RPGs and Mental Illness


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Paizo Employee Design Manager

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
To boil this down: I am still not unconvinced that your argument here does not amount to, "Why do you complain about wildcats killing gerbils when parrots are being kept in tiny cages?". I have acknowledged that both are potentially valid concerns, and certainly valid discussions at the very least, but I do not understand where the parallel is that requires me to address both issues in the exact same thread.

I think drawing a parallel makes a certain amount of sense for the sake of conversation. Another way to put it-

Millions of people are victims of violence at the hands of other humans every day. We are able to divorce the fact that this game simulates violence from actually being influenced to commit violence in part because the game handles violence as an abstraction, with the exact results of said violence on the NPCs or characters being nebulous, at best. When you ask for the game to have more realisitc depictions of mental illness, to some people that is like asking for the game to come with detailed, snuff film level depictions of every act of violence committed with a d20. You are saying that you believe this level of detail would somehow be less offensive, we are saying that it absolutely would not.

I actually was unfamiliar with the term "SJW" until this thread, but I've divined that it means "Social Justice Warrior" and is a derogatory term implying that someone is championing a cause not because it is truly relevant to them, but because they want the attention, is that correct? I'm certainly not going to use this term (to me it seems like calling someone a NEET, a broad and demeaning classification that says as much about the person using it as whomever they're referring to), however I can see where the person(s) using it might be coming from. KC, you have been spear-heading one side of this conversation with broad, unspecific arguments, and most of your stance has been "I believe that this subject should be treated thusly, and here are a bunch of reasons why you are wrong to disagree with me" rather than "I believe this subject should be treated thusly, and here is the personal experience or training that entitles me to champion that opinion". Many people on the opposite side of the conversation have conveyed, in one measure or another, their personal experiences with the subject, and why they don't agree with your stance. I'm not saying that you should feel compelled to open your heart up to internet strangers about your own struggles or lack thereof with mental illness, but don't be terribly surprised when those who have, or those supporting those who have, question your sincerity when you don't have any skin in the game, so to speak.

I want to be very clear about something else- it seems that when people question you, whether that be your stances or your motives, you are very quick to associate any such questioning as an assault on the topic, or the conversation. It is not. I think this is an excellent topic to discuss, I have just found at several points that things you have said, or the way you have said them, have been ignorant, arrogant, self-serving, or some combination of the three. For example, earlier when you said "Do it right or don't do it at all" you spoke as though you had the authority to determine right from wrong, that Paizo was "doing it wrong", and that it was even possible to do right. I, personally, think two paragraphs and a chart is exactly the right amount of attention for a TTRPG to give mental illness in its core rules. Enough to be usable if you want to use it, but not enough to actually delve in or cause assumptions about any particular aspect of the real life struggle with mental illness.

Slight change of course here, but I've seen mention of TTRPGs equating homosexuality/non-heteronormative natures as being mental illness. Has this actually happened in the last 20 years? I'm genuinely curious, because I, personally, haven't seen any example of this within the last couple decades, certainly not from Paizo. I'm just wondering if that particular example is a non-relevant relic of a past age being dredged up and presented as something new and dangerous, or if there really are companies out there producing such ignorant materials.

Community Manager

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A warning to keep it civil, and a reminder that while the subject may be abstract for some, mental illness is something that a lot of people (including folks within our own community) struggle with on a daily basis. If you can't be respectful on this topic, don't participate in the discussion.

And as a final warning: do not conflate a person's sexuality with mental illness, not even in jest or sarcasm, on the forums.

Paizo Employee Design Manager

Liz Courts wrote:

A warning to keep it civil, and a reminder that while the subject may be abstract for some, mental illness is something that a lot of people struggle with on a daily basis. If you can't be respectful on this topic, don't participate in the discussion.

And as a final warning: do not conflate a person's sexuality with mental illness, not even in jest or sarcasm, on the forums.

Liz,

I don't if that last bit was directed at me, a group of us, or just a general warning, but in both the article linked in the OP and it seems in several posts since then, a very old chart that lists homosexuality as a mental illness that one can "catch" is brought up as an example of one of the issues with mental illness charts.

I was actually very concerned that some posters seem to be under the impression that that is a modern mechanic, perhaps one to be found in Pathfinder, so when I asked about it, it was with the sincere attempt to clarify that subject, not least because if I thought for a moment that Paizo was in any way promoting that level of ignorance, I would be one of the first ones knocking on the company's front door to ask what the hell the writer, editor, and anyone else involved was thinking and how something like that made it to print.


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Ssalarn wrote:
Slight change of course here, but I've seen mention of TTRPGs equating homosexuality/non-heteronormative natures as being mental illness. Has this actually happened in the last 20 years? I'm genuinely curious, because I, personally, haven't seen any example of this within the last couple decades, certainly not from Paizo. I'm just wondering if that particular example is a non-relevant relic of a past age being dredged up and presented as something new and dangerous, or if there really are companies out there producing such ignorant materials.

There are lots of games that get put out that have offensive material. Highly offensive. I don't know of a recent one specifically with these things being categorized as a mental illness, but other than hearing buzz about particularly bad games, I tend to stray towards extremely well-written ones, which necessarily tends to weed out games with highly offensive content.

