Being Unique - My Dislike of the Term Special Snowflake


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"You're basing the condition strictly on setting grounds, ignoring the actual people playing the game. In fact, making them play in a specific way."

Uh, yea. At the start of game, everyone gets together to set the grounds. The entire point of setting grounds is to get all the players on the same page and happy with what will be played.

Also, I mostly agree with WormysQueue, if you don't want the fluff that comes with the mechanics you want, then either pick different choices, or discuss with gm to alter fluff.


Honestly, I think this special snowflake problem is no more different than having a player run a Good-aligned character in an Evil campaign. It could work out for the whole table and bring out cool narrative moments, but it must heavily discussed before play with ground rules made to determine how far it can go.


Threeshades wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Yeah, this conversation is pointless. It's too resistant to details—whenever someone cites one, the other side can say, "That's not the sort of snowflake I'm talking about," and deflect the topic.
Which is where about 90% of all discussions on really any topic falters.

Exactly. A conversation based on that as a foundation goes pretty much nowhere good.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Threeshades wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Yeah, this conversation is pointless. It's too resistant to details—whenever someone cites one, the other side can say, "That's not the sort of snowflake I'm talking about," and deflect the topic.
Which is where about 90% of all discussions on really any topic falters.
Exactly. A conversation based on that as a foundation goes pretty much nowhere good.

Does that matter? Arguing for argument's sake can be fun and much more honest. Nothing of substance is accomplishment to be sure but at least you got to flex your mental rhetoric muscles.


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Bleeeeeggggh. Why not argue about something that matters? Or less meanspirited? Go argue about philosophy. "Arguing for the sake of argument" only works out when it's between friends. This thread has already flirted with incivility, and I haven't seen any sign of...

Oh, am I wrongbadfunning now? Damn it. Carry on, folks.


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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Oh, am I wrongbadfunning now? Damn it. Carry on, folks.

Aye-aye Kobold! Carrying on!

HURGH!


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Oh, am I wrongbadfunning now? Damn it. Carry on, folks.

I knew you'd get it, Kobold Cleaver!

Alright folks lets start debating about what the proper and only real definition of special snowflake is and whether murderhobo counts as a slur. By my estimations this thread should somehow devolve into a discussion about the morality of killing orc babies by around midnight.

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I have a bit of a different take on the term "special snowflake".

To me it is someone who expects the rules to accommodate the character concept they have in mind, even if it means they get more build points, or whatever equivalent you are using. I normally see this when it involves a DM's favourite and them basing the character off a known character. The example that comes to mind is a Doctor Who campaign where we were playing his companions (who are standard modern humans), and the DM's wife wanted to play the Easter Bunny....so an immortal with teleport powers.


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The problem I've run across with the outsider race/person/whatever the problem is would be .. how many encounters do they/you need to have before everyone gets tired of it? 1? 3? 12?

Another town we're run out of. Another fight with the townsfolk because Bob is a demon/devil/different in some way. Another chance to pick up gear/rumours/whatever foiled because we had to deal with Bob's "difference".

If you've gone through that cycle more than a few times, you may understand why some are gun shy when dealing with the so-called special snowflake -- in this case more of a spot-like hog -- and the inevitable spiral of events that take place when trying to satisfy the need to portray their differences.

To quote one of my players, "Dude, I totally stopped listening after the second town. Yeah, you are different, just like your last six characters. Don't care, want to play."


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knightnday wrote:

The problem I've run across with the outsider race/person/whatever the problem is would be .. how many encounters do they/you need to have before everyone gets tired of it? 1? 3? 12?

Another town we're run out of. Another fight with the townsfolk because Bob is a demon/devil/different in some way. Another chance to pick up gear/rumours/whatever foiled because we had to deal with Bob's "difference".

If you've gone through that cycle more than a few times, you may understand why some are gun shy when dealing with the so-called special snowflake -- in this case more of a spot-like hog -- and the inevitable spiral of events that take place when trying to satisfy the need to portray their differences.

To quote one of my players, "Dude, I totally stopped listening after the second town. Yeah, you are different, just like your last six characters. Don't care, want to play."

Indeed.

Being a unique or otherwise "I don't make sense being here" race does not an interesting character make. It is a potential backstory through which to create an interesting character, but only one of many. It also still takes work to turn it into an actual character, rather than a gimmick that will get old real fast.

As for the murderhobo label... I've mostly seen it as a commentary on the more old school style gameplay. Namely the tendency to kill a lot of people and creatures, take their stuff and invest in nothing but more capacity to kill things. I've even played in games where the GM actively tried to discourage people buying things like houses, or furniture, or donating money to temples, on the grounds that it would hurt our WBL too much and we'd struggle with encounters. And in that regard... it's not exactly unfair.

Is it some kind of underlying truth to the game? No. You can play like a murderhobo if that is the style game the players and GM want to run. Or not, if your preferences are otherwise, as they are with me.


