Playing a character of the opposite gender


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5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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Laying down railroad tracks here.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Why? Nothing good is gonna come from this. Nothing to see here. Move along :-D

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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Never stopped us before!


What's the purpose of this? To try to describe what rules should govern playing a character opposite your gender or describe a decorum for roleplay?

Yeah...that's not going to work out well.

All I can recommend is, if it's for organized play and you (as a player or GM) find someones depiction of race, sex, gender, religion, etc offensive you should:
1) Ask them if they understand it's offensive connotations and ask them to refrain
2) If they are not amenable, explain it to the GM or Venture Captain

Unfortunately trying to discuss this rather difficult topic on an internet forum is unlikely to be productive, but Paizo's goal is to foster a welcoming and inclusive gaming environment to all people.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

It came up in another thread and the association there was problematic as well as potentially derailing.

5/5 ⦵⦵

I don't get what the question is. Some people do it some people don't. What's the question.

The Exchange 1/5

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I don't have a problem with it, just like I don't have a problem when women play male characters. Not sure what we are trying to ascertain here either.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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The general suggestion from some is that a player should not depict a character with a significant difference than their real self because they lack the understanding and context of what it means to be someone from that group. Playing such things as different gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, religion, etc. Since you don't actually struggle with the challenges that face people in [that] group, you lack the understanding to know when something you depict is offensive.

This is perhaps an over-simplification of the issue, but gives you the gist. There was a suggestion in another thread of there being issues with players gender-bending their character so I believe that is the genus for this thread.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

It is. Thank you bob.

4/5

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I believe at least four of my PFS characters are of the opposite gender. One was somewhat of a a joke, but the others just made sense for the character I was creating.

The Exchange

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Three comments, in decreasing order of seriousness:

I play characters different than myself to broaden my horizons and experiences.

I find it difficult to believe that, of all the character elements of my ifrt oracle/ ranger-- bound by a curse to receive the powers from a prince of Hell -- hired killer, abandoned by her bandit clan, explorer of ancient fortresses, wielder of both magic and the bow .. out of all that, someone would call out my playing a woman as the unrealistic part.

A reminder that, in Pathfinder Society, you are free to change your PC's gender between every adventure.

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

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I think I actually have more female characters than male ones. When something inspires me to create a character the gender is usually already set and changing that really feels totally wrong.

Of course, we should always strive to build characters that are not offensive to other players, but gender is just one of may things that tend to define a character, and frankly one of the things that usually just define the physical descriptions (though I personally really dislike and mechanic that gives bonuses or penalties based on gender).

I remember running a table of PFS for a couple of teens a couple of years ago, in the middle of the session they noticed that they all had ended up playing female characters (actually one player thought that he didn't but I corrected him about the gender of the Ninja pregen).

It was just a normal observation, nobody complained but it stuck in my memory because I liked what a non-issue it is.
Of course, I have also seen players changing the name and gender of the Pregen because they were not keen to play another gender, and while I am not a huge fan of that - that also seems perfectly fine.

---

Different things will affect people, even I have intentionally stopped using some expressions because I was really not happy with them. Sometimes people say something like "this color is so bad I think it gives me eye cancer" - if you know someone or several people that had cancer, that sentence will evoke quite a bit of negative emotions.

The same applies to people using the word "gay" to describe something negative or weird. They might not be terrible people or have any ill intent, but those stupid comments are still hurting people and they or others might not even notice.

---

The right approach is likely to consider if your character would be in bad taste and if you see negative reactions, minimize the aspect of that character at that gaming table.
Sometimes the best choice is not to deal with some subjects and when in doubt ask someone or several from your local community if you are missing something that could be offensive.

So yeah, it boils down to making a good faith argument.

Grand Lodge

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Bob Jonquet wrote:

The general suggestion from some is that a player should not depict a character with a significant difference than their real self because they lack the understanding and context of what it means to be someone from that group. Playing such things as different gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, religion, etc. Since you don't actually struggle with the challenges that face people in [that] group, you lack the understanding to know when something you depict is offensive.

This is perhaps an over-simplification of the issue, but gives you the gist. There was a suggestion in another thread of there being issues with players gender-bending their character so I believe that is the genus for this thread.

