Is The Pathfinder Setting Ethically Problematic?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

We wouldn't even be having this conversation if Paizo hadn't gotten a bit lazy and put vikings in the north, quasi-Egyptians into the corner where Egypt would be on Garund and Quadira into the perfect position that it would appear to be the "middle eastern" nation. The rest of the nations of Avistan and Garund are not even remotely proper analogs to their real-world companions.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Annabel wrote:
Jessica Price wrote:
Annabel wrote:
Second, the Cursed Item, Girdle of Opposite Gender. Now, I recognize that some people might thing this a trivial example, but to me, it says something disturbing that such a thing is situated as a "curse." In fact, in our "homebrew," the girdle is not a cursed item, just a magical one.
Weird, I could have sworn I had a conversation with the developers about this in which they told me that they'd explicitly made it *not* a cursed item. (I know that reversing its effects involves remove curse, but my understanding is that that's a mechanical constraint, so that it's a one-shot item.)

Unless I'm missing a more subtle point, the Girdle is classified as a Cursed Item.

http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advanced/magicItems/cursedItems.html

It's presented as a cursed item currently, but I personally wish it was not—I'd rather there be spells in the game or magic items that allow for gender changing as a boon, not a curse. And in fact, there are elements of that kind of magic in Wrath of the Righteous.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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magnuskn wrote:
We wouldn't even be having this conversation if Paizo hadn't gotten a bit lazy and put vikings in the north, quasi-Egyptians into the corner where Egypt would be on Garund and Quadira into the perfect position that it would appear to be the "middle eastern" nation. The rest of the nations of Avistan and Garund are not even remotely proper analogs to their real-world companions.

What you call lazy I call "honoring real-world geography." AKA: Part of what makes "vikings" feel like vikings is that they're in the north.


magnuskn wrote:
We wouldn't even be having this conversation if Paizo hadn't gotten a bit lazy and put vikings in the north, quasi-Egyptians into the corner where Egypt would be on Garund and Quadira into the perfect position that it would appear to be the "middle eastern" nation. The rest of the nations of Avistan and Garund are not even remotely proper analogs to their real-world companions.

What? They're not? But... But I just helped my nephew study for his geography test... oh god, what have I done?

The Exchange

I always assumed that cultures analogous to real-world cultures were used in fantasy RPGs for the same reason Robert E. Howard used them in his Conan novels; they're ready-made tropes. Rather than spending half an hour explaining everything the characters know about a wholly-original culture that relies on seaborne raiding to augment its economy and food supplies, the GM can say, "They're Vikings," and the players say, "Rock on. Let's roll for initiative!"

There's a difference between 'being lazy' and 'avoiding unnecessary and unproductive work.'


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
We wouldn't even be having this conversation if Paizo hadn't gotten a bit lazy and put vikings in the north, quasi-Egyptians into the corner where Egypt would be on Garund and Quadira into the perfect position that it would appear to be the "middle eastern" nation. The rest of the nations of Avistan and Garund are not even remotely proper analogs to their real-world companions.
What you call lazy I call "honoring real-world geography." AKA: Part of what makes "vikings" feel like vikings is that they're in the north.

And I appreciate that. Well, mostly. I'm not so sure if the connections between Quadira and the real world middle east are not a bit too much on the nose, but that's probably just me.

It is just very noticeable in comparison to the very much "this is not Earth" feel of the other nations of the Inner Sea Region. And it is part of what allows persons to make analogies where they try to make connections between the Gorilla King and racist depictions of black people.


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James Jacobs wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
We wouldn't even be having this conversation if Paizo hadn't gotten a bit lazy and put vikings in the north, quasi-Egyptians into the corner where Egypt would be on Garund and Quadira into the perfect position that it would appear to be the "middle eastern" nation. The rest of the nations of Avistan and Garund are not even remotely proper analogs to their real-world companions.
What you call lazy I call "honoring real-world geography." AKA: Part of what makes "vikings" feel like vikings is that they're in the north.

Well, I might argue that what makes Vikings feel like Vikings is that they are associated with fjords, mountains, tundra and the like. Meaning they could just as easily be found on the southern polar climes as the northern ones, but probably not so much on the equator.

Of course all that presumes a climate somewhat approximating our own where the world is a globe that is positioned in an orbit around a hot ball of plasma such that parts of the globe receive proportionately different amounts of energy from the sun, and that the globe is orbiting at an angle which creates the seasons....

None of that is actually necessary in a magical fantasy realm. Vikings could just as easily be associated with an area on the equator that is tied to the Plane Of Cold and as such they have to wear furs and hunt big mammals...

There's no reason whatsoever in a fantasy world that the "north" or "south" has to be colder than the equator. It's just convention.


Jessica Price wrote:
(As a side note, though, I am a little surprised at the implication that as a company we're automatically very sexist/heteronormative, especially given that, if anything, LGB folks are represented at a higher rate here than in the population at large, and we've taken a significant amount of flak from various corners of the messageboards for portraying same-sex relationships and gay/lesbian/bi characters in a fairly high proportion of our products. <wry> Damned if you do, damned if you don't.)

