RAW, this doesn't feel REAL at all: Providing A Grittier, Darker Feel To Trunau...


Giantslayer

1 to 50 of 56 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Liberty's Edge

7 people marked this as a favorite.

After reading through the Battle of Bloodmarch Hill a few times, I have to say this about all of that.

No, just...no. This is too damned Black and White. This is portrayed as KID's STUFF.

The area is too clear cut, too cartoonish, too simple in its morality and absolute in its depiction of the people's ideals. Nobody feels real.

It misses the mark for me. Completely.

Here are some of the issues for me:

1- Racism without being Actually, you know, RACIST

There is racism and racial tension without there being any actual racism. Why? Because that is unrealistic, or is it simply that it pushes the wrong politically correct buttons?

Here is an enclave of human within the unclear borders of Belkzen and these CRAZY people are both distrusting of -- and somehow protective of -- their half-orcs? ALL of them?

No, no and no again. **NO** This rings FALSE to me. The opportunities for Jim Crow and deep prejudice among the human and half orcs is missed. The opportunity for a grim and gritty Trunau is avoided -- not because it would ring false, but because it might offend. And that wouldn't be "fun"? Screw that.

2. Same-Sex and Multi-Racial Relationships Without Consequences

Similarly, the AP seems to go overboard on same-sex relationships and then layers on top of it a multi-racial relationships, too. Without providing any context, tension, or consequences to ANY OF IT; it ignores opportunities to provoke controversy and then examine it in game. It's just an immature DisneyLand approach to these serious subjects.

We see it in the relationship between the Female Half-Orc Smith and her Dwarven wife in Vol 1, and another opportunity is missed in Vol II between the Saboteur and the Half-orc Cook. I haven't got to the rest of the AP in depth yet, but given the missed opportunities in the first few volumes, I am guessing it will happen again as it moves forward.

3. Class and Ethnic Prejudice and Hatred in Family Relationships

They could also have developed the theme of racial tension further in Vol 1 with the Father of the murder victim and his antipathy towards his son's lover (who actually seems to have been his wife, as they exchanged hopeknives.) But they miss it. It's just treated with a middle-school level of complexity here. It BEGS for more.

4. Race, Rape and Jim Crow beyond the Walls of Trunau

We could have explored this theme further with WHO does the farming outside the walls and who is safe within them. The number of half-orcs, who conceived them and why, Orc raiders in the area, the signal fires, and the issue of half-orcs within the town just screams RAPE and what THAT means for their society. But no, another opportunity missed. I well understand why Paizo might have decided to ignore this given those uncomfortable implications in this "triggering" society we seem to now live in, but it's the elephant in the room.

5. Hopeknives are VILE Fanaticism

The very idea of the Hopeknives and what they represent is a fanaticism which is portrayed as noble, but which if explored with some maturity is as offensively over-the-top extremist as almost anything ISIL did last week. It may well be best summed up as potentially bat-s*&! crazy. An opportunity to explore how the victim felt about hopeknives is lost as well. This demands moral complexity but we get middle school theme park out of it.

Why? Because the entire approach seems appropriate to a teenager's sense of moral complexity. It misses the mark, fails to feel real, and in general, seems just ... silly.

I won't do it. I won't run a module that BEGS to have layers of grime, grit and moral complexity like a patina (if not a pall) over everything -- and run it instead as if it was some Banana Yellow and Pink theme park ride in DisneyLand aimed for 10 year olds.

I won't do it. I won't.

Am I the only person who sees this? I can't believe that, yet, nobody else is complaining. I am mystified at the lack of a reaction to this by Pathfinder GMs and subscribers.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Jah, I agree with most of your points.

Modify it to make it feel real to you. They aren't going to write an AP that deals seriously with racism, religion or sex. Just not going to happen, you need to make that happen in your gameplay.

I DO agree that setting up those themes and then not doing anything with it feels half-assed, from a writing viewpoint.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Yeah, agreed. Too often it seems like the writers want to get some Diversity Points (tm) by including these things but then give them short shrift and no downside. They're unwilling to go full "Blue Rose" and just say there's no sexism/racism/whatnot at all, they still say it's there in Golarion, but then when it would come up there's just zero effort put into it.

I'm not sure why. Is it just to tweak us if we're insensitive? From playing Wrath of the Righteous as best as we can tell all paladins and in fact perhaps all crusaders are gay, but there's no discussion of it except to poke it at you... They make noise about half-breeds being not tolerated (there's some city where they tend to emigrate to in southern Varisia somewhere) but then in play everyone seems totally 100% tolerant of everything... I think it's just the limitations of the "must be kid friendly" dictum, feel free and make it more realistic yourself.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Steel_Wind wrote:
Am I the only person who sees this? I can't believe that, yet, nobody else is complaining.

You are not the only one who sees this, though bringing it up won't get you any invites to the cool kids club.

I stopped buying APs some time back due to the declining quality in writing, overall challenge of the adventures combined with the increasing message push, but I got suckered back in with Iron Gods (Faux Expedition to the Barrier Peaks - was not even a homage to S3). I should have known better - live and learn. I didn't buy into Giantslayer because I learned my lesson with the bait and switch homage routine they pulled with IG and that was enough for me.