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Well, I mean, come on. It's doubtful the player really wants to play out the same, "We don't like duergar" encounter for the rest of the campaign. Ideally, it would be something they get to move past, like any backstory-based character challenge. By the time the drow paladin is level 5, the people of Sandpoint have come to recognize that she is a hero. By the time the necromancer is level 10, the country has recognized his courage in battling the villain, and perhaps the governor has finally given his grudging respect. By the time the kobold is level 20, the world has haha just kidding kobolds never make it to level 20.


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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Well, I mean, come on. It's doubtful the player really wants to play out the same, "We don't like duergar" encounter for the rest of the campaign. Ideally, it would be something they get to move past, like any backstory-based character challenge. By the time the drow paladin is level 5, the people of Sandpoint have come to recognize that she is a hero. By the time the necromancer is level 10, the country has recognized his courage in battling the villain, and perhaps the governor has finally given his grudging respect. By the time the kobold is level 20, the world has haha just kidding kobolds never make it to level 20.

You would think so, but it isn't the growth that the player is often looking for. Rather, they really enjoy the ideal of otherness, of attracting just enough attention -- but not so much that they get killed!

I've found that quite often they will change characters if people begin to accept their current, or act out in new and strange and exciting ways to get the high they got from the attention before. Maybe their character is horribly mutated due to a magical accident/demon encounter, triggering even more hideous features or demonic presence. Then you can go through the "oh no, it's THEM" all over again.


Raynulf wrote:


Is it some kind of underlying truth to the game? No. You can play like a murderhobo if that is the style game the players and GM want to run. Or not, if your preferences are otherwise, as they are with me.

By Cayden Cailean, let this be the final word in the murderhobo/wrongbadfun debate. Pretty please.


knightnday wrote:
You would think so, but it isn't the growth that the player is often looking for. Rather, they really enjoy the ideal of otherness, of attracting just enough attention -- but not so much that they get killed!

Sure, in your narrative, but what are we actually talking about here? You know, specifically?


"I've found that quite often they will change characters if people begin to accept their current, or act out in new and strange and exciting ways to get the high they got from the attention before."

This is only some players though, not all or even most.

I've given ways to avoid problems with players that aren't the above, but your posts imply that anyone who has an outcast character is the above, and that is wrong.


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I think you are making "outcast", "different" and disruptive synonyms and I don't think they are.

An outcast doesn't need to be different or disruptive. He might be an outcast willing to fit in or to make friends. Nothing keeps an outcast from being a normal human. I've played some outcast characters and I've found them very rewarding, as they tend to be very loyal and protective when they find a place where they fit in.

A different character is not necessarily an outcast or disruptive. I mentioned my bf's undyne before. She is very social and friendly so she doesn't have a hard time fitting in even if people don't trust her at first sight. She's not always making remarks on how different she is either.

A disruptive character doesn't have to be an outcast nor different. When a player is disruptive it doesn't matter if his character is weird or not, it will be disruptive. An outcast who doesn't want to fit. A different character who is always showing how different he is. A leader who won't allow his fellow players to make decissions. A clown who keeps joking in the most inapropriate moments. Anything can be disruptive.

About not allowing uncommon concepts or races because they would be getting too much attention for their race or that they could derail the campaign to a "let's harass the weird guy" game I don't fully aggree.
In a campaign with not too much roleplaying that mainly focuses on combat or strategy your race is not often too relevant in the game as there is not a lot of character developement.
In one with more roleplaying each character should have his personal story moments. So there's nothing wrong in giving the outcast/different character his moments of roleplaying how he deals with these issues as long as other characters get their own roleplaying moments related to their own backgrounds. Like that, all the players feel special and rewarded.
Also, it's a GM's duty to ban or help a player to reflavor a character who wouldn't fit in the campaign and would have a disruptive effect on the campaign. A human paladin p. ex. might be a pretty normal and not necessarily disruptive character, but I don't think any GM would allow one in Way of the Wicked because... Way of the Wicked. Even a great concept won't fix in all campaigns.


Kileanna, I'm trying to point out how "outcast" and "different" need not be "disruptive." I'm trying to point that out because I never get to be "outcast" or "different" because that aspect always get completely ignored.

Some of the folks I've been responding to seem to think that "outcast" and "different" are things that are inherently disruptive unless ignored.

Silver Crusade

TheAlicornSage wrote:

Kileanna, I'm trying to point out how "outcast" and "different" need not be "disruptive." I'm trying to point that out because I never get to be "outcast" or "different" because that aspect always get completely ignored.

Some of the folks I've been responding to seem to think that "outcast" and "different" are things that are inherently disruptive unless ignored.

No we're not, we're saying that enforcing bigotry and mistrust of said outcast characters can be disruptive if the other players and GM doesn't want to deal with that.

"I'm trying to point that out because I never get to be "outcast" or "different" because that aspect always get completely ignored."

Then this is something you need to bring up with your group and GM.


