No Disabled PCs?


Starfinder Society

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I’d like to open a thread to discuss the new ruling that bans disabled PCs from Society play if they have any impairment to physical or mental ability scores. I think this is backwards, and in a game with a progressive ethos and loads of fictional aides to achievement, disabled PCs should be embraced instead of banned. Let’s build ramps, not walls

***** ⦵⦵⦵

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Okay, equating one position with something far broader than what they actually said is never a good idea.

This goes at least doubly so for a sensitive topic like this.

First off, Disabled PCs are not banned from organized play. This is what the guide says

NATURAL DISABILITIES
The Starfnder Roleplaying Game allows for characters to be
naturally blind or deaf as part of character creation; these character
options are allowed as part of the Starfnder Society Roleplaying
Guild. The selection must be made at character creation and cannot
be reversed. A character can choose to be either naturally blind or
naturally deaf; he cannot choose to be both. A blind character gains
the tactile version of any language he knows, while a character
who begins play deaf automatically knows the signed versions
- Guide 1.1 pg 22

What was recently clarified Here is that lowering stats below 10 without any ensuing mechanical offset as spelled out on page 19 of the core rulebook isn't allowed in organized play.

Everyone's 8 int Vesks are perfectly fine.

If you don't like that position, ask for that position to be changed. Don't lump it in to a larger more sensitive subject just for polemics.

Sczarni ***** ⦵⦵

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Furthermore, the "Stephen Hawking" character in that thread can continue to be played with -zero- impact to their role-play or character concept. They can still roll around in their wheelchair and do everything they've been doing, they just can't have a Dexterity below 10.

**

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There are far more disabilities than blindness or deafness. But why would that be allowed and having a 7 Strength to represent a neuro-muscular disorder be banned? There’s no logical consistency. And saying I can play Stephen Hawking with all physical ability scores at 10 undermines the point of playing a disabled character: to overcome those natural disavantages. It’d be like saying your PC can’t actually be blind, but you can have them keep their eyes closed all the time. It’s not enough to do justice to the concept.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

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Jhaeman wrote:
There’s no logical consistency.

And there doesn't need to be. Reasonably the cut off should be somewhere but anywhere that you put it is going to cause some problems and not make any more sense than being just a little bit further. (Loki's neck)

So rather than say you can drop an ability score down to X or you can drop it by Y points it's easier to not allow the mechanism at all. You might be dumping responsibly so as to not invalidate your character or play an offensive stereotype but that doesn't mean that everyone will.

**

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

If I felt this was a carefully deliberated exercise in line drawing that, understandably, couldn’t satisfy everyone, I would understand. But the sense I get is that it’s a quick, knee-jerk reaction to a hypothetical question with no evidence of a problem. The result may not matter to you, but I really like my disabled PC and don’t want them summarily banned. But in addition, the larger point of embracing disability and diversity is important: let the Starfinder Society match Paizo’s stated commitment.

Sczarni ***** ⦵⦵

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Paizo has been operating Organized Play campaigns for over a decade, under three different rules systems, and Starfinder Society itself has existed for almost two years.

Pathfinder Society provided an eye-opening social study into outlier behaviors, both abusive and disruptive, and Starfinder Society operates with those in mind.

What makes you think this was a "knee-jerk" reaction?

***** ⦵⦵⦵

Jhaeman wrote:
But the sense I get is that it’s a quick, knee-jerk reaction to a hypothetical question with no evidence of a problem.

Except that the rules to allow people to dump stats has been in the core rulebook for 2 years now. You don't think at some point they had a discussion on -hey do we want to allow this?- when it first came out?

So instead of "No disabled PCs" it's "starfinder isn't allowing the mechanism I want to make my disabled PC".

and what it really comes down to is "I don't think the starfinder society team debated long enough and considered my argument before disallowing the mechanism I want to use to make my disabled pc"... a much more accurate but far less inflammatory assessment of the disagreement.

**

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Is it okay for me to play a character like the Watcher (Uatu) for Marvel Comics? A character who swears an oath of non-interference, so takes no actions in or out of combat to aid the group in any way? Because I think that would be perfectly legal (and conceptually sound), but my brilliant Stephen Hawking PC who *has* contributed to successful outcomes in the scenarios he's appeared in would be banned under these rules because of his disability. The point I'm trying to make is there needs to be a general rule about PCs' ability to contribute to scenarios that requires actual judgement and evaluation (probably by regional coordinators) in the .000001% of occasions where it's an actual issue, instead of what is, in my opinion, a ham-fisted attempt to guarantee PC contribution by banning sub-par ability scores.