Don't get me wrong, I like some edgy content here and there. Spoilered for brevity (and self-harm).

Spoiler:
One of my favorites was a Wish spell, which can be cast by 5 people of any level. To make it work, they all have to agree on the wish and speak it out loud at the same time, while committing suicide. The players in my campaign came across a circle of dead religious fanatics with an important artifact in the middle and one of them holding this "scroll" of Wish. I've told them that the scroll is reusable.

Honestly, I don't think the sanity rules for Pathfinder are really that egregious or offensive. They're pretty tame, just some names and DC's. That said, I think having this conversation is good, if for no other reason than someone who has been hurt by the inclusion of those rules can feel more comfortable to speak up and say so. I think it's a great opportunity for us a community to say "Hey, it's okay to speak up for yourself if you want".

I'd rather do that than clutch our CRB tightly and yell at them "GET AWAY!"


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Irontruth wrote:

That said, I think having this conversation is good, if for no other reason than someone who has been hurt by the inclusion of those rules can feel more comfortable to speak up and say so. I think it's a great opportunity for us a community to say "Hey, it's okay to speak up for yourself if you want".

I'd rather do that than clutch our CRB tightly and yell at them "GET AWAY!"

I agree that it's good for people to be able to converse about the things they like and don't like.

What's not good is when people who don't like some bit of fiction posit that its inclusion has caused them harm. Or rather, the idea (whether made by implication or overtly stated) that whatever harm they've suffered is the fault - intentional or not - of those who produced said content, and that their having done so was immoral, with the only remedy being an immediate apology and cleansing of the offending material so that it meets the approval of the wounded party.

For that matter, it's not good to presume that anyone who disagrees with that course of events is necessarily immoral, and that such people can only be motivated by, at best, ignorance, if not outright fear and malice.

The reason this isn't good is that it flies in the face of the very inclusivity that is ostensibly being fostered, wherein those who don't live up to the standards of those who claim harm are shunned as individuals displaying gross moral turpitude, which means that it becomes acceptable to dismiss them from a given community.

Gate-keeping in the name of righteousness is still gate-keeping, and saying "we want more people in our hobby" comes off as hypocritical at best when it's followed by the statement - even if it's unspoken - of "so long as they're the right kind of people."

By contrast, saying that you "wouldn't want people who believe X to be a part of the hobby anyway" means that you actually are clutching your CRB and yelling "GET AWAY!" at them.


I am paranoid schizophrenic.
I am offended by the chart, but not any opinions so far presented here.
I am now thinking about removing the option in rituals for self sacrifice. Maybe only allowing npcs to do such things.


Honestly the think I'd be most comfortable with would be if the random "mental afflictions" or types of "insanity" didn't share the names of real mental conditions. In a fantasy game, you should be able to come up with purely fictional afflictions to inflict on people who see Cthulhu.


The modern names for the various mental disorders are very modern things. Not too long ago, bipolar disorder was called manodepressive disorder. Go back further, perhaps two hundred years, and none of them have names approaching anything we see today (though case reports are usually very clear on which they are depicting from the symptoms). Further than that, and all we have is "insanity" and similar. I agree, the modern terms have no place in a pseudo-medieval/renaissance game.


Now that you mention it, it's particularly jarring when most of the poisons and diseases don't bother with real world names. Actually, now that I think of it, PF has added a few real world examples to 3e's list, but you get my point.


Hitdice wrote:
Now that you mention it, it's particularly jarring when most of the poisons and diseases don't bother with real world names. Actually, now that I think of it, PF has added a few real world examples to 3e's list, but you get my point.

OTOH, it's a lot easier for me to conceive of a world with different germs and poisonous plants than one in which people's minds don't respond to trauma in the same ways they do in the real world. If the people are that different, how do I play them?

On the gripping hand, other races could well be that different and have entirely different mental illnesses. But they're usually not played that way. (Nor for that matter are they treated differently as far as diseases or poisons go, when even closely related species are often affected by different diseases in reality.)

The idea of using older real world names for mental illness does have some merit, but would still need fleshing out of the effects and how to play them.


I'm not saying you're wrong, but whether you're happier with something based on the Confusion/Insanity spell from the CRB or the Sanity and Madness rules from the GMG seems a personal preference. The authors of RPGs shouldn't use my preferences as an excuse to be insensitive, but I'm a lot happier with a system in which making your saving throw and avoiding the insanity effect is the ideal outcome, rather than one which attempts to mechanically model real world disorders.


thejeff wrote:
Hitdice wrote:
Now that you mention it, it's particularly jarring when most of the poisons and diseases don't bother with real world names. Actually, now that I think of it, PF has added a few real world examples to 3e's list, but you get my point.

OTOH, it's a lot easier for me to conceive of a world with different germs and poisonous plants than one in which people's minds don't respond to trauma in the same ways they do in the real world. If the people are that different, how do I play them?

On the gripping hand, other races could well be that different and have entirely different mental illnesses. But they're usually not played that way. (Nor for that matter are they treated differently as far as diseases or poisons go, when even closely related species are often affected by different diseases in reality.)

The idea of using older real world names for mental illness does have some merit, but would still need fleshing out of the effects and how to play them.

