Are the Lashunta a sexist trope?


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I always feel somewhat uncomfortable when they come up. The prospect of seeing them as a core race gives me ill feelings. I remember the days of '-4 STR'. Is this edging on that?


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Umbral Reaver wrote:
I always feel somewhat uncomfortable when they come up. The prospect of seeing them as a core race gives me ill feelings. I remember the days of '-4 STR'. Is this edging on that?

Well the lashunta are matriarchal, so although they do somewhat conform to the beautiful alien woman trope it could be far worse. I kind of wish the lashunta weren't sexually dimorphic too, I'd love to play a male psychic alien that isn't so hairy and doesn't have a strength bonus. It also seems that in the hundreds or thousands of years of cultural development, lashunta women have developed clothing. So... um... progress?


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Umbral Reaver wrote:
I always feel somewhat uncomfortable when they come up. The prospect of seeing them as a core race gives me ill feelings. I remember the days of '-4 STR'. Is this edging on that?

Probably, but not in the way that you that you are likely thinking.

If Pathfinder wiki is accurate to Starfinder then the Lashunta are a race of beautiful,wise and majestic women, and near bestial men.


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Far more extreme sexual dimorphism is happens in nature than what's being portrayed here, and this is a single (fairly subdued, considering it's only 2 points difference) option and not a whole system of it. With how wide a spread of races we're getting with the game, I personally don't see how this is a sexist example of the trope.

Liberty's Edge Developer

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Umbral Reaver wrote:
I always feel somewhat uncomfortable when they come up. The prospect of seeing them as a core race gives me ill feelings. I remember the days of '-4 STR'. Is this edging on that?

We've taken some steps to correct problematic elements of the lashunta for Starfinder.


Thanks. That's good to hear.


Not sure to what degree but it does seem at least slightly sexist. If nothing else it's a pretty tired trope, hell Rick and Morty parodied it, so it's pretty played out.

Crystal Frasier wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:
I always feel somewhat uncomfortable when they come up. The prospect of seeing them as a core race gives me ill feelings. I remember the days of '-4 STR'. Is this edging on that?
We've taken some steps to correct problematic elements of the lashunta for Starfinder.

Glad to hear it, looking forward to seeing the changes. I've never had a huge issue with the race, but a few tweaks wouldn't go astray.


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Does Starfinder society find it acceptable for male Lashunta to shave or, I don't know, at least a little manscaping? Would it be seen as uncommon/feminine. (Not that there's anything wrong with femininity, more of a personal preference in role play style)

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

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Archmage Variel wrote:
Does Starfinder society find it acceptable for male Lashunta to shave or, I don't know, at least a little manscaping? Would it be seen as uncommon/feminine.

The Starfinder Society's pretty accommodating and open-minded about personal appearance and style choices (though it's recommended PCs wear armor for their own survival, if not just for the visual cool-factor and overall professionalism).


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The old 'noble adventurer romances beautiful foreign princess from an otherwise brutish race' is a pretty old racist trope, too.


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Archmage Variel wrote:
Does Starfinder society find it acceptable for male Lashunta to shave or, I don't know, at least a little manscaping? Would it be seen as uncommon/feminine. (Not that there's anything wrong with femininity, more of a personal preference in role play style)

Metrosexual-Male-Lashunta-Hipster sounds like a fun character concept.


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Umbral Reaver wrote:
The old 'noble adventurer romances beautiful foreign princess from an otherwise brutish race' is a pretty old racist trope, too.

A lot of the closer planets and their alien life seemed to be based off of early fantasy authors interpretations of the planets in our solar system. Many of these authors were, to put it bluntly, really racist. It doesn't make the history any better, but it doesn't necessarily have to ruin the trope itself so long as it doesn't propagate the same stereotypes. The themes of Lovecraft's works were very often condescending in their portrayal of woman and race, yet the creatures he created have made their way into the pathfinder Mythos. I have my disagreements on how the Lashunta should have been originally portrayed, but I think that building off of such a trope while still paying homage to its creators can be a difficult task.


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Crystal Frasier wrote:

We've taken some steps to correct problematic elements of the lashunta for Starfinder.