From the snippets I hear from other GMs it does seem like things have gotten worse, not only in the messaging department but "the world they want to game in" mantra looks like it has finally caught up to them. The uber fantasy in response to the modern world with no ugliness, consequence, or bias coupled with the lack of understanding when it comes to writing in basic emotions/behavior - hate, fear, lust, greed or even something as simple as rage makes for some limited content. The whole is unraveling and fraying at the ends.

The only thing you really can do is communicate your concerns to other gamers and to vote with your wallet. The staff at Paizo will tell you the same because truth be told - they really don't care what you think (and have said so on numerous occasions).

IMO a big part of the reason this keeps happening with this company (and others) is that they are not challenged to do better. A blind, unquestioning loyalty from the fan base doesn't help the matter,...I mean, even you have nine subs with these guys - you helped make this happen. Maybe if they had to earn trust on a regular basis instead of people handing over money to them every month things might change? IDK.

I find it kind of hard to believe that you are just picking up on all this now?


Paizo needs a proper competitor, because they've clearly entered the "I can't be arsed to bother" phase of their development cycle in just about everything it seems. Perhaps 5e will provide that as time goes on.


Ernest Mueller wrote:
They're unwilling to go full "Blue Rose" and just say there's no sexism/racism/whatnot at all, they still say it's there in Golarion, but then when it would come up there's just zero effort put into it.

Interesting. The more I hear about this Blue Rose thing, the more I want to look into it.

RE: main point of the thread - the lack of this stuff doesn't bother me, but that's also because I don't play these games to explore those kinds of themes. I don't play in Golarion and my group's homebrew setting does not have a lot of the assumed prejudices and hostilities between races that a lot of settings seem to be founded on. We're just not interested in that sort of thing, as a group.

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I've been inside "the cool kids club", thanks; spoken with *many* of the Paizo designers and freelance authors as part of Podcast and print reviews of their products I have done in the past. I continue to do so on a daily basis with some of them on Facebook. We're friends.

It's not about that.

And I don't agree that Paizo designs their AP products with any overt "kid friendly" design mantra. The only time I have seen that ethos have any effect on their product design is in the Beginner Box -- and I happen to agree with their choices and motives with that product. The sorts of things you are mentioning have had real impact at Wizards of the Coast over the years, especially when licensing electronic games designs at WotC (I have first-hand experience with that) but that's WotC and this is Paizo.

So it's not about that either.

I certainly do understand that when it comes to games, people want to get away from the troubles of this real world and escape into a fantasy RPG to have fun. That is an entirely legitimate objective for any player to want, and it's legitimate for Paizo to serve it up, too. There are a diverse number of people playing RPGs and they want to see themselves depicted in that world: whether it's sexuality or race, rubbing people's noses in those aspects of the real world in their game world isn't much fun.

I certainly DO "get" that.

As for same sex relationships and marriages, I get all of that and have, generally, no problem with any of it. I'm a leftie Canadian and the Kim Davis style social divisions don't exist here in any significant manner. I really don't have a personal problem with it being depicted in a shrug-worthy manner in this AP. I'm okay with that. What I did have a problem with was then a layering of an odd racial coupling added on top of that, too: half-orc and dwarf, together, in a land where the orcs and dwarves have fought one another since the Quest for Sky - more than 9,000 years? That's going one Bridge Too Far.

I would have thought THAT aspect to their relationship would have been worthy of at least a sidebar.

Rape isn't fun and there isn't much about it that could be considered fun or escapist. So that's something I think we can all understand at an intellectual level -- and which we can admit that most of us cannot understand at an emotional level.

And yes, that a particular half-orc has been the product of a conception that arose out of rape has been mentioned before in several Paizo products, so that's hardly a ground breaker. The problem with this particular adventure is that given the presence of Trunau within the fringes of Belkzen and the population's well, zealotry, in deciding to stay there and the methods they will resort to up to and including deliberately slitting the throats of their own children and loved ones to avoid capture? Well -- all of that is very dissonant with how it is that there are so many half-orcs in their society, and how "orcish" a particular half-orc looks (or 1/4 or 1/8 orc blooded, say) would seem to be a reasonable leap and have some bearing upon their social status and how they might be treated.

Which brings us back to race and I can understand how all of that becomes a very distasteful and very unFun theme for many players.

The problem with this particular adventure is that all of those things seem to be twisting into a confluence, a maelstrom of distasteful and unpopular real world social and historical themes converging all at once, with race and rape being far and away the biggest aspect of it.

But the Hopeknives is where they lost me. There is NO REASON, zero, zip, zilch, nada where those can be breezed over as no big deal. The idea that capture by the orcs would result in such a horrendous fate -- or perhaps, merely believed to result in such a horrendous fate -- that a mother slitting the throat of her young child rather than allow him or her to be captured would be seen as a socially responsible thing to do and part of their duty as parents in Trunau...

From my perspective, that's frikkin extremist nutbar CREEPTASTIC stuff. And it's not a small point in the adventure; it is, in fact, the point of departure to the entire first Act of the adventure. And yet we don't get a sidebar about that?

No. No, no, no. That's crossing the line. You don't get to make creative decisions like that and not get called on it. Add in all the other mounting social issues studiously ignored for whatever reason and the whole thing just loses me.