**

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Banter aside, I'd suggest approaching this issue in the same way real-world issues involving disability are approached: reasonable accommodation.

What's reasonable in the circumstances are going to depend on how much risk or inconvenience is caused by allowing sub-par ability score characters to participate in organized play games. From what I can tell, on this side of the ledger is the hypothetical risk of characters who are either intentional trolls or (un)intentionally can't contribute and thus leave the other PCs in the lurch.

So what could reasonable accommodations be in this context? I've proposed two:
a) Don't have a rule about this, and leave it to GM/regional judgment just like every other decision about problematic play at the table. (my favoured resolution); or
b) Grand-father in those of us who have made PCs under the plausible reading of the Guide prior to yesterday's sudden announcement to the contrary.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

That there is one way to to make a problematic character doesn't mean that all other ways that might encourage making a problematic character should be allowed.

"Don't make a problematic character" is a goal. Not a policy. A policy needs to be able to be communicated and carried out. If organized play says "don't make a problematic character" it doesn't really tell the people enforcing the rules which characters cross the line.

This character creation option isn't allowed though, is pretty easy to follow. It might throw the goblin baby out with the bathrwater, but the belief is that the goblin baby to bathwater ratio is acceptable.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

Jhaeman wrote:


a) Don't have a rule about this, and leave it to GM/regional judgment just like every other decision about problematic play at the table. (my favoured resolution); or
b) Grand-father in those of us who have made PCs under the plausible reading of the Guide prior to yesterday's sudden announcement to the contrary.

The entire point of organized play is NOT having to check your characters eligibility to play when you sit down. You have a character. its legal. it's go time. NOT "you must be this optimized to go on the ride"

What if a DM doesn't like envoys, considers them useless and bans them?

How do you handle leaving your local group and going to a convention or online?

You're not distinguishing between a goal and a policy, at all.

Sczarni ***** ⦵⦵

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Jhaeman wrote:
my brilliant Stephen Hawking PC who *has* contributed to successful outcomes in the scenarios he's appeared in would be banned under these rules because of his disability.

I forget which of the logical fallacies this falls under, but regardless, your character is not being "banned" for their "disability". Nobody suggested a ban of any sort, and nobody even slightly insinuated that players couldn't role-play a character's disabilities.

You can literally step away from the keyboard right now, pick up your character sheet, go to a game anywhere, sit down, and continue to play the same exact way you've been doing all along.

All you need to do is write the tiniest "0" just to right of that 1 you have written in Dexterity. No in-character description, rationale, change, improvement, augmentation, cure or reasoning required.

Scarab Sages ***** Venture-Captain, Netherlands aka Woran

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Nefreet wrote:
Jhaeman wrote:
my brilliant Stephen Hawking PC who *has* contributed to successful outcomes in the scenarios he's appeared in would be banned under these rules because of his disability.

I forget which of the logical fallacies this falls under, but regardless, your character is not being "banned" for their "disability". Nobody suggested a ban of any sort, and nobody even slightly insinuated that players couldn't role-play a character's disabilities.

You can literally step away from the keyboard right now, pick up your character sheet, go to a game anywhere, sit down, and continue to play the same exact way you've been doing all along.

All you need to do is write the tiniest "0" just to right of that 1 you have written in Dexterity. No in-character description, rationale, change, improvement, augmentation, cure or reasoning required.

I'm with Nefreet here. Your character is not banned because he has a disability. Your character simply cannot continue as is because he has a Dex of 1.

You clearly feel that a Dex of 1 is the only way you can play out that disability. But we're saying that you can play your character just the way you want to roleplay him, you just have to change that Dex 1 to a 10, which is a minor change. You can still roleplay him as completely paralized, if you want to.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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Disabled PCs aren't banned. That particular thing that you use to represent disability is banned.

Dark Archive **** Venture-Agent, Finland—Turku aka Tomppa

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As to your Uatu example, nope, that's not okay. A particular group might tolerate your Uatu, but if it becomes a problem, you're going to face the rule of:

"Players are responsible for their characters’ actions. “That’s just what my character would do” is not a defense for behaving like a jerk.""

Some people enjoy a challenge, but for most people, Essentially forcing a group to play with just 3 characters is a jerk move. Dragging a 4 player table into a 5 player table (negating the 4 player adjustment) without contributing is a jerk move. Unless you play consistently with the same group that approves your "I'm playing but not really" style Uatu, you're bound to run into problems sooner or later.

