Developmentally Disabled Character


Advice

1 to 50 of 56 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Shadow Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I, for awhile, have been thinking of creating a developmentally disabled character, perhaps having Down Snydrome and representing this by dumping Int. It would be possibly a Chosen One Paladin of Andoletta or a spiritualist whose spirit is his guardian/protector.

In both cases, I'm thinking of making the familar and/or Spirit sometimes the senior partner in decision making.

On the other hand, if handled badly, this character concept could be offensive. I wonder how others would handle such a character?

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I really think it depends just on 2 things.
1. the group has to understand it.
2. Don't make fun of the disability in a slapstick way

After that I think its ok. its roleplay and I think if you really
research and understand the background and the consequences it brings
I think its a good way to emphasize with the disability


1 person marked this as a favorite.

If handled with due respect and nuance, it's an interesting concept. Big "if," though. I wouldn't personally be comfortable/confident enough in my ability to pull it off to warrant giving it a go.

And, as mentioned, the rest of the group really needs to buy into it.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

My advice: Avoid doing this.

Generally, in RPGs, characters who are mentally disabled are usually handled very, very badly. Often because they are written by those who do not have those disabilities and do not fully understand them.

Also, given the nature of RPGs and how mentally disabled people have been presented in the media, this idea is potentially offensive regardless of how well you play it. Just the idea of using it for what amounts to entertainment can be inherently offensive to some people.


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Kerney wrote:
On the other hand, if handled badly, this character concept could be offensive. I wonder how others would handle such a character?

Have you ever lived with someone who is developmentally disabled? Do you know their strengths and weaknesses very well?

Or are you simply going to go by your own stereotypical ideas of what you've seen in movies and on TV?

I would suggest that you not do it. It's far easier to caricature someone when you lack information about their day-to-day life. How would that be entertaining?


I did something similar once -- it was a bard/dragon disciple in that case. I made decisions that made sense from her perspective. Her understanding of what was happening was limited. As a result, the PC survived all of 20 minutes of game play. She just wasn't equipped to operate in a dangerous environment that she did not fully understand.

Mind you, that was in the Tomb of Horrors, where touching the wrong thing can flat-out kill you, no save. The concept might work better in a less lethal adventure.

Due to meta concerns, I'd still recommend discussing it with the group beforehand, particularly in a longer campaign.


This is just a stupid idea. It mocks people with disabilities. Don’t belittle their real struggles by sitting down and enjoying role playing their hardship.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

2017 where everyone gets offended by anything and you want to play that? Please, dont.
People rage at Paladin, could you even start imagining about a character with insert whatever it is, i wont say it might offend people.
No, no, no. Dont.


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

At the risk of making myself a target... the real answer is: ask your gaming group.

Those that have given feedback so far are absolutely, positively correct, but from one angle. Personally, I have reason to have light contact with a lot of developmentally challenged individuals and I find it... depressing in general. But, fact is most "characters" we play are in fact caricatures of something. The drunken dwarf cleric with the Scottish accent. The overtly sexual worshiper of Calistria. The meat-head dumb jock fighter. The flighty, lispy, fashion-loving bard. Some are - clearly - riskier than others, and can be more, or less, tasteful, depending on how they're done.

Really, question your motives, then question your group. If you're trying to make fun of someone, well, some groups just aren't cool to make fun of, while other groups it's all good. (Yes, that's gentle sarcasm. Enlightened people shouldn't be making fun of any group. But... human. So yeah.) On the other hand, if you're drawing inspiration and want to try to express a difficult roleplay, check with your group and find out how they feel.

Disclosure: my last PC was gay. 1st through 18th level, and while it was part of his backstory, the only time it was evident was the once or twice in the campaign it came up naturally. Something like "oh, look at those lovely ladies", to which he might've added "their bodyguard isn't hard on the eyes either." No lisp. No stereotypes. Just happened to be into dudes. Nobody was offended. In fact, nobody likely remembers.

Good luck.

Shadow Lodge

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Letric wrote:

2017 where everyone gets offended by anything and you want to play that? Please, dont.

People rage at Paladin, could you even start imagining about a character with insert whatever it is, i wont say it might offend people.
No, no, no. Dont.

You know, this statement makes me sad, and a couple of the posts make me sad. I wish I didn't live in a society where everyone one was offended so easily.

It is telling that a lot people here assume I mean to mock, even though I though it was clear I wanted to avoid that. But that is their problem, not mine.

Crystal Seas wrote:

Have you ever lived with someone who is developmentally disabled? Do you know their strengths and weaknesses very well?

Or are you simply going to go by your own stereotypical ideas of what you've seen in movies and on TV?