It's fixable. And I can and WILL fix it in my Giantslayer campaign. But all of this was at the very least deserving of a sidebar discussion somewhere within this volume of the AP and we didn't get it. We should have. It would have made for a better adventure and inspired others to make their campaigns a better adventure too, I think.

Dark Archive

Steel_Wind wrote:

And I don't agree that Paizo designs their AP products with any overt "kid friendly" design mantra. The only time I have seen that ethos have any effect on their product design is in the Beginner Box -- and I happen to agree with their choices and motives with that product. The sorts of things you are mentioning have had real impact at Wizards of the Coast over the years, especially when licensing electronic games designs at WotC (I have first-hand experience with that) but that's WotC and this is Paizo.

So it's not about that either.

"Kid friendly" and "the world they want to game in" are two different things, don't get them mixed up.

Also, your first post was complaining about "Cartoonish", Kid Stuff, simple morality of the AP, where that form of self-censorship does create a problem (as you stated in your first post). Did all those complaints just evaporate when it started to settle in that you crossed a line? Your raise these issues then walked them back? So is it or is it not a problem?

Steel_Wind wrote:

I certainly do understand that when it comes to games, people want to get away from the troubles of this real world and escape into a fantasy RPG to have fun. That is an entirely legitimate objective for any player to want, and it's legitimate for Paizo to serve it up, too. There are a diverse number of people playing RPGs and they want to see themselves depicted in that world: whether it's sexuality or race, rubbing people's noses in those aspects of the real world in their game world isn't much fun.

I certainly DO "get" that.

Yet somehow you were bothered that the topic of Rape and Race were handled in a PG fashion that you listed them in three separate bullet points. So it was a problem yesterday but now - today, you certainly Do "get" that. Ok

Steel_Wind wrote:
Rape isn't fun and there isn't much about it that could be considered fun or escapist.
Original Steel_Wind Post wrote:
I well understand why Paizo might have decided to ignore this given those uncomfortable implications in this "triggering" society we seem to now live in, but it's the elephant in the room.

So which is it? Because these 180's are getting real confusing. So are those points a real problem when it comes to writing creative content? Because on Monday it was the elephant in the room, though now you could see how it wouldn't be considered fun or escapist.

Did you have a different sort or realization set in?

Steel_Wind wrote:
Which brings us back to race and I can understand how all of that becomes a very distasteful and very unFun theme for many players.

All of your "original" points illustrate why a product with heavily censored/restricted creative content combined with messaging show why this endeavor is a failure and will always be doomed to failure when addressing topics that have any real world corollary - at least to people who care.

Their approach is akin is the same one Walt Disney took when he produced the "Song of the South" and didn't address the issue of Slavery or Racism in the film - though the reasoning and motivation here are different, the outcome is the same. A sanitized fabrication that doesn't follow logic or even convey a rudimentary understanding of realistic motivation or emotion.

Steel_Wind wrote:
The problem with this particular adventure is that all of those things seem to be twisting into a confluence, a maelstrom of distasteful and unpopular real world social and historical themes converging all at once, with race and rape being far and away the biggest aspect of it.

And I agree with this point. This is my major issue with their AP line and the hamfisted "world we want to game in". It seems like they wanted to sell orc ravaged lands without dealing with any of the effects of "Orc Ravaged".

--------
But in the end you walked all of it but the hopeknives back.

In the future, please try having a little more conviction next time before you post a five-point screed and decide to recant/apologize/run cover for four of them. The irony here is that they are writing to you as their target demographic, and you're the one who is (was, not, kinda) upset. LOL

This was all very amusing.


9 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

They're damned if they do and damned if they don't.

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Auxmaulous wrote:
In the future, please try having a little more conviction next time before you post a five-point screed...

I'll take that under advisement.

My position (and my objections) are not necessarily a binary proposition. There is room for nuance, there is a spectrum for discussion, and there is usually a range of possibilities.

What I will run, and what I understand the commercial and practical pressures facing an author or Paizo to be, are very different things.

It appears that you want it all Black and White; On or Off; Troll or Fanboi.

I do not share that view nor do I share that approach.

Community & Digital Content Director

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Removed a post. Let's leave the personal jabs out of the conversation, please.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

I'll just put in my opinion here:

I love Paizo. They're an amazing company. I love how they strive to include as many diverse characters and relationships as they can in Golarion.

But they're stuck in an interesting situation.

Coddle the characters who are part of minorities, such as the LGBT community, and not put evil characters who are part of those minorities, they get accused of coddling them, giving favoritism, ignoring their main audience (white males), and portraying these situations unrealistically.

Expose these minorities to the harsh world, make a few of them evil, include thorny topics like racism, rape, and homophobia, they get accused of supporting these horrific things and also get a massive backlash.

The really difficult part of this for them is that if they put in an even mix of these things, that get backlash for doing both.

Personally? I love the fact that non-fantastic racism isn't included in Golarion and LGBT folks in Golarion aren't persecuted. It makes for a safe place for people who suffer from racism or homophobia to play in and relax, openly displaying their character's sexuality or race without fear of retaliation. It's a good release for those folks. Plus, it makes sense. In my opinion, humanity always finds an "other" to persecute, whether that "other" be different by color of their skin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc... So it kind of makes sense that all of the races would pour their hate into other races, and not minorities within themselves.

Anyways, someone's bound to argue and take offense, so I'm just going to leave now.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Steel_Wind wrote:
It appears that you want it all Black and White;

No, I just want truth and consistency.