Sczarni ***** ⦵⦵

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

(don't know what an Uatu is, but I agree with the above sentiment on that as well)


Nefreet wrote:

(don't know what an Uatu is, but I agree with the above sentiment on that as well)

he's referring to Jhaeman's hypothetical situation involving a "watcher"(also called uatu) from marvel comics

I believe the point of the hypothetical is that this non-interactive character is rules legal, while what he's arguing for is not despite one being useful and the other not.

Other than this note, I'm not weighing in on this conversation.

**

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I agree that playing Uatu is a jerk move. But we don't have a "No Uatus" specific rule, we have a general rule (more of a standard or guideline, really) about not playing characters that will ruin the game for our fellow players. This is a rule that covers the weird corner cases like Uatu, and could easily apply to someone who makes a troll PC. And the existence of this general rule is why we don't need an oddly-specific rule to ban sub-par ability score characters.

There's 99 people who have suddenly jumped in to defend this new rule, but I've yet to hear an example from actual gameplay where this was a problem. And my point about embracing diversity and disability continues. Why do we need to treat people who want to play a disabled character like a jerk who is going to automatically ruin everyone's fun?

If this was the Azlanti Explorers' League and any physical or mental imperfections were ground for exclusion, I could at least understand the in-canon rationale. But the Starfinder Society is recovering from the loss of experienced agents in the Scoured Stars. It accepts members from all walks of life, valuing their unique contributions. Does it make sense for it to turn away Stephen Hawking's brilliant mind because he's not as agile as the average human?

Again, I'm asking for some thought to be given to reasonable accommodations. Instead of a rule, we need a standard: make a character that can contribute meaningfully to the success of a scenario. There are a million ways characters could fail this standard. But if this isn't the standard, then why pick on the (very rare!) sub-par ability score characters? It'd be like establishing the goal of rectifying global warming by saying left-handed people can't drive cars. Yes, I guess in some miniscule way it's a step toward the goal, but not a step that's rational to take in the overall scheme of things.

Dark Archive **** Venture-Agent, Finland—Turku aka Tomppa

Jhaeman wrote:
Why do we need to treat people who want to play a disabled character like a jerk who is going to automatically ruin everyone's fun?

The goal here isn't to treat people like jerks - the goal is to enforce common rules that apply to everybody, since it's a world wide campaign.

Quote:
Does it make sense for it to turn away Stephen Hawking's brilliant mind because he's not as agile as the average human?

Society isn't turning Stephen hawking away - the rules for you to create a character that is permanently paralyzed simply aren't accepted for starfinder society. Pretending this is somehow in an In Character and In World Problem makes no sense - I could just as well question why the society doesn't accept my Strength 20 Dragonkin - they are large and considerably stronger than humans so str 20 is totally "realistic" for the race - But that isn't the case. The Ingame Society isn't turning him away because he's stronger than avarage - the rules simply prevent me from creating such a character.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Paizo is a progressive company and this is not a new topic. They considered the options and determined that sub-minimal scores will not be allowed. Period. Don't assume that just because they came to a different conclusion than you that they didn't consider the options.

You are welcome to role-play your character as being disabled in whatever form or fashion you want. There are no rules saying you can't. It just won't be reflected in the character's ability scores. Just because you have a Wisdom of 10 doesn't mean you cannot be a "dumb oaf" and just because you have a Charisma of 10 doesn't mean you cannot play with a bad personality and poor hygiene. Sometimes the game mechanics don't have to perfectly follow your creativity. That's like saying there aren't any classes in Starfinder called "ninja" so I cannot play one. I have a vesk soldier that due to backstory is afraid of explosives like grenades. I don't need a game rule to tell me I can/not act afraid of explosives. The only difference between your vision of the disabled character and game mechanics is it won't have a penalty to checks related to that score. That's it, nothing else. As long as your character is contributing and not violating the "don't be a jerk" rule, play it however you want.

Besides, within the scope of Starfinder many disabilities have been "corrected" with technology. It is likely that someone of Stephen Hawking's caliber would have a jet-powered suit (like Iron Man) with advanced sensors and computer processors connected directly to his brain that would allow him to react to danger faster than the human mind and therefore would be reflective of a higher, not lower, Dex score. A person who is blind could have a visor like Geordi. Cybernetics is pretty awesome like that and most things we call disabilities can be neutralized with advanced tech.