I think that, being as I'm the one that introduced the issues (though my gratuitous use of "-isms"), that this is specifically referencing my comments.

I don't think just having a "rate here than in the population at large" means anything substantive. Respectively, it feels like tokenism. Earlier I acknowledged the progressive attitude of Paizo, but just because there are some queer men and women present within the products (or the staff), I don't think it provides grounds to suggest that there is no sexism or heterosexism in Paizo's products.

Further, I didn't arrived at these conclusions "automatically."

Also, I'm not sure if I'm catching your drift, because there seems to be the suggestion that criticism of the presence of sexism or heterosexism is equivalent to misogynistic or heterosexist criticism; "Damned if you do, damned if you don't."


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Annabel wrote:

Hum... Well, there are a number things I've noticed (I actually have some resources at home I've put together for the purpose of a few course projects on role play, but I'll fly from memory here).

First, I found (find?) Erastil history of gender essentialism to be pretty cissexist and heterosexist. (Funny story, when I ran Kingmaker, I was playing a cleric of Urgathoa (named Annabel) who defiled so many Erastilian shrines (okay... just one). To be fair, I took some "artistic liberties" to worshiping Urgathoa as a deity, and a less generous DM probs would have put a stop to my shenanigans.)

Second, the Cursed Item, Girdle of Opposite Gender. Now, I recognize that some people might thing this a trivial example, but to me, it says something disturbing that such a thing is situated as a "curse." In fact, in our "homebrew," the girdle is not a cursed item, just a magical one.

Third, (and this might be a creative dispute), I can't figure out why all these Player races are organized around a human-centric gender binary. Except one, Changelings (which, I think is interesting, but might be tangential). Though there is variation between races and cultures in terms of how gender plays a role, there is the distracting irregularity with this consistency across unrelated intelligent species.

This last fact seems to carry across from just PC races to gods (and goddesses), human-like monsters, etc. For some reason, the world is treated as if the gender binary is "natural" and universal. I mean, if it is, that is Paizo's prerogative. But to me, that feels cissexist.

To your first point, I think the idea is that sometimes gods can be jerks. None of them are perfect, so despite Erastil being LG, there are flaws that are easy to find in his character. Flawed gods, makes the settings more interesting, right? The reverse applies as well: Dispater (not a god, but close) may be evil, but he's also the most reasonable, and perhaps likable, person in Hell. Enough so, even, that he's been apparently happily married three times and his current wife works as a full partner with him in court. Granted, this is a guy who helps rule Hell, a pit of malevolence, misogyny, and lies, but for him to repeatedly do that speaks a bit to the idea he's not quite the cut-and-dry jerk of a villain you'd expect.

To your second point, this isn't an ideological issue so much as it is a game mechanics, tradition, and theme issue. The major idea behind cursed items is that they advertise themselves as one thing, but then do something else, usually pretty harmful. The girdle fits the bill in this case. Consider what would happen, for example, if a Lashuntan male fighter put this on. Suddenly, he's dropped his STR score and upped his useless CHA score. In most case it's true that it would be a roleplaying challenge/penalty only. However, it's been in the cursed items category a long time under D&D and Paizo cared a lot about tradition when bringing stuff over for 3.5 E's spiritual successor. You may also be interested to know that, in the AJJ thread, the creative director seemed to agree with you in that cursed items can have beneficial uses for parties that know their stuff. Example: having a character with an ioun stone that removes your need to breath toss up a handful of Dust of Choking and Sneezing in the midst of a group of enemies.

For point three, I think the idea is that, in human beings, gender binary IS natural and very much the norm. This is not to say other orientations are unnatural, but it's, what, about 90% of the world that is straight? Going with the most obvious rationale, Paizo simply extended that default, biological mindset to their humanoid, monstrous humanoid, and other typed creatures in the game as the default mode. Considering how they go out of their way to positively depict gay/lesbian/bi characters in a way that isn't preachy or riddled with cliches, shouldn't we give them the benefit of the doubt and just assume they're not cissexist?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Lesson of the day: in RPG publishing business, you must walk a damn hard line with having progfemlibdem "your percentage of not-pretty black M-F transgendered paladins is running low" customers on one side and "I wish you guys printed Christianity as the best religion ever and I could run around with an official Paladin of Jesus smiting sodomites and atheists" customers on the other side.


Cerberus Seven wrote:
To your first point, I think the idea is that sometimes gods can be jerks. None of them are perfect, so despite Erastil being LG, there are flaws that are easy to find in his character. Flawed gods, makes the settings more interesting, right? The reverse applies as well: Dispater (not a god, but close) may be evil, but he's also the most reasonable, and perhaps likable, person in Hell. Enough so, even, that he's been apparently happily married three times and his current wife works as a full partner with him in court. Granted, this is a guy who helps rule Hell, a pit of malevolence, misogyny, and lies, but for him to repeatedly do that speaks a bit to the idea he's not quite the cut-and-dry jerk of a villain you'd expect.