Seems to be asking too much around here.

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I will agree some of the grit (especially the distrust of half-orcs) is missing in this adventure. But many details were spent elsewhere, such as the actual events, skill checks, and leads needed to start the adventure as well as many situations of "If player group 1 does action B then result C, if action F then result L"

The Doomkitten also had a point that right now, Paizo has taken a few early and very public steps into promoting "gaming for everyone" through NPCs and plotlines, which has already upset a large number of very narrow-minded individuals. If they then somehow persecuted these stories to any gritty/realistic degree they could get backlash from a different group or groups. In some cases, bad press is just bad press.

Finally, it's far too easy to explain a few of the issues in Trunau. After all, the rape issue was the first thing that my own players thought of on their own, no less without me, or the adventure saying a word, and all them grew pale faces. I literally thought I might have to stop the game as it made people uncomfortable. As soon as I explained what a hopeknife was for, everyone suddenly understood the half-orc population of their own accord. Sometimes the GM doesn't have to fill in the lines. You say you don't see grit, I say it's all between the lines and easy to pick up on... if you look for it. If you don't look for it, yes, it's a very black and white, high-fantasy-esque adventure with explosions, orc slaying, and a giant.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

And really, some people may want to play a gritty, dark adventure with realistic themes, and some may want to play it as a high fantasy adventure with orcs, giants, and explosion. Different strokes for different folks, and it can function for either.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Steel_Wind wrote:
There is racism and racial tension without there being any actual racism.

It has been a while since I read the AP, but... wasn't there a lynch mob trying to kill the half-orc fiance of the dead scout/guard?

Quote:
Similarly, the AP seems to go overboard on same-sex relationships and then layers on top of it a multi-racial relationships, too. Without providing any context, tension, or consequences to ANY OF IT

Again... half-orc fiance? That whole bit about the prospective groom keeping their engagement a secret because of his dad's profoundly racist attitudes? Said dad's bigoted comments when he found out about it? Was this all just in my imagination?

It is true that there was little/no exploration of LGBT related bigotry, but then they also didn't suggest that such attitudes were at all common in Trunau. Golarion as presented in the APs is definitely more accepting of such things than our own world. I tend to view that as a good thing... presenting groups that still suffer from massive prejudice through compelling and admirable characters. There are hints that a transgender character in the current AP suffered prejudice, but even there it is not a major theme... which I don't have a problem with. If a particular group wanted to explore themes of bigotry (and/or had members for whom these were not merely a role-playing exercise) they can do so. However, that isn't the point of the AP.

As to the rant on hopeknives and Paizo having lost its edge... it should perhaps be pointed out that the whole hopeknife bit existed LONG before that AP was written. Yes, it's an extreme concept... but I have no difficulty believing that such a culture could exist. The idea that a quick suicide is better than rape-torture-death isn't all that radical... and far less abhorrent than aspects of some actual cultures (e.g. killing children BECAUSE they were raped).


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Steel_Wind wrote:

5. Hopeknives are VILE Fanaticism

The very idea of the Hopeknives and what they represent is a fanaticism which is portrayed as noble, but which if explored with some maturity is as offensively over-the-top extremist as almost anything ISIL did last week. It may well be best summed up as potentially bat-s&!# crazy. An opportunity to explore how the victim felt about hopeknives is lost as well. This demands moral complexity but we get middle school theme park out of it.

Why? Because the entire approach seems appropriate to a teenager's sense of moral complexity. It misses the mark, fails to feel real, and in general, seems just ... silly.

I won't do it. I won't run a module that BEGS to have layers of grime, grit and moral complexity like a patina (if not a pall) over everything -- and run it instead as if it was some Banana Yellow and Pink theme park ride in DisneyLand aimed for 10 year olds.

I won't do it. I won't.

Am I the only person who sees this? I can't believe that, yet, nobody else is complaining. I am mystified at the lack of a reaction to this by Pathfinder GMs and subscribers.

I agree on the rest of your points but NOT on this. On the contrary in my opinion it makes sense that a community existing behind enemy lines and costantly besieged by their hated enemies devised this ritual. As I understand it the hopeknife ritual isn't only meant to avoid rape, but above all to avoid a slow and painful death by orcs hands if caught alive. The knife is for quick and painless suicide when all hope is lost and the alternative is being boiled alive by the orcs for a week or even worse being forced to betray Trunau by torture.

What makes little sense is that a community willing to go to such exteremes is also portrayed as so tolerant and respectful towards half orcs (a few fanatics aside).

Silver Crusade

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

See, I'm not convinced that grittier, grimdarkier, racistier, sexual violenter would make the book more fun to run or read. I am grateful that those tunes of ugliness are left to the GM to turn the volume up on if need be. Because let me tell you, they can be incredibly hard to turn down if hard baked into the game.

I'm an adult, who plays this game with his adult friends, of both genders. So the sexual violence that was implied in Skull & Shackles was uncomfortable for me to GM. I examined the issue of why, and I realised part of the joy of tabletop RPGs is the escape from the real world. I would prefer to be a Disney pirate of the Caribbean than an actual pirate of the Caribbean.

I really would prefer to have the fantastic worlds I imagine be a little less awful than the real world.