That's actually pretty disappointing if you mean to say that you've removed the sexual dimorphism. As Illorin Lorati said above, it was one race among hundreds, having the option opens possibilities, and having those options is a good thing, especially given that they are an alien, non-human species that has no bearing on real life. The fact that some people find that idea offensive is, frankly, their problem.


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It was pointed out to me by a friend when I was discussing this that Lashunta women were actually a little bit sexist considering how the dimorphism made them super attractive to human standards, which I can agree with thinking back on it, so I'll concede that point.

That having been said, there's nothing new under the sun, and pretty much every trope has been played to death if they're put together in the same old tired ways.

In PF - at least for me - I think the dimorphism, ignoring the whole "the women are super attractive to human men because of it" aspect, adds the opportunity for some stories that the typical neutral/good races in pathfinder have a fairly hard time doing. Exploration of sex and gender roles, especially in regards to stories about escaping them, is important. Fortunately, the way the game world is setup, there's not the risk of needing to go through it with every single game, but unfortunately that also makes it difficult to have that story without using either an evil god or Erastil as a stepping stone.

With the gods being less important going into Starfinder, I think being able to have that story in some way, shape, or form, is important - which is to say I hope by "fixing problematic elements" you mean "the women don't wear clothing" and not "the ability score differences".

(Edit: Please note that Desril doesn't speak for me. >>)

Silver Crusade

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My observations:

1. In pathfinder charisma is tied more to force of personality and social sensitivity than looks - just think of the number of undead with high charisma. This thing (link) has 18 Charisma. If that's sexually attractive to you... to each his own but it ain't attractive to me.

2. There are physiological differences in males and females even in humans. That's why we have men and women compete separately in sports. That's just a biological fact. There are still women who can kick my ass any day of the week and bench twice what I can. That doesn't change the fact that nature generally gives men more muscles. I personally also think that nature gives women better brains (link), but that is less quantifiable and remains my subjective view.

3. They are an alien race with antannae, which suggests they have similarities to insects. Since dimorphism is common in the insect kingdom, I have no trouble with it being reflected in an insect-like race. Do you realize that if Lashuntas were a real species rather than a fantastic invention alot of the comments here could be offensive to them? Let aliens be aliens tyvm. For this same reason, I also have no problem even if Paizo flipped it around and swapped the male and female dimorphic traits so that females were stronger and males more charismatic. That's ok - they are NOT HUMANS. If we can accept that two-headed trolls exist, we can accept that there are other races of humanoids that are very different from us. How about embracing diversity in our aliens?

4. There is no need to look for a PC/non-PC agenda in everything especially if it ain't there to begin with. Some of us play games to take a break from the insanity of the real world and would like to not be reminded of PC issues in games.


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I find myself agreeing with aspects of both sides of the dialogue. On the one hand, I think exploring the concept of a humanoid race where sexual dimorphism is much more pronounced than it is among modern humans to be interesting. At the same time, I dislike using that as a generic, one-dimensional catchall means of characterization.

There is absolutely room to have both exaggerated dimorphism along with a broader sense of depth of personality traits and characterization.

I feel the same way about any kind of "lazy" sci-fi or fantasy writing where a character/species/planet/what have you is just a single, one-note generalization devoid of nuance. (All dwarves are mountain dwelling miners and smiths who love gold everywhere in the world, for instance, is really boring and unrealistic to me).

What I'd like to see with the Starfinder treatment of Lashunta is both an exploration of what and how that dimorphism manifests and influences their culture and interrelations, as well as a wider variety of different Lashunta societies and nations and cultural elements planetwide, inasfar as publication space and resources allow.


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I think the main problem is less along the lines of the racial trait, which even I think was a cool addition, and more pertains to the oversexualization. There appears to be a shortage of women's shirts on castrovel in the pathfinder era. It's not necessary the worst thing to ever happen to an rpg. Pathfinder is generally one of the better ones in terms of inclusivity and cultural sensitivity, but with such a vast amount of written products, occasionally something can come out not looking as it was intended, with even the best intentions.


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Archmage Variel wrote:
Pathfinder is generally one of the better ones in terms of inclusivity and cultural sensitivity, but with such a vast amount of written products, occasionally something can come out not looking as it was intended, with even the best intentions.

