How Pathfinder Got Rid of Race and Made It Bigger, An Open Letter


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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thenobledrake wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
You can't sit there and say "Slavery is bad, you can't have graphic depictions because it makes people who were affected by it uncomfortable," and then proceed to publish an adventure that does just that,

That should be how you know that the complaint being made isn't "you can't have graphic depictions of things that might make people uncomfortable"

You can't present slavery as being condoned by good people, or it looks you're saying slavery is good.

You can have slavery in the story, even explicitly, if you frame it appropriately (as being definitively evil) - that doesn't look like you are saying slavery is good. Players might opt out of that particular story - but at least they won't have evidence suggesting that maybe the authors are pro-slavery.

Not really. As a recent example, changes made to races/ancestries to make them "less influenced by real world stereotypes", were done as a direct result of the affected media being viewed as a graphic depiction that made people who felt uncomfortable or attacked by said media, would only affirm my suspicions and concerns I have of said complaint being relevant here. Granted, I imagine this was done due to the vitriol and backlash created and spearheaded by a vocal minority, but much like the vocal minority of other sides of other debates, it can speak for the majority since the majority chooses not to speak alternately from the stance that has been stated on their side, and with that being the case, it creates the illusion that everyone on your side behaves that way when, in actuality, they don't. Welcome to stereotypes, and before you say it's a flaw of ours, don't worry; your side has done it too.

That doesn't logically add up by your standards, because if they are people who condone slavery, you wouldn't label them "good" to begin with, meaning it's impossible to create a "good slaver" by today's standards; it becomes an oxymoron in that context (though another context would mean they are exceptionally competent, food for thought there). Of course, a more open minded individual might view this as "acceptable," if the laws of the land permit it, whether by the spoils of a war treatise, or by the laws of a king whose noble blood rules a land of peasants, but whether those acts are considered good or not is a matter of how those things are handled. If there is mistreatment or neglect, then clearly it's not good, and the level of such mistreatment or neglect in regards to how the law views it is a matter of the level of evil it could be.

A fictional story told from a certain perspective suggesting the writer believes the morals they are professing a fictional character to possess is one of the most ridiculous concepts I've ever heard. There are numerous stories that have all kinds of characters with differing viewpoints from one another, we might as well say every story with more than one person in it means the writers have Multiple Personality Disorder because we apparently can't view writers as being mature and capable of processing the different viewpoints of different people in different situations. I'd much rather give people the benefit of the doubt and say they are capable of not being actual bigots until there is more evidence that suggests otherwise.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think Paizo have done an incredible job of creating a game and setting in what is a minefield.

Any role-playing game can be contentious but I think a more important question for GMs and players is 'what kind of story do we want to tell at our table' and making sure treatment of themes at those tables work for all involved.

Roleplaying is an escape from the real world for many people, for some it is a chance to play a completely different non humanoid creature, for others its a chance to play a champion in a world that doesn't have the baggage ours does, and for other still its a chance to play characters that are a bit good and maybe a bit flawed. Some people enjoy playing complex villains or characters from conflicted societies.

I think there is too much trying to paint the game with 1 large brush, too much telling other people how they should play the game at their table.

Its certainly not Paizo's job to fix flaws in human nature through a game system. They have provided a lot of good tools and remain sensitive to stereotypes and issues of inequality. They have done an excellent job. But RPGs like Pathfinder need conflict and villains. To a degree its easier to create civilisations that are evil. I think it is quite acceptable to have cultures that are evil that are predominantly one race/ancestry. I think it is quite acceptable to say on a given world all known cultures/civilisations/nations of a given race/ancestry are evil. I also think it is also good to have people in those civilisations who are not evil. What made Drizzt interesting was that he was an outsider, he dealt with being a moral outsider amongst his own people then an outsider because he was a drow amongst his new chosen home. He dealt with prejudice. Without having 'evil societies' particularly based on Ancestry those kind of tales of overcoming racism/evil societal origins cannot be told. Golarian has evil human-centric cultures (e.g. Cheliax) but no-one says that all humans are evil because Cheliax is evil, or even or Cheliaxians are evil. I don't see why the same logic/viewpoint should not automatically get carried over to drow, or orcs or any other race that has been traditionally viewed as evil.

Whats important is what is good for your game and the players at your table. Roleplaying should be a healthy collaborative storytelling experience. If you don't want to deal with racism or other prejudice issues at your table then don't.

Paizo have created a great world in Golarion that allows you to explore those themes if you want to but its just as easy to play or remove those themes if you don't. Whats probably more important is its not yours or Paizo's job to police how people play at their own table. They have given us the tools and a rich core world to play a more interesting and more socially aware game if we choose.


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A story is far different from a game in which you are an active participant in over the course of months or years and are forced to every day confront and deal with.

"I want to play in a game that challenges my perspectives on (insert problematic setting/stereotype here)." Great, get your group on board and write that.

"I want a company to produce a game that challenges my perspectives on (insert problematic setting/stereotype here)." Vastly different.

Authors aren't being shackled by... I'm sorry did you call recent social reform a vocal minority? I mean, internet echo chambers are definitely a thing, but none of this is new. Anyway, regardless, authors are telling nuanced stories, they just aren't finding the need to glorify the acts of evil and make them seem "cool" or "awesome." There are slavers in AoA. They're captial "E" evil and it's spelled out. The individuals within the organzation are still fleshed out and have their own motivations and characterizations.

I'm not sure what you think is being "censored" or what double-standard is being exercised here. Just say what you want to see in a game. You tell us what you think the failing is. Pitch us a game that you think Paizo wouldn't produce, because we might be able to find out why that wouldn't fly.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
I feel like when every single book takes the more nuanced approach except one, the one in question is the exception rather than the rule, even if that one is the Bestiary.

Well. Except for the part where it's absolutely not the exception to larger fantasy RPG tradition. Those problematic Bestiary entries don't exist in isolation; they have the weight of long tradition pressing in behind them. The trope "Orcs are literally and truly everything your Fox News-watching uncle thinks is Just Facts About the Ghetto" has been reproduced ad nauseam for decades, with the major exception being the odd "Blizzard-style green Klingon" orcs (who are kind of a Noble Savage trope with its own issues, but that's outside the scope I'm discussing here).