But the seeds are there, if a group is comfortable importing the racism, sexual violence and bigotry of the real world into their games they can turn the volume up on it. Bring it to the fore, and turn Trunau into a place that might not deserve saving. But then, there wouldn't be much reason to continue the AP would there?

Grimdark isn't, in my opinion that mature.

Also, I'm really uncomfortable with using Half-Orcs as a metaphor of the lived experience of minorities. The implications of doing that are way too complex for me to elaborate on while I'm posting from my phone.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

See, I'm not convinced that grittier, grimdarkier, racistier, sexual violenter would make the book more fun to run or read. I am grateful that those tunes of ugliness are left to the GM to turn the volume up on if need be. Because let me tell you, they can be incredibly hard to turn down if hard baked into the game.

I'm an adult, who plays this game with his adult friends, of both genders. So the sexual violence that was implied in Skull & Shackles was uncomfortable for me to GM. I examined the issue of why, and I realised part of the joy of tabletop RPGs is the escape from the real world. I would prefer to be a Disney pirate of the Caribbean than an actual pirate of the Caribbean.

I really would prefer to have the fantastic worlds I imagine be a little less awful than the real world.

But the seeds are there, if a group is comfortable importing the racism, sexual violence and bigotry of the real world into their games they can turn the volume up on it. Bring it to the fore, and turn Trunau into a place that might not deserve saving. But then, there wouldn't be much reason to continue the AP would there?

Grimdark isn't, in my opinion that mature.

Also, I'm really uncomfortable with using Half-Orcs as a metaphor of the lived experience of minorities. The implications of doing that are way too complex for me to elaborate on while I'm posting from my phone.

I can see your point, and it's true that Giantslayer hints at the issues of racism, and even traditionalist disapproving of LGBT relashionships (to be clear, the dwarven clan of the dwarf WIZARD wife of the half orc SMITH, is said to disapprove of her choices, concerning profession and probably marriage to an half orc female, whose choices get also questioned "who else but a dwarf could handle her?") so a GM can stress these aspects more if he wants. Problem is the implementation of these themes is not done in any particularly skillful way, and it seems to make little sense in the given context. The result seems forced and the impression one gets is the author of the AP wanted to push these themes despite the background of the adventure (the subtext feels like he's telling us:"See how tolerant and accepting we are? Diversity is good!").

As for your preference for less gritty stuff, to each their own I guess. Though in a place where things like Rovagug, the great old ones, aboleths haunt the sentient races and guys like the runelords and Tar Baphon exist I think violence and cruelty should be at least as bad as those present in our world.

Silver Crusade

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

Well, this happens if you try to make an AP to placate all the grognards after they vented their anger at Iron Gods and Reign of Winter BUT you don't sit with the fact that they also don't want all those yucky and bad real world social problems in their escapist fantasy. You end up publishing an AP that pleases pretty much nobody.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Geez Gorbacz, I had no idea Giantslayer kicked your puppy, I hope those are feelings you're able to work thru.

Not to worry tho Barzillai Thrune's been sheltering your puppy for you, I'm sure it'll all be better now.

Sovereign Court Senior Developer

6 people marked this as a favorite.

Just to respond to a few of the points raised in this thread:

First off, this is the Giantslayer Adventure Path, not the Orcslayer Adventure Path. Giants are tough foes, particularly at low levels, which is why there's only one giant in this volume, at the very end, and based on the actions of the PCs, he may be significantly weakened. So if giants couldn't be the primary foe in this adventure, we needed to replace them with something else, and that something else was orcs.

Now we might have been able to delve a lot deeper into the themes surrounding orcs, half-orcs, racism, and a human city in the middle of orc territory, but that would have moved the theme away from that of Giantslayer. I believe that too much of those themes in the first adventure would have skewed expectations of players and GMs, and when the AP moved into heavier giant content in the later volumes, people would feel cheated. Those themes would be a perfect fit in an Orcslayer AP; they contribute nothing to the themes of a Giantslayer AP, and that's the main reason why they were only hinted at and not focused on.

Regarding some of the other specific topics brought up, it is important to realize that Trunau was fully detailed in a Campaign Setting book, Towns of the Inner Sea, published in 2013. And many of those things were established there: the town's view on half-orcs, the relationship between Sara Morninghawk and Agrit Staginsdar, hopeknives and how and why they are used. These were not things included in the adventure for any "messaging" or political correctness or tokenism. They were included in the adventure because they were a part of the setting two years before this Adventure Path came out.

We do sometimes change world canon in APs, but this is generally the result of the AP plot itself; for example, overthrowing the ruler of a kingdom, who serves as the BBEG for the campaign. We are not going to substantially rewrite an entire town or city or country that has already been established in canon so that it makes a better or more realistic adventure setting. That's not something we're going to do for one adventure, and it's not really fair to people who have invested their time and energy and money to learn more about our world, only to find that everything they know about a particular place was changed just because.

All of that aside, I appreciate the feedback, but I do feel that many7 of the specific complaints brought up in this thread are unfounded, or at least not taking into account all of the decision-making that goes into making an Adventure Path or a single adventure. Not every adventure or campaign is good for every GM or player - that's just the way it is. Do what you gotta do to have fun, and I'll try to keep putting out good adventures, even if some of them may seem like missteps to some people.