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A player who wants to be disruptive will do it through various means. One of the most surefire ways is to ride on the idea that "players must be allowed to play any race they like", a sentiment frequently expressed in similar discussions, to play something that will always get attention. They will then do all they can to focus playtime on their character's weirdness and how much it doesn't fit in, language problems, etc etc etc.

This is not to say that all who play strange races do so to be disruptive (something I have stated previously). Some just like the race in question, and will be happy to have that race given a little more integration into the setting. Some just want the modifiers the race has with no interest in being disruptive.

Still, it is the nature of discussions like this that as soon as you give examples where the problem you describe doesn't happen, people will latch on to these and say "see, it's not so bad". But it is. Different populations, different people who want different things, and do different things to get them. As a GM, having someone who likes grippli isn't a problem. Having someone who will play anything as long as it's weird and attention-getting enough that they can disrupt the game IS.

As for an outcast, it is a fine role to play. It is also the social role the disruptive player will default to, which means it's a warning light for me. It will get the player a bit more scrutiny from me, but if there isn't a problem, I will be happy to have that character in my game.

So, TAS, in summary, playing a weird race and an outcast means you get watched and need to take care not to let your outcast-ness take too much time. They are not always a problem, but when they are, it's a serious one. Is that answer enough?


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It is and I fully aggree with you, and I would probably discourage a player who is new to my group to play this potentially dangerous roles until I have tested him and I know if it would represent a problem.
I've recently allowed a trusted player in my group to go CE, even though I wouldn't often allow it as many players mistake CE for "I'll kill everything on sight and betray everybody until I get killed". If a concept is disruptive it often depends more on the player than on the character itself.


I am not a fan of the "special snowflake" term, as it is typically used in a derogatory way, and thrown at those who prefer not to play one of the core races. I am one of those who prefer to play something that isn't one of the core races (so tired of them, though I will play a dwarf or half-orc if I absolutely have to).

There is, unfortunately, a lot of people who choose a non-core race who want to be spotlight hogs and be disruptive. But most of the disruptive people I have come across (I know, anecdotal) aren't always non-core races (though they do like to choose drow and tieflings, because edgey or some such), but typically choose Chaotic Neutral and/or Rogue (plus any other "evil" class like a necromancer, warlock, etc.).

Race doesn't usually throw a red flag into my face, but seeing CN does (similar to the scene in Aladdin where Genie is trying to tell him his current course of calling Jasmine a trophy for a winner like him). Combine the 3, though, and I just facedesk (CN drow warlock, CN tiefling rogue, CN dhampir necromancer wizard, etc).

I am personally loathe to tell someone they can't play a certain character concept, as I have been on that end (which I didn't find all that fun just because I didn't want to make yet another core race character). But I typically regret it down the line.


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CN is what a disruptive player will choose because he can't go evil. "Nobody tells me what to do" is not the only way to play CN, though.

Character concepts are important, but not the only thing of importance. The campaign, the group, the other players, the GM, all could be reasons to revise a character concept. It is a game, meant for people to have fun playing - and like all such situations, stuff that is only fun for one person needs to not happen (much). Players who will only enjoy themselves if they can block or ruin others' fun need to be disappointed.

I am fully prepared to revise the setting to give an oddball race a bigger role. That means adding in settlements, updating history to give them some kind of role, focusing from time to time on the race and its concepts in game, giving NPCs some sort of idea about what the race is like, etc etc etc. If you call that "integrating the race so it becomes another human", that's on you.


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Quote:

enforcing bigotry and mistrust of said outcast characters can be disruptive if the other players and GM doesn't want to deal with that.

And I addressed that already, which seems to be the sticking point with you.

If you don't want bigotry and mistrust in your game, but still want the race for other reasons, then remove the bigotry and mistrust from the races' defining fluff/traits.

But if you insist on defining a race as being victims of bigotry and mistrust, then yes it should be part of the game for any player that plays that race, not simply ignored, and any player picking that race should either expect to deal with it, or discuss changing it with the gm.

From the begining I've been making a distinction here, and discussing a select set of cases. I've not been making blanket statements.

Stated differently,
Condition: Gm defines, or accepts as canon the definition of, a race as being one that is victim of bigotry and mistrust. Not any other game.

If condition is true: Then that race should deal with bigotry and mistrust in some form during the game.

If condition is false: Then characters shouldn't deal with it because of race.

The entire point is that if the gm has decided on something, and one of their players built a character with that decision in mind, then the gm shouldn't ignore what they decided on once the game starts.

Saying it another way, if the gm wants to take an established setting/fluff as a base but not certain pieces, like the bigotry, then that gm needs to come out and say as much. They need to say that in their game the bigotry doesn't exist.

The entire point of an existing setting is so that everyone knows what to expect. If the gm is not going to follow with well established elements of the setting they are otherwise adopting, they need to say so, especially when a player makes a choice involving those elements.

It is wrong of a gm to say "We are using this setting as is with only [x] changes," only to ignore the bits other than [x] they don't like when players are building on the well justified assumption those bits will included. And it is well justified because the gm said "only [x] will be changed" which quite clearly means that anything other than [x] is the same.