It's asking a lot of exceptions to this appearing in a couple of other setting books and player guides to do the work of dispensing with the massive inertia of that tradition. So you'll forgive me if I can't give a lot of weight to protestations that "I think you're reading way too much into a single page of a single book here." Whether or not it's just a mistake or deliberate cowardice I guess is kind of a side issue; it significantly confuses the supposed mission of the game to pursue a diversity-friendly approach. Esp. with its appearing in a fairly basic-utility book like the first Bestiary for the new system, as opposed to arguably more optional content like World Guides or Advanced Players' Guides. (In the sense that you really don't need the Lost Omens World Guide to build adventures for a PF2e campaign; doing without the Bestiary content is a bigger ask.)

Expecting better than this does not, by the way, require the orcs to be retroactively made into misunderstood Good Guys, that's something of a strawman. You don't have to do that to make a people into something more than a litany of crude, vicious, venom-spitting racial stereotypes. Other peoples have complicated societies with good and bad actors that aren't "mostly" any one thing. Implementing a similarly diverse standard for "monster races" just has to hold out the possibility that different events and conflicts might have different interpretations and complex causes, for instance. That there might be layers to events or personalities or peoples previously touched upon that we haven't previously seen. That even your existing history, even if it once subscribed to Tolkien Orcs But Cruder, still admits of possibilities for better, more nuanced storytelling.

That's a good thing, I think. It's surely one of the reasons you build a fantasy setting with millennia worth of often ambiguous and deliberately obscure history to play in and with.

Paizo has already started down this road, so I'm a hard sell that Pathfinder is painted into a corner by its prior stories here. They've essentially committed to retconning the previous standard position that Goblins are baby-eating raiders who cannot be good... even if the current version is still only the minimal concession that there might be a few "good" ones. There is, as you've correctly pointed out, already some confliction of the stereotypical Orc going on in PF2e material. Which tells me there's plenty of room for the proposition of taking Goblin personhood beyond that limited concession, and likewise for (say) making Drow into something more potentially interesting than cruel, soulless sadists, or for simply not reproducing the Standard Orc in anything they publish, be it by "mistake" or not.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
As a recent example, changes made to races/ancestries to make them "less influenced by real world stereotypes", were done as a direct result of the affected media being viewed as a graphic depiction that made people who felt uncomfortable or attacked by said media

Your missing a fundamental difference.

The language that was (and is, in the case of certain parts of the hobby) changed is being changed because it was resulting in an appearance that the in-setting "good guys" could use the same rhetoric and phrasing that real-world racists have used to otherize and dehumanize people.

Choosing not to describe an ancestry with language that if you switch the subject from fantasy people to a real-world people would read as racism and choosing to completely removing racism from the entire game are different things.

And as I said, it should be completely clear that it wasn't the latter choice that was made given that you can still find racism in the game - just not in the "parts of the game read as if written by a racist" form.

Liberty's Edge

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CeeJay wrote:
Well. Except for the part where it's absolutely not the exception to larger fantasy RPG tradition. Those problematic Bestiary entries don't exist in isolation; they have the weight of long tradition pressing in behind them. The trope "Orcs are literally and truly everything your Fox News-watching uncle thinks is Just Facts About the Ghetto" has been reproduced ad nauseam for decades, with the major exception being the odd "Blizzard-style green Klingon" orcs (who are kind of a Noble Savage trope with its own issues, but that's outside the scope I'm discussing here).

Sure, but now we're talking about a problem in the entire industry, not one purely with Paizo. And if we're gonna start doing industry comparisons with fantasy games specifically, Paizo looks better rather than worse, IMO.

This is a bad trope that I'm super pleased seems to be on its way out, and Paizo has certainly not been perfect and blameless in regards to it, but they are also clearly working hard to overcome that going forward, and you basically accusing them of being disingenuous in that regard over one page of text seems like a vast overreaction.

CeeJay wrote:
It's asking a lot of exceptions to this appearing in a couple of other setting books and player guides to do the work of dispensing with the massive inertia of that tradition. So you'll forgive me if I can't give a lot of weight to protestations that "I think you're reading way too much into a single page of a single book here." Whether or not it's just a mistake or deliberate cowardice I guess is kind of a side issue; it significantly confuses the supposed mission of the game to pursue a diversity-friendly approach. Esp. with its appearing in a fairly basic-utility book like the first Bestiary for the new system, as opposed to arguably more optional content like World Guides or Advanced Players' Guides. (In the sense that you really don't need the Lost Omens World Guide to build adventures for a PF2e campaign; doing without the Bestiary content is a bigger ask.)

The APG is a fundamental book involving, once it's out, 1/4 of the Classes in the game and about half the Ancestries. Most players will need to read it.

Contrariwise, nobody but the GM needs to read the Bestiary, and even for the GM it's often more a matter of looking up stats than reading creature descriptions. I literally hadn't ever read the page in question before you brought it up, and I both play and run Pathfinder.

Now, that doesn't erase that page as a bad thing. It's a bad page and the people at Paizo should 100% fix it. A fair number of people new to the game will read it, and come away with a skewed version of both orcs and Paio's general attitude towards them. I'm all for starting a thread specifically discussing this in order to bring it to their attention so they can do precisely that for the second printing of that book.

But you're making what amount to accusations that this is intentional on their part, a 'hedging their bets' move, and I just don't see any evidence of that, and a lot of evidence against it.

CeeJay wrote:
Expecting better than this does not, by the way, require the orcs to be retroactively made into misunderstood Good Guys, that's something of a strawman. You don't have to do that to make a people into something more than a litany of crude, vicious, venom-spitting racial stereotypes. Other peoples have complicated societies with good and bad actors that aren't "mostly" any one thing. Implementing a similarly diverse standard for "monster races" just has to hold out the possibility that different events and conflicts might have different interpretations and complex causes, for instance. That there might be layers to events or personalities or peoples previously touched upon that we haven't previously seen. That even your existing history, even if it once subscribed to Tolkien Orcs But Cruder, still admits of possibilities for better, more nuanced storytelling.