Gorbacz wrote:

Well, this happens if you try to make an AP to placate all the grognards after they vented their anger at Iron Gods and Reign of Winter BUT you don't sit with the fact that they also don't want all those yucky and bad real world social problems in their escapist fantasy. You end up publishing an AP that pleases pretty much nobody.

Gorbacz saying something negative about a Paizo product?

Wow.

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Rob McCreary wrote:

Just to respond to a few of the points raised in this thread:

..."So if giants couldn't be the primary foe in this adventure, we needed to replace them with something else, and that something else was orcs...Now we might have been able to delve a lot deeper into the themes surrounding orcs, half-orcs, racism, and a human city in the middle of orc territory, but that would have moved the theme away from that of Giantslayer.

While that may be, 1/3rd of this AP deals primarily with Orcs, and it is the first part of an AP which sets the tone - and the theme. Players experience the theme as they play. And I promise you, for the first 4 months to 1 year of play? The theme is not going to be Giants, no matter the name of the AP. The theme from the players' perspective is "the Orcs of Belkzen".

That more than merits the attention from where I sit, notwithstanding the subject matter of Vols 3-6.

I appreciate your point; please consider mine and how it is perceived by players who don't get to see the AP from 40,000 feet. They eat the AP one encounter and NPC at a time. My bet is that for a VERY long time during play, this Giantslayer AP "tastes like Orc."

Quote:
Regarding some of the other specific topics brought up, it is important to realize that Trunau was fully detailed in a Campaign Setting book, Towns of the Inner Sea, published in 2013. And many of those things were established there: the town's view on half-orcs, the relationship between Sara Morninghawk and Agrit Staginsdar, hopeknives and how and why they are used. These were not things included in the adventure for any "messaging" or political correctness or tokenism. They were included in the adventure because they were a part of the setting two years before this Adventure Path came out.

I am aware of that. To be clear, the same-sex relationship was not the part that got me; the relationship between a Dwarf and a half-orc was the part that seemed to pass without comment when one might have been offered. The dwarves of the Mindspin Mountains have "racial hatred" as one of their default special ability when dealing with orcs, yet we get Sara and Agrit as spouses? That merits some comment I think, but not because of the gender issue.

As for hopeknives, I understand those were also mentioned before in the Inner Sea World Guide's entry for Trunau initially. This could have -- and imo, should have, received more and closer examination, and a mature questioning, frankly. What does this all mean and how does it fit?

The entire concept is plainly extremist and fanatical. It's definitely interesting, I grant you that -- but it has many implications the AP does not attempt to develop. Hopeknives are either 1) Nutty and unjustified or 2) Logical & justified. If it's #2, that makes the treatment of the town's half-orcs pretty much wholly at odds with this desperate view, hardened philosophy and the whole symbology of the hopeknife. It's a very hard sell otherwise.

Towns of the Inner Sea tells us that Trunau treats half-orcs well, but also implies that they are the product of rape. And that their children survive the event of getting raped in order to carry those children to term. So they would sooner kill their own children rather than have them be raped by orcs (even if they survive it), but they embrace the bastard off-spring of such couplings? Even when they appear to be monstrous and are clearly non-human?

Does that make any sense? Really? For some, sure. For most? Not Really, no. I think it is necessary to admit that extremism is practiced by extremists.

It is also a very difficult thing to accept if Hopeknives can be reasonable and justified while their attitude to half-orcs is the subject of a sidebar going very much the other way at p. 20 ("Half-Orc Witch Hunt"). Canonical only goes so far.

I thought the realistic way to deal with this was for the PCs to discover, through Brinya, that Rodrik secretly considered the hopeknife to be a symbol he despised. That's why he lost it -- he hates wearing it. The poet in him considers it to be a symbol of Trunau's intolerance and hatred and fear. (Contrast against his forbidden love for Brinya, "Other Side of Contempt" poem, et al). I would also have also used the fact that Rodrik and Brinya had exchanged hopeknives as a sign they had married in secret, without the consent of the father -- an act consistent with the entry for hopeknives in Inner Sea Towns. That could have been developed further in the investigation, but appears left unexplored. (Perhaps that was a space limitation issue.)

Still, instead of exploring the mixed meaning of this symbol, what it means and implies, it is reduced to a McGuffin relating to a "receipt", the need for which in a such a small town is a most improbable plot device.

While I appreciate that these sorts of conundrums seem small, in the context of the adventure as presented in Vol 1, a great deal of time and effort is spent by the PCs thinking about and investigating this hopeknife and what it means. And yes, suspecting the half-orcs and if they are to be trusted or rounded up, and if so, how. The players are not just going to breeze over this stuff.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rynjin wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:

Well, this happens if you try to make an AP to placate all the grognards after they vented their anger at Iron Gods and Reign of Winter BUT you don't sit with the fact that they also don't want all those yucky and bad real world social problems in their escapist fantasy. You end up publishing an AP that pleases pretty much nobody.

Gorbacz saying something negative about a Paizo product?

Wow.

That wasn't the first time, the second time, or not even the thrid time it happens. It's just your perception being clouded by the "Paizo's utter and total failure to deliver me a version of my beloved class that works exactly as I wished it would" situation :)

(You might have to scroll down to reviews and click the next page in some cases because I for bloody can't figure out how to link a review directly here.)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
captain yesterday wrote:

Geez Gorbacz, I had no idea Giantslayer kicked your puppy, I hope those are feelings you're able to work thru.