To be honest, I have no idea how to really roleplay most mental illness, other than a Hollywood caricature of said illness. A couple I'm familiar with and get fairly well, but others are completely foreign and alien to me. Mental illness can change our perception of reality and I think saying that we fully understand how other people perceive reality (even without mental illness) is something fraught with peril.

Changing to something that remains familiar to our senses, but becomes specific to the game might actually be easier. For example, if you're character see's Elder Beings doing something strange and you fail a Will save, I tell you you now have Madness from Beyond the Void. The description is something along the lines of the shock and horrors you saw paralyze you with inaction. We modern individuals know that this is something akin to PTSD, but the name and description have stayed within the game and you have a bit of sense how to play the character.

All things take their inspiration from somewhere else. Just because sanity rules take their inspiration from what we know of mental health isn't inherently bad, nor is it something we can really avoid. I don't think a change to how we think about this would mean trying to purge all influences of the real world. Rather just having an eye towards tailoring it to the game. If you're making a fantasy game, come up with fantastical afflictions for the mind as well as the body.

Look at the PF description of schizophrenia. Really it's kind of boring in terms of roleplaying and gaming potential. You're left with your own assumptions about the disease and for most people that means imitating characters they've seen in movies or tv shows, which we all know are super accurate.


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Irontruth wrote:
Look at the PF description of schizophrenia. Really it's kind of boring in terms of roleplaying and gaming potential. You're left with your own assumptions about the disease and for most people that means imitating characters they've seen in movies or tv shows, which we all know are super accurate.

I highlighted the part that I wanted to call attention to: what's the virtue of accuracy, in this particular regard?

Grand Lodge

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Irontruth wrote:
I have no idea how to really roleplay most mental illness, other than a Hollywood caricature of said illness. A couple I'm familiar with and get fairly well, but others are completely foreign and alien to me. Mental illness can change our perception of reality and I think saying that we fully understand how other people perceive reality (even without mental illness) is something fraught with peril.

But to a degree, we a gamers, especially when playing either a sci-fi or fantasy RPG, do just that; we take on foreign, and alien personas. We can say we know how an elf, dragon, or Great Cthulhu himself thinks and try to portray that, but the reality is, we don't have a clue how an immortal or nearly immortal, or extremely powerful being thinks or perceive the world around them. All we can do is pretend that we know based on how we've seen others portray them, or just taking a wild stab at portraying them on our own concerning how we think such a being might act/react to the world around them based on our own general thoughts and experiences.


Digitalelf wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
I have no idea how to really roleplay most mental illness, other than a Hollywood caricature of said illness. A couple I'm familiar with and get fairly well, but others are completely foreign and alien to me. Mental illness can change our perception of reality and I think saying that we fully understand how other people perceive reality (even without mental illness) is something fraught with peril.
But to a degree, we a gamers, especially when playing either a sci-fi or fantasy RPG, do just that; we take on foreign, and alien personas. We can say we know how an elf, dragon, or Great Cthulhu himself thinks and try to portray that, but the reality is, we don't have a clue how an immortal or nearly immortal, or extremely powerful being thinks or perceive the world around them. All we can do is pretend that we know based on how we've seen others portray them, or just taking a wild stab at portraying them on our own concerning how we think such a being might act/react to the world around them based on our own general thoughts and experiences.

Of course, we can't really get "roleplaying an elf" wrong. We don't have any real ones to compare to.

We can get roleplaying mental illnesses wrong, because they do exist.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thejeff wrote:

Of course, we can't really get "roleplaying an elf" wrong. We don't have any real ones to compare to.

We can get roleplaying mental illnesses wrong, because they do exist.

You're not incorrect, but this strikes me as a fairly thin difference to slice. You're not role-playing a mental illness per se; you're role-playing a person dealing with a mental illness, and how people deal with things can vary wildly based on the individual, to the point that "doing it wrong" is pretty well meaningless. It's like saying that you can role-play "being in love" wrong, because love does exist.

That said, this goes back to my previous question; why does it matter that it be role-played "right"?


Alzrius wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Of course, we can't really get "roleplaying an elf" wrong. We don't have any real ones to compare to.

We can get roleplaying mental illnesses wrong, because they do exist.

You're not incorrect, but this strikes me as a fairly thin difference to slice. You're not role-playing a mental illness per se; you're role-playing a person dealing with a mental illness, and how people deal with things can vary wildly based on the individual, to the point that "doing it wrong" is pretty well meaningless. It's like saying that you can role-play "being in love" wrong, because love does exist.

That said, this goes back to my previous question; why does it matter that it be role-played "right"?

Because, unlike being in love, which most of us have experienced, most of us only know what Irontruth called "a Hollywood caricature of said illness".

But some have experience, either personally or with close friends or relatives, and dealing with someone playing a bad stereotype can be unpleasant. More so, if that bad stereotype is pushed by the actual rules system.

Liberty's Edge

thejeff wrote:

Of course, we can't really get "roleplaying an elf" wrong. We don't have any real ones to compare to.

We can get roleplaying mental illnesses wrong, because they do exist.

Do elf brains work like human brains?

Do Golarion human brains work like Earth human brains?