Wow...that is one of the dumbest suggestions I have ever heard. None of the major real world religions are present in Golarion. None of us are actually elves, or dwarves, or gnomes, or any of the other non-human races. None of us are wizards, or paladins, or any kind of class with any supernatural abilities.

The entire point of RPGs is to play something different from yourself.

1/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In a different organized play, I could play any of the most bizarre of space aliens without raising an eyebrow.

Playing a non-gender compliant character? One would have thought I had done unsavory things to family pets or worse.

Courtesy, dignity, respect are important when treading into waters one is learning about.

5/5 ⦵⦵

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I thought this is a game of high fantasy. It's not real.

Play what you want and obviously be sensitive to others.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Personally I find simply playing a differently-gendered character, or a disabled one, or one of the other myriad of options is not the problem. It’s when the player uses stereotypical memes to represent something they find “funny.” I’ve seen enough middle-aged CIS White males playing scantily-clad Calistra-worshipping temple “harlots” that I simply do not allow them at my table anymore. Sorry if you play yours with respect, but the preponderance of poorly played and occasionally offensive representations has cause me to take a hard line stance.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

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Isn't the entire point of a role-playing game to play someone you are not? Would not trying to put yourself in the shoes of someone you are not create greater understanding towards those that are in those shoes? Is it possible that when you put yourself in someone else's shoes you may occasionally trip on the shoestrings? Yes. But that is how you learn to tie the shoes properly.


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Bill Baldwin wrote:
Isn't the entire point of a role-playing game to play someone you are not? Would not trying to put yourself in the shoes of someone you are not create greater understanding towards those that are in those shoes? Is it possible that when you put yourself in someone else's shoes you may occasionally trip on the shoestrings? Yes. But that is how you learn to tie the shoes properly.

The problem is that people make offensive representation of groups of people that exist in outside the game world. Sometimes it's accidental or unknowing, and people are willing to correct it. That isn't a big problem (in my opinion), accidents happen. But some people do it intentionally, or worse are made aware of the problem and refuse to see it or change.

That hurts real people. And that's a problem.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

One issue with player characters is that there is a mental load to playing a character who is vastly different from yourself, so you might want to decide which differences you want to focus your roleplaying efforts on.

It is also probably a good idea to determine whether you are comfortable with the character types between your own personality and that of your planned PC. A straight male player who thinks he can play a convincing lesbian PC but not a straight female or gay male PC almost certainly isn't doing his role justice, for example.

5/5 ⦵⦵

I've never been offended by someone other than a straight Atheist male playing a straight atheist male. If people are being jerks there are rules covering that.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

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Claxon wrote:
Bill Baldwin wrote:
Isn't the entire point of a role-playing game to play someone you are not? Would not trying to put yourself in the shoes of someone you are not create greater understanding towards those that are in those shoes? Is it possible that when you put yourself in someone else's shoes you may occasionally trip on the shoestrings? Yes. But that is how you learn to tie the shoes properly.

The problem is that people make offensive representation of groups of people that exist in outside the game world. Sometimes it's accidental or unknowing, and people are willing to correct it. That isn't a big problem (in my opinion), accidents happen. But some people do it intentionally, or worse are made aware of the problem and refuse to see it or change.

That hurts real people. And that's a problem.

I agree. But this should be handled like every other individual who behaves badly at the table and punish that individual for that behavior rather than limit the entire player base because of a few bad eggs. We should be punishing people for maliciously offensive role-playing, not role-playing in general.

Creating awareness of offensive stereotypes and that intentionally offensive role-playing in unacceptable is a good idea. Creating a rule, official or otherwise, that requires people to not role-play outside their own gender identity is a bad idea.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

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I will make an additional observation here. Due to the nature of TTRPG role-playing and organized play in particular, it can be difficult to stand out much as a role-player by playing subtle characters. Usually, this means playing characters with exaggerated characteristics that can sometimes feed into stereotypes. Not trying to justify anything, just making an observation into the nature of the game we all play.

5/5 ⦵⦵

Yes, what Bill said, if you are mocking groups of people by using negative/offensive stereotypes you are out of line and being a jerk.

If not carry on.


Bill,

I don't think I ever recommended baring people from playing combinations of things they aren't. In fact, that would be antithetical to role playing.