Not to worry tho Barzillai Thrune's been sheltering your puppy for you, I'm sure it'll all be better now.

Yesss...my puppies are now much better with Unca Barillai. I'm not sure if I'm that super happy with him dying them black and calling them "Dire Advanced Elite Hellhounds" but hey, Thrunes always were a bit strange.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Steel_Wind wrote:
As for hopeknives, I understand those were also mentioned before in the Inner Sea World Guide's entry for Trunau initially.

Nope, even that wasn't the 'initial' mention. Gotta go all the way back to AP 11, 'Skeletons of Scarwall'... 2008.


Regarding Hopeknives:
I recently did a little research on the natives of Tasmania.
When the British arrived 1802, about 20.000 Aborigenes lived on the island, thought to be fairly harmless people, with technology comparable to the Stone Age. Eighty years later there were non left.

The British used Tasmania as a place to dump Australian convicts. Now imagine: A prisoner-colony for a prisoner-colony. And make matters worse, the Govener wouldn´t allow white men to be defenless in an tribal territory. They got guns and ammunition.

One of the most brutal massacres of colonial history followed. The armed convicts, called bushrangers killed and raped without any remorse. Men were bound to trees and used as target practice. A woman was forced to wear her husbands severed head around her neck. Children were buried to their neck in sand, and their heads used for twisted ballgames.

Noble and rich Britans used the island as hunting ground. Their game were natives. The hunters made fun of the Aborigines by putting an unloaded gun into their mouths and pulling the trigger, before handing them a loaded one. To add to natives plight, sailors frequently came to the island, raping the woman.

What has that to do with hopeknives? After a few years a scottish missionary reported that natives started slauthering their own children before killing themselves.

It wasn´t extreminism, they just had no hope left.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

What's funny is what you see as a list of problems I see as a list of plot hooks they left for the GM to expand on as they like. The adventures sets the stage and the characters, but it's the players and the GM who improvises the script and creates the action.

I'm actually more interested in running this AP than I ever was before. Although it's still probably behind Iron Gods on my list.

Dark Archive

Rob McCreary wrote:
All of that aside, I appreciate the feedback, but I do feel that many of the specific complaints brought up in this thread are unfounded, or at least not taking into account all of the decision-making that goes into making an Adventure Path or a single adventure. Not every adventure or campaign is good for every GM or player - that's just the way it is.

Thanks Rob, and while we are certainly aware in part of the latter statement, it's good now and then you remind our gaming community and chime in with some of that reasoning of the former.

Me I am playing this AP now and can't wait to play some more, I'm going to git me some Fire Giant pedophile hides.


Steel_Wind wrote:
I am aware of that. To be clear, the same-sex relationship was not the part that got me; the relationship between a Dwarf and a half-orc was the part that seemed to pass without comment when one might have been offered. The dwarves of the Mindspin Mountains have "racial hatred" as one of their default special ability when dealing with orcs, yet we get Sara and Agrit as spouses? That merits some comment I think, but not because of the gender issue.

That really was what got me as well, firstly if I was the DM which I am not, no player would even see a female Dwarf as they are such a valued rarity and commodity they would be well safe in their ancestral Kingdoms and if one were in the out lands she would most certainly not be married off to an Orc.

That's my Tolkien era fantasy prejudices at work, the same sex part was 100 times easier to swallow.


That is a common Tolkein trope yes, and has been a big part of many setting but things do change. Even The Forgotten Realms, one of the Tolkeinist settings eventually had the god of the dwarves perform the Thunder Blessing, which increased the dwarves fertility.


MannyGoblin wrote:
Thunder Blessing

That was a much later addition to the lore and one that was not by Ed Greenwood.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I do have to admit, I am somewhat biased in favor of anything that removes more Tolkienisms from fantasy....

Dark Archive

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't mind Tolkien's tropes. I think they work very well for Tolkien's world, or worlds seeking to emulate or evoke Tolkien's works. But when you're making your own fantasy world, sacred cows make the best steaks.

What's the most common tropes for dwarves? They don't like being above ground, they hate elves, and they're almost exclusively male. Golarion does away with all of those. The dwarves had their Quest for Sky. The dwarves have no real issue with elves, other than thinking they're capricious. Golarion dwarves have equivalent numbers of both genders, and dwarven women in Golarion will pick up their waraxes and cleave your skull if you dare to suggest they should be secreted away like some resource to be hoarded.

What's the most common tropes for elves? They dislike dwarves, they remain aloof from humanity, and they have forgotten more magic than man will ever know. As stated above, elves have no real problem with dwarves, other than thinking they're a bit stodgy. They're not aloof from humanity, at least, not to a fault; there are plenty of elves that interact with shorter-lived races. As for magic...yeah, they're still quite adept with magic, but they're not the undisputed masters. The Runelords could easily give any living elf a run for their money, as could the Witch Queen of Irrisen, the Living God Razmir, or any number of other high level casters across the Inner Sea.

So, let's bring up the uncomfortable most common trope of half-orcs: their creation. The common trope is that half-orcs are the unwanted progeny of a forced union between a rampaging orc and the unfortunate woman he assaults. And while there are half-orcs in Golarion that undoubtedly fit that story, there's no way they're the only way that half-orcs come to be, and so we get stories like Irabeth Tirabade from Wrath of the Righteous, or the one that's being discussed in this Adventure Path.