Isn't that the entire point of Erastil: That you can have a lawful good deity, that's a hard-lined traditionalist a+~@&$&? I've never heard of anyone looking at Erastil's gender philosophy and thinking that it's existence means Paizo supports it. Hell, to me it's always been the opposite: if anyone at Paizo thought like that, they wouldn't make his attitude so blatantly douchey.


Gorbacz wrote:
Lesson of the day: in RPG publishing business, you must walk a damn hard line with having progfemlibdem "your percentage of not-pretty black M-F transgendered paladins is running low" customers on one side and "I wish you guys printed Christianity as the best religion ever and I could run around with an official Paladin of Jesus smiting sodomites and atheists" customers on the other side.

LOL, there's a lot more sides to placate than that Gorbacz.

Good thing most editors have their handy-dandy no-offense-checklist on their computer so they can update it regularly.

Not that it matters really, in spite of all their diligence, some of their Freudian, unconscious bigotry will still slip through into the finished product and be held up to the spotlight of righteousness by the faithful.

Tough job. Glad it's not mine.


Annabel, thank you for the thoughtful response.

Annabel wrote:
First, I found (find?) Erastil history of gender essentialism to be pretty cissexist and heterosexist.

There's been some discussion of this on the boards, if you search around. My impression is the intention is that he's an old-fashioned, slightly retrograde god, so his values don't necessarily jibe with those of the other gods, or with the setting as a whole. I guess you could argue that's not clear in the original materials. Maybe there'll be some clarification in the upcoming gods hardcover.

Personally, I think the inclusion of something like a cissexist, heterosexist god within the setting, provided it is not an all-powerful or supreme god (which I don't think Erastil is), or a god that your character is required to worship, is less an assumption or imposition of those perspectives on the player, and more an inclusion of the flaws and conflicts of the real world within the setting. Which in turn provides opportunity to work against them in role-play, as you yourself did in that Kingmaker campaign. I could understand if you disagree with that though. I might agree more on this one if there weren't same-sex couples (including some that are married, I think) within the setting.

Annabel wrote:
Second, the Cursed Item, Girdle of Opposite Gender. Now, I recognize that some people might thing this a trivial example, but to me, it says something disturbing that such a thing is situated as a "curse." In fact, in our "homebrew," the girdle is not a cursed item, just a magical one.

I don't think it's trivial at all. I think that's very important, actually, and potentially damaging to young gamers questioning their gender identity. It's a legacy item, carried over from 1st edition AD&D, and one that I'm sure every trans gamer is aware of.

However, while I can't remember where I saw this, I'm pretty sure one of the designers (maybe Schneider? Maybe in that same interview I mentioned in an earlier post?) acknowledged the problematic aspect of the item some time within the past year, and said that it was, or at least should be no longer considered cursed.

I could be wrong about that, but I think that happened. If so, I think that's actually kind of a big thing, in its own small way. (I remember thinking just that when I read it.) If not so, it's a change Paizo should make. So, I agree, but I think they're already aware of the misstep on this one.

Huh. Checking the PRD, it's still listed under cursed items, though it's not on the table for cursed items. Maybe a change could be made to the PRD?

Edit to add: Okay, the Paizo people have chimed in on this one. Still hope it gets changed in the PRD.

Annabel wrote:
Third, (and this might be a creative dispute), I can't figure out why all these Player races are organized around a human-centric gender binary. Except one, Changelings (which, I think is interesting, but might be tangential). Though there is variation between races and cultures in terms of how gender plays a role, there is the distracting irregularity with this consistency across unrelated intelligent species.

The Samsarans might challenge this somewhat, with their reincarnation aspect. I haven't read the ARG, so I don't know if there are any others in there that might fit what you're looking for. I'm guessing not, since you mention the Changelings.

I would note that, if I understand what you're getting at here, gender binaries aren't necessarily human-centric in and of themselves. They may not be the one, true natural way of things, and much of gender and the binaries we associate with it are social constructs, but gender binaries of one degree or another are not, as far as I know, uncommon outside of the human species, particularly in vertebrates. (And, of course, there are also non-binary aspects to both human gender to expressions and functions of gender in some animal species in the real world.) (I don't want to go into a deep "what is gender" discussion here, so apologies if that was unclear or incomplete.)

I guess this one seems like less of a big deal to me, so maybe a creative dispute? Here's a question, though. Would you want to see a race that was, say, entirely genderqueer or non-binary? Or would you prefer to see genderqueer or non-binary characters within a race whose majority exhibits a gender binary? Personally, I'd prefer the latter, if I was genderqueer, I'd rather not be isolated in a special race, but I'm not genderqueer, so I'm not the best person to say. You could have both options, maybe that would be the way to go.

All that said, you make an interesting point on that one. Thanks.

Annabel wrote:
This last fact seems to carry across from just PC races to gods (and goddesses), human-like monsters, etc. For some reason, the world is treated as if the gender binary is "natural" and universal. I mean, if it is, that is Paizo's prerogative. But to me, that feels cissexist.

There's Gozreh, who flips between genders, and is represented by both. (Hir pronouns switch back and forth in hir writeup too.) And I think there's supposed to be one of the empyreals discussed in the recent "Chronicle of the Righteous" book who challenges the gender binary in some way, which I'd guess would encourage some of his/her (don't know which, if either) devotees to do the same. Haven't read it, but I remember some talk about it when it came out in one of the LGBT threads on the board.