If not... then maybe that's how mental illness works in Golarion. Not wrong, just different.

After all, people in Golarion can only move within the bounds of an invisible planet-wide 5' grid system. Things work differently there.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thejeff wrote:

Because, unlike being in love, which most of us have experienced, most of us only know what Irontruth called "a Hollywood caricature of said illness".

But some have experience, either personally or with close friends or relatives, and dealing with someone playing a bad stereotype can be unpleasant. More so, if that bad stereotype is pushed by the actual rules system.

And you hold that the possibility that something "can" be unpleasant to "some" creates a moral impetus to change it, and that failing to do so is morally corrupt?


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Blog wrote:
At the very least though, I’d love to see us move away from this mindset of “something traumatic happened, roll to see how crazy you go.”

In 40 years, I've personally never seen this, I somehow doubt she plays the game.

Blog wrote:
The realities of mental health just plain aren’t reflected by rolls on random tables.

No s**^. Real life also doesn't have Cthulu gods or monsters or magic that can make you go insane and want to kill your friends. It's a game.

I worry a little bit about people who try to make the game exactly like real life. This is just someone with too much time on her hands ranting, I'm not sure why you're giving her the air time.


Jason S wrote:
Blog wrote:
At the very least though, I’d love to see us move away from this mindset of “something traumatic happened, roll to see how crazy you go.”

In 40 years, I've personally never seen this, I somehow doubt she plays the game.

Blog wrote:
The realities of mental health just plain aren’t reflected by rolls on random tables.

No s**^. Real life also doesn't have Cthulu gods or monsters or magic that can make you go insane and want to kill your friends. It's a game.

I worry a little bit about people who try to make the game exactly like real life. This is just someone with too much time on her hands ranting, I'm not sure why you're giving her the air time.

I didn't want to be the first to say it, but I don't see how the time spent writing was a better use of the author's time than, say, volunteering at a mental illness crisis call center, if she's out to improve the lot of the mentally ill. I'm saying that as someone who worked as a nurses' aide for three months, whatever that counts for.


Alzrius wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Look at the PF description of schizophrenia. Really it's kind of boring in terms of roleplaying and gaming potential. You're left with your own assumptions about the disease and for most people that means imitating characters they've seen in movies or tv shows, which we all know are super accurate.
I highlighted the part that I wanted to call attention to: what's the virtue of accuracy, in this particular regard?

Honestly, I have no interest in discussing this with someone who attributes lies to me. Your previous post quoted me, which basically implied that I was saying the things you said in your post, which isn't true.


thejeff wrote:
Digitalelf wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
I have no idea how to really roleplay most mental illness, other than a Hollywood caricature of said illness. A couple I'm familiar with and get fairly well, but others are completely foreign and alien to me. Mental illness can change our perception of reality and I think saying that we fully understand how other people perceive reality (even without mental illness) is something fraught with peril.
But to a degree, we a gamers, especially when playing either a sci-fi or fantasy RPG, do just that; we take on foreign, and alien personas. We can say we know how an elf, dragon, or Great Cthulhu himself thinks and try to portray that, but the reality is, we don't have a clue how an immortal or nearly immortal, or extremely powerful being thinks or perceive the world around them. All we can do is pretend that we know based on how we've seen others portray them, or just taking a wild stab at portraying them on our own concerning how we think such a being might act/react to the world around them based on our own general thoughts and experiences.

Of course, we can't really get "roleplaying an elf" wrong. We don't have any real ones to compare to.

We can get roleplaying mental illnesses wrong, because they do exist.

Are you claiming that you can roleplay all mental illness correctly and accurately?

Edited to add:

Because that's part of my point. If you can't roleplay it accurately, but are basing your roleplay on things like TV and movies, then you aren't using reality to influence your roleplay, but fiction, so the reality argument goes out the window. While you're using the word, you aren't using the actual representation of it, but a fictional one.


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Alzrius wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Because, unlike being in love, which most of us have experienced, most of us only know what Irontruth called "a Hollywood caricature of said illness".

But some have experience, either personally or with close friends or relatives, and dealing with someone playing a bad stereotype can be unpleasant. More so, if that bad stereotype is pushed by the actual rules system.

And you hold that the possibility that something "can" be unpleasant to "some" creates a moral impetus to change it, and that failing to do so is morally corrupt?

Did I use the words "morally corrupt" or anything similar?

I'd rather not do it. I'd rather not have rules pushing bad stereotypes of mental illness.
That's a long way from claiming it would be "morally corrupt" to do so.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Irontruth wrote:
Honestly, I have no interest in discussing this with someone who attributes lies to me. Your previous post quoted me, which basically implied that I was saying the things you said in your post, which isn't true.

If you dislike lies so much, it's rather odd that you'd resort to them here.

My post quoted you, and then posted an alternate point of view. To claim that I was attributing that alternate point of view to you is untrue, which makes you a liar.

EDIT: In other words, the idea that "you quoted me, which means that you're implying that whatever you type after that quote is something you're attributing to me" is a highly disingenuous one.


