your choice of male or female avatar is purely aesthetic and makes no difference to the way people react to you in-game. Not to mention the way the sexless pirate ship of gender parity destroyed Golarion canon:

Very minor Souls for Smuggler's Shiv spoiler:
Aerys Movato is supposedly driven to drink and despair by the difficulty she has in making a career as a female sailor in a man's world, and then Skull & Shackles turns around and depicts gender-blind pirate ships as the norm?
I found Aerys a much more nuanced and realistic female character than
Very minor Wormwood Mutiny spoiler:
Sandara Quinn with her chipper "My superior/virtual slave master propositioned me, and I told him that was insensitive and contrary to pirate workplace regs, and there was nothing he could do about it despite being higher level than me and having literal power of life and death over the crew! But, no, you guys he'll totally kill, just because he took an instant dislike to you."

2 people marked this as a favorite.

In general, Paizo tend to gloss over such situations and leave it to the DMs on how to use it .

Spoiler:

There is two cases of infiltration the bad guys I can think of now
In 'Second Darkness' the characters are sent as underlings to a demon worshipping civilization . In one other scenario they are supposed to be new followers of the cult like church of Razmiran.

If I remember rightly, in the first case , Paizo do not describe what ceremonies the PCs would have to attend . In the second case , there is no real brainwashing done and the Pcs are soon trusted to be alone .
In real life , gangs and crime organization usually ask their new members to do something illegal under supervision in order to have an handle on them (for your information , my players would never have accepted the premise of the scenario especially with female characters)


Paizo keep the fantasy clean because the game is supposed to be fun to play. If you want to make the game gritter, it is easy to do .I must say I understand their point of view

Paizo Employee Senior Editor/Fiction Editor

11 people marked this as a favorite.

At Paizo, we really try to walk a careful line with our mature themes. We don't want to whitewash everything--our world is realistic and gritty, and bad things happen--but we also feel like being shocking or horrible for the sake of being shocking or horrible is in poor taste. We're not a splatterpunk/torture-porn RPG, and venture into that territory with caution.

Rape is a particularly dangerous element to introduce into a story, for obvious reasons, and so we try to be careful about such things. Since folks seem to think we're simultaneously too grim and not grim enough, I hope that means we're somewhere close to the target, but we definitely keep an eye out for threads just like this to see where we're going too far. In my personal opinion, if there's ever question about whether rape is necessary to the story you want to tell, it's best to take it out. GMs can add that sort of thing as they see fit.

Thanks for having a polite, sincere discussion on a sensitive subject, and let's all keep it that way! This is a seriously loaded issue, and the sort of thing that can get really personal, really quick. Everyone take a few deep breaths before you post, and double-check to make sure that the point you're making is considerate of others.

Taldor

Evil Lincoln wrote:
Stereofm wrote:

This kind of reactions are really out of touch with medieval times.

I can only advise readers of this forum to read some medieval fables just to see how heartless, selfish, or even evil (by modern standards) some characters described then as heroes truly acted.

If you want a taste of medieval times, read about current North Korea or Somalia.

I myself thank Paizo for including mature themes in their setting.

What's Medieval about Golarion? What Renaissance does it precede? What Classical era does it follow? Does it really resemble historical Europe all that closely, let alone a single period thereof?

Sorry, pet peeve. It's fantasy.

Oh well... I guess you are right.

it's interesting though when you can to compare the actions of historical "heroes" compared to what you, as a modern man would do. Sets some reflexion about good an evil.

Another point that irks me, and should have explained before, is the "sanitization" of villains.
I agree that not everything should be published. Especially on this kind of subjects.

On the other hand, if the villain is not really a despicable creep, how do you justify wasting him with your vorpal sword ? That's one of the the point of being an action hero : making the world better by elimination of serious threats.

And the villain can't always be an evil outsider. Sometimes the villain needs to be an evil robber lord with questionable morality and hygiene.