My point was that they've pretty much done exactly this in their setting books and the only way to go farther would be to do something retroactive. They've literally included an entire society of presumably Good-aligned, seemingly friendly, heroic, demon-fighting orcs, respected as heroes by the local Elves in the Mwangi Expanse. They've also had recent societal pressure make even the Orcs of Belkzen more inclined to dealing with outsiders without violence (though they remain Evil and unpleasant in total as a culture).

They have likewise included Good-aligned and well meaning goblins, reasonable hobgoblins with their own nation, and a host of similar things. They can't readily make them more common than the Evil examples or there start to be revisionism issues again, but they certainly exist.

Heck, even in PF1 the Belkzen book contained an entire tribe of Sarenrae worshiping Good-aligned Orcs. There's always been some complexity there, and will likely only be more going forward.

Outside of changing that page of text in the Bestiary, what more do you want them to do?

CeeJay wrote:
That's a good thing, I think. It's surely one of the reasons you build a fantasy setting with millennia worth of often ambiguous and deliberately obscure history to play in and with.

It's useful for long ago events, yes. It's harder to adjust 'what happened three years ago' in the same way, and a lot of the bad things done by, say, Orcs from Belkzen were very recent indeed.

CeeJay wrote:
Paizo has already started down this road, so I'm a hard sell that Pathfinder is painted into a corner by its prior stories here. They've essentially committed to retconning the previous standard position that Goblins are baby-eating raiders who cannot be good... even if the current version is still only the minimal concession that there might be a few "good" ones. There is, as you've correctly pointed out, already some confliction of the stereotypical Orc going on in PF2e material. Which tells me there's plenty of room for the proposition of taking Goblin personhood beyond that limited concession, and likewise for (say) making Drow into something more potentially interesting than cruel, soulless sadists, or for simply not reproducing the Standard Orc in anything they publish, be it by "mistake" or not.

Paizo never had a position that any race/ancestry 'cannot be Good', so they don't need to retcon it. That was very specifically and canonically untrue in PF1, though some people chose to ignore it.

What they had the position on was that, culturally, a variety of specific species in the Inner Sea region were primarily composed of Evil members. That position has not substantially changed, because doing that really would be a huge retcon, and one that smacks of covering up atrocities, which again is every bit as troublesome a trope as any of the issues with race.

So, they have expanded upon a non-Evil orcish culture already mentioned in a different part of the world from Belkzen, and provided in-universe reasons why more goblins are changing culturally, and so on. All of that feels like a reasonable change to the world, and there were still huge numbers of people upset about it. And most of those complaints weren't coming from a racist place, just a realism one 'Wait, goblins were universally hated but can now be PCs, what changed?'

In order to make the setting continue to appeal to those who like verisimilitude at all, they need to be careful with such changes. They've done a good job so far, IMO, but it hasn't been without its issues and people feeling it was too fast. Speeding up is one way to go, but I'm not at all sure it's the right one.


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MaxAstro wrote:

This is a long thread, and it's hard to follow everything, but did Darksol ever say how his "PC culture means you can't have slavery in your stories anymore" argument reconciles with "The very first AP of 2e has slavers and explicit depictions of slavery in three out of six books"?

I feel like that never got addressed.

I don't mind slavery being a recurring theme in a role playing game. I am currently running a game where slavery and the inequity of it all is a recurring theme. It is a little jarring and that is exactly the point. The players are soon going to forced into a choice.

But like all the other dimensions of the setting. I was upfront about it with the group so they could avoid it, or get it changed if it was outside their comfort zone.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
and you basically accusing them of being disingenuous in that regard over one page of text seems like a vast overreaction.

All due respect: if I wasn't clear enough about this earlier, I'm not much interested in your opinions about what does or doesn't constitute "overreaction." The reflexive scolding of people who raise the issue for "overreaction" is one of the habits that kept progress on this issue as utterly, embarrassingly primitive as it has been for decades.

And I'm neither discounting the positive steps Paizo has taken nor particularly impressed that "positive steps" by the early third decade of the 21st century still consist of "our game is for everyone, as witness the vary partial and marginal paring back of aggressively racist tropes that we previously treated as perfectly normal." They are, of course, better than most RPG companies, still. Unfortunately, this is mostly evidence of the across-the-board horrorshow that has been TTRPG race politics until this point.

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Paizo never had a position that any race/ancestry 'cannot be Good', so they don't need to retcon it.

Depends on the specific publication. I can certainly recall APs in 1e that make this case in very explicit, direct terms. The Drow entry in the bestiary still, very explicitly and without qualification, makes the case that Drow are the result of the corruption of Elves to evil, and only this. So yes, Paizo has at various points published things that take exactly this position.

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What they had the position on was that, culturally, a variety of specific species in the Inner Sea region were primarily composed of Evil members.

There's no significant difference between "mostly" and "all" in terms of degree-of-racism. You may think there is. There really isn't. "Some of them, I'm sure, are nice people" doesn't obviate racist characterization or its effects.

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That position has not substantially changed, because doing that really would be a huge retcon, and one that smacks of covering up atrocities, which again is every bit as troublesome a trope as any of the issues with race.

Actually the current description of Belkzen in the Lost Omens world guide no longer feels like a description of a primarily Eeeeevil society. It's in fact one of what I would call the brighter spots as this sort of thing goes, precisely because it does manage to provide complexity to a society without this somehow being "every bit as troublesome" as sticking to racist depictions without which you'd somehow be "covering up atrocities."

(There's never a choice between choosing massively racist language and "covering up atrocities," what a silly thing to say. It's much the same as recognizing, say, the Aztecs or the Spaniards of our history as fully human and complex actors doesn't need to involve "covering up atrocities," or with any other two groups that have ever come into violent conflict that involved atrocities.)

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Outside of changing that page of text in the Bestiary, what more do you want them to do?

WotC recently had the sense to announce a general tacking-away from "monster races" as a concept at all. That's a good idea. Not having attempts to tack towards diversity go by way of further racist tropes (such as "a few [such-and-such] are a credit to their generally evil and largely disposable people") would also be nice. And I'm getting rapidly sick of your constant attempts to deflect to "one page of the Bestiary."