Irontruth wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Digitalelf wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
I have no idea how to really roleplay most mental illness, other than a Hollywood caricature of said illness. A couple I'm familiar with and get fairly well, but others are completely foreign and alien to me. Mental illness can change our perception of reality and I think saying that we fully understand how other people perceive reality (even without mental illness) is something fraught with peril.
But to a degree, we a gamers, especially when playing either a sci-fi or fantasy RPG, do just that; we take on foreign, and alien personas. We can say we know how an elf, dragon, or Great Cthulhu himself thinks and try to portray that, but the reality is, we don't have a clue how an immortal or nearly immortal, or extremely powerful being thinks or perceive the world around them. All we can do is pretend that we know based on how we've seen others portray them, or just taking a wild stab at portraying them on our own concerning how we think such a being might act/react to the world around them based on our own general thoughts and experiences.

Of course, we can't really get "roleplaying an elf" wrong. We don't have any real ones to compare to.

We can get roleplaying mental illnesses wrong, because they do exist.

Are you claiming that you can roleplay all mental illness correctly and accurately?

Edited to add:

Because that's part of my point. If you can't roleplay it accurately, but are basing your roleplay on things like TV and movies, then you aren't using reality to influence your roleplay, but fiction, so the reality argument goes out the window. While you're using the word, you aren't using the actual representation of it, but a fictional one.

No. Not at all. I was agreeing with you.

You can play elves "correctly", because there are no elves and thus no wrong way to do it. Playing mental illness is much trickier since there is real mental illness and it's easy to play it badly.


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thejeff wrote:
Did I use the words "morally corrupt" or anything similar?

Did I say that you did? Do you see me putting those in a quote box attributed to you?

I asked you a direct question; hence the question mark at the end. Don't dodge it, answer it.

Quote:

I'd rather not do it. I'd rather not have rules pushing bad stereotypes of mental illness.

That's a long way from claiming it would be "morally corrupt" to do so.

You're misstating the question here. I asked if you think that the possibility that something might be "unpleasant" to "some" people creates a moral impetus to change it, where failing to do so is morally corrupt. Do you?


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Alzrius wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Did I use the words "morally corrupt" or anything similar?

Did I say that you did? Do you see me putting those in a quote box attributed to you?

I asked you a direct question; hence the question mark at the end. Don't dodge it, answer it.

Quote:

I'd rather not do it. I'd rather not have rules pushing bad stereotypes of mental illness.

That's a long way from claiming it would be "morally corrupt" to do so.
You're misstating the question here. I asked if you think that the possibility that something might be "unpleasant" to "some" people creates a moral impetus to change it, where failing to do so is morally corrupt. Do you?

No I do not.

I don't have any idea why you would ask me such a question, unless you thought I had said or implied that I did.

I vaguely suspect we might not be using the same frame of reference, since I doubt I'd ever use the term "morally corrupt", so I wonder if you might attach some special significance to it.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thejeff wrote:

No I do not.

I don't have any idea why you would ask me such a question, unless you thought I had said or implied that I did.

No, I asked because I wanted to know what you thought with regards to that particular idea.

Quote:
I vaguely suspect we might not be using the same frame of reference, since I doubt I'd ever use the term "morally corrupt", so I wonder if you might attach some special significance to it.

The frame of reference is "bad for reasons other than not being to personal preference, but causes harm to some element of society" I suppose.

Silver Crusade

Alzrius wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Because, unlike being in love, which most of us have experienced, most of us only know what Irontruth called "a Hollywood caricature of said illness".

But some have experience, either personally or with close friends or relatives, and dealing with someone playing a bad stereotype can be unpleasant. More so, if that bad stereotype is pushed by the actual rules system.

And you hold that the possibility that something "can" be unpleasant to "some" creates a moral impetus to change it, and that failing to do so is morally corrupt?

What's with the quotation marks, inaccurate stereotypes can and have hurt people before, including mental illness. Having someone act as a caricature of a real life problem that people face is insulting and regressive. Also why are you calling people 'creatures' in this regard, that's some seriously dismissive terminology that shows how you feel on the subject.

Also way to black and white the entire discussion since there's obviously no room for nuance here. What's being said is "Can RPGs do more to accurately portray mental illness/should mental illness be in RPGs in its current form?" There's a lot of discussion going on as to pros and cons, so it's not just "is it EVIL not to do something?"

Is it really so hard to believe that certain people may not care for the way their real life struggles are portrayed in a game that they play to enjoy themselves? That it's not about being morally corrupt or just, more about making a safer space for those who love this hobby and wish to enjoy it without these issues?


Alzrius wrote:
thejeff wrote:

No I do not.

I don't have any idea why you would ask me such a question, unless you thought I had said or implied that I did.

No, I asked because I wanted to know what you thought with regards to that particular idea.

Quote:
I vaguely suspect we might not be using the same frame of reference, since I doubt I'd ever use the term "morally corrupt", so I wonder if you might attach some special significance to it.
The frame of reference is "bad for reasons other than not being to personal preference, but causes harm to some element of society" I suppose.

Well, if that's the sense, then I'd say that it does. Just that it does, not so much because it's unpleasant for some, but by spreading and reinforcing the stereotypes. OTOH, the effect, especially in a field as niche as RPGs, is pretty minimal. That and the lack of intentional malice move it out of the "morally corrupt" category for me.