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My -701 is a little "special." By which I mean he isn't very smart, even by Vesk standards.

But 8 Int is crippling in terms of skill points and Engineering checks, so at level 5 I increased his Intelligence. He is now statistically of average intelligence.

I still play him as dumb and silly, because I enjoy playing him that way. You know what? Nobody has objected, because Zoggy is fun and enables other people to roleplay their characters the way they want to.

Absolutely nothing prevents you from playing a character who is disabled. It just won't be reflected in their stats... and it doesn't need to be. Like the Vlaka have adapted to two thirds of their race having differing capabilities, your character is assumed to have adapted to cope with their limitations.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

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Sure am glad I always check the forums on my days off...

So, to address the leading title of this forum thread, I want to assure people that No, Paizo is not banning players from playing characters with disabilities. Full stop.

As many people in this thread have pointed out, how a player roleplays a character is up to them. What we're achieving with the removal of Character Flaws (something the entire OP team thought was already in place since day 1, but our wording was vague, so I apologize) is that _players_ don't use lowered ability scores as "justification" for bringing difficult play experiences to a table. There's been a lot of talk about low Strength characters, however I look at it from the perspective of characters who show up with a Charisma of 3 and then use that as justification to be a complete jerk bag at the table. And while we have rules to prevent players from doing this, allowing a character to mechanically create a character along those lines just provides fuel for any defense those characters would have—in making this decision, we're taking that justification and further empowering tables that need to deal with problematic players (already a fraught situation at the best of times).

As far as this clarification appearing to be a "knee-jerk reaction" and something we have no evidence to base our decisions on, I can state that this is not the case. Prior to Starfinder Society's launch, we had a strong discussion among Organized Play Foundation volunteers about Blindess/Deafness and how it should be handled in the campaign, as well as the implications of having blind/deaf characters in a setting where those could be magically/technologically "fixed". Much of that discussion involved introspection and trying to see things from a non-ableist perspective. I think the decisions were made were well-informed. We don't tend to walk into these without discussing with our various sounding boards and venture-officers.

In light of this specific topic, I've been in contact with staff members, various VOs, and prominent community members who privately reach out to me about these kinds of posts; all of who have agreed that granting players "mechanical justification for poor behavior" is something they would like to avoid. Similarly, many of the cited characters in this thread (and others) have already produced some strong reactions from people who view character descriptions as being stereotypical and something they would feel uncomfortable playing at a table with. Now, I'm not going to go out and say anyone can't play a character how they want, at least within the guidelines of our campaign rules. I am going to do my best, as an Organized Play staff member and a human being, to make sure that players who don't feel comfortable with other players' character portrayals that they have a system that allows them to best speak out and not have to feel like they have to acquiesce to an uncomfortable portrayal just because "the rules allow it."

Anyways, that's the team's stance. Sorry for the wall'o'text, but I get a bit twitchy on late night Friday posts on sensitive subjects, as I tend to view them as intentional pot stirring leading up to coming into the office on Monday.

-Thurston
Starfinder Society Developer

Silver Crusade ***** ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

I was tempted to take one of the OPs posts and dissect what I feel is wrong, but fortunately, I don't have to.

I 100% agree with Thursty's post, particularly since it matches my own experiences after several years of Organized Play participation, particularly from my perspective as an event organizer.

**

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I think, respectfully, it is very close to a "no disabilities" policy--with the explicit exceptions of deafness and blindness. If I can't play a character with any mental or physical impairments, it's very difficult to represent many sorts of disabilities.

Again, the risk seems to be a purely hypothetical one. We're not talking about bad behavior in general--any player might try to behave badly, whether "mechanically justified" (by a low Charisma) or not, and then the GM has to intervene. Most of us in this discussion have GM'd our fair share of games and get that. Through over ten years of organised play, these rules are well-established.

I'd like to suggest there is a way to accommodate those of us who want to play sub-par ability characters to represent a vital segment of society out of good faith reasons instead of an urge to behave badly.

The major issue, again, is can this be done in a way that contributes to an enjoyable game for everyone at the table? I don't see why not.

From another perspective: apparently, I can play a blind PC. Unless I choose a race/augmentation/feat or other method of ameliorating this disability, that PC would have to guess which square an enemy is in during combat and have a 50% miss chance. That's pretty hefty in terms of contributing to combat encounters. In theory, I might require special assistance in other sorts of encounters, such as chases. I might require extra description and interaction with the GM in order to figure out how my character reacts to routine role-playing and other social encounters. But being blind is explicitly allowed in the Guide. Why would a PC with a Strength of 7, for example, be so much harder to accommodate?