But it's a grounds to be cautious around, because too many people can accidentally or intentionally be offensive in their depiction. I don't think anyone in the thread has proposed it being off limits.

I just want everyone to be cautious and mindful.

Dark Archive 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Online—VTT

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Given that I know many, many people who have realised the reason they kept creating characters who are a different sex than the one they were told they were is because they're exploring the fact that may not be true in a safe environment where they can control things I think it's actively harmful to suggest people should only play characters who align with how they present.

Whilst there's the obvious problem with someone playing a character of a different sex as a joke, acting in a way that derails the game or to make fun of people like whoever they're playing etc that's a problem player and should be treated and dealt with as such, rather than the idea itself of playing outside the gender you present as being something not allowed or bad.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Claxon wrote:

Bill,

I don't think I ever recommended baring people from playing combinations of things they aren't. In fact, that would be antithetical to role playing.

But it's a grounds to be cautious around, because too many people can accidentally or intentionally be offensive in their depiction. I don't think anyone in the thread has proposed it being off limits.

I just want everyone to be cautious and mindful.

I am not personally accusing you of suggesting this. It just seemed a direction this conversation might be headed towards and I wanted to steer it away from that.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Laying down railroad tracks here.

Man, it looks like you didn't have to lay much before others took over.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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All I'm saying is when a player sits down with a table tent depicting a voluptuous woman wearing a chain mail bikini and during introductions the first thing out of his mouth (and the majority of the description) is based on her appearance, I'm done right then and there. It has happened to me literally dozens of times and only once was it a non-male player. Yes, we can say its the player not the character, and yes there are "don't be a jerk" rules to cover this type of behavior, but I don't need to sit and observe the play. I've drawn a line.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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TOZ wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Laying down railroad tracks here.
Man, it looks like you didn't have to lay much before others took over.

Wasn't planning on driving this one.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Open door, throw in container of fuel and lit match, close door :-D

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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TwilightKnight wrote:
Open door, throw in container of fuel and lit match, close door :-D

More like lit match here kerosene there I'll try to move one away from the other. It might go well or it might go boom but the chances, magnitude, and fallout, all seemed lower if they were in seperate rooms.

Grand Lodge

Basically it seems like the argument has nothing to do with playing different roles, and is 100% just 'don't be a jerk'

For Bob it seems like his line is at the over-sexualized characters, which I tend to agree with...we are playing an RPG, not one of those Japanese Anime choose your own adventure porn games.

For me, I tend to draw the line at evil characters...probably 90% of the time I see someone wanting to play an evil character, they just want to do it so they can be a disruptive jerk. I was so glad when I learned that PFS didn't allow evil PCs...so few people seem to understand how to properly play them.

Silver Crusade 5/5

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Bob Jonquet wrote:
I’ve seen enough middle-aged CIS White males playing scantily-clad Calistra-worshipping temple “harlots” that I simply do not allow them at my table anymore.

I wouldn't have thought that to be a legal prohibition in PFS (at least not one held in a public place).

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Who said it was in PFS?

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Colorado—Denver aka roll4initiative

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Slyme wrote:

Basically it seems like the argument has nothing to do with playing different roles, and is 100% just 'don't be a jerk'

For me, I tend to draw the line at evil characters...probably 90% of the time I see someone wanting to play an evil character, they just want to do it so they can be a disruptive jerk. I was so glad when I learned that PFS didn't allow evil PCs...so few people seem to understand how to properly play them.

Ha! Since my PFS games have been dwindling over the past several months I decided to GM some D&D AL games at another FLGS. DMd 8 sessions. Every 11 to 14 year old wants to play an evil PC.

I had to take some time off. I will probably not go back to DMing D&D AL there.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Paul Jackson wrote:
Bob Jonquet wrote:
I’ve seen enough middle-aged CIS White males playing scantily-clad Calistra-worshipping temple “harlots” that I simply do not allow them at my table anymore.
I wouldn't have thought that to be a legal prohibition in PFS (at least not one held in a public place).