###
@ Sissyl
"players must be allowed to play any race they like"

I'm not advocating any such thing.

Quote:
Still, it is the nature of discussions like this that as soon as you give examples where the problem you describe doesn't happen, people will latch on to these and say "see, it's not so bad". But it is. Different populations, different people who want different things,

This is why making distinctions between different cases is important, but making blanket statements to counter or support something is just wrong.

There are examples of [x] working, that doesn't mean it always works, therefore, one shouldn't say it always works because of those examples, but likewise, one shouldn't say [x] is always bad when clearly the examples prove them wrong.

The important factor at that point is figuring out the lines between when [x] does work vs when [x] doesn't.

###
I Totally agree with Kileanna here.


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TheAlicornSage wrote:
Quote:

enforcing bigotry and mistrust of said outcast characters can be disruptive if the other players and GM doesn't want to deal with that.

And I addressed that already, which seems to be the sticking point with you.

If you don't want bigotry and mistrust in your game, but still want the race for other reasons, then remove the bigotry and mistrust from the races' defining fluff/traits.

But if you insist on defining a race as being victims of bigotry and mistrust, then yes it should be part of the game for any player that plays that race, not simply ignored, and any player picking that race should either expect to deal with it, or discuss changing it with the gm.

From the begining I've been making a distinction here, and discussing a select set of cases. I've not been making blanket statements.

Stated differently,
Condition: Gm defines, or accepts as canon the definition of, a race as being one that is victim of bigotry and mistrust. Not any other game.

If condition is true: Then that race should deal with bigotry and mistrust in some form during the game.

If condition is false: Then characters shouldn't deal with it because of race.

The entire point is that if the gm has decided on something, and one of their players built a character with that decision in mind, then the gm shouldn't ignore what they decided on once the game starts.

Saying it another way, if the gm wants to take an established setting/fluff as a base but not certain pieces, like the bigotry, then that gm needs to come out and say as much. They need to say that in their game the bigotry doesn't exist.

The entire point of an existing setting is so that everyone knows what to expect. If the gm is not going to follow with well established elements of the setting they are otherwise adopting, they need to say so, especially when a player makes a choice involving those elements.

It is wrong of a gm to say "We are using this setting as is with only [x] changes," only to ignore the bits other than [x] they don't like when players are building on the well justified assumption those bits will included. And it is well justified because the gm said "only [x] will be changed" which quite clearly means that anything other than [x] is the same.

Even with the bigotry still generally in place, it's very easy to adjust the emphasis it sees in play - anywhere from occasional comments to character will never be able to show their face without causing a riot.

Silver Crusade

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Ali, the point of contention between us is that you're demanding bigotry be part of the game. Think that over, please.


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I don't see what the issue with that is. PF and by extension DnD have plenty of virtually irredeemable races that aren't far off from demons and devils on the "kill on sight" list like drow and orcs. Bigotry sucks in the real world but PF isn't the real world and some races are fluffed to literally deserve the sword/magic missiles coming at them. If a player wants to roll as one of those, being mistreated/trusted is expected to come with the territory unless said otherwise.


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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
knightnday wrote:
You would think so, but it isn't the growth that the player is often looking for. Rather, they really enjoy the ideal of otherness, of attracting just enough attention -- but not so much that they get killed!
Sure, in your narrative, but what are we actually talking about here? You know, specifically?

What we (or I?) am talking about specifically are special snowflakes -- those little rebels in their black leather jackets that aren't like the other snowflakes.

Sissyl and Adjule addressed many of the points I was going to make before sleep took me. I'll try to be brief with the rest.

To strain the metaphor more, what is the goal of snowflakes? To float down and be snow. In that regard, that's what we'd hope for with the GM and the players, to become one and make a story as a group. A special snowflake doesn't want that. They want to be lava, not snow. To stand out and be different, to be unusual.

And yes, AlicornSage, not always. But let's say more than 50% to be fair? After all, if you aren't trying to stand out, you aren't a special snowflake. But yes, there are no 100% definitive always on this happens every time events.

"Special Snowflake" is a derogatory term that takes the place of "disruptive <insert profanity here>". Yes. not 100% of the time. Sometimes they are being mislabeled. Sometimes people have had bad experiences with someone doing the exact same thing or misunderstanding where a player is going with what they are doing.

As far as bigotry and racism goes, the books are a starting point and it is up to each table and each GM/player association to determine what they are comfortable with. Imagine a dial that you can turn from 1-10. The setting data may start at 5, and it is a personal decision which way to turn the dial to get the setting that you'd enjoy, just like you'd do with descriptions of violence and other "mature" topics.

So, just because the books say "These races may experience bigotry and mistrust", that doesn't fully describe how much or how often they should experience. To pull from HERO games, should it be (on a roll of 3d6) on an 8 or less? 11 or less? 14 or less? How many times and how often does the character need to pull focus from others in the party and the main story to concentrate on their difference? Should it come up every time we play? Multiple times during a session? Once in a while?