In terms of the bigger picture, my understanding of Paizo's approach to the gods of Golarion is that, whatever they actually, truly are, the in-world understanding of them (written up in the books) is refracted through the perceptions and experiences of the peoples of the setting. Maybe the way gender and the gender binary play into that could be examined in the upcoming gods hardcover?

I think your third example might be the strongest (again, thank you for pointing this out), while the first and second seem to be matters the could use more (official) clarification rather than examples of outright cissexism. And again, I think trans and similar gender identity issues are very much on Paizo's radar right now, as orientation, gender and race issues have been for a while. The setting seems to be a work in progress in some ways, and that progress has so far tended toward the progressive.

Annabel wrote:
Sorry, that part was kind of poorly worded. I was trying to convey an understanding that Paizo, as a group of artists, gamers,...

Thanks for the clarification. I get what you're saying.

Edit to add: Sorry for the wall of text.


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Annabel wrote:
This last fact seems to carry across from just PC races to gods (and goddesses), human-like monsters, etc. For some reason, the world is treated as if the gender binary is "natural" and universal. I mean, if it is, that is Paizo's prerogative. But to me, that feels cissexist.

Well, technically, Yog-Sothoth is a god in the pathfinder setting, which doesn't conform to the gender binary[/CompletelyMissingThePoint]

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

James Jacobs wrote:
It's presented as a cursed item currently, but I personally wish it was not—I'd rather there be spells in the game or magic items that allow for gender changing as a boon, not a curse. And in fact, there are elements of that kind of magic in Wrath of the Righteous.

I think it's fine as a cursed item in the "Oh crap, it wasn't supposed to do that!" catagory.

To use a more extreme example, Harkkon Lucas (from Ravenloft) carried a cursed sword. (no, I don't know which hand he used). He used different tricks to turn it into a benefit for him. I don't think anyone would want the cursed swords removed from the cursed item.

A girdle of sex change might be useful to some people, but a curse to others/most.

Besides, there's nothing that says you can't intentionally make one, right?

Project Manager

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Annabel wrote:
Jessica Price wrote:
Annabel wrote:
Second, the Cursed Item, Girdle of Opposite Gender. Now, I recognize that some people might thing this a trivial example, but to me, it says something disturbing that such a thing is situated as a "curse." In fact, in our "homebrew," the girdle is not a cursed item, just a magical one.
Weird, I could have sworn I had a conversation with the developers about this in which they told me that they'd explicitly made it *not* a cursed item. (I know that reversing its effects involves remove curse, but my understanding is that that's a mechanical constraint, so that it's a one-shot item.)

Unless I'm missing a more subtle point, the Girdle is classified as a Cursed Item.

http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advanced/magicItems/cursedItems.html

Urgh, you're right. I thought we'd changed that, especially given that Arshea's followers often spend time living as both genders, and that I've read at least one product that references a trans character who made use of a permanent magical gender switch. (I assumed it was one of these, but maybe we have a non-cursed magical item in the works.)

Thanks for bringing that to my attention.


Annabel wrote:
I don't think just having a "rate here than in the population at large" means anything substantive. Respectively, it feels like tokenism.

From a practical perspective, from a game design and writing perspective, is there a point at which you feel it wouldn't feel like tokenism? Is there something that would mark a character as non-token rather than token? What do you feel Paizo should do differently in this regard?

Annabel wrote:
Earlier I acknowledged the progressive attitude of Paizo, but just because there are some queer men and women present within the products (or the staff), I don't think it provides grounds to suggest that there is no sexism or heterosexism in Paizo's products

I don't think anyone would disagree with this. I think that was one of the points Jessica was trying to make in her post:

Jessica Price wrote:
We try pretty hard to be inclusive. We don't always get it right, but we keep trying.


Jessica Price wrote:
I'm also sort of amused by the idea that no one here has heard of cissexism, or read Said.

But, but, but, I threw in disparaging references to both Kipling and Conrad!

Anyway, back when I was an undergrad at Torvin Academy, I tried to interest Professor Jubannich in including a course on Subaltern Studies and goblinoids in the curriculum. We even got Professor Joseph Massad to commit to a few guest lectures, but then the Thermidorian reaction set in and poor Darl had to flee to Andoran and I had to go underground.


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KSF wrote:
Annabel wrote:
I don't think just having a "rate here than in the population at large" means anything substantive. Respectively, it feels like tokenism.
From a practical perspective, from a game design and writing perspective, is there a point at which you feel it wouldn't feel like tokenism? Is there something that would mark a character as non-token rather than token? What do you feel Paizo should do differently in this regard?

To be more precise, that the response that there exists the existence of queer people in product or as staff is orthogonal to the issues of whether or not certain content is problematic, and the response looks like tokenism to "put off" the specific critiques being leveled.

This conjoined with the equivocation between my critiques and those of others("flack" for queer characters), and the assumption that the critique is unfounded ("automatic") comes together to look like a off-handed (-10 penalty) attempt to dismiss the content. Price did address some issues, but the last part was jarring.