***** ⦵⦵⦵

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Jhaeman wrote:
The major issue, again, is can this be done in a way that contributes to an enjoyable game for everyone at the table? I don't see why not.

Again, mixing up a goal and a policy.

"Can X be done in a way that contributes to an enjoyable game for everyone at the table" is a question you ask for a table of 6 but not the question you ask when making policy for tens of thousands of players.

If it was,

Evil characters would be allowed. (because some people can handle that and make it fun)

Playing a level 7 with level 1s would be allowed (because some characters/players could make that fun)

Giving items away would be allowed (because some people would only do so within reason)

Taking things from one scenario to another would be allowed (because some people wouldn't do so abusively)

The question is not "Can X be done in a way that contributes to an enjoyable game for everyone at the table" but instead "what is the likely net effect of allowing X in the campaign". Just because you would do it responsibly doesn't mean that everyone would, or that the problems it would cause would outweigh the fun.

And again, the option wasn't banned suddenly it was never allowed. It wasn't disallowed as clearly as it might have been but it wasn't supposed to be there in the first place.

***

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The inability to "roll"-play a character with ability deficits in no way limits you from being able to roleplay a character with ability deficits.

Liberty's Edge ***** ⦵⦵

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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I have seen several "disabled" characters at tables over the past year. None of them were using flaws.

They just added roleplay elements and also technological solutions to their difficulty, if they wanted to. One or two even mirrored the player's own disability.

And I wouldn't call them flawed, just people.

Sczarni ***** ⦵⦵

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Jhaeman wrote:
I've yet to hear an example from actual gameplay where this was a problem.

That would be because it was never allowed to begin with.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Some people just get a little hung up on the idea. I don't think it comes from a lack of creativity.

Call it whatever you like. In a game that exists almost entirely in our minds to say that you are unable to depict a character as something not entirely reflected by the their ability scores is [whatever word is acceptable to you]. No one is saying to take a Strength of 18 and pass it off as a weakling. If 10 is the minimum stat allowed, then logically within the scope of the campaign it would be reflective of the weakest possible member and as such easily represented by a weak character depiction. Same, same for the other ability scores.

As the esteemed Mr Gygax used to say [paraphrased] "don't let the dice* ruin your story."
*easily extrapolated to game mechanics

** ⦵⦵⦵

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Liam wrote:

And I wouldn't call them flawed, just people.

You hit the nail on the head. People with disabilities are not flawed, they are people.

The fundamental premise of the initial argument is flawed by stating that inorder to play a character with a disability they must have a lower than average ability score. This is false.
But as many have said its a matter of Roleplaying.

Dataphiles **** ⦵⦵

Jhaeman, you make it out as if someone has targeted an offense at you. Rules in games are there in order to establish an unbiased framework so that people can easily play together. You seem to be pointedly ignoring the multitude of responses that are saying that you can rp your character as you want.

This thread reminds me very much of a previous thread wherein people were going on and on and on about not being able to mechanically make a priest themed worshipper of X, Y, or Z. The response was the same, you can't mechanical make the character, but you can 100% rp it.

Rules are also added/made to prevent X person from being a jerk. That is just how it is. This is not new to humanity at all, why is this a surprise now? Absolutely no society is completely free, there are always rules/laws. Philosophically, it is an absolute must (refer to Thomas Hobb's "State of Nature" for reinforcement on this concept).

This is a very progressive company and community. That has been exemplified many times over throughout the years. If there was an issue I would expect to see more than just 1 person arguing the point.


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Looks like I can't keep myself away. I mean no ill tone in this, just trying to help.

I'm going to make a response of a type I've not seen so far in this thread; constructive advice.

I understand the idea for this character(henceforth 'Kipe') came to you after noticing the flaws rules, so in your mind Dex 1 is married to the concept. But rather than tell you "just change it to a 10, nbd" I'd like to go over the things that would be changed by doing so, and how a difference of +5(for a mod of +0) can be explained flavourwise.

So the following things are adjusted mechanically: Initiative, Ac, Reflex, and Skills

Initiative: Just because Kipe can't move most his body, doesn't mean he can't respond quickly to a situation and present actions to his chair at a reasonable speed. If you do want him to be slow in this regard, just delay until the end of the round(if you always play with the same group, the DM/s would probably be happy to make that a standing agreement).