Alzrius wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Honestly, I have no interest in discussing this with someone who attributes lies to me. Your previous post quoted me, which basically implied that I was saying the things you said in your post, which isn't true.

If you dislike lies so much, it's rather odd that you'd resort to them here.

My post quoted you, and then posted an alternate point of view. To claim that I was attributing that alternate point of view to you is untrue, which makes you a liar.

EDIT: In other words, the idea that "you quoted me, which means that you're implying that whatever you type after that quote is something you're attributing to me" is a highly disingenuous one.

You realize, if it wasn't your intention to direct that post at me, you could have just apologized for the misunderstanding. Instead you double-downed.

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Another reminder to keep things calm, folks—if you find yourself getting angry or upset, step away from the keyboard and do something else for a bit. :)


thejeff wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Digitalelf wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
I have no idea how to really roleplay most mental illness, other than a Hollywood caricature of said illness. A couple I'm familiar with and get fairly well, but others are completely foreign and alien to me. Mental illness can change our perception of reality and I think saying that we fully understand how other people perceive reality (even without mental illness) is something fraught with peril.
But to a degree, we a gamers, especially when playing either a sci-fi or fantasy RPG, do just that; we take on foreign, and alien personas. We can say we know how an elf, dragon, or Great Cthulhu himself thinks and try to portray that, but the reality is, we don't have a clue how an immortal or nearly immortal, or extremely powerful being thinks or perceive the world around them. All we can do is pretend that we know based on how we've seen others portray them, or just taking a wild stab at portraying them on our own concerning how we think such a being might act/react to the world around them based on our own general thoughts and experiences.

Of course, we can't really get "roleplaying an elf" wrong. We don't have any real ones to compare to.

We can get roleplaying mental illnesses wrong, because they do exist.

Are you claiming that you can roleplay all mental illness correctly and accurately?

Edited to add:

Because that's part of my point. If you can't roleplay it accurately, but are basing your roleplay on things like TV and movies, then you aren't using reality to influence your roleplay, but fiction, so the reality argument goes out the window. While you're using the word, you aren't using the actual representation of it, but a fictional one.

No. Not at all. I was agreeing with you.

You can play elves "correctly", because there are no elves and thus no wrong way to do it. Playing mental illness is much trickier since there is real mental illness and it's easy to play it badly.

I think one way to make mental illness easier to roleplay for a game like PF would be to acknowledge those roots in the real world, but then divorce it from attempting to portray it. It allows for more evocative names/descriptions that do borrow from fiction (particularly how mental illness has been portrayed in fiction). Not to reinforce those stereotypes, but rather to use them as storytelling tropes and remove them from the real world stereotypes.

It also opens the door to more mechanically interesting things, like Arcane Madness, which only affects wizards (thus retaining/reinforcing the trope of the mad wizard). It becomes much more interesting, as opposed to a check to see if you're just confused this round or not.


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N. Jolly wrote:
What's with the quotation marks, inaccurate stereotypes can and have hurt people before, including mental illness. Having someone act as a caricature of a real life problem that people face is insulting and regressive.

The quotation marks are to call attention to those particular aspects of the issue at hand, highlighting them as the operative parts of what's being discussed.

It's in that regard that I ask if, just because some people "feel" insulted, that necessarily creates a moral responsibility to do something about it. That is, if failing to do something about it can be called an instance of moral corruption. Because that seems to be the impression that a lot of people are operating under - that, while making these changes may be good, there's no permissible reason not to make (or want to make) these changes, e.g. because not doing so would be "bad."

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Also why are you calling people 'creatures' in this regard, that's some seriously dismissive terminology that shows how you feel on the subject.

You need to go re-read what I wrote, since that word never appears in my post. :D

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Also way to black and white the entire discussion since there's obviously no room for nuance here.

There's a great deal of nuance, largely with regards to the question of whether or not doing something to appease the hurt feelings of someone else is a moral imperative (e.g. doing so is good, but failing to do so is bad) or simply supererogatory (e.g. doing so is good, but failing to do so is neither good nor bad).

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What's being said is "Can RPGs do more to accurately portray mental illness/should mental illness be in RPGs in its current form?" There's a lot of discussion going on as to pros and cons, so it's not just "is it EVIL not to do something?"

Strictly speaking, "more" can always be done. What I'm more interested in asking is why people think that more "should" be done, and to what extent that they think this is necessary, and why.

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Is it really so hard to believe that certain people may not care for the way their real life struggles are portrayed in a game that they play to enjoy themselves?

No, but at the same time I notice an implication that suggests that it's very hard for some people to believe that that reason isn't sufficient to make those changes. Or that there could be other reasons not to make those changes.

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That it's not about being morally corrupt or just, more about making a safer space for those who love this hobby and wish to enjoy it without these issues?

If you're citing your changes as being a step towards creating a "safer" space for the people who "love" this hobby and want to enjoy it without these "issues," then you've very well elevated it to an issue of morality, even if you haven't used the word.


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Irontruth wrote:
You realize, if it wasn't your intention to direct that post at me, you could have just apologized for the misunderstanding. Instead you double-downed.