I think the problem is that some posters on this thread are expecting Paizo to go to places that they don't feel comfortable going on a mass basis. To them I must reply: Paizo is not writing for your group; they're writing for all groups. And while your group may be fine bringing up the uncomfortable subject of rape, not all groups will, and to hardwire it into the AP is a dangerous proposition. You have to be very, very careful when discussing sexual violence in a product, because it's a very personal issue for a lot of people, and not everyone will be comfortable with its inclusion. Issues like this and violence towards children or the like are very much like Project Mayhem from Fight Club - you determine your own level of involvement. By all means, darken up Trunau for your group - I suspect that when Paizo's editors run this AP, there will be modifications to the tastes and comfort zones of the players. But it is a far greater crime to assume that everyone will accept your level of discomfort and dial back, rather than allowing groups like yours to dial it up.

Dark Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.

me so in love

Dark Archive

Auxmaulous wrote:


I stopped buying APs some time back due to the declining quality in writing, overall challenge of the adventures combined with the increasing message push, but I got suckered back in with Iron Gods (Faux Expedition to the Barrier Peaks - was not even a homage to S3). I should have known better - live and learn. I didn't buy into Giantslayer because I learned my lesson with the bait and switch homage routine they pulled with IG and that was enough for me.

The only thing you really can do is communicate your concerns to other gamers and to vote with your wallet. The staff at Paizo will tell you the same because truth be told - they really don't care what you think (and have said so on numerous occasions).

This. I agree with you and the OP and much of what you said is true.

There's a reason I'm an EX-charter subscriber. The current Paizo is nothing like the paizo I signed up with in 2008.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Misroi wrote:
I think the problem is that some posters on this thread are expecting Paizo to go to places that they don't feel comfortable going on a mass basis. To them I must reply: Paizo is not writing for your group; they're writing for all groups.

The corollary is that if you're writing for all groups, you're really not writing for any groups then. You really cant please all people.

Dark Archive

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

Fair enough, carmachu. The more appropriate thing for me to have said would be "Paizo is writing for the largest audience they can." The subset that has issues with sexual violence in their fiction is larger than the subset that doesn't, so they try to write to please as many people as possible.


Maybe make all of the hopeknife stuff be a more recent development (in that the hopeknife fad really blew up in, like, popularity, now that there's less of a need these days for more hands to be available to help out)?

Dark Archive

Misroi wrote:
Fair enough, carmachu. The more appropriate thing for me to have said would be "Paizo is writing for the largest audience they can." The subset that has issues with sexual violence in their fiction is larger than the subset that doesn't, so they try to write to please as many people as possible.

"Writing for the largest audience they can" is debatable given some of their moves and writing changes the last couple years. While I'll grant you that subset, the AP is dealing with orcs, half orcs and a community under constant war in a border region. It didnt have to get spelled out like book of erotic fantasy, but some acknowelegement of such would have been appropriate. I mean, their ok with murdering the children in the AP (hope knives) but not the reality of half orcs. Pretty sure that if you polled the same subset that has sexual violence, they would have the same issue with killing children in case things turned south.

It could have been handled in similar fashion as hope knives.


About same-sex relationships, a thing to note, is that those are controversial only in nations where that's a sin. Namely, a big portion of real life earth, including all nations which have a strong relationship with abrahamanic religions (christians, hebrew and muslim countries).

In, say, ancient Greek or ancient Rome, it wouldn't really make a big diference, or create a big controversy. I'm not sure if there's any Golarion god that consider same sex relationships specially sinful, but if there are some, the fact that the world is strongly polytheist, might also lessen the effect of that. Unless a big portion of Golarion portfolio are gods that include vetos to same-sex relationships, it really wouldn't be as big an issue as it is in real life earth.

The racism, however, is a different thing. In a world were there are not just different kind of humans, but different *species*, this is probably something that could be talked about more in APs, specially this one.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Not having read much of Giantslayer, do any children get hopeknifed to death in the AP as written, or is it simply an implied outcome in certain circumstances?

-Skeld


1 person marked this as a favorite.

They do not. Although if there is a TPK during the siege, it probably happens.


I haven't read it, but with your GM, they didn't. Not dure if that's the official take

Dark Archive

Skeld wrote:

Not having read much of Giantslayer, do any children get hopeknifed to death in the AP as written, or is it simply an implied outcome in certain circumstances?

-Skeld

Only an implied outcome and really only a vague one at that


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I've played through the first module of Giantslayer and didn't find an issue with any of the points raised in the OP.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

You know, I could actually see racism in half orcs being the reverse of what some people are having a problem with. The human population bordering Trunau is so use to orc raids that its likely most people know or have personally dealt with enough half-orcs or people who might have fathered/mothered such a child that the presence of such folk would just be a fact of life. It's farther afield, amongst folks who mostly know orcs from historic invasions of their lands or as distant monsters people tell scary stories of, that is where I would expect the greatest amounts of racism to lie.


Wise, the Jawa is! Yes!

1 to 50 of 56 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Adventure Path / Giantslayer / RAW, this doesn't feel REAL at all: Providing A Grittier, Darker Feel To Trunau... All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.