If by "legal prohibition" you mean it is a banned character, then no. However, I reserve the right to not GM as it is a volunteer choice and I've decided not to GM for any more of those players. The event organizer is free to dismiss me as a GM if they feel I am being unreasonable. I'm prepared to live with that should it occur. I generally accept all legal character builds, even ones that border on some heinous stuff, but I am tired of the casual approach some players take towards an over-sexualized character and I simply won't tolerate it anymore. My experience is such that I can no longer take a wait-n-see approach to see how well/poorly the player presents the character. Generally, if someone sits down with a table tent depicting a voluptuous chainmail bikini-clad character, I stop and tell them "nope." You are free to read and enjoy Red Sonja, Sailor Moon, or whatever on your time, but I'm not going to subject the women and children in the room to it.

4/5

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Bob Jonquet wrote:
Paul Jackson wrote:
Bob Jonquet wrote:
I’ve seen enough middle-aged CIS White males playing scantily-clad Calistra-worshipping temple “harlots” that I simply do not allow them at my table anymore.
I wouldn't have thought that to be a legal prohibition in PFS (at least not one held in a public place).
If by "legal prohibition" you mean it is a banned character, then no. However, I reserve the right to not GM as it is a volunteer choice and I've decided not to GM for any more of those players. The event organizer is free to dismiss me as a GM if they feel I am being unreasonable. I'm prepared to live with that should it occur. I generally accept all legal character builds, even ones that border on some heinous stuff, but I am tired of the casual approach some players take towards an over-sexualized character and I simply won't tolerate it anymore. My experience is such that I can no longer take a wait-n-see approach to see how well/poorly the player presents the character. Generally, if someone sits down with a table tent depicting a voluptuous chainmail bikini-clad character, I stop and tell them "nope." You are free to read and enjoy Red Sonja, Sailor Moon, or whatever on your time, but I'm not going to subject the women and children in the room to it.

So, are you then also refusing to GM for (for example) followers of Arshea who take the Empyreal Obedience feat and want the benefits of their feat choice?

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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A follower of Archea does not need to be half or more naked all day long, constantly presenting as hyper-sexualized. Perform your obedience “off camera” where it belongs, and stop using it as a crutch to justify bad behavior that is offensive to most women, some men, and all children.

I’m not going to judge every rule in the game that could be perverted. I said my peace above. If a player breaks the “don’t be a jerk rule” I’ll react accordingly.

Grand Lodge

Bob, You might actually like my Calistrian Courtesan character. I decided to kind of flip the Dominatrix/Bondage Queen cliche on it's head for mine. I made mine a pan sexual male sylph who dresses in high class noble clothing (all in black with yellow trim to suit Calistria of course, I use a piece of artwork of Alucard from Castlevania for his portrait). He will sleep with anyone, especially to further goals...but also because pleasure is nice. I also don't play him as a full on cliche style Bard...he only flirts in appropriate situations, and understands the concept of consent better than most people. All built on a framework of a mixture of Warpriest and Avenger Vigilante to fully utilize Calistria's chosen weapon the whip.

5/5 ⦵⦵

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Bob Jonquet wrote:

A follower of Archea does not need to be half or more naked all day long, constantly presenting as hyper-sexualized. Perform your obedience “off camera” where it belongs, and stop using it as a crutch to justify bad behavior that is offensive to most women, some men, and all children.

I’m not going to judge every rule in the game that could be perverted. I said my peace above. If a player breaks the “don’t be a jerk rule” I’ll react accordingly.

Would you be equally offended if someone of any sex showed up with a table tent with a muscular male in a speedo and introduces his character talking about his large muscles and membrane?

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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Yes. Thunderlips is terrible to behold.

5/5 ⦵⦵

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I'm with Bob.

Don't carry on with teenage 'jazz material' at the table, we're not interested and it's usually horribly done - despite people telling us how 'classy' their gonzo porn character is.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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roysier wrote:
Would you be equally offended if someone of any sex showed up with a table tent with a muscular male in a speedo and introduces his character talking about his large muscles and membrane?

Really?!? That's what we're gonna do? Of course if someone showed up with exactly that imagery and description, I would shut it down.

I do not feel the need to justify my position. I have made it, and stand by it. Period. If this is just going to become an endless series of "what if" tests to try and poke holes in my position or try to find some hypocrisy, then I have reached the end of my "give a f~%@" about this conversation topic.

1/5

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roysier wrote:

Yes, what Bill said, if you are mocking groups of people by using negative/offensive stereotypes you are out of line and being a jerk.

If not carry on.

