It’s time for the community to reject Myfarog


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Fantasy has always suffered a dangerous flirtation with the ugliest form of racism. The earliest voices of the genre – Tolkien, Lovecraft, and many others – lived in a time and place where ugly racial theories of supremacy and degeneracy were mainstream. We inherit imaginary worlds where dark-skinned people tend to be evil and malignant (drow, orcs, etc.) and light-skinned people tend to be good and virtuous.

For several decades now, the RPG world has worked to dismantle that part of our heritage, working toward new stories and new mythologies that are racially and culturally complex. I remember reading through the Eberron setting for the first time and thinking, cool, we’re finally getting there. Goblins were complex and often heroic. They had motivation, history. Orcs, too.

Now along comes Myfarog, an indie game produced by Varg Vikernes, a white supremacist from Norway who was convicted in the 1990s of murder and arson (he was found guilty of burning Christian churches).

In Myfarog, Vikernes doesn’t reject or downplay fantasy’s ugly history, nor does he distance himself from his own racist and violent past. Instead, he embraces those things. Indeed, he explicitly uses the racist elements hard-wired into many of our favorite fantasy games and novels to justify his own bitterly ugly RPG.

Myfarog by all accounts is a pretty crap game. But I don’t care if it reads or plays brilliantly. What matters is that Vikernes is transparent about the fact that it’s an PRG “based on European values, geography, (pre-) history, mythology, traditions, and morals.”

What does that mean? In his game, the white, Viking-like race is proud and strong and virtuous. The Koparmen (men with copper-colored skin) are “subhuman” and they aim to ruin the “lifestyle and culture” of their clean, northern lands.

One quick aside. Vikernes’ version of “pre-historic” Europe really is a fantasy. It’s a sick and childish dream-world of a time when white people were pure and strong, when the uncorrupted nobles were “almost always honorable men and women, good, just and hard working.” It’s pathetic, really.

But when he begins to contrast this make-believe race with the conniving and dishonorable darkies, it’s worse than pathetic. It’s creepy and disgusting.

Here’s my point. I don’t think silence about Myfarog is enough. Given our troubled history, I think it’s important for the key game companies, RPG writers and fans to explicitly condemn Myfarog. We need to make it clear that we reject this slime firmly and fully. We won’t have Jim Crow- or white-supremacist-flavored games in our hobby, period, full stop.

In part, this gesture is symbolic. The game industry has gotten better about speaking up about our need to be welcoming and inclusive. The art has grown less sexist. Attitudes toward LGBT gamers have improved. I love this trend and I want us to keep laying down markers that we’re going to keep moving in the right direction.

But there’s also a practical side to this. I’ve found a lot of chatter on-line about Myfarog, particularly from young white men who don’t appear to understand or grasp the game Vikerness is playing. Either they are just unaware of the racist foundations of Myfarog or they buy his argument that game is no more racially skewed than D&D or Pathfinder.

I’ve found reviews of the game that don’t treat the hatred and exclusion at the core of the game and instead view it as a cool Viking-themed RPG with awesome cover art. We need to spread the word that this game is toxic.

So here’s my shout-out. There’s a lot to debate and discuss when it comes to tolerance in gaming. But Myfarog lies outside the healthy bounds of that conversation. Myfarog is a game that should be condemned by all of us. Help send that message. This game has no place in the modern world of fantasy, RPGs or at any decent game table.

Captain Marsh


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Is it bad that I almost want to learn the system just to run games where the players play as the alleged "bad guys" and witness the corruption and evil hidden under the veneer of the glorious and civilized race?

Then post extensive campaign journals.


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Who in the Nine Hells would by an RPG produced by a white supremacist who was convicted of arson and murder? How did he even get published?


Captain Marsh wrote:

In part, this gesture is symbolic. The game industry has gotten better about speaking up about our need to be welcoming and inclusive. The art has grown less sexist. Attitudes toward LGBT gamers have improved. I love this trend and I want us to keep laying down markers that we’re going to keep moving in the right direction.