Basically, I will see it as a golden day when I don't have to choose TTRPG products by the standard "whose content requires the least homebrewing to remove all the embarrassing, awful racist shizzle?" Paizo, right now, wins that contest. But by Gods it will be a beautiful thing if we ever get to the place where that's simply not something the POC part of the player base has to do.

(EDIT: There will, of course, be winners and losers in this. It will mean that racists will have to do more work to re-insert racist tropes into the resulting products, for instance. The illusion that one can appeal to one viewpoint without at some point pushing back against the other is just that. But Paizo already professes to have chosen its side in that tradeoff. It will be great when it all lines up.)

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All of that feels like a reasonable change to the world, and there were still huge numbers of people upset about it. And most of those complaints weren't coming from a racist place, just a realism one 'Wait, goblins were universally hated but can now be PCs, what changed?'

Hint: many of those complaints probably were, in fact, coming from a racist place, with 'realism' as an excuse. That's how that kind of apologetics generally works. Don't get me wrong, I generally get why Paizo might be skittish about changing certain things: everyone is not always their bravest selves and racists can throw up epic quantities of chaff and general bull$#!t even in relatively small numbers.

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They've done a good job so far, IMO, but it hasn't been without its issues and people feeling it was too fast.

The sort of people who will always "feel it was too fast" may not in fact have worthwhile or informed, or sometimes even good faith, perspectives on what made the racist tropes harmful in the first place.

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Speeding up is one way to go, but I'm not at all sure it's the right one.

Good for you! But again, with all due respect, I really wasn't asking.


CeeJay wrote:
EDIT: Oh look, your sole prior post in the thread is a disingenuous concern-troll of the OP.

It was two posts.

And do you really not see the deeply unsavory implications of asserting that "versatility" is somehow a Eurocentric stereotype that needs to be "twisted around" to apply to POC and indigenous people? Yes, it's immediately followed with an example of applying it to a hunter-gatherer, but it's described as a subversion of Eurocentric worldviews to do so. That struck me as a particularly big red flag, but if you don't see it I'd like to hear more. To me it smacked of a sort of subtle othering, because it left hanging the suggestion that those terms aren't ones that 'normally' ought to be applied to noneuropeans.

CeeJay wrote:
swoosh wrote:
Of course not, being unimpressed is part of the bit.
Guess you must run into that pretty often, huh? Couldn't be anything you're doing.

Fair enough, it probably is.


Change that is too fast will alienate people. Change that is too slow will fall behind the times.

It is not up to the players to decide what rate is right for Paizo because they are the ones who are writing the lore. Not us.

When talking about fantasy races in a world where gods are real and good and evil are tangible things you can physically touch, things are a lot more complicated than Racism.

All outsiders in pathfinder are made of the planar essence. A Demon is made of evil, is evil, and its very difficult if at all possible for it to ever become not evil. No matter how racist you think it is, the Demon in the world of pathfinder is evil.

Drow are by lore elves mutated by evil, who typically worship and evil race, and who are known to do horrible experiments. No matter how racist or stereotypical you that is, it wont change the fact that is how mots Drows are.

Orc specifically are an abnormality. As far as the Lore is concerned Orcs were not more than wild humanoids until they met the Dwarves. Which shows with their tendencies for violence, but also deep rooted loyalty. Which can only be described as a Pack turning into a culture.

*********************

Btw just as Elves may have horrible stories of Orcs. Orcs have this myth:

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The Happy Fellow is a legend told by orc mothers to their young about an elf who comes to eat orc children who smile too much in their sleep.

Cultures are messy and different. There will always be fights between different cultures: And the more different the cultures the more chance that racist views will appear. To not represent that in a deep world is a disservice.

No matter how much it bothers us. No world can be described without also describing its bad parts.

Part of the reason we have so much problem IRL is because so many people decided that not talking about the problems was better than addressing them. The same happens when a world is forced to change to fit a social view. You are not fixing the problem by removing it, you are choosing to ignore it rather then have an honest conversation about it.


Draco18s wrote:
(And I'm still looking for a TTRPG system that would adequately support him).

My last character in Fate Core was a floating blob of sentient disease. That system supports basically any concept. The only problem is that it didn't feel very mechanically distinct.


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Hmm my thoughts go a few ways I always feel like you should be proud of your differences and respectful of others differences. I feel like saying or forcing all ancestries to be the same is being disrespectful to their uniqueness and culture. So elves should be proud when their ears can hear what others can't and not hide it and pretend they can't to blend in. Saying that the fantasy ancestries shouldn't have any differences but appearance is kind of like white washing them or rather human washing them to all be the same. Giving the dwarfs the option of choosing their ancestral weapons both shows that as a culture dwarfs are tend to be thought this but it is an option so not all dwarfs have to be good with that weapon. A culture embracing it's heritage probably isn't racism. (you know unless the cultures heritage is racism then it might get grey. Looking at you elves -_-)


Squiggit wrote:
scary harpy wrote:
Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, Halflings and Humans have ancestry options...and they can also simply be adversaries.

And they have been?

I feel like bad humans are fairly standard and common enemies, even.

I'm sure they are.

Are they the weakened cannon-fodder for low-level groups? Or are they the BBEGs?

There is a subtle difference.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

As a note on how varied characters within ancestries are in PF2, before taking into account attribute choices, background and class I can make 30 distinct dwarves and 41 distinct humans, with the Core book only. This in "race" diversity is unprecedented from a core offering in and fantasy RPG.

Scarab Sages

scary harpy wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
scary harpy wrote:
Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, Halflings and Humans have ancestry options...and they can also simply be adversaries.

And they have been?

I feel like bad humans are fairly standard and common enemies, even.

I'm sure they are.

Are they the weakened cannon-fodder for low-level groups? Or are they the BBEGs?

There is a subtle difference.

I'm honestly not sure what your point is. Are you complaining that Orcs are always villainous, or that they're never primary antagonists?


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NECR0G1ANT wrote:
scary harpy wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
scary harpy wrote:
Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, Halflings and Humans have ancestry options...and they can also simply be adversaries.

And they have been?

I feel like bad humans are fairly standard and common enemies, even.

I'm sure they are.