I tend to see the half races being very simular to being on the autism spectrum (like myself) i.e. being "out of phase" with the society around them and have portrayed this in two of my favorite PFS characters, though never directly mentioning that I'm doing it. Both were fellow player favorites.

Perhaps because of that I was considering this.

So, no I haven't done Down Syndrome and only have known people slightly with the condition, but believe me I was starting to study it.

The idea that I'd just go with "stereotypical ideas" wrong headed because my very asking is an indication that I hope to do it justice, which is a pretty good indication I'm trying to do just that.

This has made me realize, that it is a big 'if' but even if I could pull it off, but is even more likely some people would assume the worst right off.

So no, I will not be doing this character. But I'm not sure I like some of the reasons.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I had an uncle with down syndrome, it doesn't bother me you want to make this character.

One of his biggest dreams was to travel to exotic places (he could pretty much list every animal or bird native to Hawaii) so I could see him as an adventurer if he grew up in Golarion.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

As someone that has high-functioning autism, I am always a bit incredulous when people get up in arms about this stuff. It doesn't bother me and I actually have the disorder. Virtue signaling and hulking out over words is the new yo-yo fad these days. God forbid people ever play the old Quake games online and listen to the stuff on there. Maybe I'm just desensitized from being an online gamer, but it doesn't bother me.

If you need to know how to properly portray it, just ask me. Big things include: an inability to properly grasp social cues in person, although not necessarily in text; a tendency to structure sentences in ways that are not common; repeating some actions over and over again, in my case repeating the same point in different ways to people who disagree with me in an attempt to be proven right or occasionally twiddling thumbs repeatedly when I was in school, even after being warned to stop; some degree of manic activity; anxiety, particularly social anxiety; a short attention span; having out-there OCDs, such as me double-taking every time I get in front of a large mirror or preferring to have things in divisibles of 3 or 7; and insomnia, which in my case is really mild. Some with really bad autism have intestinal issues, immune problems, seizures, and stuff, but I don't know much about all that because I haven't experienced it.

Just play the character well, don't play him as autistic guy that just happens to be a (insert class), play him as an (insert class) that just so happens to have autism. Caricatures are bad, but flawed* characters are always a good addition to games, at least those I play in. My home GM, for example, played a transgender paladin during a GM swap and no one batted an eye. Everyone knew the paladin was transgender, but the GM never felt the need to continuously bring it up and make it a caricature. When a player came in the next week and played a gay elf sorceror with nothing but rainbow spells and wanted a unicorn to ride and an ascot, we all told him to play something else, because it was a caricature and those are boring. Just work to portray the character realistically and it should work out fine. Well, assuming that you don't have easily-offended people in your group. But that's a bigger issue obviously.

*Yes, characters with developmental disorders are flawed. Ask anyone who actually has a disorder and they will tell you the same thing. We want to be normal, but we know very well that we are not. It's something we just deal with. I know someone will reply angrily to the 'flawed' statement, so here is my rebuttal.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Go for it. Treat it seriously and (hopefully) the table will too. How many great characters would we have missed out on if every fiction writer just pretended people with developmental differences didn't exist?


blahpers wrote:
Go for it. Treat it seriously and (hopefully) the table will too. How many great characters would we have missed out on if every fiction writer just pretended people with developmental differences didn't exist?

This.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Zolanoteph wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Go for it. Treat it seriously and (hopefully) the table will too. How many great characters would we have missed out on if every fiction writer just pretended people with developmental differences didn't exist?
This.

In fact declaring that no one should is essentially saying "In my perfect fantasy world full of monsters, and heroes and demons and gods, there's no place for people like that."


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Ben Stiller's and Robert Downey Jr's characters in TropicThunder have a scene where they discuss this very topic. It's done with satiric alacrity.

I say try it if you want. Just take it seriously.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Note: I am aware the OP has no intention of playing this PC anymore. My post will remain as a warning to others, like a skull left outside a dragon's lair.

Zolanoteph wrote:
Attempting to play a [snip] dlcharacter in a sympathetic light can backfire BADLY if done poorly. See Riding the Bus with my Sister. Rosie Odonnel went full [snip] and it was NOT okay.

Case in point: Even Zolanoteph, who was making a valid point (as far as I know—I haven't seen that movie, but it's a safe bet to assume any movie about a person with a mental disorder is hideously offensive) ended up using a slur twice.

I would counsel against this endeavor, as the history of neurotypical people playing neurodivergent people lies starkly against you. Unless you have regular close interaction with people with these mental disorders, you are not qualified, and your attempt might come across as hateful or mocking even if you think you're setting out to do the most thoughtful, sensitive depiction ever seen.