Ac: He's already laiden with Heavy Armor, just leave it on him and there's no visual difference. The characters see his not getting hurt as a result of the armor anyway. Only lithe or graceful characters actually call attention to their dex being the reason the attack failed.

Reflex: Two ways to approach this, 1) same as option 1 for Initiative, he can physically command his chair fast enough and the chair performs the motion needed. or 2) He has preprogrammed the sensors and motors of his chair to react to a particular stimulus in a certain way. A success means the character programmed the chair well, a failure means the sensors, motor, or programming need tweaking.

Skills: There are 4 dexterity based skills:
Acrobatics: Just don't roll, or if asked to roll, 'take 1'. Unless it makes more sense that it's the chair rolling, at which point; the chair rolls.
Piloting: I feel like it makes less sense in a technological age for a character like this to be bad at piloting. The characters in world don't see skill points or dex scores, so to them there's no difference between okay ranks and good dex and great ranks and no dex. He's just great at navigating or driving by use of his computer interface and likely a list of existing pre-programmed complex actions.
Sleight of Hand: You don't have to roll it, if a scenario does somehow call for Kipe to use sleight of hand(such as removing something that's placed delicately) then his chairs robot arms are already programmed with high manual dexterity.
Stealth: Kipe himself doesn't make much noise. Just set his chair into Airplane Mode and you're good.

Properly flavoured, the other PC's aren't going to see a difference between -5 Dex Kipe and +0 Dex Kipe. I do understand that the idea doesn't mesh at an innate level(character with this disability being more dextrous than someone allowed to have an 8 Dex), but remember that even if someone leans into their disability, they find a way to function in our world. Basically, locking the character concept to Dexterity=1 is like saying that Kipe has given up and isn't interested in accounting for his shortcomings.

Aside: the Vlaka culturally don't repair their blindness or deafness because they don't see it as a weakness, and they find ways to accomodate this difference in their everyday life. No-one is saying Professor Kipe can't be a part of the Starfinder Society in the capacity he has been, they're just saying that the stat sheet needs a slight update. There would be no flavour difference, just an understanding that in this case; Intelligence and Wisdom are offsetting Dexterity.

**

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Regarding this recent spate of posts, I don't think "just pretend his ability score is lower even if it's not" is a good solution. I understand it might work for some people, but many of us like to meld our role-playing to our mechanics. I'm going to play a character with an Intelligence of 20 differently than a character with an Intelligence of 8.

An interesting aspect of playing a disabled character is overcoming actual limitations. This is where creativity comes in. Having actual limitations also presents abuse. If I want to play Professor X, and his wheelchair is damaged, he presumably has no land speed apart from crawling. But if the wheelchair is wrecked, I as a player can't say "Professor X gets up and sprints around like the rest of you--I guess he was just punking you on that whole disabled thing? Funny, huh?"

Similarly, we don't tell someone who wants to play a blind PC "he can't actually be blind, but you can have him keep his eyes closed all the time!" or someone who wants to play a deaf PC "he can't actually be deaf, but you can pretend he just didn't hear what others say because he had his headphones on."

The disadvantages of playing a disabled character are integral to the concept, not something to be assumed away.

Paizo Employee ***** Organized Play Manager

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Removed a post and several responses. While discussing the topic, please refrain from derogatory comments aimed at an individual or group of individuals.

Regarding the policy. Thurston made a post on behalf of the Organized Play team. This post reflects Org Play policy and will be used to update the guide. Until that happens, his post is binding as to the position of SFS and the Org Play program.

At this time, the team is not interested in revisiting our ruling or changing our opinion on this matter and further discussion/debate will not change our position.

Sczarni ***** ⦵⦵

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Thank you for the clarification, Tonya!

**

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Tonya, to clarify, are we not allowed to discuss this matter anymore? I think most of us have been engaging in a civil discussion.

**

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jhaeman wrote:
Tonya, to clarify, are we not allowed to discuss this matter anymore? I think most of us have been engaging in a civil discussion.

If they had wanted the discussion to cease, they would have locked the thread. And you may wish that it had been locked in a moment.

I am offended by this entire thread and the premise behind the original post.

Jhaeman wrote:
An interesting aspect of playing a disabled character is overcoming actual limitations.