Are they the weakened cannon-fodder for low-level groups? Or are they the BBEGs?

There is a subtle difference.

I'm honestly not sure what your point is. Are you complaining that Orcs are always villainous, or that they're never primary antagonists?

And Orcs aren't really the weakened cannon-fodder either. They show up around the same time and in the same ways as humans do. A couple levels later as fodder and at any point as classed and more powerful bad guys.

Weakened cannon-fodder is more goblins and kobolds. There's a place for that and it still doesn't need to be "always evil, kill on sight". Just weak enough to use as enemies in numbers.

I think the key isn't so much how they're used as enemies, but how often and in what context they show up as non-enemies. It's one thing to have a note saying "they're not always evil" or even one adventure somewhere where there's a non-evil group of them, but to have them show up semi-regularly as non-villainous NPCs - living in towns, doing their thing.


Malk_Content wrote:
As a note on how varied characters within ancestries are in PF2, before taking into account attribute choices, background and class I can make 30 distinct dwarves and 41 distinct humans, with the Core book only. This in "race" diversity is unprecedented from a core offering in and fantasy RPG.

I agree that PF2s first couple of books have given a ton of diversity that is rarely if ever seen.

Previously I belive it was the PF1 that had the most diversity thanks to Alternate racial traits, race traits, and racial feats. However, it took them years to build up all those options. With the core book remaining very plain.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Temperans wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
As a note on how varied characters within ancestries are in PF2, before taking into account attribute choices, background and class I can make 30 distinct dwarves and 41 distinct humans, with the Core book only. This in "race" diversity is unprecedented from a core offering in and fantasy RPG.

I agree that PF2s first couple of books have given a ton of diversity that is rarely if ever seen.

Previously I belive it was the PF1 that had the most diversity thanks to Alternate racial traits, race traits, and racial feats. However, it took them years to build up all those options. With the core book remaining very plain.

I'll also note that even though pf1 eventually hit a decent level of within race variety, as it wasnt there from the start it still had a concept of "traditional dwarf" that you then deviated from.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
I feel like saying or forcing all ancestries to be the same is being disrespectful to their uniqueness and culture.

And sure enough, elves, halflings, dwarves and gnomes, half-elves and (in the somewhat-more-progressive now-about-time) even goblins and half-orcs can all be distinct from each other and possessed of their own particular ranges of characteristics and flaws with none of them having to read like Christian Identity fanatics writing about the darkies. Which is because there's a long way between "races shouldn't be canned racist stereotypes" and "fantasy ancestries shouldn't have any differences," and it's never necessary to defend or tolerate racism for the sake of variety.


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One thing that PF2 does vastly better than PF1 is that even though alternative racial traits allowed a lot of variety, every dwarf still started out as Greedy and Hateful and you had to go shopping for alternative traits to replace those if that wasn't the Dwarf you wanted to play.

This is a lot worse in terms of stereotyping than any ancestry feat could be, since the ancestry feat fundamentally represents "some X are like this" and not "this is the default for x."


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It seems like the very premise of the thread was based upon the idea that ancestry feats were limited to specific Ancestries, and thus inherently gated away from others. Since that is not true, the fear that ancestry is somehow now more restrictive and definitive of identity than race was in PF1 is a false flag issue.

Skilled and Versatile as heritages are incredibly bland and flavorless heritages, that would be problematic if they were nearly as powerful as their equivalent abilities from PF1, but General feats are far less important than before, and if anything it is skilled that became more powerful than before, because getting free skill boosts to expert is hard to come by in PF2, but it is not nearly as powerful as getting an extra class feat.

Ancestry feels far more tied to the cultural development of the character than innate ability and that has an awesome feel in play.

Scarab Sages

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CeeJay wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
I feel like saying or forcing all ancestries to be the same is being disrespectful to their uniqueness and culture.
And sure enough, elves, halflings, dwarves and gnomes, half-elves and (in the somewhat-more-progressive now-about-time) even goblins and half-orcs can all be distinct from each other and possessed of their own particular ranges of characteristics and flaws with none of them having to read like Christian Identity fanatics writing about the darkies. Which is because there's a long way between "races shouldn't be canned racist stereotypes" and "fantasy ancestries shouldn't have any differences," and it's never necessary to defend or tolerate racism for the sake of variety.

Well, I'm interested in hearing your perspective on orcs after the APG is released and we get some player options for them.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
swoosh wrote:
RJGrady wrote:
I am stating a hunter-gathered is skilled. What is your problem with that?
You did, in the context of it being a subversion of something you deemed Eurocentric. That's horrifying, especially with how blasé you seem about it.

I apologize if I was unclear in some way that obfuscated my message.

I thought I was clear that Versatile and Skilled do fully apply to people outside the Eurocentric fantasy norm. Hunter-gatherers are skilled, priests with extracurricular skills are versatile. However, I don't think the presentation in P2 suggests that. I think it's clear that humans are "regular" and are considered versatile and skilled,, and I think that has a not-incidental connection to the trope white middle-class people are "regular" and are considered versatile and skilled. I think this is really even clearer when you contrast the Versatile heritage with the Quah Bond feat. Clearly, some humans are more versatile than others.

I don't know you, so it's not fair to rely on your understanding of everything I said. I hope that clears up what I was saying.

As to those who suggested I was engaging in hit-and-run posting, I already made a lengthy post that elaborates my viewpoint. I don't want to get into a back-and-forth with individual posters. I won't want to overwhelm the discussion with my personal viewpoint. I don't think it's valuable to repeat myself. I do want people to approach these issues with an open mind and develop their own thoughts about them. I do want to make room for other voices. This thread belongs to everyone. I'm not here to stand on a hill and take all comers. My responses are largely going to be to clarify, and to respond to interesting things other people say. If someone wants to ask me a question, by all means, I will try to respond thoughtfully as I am able.


Keep in mind that Heritages and Ancestry Feats are in different bins. Being a skilled human precludes being a half-elf/orc, a versatile human, or a wintertouched human. But any of those heritages can take any of the human feats that they want.

The solution to "Quah Bond means Shoanti are more skilled than others" is just to do different kinds of "you get training in something and a skill feat" ancestry feats for other cultures. Fundamentally this just represents "you are from a culture where this skill was particularly valued."