But there’s also a practical side to this. I’ve found a lot of chatter on-line about Myfarog, particularly from young white men who don’t appear to understand or grasp the game Vikerness is playing. Either they are just unaware of the racist foundations of Myfarog or they buy his argument that game is no more racially skewed than D&D or Pathfinder.

I’ve found reviews of the game that don’t treat the hatred and exclusion at the core of the game and instead view it as a cool Viking-themed RPG with awesome cover art. We need to spread the word that this game is toxic.

This is the main point of the thread. I just want to draw attention to this quote before the "anti-political youknowwhatness" crowd shows up and something gets misunderstood and we all go up in flames and it's game over man it's game over elves and dwarves living together MASS HYSTERIA AAUAGAUGA.

*Ahem*

Sorry about that.


Huh. I knew about the arson, didn't know about the other stuff. Damn, I kinda liked the two dark ambient albums he released from prison.

Even putting aside the racist nature of the game for a moment and just looking at it from a design and mechanics point of view, it's laughably bad. Look at it as a whole package and I think it's the closest thing we've had to a new FATAL for a while now (not saying it's as bad as FATAL, just that it's closer than most things get).

Kinda like the cover art though, I'll give it that.


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The Beardinator wrote:
Who in the Nine Hells would by an RPG produced by a white supremacist who was convicted of arson and murder? How did he even get published?

Varg's musical project Burzum is part of the early Black Metal scene, and he was also briefly a part of Old Funeral, and later Mayhem (the man he murdered was another member of Mayhem)

Could be that there's a bit of a fascination with him and his reputation, maybe that was enough to get him published as a curiosity.


I think it's hard to reach FATAL-tier, but it gets bonus points for marketing to the very worst dregs of the gaming community. I mean, so does FATAL, but at least FATAL's fans (which I assume it has) have the decency to be quiet about it.


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Scythia wrote:

Is it bad that I almost want to learn the system just to run games where the players play as the alleged "bad guys" and witness the corruption and evil hidden under the veneer of the glorious and civilized race?

Then post extensive campaign journals.

I won't say it's bad, but I will show you just a hint of what you are contemplating...


Personally, I've never heard of this guy or his game. I don't see the problem with just ignoring it, but right now all that's happening now is he's getting free publicity.

Irnk wrote:
I won't say it's bad, but I will show you just a hint of what you are contemplating...

Actually, guy seems to know his history, even if he twists it toward purposes of evil in his game world. I'm rather amused at his version of Christians attempting to wipe out the Pantheon of his lands, or how he included the Hashshashin (Muslim assassins) and the Sicarri (ancient Israeli zealots who assassinated Romans in crowds with hidden daggers) as enemy cults. Kinda silly that they all have ritual self-mutilation and whatnot copy and pasted into their initiation rituals, but whatever.

Also, anyone complaining about P&P RPG players/DM's being OCD is in for a rude shock. I'm not sure the difference between a 'fresh' gale and a 'moderate' gale, but dude wanted to name ever single point of DC for the effect. I don't know if he did that in one setting or slowly, achingly agonized it out just to say he did, but whatever. Personally, I still use four different tables for my PC's to roll on when they fire up a Rod of Wonder, so I can't criticize this part too much.

The "All non-whites are evil" or "Land of Thule" stuff? Yeah, that's where it gets nuts. But, looking at it from a distance? Minus the blatantly racist bits, seems like dude somehow cobbled together a detailed game. I'm... surprised. I still have no desire to PLAY it, but it is surprising.

If Scythia actually did that, I'd totally read the campaign journals, though.

The Beardinator wrote:
Who in the Nine Hells would by an RPG produced by a white supremacist who was convicted of arson and murder? How did he even get published?

I don't know about you, but if Pathfinder 2.0 came out, was balanced, had all the cheese removed, and fixed the caster/martial disparity, I'd buy it even if Satan and Hitler co-published it together.

That being said, this is no Pathfinder 2.0, and I'm pretty sure your answer was contained within your question.


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Arturius wrote:
Actually, guy seems to know his history

Oh, so vaccines cause bad teeth, nobles were generally good-hearted in spite of a crude and wicked proletariat, and redheads were resistant to electricity? History is so interesting!