"Orthogonal," "conjoined," and "critiques."

Looks like someone else did upper level course work at Torvin Academy, too.

Vive le Galt!


Annabel wrote:
To be more precise, that the response that there exists the existence of queer people in product or as staff is orthogonal to the issues of whether or not certain content is problematic, and the response looks like tokenism to "put off" the specific critiques being leveled.

Okay, sorry, misunderstood. Thought you were talking about the LGBT characters in their products being token characters.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Jessica Price wrote:
I'm also sort of amused by the idea that no one here has heard of cissexism, or read Said.

Why? It's not like either are particularly mainstream.


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Bill Dunn wrote:
Jessica Price wrote:
I'm also sort of amused by the idea that no one here has heard of cissexism, or read Said.
Why? It's not like either are particularly mainstream.

Oh thank god, I'm not actually some sort of uneducated, socially irreparable savage. Yay, acceptable ignorance!


Paizo.com provides many opportunities for educational advancement.

Sovereign Court Contributor

I got the sense that Samsarans were not limited to reincarnating into a single gender; but I may need developer confirmation on that.

I would guess that Rakshasa would be similar.

Certainly traditions of reincarnation in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions included that possibility (as well as non-human people and animals). The Buddha spent time in all sorts of shapes, according to folklore.

The gender-bending belt sounds like something anyone curious about non-cissexual existence would find kind of intriguing (not just transfolk). I think it should be a conventional magical item as well.

Dark Archive

Matthew Morris wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
It's presented as a cursed item currently, but I personally wish it was not—I'd rather there be spells in the game or magic items that allow for gender changing as a boon, not a curse. And in fact, there are elements of that kind of magic in Wrath of the Righteous.

I think it's fine as a cursed item in the "Oh crap, it wasn't supposed to do that!" catagory.

To use a more extreme example, Harkkon Lucas (from Ravenloft) carried a cursed sword. (no, I don't know which hand he used). He used different tricks to turn it into a benefit for him. I don't think anyone would want the cursed swords removed from the cursed item.

A girdle of sex change might be useful to some people, but a curse to others/most.

Besides, there's nothing that says you can't intentionally make one, right?

I agree with Mathew in that I think it is fine as a cursed item because it is not suppose to do what it does do.

With that said though, i do wish there was more magic and magic items that made gender change and other such topics as a boon. Or even a girdle that allowed one to once a day switch you gender or something as it's power.


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Now, since we're apparently on the subject of gender issues, I'd like to bring up something that's been bothering me.

The female catfolk on page 47 of the Bestiary 3 is fine. The one on page 95 of the Advanced Race Guide is a horrible monstrosity from the deepest reaches of the internet.

Prominent breasts are a human-exclusive trait in the real world. So when they appear on something with a face that is clearly not human (the catfolk in the ARG, the dragonborn in 4E), it looks ridiculous.

Can we please not put breasts on things with nonhuman faces without a really good reason? Your audience isn't dumb, they can pick up on more subtle gender differentiators than that.


Annabel wrote:
KSF wrote:
Annabel wrote:
I don't think just having a "rate here than in the population at large" means anything substantive. Respectively, it feels like tokenism.
From a practical perspective, from a game design and writing perspective, is there a point at which you feel it wouldn't feel like tokenism? Is there something that would mark a character as non-token rather than token? What do you feel Paizo should do differently in this regard?
To be more precise, that the response that there exists the existence of queer people in product or as staff is orthogonal to the issues of whether or not certain content is problematic, and the response looks like tokenism to "put off" the specific critiques being leveled.

Okay, I'll admit it: I have no idea what you're trying to say. Can you dumb it down for us a little? Or maybe be just a bit more specific? What 'certain content' are we talking about? What 'specific critiques'? It's gotta be something pretty significant to have your focus for this many hours on this thread.

Project Manager

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Annabel wrote:
Jessica Price wrote:
(As a side note, though, I am a little surprised at the implication that as a company we're automatically very sexist/heteronormative, especially given that, if anything, LGB folks are represented at a higher rate here than in the population at large, and we've taken a significant amount of flak from various corners of the messageboards for portraying same-sex relationships and gay/lesbian/bi characters in a fairly high proportion of our products. <wry> Damned if you do, damned if you don't.)
I think that, being as I'm the one that introduced the issues (though my gratuitous use of "-isms"), that this is specifically referencing my comments.

I was actually referencing the post that I think was from Adamantine Dragon, suggesting that this was the first time anyone reading the thread had encountered the term "cissexism."

Quote:
I don't think just having a "rate here than in the population at large" means anything substantive. Respectively, it feels like tokenism.

Neither do I, but I do think that having lesbian and gay (and allied) creative staff who are active and vocal about inclusion, who speak about the topic, write about the topic, and post here about the topic is pretty contrary to the idea that we aren't actively thinking about these issues, trying to get better at them, and so on.