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
RJGrady wrote:
swoosh wrote:
RJGrady wrote:
I am stating a hunter-gathered is skilled. What is your problem with that?
You did, in the context of it being a subversion of something you deemed Eurocentric. That's horrifying, especially with how blasé you seem about it.

I apologize if I was unclear in some way that obfuscated my message.

I thought I was clear that Versatile and Skilled do fully apply to people outside the Eurocentric fantasy norm. Hunter-gatherers are skilled, priests with extracurricular skills are versatile. However, I don't think the presentation in P2 suggests that. I think it's clear that humans are "regular" and are considered versatile and skilled,, and I think that has a not-incidental connection to the trope white middle-class people are "regular" and are considered versatile and skilled. I think this is really even clearer when you contrast the Versatile heritage with the Quah Bond feat. Clearly, some humans are more versatile than others.

I don't know you, so it's not fair to rely on your understanding of everything I said. I hope that clears up what I was saying.

As to those who suggested I was engaging in hit-and-run posting, I already made a lengthy post that elaborates my viewpoint. I don't want to get into a back-and-forth with individual posters. I won't want to overwhelm the discussion with my personal viewpoint. I don't think it's valuable to repeat myself. I do want people to approach these issues with an open mind and develop their own thoughts about them. I do want to make room for other voices. This thread belongs to everyone. I'm not here to stand on a hill and take all comers. My responses are largely going to be to clarify, and to respond to interesting things other people say. If someone wants to ask me a question, by all means, I will try to respond thoughtfully as I am able.

But Humans in PF2 actually cannot be both Versatile and Skilled, it is exclusively an either or situation, and those are heritages, not ancestry feats, so there is no baseline human that is both.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Quote:
I think it's clear that humans are "regular" and are considered versatile and skilled,, and I think that has a not-incidental connection to the trope white middle-class people are "regular" and are considered versatile and skilled.

That's a brand new trope to me.


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RJGrady wrote:
I thought I was clear that Versatile and Skilled do fully apply to people outside the Eurocentric fantasy norm. Hunter-gatherers are skilled, priests with extracurricular skills are versatile. However, I don't think the presentation in P2 suggests that. I think it's clear that humans are "regular" and are considered versatile and skilled,, and I think that has a not-incidental connection to the trope white middle-class people are "regular" and are considered versatile and skilled. I think this is really even clearer when you contrast the Versatile heritage with the Quah Bond feat. Clearly, some humans are more versatile than others.

Humans get to be treated as the default because this game is exclusively played by humans. Assuming that everyone who plays the game is straight, white, male, or any other demographic is wrong because this game can and should be approachable to everyone. Seeing as we're all humans, I fail to see how making them the most versatile option is wrong because it reminds you of past decisions that were wrong.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
CeeJay wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
I feel like saying or forcing all ancestries to be the same is being disrespectful to their uniqueness and culture.
And sure enough, elves, halflings, dwarves and gnomes, half-elves and (in the somewhat-more-progressive now-about-time) even goblins and half-orcs can all be distinct from each other and possessed of their own particular ranges of characteristics and flaws with none of them having to read like Christian Identity fanatics writing about the darkies. Which is because there's a long way between "races shouldn't be canned racist stereotypes" and "fantasy ancestries shouldn't have any differences," and it's never necessary to defend or tolerate racism for the sake of variety.

Just gonna throw my hat in here, and point out that interpreting orcs as "white people's colonialist idea of people of color" is probably ahistorical. Tolkien traditionally described them as having 'mongolian' features, making them rooted in real world atrocities and mass killings, which Tolkien would have identified with the victims of as a European and been intimately familiar with as a medievalist.

In similar fashion, its not hard to read some viking DNA in how they're described as raiders and such given that he was a British Catholic, and we can see this legacy in their choice of weapons in pathfinder- the orc necksplitter for instance is described as a bearded axe which is very much a norse/scandinavian code. They can probably also be associated with the 'barbarians' of Roman context, given that the big fear is traditionally that they might get together and burn down the bastions of civilization and need to be stopped.

The 'orcs as black people' I feel is more represented in the Warcraft Noble Savage Orcs you brought up before, what with their shamanism, and some of their cultural coding, which has led to a weird grey area where a lot of people associate them that way.

But I'll remind you that its much less pressing when actual black people are represented among the heroes as well, you brought up Drow as racist against black people, but Pathfinder Drow are not a representation of a Black elf. We have actual Black Elves (and Black Humans!) coded to represent African people and people of African descent in a fantasy milieu that pulls from their own culture, the Mwangi that have nothing to do with Drow (other than what all other Elves have to do with them) here's a human example in this sense they're represented with the same degree of respect, and the same lack of racist tropes, as the Ulfen, or the Tian.

This is probably what made them comfortable with the Orc bestiary entry which is meant to only view orcs through the context of monsters-- especially since they know that there exists a real demand for the orcs of traditional fantasy. Personally I'm not a fan of the traditional fantasy orcs for some of the reasons you describe (but more abstract, there's an aspect of dehumanization inherent in viewing any intelligent being that way, even if it is created by people hurt/oppressed by the people they're caricaturing in the past, ala Tolkien and Mongols/Vikings) and my own setting alters them pretty completely in terms of lore, while writing around it to leave them with the same stats.


The-Magic-Sword wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:
Megistone wrote:
(Incidentally, I find difficult to understand why some things like rape are taboo, but killing is widespread and totally acceptable to have in basically every story!)

Probably because people tend to not survive to be traumatized after they’ve been killed.

Some people do react that way when violence is graphically described. They tend not to play D20, or let their GM know that less is more when describing combat.

Plus everyone's baggage is different, my PTSD has very particular triggers that would realistically be fine at someone else's table, but I would need to curb at my own-- but then my game definitely includes some things that would not be fine at every table, and that isn't a euphemism for anything really out there either.

I've had a dispute when trying to play my enchantment wizard in 5e for using magic to try and get a somewhat scared village kid we saved to trust us long enough for us to demonstrate we weren't actually a threat and find out what was really going on.