Unless you are mocking Scientology, then it is perfectly acceptable to be a Razmiran.

5/5 ⦵⦵

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Odd, I never drew that connection - I saw them more as a large criminal organisation that had dressed it in a sense of pseudo-mysticism, but with an emphasis on the crime.

3/5 Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston Metro aka MadScientistWorking

Bob Jonquet wrote:
All I'm saying is when a player sits down with a table tent depicting a voluptuous woman wearing a chain mail bikini and during introductions the first thing out of his mouth (and the majority of the description) is based on her appearance, I'm done right then and there. It has happened to me literally dozens of times and only once was it a non-male player. Yes, we can say its the player not the character, and yes there are "don't be a jerk" rules to cover this type of behavior, but I don't need to sit and observe the play. I've drawn a line.

I just want to point out that was the issue everyone else was pointing out in the other thread. No one was entirely opposed to it as far as I understood but this behavior is so systemic that people are going to be on edge and you shouldn't be defensive when called out. Look at this. This is what happens very often. You give people the benefit of the doubt and they just hurt you regardless.

Also, I think this thread spawned because I was confused why gender throws people for a loop when determining flaws, motivations, and other characteristics.

5/5 ⦵⦵

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I'm personally in the boat of chainmail bikini's are in bad taste but if it makes someone happy and doesn't mock/offend someone else than ok.

I have much more problems with players getting hammered drunk at the table and disrupting the game. That's my personal pet peeve, that I won't stand for.

I will throw drunk players out of the game. Controlled drinking a little is OK, disrupting the game because someone is too drunk not ok.

5/5 ⦵⦵

Bob Jonquet wrote:
roysier wrote:
Would you be equally offended if someone of any sex showed up with a table tent with a muscular male in a speedo and introduces his character talking about his large muscles and membrane?

Really?!? That's what we're gonna do? Of course if someone showed up with exactly that imagery and description, I would shut it down.

I do not feel the need to justify my position. I have made it, and stand by it. Period. If this is just going to become an endless series of "what if" tests to try and poke holes in my position or try to find some hypocrisy, then I have reached the end of my "give a f+*+" about this conversation topic.

I assume your objection is over an objectification of a woman’s body by a member of the opposite sex. If someone pulled out a sexy picture and role played a dwelling on their physical appearance you would be OK with that? I do know real world people like that take looking sexy to an extreme. Even going so far as to ask people if they look sexy, etc.

I can think of 2 reasons why someone might do this. First is the obvious for fantasy reasons by young men. The second is from my understanding of the gay community from my gay friends there is a fascination of blonde woman with large assets such as Marilyn Monroe or Madonna.

I can’t think of a time that this has happened at a table I’ve run. It’s more like a player shows a sexy picture and glosses over the characters class/abilities.

But If I encounter a situating where a player dwells on their physical description and is of the opposite sex. I would ask the player to role play their character introduction and be sure to role play out that they are trying to draw attention to themselves from others. Sexy outfit screams “look at me”.

You could go further and have NPC’s keep mentioning or actually hitting on the character with the look at me outfit.

Edit add to this post - I used to play a priestess of Calistria who was trying to attract customers and wore sexy outfits. I don't play her anymore - (the sex comments from other players at tables started to get out of hand). But I would role play the hell out of her at times. But other times depending on the people at the table I would turn her to a PG character. I can see myself describing her physical sexiness without role playing it in a PG situation. In my mind she was a person she was who she was if I role played her it was R rated that's for sure. (this character is loosely based off someone I once knew who did Bondage, S&M for money).

Scarab Sages 4/5

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I kind of wish Calistria would get some canonical adjustments to how she’s represented and they way that everyone views her (similar to how Zarta has evolved). It’s like you can’t make a character who worships Calistria without all of the comments at the table turning lewd. A lot of that is on the players, but the source material could help with it.

My two Calistria characters have been more focused on her Vengeance aspect. A male halfling hard-boiled detective Gunslinger/Inquisitor, and a female half-elf 8 CHA Unchained Rogue modeled after the wasp queens who takes her job extremely seriously. Even that one backfired on me a little, as the table comments turned to somewhat mocking of her appearance, as though that should be the important thing about the character since she worships Calistria.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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People can change over the course of 10 years. Little harder for a god to do so.

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