With my job, I've had to encounter both victims of rape and victims of violence and murder. And I myself have been the victim of racial violence. Despite that, I don't mind if it's in a book or RPG because it (unfortunately) adds to the reality of the world that we really can't nor shouldn't ignore. Bad things happen to all people all too often, especially out in the wilderness. When you think of lawless frontier, sadly murdering, marauding, and raping are parts of that setting and it wouldn't make much since in The Stolen Lands (or an adventure about vikings or pirates) to exclude it. I think Stolen Lands did a good job handling it. Of the examples, one was a threat (if you consider 'for their own amusements' to mean that), one was part of a tragic lie (Rosillia), one was a woman who fought it and beat the bandits (Kessle), and one... we aren't really sure happened (Stag Lord). The Akiros one in particular makes his story all the more tragic, because that is quite an unforgivable crime to be accused and almost no one would believe him.

That said, it is ultimately up the the GM to allow it and a GM should really calibrate the expectations of the group before including that. That requires knowing and communicating with your players. I remember running a HERO Champions game that was going to take place in the Middle East and deal with Israel. However, one of my players was Jewish and she expressed that she was uncomfortable with it, so I simply didn't do it. So honestly, if it's too much for you and your players, remove it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like my fantasy relatively 'light' in theme. There's a place for darker elements, but if I had to choose between a super light adventure where I had to add in any dark bits I wanted and a really dark adventure then I'd go for the light option every time. I'd prefer any darker bits to grow up organically through the actions and desires of the players, so find it easier to completely personalise that sort of thing.

That being said I own most of the Paizo AP's and while they lean towards the mature side of things I very rarely feel as if anything is being done for shock value. Bad things happen at times, but it usually isn't written in a way that everything has to go all grimdark. Hook Mountain Massacre was too much for my tastes and The Stolen Land is something that I would certainly edit if I ran, but I can't think of any other major examples off hand.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Joana wrote:
Honestly, the lack of anything approaching sexual realism was one of the things that made me hate the beginning of Skull & Shackles, so much so that I quit the game. It was like playing a video game, where your choice of male or female avatar is purely aesthetic and makes no difference to the way people react to you in-game. Not to mention the way the sexless pirate ship of gender parity destroyed Golarion canon: ** spoiler omitted ** I found Aerys a much more nuanced and realistic female character than ** spoiler omitted **...

I agree. I understand paizo's need to tread lightly around these sort of topics but the gender neutral pirate ship in skull and shackles was completely unbelivable to me.

- Torger


12 people marked this as a favorite.
Torger Miltenberger wrote:
Joana wrote:
Honestly, the lack of anything approaching sexual realism was one of the things that made me hate the beginning of Skull & Shackles, so much so that I quit the game. It was like playing a video game, where your choice of male or female avatar is purely aesthetic and makes no difference to the way people react to you in-game. Not to mention the way the sexless pirate ship of gender parity destroyed Golarion canon: ** spoiler omitted ** I found Aerys a much more nuanced and realistic female character than ** spoiler omitted **...

I agree. I understand paizo's need to tread lightly around these sort of topics but the gender neutral pirate ship in skull and shackles was completely unbelivable to me.

- Torger

Honestly, I find the gender blindness (and gender balance) a feature. I get enough sexism in everyday life; I don't want it in my games.

It's bad enough that female miniatures who wear armor instead of a chainmail bikini are a rarity. I already have to ignore the ubiquitous bare skin and body cants on every female in fantasy artwork. I find it very refreshing that the blatant sexism stops there and that the authors chose not to incorporate it into the game mechanics and the storylines.

And that's another thing: this is a fantasy game set in a fantasy world. It's laughable that anyone is talking about "realism" in a world with monsters and magic woven throughout it. Whether or not medieval Europe was an awful experience for the majority of people is completely and totally irrelevant. Whether or not sexual violence (or sexism or racism or whatever) "happens in real life" doesn't matter one iota.

Things exist in Golarion only because the authors choose to put them there. I applaud authors who own their choices, and I cringe when readers or players excuse authors for including (or criticize them for not including) disturbing elements because "that's how it was in history". Criticize the authors for lack of consistency all you want ("destroyed the Golarion canon"), but you can't complain that "it's not realistic". None of it is realistic: that's kind of the point.