For me, enchantment magic is far better than mass killings as a resolution, but for some people its unambiguously creepy even if nothing actually 'rapey' is being done with it. Better to burn people to death in large groups than mess with their heads with magic.

What's most interesting is when I know its not even someone's own traumas (My friends are prone to aggressive oversharing), they just have a mental list of topics to police that's cultural/reputation based in nature. Sometimes we have the humorous moment where someone HAS first hand experience with something, but doesn't have a problem with it appearing in the game, but someone else was super prepared to police it.

So the explanation is that less people tend to be traumatized by killing than by other things, and if they do they generally don't play heroic fantasy games? Is it just a matter of numbers?

PossibleCabbage wrote:


There's no way to avoid politics in anything. There's just "politics you don't notice" or "politics that don't bother you."

Even something like "the king has put a bounty on the local bandit lord" is political since it assumes:
- Kings can just arbitrarily do this sort of thing.
- Sending adventurers to murder someone is a reasonable form of justice.
- The people of the kingdom just go along with that sort of thing.
- Paying mercenaries to kill people is an appropriate use of limited government funds.

If these things just never come up in your game in which the king puts a bounty on the bandit lord, then you are tacitly endorsing them as normal or unexceptional.

You are right, I should have said it better: when I play, I don't have the littlest interest in looking for phisolopical issues and political implications in every little thing. Your example shows why: if I was doing that, I wouldn't feel to be playing a fantasy game anymore.

To each their own. I must say that this thread is convincing me ever more to only care about fun. In my fantasy world orcs are orcs, not a representation of some real-life population; so I'm totally ok if some setting considers them 'always evil', 'less intelligent' or 'not people'.


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Just because you don't care doesn't magically make it not an issue that exists.

Scarab Sages

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The-Magic-Sword wrote:
...but Pathfinder Drow are not a representation of a Black elf. We have actual Black Elves (and Black Humans!) coded to represent African people and people of African descent in a fantasy milieu that pulls from their own culture, the Mwangi that have nothing to do with Drow (other than what all other Elves have to do with them) here's a human example in this sense they're represented with the same degree of respect, and the same lack of racist tropes, as the Ulfen, or the Tian.

Building off of what The-Magic-Sword said...

There's also some great artwork of a dark-skinned elf, of an ethnicity *not* from the Mwangi Expanse, on page 22 of the Lost Omens Character Guide. I think that implies "Black Elves" do live outside the Mwangi Expanse as well.


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Yeah, I really love the LOCG for showing the different ethnicities of fantasy races in Golarion, it's not something I've seen anywhere else.


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Megistone wrote:


You are right, I should have said it better: when I play, I don't have the littlest interest in looking for phisolopical issues and political implications in every little thing. Your example shows why: if I was doing that, I wouldn't feel to be playing a fantasy game anymore.

To each their own. I must say that this thread is convincing me ever more to only care about fun. In my fantasy world orcs are orcs, not a representation of some real-life population; so I'm totally ok if some setting considers them 'always evil', 'less intelligent' or 'not people'.

For at least some people, it's not a matter of looking for implications in every little thing, it's that due to their own life experiences some of those things leap out at them in ways that are hard to just ignore.

From a designer standpoint, if you want to minimize that happening to your audience you do have to examine everything carefully, but that's not what many of the players reacting are doing.

Liberty's Edge

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CeeJay wrote:
All due respect: if I wasn't clear enough about this earlier, I'm not much interested in your opinions about what does or doesn't constitute "overreaction."

Firstly, on a purely tonal matter, "All due respect" followed immediately by 'I don't care about your opinions at all' is one of the single most dismissive and unpleasant ways to phrase anything I've seen in quite a while (at least on these forums). Seriously, that's just rude and unpleasant on a pretty severe level when you think about it, in what comes across as a really narcissistic 'nobody's opinion but mine has value' kinda way.

You may not have meant it that way, and I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt in that regard, but you need to rethink how you talk to people.

I've given you the respect of actually considering your point of view and treating you like a person with worthwhile thoughts on the subject. You should do the same.

You could easily have said 'I don't think I'm overreacting' and reworded your second sentence slightly and this would've been a much more pleasant discussion without this tangent, but you went out of your way and chose to emphasize that to you, my opinion didn't matter. Think about how messed up that is to go out of your way to say to another human being who's been having a polite conversation with you, and why you felt the need to do so. Twice, since you did it again later in the post as well.

CeeJay wrote:
The reflexive scolding of people who raise the issue for "overreaction" is one of the habits that kept progress on this issue as utterly, embarrassingly primitive as it has been for decades.

Sure. I don't even disagree with that. But it in no way follows that nothing is ever an overreaction. Overreactions are a thing that exists, and not everyone who thinks you're overreacting is doing it in a reflexive way.

I thought very carefully about what you were saying, noted several parts I agreed with and then expressed a very specific disagreement with you. That's not inherently reactionary or knee-jerk and acting like it always is can be deeply counterproductive, since it stifles legitimate disagreement as well as the sort of thing you're trying to avoid.

CeeJay wrote:
And I'm neither discounting the positive steps Paizo has taken nor particularly impressed that "positive steps" by the early third decade of the 21st century still consist of "our game is for everyone, as witness the vary partial and marginal paring back of aggressively racist tropes that we previously treated as perfectly normal." They are, of course, better than most RPG companies, still. Unfortunately, this is mostly evidence of the across-the-board horrorshow that has been TTRPG race politics until this point.

I'm not really arguing you need to be impressed. I'm arguing you should not assume they're acting in bad faith. Which is what you strongly implied in the wording I've been objecting to.

CeeJay wrote:
Depends on the specific publication. I can certainly recall APs in 1e that make this case in very explicit, direct terms. The Drow entry in the bestiary still, very explicitly and without qualification, makes the case that Drow are the result of the corruption of Elves to evil, and only this. So yes, Paizo has at various points published things that take exactly this position.

Second Darkness and the PF1 Bestiary both have deeply troublesome depictions of Drow, it's true. Both are also over a decade old. That doesn't mean they're not bad, but it does mean I don't think they speak to Paizo's current plans or intent.