Respectfully, I think calling that "tokenism" is a bit dismissive of their efforts, and the efforts of those staff members who aren't LGBT but are outspoken about inclusion, both internally and publicly. We don't do this stuff to be politically correct or satisfy some sort of quota. We do it because we care personally about these issues, and because the thought that we've made someone feel unwelcome in our game and our world, because of their orientation, their gender, their race, their gender expression, etc. is something that does bother us.

I appreciate the discussion, as criticism is our best friend in making stuff better, but I also find broad generalizations hard to address and not terribly helpful to me as data points when we are talking about this stuff internally.

Quote:
Earlier I acknowledged the progressive attitude of Paizo, but just because there are some queer men and women present within the products (or the staff), I don't think it provides grounds to suggest that there is no sexism or heterosexism in Paizo's products.

As I said in that post, we don't always get it right, and we're always trying to improve.

No one's claiming that there's no heterosexism or sexism or racism or other form of exclusion in our products. We're all products of a culture that struggles with all those things, and we all have our own forms of privilege blinders.

However, it does get a bit frustrating when it feels like someone is saying, "Hey, have you ever considered that you might have sexist stuff in your products?"

My knee-jerk reaction is, "Actually, ALL THE TIME. Every edit pass. Every art order. Every outline. Can you tell me which things are bothering you and let's talk about specifics about what that says about our world and how to make it better?"

(And thanks for the examples you provided in a later post -- if you read some of the threads on Erastil, you'll find that staff opinion is pretty divided on him. I'm uncomfortable with the idea that "traditionalist" -> "gender essentialist/gender roles proponent," as that being "traditionalist" would require that gender roles were at one time widely accepted and enforced on Golarion, which is something I don't think our products have portrayed. The debate comes up repeatedly in internal discussions about Erastil.)

Quote:
Also, I'm not sure if I'm catching your drift, because there seems to be the suggestion that criticism of the presence of sexism or heterosexism is equivalent to misogynistic or heterosexist criticism; "Damned if you do, damned if you don't."

I certainly didn't intend to imply that, and I'm sorry if it came off that way.

I'm usually in the position of defending our decisions to include same-sex relationships to people who feel we're trying to shove an agenda down their throats rather than just, you know, trying to make products that reflect the experiences of people here and provide stories and characters that a wide range of people can identify with (and, above all, just tell good stories), so my reaction to the "have you ever contemplated whether your products might be problematically heteronormative?" tone I got from your post was sort of, "hey, maybe if I send this person to deal with the people who are still sending me furious PMs about the posts I made about how not portraying same-sex relationships in your worldbuilding is contributing to a harmful cultural narrative that treats homosexuality as aberrant and not fit for public consumption... I can actually get some work done."

Which isn't entirely fair to you, I'll admit, but it did feel like a "I guess there just is no right way to do this," moment.


Thelemic_Noun wrote:

Now, since we're apparently on the subject of gender issues, I'd like to bring up something that's been bothering me.

The female catfolk on page 47 of the Bestiary 3 is fine. The one on page 95 of the Advanced Race Guide is a horrible monstrosity from the deepest reaches of the internet.

Prominent breasts are a human-exclusive trait in the real world. So when they appear on something with a face that is clearly not human (the catfolk in the ARG, the dragonborn in 4E), it looks ridiculous.

Can we please not put breasts on things with nonhuman faces without a really good reason? Your audience isn't dumb, they can pick up on more subtle gender differentiators than that.

Huh. That's intersting, as is this.

Irl, of course, humans are the only species that don't go into "heat" and are, thus, copulating 24-7. (Well, not me, but some people anyway...)

It would be interesting to speculate on the estrus cycle of non-human humanoids and what effect that would have on large (relatively speaking) breasts.


Don Juan de Doodlebug wrote:
Thelemic_Noun wrote:

Now, since we're apparently on the subject of gender issues, I'd like to bring up something that's been bothering me.

The female catfolk on page 47 of the Bestiary 3 is fine. The one on page 95 of the Advanced Race Guide is a horrible monstrosity from the deepest reaches of the internet.

Prominent breasts are a human-exclusive trait in the real world. So when they appear on something with a face that is clearly not human (the catfolk in the ARG, the dragonborn in 4E), it looks ridiculous.

Can we please not put breasts on things with nonhuman faces without a really good reason? Your audience isn't dumb, they can pick up on more subtle gender differentiators than that.

Huh. That's intersting, as is this.

Irl, of course, humans are the only species that don't go into "heat" and are, thus, copulating 24-7. (Well, not me, but some people anyway...)

It would be interesting to speculate on the estrus cycle of non-human humanoids and what effect that would have on large (relatively speaking) breasts.

Careful there, or you will open the floodgates for a whole series of books about the sexual morphology, physiology, and psychology of every demi-human race on the planet. As fascinating as dragon mating dances might be, I do NOT want to know how an troll threesome works.


Well, at some point Paizo might run out of things to write about...

Project Manager

Bill Dunn wrote:
Jessica Price wrote:
I'm also sort of amused by the idea that no one here has heard of cissexism, or read Said.
Why? It's not like either are particularly mainstream.

They're pretty standard fare for liberal arts undergrads.


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Don't care, living through the heat death of the universe is preferable to learning about ogre-kin marital aids.