Additionally, I will add that mental disability is a complicated and thorny subject for a reason—not because "people are too easily offended these days". For god's sake, until a few years ago, people were still throwing around the r-slur like it was cheap candy. You are attempting to roleplay a member of a heavily oppressed, heavily stigmatized group of people with which you have had extremely minimal interactions.

I'll also add, on a pedantic note, that "IQ" is in truth a reflection of Wisdom, Intelligence, and a little bit of Charisma. A person with Down syndrome who could name every single bird in Canada might well have an above-average Intelligence, but a lower Wisdom, for instance (I'm sure we can think of many other mental disorders that would mirror this sort of complexity).

EDIT: I wasn't super satisfied with my take, so, here's more! Bear in mind I'm writing this take as a privileged white person. My mental disorders, while present, are not generally considered debilitative, and I have nothing that approaches the weight of a mental illness. HERE I GO.

The big issue here is how difficult it is to compare RPG play to acting. Obviously, there are few in gaming who would say "a cis man can't play a trans woman PC"—for a GM in particular, playing diverse characters is necessary to creating a diverse world. Nobody got angry at Justin McElroy for playing a gay man in The Adventure Zone, despite Justin himself being straight, because he was making a good-faith effort for diversity and apologized and improved whenever he screwed something up. This is not the same as the sort of controversy that comes up every time some Oscar-thirsty actor or actress comes in and does an endearing depiction of a mental disability (or gender identity) they will never personally struggle with and gets a bunch of awards for it while actual neurodivergent (or trans, or nb, or nonwhite) actors and actresses get thrown under the bus. Gaming is a whole other field. Let's clear the slate.

But there's a difference here. Mental illness and disability are an extremely complex and murky subject compared to gender identity because they tend to profoundly impact how you roleplay them, especially when you try to tackle them as directly as you suggest you plan to (giving the Down syndrome character a "handler", "dumping" their Int score). I would be identically skeptical of a mentally "sound" person aiming to play someone with schizophrenia, or worse, dissociative identity disorder, and saying they plan to dump the Wisdom score and give them an eidolon to restrain them. They're basically playing what they think a person with those mental illnesses acts like.

I was talking to my sibling once about writing diversity, and I asked her, "Do you think it's okay for a writer to write about experiences he hasn't had? Say, a cisgendered man writing a trans main character?" I was feeling conflicted, because while I of course want to see diversity in my stories (anyone who doesn't is, well, an otyugh's tapeworm), I was thinking about the issues of appropriation, and in particular appropriation of struggle.

Her response (after some thought) was, "Yes, but it can't be a story about the minority experience. You can't be a cis man trying to write for the Transgender Story and expect to be well-received. Just write a trans character. You can reflect the oppression they face, but don't storm in as a man and try to tell a story about a woman dealing with misogyny as if you understand what it's like to encounter misogyny." (AHEM.)

So if you're going to write a character with Down syndrome, here's how you do it: You run them the exact same way you run any other character with a below-average intelligence*, or, preferably, you run them as one of the upper percentiles of the disorder. Lots of people with Down syndrome finish high school, and some even attend college! You can have a Down syndrome PC with a 14 Intelligence, and their mental disorder never even has to come up.

That's my overall, more measured take.

*The elf rogue iconic has a below-average Intelligence. I'm pretty sure Valeros has a low Wisdom. It's really not that big a deal. "Low IQ" doesn't have to mean that much—it just basically means they won't laugh at Rick and Morty.


Anguish wrote:
Those that have given feedback so far are absolutely, positively correct, but from one angle. Personally, I have reason to have light contact with a lot of developmentally challenged individuals and I find it... depressing in general. But, fact is most "characters" we play are in fact caricatures of something. The drunken dwarf cleric with the Scottish accent. The overtly sexual worshiper of Calistria. The meat-head dumb jock fighter. The flighty, lispy, fashion-loving bard. Some are - clearly - riskier than others, and can be more, or less, tasteful, depending on how they're done.

Caricatures of drunken Scots and dumb jocks are pretty different from caricatures of sexually active women, gay men, and mentally handicapped people. Just saying, this is a big false equivalence.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Ivory Songbird wrote:
As someone that has high-functioning autism

Speaking as someone who has what you have, this isn't actually a real thing. "High-functioning autism" is a pseudoscience classification used to marginalize autistic people with harsher symptoms. There is no "high-functioning" and "low-functioning". There is "number of symptoms" and "severity of symptoms". You and I happen to have milder symptoms, or fewer symptoms, and that's all well, but many so-called "low-functioning autistics" are highly intelligent people who have their rights stripped from them by way of a fake binary pushed by s*$@ty neurotypicals and s!#+ty Liberal Limit mild-symptom autistics.