This is the second time you've misread what I wrote. I didn't say the post wasn't directed at you; I said that the post wasn't my attributing what I wrote to you - it was presenting an alternate point of view (e.g. my own) with regards to what you wrote.


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thejeff wrote:
Well, if that's the sense, then I'd say that it does. Just that it does, not so much because it's unpleasant for some, but by spreading and reinforcing the stereotypes.

To clarify, how does an element of fiction - that openly presents itself as being fiction - necessarily "reinforce" something? Presuming that the people consuming it are adults who don't have mental health issues (irony for the win!), then wouldn't they realize going into it that nothing in there is representative of the real world?

Likewise, does having an element that's stereotypical necessarily mean that it's harmful to some element of society?

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OTOH, the effect, especially in a field as niche as RPGs, is pretty minimal. That and the lack of intentional malice move it out of the "morally corrupt" category for me.

I personally don't agree that intent matters, since people who claim to have been harmed are of the opinion that whether it was done on purpose or not are irrelevant, since they still feel injured.

Likewise, I don't think that size or scope matters either. If we're going to say that something is morally corrupt, then it becomes moral to seek its alteration, removal, or destruction, regardless of what effect said corrupting element has, since it "could" cause harm.


N. Jolly wrote:


Is it really so hard to believe that certain people may not care for the way their real life struggles are portrayed in a game that they play to enjoy themselves? That it's not about being morally corrupt or just, more about making a safer space for those who love this hobby and wish to enjoy it without these issues?

I have these issues, and I don't mind. That someone is reacting to someone that only they believe exists, is fluff. It kind of looks like they are behaving randomly, rules wise.

Silver Crusade

@Alzrius

Yeah, I did read "creates" as "creatures", that's on me, and I apologize.

As per everything else you're saying, I'm not sure what your point is. You want more reasons rather than to protect the feelings of others? Do you need more of a reason to reexamine something than that?

The fact that you feel the need to put "feel" in quotation marks is very questionable. It feels as though you're questioning the validity of others feelings towards an issue, especially with how you're dancing around the concept of morality for some strange reason. Would it be more direct to say some people don't simply 'feel' insulted, but are actually insulted by the portrayal of mental illnesses in RPGs? Because some people are insulted by them, thus creating the issue at hand.

Goth Guru wrote:
N. Jolly wrote:


Is it really so hard to believe that certain people may not care for the way their real life struggles are portrayed in a game that they play to enjoy themselves? That it's not about being morally corrupt or just, more about making a safer space for those who love this hobby and wish to enjoy it without these issues?

I have these issues, and I don't mind. That someone is reacting to someone that only they believe exists, is fluff. It kind of looks like they are behaving randomly, rules wise.

I'm happy for you that this isn't an issue for you, as I would like it not to be for anyone. But as you've seen from other posters, there are those who would rather not play with rules that treat mental illness in this way.


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Please stop debating people who are trying to turn this into a "are gamer's evil debate". It's a straw man and has nothing to do with the topic, regardless of how much they try to force it that way.

It's about making the hobby a safe place where people can play the way they want to play, which includes having these kinds of rules in their game. It's about being aware of how and why we are including these rules and what purpose they serve. It's about being aware of how this can impact certain people.

Trying to force it into a discussion about morality is missing the point and an attempt to derail the discussion.

I've played some games that deal very directly with concepts of mental illness, not just as a 2 paragraph blurb in the book, but as central concepts. I don't think the concept should be banned from RPG's, rather that awareness should be increased about what is a good representation and what is a poor representation. What enhances a game, and what adds very little.


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Rather than having a flame war, which I find annoying and repetitive, they should just say what they will or will not allow at their game table.


Alzrius wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Well, if that's the sense, then I'd say that it does. Just that it does, not so much because it's unpleasant for some, but by spreading and reinforcing the stereotypes.

To clarify, how does an element of fiction - that openly presents itself as being fiction - necessarily "reinforce" something? Presuming that the people consuming it are adults who don't have mental health issues (irony for the win!), then wouldn't they realize going into it that nothing in there is representative of the real world?

Likewise, does having an element that's stereotypical necessarily mean that it's harmful to some element of society?

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OTOH, the effect, especially in a field as niche as RPGs, is pretty minimal. That and the lack of intentional malice move it out of the "morally corrupt" category for me.

I personally don't agree that intent matters, since people who claim to have been harmed are of the opinion that whether it was done on purpose or not are irrelevant, since they still feel injured.

Likewise, I don't think that size or scope matters either. If we're going to say that something is morally corrupt, then it becomes moral to seek its alteration, removal, or destruction, regardless of what effect said corrupting element has, since it "could" cause harm.

And here's where that different frame of reference comes in. You seem to be thinking in moral absolutes, I'm not. Intent and scale matter.

And stereotypes in fiction definitely affect the way people interpret the real world. Even people without mental health issues. That's what stories do. That's what they're for.

All that said, I'm going to try to take Irontruth's advice and step away from this particular line. I don't think it's going to be productive.


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N. Jolly wrote:

@Alzrius

Yeah, I did read "creates" as "creatures", that's on me, and I apologize.

And I appreciate that.

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As per everything else you're saying, I'm not sure what your point is. You want more reasons rather than to protect the feelings of others? Do you need more of a reason to reexamine something than that?