Try to please everyone and you will please noone, not even yourself.

Pretty sure there's an Aesop fable about that one there....


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Archmage Variel wrote:
Does Starfinder society find it acceptable for male Lashunta to shave or, I don't know, at least a little manscaping? Would it be seen as uncommon/feminine. (Not that there's anything wrong with femininity, more of a personal preference in role play style)

This is kind of along the lines of what I was mentioning in regards to there being room for variance and diversity, even while maintaining the dimorphism element.

Grooming and personal hygiene is more of a cultural thing than something dictated by physiology, so there shouldn't be any reason to think that there might be Lashunta societies where the men go clean shaven, even as there are some where they don't. Or where some of the men don't grow as much body hair as others (which is physiological, admittedly, but not necessarily related to dimorphism). Or where the women don't shave, etc.

I think there should be quite a bit of diversity on all of these elements, planet-wide, and they would be dictated as much by tradition and heritage as they are popular trends (both native and foreign).


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@SwampTing: Officially, Charisma is also about appearance - but it's true that force of personality tends to be the most common way it's handled. XD

That said, for me, I have no particular problem with a playable race where genders have somewhat different stats - especially because it sounds like we have quite a lot of playable races. Now, if all of them were "weak but attractive females, strong and brawny men", I might be bothered... but I don't think one option among many is worth getting bothered over. XD Even a handful probably wouldn't be bad, especially if they spread things out a bit (one with attractive males and buff females, maybe a three-gender race that has Str/Int, Dex/Wis, and Con/Cha focuses, or some variation thereof that makes them appropriate for certain classes and maybe affects their culture in fun ways)...

Silver Crusade

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Appearance does not need to mean sexually enticing. The 18-charisma crone queen linked in my earlier post looks badass. I'd be terrified if I saw it in real life. I'd cheer if I had one fighting on my side. In no circumstance would I get a boner for it.

The point from my earlier post is that this should not even be an issue. It doesn't need to be an issue. Don't make it an issue.

But I agree about the more clothes thing. That's not just Lashuntas. More believable clothing and armor for ALL female characters. THAT is something I will 100% get behind.


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I'm not sure why "charisma can mean a strong presence too" keeps being brought up when Lashunta are very clearly of the charisma means physically attractive persuasion. I mean, they could have a commanding presence too, but it's the physically attractive part that was showcased.

Silver Crusade

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Alot of female elves are drawn to be physically attractive. More so than half-orcs. But half-orcs can get a charisma bonus and elves have no charisma bonus. Your point?


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Yeah. Paizo loves their old pulpy sci-fi, and like their love of old pulpy colonialism stories, they took the worst aspects of the genres they loved and stuck them in their game design. So we get the "species of sexy half-naked females and ugly, uninteresting males" shtick.

Sexual dimorphism on its own isn't sexist in an alien species. Manipulating it for blatant Male Gaze-based reasons is.

Hi, welcome to Starfinder!


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I wouldn't be annoyed over the "weak but attractive females, strong and brawny men" if it wasn't yet another example of nonhuman species attractiveness being inexplicably compatible with human beauty standards. They're aliens for gods' sake. Why do they need to be constrained by the 'muscles and boobs' limitation that every other non-animal-based species appears to be constrained by?

With females being barely-clothed nubile space babes and males being hairy gruff beast-men, even the emphasis on their value on mental qualities feels like just a bandaid on the gaping wound that is the history of 'alien' women being portrayed solely as the idealized fruit of sexual conquest and 'alien' men as ugly brutes unworthy as rivals for female attraction.

Such tropes of pandering to male-centric fanservice and sexual conquest should not be used in any seriousness in the works today, even as a reference to olden days.

If neither sex of the Lashunta were at all humanoid, especially attractive humanoid, I doubt we would even be having this conversation.


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SwampTing wrote:
Alot of female elves are drawn to be physically attractive. They have no charisma bonus. Your point?

"Though the women look like idealized elves or humans -save for the twitching antennae sprouting from their foreheads- their men are squat, hairy, and broad-shouldered, with a fierce and confrontational demeanor."