As someone that has autism as well, your opening is disingenuous. To be frank, you are not affected by the same stigma that hits people with Down syndrome. I think you might be misunderstanding what the OP is going for.

Also, "Virtue Signaling" is a silly term made up by asshat Twitter eggs who get mad when they get called out for being asshats. :P

Ivory Songbird wrote:
God forbid people ever play the old Quake games online and listen to the stuff on there. Maybe I'm just desensitized from being an online gamer, but it doesn't bother me.

Ooh, yikes, I missed this bit. Yeah, um...you realize that "old" (post-1983 games crash) gamer culture has a reputation for being immensely bigoted, right? Like, I feel like we had a whole s~@+storm just a few years ago because Darth Sarkeesian and some other people started applying critical theories to their hobby and critiquing the "cishet white dude gamer" identity, didn't we? Surely this isn't news.

Mind you, I haven't played Quake. But I'm assuming what you're getting at here is that it's less "politically correct" about mental disorders. That's not a good thing, dude.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Autism and Downs Syndrome are both semi-stigmatized by 'normal society', which is my point. High-functioning, low-functioning, it doesn't matter. If you have it, there is a degree of stigma attached. Sure, the degree of stigmatization may be different, but it is still there. It's only disingenuous if you're looking for such. What we have is not normal, but I don't expect people to walk on eggshells around me. To be frank, no one else should either.

My explanation on how to roleplay someone with autism may be a bit overkill and straying from the specific thing the OP mentioned, but I'm using the best example I have, that which relates to myself. I have studied all of the neurodivergent disorders in an attempt to understand my own, so I put the offer that what I typed was what she was looking for, she could message me with details.

We used to have someone come by our old games with a little brother with Downs Syndrome, whom we would let play sometimes. He was developmentally challenged in many areas apart from arcade games, AD&D, and mathematics. In those subjects, he was the equal of everyone there. He always played himself in those AD&D games, a normal guy who had come to Greyhawk. The way he played himself in-game was pretty spot-on and we formed a lot of good stories. Sure, he wasn't always the easiest to understand and he sometimes had issues with my rogue's actions, innocent as he was in the field of complex morality, but we always had a good time and it taught me a lot about how characters could be played with real disorders and make them compelling rather than offensive or bland.

I respectfully disagree with your assessment of low-functioning neurodivergents having rights stripped away because of a fake binary. Some absolutely cannot function meaningfully in society without assistance, a fact unimpeded by any intelligence they may have. By and large, aid given to them is not designed to strip their rights away, but to give them an increased range of things that they can do while minimizing potential situations that may occur. I do recall several situations in the news over the years where someone with Downs Syndrome has gotten into a scuffle with someone over something minor and one of the two parties ends up seriously injured or dead. Supervision by people who can calm such a person down is a necessity to prevent those types of tragedies from occurring.

While virtue signaling may have the origin that you list, that does not invalidate the concept behind it. There has always been certain segments of the populace that are intent on being offended about something and put on grand shows about how wrong/bad/depraved people who don't follow their group's logic are, facts notwithstanding. We just have a word for the behavior itself now.

If you want an example of virtue signaling, look up the "Chihiro is transgender in Danganronpa debate", because Chihiro even specifically calls out that he only dresses as female to avoid getting picked on for being a weak male and people still get mad for others 'misgendering' him even though he clearly states what he is in-game, or the current MTG firestorm going on where people are getting banned for out-of-event behavior, most of which is not against the WotC membership ToS, when WotC has been letting cheaters, judges who have actually groped females, and people who have went into legitimate fistfights at events get off with suspensions. As long as there is a whiff of controversy, virtue signalers will make it a point to complain about how something is offensive, because self-righteousness is the new opiate for the masses.

My point with my old gaming experience is that people should do what I did: grow a thick skin and learn that the words and the people speaking them are going nowhere. You have no idea the number of immature "Make me a sandwich, woman!", jokes about my manner of speech, racial, and similar slurs I was exposed to back then but, interestingly enough, I stopped being offended and they stopped bothering me. What is the old phrase? "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can't hurt me?" Words have only as much power as we give them and if we spend our lives letting the words tear at us, we will never have a shred of self-worth. You cannot safety-proof the world, it's just impossible.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Ivory Songbird wrote:
Autism and Downs Syndrome are both semi-stigmatized by 'normal society', which is my point. High-functioning, low-functioning, it doesn't matter. If you have it, there is a degree of stigma attached. Sure, the degree of stigmatization may be different, but it is still there. It's only disingenuous if you're looking for such. What we have is not normal, but I don't expect people to walk on eggshells around me. To be frank, no one else should either.