Anything can be overdone as a player and become hard to endure for the others at the table, from the mistrusted tiefling to the guy who has to bed everything he sees to the thief that wants to run independent of the party in every town to get extra cash and so on.

In small doses these traits are fine, much like spices in a dish you're cooking. Too much, however, and the dish becomes a disaster. In a RP game you get players/GMs rolling their eyes and/or ignoring the outcasts desire to be treated differently because it feels overdone, ESPECIALLY if that same character trait has been on display before across multiple characters.


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Rysky wrote:
Ali, the point of contention between us is that you're demanding bigotry be part of the game. Think that over, please.

To be fair, I don't think that's quite what they're saying.

More like, if you don't want bigotry to be part of the game, change the setting so that it's not there, rather than leave the bigotry in place but give the PC a special exception.

Liberty's Edge

Depending on the setting bigotry can be a small or big part of what a character faces depending on what kind of race a player takes imo. A dark elf in most settings will face some kind of discrimination. It took Drizzt sometime to be accepted in some places in the Forgotten Realms. Even then he is not universally accepted. A player should face the same at least at first. Given time he or she maybe accepted but again not everywhere. Same thing if a player was running a Half-Orc. It's up to the DM and players to decide how politically correct they want to make a homebrew or established Fantasy setting. As more often than not non-standard races can and will face bigotry. If a player wants something non-standard in terms of race he or she should understand that it may come with both postives and negatives.

Silver Crusade

thejeff wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Ali, the point of contention between us is that you're demanding bigotry be part of the game. Think that over, please.

To be fair, I don't think that's quite what they're saying.

More like, if you don't want bigotry to be part of the game, change the setting so that it's not there, rather than leave the bigotry in place but give the PC a special exception.

Fair enough.


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Rysky wrote:
Ali, the point of contention between us is that you're demanding bigotry be part of the game. Think that over, please.

At no point am I demanding that it be part of the game.

I'm saying that if the gm accepts it as part of the game then it needs to be.

Multiple settings establish that bigotry exists towards certain races. Therefore, when such settings are used, then by default bigotry exists.

I do have a problem with finding that default unreliable about things the gm does not change. If they take the setting, and don't remove the bigotry, then that is the same thing as accepting the bigotry.

If the gm doesn't want it, I won't even bat an eye at them removing it. I won't even mind if they wait until a player shows interest in a race before examining closer for unwanted elements and removing it at that time.

But if they accept the default fluff for a race, then they most definitely should be using it. That is the point behind having a default fluff.


thejeff wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Ali, the point of contention between us is that you're demanding bigotry be part of the game. Think that over, please.

To be fair, I don't think that's quite what they're saying.

More like, if you don't want bigotry to be part of the game, change the setting so that it's not there, rather than leave the bigotry in place but give the PC a special exception.

Yes, exactly!

:)

Edit:
@Rysky

Maybe I'll read all the posts before responding next time. :)


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memorax wrote:
Depending on the setting bigotry can be a small or big part of what a character faces depending on what kind of race a player takes imo. A dark elf in most settings will face some kind of discrimination. It took Drizzt sometime to be accepted in some places in the Forgotten Realms. Even then he is not universally accepted. A player should face the same at least at first. Given time he or she maybe accepted but again not everywhere. Same thing if a player was running a Half-Orc. It's up to the DM and players to decide how politically correct they want to make a homebrew or established Fantasy setting. As more often than not non-standard races can and will face bigotry. If a player wants something non-standard in terms of race he or she should understand that it may come with both postives and negatives.

And they should talk to the GM (and the group) and see if they're on the same page about how serious those rp complications will be.

You don't want to be too far off in either direction.

Hell, your GM may have decided to amplify the halfling slavery thing more than you realized. But half-orcs aren't a big deal in your area.

All of this just a change in emphasis, based on existing setting info.

Liberty's Edge

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thejeff wrote:

And they should talk to the GM (and the group) and see if they're on the same page about how serious those rp complications will be.

You don't want to be too far off in either direction.

Hell, your GM may have decided to amplify the halfling slavery thing more than you realized. But half-orcs aren't a big deal in your area.

All of this just a change in emphasis, based on existing setting info.

They should talk about yet depending on the setting easier than done sometimes imo. For example Drow are considered evil throughout the Forgotten Realms with few very few exceptions. For a player to choose to play one means becoming a target of bigotry and racism. Otherwise what's stopping everyone from taking Drow, Orc, Hobgoblins or any other more powerful race. Why take human when one can be a Hobgoblin with no repercusions. I get some don't want racism and bigotry in rpgs. Yet they are sometimes tied into the setting. whether we like it or not. Drow would need a major reworking setting wise to be accepted. A DM already has enough one one plate.

Either the table comes to a consensus on how much racism and bigotry they want. Or a player may have to find another table. As much as I want to accomadate a player wanting to play a Drow they are not going to be welcome with open arms at least the frist few levels at most places. Play a non-standard race means taking the positivces with the negatives. Otherwise just play a core race or one that is not subject to bigotry and racism.