Also, I think you're taking "no such thing as bad publicity" to a rather absurd extreme. At a certain point, a review just becomes too damning to actually act as advertising at all (especially since the writer actually says they've pretty much summed up all the funny bits). Anybody who really wants to get it just to witness the trainwreck will probably find a way to pirate it instead.


Irnk, Dead-Eye's Prodigal wrote:
Scythia wrote:

Is it bad that I almost want to learn the system just to run games where the players play as the alleged "bad guys" and witness the corruption and evil hidden under the veneer of the glorious and civilized race?

Then post extensive campaign journals.

I won't say it's bad, but I will show you just a hint of what you are contemplating...

Now I'm wondering why a gale being fresh matters. "Oh my, I do believe that gale just goosed me. Awfully fresh of it. There goes my ability to swim."

While I wouldn't mind giving it a try (I've run some pretty poor systems in my day), I don't think I'd want to subject players to it. Have a hard enough time finding them here already. :P


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
so vaccines cause bad teeth
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
redheads were resistant to electricity

No one--aside from you claimed these were 'historical' in nature. Such claims don't make the game look bad, merely the one making said claims. This isn't the first strawman you've set fire to in this thread.

Unless guy gives specific examples for the nobles, there's not really much history to compare them to, so you have a point there. I guess 1 for 6 ain't bad.

As it is, since we're talking games, remember we play a game where people can defy physics with a word, where tree-hugging hippies can turn into and speak with animals of all sizes and shapes, where Shamans actually contact spirits, Phrenology is a thing that works, beefy people can survive a fall from orbit and still wade into an army of orcs while swinging a sword and expect to win, etc. Actually having your Nobles BE NOBLE isn't that much of a stretch. Honestly, it's a nice change from the real world where they are almost invariably corrupt (Or straight-up weird).

Kobold Cleaver wrote:
I think you're taking "no such thing as bad publicity" to a rather absurd extreme

I had never heard of this guy nor his game before. Now I'm intrigued by the game. Was this bad publicity?

And yes, at a certain point, the review becomes too damning... of itself. That review was horribly biased and seemed to be on a witch-hunt for absolutely any "-ism" they could throw at it, any hint of racism or sexism or what have you. There's plenty enough in the book, but OCD tables with named DC's, or assumptions as to the alignment of the upper class isn't it. Women tended to die in childbirth now and then in Ye Olden Days without modern technology or magic to help them? EGADS! How sexist, how unhistoric--oh, wait, no, that's actually true. Welp.

Personally, I think they should have taken a different tack.
"Guy tried to write a PnP RPG, and while it seems rather OCD and a good first attempt, there are portions where his blatant racism pokes through. Whether on purpose or despite himself, these turn what could have been an interesting--if overly detailed--RPG into thinly-veiled extremist propaganda. Pursue with caution."

---

Scythia wrote:
I don't think I'd want to subject players to it. Have a hard enough time finding them here already. :P

You could probably pull it off if simply didn't let them know anything about the guy who wrote it. In fact, your approach could make it quite interesting. I just wouldn't want to find out enough to give the guy money.


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Eh, anyone who reads that review and decides they want to play the game from that was probably a lost cause anyway.
"Vaccines cause bad teeth" seems a rather ridiculous game mechanic to introduce into a setting (presumably) without vaccination, so it's not a huge stretch to imagine that it's something this person who romanticises history so much actually believes
As for the electricity-resistant redheads, I think referring to that as "historical" was probably a joke, and claiming that it's a "strawman" is disingenuous and somewhat insulting

Liberty's Edge

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Captain Marsh wrote:
Fantasy has always suffered a dangerous flirtation with the ugliest form of racism. The earliest voices of the genre – Tolkien, Lovecraft, and many others – lived in a time and place where ugly racial theories of supremacy and degeneracy were mainstream.

Just a side note that this is overly simplified and paints early fantasy unfairly. Those early writers may indeed have lived in a time where such views were common, but many (though certainly not all) of them explicitly rejected such beliefs.