It's disingenuous because you're using "I have [a mild form of mental disability]" to evidence why people shouldn't be offended by something affecting a potentially very severe mental disability. Too many people with mild autism symptoms try to use them as a way to brush off legitimate complaints regarding more marginalized mental disorders.

Songbird wrote:
I respectfully disagree with your assessment of low-functioning neurodivergents having rights stripped away because of a fake binary. Some absolutely cannot function meaningfully in society without assistance, a fact unimpeded by any intelligence they may have. By and large, aid given to them is not designed to strip their rights away, but to give them an increased range of things that they can do while minimizing potential situations that may occur. I do recall several situations in the news over the years where someone with Downs Syndrome has gotten into a scuffle with someone over something minor and one of the two parties ends up seriously injured or dead. Supervision by people who can calm such a person down is a necessity to prevent those types of tragedies from occurring.

This is, to be frank, kind of ridiculous. You don't get to "disagree" with my assessment. I know people who have lost their rights because of the binary. It is not an "opinion". The fact that some people do need handlers to help them with certain functions due to, say, communication problems a) is not a steady rule, and should not be brought up to defend an ableist policy (it's like saying, "some mentally ill people are violent, so I don't see why it's wrong to lock them all in institutions"), and b) does not mean that the majority of those people do not still have a right to their own agency.

Songbird wrote:
While virtue signaling may have the origin that you list, that does not invalidate the concept behind it. There has always been certain segments of the populace that are intent on being offended about something and put on grand shows about how wrong/bad/depraved people who don't follow their group's logic are, facts notwithstanding. We just have a word for the behavior itself now.

Nah. It's a deliberate assumption of bad faith by an accuser projecting their own bad faith. None of the people in this thread are self-righteous pretenders. Moreover, the fallacy of "virtue signalling" as a term is that it concedes a point: If someone is doing the right thing only to be seen doing the right thing, it still means they're doing the right thing. "Virtue signalling" is used primarily to attack social justice advocates and in particular allies for daring to, uh, stick up for their friends and comrades. The horror.

Also, assuming that we're only protesting because we're determined to be offended is extremely rude and implies you aren't here to engage with us in good faith.

Your example is weird and seems to have more to do with people getting confused and having bad priorities. It's also irrelevant—nobody is doing that here, so why bring it up?

This video does a good job examining the problems behind accusations of "virtue signalling".

Songbird wrote:
My point with my old gaming experience is that people should do what I did: grow a thick skin and learn that the words and the people speaking them are going nowhere. You have no idea the number of immature "Make me a sandwich, woman!", jokes about my manner of speech, racial, and similar slurs I was exposed to back then but, interestingly enough, I stopped being offended and they stopped bothering me.

Good for you. Seriously, that's awesome for you. On the other hand, some people would rather that the racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ethnocentric, xenophobic, and, yes, ableist jokes stop, because forcing certain segments of the population to tolerate bad behavior while privileged segments are left unscathed is a good way to keep your community homogeneous. There's a reason we don't say the "n-word" anymore, and it's not because black people need to toughen up like you did. You decided to put up with it. That's great. That is a valid choice for you. Your way of living the world is neither "correct" nor universally applicable.

You chose to wade through s$&& until you stopped smelling it. Legit, I'm happy for you. Not everyone who's not a straight-cis-ablebodied-neurotypical-white-nativeborn-upperclass-Westerncul tured dude should have to.

Songbird wrote:
grow a thick skin and learn that the words and the people speaking them are going nowhere.

Nah. Shame racists until they shut the f%!@ up and get out of your space. Bigots will die out if we give them time. "The people who engage in this bad behavior have always been here and always will be here" is what they said about Hollywood.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Assuming the player does their preparation and collects a serious amount of information about the topic, it can actually teach all participants a lot. Foremost the player of the disabled PC, of course, but also the other players and the GM. They will quickly face situations and thoughts they wouldn't have experienced otherwise - leading to a better understanding of real disabled people.

The disabled PC doesn't have to be roleplayed perfectly - after all, there is no prototypical version of each disability that must be emulated as closely as possibly. Usually fellow players will also realize it's just an attempt to roleplay, not the real thing.

I created some game content about autism years ago. And the only feedback I got was positive: An autist was happy their disability was brought to a bigger audience, in a respectful way.

Of course there are risks and it needs proper communication between all participants - but that's covered by previous posts already.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

When I GM'd Reign of Winter one of the group played an autistic fighter. His role-playing wasn't brilliant but we all took the character seriously and no one took offence.

His catch phrase "Boring Conversion", which he uttered whenever diplomacy started to break down and a fight became imminent, will be remembered for a long time.