Quite frankly, yes. While it may be virtuous to "reexamine" something based on someone else's feelings, I don't believe this reaches the level of being morally required, where a "requirement" is understood to be "indicative of moral corruption if you fail to do so." That's distinct from being morally supererogatory, which is "it's good if you do it, but not morally bad if you don't."

In other words, you can very well decide not to reexamine something based on someone else's feelings, and that isn't wrong. However, that's not the tenor of a lot of what I'm hearing when people talk about topics such as these.

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The fact that you feel the need to put "feel" in quotation marks is very questionable. It feels as though you're questioning the validity of others feelings towards an issue, especially with how you're dancing around the concept of morality for some strange reason.

I disagree. This is a discussion about (as I see it) what we "should" do, and when asking what actions should be undertaken, that often is really a question about what the "right" thing to do is, and that's a moral question. I simply prefer to discuss that directly.

That said, I am questioning the validity of any premise that holds that hurt or upset feelings necessitate a response to soothe them, with the underlying premise that failing to do so is morally corrupt.

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Would it be more direct to say some people don't simply 'feel' insulted, but are actually insulted by the portrayal of mental illnesses in RPGs? Because some people are insulted by them, thus creating the issue at hand.

I don't believe that saying that they "feel insulted" versus "they are insulted" is a worthwhile distinction to make. Rather, I'm trying to gauge to what degree this is an "issue" at all.


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Irontruth wrote:
Please stop debating people who are trying to turn this into a "are gamer's evil debate". It's a straw man and has nothing to do with the topic, regardless of how much they try to force it that way.

I agree that it's a strawman, since nobody except you is trying to paint the debate in that light.

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It's about making the hobby a safe place where people can play the way they want to play, which includes having these kinds of rules in their game. It's about being aware of how and why we are including these rules and what purpose they serve. It's about being aware of how this can impact certain people.

You're half-right here. The conversation is about the underlying premise for why we should do this, and how compelling those reason(s) are.

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Trying to force it into a discussion about morality is missing the point and an attempt to derail the discussion.

On the contrary, the moral discussion goes right to the heart of what this debate is about. Suggesting otherwise is an attempt to derail it.

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I've played some games that deal very directly with concepts of mental illness, not just as a 2 paragraph blurb in the book, but as central concepts. I don't think the concept should be banned from RPG's, rather that awareness should be increased about what is a good representation and what is a poor representation. What enhances a game, and what adds very little.

Why should RPG books need to work to raise awareness? Moreover, if they elect not to do that, is there an impetus that they be changed to do so? These are moral questions, and they are what this entire discussion is framed around.


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thejeff wrote:
And here's where that different frame of reference comes in. You seem to be thinking in moral absolutes, I'm not. Intent and scale matter.

You're wrong to denote that this has anything to do with "absolutes." Moral absolutes are a question regarding the (im)morality of something as an objective, regardless of personal moral framework, and no one is asserting them here.

Rather, I'm pointing out that with regard to what actions are undertaken, their moral dimension doesn't depend on their intent, nor their scope. You might disagree, but in that case you're opening up nebulous issues of trying to determine what someone else "really" intended, or what the scope of an action "actually" is. Neither are very helpful when examining the nature of an action unto itself.

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And stereotypes in fiction definitely affect the way people interpret the real world. Even people without mental health issues.

You've moved the goalposts here; now it's not a question of "reinforcing" or "spreading" something, but having any "affect." In that regard, that's a largely meaningless distinction, particularly since it seems to ignore that people aren't helpless in the face of subconscious messages.

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That's what stories do. That's what they're for.

No, it's not what stories do, nor is it what they're for. They're to entertain.

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All that said, I'm going to try to take Irontruth's advice and step away from this particular line. I don't think it's going to be productive.

That's a shame, this was turning into a good debate.


Alzrius wrote:
thejeff wrote:
All that said, I'm going to try to take Irontruth's advice and step away from this particular line. I don't think it's going to be productive.
That's a shame, this was turning into a good debate.

No, it really wasn't. We're using similar words, but using them to mean entirely different things. There is a fundamental gap in understanding here that isn't going to be filled in any simple way.


vorpaljesus wrote:
This feels like a non-issue


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
No, it really wasn't. We're using similar words, but using them to mean entirely different things. There is a fundamental gap in understanding here that isn't going to be filled in any simple way.

I disagree. Discussion and debate is how you fill in the gaps in understanding.


Liz Courts wrote:
Another reminder to keep things calm, folks—if you find yourself getting angry or upset, step away from the keyboard and do something else for a bit. :)

WOE! Woe to the community that needs a ninja to enforce societal ethics of civil communication. Woe unto them, I say!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

in regards the original question, and Pathfinder, the only mental illness in the prd that strikes me as problematic is schizophrenia. Mostly because its a long term condition with genetic links and has a long track record of being misunderstood.

Generally I appreciate insanity rules within the game, and mostly they seem to come up in situations that really don't reflect reality (non-euclidean horrors, wizards rooting through your brain, etc). I really wouldn't want them to more accurately model real life, and in fact it would be interesting to get expansions on those reals for more fantastic mental illnesses with no basis in reality.

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