Lashunta are also described as "beautiful and commanding". So I was wrong, the Lashunta women are described as having a commanding presence. I was not wrong in that they are also described as being physically attractive, and it's not just pretty artwork. They look attractive and act attractive, and that is why they have +2 Charisma.

Of course it should be noted that this was in the Inner Sea Bestiary and omitted from People of the Stars, so it is entirely possible it was retconned out.

Liberty's Edge

If it's a trope, it's one I happen to really, really enjoy. The whole "race of beautiful women" concept has a special place in my heart, as I grew up reading early sci-fi magazines my dad had collected when he was young. I still keep them, old issues of Future Fiction, Planet Stories and Galaxy Science Fiction.

I hope they find a place in Starfinder.


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Crystal Frasier wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:
I always feel somewhat uncomfortable when they come up. The prospect of seeing them as a core race gives me ill feelings. I remember the days of '-4 STR'. Is this edging on that?
We've taken some steps to correct problematic elements of the lashunta for Starfinder.

Oh, this is cool! I guess I'll be nice, then, and wait and see like a reasonable fan.

Archmage Variel wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:
I always feel somewhat uncomfortable when they come up. The prospect of seeing them as a core race gives me ill feelings. I remember the days of '-4 STR'. Is this edging on that?
Well the lashunta are matriarchal, so although they do somewhat conform to the beautiful alien woman trope it could be far worse. I kind of wish the lashunta weren't sexually dimorphic too, I'd love to play a male psychic alien that isn't so hairy and doesn't have a strength bonus.

Well, it's perfectly possible—play a trans lashunta!

Silver Crusade

Armenius wrote:
SwampTing wrote:
Alot of female elves are drawn to be physically attractive. They have no charisma bonus. Your point?

"Though the women look like idealized elves or humans -save for the twitching antennae sprouting from their foreheads- their men are squat, hairy, and broad-shouldered, with a fierce and confrontational demeanor."

Lashunta are also described as "beautiful and commanding". So I was wrong, the Lashunta women are described as having a commanding presence. I was not wrong in that they are also described as being physically attractive, and it's not just pretty artwork. They look attractive and act attractive, and that is why they have +2 Charisma.

Of course it should be noted that this was in the Inner Sea Bestiary and omitted from People of the Stars, so it is entirely possible it was retconned out.

Elves have no CHA bonus. Humans can have a CHA bonus but are no more likely to than any other stat. Still don't see how you are supporting your point.

You know what? Forget it, this line of conversation is heading nowhere. People will see what they want.


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SwampTing, it explicitly says they look like idealized elves or humans. The key word is "idealized". When someone looks like an idealized version of someone else, it means they look like that someone else, but hotter. It's not remotely ambiguous. It's what the words mean. Lashunta (sorry, female lashunta) are explicitly described as looking like attractive humans and elves.

Scarab Sages

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There are plenty of races which are humanoid but do not match human beauty standards. Having some races that do will not hurt anything, I think. There is room for that trope as well as all the others.

But I would like to see more non-mammalian races. Or at least, races without all the mammalian traits. Like a humanoid bug race that actually look like bugs instead of humans with antennae.

I do understand that there are mechanical reasons it makes sense for player races to be humanoid. Given the rules are written assuming humanoid forms. But some non-humanoid player races would be fun too.

I think one of the worst things you could do here is to make every race similar. Human but with a twist. In a wide universe there should be every flavor.


Zahariel wrote:

If it's a trope, it's one I happen to really, really enjoy. The whole "race of beautiful women" concept has a special place in my heart, as I grew up reading early sci-fi magazines my dad had collected when he was young. I still keep them, old issues of Future Fiction, Planet Stories and Galaxy Science Fiction.

I hope they find a place in Starfinder.

Well if you want ugly women, there are always Green Hags and other things like that.

Liberty's Edge

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Hope we do see follow-through on eliminating this theme in future products.

Last night I was joking with KC about how elves should be reverse lashunta, if we're going to have lashunta as described in that Second Darkness book and Distant Worlds. Gimme a elegant long-eared men and buff hairy women species, thanks.


SwampTing wrote:
Armenius wrote:
SwampTing wrote:
Alot of female elves are drawn to be physically attractive. They have no charisma bonus. Your point?