7 people marked this as a favorite.
pogie wrote:
This is just a stupid idea. It mocks people with disabilities. Don’t belittle their real struggles by sitting down and enjoying role playing their hardship.

Did you even read th OP? This clearly isn’t there intention at all. They wouldn’t have needed to make the thread were this there intention.

Silver Crusade

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

Oh jeez, why would someone make this thread while the mods are on Christmas break?

Anyway, short answer to the question is: Don't do it.

I know you think you can, but please don't.

I do not even want to think about the implications of putting quantifiable numbers on a character with a real mental disability.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Wow.. Whew.. Well I will say I would definitely not represent a character with a disability by lowering his int score.

*Slowly backs away form thread*


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Anguish wrote:
Those that have given feedback so far are absolutely, positively correct, but from one angle. Personally, I have reason to have light contact with a lot of developmentally challenged individuals and I find it... depressing in general. But, fact is most "characters" we play are in fact caricatures of something. The drunken dwarf cleric with the Scottish accent. The overtly sexual worshiper of Calistria. The meat-head dumb jock fighter. The flighty, lispy, fashion-loving bard. Some are - clearly - riskier than others, and can be more, or less, tasteful, depending on how they're done.
Caricatures of drunken Scots and dumb jocks are pretty different from caricatures of sexually active women, gay men, and mentally handicapped people. Just saying, this is a big false equivalence.

It happens that my next paragraph addressed exactly that.

But wait, there's more. False equivalence? Look. From a principles standpoint, it's not okay to make fun of anyone. Having protected-species groups where it's really not okay is sort of overreactive, I believe, and discriminatory. Is it the same thing to make fun of/caricature gay people as it is to do so with developmentally challenged people? It should be, because hurting people's feelings is bad. That's the enlightened view. But reality and social evolution hasn't got there yet. Making fun of developmentally challenged people is worse because... well, because we feel more sympathy for them. They're more victim.

Making fun of anyone is bad. Recognizing a false-equivalence is literally delineating that it's okay to make fun of some groups.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
pogie wrote:
This is just a stupid idea. It mocks people with disabilities. Don’t belittle their real struggles by sitting down and enjoying role playing their hardship.
Did you even read th OP? This clearly isn’t there intention at all. They wouldn’t have needed to make the thread were this there intention.

Yes I read it. My response stands. Daniel Day Lewis could maybe pull this off but I’m guessing he’s not the one posting. It’s a million to one that this attempt works. Regardless of your intentions the most likely outcome is to piss off people at the table, and for what? You want to play act someone with a mental handicap. I would seriously examine your own reasons for wanting to do this.


I'd also hesitate to suggest only developmentally disabled players should play developmentally disabled characters.

It puts all the responsibility for representation on them, which is classic institutional oppression.

It suggests it's not something valued to play.

It reduces representation.

The character would definitely need to be researched carefully, but this overreaction is also part of institutionalized oppression, and is used by mostly well-meaning liberal folks to excuse an environment of sameness (well none of us felt comfortable representing that group -- and so the group goes unrepresented).

Do it carefully. stumbling is good. it teaches. some people will hate your representation, even if you do your research.

Do the research anyway. Make it as good a representation as you can; don't mock or caricature.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
pogie wrote:
Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
pogie wrote:
This is just a stupid idea. It mocks people with disabilities. Don’t belittle their real struggles by sitting down and enjoying role playing their hardship.
Did you even read th OP? This clearly isn’t there intention at all. They wouldn’t have needed to make the thread were this there intention.
Yes I read it. My response stands. Daniel Day Lewis could maybe pull this off but I’m guessing he’s not the one posting. It’s a million to one that this attempt works. Regardless of your intentions the most likely outcome is to piss off people at the table, and for what? You want to play act someone with a mental handicap. I would seriously examine your own reasons for wanting to do this.

So your response to someone asking about a good faith attempt to represent a minority group with a mental handy cap sensitively and to ask if this can be done and if so how, is to say that it’s stupid, Mocking and belittling?

You assume that regardless of intention you know the reaction of the table, without knowing the table and you seem to be assuming the only reason someone would do this would be malicious.

You’re reaction it none constructive, inconsiderate and knee jerk.

You think it’s a bad idea, fine, say so, but in a subject area that’s already extremely sensitive you’d lose nothing by moderating your language a little, there is no need to be so inflammatory.


Really the start and end of the conversation for "Should I play ___" should be "is my table comfortable with it"

If yes, go for it! Experiment, push the envelope! If it doesn't work out it doesn't work out and nothing of note is lost because there isn't some hivemind of developmentally disabled people that will sense a disturbance in the force over this.

If they're not comfortable with this for whatever reason, then don't, put it on the backburner in favor of a more standard character.