It's also easier to do with homebrew setting where A DM and players can define what level of racsim they want. If I were to run a PF game with FR chances are good I'm not going to alter much if anything of it. So the player either accepts their maybe some elements he or she may not like or find another table.


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memorax wrote:
thejeff wrote:

And they should talk to the GM (and the group) and see if they're on the same page about how serious those rp complications will be.

You don't want to be too far off in either direction.

Hell, your GM may have decided to amplify the halfling slavery thing more than you realized. But half-orcs aren't a big deal in your area.

All of this just a change in emphasis, based on existing setting info.

They should talk about yet depending on the setting easier than done sometimes imo. For example Drow are considered evil throughout the Forgotten Realms with few very few exceptions. For a player to choose to play one means becoming a target of bigotry and racism. Otherwise what's stopping everyone from taking Drow, Orc, Hobgoblins or any other more powerful race. Why take human when one can be a Hobgoblin with no repercusions. I get some don't want racism and bigotry in rpgs. Yet they are sometimes tied into the setting. whether we like it or not. Drow would need a major reworking setting wise to be accepted. A DM already has enough one one plate.

Either the table comes to a consensus on how much racism and bigotry they want. Or a player may have to find another table. As much as I want to accomadate a player wanting to play a Drow they are not going to be welcome with open arms at least the frist few levels at most places. Play a non-standard race means taking the positivces with the negatives. Otherwise just play a core race or one that is not subject to bigotry and racism.

It's also easier to do with homebrew setting where A DM and players can define what level of racsim they want. If I were to run a PF game with FR chances are good I'm not going to alter much if anything of it. So the player either accepts their maybe some elements he or she may not like or find another table.

That's cool. All I'm saying is that you want to be clear about what both people are expecting and whether they're both okay with the result. And that works in all directions - some players want to focus on dealing with the prejudice. You wouldn't want a GM of such a player to go to the trouble of changing the setting to remove when the player's actually looking forward to it.

OTOH, if the rest of the group doesn't want to spend every session dealing with one PC's racial troubles, maybe it can be toned down. Or some other race chosen. That's where the "special snowflake" problems can come it.
GM: For setting realism, a character of this race needs to keep facing racist trouble.
SS Player: Yeah! I get to overcome racism and lots of spotlight time.
Other players: Oh god, this again. Can we get back to the quest?

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

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Let's continue the discussion, particularly, about PC choices that should stir up the locals: race, but also class in some settings, or even armor stylings (walk around in Absalom wearing Red Mantis armor and see if you get a reaction) or other matters that don't have game mechanics.

If everybody at the table agrees that a PC is a pariah in some circumstances, and is wiling to play through some of those situations, fine and good. We've already covered the ground of "what if the GM or another player isn't enthusiastic about playing those.

But, once established, the game sessions don't have to spotlight that situation. The party goes into a small town for some information and resupply, and Hellboy knows to keep his cloak up and his voice down.

Your character poops, too, but the GM doesn't need to mention it and we certainly don't need to role-play bathroom breaks in the bar.

Liberty's Edge

thejeff wrote:

That's cool. All I'm saying is that you want to be clear about what both people are expecting and whether they're both okay with the result. And that works in all directions - some players want to focus on dealing with the prejudice. You wouldn't want a GM of such a player to go to the trouble of changing the setting to remove when the player's actually looking forward to it.

We are in agreement in that both sides need to be clear what they want. What kind of game elements they want such as slavery, racism etc..

thejeff wrote:


OTOH, if the rest of the group doesn't want to spend every session dealing with one PC's racial troubles, maybe it can be toned down. Or some other race chosen. That's where the "special snowflake" problems can come it.
GM: For setting realism, a character of this race needs to keep facing racist trouble.
SS Player: Yeah! I get to overcome racism and lots of spotlight time.
Other players: Oh god, this again. Can we get back to the quest?

It's interesting that on one hand as a hobby some members complain that their too much rollplaying and not enough roleplaying. Then on the other hand complain about the reverse. If a player takes a Drow and racism towards them is a element of the game. The players either need to accept that to some extent it will happen in their travels. Or the player who is a Drow take another race. In the end roleplaying is so much more than the usual standard social encounters in a rpg imo. What made Drizzt so interesting in the novels to me at least. Is how no matter how he faces racism and bigotry he tries to rise above it. I find a player who also does that with a Dm who encourages it much more interesting. I'm not saying it needs to come up every session. Almost never defeats the purpose as well.


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memorax wrote:
thejeff wrote:

That's cool. All I'm saying is that you want to be clear about what both people are expecting and whether they're both okay with the result. And that works in all directions - some players want to focus on dealing with the prejudice. You wouldn't want a GM of such a player to go to the trouble of changing the setting to remove when the player's actually looking forward to it.