Over my gaming lifetime, I've seen the "that's how it was!" line used as an excuse by game designers who penalized female characters' ability stats and restricted them to three character classes (housewife, prostitute, and nun). One GM hid behind that line as he systematically had every female character raped by NPCs (and refused to let players gender swap--no issues there, no sir...). Another GM arranged marriages for each female character (much less creepy, certainly, but no less sexist).

It's hard to express how much I appreciate Paizo and the Pathfinder system for being different. I like playing in a system where characters aren't treated differently because of their gender. I enjoy the fact that my character's abilities are dictated by her stats and not her genitalia. I applaud the authors' choices to create a large number of powerful female NPCs who are all distinct individuals.

Most of all, I am thrilled that my teenaged daughter has the opportunity to experience RPGs without the infuriating sexist b&*!@%$* that I had to deal with at her age.

I agree: Pathfinder isn't realistic at all. And thank the gods for that!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Personally, I like having the chance to break barriers and glass ceilings as a PC and actually make a difference in the world. Whether it's as a female character in a traditional society or a Mwangi character in Sargava or a halfling in Cheliax, I think it's more interesting to get to be the pioneer and struggle to overcome the preconceptions of those around me. To me, it's fun to play a female barbarian in a tribe that says men should fight and women should stay home and have babies; if the tribe is gender-neutral, then I have absolutely no interest in playing a female barbarian. I had visions of my Skull & Shackles character being a minority as a female pirate and having to prove herself; when it became clear, she was just another face in the crowd, I lost all enthusiasm for the character. If no one in the game world is prejudiced against anyone ever, when do I get to play that story?

I'm a gamer mom with a gamer daughter, too. Game design doesn't make GMs sexist jerks; sexist jerk GMs will make sexist jerk rulings whether the campaign setting backs them up or not.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

It's not necessarily realism people are looking for, but verisimilitude. Despite magic and such, human nature will always have both its dark points and its light. For every decent person out there that saves the lives of countless people, there will always be that one deprived person that uses violence and other means to get what they want. And that kind of foil makes for an interesting story. It's why many find it difficult to omit things like crime, drug use, hate, and all that from the world. I personally don't believe in having the good without the bad.

Admittedly, I think Paizo has struck a good balance with prejudice in their setting. It's not as rampant as it was in the medieval world, but it still exists because people can honestly be a%&@$$@s. In Golarion, you can play an adventurer of a different gender or ethnicity and generally go around unharassed by the general public. It seems that generally, the more reprehensible people (like the bandits of The Stolen Lands) do it, and only to kind of punctuate the type of evil they are. Golarion is NOT medieval Europe, but it does reflect human society, both its good parts and its bad. Looking at the setting, they have many strong characters that don't fit the standard 'Male, Anglo-Saxon" mold. From the Queen Abrogail II, Iomedae, and Seelah the iconic paladin, to Geb & Nex, and Jatembe, all of them break that classic hero (or villain) mold and are interesting characters with incredible stories and adventure hooks. I particularly love Jatembe because he breaks the standard 'wizened old mage' stereotype you see with Merlin, Gandalf, and Dumbledore.

This kind of ground was also treaded fairly close to home with River into Darkness, which:

River Into Darkness Spoiler:
Had your players being sent to a mining camp where they had Mwangi slaves. By the end, if run correctly, most good players would be more sympathetic to the Mwangi tribes that are sabotaging the mining company. I actually played a Mwangi tribesman sold into slavery as a child and then a runaway from Cheliax, and now works as a self-centered mercenary. He ended the session embracing his lost culture and freeing the Mwangi slaves from the mine and became a better person for it.

I will admit, reading it first made me a little uncomfortable. Mwangi people enslaved in a diamond mine felt almost too real for me. But having played it to the end, I actually found the entire adventure both enjoyable and in a way... cathartic. I enjoyed playing the struggle between two worlds and between groups of people that looked down upon my character. And at the end, we really, truly felt like we saved the day and did good, not just for those tribesmen, but also for ourselves.

Now, every game is different and what works for mine may not work for yours. And that's okay. Players and GMs should only play what they are comfortable with and ultimately, have fun.

1 to 50 of 195 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | next > last >>
Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder Adventure Path / General Discussion / Discussion and Analysis of Sex and Female Characters in Paizo's APs All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.

©2002–2014 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.