People clamor for more diverse characters in this sort of thing, but constantly wringing your hands over "but only if done right/respectfully/if you're a master of theater" does nothing but strangle the attempt out the gate and leave you constantly at the status quo. Let people try. Failures are as much a part of the process as rousing successes.


"You can't do it absolutely perfectly." and "You might offend someone" are possibly the 2 worst reasons not to do something.

No one can do anything perfectly. I doubt anyone can even roleplay themselves perfectly. Don't let that stop you.

And who cares what other people think? The only people that matter in your games are those who are playing it with you. Everyone one else is irrelevant. Play whatever you and your group enjoy. Try new things. See what happens and then decide what works for you guys. Anyone who takes offense over what other people might or might not play in their private games can suck it up and get over it. It's not their game, it's not their business, it's not their problem.


When I first read the original post my reaction was please don’t do this. Not because I think the OP was being disrespectful or cruel, but because I have seen this type of thing before. Usually it is not the other gamers who get upset; instead it is general public that is offended. My concern was more how this could reflect badly on gamers. After giving it some thought I decided if the OP handled it right it may not be so bad.

If playing someone with a disability is disrespectful then the Oracle class is unplayable. Most of the Oracles curses are physical in nature but Legalistic, Shattered Psyche, and Tongues are all examples of mental disabilities. The Shattered Psyche is pretty much a text book example of multiple personality, except with some additional benefits.

I think SheepishEidolon is on the right tract. Before playing a character like this do a lot of research on the disability your character will have so that you understand it. This will also allow you to become more familiar with the stereotypes so that you can avoid them. Put in as much effort into the research as you would a college term paper.

Be subtle about the disability your character has, and avoid any that are obvious. Find a disability that has a mild case instead of a severe and use that. Maybe something like dyslexia, or a non-verbal l learning disability would be a better choice. The non-verbal learning disability would mean you are probably buying down DEX instead of, or in addition to INT.

Also keep in mind not all learning disabilities will result in a lower INT. A character with autism for example may actually have a higher INT. Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory seems to autistic, but does not have a low INT.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
For god's sake, until a few years ago, people were still throwing around the r-slur like it was cheap candy. You are attempting to roleplay a member of a heavily oppressed, heavily stigmatized group of people with which you have had extremely minimal interactions.

A few years ago? Depending on where you go in gaming, people still do this. Also, these days, Aspergers and autism are becoming slurs to use against people the user thinks are mentally or socially deficient.

This is still going on, and the slurs are evolving.

Tabernero wrote:

"You can't do it absolutely perfectly." and "You might offend someone" are possibly the 2 worst reasons not to do something.

No one can do anything perfectly. I doubt anyone can even roleplay themselves perfectly. Don't let that stop you.

And who cares what other people think? The only people that matter in your games are those who are playing it with you. Everyone one else is irrelevant. Play whatever you and your group enjoy. Try new things. See what happens and then decide what works for you guys. Anyone who takes offense over what other people might or might not play in their private games can suck it up and get over it. It's not their game, it's not their business, it's not their problem.

If the someone you offend is part of, or even most of, your roleplaying group... you very much should care what they think. Offending them can end the gaming session right there as an argument breaks out or people start asking for you to be forced out of the group. And if you are roleplaying in a shop, this can end your participation in the session by getting you kicked out or the entire session by getting everyone kicked out.

So, yes. You should care what people think. As long as it's the people who impact your chances of playing the game.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mysterious Stranger wrote:

When I first read the original post my reaction was please don’t do this. Not because I think the OP was being disrespectful or cruel, but because I have seen this type of thing before. Usually it is not the other gamers who get upset; instead it is general public that is offended. My concern was more how this could reflect badly on gamers. After giving it some thought I decided if the OP handled it right it may not be so bad.

If playing someone with a disability is disrespectful then the Oracle class is unplayable. Most of the Oracles curses are physical in nature but Legalistic, Shattered Psyche, and Tongues are all examples of mental disabilities. The Shattered Psyche is pretty much a text book example of multiple personality, except with some additional benefits.

The Oracle curses are like some disabilities, but they're not actually those disabilities - particularly the mental ones.

You don't run into the problem of saying "I'm playing someone with X condition" and then screwing it up horribly, because you're not playing someone with that condition, you're playing someone with a magical curse that superficially resembles the real world condition.
You could still do it offensively, perhaps by choosing to play the character as a bad stereotype of some condition, but there's more distance and more leeway.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Terrinam wrote:


If the someone you offend is part of, or even most of, your roleplaying group... you very much should care what they think. Offending them can end the gaming session right there as an argument breaks out or people start asking for you to be forced out of the group. And if you are roleplaying in a shop, this can end your participation in the session by getting you kicked out or the entire session by getting everyone kicked out.