As someone who has spent nearly two decades caring for children, adolescents, and young adults, many of whom have disabilities along the entire spectrum of mental and physical disorders, making the diagnosis of a disability and having the difficult discussions with the families, assisting some of them into palliative care, and bearing witness to the end of their too short lives, I find it offensive that a person without disability wants to "play" at being a person with a serious health issue or disability.

You are not "overcoming the actual limitations." You're safe in your healthy, not disabled body rolling dice trying roll a number a little higher than the game designers and fellow players expect during a recreational game. You are not overcoming the inability to hear sound, being at an increased risk of being hit by a car while crossing the street, struggling as most of the people around you cannot communicate with you efficiently. You are not overcoming the difficulty of trying to get alternate muscles to move your hand in the way that you want it to move all the while dealing with the pain of the contractures and the pressure ulcer forming where your hip presses against the seat of your wheel chair while you wait six months for the new seat to be fashioned. You are not trying to get a job while making involuntary vocalizations and body movements.

If you have a health condition or disability and want to role-play a character that better mirrors your life experience (autism, ALS, cancer survivor with cardiomyopathy, deaf, etc), then bravo, you go right ahead.

If you are an author who is trying to represent a more diverse environment to make players with disabilities feel included, you go right ahead, but do your due diligence in research and be respectful in your representation.

But if you are a person without disability who wants to "play" at being a person with a disability, I am going to be offended. I may not say anything at the table, but I will be as offended by you as if you were a white person showing up to the table in blackface.

And that you cannot see the offense in your efforts to "play" at or "tell the story of" a person with disabilities--whatever justification you've given yourself (it's my right to tell whatever stories I want with my characters, I'm inspiring people with disabilities, I'm bringing awareness to people, whatever)--when you do not have the proper context for what people with those specific disabilities experience are makes it so much more offensive.

'A dexterity of 1 = the challenges of ALS?'

I am so offended.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Jhaeman wrote:
Tonya, to clarify, are we not allowed to discuss this matter anymore? I think most of us have been engaging in a civil discussion.

No, she didn't tell you not to discuss the issue. She is merely clarifying that OPF leadership has considered this topic, made a decision, and is not interested in reconsidering said position. If you want to have a philosophical discourse, fine, but there is no point in commenting with the intention of trying to convince the campaign leadership to change their position. So you are welcome to discuss, just don't expect them to follow the conversation (other than to watch for message board violations).

...and this

Blake's Tiger wrote:
If they had wanted the discussion to cease, they would have locked the thread.

⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Minnesota—Woodbury aka Wishing Wells

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To piggy back off off Blake's Tiger's post, it's one thing to play a character that happens to have a disability. Lots of people have them, I myself have a few mental disabilities (including autism, depression, and anxiety) and my first character has a hyper focus on his research as well as some physical scarring from an incident in an earlier scenario, but those aren't what define the character, they're only aspects of him. I play him like he's a person, someone who is more then the sum of their parts even if he does show signs of autism or asperger. However, him having autism is not his character trait nor the reason I play him, the reason I play him is because he is an interesting and unique character.

The more I think about this conversation/argument, the more I see red flags of playing a disabled character as the token disabled character. Mechanically, yes, in a home game situation you can purposely lower your ability scores to mimic various mental and physical disabilities. But that isn't a table I would ever want to be apart of if it's treating a disability as a "Oh, this would be a fun character concept to play as." Frankly, I find it a bit dehumanizing that this whole argument stems from what I can only describe as "Inspiration P*rn".

Those of us with disabilities do want to feel inclusion in life, be it proper representation in media, general understanding and awareness, love and support from friends and family, and so on. Having the representation being treated as a trope for a character is not it.

Liberty's Edge **** Venture-Captain, Indiana—Northern

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As a person who lives with anxiety, I don’t think I’d want that medical condition portrayed in a game because it’s fun - I assure you, having anxiety is anything but fun.

But, it’s a role-playing game. We play characters all the time with whom we have nothing in common. Why should disabilities be off-limits? I understand Blake’s point about not wanting to offend people who have disabilities (and, by the way, shouldn’t we be saying “persons with disabilities” rather than “disabled persons”?)

The way the OP Team has ruled has opened the door to playing such characters, and done so in a way that doesn’t break the system. Startfinder is a cooperative game and a person who plays a character with a significant disability places a great strain on the other PCs. Why would Starfinder Society send Starfinder with significant difficulties into the field? That is a legitimate question for a co-operative game.