We are in agreement in that both sides need to be clear what they want. What kind of game elements they want such as slavery, racism etc..

thejeff wrote:


OTOH, if the rest of the group doesn't want to spend every session dealing with one PC's racial troubles, maybe it can be toned down. Or some other race chosen. That's where the "special snowflake" problems can come it.
GM: For setting realism, a character of this race needs to keep facing racist trouble.
SS Player: Yeah! I get to overcome racism and lots of spotlight time.
Other players: Oh god, this again. Can we get back to the quest?
It's interesting that on one hand as a hobby some members complain that their too much rollplaying and not enough roleplaying. Then on the other hand complain about the reverse. If a player takes a Drow and racism towards them is a element of the game. The players either need to accept that to some extent it will happen in their travels. Or the player who is a Drow take another race. In the end roleplaying is so much more than the usual standard social encounters in a rpg imo. What made Drizzt so interesting in the novels to me at least. Is how no matter how he faces racism and bigotry he tries to rise above it. I find a player who also does that with a Dm who encourages it much more interesting. I'm not saying it needs to come up every session. Almost never defeats the purpose as well.

The problem is that while Drizzt's player might be enjoying the "rising above the influence of my dark elf heritage" scenes, the players of Bruenor, Regis, and Wulfgar might be getting bored out of their minds having to sit through the same "don't trust the drow!" Dialogue from random townspeople for the 10th time. And Cattie-Brie's player already left because she didn't like gaming with a spotlight hog.


Ventnor wrote:


The problem is that while Drizzt's player might be enjoying the "rising above the influence of my dark elf heritage" scenes, the players of Bruenor, Regis, and Wulfgar might be getting...

That is easily solved by the GM spending equal amounts of time with each character's personal quests and stories and giving the right amount of spotlight to each one.

If the "don't trust the stranger" thing starts getting repetitive then the GM should think of new ways of dealing with it or making it more subtle.
But if it's a well roleplayed character and the GM deals wisely with it doesn't have to be problematic.

Liberty's Edge

Well I did say not to use it every single session. Yet never bringing it up means a player gets a more powerful race with all the benefits and none of the penalties. That the benefit and also the negative of playing a non-standard race. Do the players allow it knowing that it may come up every couple of sessions. Or feel like they could have taken a simiarly powered race as the Drow never faces bigotry and racism. It needs to be a fine balance. As The Jeff has mentioned both sides need to be on the same page.

The Exchange

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memorax wrote:
What made Drizzt so interesting in the novels to me at least. Is how no matter how he faces racism and bigotry he tries to rise above it. I find a player who also does that with a Dm who encourages it much more interesting. I'm not saying it needs to come up every session. Almost never defeats the purpose as well.

While I agree with you, I also might add, that in the Salvatore novels it isn't all about racism and bigotry. Those topics are there but it's also about saving the Icewind Dale, destroying Crenshinibon, thwarting evil plans and so on.

So there's a middleground to be found and I feel that we might not be to far away in our different opinions it's just that we come from different angles at it. TheAlicornSage looks at it from the point of the player who never gets to play such a potentially interesting characters because this topic gets glossed over all the time. Other participants only see the special snowflake that would abuse such a character to make the game being all about him.

What we're not discussing is the middleground we might all be able to agree on. So the part of the game where Drizz't and his companions all have fun together.


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What is the difference between a tiefling and a human with a tail and horns?

What is the point of having a tail if you are the only one who knows that you have a tail?

If these things are a part of the character, they should be occasionally pointed out, whether negatively or positively.

"Yo horny! Pass the salt!"

"I keep her from charging the dragon by grabbing her tail."

"So, you're a devil-person, right? What can you tell us about this hell prince guy?"

"No Mira, it isn't nice to pull on people's tails. Now say you're sorry."

Bigotry and negativity are not the only things. If a character isn't human, little things like these really help make the players feel like they are playing a non-human.

The only game I really got that from was sadly short, but I was playing an elf that got reincarnated as a tiger. A couple other characters made plenty of kitty jokes, and one kept trying to ride me. I actually felt non-human in that game. That is the point behind playing a non-human after all, otherwise you'd just have a bunch of humans with different stats.


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memorax wrote:
Well I did say not to use it every single session. Yet never bringing it up means a player gets a more powerful race with all the benefits and none of the penalties. That the benefit and also the negative of playing a non-standard race. Do the players allow it knowing that it may come up every couple of sessions. Or feel like they could have taken a simiarly powered race as the Drow never faces bigotry and racism. It needs to be a fine balance. As The Jeff has mentioned both sides need to be on the same page.

I'm also not in principle fond of balancing more powerful races with roleplaying penalties.

Too situational and too subjective. Also prone to balancing extra power with more spotlight time, which can be seen as win/win, not balance.

Is that really the intent anyway in PF? Obviously you can point at examples, but is it a general rules that more powerful races are also more disliked? Even in Core, I never thought Half-Orcs were particularly powerful, but they're the ones most likely to be discriminated against.
Is it ever spelled out that this kind of balance is intended?


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I would say that if a character isn't being treated in a way that someone would prefer -- in this case a non-human by the other players -- then you have a conversation or two with the others at the table. They may not realize what you are after, they may not be interested in what you are after, or they may have something else on their minds.