"Though the women look like idealized elves or humans -save for the twitching antennae sprouting from their foreheads- their men are squat, hairy, and broad-shouldered, with a fierce and confrontational demeanor."

Lashunta are also described as "beautiful and commanding". So I was wrong, the Lashunta women are described as having a commanding presence. I was not wrong in that they are also described as being physically attractive, and it's not just pretty artwork. They look attractive and act attractive, and that is why they have +2 Charisma.

Of course it should be noted that this was in the Inner Sea Bestiary and omitted from People of the Stars, so it is entirely possible it was retconned out.

Elves have no CHA bonus. Humans can have a CHA bonus but are no more likely to than any other stat. Still don't see how you are supporting your point.

What does an average Elf or Human not having a CHA bonus have to do with Lashunta looking like idealized versions of Elves or Humans? It's the ideal part that supports their CHA bonus.


Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Zahariel wrote:

If it's a trope, it's one I happen to really, really enjoy. The whole "race of beautiful women" concept has a special place in my heart, as I grew up reading early sci-fi magazines my dad had collected when he was young. I still keep them, old issues of Future Fiction, Planet Stories and Galaxy Science Fiction.

I hope they find a place in Starfinder.

Well if you want ugly women, there are always Green Hags and other things like that.

A race of ugly women is actually its own trope, but I think you read Zahariel backwards.

I know that the "sexualized women" thing is a pulp classic. So is colonialism, and as a guy playing in Racing To Ruin, I know quite well that Paizo has a bad track record with updating its pulp classics. I hope we can recognize that some old "nostalgic tropes", like the Damsel in Distress, were left behind for a reason. Anita Sarkeesian, online critic and well-documented Mentos to the gamer community's Coca-Cola, did a decent series on how incorporating "nostalgic" themes like dude-rescues-passive-woman or white-people-explore-Africa or, indeed, race-of-easily-objectified-women is taking the worst aspects of that nostalgia rather than the stuff that really made the original source material good.

Silver Crusade

Kobold Cleaver wrote:
SwampTing, it explicitly says they look like idealized elves or humans. The key word is "idealized". When someone looks like an idealized version of someone else, it means they look like that someone else, but hotter. It's not remotely ambiguous. It's what the words mean. Lashunta (sorry, female lashunta) are explicitly described as looking like attractive humans and elves.

He is trying to disprove my point about the lack of correlation between CHA and attractiveness. THAT is what he has NOT disproved.

Sure, they are designed to look pretty by human standards. So are elves. Elves don't have CHA bonuses. On average 1/6 of half-orcs do. And by his logic the crone queen I linked earlier should be an absolute stunner with her 18 charisma.

Here's the link again. Go marvel at her 18 charisma beauty.

Simple lesson in logic:
Just because X has 'A' and X has 'B' does not mean 'A' = 'B'.


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Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Well if you want ugly women, there are always Green Hags and other things like that.

How many ugly women in Pathfinder aren't evil?


I don't think anyone really cares about the Cha/attractiveness thing on this thread. You decided that's what Armenius cared about, but reading their posts, it seems to me they were more taking issue with the rest of your original posts—and with how you seemed to be derailing the conversation with an irrelevant rules argument.

SwampTing wrote:
1. In pathfinder charisma is tied more to force of personality and social sensitivity than looks - just think of the number of undead with high charisma. This thing (link) has 18 Charisma. If that's sexually attractive to you... to each his own but it ain't attractive to me.
Armenius wrote:

I'm not sure why "charisma can mean a strong presence too" keeps being brought up when Lashunta are very clearly of the charisma means physically attractive persuasion. I mean, they could have a commanding presence too, but it's the physically attractive part that was showcased.

Female lashunta are explicitly physically attractive, so what does their Charisma score have to do with anything?


SwampTing wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
SwampTing, it explicitly says they look like idealized elves or humans. The key word is "idealized". When someone looks like an idealized version of someone else, it means they look like that someone else, but hotter. It's not remotely ambiguous. It's what the words mean. Lashunta (sorry, female lashunta) are explicitly described as looking like attractive humans and elves.