CBDunkerson wrote:
Captain Marsh wrote:
Fantasy has always suffered a dangerous flirtation with the ugliest form of racism. The earliest voices of the genre – Tolkien, Lovecraft, and many others – lived in a time and place where ugly racial theories of supremacy and degeneracy were mainstream.
Just a side note that this is overly simplified and paints early fantasy unfairly. Those early writers may indeed have lived in a time where such views were common, but many of them explicitly rejected such beliefs.

Some of them, maybe. The two explicitly mentioned, on the other hand, are really not good for that.

Liberty's Edge

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Renata Maclean wrote:
CBDunkerson wrote:
Captain Marsh wrote:
Fantasy has always suffered a dangerous flirtation with the ugliest form of racism. The earliest voices of the genre – Tolkien, Lovecraft, and many others – lived in a time and place where ugly racial theories of supremacy and degeneracy were mainstream.
Just a side note that this is overly simplified and paints early fantasy unfairly. Those early writers may indeed have lived in a time where such views were common, but many of them explicitly rejected such beliefs.
Some of them, maybe. The two explicitly mentioned, on the other hand, are really not good for that.

I disagree.

"Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject — which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride."
J.R.R. Tolkien - July 25, 1938 - Response to a German publisher seeking to reprint his works inquiring whether he was 'Aryan'

There are many other examples from his correspondence. The idea that Tolkien subscribed to what he called, "the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine", is a false narrative constructed by a combination of his critics and racists who would like to co-opt his work. The reality is very different.

Scarab Sages

I feel like I want to make a race of people with copper skin now. Like statuesque faux-Cherokee from planet Mercury with an affinity for alchemy and reptiles or something.

Or: KOPARMAN, the superhero who gains power by eating pennies!!! Then he'd be like, uh...Superman crossed with Pac-Man and Kirby...and maybe he'd be like a Cold War hero who unites the rival superpowers by eating both US pennies *and* Soviet kopeks and spitting them back out as a stronger single currency, and...and maybe I could make a lot of money by turning it into the gimmick behind a pay-as-you-play arcade game franchise ("KOPARMAN needs more pennies badly!")...I don't know.

Shame about the cool-looking dragon on the cover.

*stands up, briskly rubs hands together* Wellp: Make room, Jack Chick! You're about to get a new benchmate on the Fantasy RPG Kinda-Awful-Kinda-Funny Shelf of Shame!


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I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

I feel like I want to make a race of people with copper skin now. Like statuesque faux-Cherokee from planet Mercury with an affinity for alchemy and reptiles or something.

Or: KOPARMAN...

Couldn't you just re-skin (pun intended) the 0HD golden shabti from Bestiary 5?

You'd likely also get bonus troll points against the Myfarog author for...

(•_•)
( •_•)>⌐□-□
(⌐□_□)

...going off the gold standard.

(YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!)


Arturius Fischer wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
so vaccines cause bad teeth
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
redheads were resistant to electricity

No one--aside from you claimed these were 'historical' in nature. Such claims don't make the game look bad, merely the one making said claims. This isn't the first strawman you've set fire to in this thread.

Unless guy gives specific examples for the nobles, there's not really much history to compare them to, so you have a point there. I guess 1 for 6 ain't bad.

Wow. This is a weirdly hostile response. It even busts out the old "strawman" accusation, like my jokey comments are about to turn into a big serious debate. I'm not getting into one of those, but thanks for the offer.

I will point out, though:

Fischer wrote:
but OCD tables with named DC's, or assumptions as to the alignment of the upper class isn't it.

He didn't say those were "isms". He explicitly said, in fact, that he was not only tackling the racist and sexist stuff in his review, and was planning to start with what makes it bad game design.

I also have trouble with the "racism occasionally pokes through", but it's hard to argue issues of magnitude. If that's "occasional" to you, fine, that's your opinion. I'd say the reviewer's description of the magnitude was closer to the mark, and that's my opinion (and, it seems, that of most of the posters on this thread).

EDIT: Also, the "vaccines" comment is a lot more transparently historical if you consider that he's probably claiming it so he can refute the assertion that nobles had bad teeth.


Renata Maclean wrote:

Eh, anyone who reads that review and decides they want to play the game from that was probably a lost cause anyway.