Communication is the only way to resolve any of this.


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If I was going to play an unusual race (and I enjoy unusual races) I'd expect it to be brought up at least occasionally. It would feel unrealistic if none of the NPCs noticed the unusual character at all. Asking that your character be treated in a realistic way isn't (automatically) being a spotlight hog. It doesn't have to be brought up every five minutes (and actually even I'd probably get tired of it if it was brought up constantly) but it should be brought up sometimes.

That said, I'd also expect that after seeing my character around for a while most of the NPCs of a given town/area would get used to them and stop reacting to them as much. This would be reasonable and expected and for some characters would be part of their character arc.


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I spend my weekdays forced to play a human expert built on lousy rolls. When I game, I like to play something different.

A lot of the discussions here are based on "unique characters always have problems that take up time" vs. "the world treats unique characters no different than humans." I prefer the middle path. I don't want the spotlight all the time. I don't want to be ignored all the time.

When I GM, I try to keep everybody involved. Unusual races will sometimes be treated somewhat normally, sometimes just get a little grumbling, and sometimes get "We don't serve your kind here."

Likewise, a druid or wizard bringing an animal into a city will sometimes get hassled. Other times not so much.

-----

As for the rules lawyers that speak up both for and against the party, I've always called that "honest rules lawyering".

Liberty's Edge

@the Jeff

It's not so much that a powerful race is dsiliked. so much that many of the non-standard races are enemies of the core races in the CRB. A Orc, Hobgoblin, Kobold is going to be the victim of racism or bigotry imo. At the very least he will standout like a sore thumb say in a human town or village. While for example the Orc might be left alone in a more openminded town. One can bet that the city guards will be following him every step of the way at least at first and if the character is alone.

I think what is forgotten that many established fantasy backgrounds are simply not politically correct if run properly. Many have slavery, racsim and bigotry. It's for lack of a better word a core race world after all.


memorax wrote:

@the Jeff

It's not so much that a powerful race is dsiliked. so much that many of the non-standard races are enemies of the core races in the CRB. A Orc, Hobgoblin, Kobold is going to be the victim of racism or bigotry imo. At the very least he will standout like a sore thumb say in a human town or village. While for example the Orc might be left alone in a more openminded town. One can bet that the city guards will be following him every step of the way at least at first and if the character is alone.

I think what is forgotten that many established fantasy backgrounds are simply not politically correct if run properly. Many have slavery, racsim and bigotry. It's for lack of a better word a core race world after all.

So it's not a balance issue? Just a setting one.

After all I don't think Kobolds are overpowered, right? Nor are all the other races enemies - aasimar, for example.

I only brought up the balance issue because you did.


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andygal wrote:

If I was going to play an unusual race (and I enjoy unusual races) I'd expect it to be brought up at least occasionally. It would feel unrealistic if none of the NPCs noticed the unusual character at all. Asking that your character be treated in a realistic way isn't (automatically) being a spotlight hog. It doesn't have to be brought up every five minutes (and actually even I'd probably get tired of it if it was brought up constantly) but it should be brought up sometimes.

That said, I'd also expect that after seeing my character around for a while most of the NPCs of a given town/area would get used to them and stop reacting to them as much. This would be reasonable and expected and for some characters would be part of their character arc.

Indeed, and that does work for location-based adventures. I GMed for a lizardfolk character* amid a bunch of humans and a warforged in an Eberron game which was centred on the PC's home base. He was odd, slept outdoors and served as possum population control for the surrounding region. But the player had the good grace to know when to step back and let others do the talking, and when it was appropriate for his chillin' lizard to step up; He was good at sharing spotlight time, and didn't make life harder for his party members.

And because he committed neither of the great sins (hogging the spotlight, and making things harder for the rest of the party for their own entertainment) of the snowflake, it was fine.

*Specifically:
A lizardfolk fighter/barbarian/totemist/fist of the forest/totem rager who came from a swamp within the region, spoke in a Jamaican accent and whose only possession when they found him was his "Bag of Ganja" - he had spent 100% of his character wealth at that level on an amulet of Constitution +6. Who by 12th level had an AC over 60

Many campaigns, however, are more mobile in nature (Carrion Crown for example), and involve the PCs going to multiple new locations, and rarely returning to old ones. Such campaigns are rarely centred on the PCs building relationships with the NPC community on the simple grounds that they keep leaving the NPC communities behind. Thus "Overcoming Racial Prejudice" is not an appropriate character theme.

Again... not every character concept suits every game.

But circling back around, if the term "Special Snowflake" is intended to be synonymous with "Disruptive", then it is mostly a player issue. There are trends with such players in their race, class and alignment selections, but that doesn't always mean that such selections make one a "special snowflake", or that a snowflake player can't get their SS on without them.

It basically boils down to the attitude of "My character being special and standing out is more important to me than anything else, and if that interferes with other peoples plans, that's Not My Problem".

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