Dark Archive

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Cerberus Seven wrote:
Don't care, living through the heat death of the universe is preferable to learning about ogre-kin marital aids.

You're in the minority then, Ogre-kin Erotica is one of our best seller. From Succubi Publishing, where we publish sex help books for everything. :)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

About the Girdle of Opposite Gender:

If a item forces you to do something that you don't want to, this item is cursed.

Look at Midas, everything he touches turned to gold! When the hell this is a curse?! The first time that Midas realizes that he has no choosing about what will become gold and what will not.

The same thing, if my fighter get a +5 vorpal keen longsword that crits at 11-20 and has a x5 multiplier, it will be a cursed item if i can never, ever drop it.

Let's see the Girdle of Opposite Gender, Marvius always wanted to be female, so he gets this girdle, he became Marviana and is extremely happy, until he realizes he cannot go back his male form to be recognized by his friends and family. Even worse, Marvius is very happy being male, he dons the girdle thinking it is a Belt of Phisical Might, he suddenly sees that a big part of his identity is gone, and he cannot revert easily (like, unstrapping).

A non cursed version of the Girdle woul be something like this:

Genderbender Girdle.
Aura: Moderate transmutation; CL 7th
slot: belt; Price 3000GP; Weight 1lb
This waist garment engraved with mirrors and spears has an appealing design both to men and woman. When done, the wearer may choose to being transformed into a person of the opposite gender. The characters ability, mind, and spirit remain unchanged; only the character's sex changes. The transformation it's not permanent until a week has passed. After a week, the character still can resume his original form by donning the Gendebender Girdle again for a entire week. After this time he can choose which sex he wants to change.

Now this item make all choosing to the wearer, and offers a reasonable way to undo its effects, differently of the very much cursed Girdle of the opposite Sex.

Going back to the Ad.: The ad is old and happens to pass a unexpected message, case closed.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Annabel wrote:
First, I found (find?) Erastil history of gender essentialism to be pretty cissexist and heterosexist.

Yes, ONE of our main deities has some old-fashioned notions about gender roles. Does that mean Golarion is sexist? No, it means one of the setting's gods has some antiquated ideas about gender roles.

Annabel wrote:
Second, the Cursed Item, Girdle of Opposite Gender. Now, I recognize that some people might thing this a trivial example, but to me, it says something disturbing that such a thing is situated as a "curse." In fact, in our "homebrew," the girdle is not a cursed item, just a magical one.

It is a cursed item because it changes your gender whether you want it to or not.

Some people like to have sex with females.
Some people like to have sex with males.
A belt that compels the wearer to have sex with any female who propositions you is a cursed belt because the wearer doesn't have any choice in the matter.
That's why the girdle of opposite gender is a cursed item. It doesn't matter that some people might want to change their gender... the item doesn't give the wearer a choice.

Annabel wrote:
Third, (and this might be a creative dispute), I can't figure out why all these Player races are organized around a human-centric gender binary.

That's because all the mammalian biology we're familiar with has binary genders. Perhaps because doing so confers an evolutionary advantage (in the same way that most of Earth's mammals are placentals, and placentals outcompete marsupials when introduced to marsupial territory... almost like placentals have an advantage compared to marsupials).

Furthermore, humans, elves, orcs, dwarves, halflings, and gnomes are all creatures from folklore, and are traditionally gender-binary. And most of the other PC-appropriate races in our game are crossbreeds or descendants from creatures that are traditionally gender-binary. So it makes sense that we depict them as gender-binary.

Annabel wrote:
For some reason, the world is treated as if the gender binary is "natural" and universal.

Statistically, that's how almost all forms of life we know of work. Like how almost all forms of life we know of require food and respiration... but you're not suggesting any pro-food or pro-respiration bias by Paizo. I think you're seeing a gender-binary bias that isn't there.


Geez, take a nap and the whole conversation takes off. I just want to say that Sean just put forth one of the nicest and most well thought responses that I have ever read


It's so sad that such a thoughtful game company has to apologize to so many over things that can be easily house ruled. You have to love first world problems.


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If I'm not mistaken, there's a LOT of confusion upthread about the term gender. Gender != sex != sexuality.

The girdle is misnamed. It's an unfortunate, though understandable mistake that I believe is a holdover from a less issue-conscious era.

Sean, it's a point of contention that gender is a physiological thing at all, and there certainly large populations of human beings who don't recognize a binary gender system. There are three gender systems, and even some cultures with up to thirteen genders (or so my anthropology teacher taught me).

There are only two physical sexes.

There are a bunch of sexualities, and some even say it's just a spectrum.

The girdle, as presented, is actually a girdle of opposite sex.

It is all admittedly very confusing if it's never come up for you.


Evil Lincoln wrote:

If I'm not mistaken, there's a LOT of confusion upthread about the term gender. Gender != sex != sexuality.

The girdle is misnamed. It's an unfortunate, though understandable mistake that I believe is a holdover from a less issue-conscious era.

Sean, it's a point of contention that gender is a physiological thing at all, and there certainly large populations of human beings who don't recognize a binary gender system. There are three gender systems, and even some cultures with up to thirteen genders (or so my anthropology teacher taught me).