"Vaccines cause bad teeth" seems a rather ridiculous game mechanic to introduce into a setting (presumably) without vaccination, so it's not a huge stretch to imagine that it's something this person who romanticises history so much actually believes
As for the electricity-resistant redheads, I think referring to that as "historical" was probably a joke, and claiming that it's a "strawman" is disingenuous and somewhat insulting

Pretty much this.


Also in such a perfect world where all nobles are wise and just, and everyone has perfect teeth and perfect white skin and perfect blonde hair (unless they want to go for electricity resistance, obviously) that women die so often during childbirth. You'd think, in such a utopian and completely historically accurate setting, that their lack of advanced medical technology would fix that issue, too


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I do agree that the "women dying during childbirth" bit in the review is off, though I'm curious just how often the game has them die. It's funny, because I'm Googling it (a flawed source compiler, I know), and it looks like about one in three women might have died in childbirth back then? Another site puts it at more around 20%. It's hard to find a good figure. But for all we know, the author puts it at a 75% rate or something silly like that.

But like Renata said, the real sexism leaks into how the author puts "realistic" focus on women's weakness (in spite of the clearly fantastical setting) but not on, say, the treatment of other races. "Historical accuracy" only matters to him when it confirms or reinforces his idea of fantasy: Big buff noble white blonde non-Semitic dudes protecting their way of life from the scary minorities. That's why he represents the minor fringe cults you mentioned as entire murderous religions. It's also why he thinks redheads are resistant to electricity and medieval nobles were wonderful heroes with good teeth (as opposed to greedy inbred asshats clinging to a broken and bigoted system so they could keep treating people like cattle).


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What is inherently wrong with a game presenting a viewpoint you don't agree with?

No doubt the game crosses many, many lines of what would normally be considered good taste. No doubt it's a terrible game to-boot.

But unless the game was somehow actively harmful I think it more apt to delegate it to the pile with FATAL and Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Going out of our way as a media to deny such things the right to exist sets a dangerous precedence. Making it clear that it doesn't represent our hobby at large is more than enough, and it seems to me that nobody is under the impression that this game defines RPGs in general.


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Johnnycat wrote:
What is inherently wrong with a game presenting a viewpoint you don't agree with?

Careful there. This argument is usually used to lead into a "both valid opinions" argument. To be clear, bigotry is not a valid opinion. Hateful thoughtlessness cannot be an opinion. It's just a mistake that will hopefully in time be rectified.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Johnnycat wrote:
What is inherently wrong with a game presenting a viewpoint you don't agree with?
Careful there. This argument is usually used to lead into a "both valid opinions" argument. To be clear, bigotry is not a valid opinion. Hateful thoughtlessness cannot be an opinion. It's just a mistake that will hopefully in time be rectified.

But it does exist, and acknowledging that exists does not acknowledge it as right.

I'm going to jump to an extreme here, and I'm not claiming anyone has actually said this, but attempting to cover up the reality that bigotry exists would just as harmful as embracing it.

Is this game so toxic, so full of vitriol that it's actually setting our community back and prompting others to embrace a biased worldview that they would otherwise not have? Is allowing this, and other games like it, to exist putting us at risk of degenerating to 80's era "DnD is devil worship"?

No.

In fact, I believe there are even opportunities to learn from this product. Mostly in the realm of "how not to make a game", but the point remains.

Going another step forward: bigotry is a powerful tool in writing if applied well. It can be used to force us into unconventional world views or show us a glimpse into human nature. Mediums like film and literature apply them to great effect.

Myfarog should be criticized because it is a poor game in both design and writing. It includes bigotry and hate for the sake of it, not with any grander purpose. It's mechanics are a mess that offer little in the way of a valuable play experience.

Beyond that asking the entire community to stand up and reject it (even thought it already has, preempting the creation of this thread) seems overkill.


I remember a single book RPG way back in the day called Fantasy Role Play. Based on a lot of midieval European conventions, It had weird items such as self-conjuring your own Ghost which would give you benefits and earn a certain level of dammnation from it's presumption of Godhood.