So, yes. You should care what people think. As long as it's the people who impact your chances of playing the game.

Or more likely, despite all the talk these days about how dangerous it is to give offense, cause the person offended to leave, often without saying anything - obviously neither you nor anyone else there are bothered by it, why risk a confrontation?


thejeff wrote:
Terrinam wrote:


If the someone you offend is part of, or even most of, your roleplaying group... you very much should care what they think. Offending them can end the gaming session right there as an argument breaks out or people start asking for you to be forced out of the group. And if you are roleplaying in a shop, this can end your participation in the session by getting you kicked out or the entire session by getting everyone kicked out.

So, yes. You should care what people think. As long as it's the people who impact your chances of playing the game.

Or more likely, despite all the talk these days about how dangerous it is to give offense, cause the person offended to leave, often without saying anything - obviously neither you nor anyone else there are bothered by it, why risk a confrontation?

Why would most of the group leave without saying anything? Why would a store owner leave his place of business without saying anything? In both cases, removing the offending party would be the far more likely outcome.

I mentioned multiple options in my post for consideration. I didn't leave it at just one person within the group getting offended.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

In my experience with people with Downs Syndrome, if you want to emulate the condition in an adventurer just play them like a child's ideal of a hero. In a way, Paladin is perfect for that. Make the nicest guy ever, always enthusiastically willing to use his powers to help people. Maybe use the Chosen One archetype so he has a familiar to serve as a mentor and best friend.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Terrinam wrote:
Tabernero wrote:

"You can't do it absolutely perfectly." and "You might offend someone" are possibly the 2 worst reasons not to do something.

No one can do anything perfectly. I doubt anyone can even roleplay themselves perfectly. Don't let that stop you.

And who cares what other people think? The only people that matter in your games are those who are playing it with you. Everyone one else is irrelevant. Play whatever you and your group enjoy. Try new things. See what happens and then decide what works for you guys. Anyone who takes offense over what other people might or might not play in their private games can suck it up and get over it. It's not their game, it's not their business, it's not their problem.

If the someone you offend is part of, or even most of, your roleplaying group (...)[/b]

That's included in "those who are playing it with you".

Terrinam wrote:
And if you are roleplaying in a shop (...)

That's included in "their business".


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Terrinam wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Terrinam wrote:


If the someone you offend is part of, or even most of, your roleplaying group... you very much should care what they think. Offending them can end the gaming session right there as an argument breaks out or people start asking for you to be forced out of the group. And if you are roleplaying in a shop, this can end your participation in the session by getting you kicked out or the entire session by getting everyone kicked out.

So, yes. You should care what people think. As long as it's the people who impact your chances of playing the game.

Or more likely, despite all the talk these days about how dangerous it is to give offense, cause the person offended to leave, often without saying anything - obviously neither you nor anyone else there are bothered by it, why risk a confrontation?

Why would most of the group leave without saying anything? Why would a store owner leave his place of business without saying anything? In both cases, removing the offending party would be the far more likely outcome.

I mentioned multiple options in my post for consideration. I didn't leave it at just one person within the group getting offended.

True. If it was a whole group getting offended, that's more likely.

If it's one person, they're more likely to leave.
Especially if they're not just abstractly offended, but actually in the category in question or close to someone who is.


Tabernero wrote:
Terrinam wrote:
Tabernero wrote:

"You can't do it absolutely perfectly." and "You might offend someone" are possibly the 2 worst reasons not to do something.

No one can do anything perfectly. I doubt anyone can even roleplay themselves perfectly. Don't let that stop you.

And who cares what other people think? The only people that matter in your games are those who are playing it with you. Everyone one else is irrelevant. Play whatever you and your group enjoy. Try new things. See what happens and then decide what works for you guys. Anyone who takes offense over what other people might or might not play in their private games can suck it up and get over it. It's not their game, it's not their business, it's not their problem.

If the someone you offend is part of, or even most of, your roleplaying group (...)[/b]

That's included in "those who are playing it with you".

Terrinam wrote:
And if you are roleplaying in a shop (...)

That's included in "their business".

I admit I skimmed your post. My bad.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Terrinam wrote:
I admit I skimmed your post. My bad.

No problem. Everyone does that on occasion.


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ivory Songbird wrote:

Autism and Downs Syndrome

[snip]

We used to have someone come by our old games with a little brother with Downs Syndrome, whom we would let play sometimes.

If you're going to talk about a syndrome with credibility, you need to name it correctly.

We're discussing "Down Syndrome".

1 to 50 of 56 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / Developmentally Disabled Character All Messageboards