He is trying to disprove my point about the lack of correlation between CHA and attractiveness. THAT is what he has NOT disproved. Sure, they are designed to look pretty by human standards. So are elves. Elves don't have CHA bonuses. On average 1/6 of half-orcs do. And the crone queen I linked earlier should be an absolute stunner with her 18 charisma.

Here's the link again. Go marvel at her 18 charisma beauty.

I'm really not sure what you think I'm saying or have said? Charisma can absolutely mean a commanding or striking presence. The ugly hag being charismatic makes sense, the giant undead abomination being charismatic makes sense. Lashunta have the commanding/striking presence element, but they are absolutely also an example of charisma meaning physically attractive.

Edit: Kobold Cleaver is much better with the word-crafting than I am, and has pretty much explained what I am trying to say better than I could.

Scarab Sages

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Zahariel wrote:

If it's a trope, it's one I happen to really, really enjoy. The whole "race of beautiful women" concept has a special place in my heart, as I grew up reading early sci-fi magazines my dad had collected when he was young. I still keep them, old issues of Future Fiction, Planet Stories and Galaxy Science Fiction.

I hope they find a place in Starfinder.

Well if you want ugly women, there are always Green Hags and other things like that.

A race of ugly women is actually its own trope, but I think you read Zahariel backwards.

I know that the "sexualized women" thing is a pulp classic. So is colonialism, and as a guy playing in Racing To Ruin, I know quite well that Paizo has a bad track record with updating its pulp classics. I hope we can recognize that some old "nostalgic tropes", like the Damsel in Distress, were left behind for a reason. Anita Sarkeesian, online critic and well-documented Mentos to the gamer community's Coca-Cola, did a decent series on how incorporating "nostalgic" themes like dude-rescues-passive-woman or white-people-explore-Africa or, indeed, race-of-easily-objectified-women is taking the worst aspects of that nostalgia rather than the stuff that really made the original source material good.

Fully agree with this.

Liberty's Edge

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Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Well if you want ugly women, there are always Green Hags and other things like that.

Ah yes the notable good core player race for 1st-level characters of green hags . . .

(Also, I'm not sure why you quoted that post?)

Scarab Sages

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Umbral Reaver wrote:
Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Well if you want ugly women, there are always Green Hags and other things like that.
How many ugly women in Pathfinder aren't evil?

Any player race that chooses to be ugly and not evil.

But any race that is described specifically as ugly and not evil? Far too few, I'm afraid.
There is this pervasive idea that good-looking = either good guy or trap for good guys.


"Only bad witches are ugly."

Scarab Sages

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
"Only bad witches are ugly."

To be fair, I believe that Glinda the "Good" Witch is the most evil character in that story.


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Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, I really, really want there to be a trans lashunta iconic. Is that bad? Am I being gimmicky? I just think it would be a great subversion of expectations.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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Cool to see people talking about this. I see many echoes of the in-house discussion we had on this topic months ago, as lashuntas have completed their creative evolution from "character in a fun illustration" to "one-off monster" to a fully developed creature and culture intended to be a core race for a new RPG.

As the company's resident pulpster and early science fiction aficionado, I really like what the Starfinder team has done to address this issue in particular, and I'm looking forward to the discussion it will inspire down the road.


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Yes and no. It's steeped in misogynistic and misandric Ideas of humanoid sexual dimorphism taken to an extreme with the female side feeling more tired because the fantasy races usually have sexy women no matter how monstrous the males are. If they looked like the new roach-like race only one was bigger and one was more social, no one would notice.

On the other hand I've never really rejected a trope wholesale for being tired and would rather have fun poking at it. And it's close to something we explored on our own in my sci-fi game (in the reversed way. The women were Amazonian space pirates and the males were smaller better looking and charismatic) and nobody batted an eyelash.

Leo in dealing with weird aliens my tolerance for exploring these kind of hats increases to a degree.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Umbral Reaver wrote:
Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Well if you want ugly women, there are always Green Hags and other things like that.
How many ugly women in Pathfinder aren't evil?

At least two iconics, to begin with.


...and end with, since there ain't exactly any playable hag race. :P

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
...and end with, since there ain't exactly any playable hag race. :P

The zombie lady from The Godsmouth Heresy.

Celeste (unless you're into snakes)

Alison Kindler

That's off the top of my head, I'll dig for more once I'm back home.

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