At the same time, as an inclusive and welcoming organization, we must be prepared for that situation. The position of the OP team seems, to me, to strike the right balance.

**

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mark Stratton wrote:
Startfinder is a cooperative game and a person who plays a character with a significant disability places a great strain on the other PCs.

Re-read your statement from the perspective of a person not privy to the other thoughts and emotions in your own head.

Liberty's Edge **** Venture-Captain, Indiana—Northern

?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Every differently abled person I've played with only wanted to play characters that weren't.

**

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mark Stratton wrote:
?

I'll circle back to that promptly. I will also preface this by saying that although I taking quotes out of Mark's post, these sentiments have been repeated multiple times in this thread by several different people.

Mark Stratton wrote:
We play characters all the time with whom we have nothing in common.

Roleplaying an alien experience--a cuttlefish with psychokinetic abilities, a plant that sees only color but can sense the presence and absence of life around it with perfect precision, or a wolf-headed biped without eyes who hears and smells as well as humans see with eyes--is inherently different than taking a character, throwing some numerical penalties on it to reflect a disability that real people struggle with in the real world for your own personal entertainment.

Mark Stratton wrote:
Why should disabilities be off-limits?

Because we should have respect for persons: respect for the people with disabilities and recognize that their disability is not for our personal entertainment.

Stories about disabilities or life as a person with a disability should be told by those people with direct experience, if they want to.

Imagine that you walk up to a table at a convention and gleefully pull out the character sheet for your wheelchair bound character and describe how proud you are to role play such an interesting and fun character. Two minutes later, a young man with significant paraplegia due to the myelomeningocele he was born with arrives in his actually necessary wheel chair. Sure, you can slip your character sheet under your binder and pull out a different character, but that response rather underscores my point.

We should be respectful at all times, not just when not doing so makes us look especially bad.

Mark Stratton wrote:
Startfinder is a cooperative game and a person who plays a character with a significant disability places a great strain on the other PCs.

One of the things in this thread that offends me the most is that most people have focused on the effect on the table of arbitrary numerical representations of disability.

The argument people have made (and people have tried to counter, which is just as bad) is, 'You cannot take a penalty to your character's statistics to represent a disability, not because it is disrespectful to the community of people with disabilities but because it makes the scenario harder for everyone else.'

No one seems to grasp the signal being sent: other people's disabilities are a burden to me.

Not that making disabilities invisible is any better either (Vlaka are a well-intended misfire in my opinion).

...and that is why these stories should be left to those with personal experience, if they want to tell them.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

Blakes Tiger wrote:

We should be respectful at all times, not just when not doing so makes us look especially bad.

I don't think you're wrong with the general point ( that severe disabilities are common enough and serious enough that maybe we shouldn't even try to go there at all) but I think we'd be pretty constrained in our interactions if we didn't turn the dial to adapt it to the people we're with. Playing a blind/deaf Vlaaka has a higher chance of going over poorly with someone with that condition. The wounding weapon property can be pretty funny in a starfinder universe where its 110 credits to get an arm grown in a vat and duct taped back on, less so at a table where someone has lost a limb. 1.21 Jigawatts of electricity damage to a PC is funny, probably a little less so to people that have had severe electrical burns. Calden cayden worshipers are a thing, probably not at a table with an alchoholic though.

We laugh at truly horrible, terrifying things happening to our characters because they're not real and we know they'll get better.

I think almost anything can be someone's thing. I don't think you need to play everything as if someone with that thing was sitting at the table with you.

One of the things science fiction/fantasy does is add a little extra layer of insulation from talking about a thing without talking about it directly. I'm sure a lot of gamers can empathize with the androids flat effect. I think you'd be missing out on a lot of the game and social interactions if you had the sensitivity level set to the maximum for all things all the time.

Quote:
...and that is why these stories should be left to those with personal experience, if they want to tell them.

But people also get flak for erasure if all of their characters look just like them. Not saying you're wrong, just trying to point out that there's a bit of mixed messaging going on where these things are concerned.

Liberty's Edge **** Venture-Captain, Indiana—Northern

It wasn’t my intention to offend, and I’m sorry I did.

Sczarni ***** ⦵⦵

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Blake's Tiger wrote:
Lots of thoughtful and well-worded insights

+10 respect points

I don't think I've roleplayed a character with physical disabilities, but in PFS I did have a recovering pesh addict and a character who transitioned across his 13 levels from sober to alcoholic to recovering.

Wish I'd read this thread 7 years ago.

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