There are only two physical sexes.

There are a bunch of sexualities, and some even say it's just a spectrum.

The girdle, as presented, is actually a girdle of opposite sex.

It is all admittedly very confusing if it's never come up for you.

This is a magic item that has been around for a looong time and I'm pretty sure its original creator didn't have the modern world in mind all those years ago. Once again, I'm pretty sure that Paizo's goal is not to make anyone feel isolated or ignored and they re-maid the item as it was. Give them a break already.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Jessica Price wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
Jessica Price wrote:
I'm also sort of amused by the idea that no one here has heard of cissexism, or read Said.
Why? It's not like either are particularly mainstream.
They're pretty standard fare for liberal arts undergrads.

And liberal arts students, as hard as it is to admit, amount to only 2-3% of higher ed students. That's only 3% of 20% of the adult American public or so. Add in the poli sci, sociology, history, anthropology and even smaller specialty studies graduate departments and it still adds up to a small proportion of people likely to have read Orientalism.

I'm, frankly, amazed whenever anyone understands a reference to Hobbes without thinking he's an imaginary tiger and he's way more widely read in courses than Said.


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All I know is that Tiresias averred that sex was more fun when you're a woman than a man.

Hubba hubba!


Bill Dunn wrote:
Jessica Price wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
Jessica Price wrote:
I'm also sort of amused by the idea that no one here has heard of cissexism, or read Said.
Why? It's not like either are particularly mainstream.
They're pretty standard fare for liberal arts undergrads.

And liberal arts students, as hard as it is to admit, amount to only 2-3% of higher ed students. That's only 3% of 20% of the adult American public or so. Add in the poli sci, sociology, history, anthropology and even smaller specialty studies graduate departments and it still adds up to a small proportion of people likely to have read Orientalism.

I'm, frankly, amazed whenever anyone understands a reference to Hobbes without thinking he's an imaginary tiger and he's way more widely read in courses than Said.

Wait, a tiger wrote a book about what now? :p


Bill Dunn wrote:
Jessica Price wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
Jessica Price wrote:
I'm also sort of amused by the idea that no one here has heard of cissexism, or read Said.
Why? It's not like either are particularly mainstream.
They're pretty standard fare for liberal arts undergrads.

And liberal arts students, as hard as it is to admit, amount to only 2-3% of higher ed students. That's only 3% of 20% of the adult American public or so. Add in the poli sci, sociology, history, anthropology and even smaller specialty studies graduate departments and it still adds up to a small proportion of people likely to have read Orientalism.

I'm, frankly, amazed whenever anyone understands a reference to Hobbes without thinking he's an imaginary tiger and he's way more widely read in courses than Said.

Yeah, I went through, oh, a dozen or so years of undergraduate work (1 course at a time) and I don't think I ever read Said in class, although I did read that Napoleon in Egypt book (al-Jabbarti?) in an Origns of Modern Turkey course.

I read Said through getting curious about him after doing some Palestinian solidarity work.

Anyway, I wouldn't feel bad about not having read Said. I think Ms. Price, like others on this website (well, me, anyway), likes to show off.

Dark Archive

RJGrady wrote:


You don't have the right to decide what they consider racist or not, and you are certainly not in a position to say whether they should be incredulous when they encounter something they perceive as racist.

I don't have the right, but they do? What?

I simply corrected you, the OP said that Golarion is depicting Africans as Talking Apes, and that this is Incredibly racist. That is a completely incorrect statement and is unfair. Find in the Inner Sea World Guide where it states this.

Do you know what Ad Homeniem even means? I never one said the OP is this or that or used any Personal Attacks. I corrected a completely wrong statement.

Saying that The Gorilla King somehow represents modern day Africans is like saying the Demons of the World Wound represent Russians, its just silly.


I think you are reading WAAAY too much into things... it's a game. and a map. not a racial profiling, or racist statement.

ps. being a sentient ape would be awesome in RL, or a gnoll.. so i dunno what you're tryin to say


Jessica Price wrote:

As I said in that post, we don't always get it right, and we're always trying to improve.

No one's claiming that there's no heterosexism or sexism or racism or other form of exclusion in our products. We're all products of a culture that struggles with all those things, and we all have our own forms of privilege blinders.

However, it does get a bit frustrating when it feels like someone is saying, "Hey, have you ever considered that you might have sexist stuff in your products?"

My knee-jerk reaction is, "Actually, ALL THE TIME. Every edit pass. Every art order. Every outline. Can you tell me which things are bothering you and let's talk about specifics about what that says about our world and how to make it better?"

This is one of the major reasons why I buy Paizo's stuff and why I like Golarion. I appreciate the staff's (and freelancers') engagement with these issues, and their acknowledgement of both how complicated and how important they can be. I appreciate that they remain engaged despite how frustrating or difficult it can get. It's the very opposite of, "Well, we had a gay NPC this one time, so problem solved."

Seriously, thanks for being inclusive (and trans-inclusive in particular), in your products and on the boards.


Now if we could only get them to stop slandering and persecuting goblins...

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