What I do specifically remember was the admonition that the only career for a female character was that of the Nunnery.


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Quote:
I'm going to jump to an extreme here, and I'm not claiming anyone has actually said this, but attempting to cover up the reality that bigotry exists would just as harmful as embracing it.

Agreed, but isn't this thread explicitly trying to draw attention to the bigotry so it can be rejected? This thread is saying, "We shouldn't be silent about it, we should call it out." That seems to match what you're saying, doesn't it?


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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Quote:
I'm going to jump to an extreme here, and I'm not claiming anyone has actually said this, but attempting to cover up the reality that bigotry exists would just as harmful as embracing it.
Agreed, but isn't this thread explicitly trying to draw attention to the bigotry so it can be rejected? This thread is saying, "We shouldn't be silent about it, we should call it out." That seems to match what you're saying, doesn't it?

Oh my, yes.

What prompted me to post was the tone established in the OP that a call to arms has to be made, lest degeneracy runs rampant.

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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:

I remember a single book RPG way back in the day called Fantasy Role Play. Based on a lot of midieval European conventions, It had weird items such as self-conjuring your own Ghost which would give you benefits and earn a certain level of dammnation from it's presumption of Godhood.

What I do specifically remember was the admonition that the only career for a female character was that of the Nunnery.

I'm holding the book in question (actually called, 'Fantasy Wargaming'), and you are misremembering somewhat. The exact quote is, "They will be excluded from ... all parts of the Church save the nunnery...". So 'nun' was not the only option for a female character, just the only role they could play in the Christian church.

That said, the game does put extreme restrictions and penalties on female characters, though it describes these as, "unfortunately ... the penalties of a patriarchal society". Basically, it was attempting to model the prejudices of the time rather than in any way suggesting that these were good things... though obviously the end result was a game that wouldn't be much fun to play if your character was female. Or poor. Or non religious. Or gay. Or... anything else that it wasn't fun to be in medieval Europe.

The Norse religion section tacked on at the end had less restrictions on women (e.g. they could be priests), but wasn't fully integrated with the rest of the rules.


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I feel like the best solution to "we want to be historically accurate but also welcoming" is to remember that ultimately, the point of a game is to have fun, and put a disproportionately large amount of focus into enabling people to play "uncommon" characters. Explain how such things might function historically and encourage the GM and player to work within the facts. Matriarchal societies did exist, especially in smaller or non-European communities. Female samurai were totally a thing at first before patriarchal norms caught up with them. There were a lot of non-white people in Europe, though they were obviously generally the minority (though Spain was at one point dominated, to its economic benefit, by Moors and Jewish people, by my understanding).

Despite what the "historically accurate" crowd would have people believe, there is a place for diversity in history. History is full of badass women and minorities bucking the system and becoming heroes. Hell, just 150 years after the end of the Middle Ages, Julie flipping d'Aubigny showed up, an openly bisexual opera-singing swordswoman and one of the most badass antiheroes* history's ever known. Sure, the Middle Ages were in most ways a more hostile time, but we're talking about the exceptional here—the fantastical, the people even more badass than Julie. And aren't games like Myfarog supposed to be about heroes? Supposed to be about the "exceptional"?

Historical accuracy is really rarely deployed in a context where it actually both holds up and makes sense.

*By protagonist-centered morality, anyway. She was kind of a jerk.


Honestly, I would much prefer that angry white supremacists spend their time hunkered down in their basements designing crappy delusional games (that won't sell too many copies), rather than trolling outside their homes and burning churches or vandalizing homes owned by innocent foreign (legal) immigrants.


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I'd point out that the guy who wrote this had plenty of time and frustrations for arson and murder along with his RPG fix
It's not like having their bigotry reinforced is going to make someone any less racist


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I hadn't heard of Myfarog before this. FYI, a fresh gale comes from a table ranking wind speeds for nautical use. Maybe the translation is off.

The Exchange

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Sissyl wrote:
I hadn't heard of Myfarog before this.

My point exactly.


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I'm sure the Paizo Other RPGs subforum will be the big plug that finally makes this game a bestseller. :)

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