I firmly believe, and have a fair bit of evidence to support, that the people at Paizo are trying to do better. If you don't think they're doing enough, I'm not even gonna argue with you (I'm not sure I agree, but it's definitely debatable).

But you didn't just say 'I don't think they've gone far enough' you accused them of trying to have it both ways, which is a matter of intent, and I don't think that's correct.

CeeJay wrote:
There's no significant difference between "mostly" and "all" in terms of degree-of-racism. You may think there is. There really isn't. "Some of them, I'm sure, are nice people" doesn't obviate racist characterization or its effects.

No, there's a difference. Both are bad stereotypes, but 'all' results in arguments where people try and justify killing goblin babies. Believe me, I've had a lot of arguments on that subject (or drow babies, or orc babies, and so on), or other forms of genocide as 'Good' acts. That's a special level of f@$!ed up that goes quite a ways beyond 'most of them are bad'. I am really pleased that's even more explicit in PF2 and these arguments are fewer.

Which, again, is not to say 'only a few are nice' doesn't have problems, but at least it mostly avoids people trying to justify genocide. So that's a good thing, if admittedly a low bar.

CeeJay wrote:
Actually the current description of Belkzen in the Lost Omens world guide no longer feels like a description of a primarily Eeeeevil society. It's in fact one of what I would call the brighter spots as this sort of thing goes, precisely because it does manage to provide complexity to a society without this somehow being "every bit as troublesome" as sticking to racist depictions without which you'd somehow be "covering up atrocities."

I never contradicted this. In was saying they couldn't take this sort of thing much further than they already had without doing that, not that they'd already gone too far or something. I was talking about the boundaries of what they could do, and in fact specifically stated I thought they were doing pretty well within those boundaries.

You seemed to want them to go further, and I was making a case for one of the reasons they can't do so readily, not objecting to all change, and certainly not to the ones they'd already made.

CeeJay wrote:
(There's never a choice between choosing massively racist language and "covering up atrocities," what a silly thing to say. It's much the same as recognizing, say, the Aztecs or the Spaniards of our history as fully human and complex actors doesn't need to involve "covering up atrocities," or with any other two groups that have ever come into violent conflict that involved atrocities.)

I'm not defending 'massively racist language', I'm defending the degree to which a majority of Orcs in Belkzen are still pretty unpleasant and similar world elements. The two are, in fact, different things.

You may well disagree with my point of view on this, but please don't conflate me disagreeing with you on a couple of specific points with me disagreeing with you on everything.

CeeJay wrote:
WotC recently had the sense to announce a general tacking-away from "monster races" as a concept at all. That's a good idea. Not having attempts to tack towards diversity go by way of further racist tropes (such as "a few [such-and-such] are a credit to their generally evil and largely disposable people") would also be nice. And I'm getting rapidly sick of your constant attempts to deflect to "one page of the Bestiary."

I'm not deflecting. I actually asked what other issues you had in concrete terms, what more you wanted them to do aside from change that page. You have yet to answer me, which is disappointing, because I'd sincerely like to hear what direct substantive changes (aside from the content of Bestiary entries) you'd like them to make.

I mean, maybe you have some great ideas that they'd take to heart if they saw them. That'd be really good.

CeeJay wrote:
Basically, I will see it as a golden day when I don't have to choose TTRPG products by the standard "whose content requires the least homebrewing to remove all the embarrassing, awful racist shizzle?" Paizo, right now, wins that contest. But by Gods it will be a beautiful thing if we ever get to the place where that's simply not something the POC part of the player base has to do.

I agree with this completely. There's definitely a lot more work to do, certainly including on Paizo's part. I just don't think assuming bad intentions in regards to their errors on this path is useful, productive, or appropriate.

CeeJay wrote:
(EDIT: There will, of course, be winners and losers in this. It will mean that racists will have to do more work to re-insert racist tropes into the resulting products, for instance. The illusion that one can appeal to one viewpoint without at some point pushing back against the other is just that. But Paizo already professes to have chosen its side in that tradeoff. It will be great when it all lines up.)

Again, I agree with basically all of this. With the exception of how you phrased that last couple of sentences.

Why say 'professes'? I mean, even if you doubt Paizo's commitment to what they've said you could say something like 'Paizo seems to have chosen its side in that tradeoff.' That has the great advantage of not being dismissive of what Paizo seems to be trying to do. It goes back to my issue with you seeming to assume they're acting in bad faith.

Which is weird. It's weird when conservatives accuse them of bowing to pressure in terms of inclusivity, but it's equally weird when you seemingly do the same thing. I think it's pretty clear they want to be inclusive, they just aren't there yet in terms of some unpleasant implication stuff like with fantasy species. I mean, if they didn't want to be inclusive, why did they change all the stuff they did between PF1 and PF2? There wasn't a lot of pressure to at that time, they just did it.

You can argue they did it poorly (and probably should in some cases), or that they lack the knowledge and skill set to do it well (though I think that's more dubious personally), but I think their motivations being suspect is deeply weird at this stage of things.

CeeJay wrote:
Hint: many of those complaints probably were, in fact, coming from a racist place, with 'realism' as an excuse. That's how that kind of apologetics generally works. Don't get me wrong, I generally get why Paizo might be skittish about changing certain things: everyone is not always their bravest selves and racists can throw up epic quantities of chaff and general bull$#!t even in relatively small numbers.

Some of them certainly were racist. But not all of them, and I don't think caring about the internal continuity of their setting has be a demonstration of Paizo 'not being their bravest selves'.

CeeJay wrote:
The sort of people who will always "feel it was too fast" may not in fact have worthwhile or informed, or sometimes even good faith, perspectives on what made the racist tropes harmful in the first place.

In regards to the sort of people who always feel that way you're probably right. But something can legitimately happen too fast. In this case, adding heretofore unknown cultures of friendly goblins (or whoever) places other than the Inner Sea area and other real world changes (like changing the orc description in the Bestiary) can't happen too fast, but in universe changes like goblins being well liked in the Inner Sea region absolutely can happen too fast for verisimilitude, which causes all sorts of issues.

CeeJay wrote:
Good for you! But again, with all due respect, I really wasn't asking.

See again my first bit regarding how unpleasant and unnecessary phrasing yourself this way is.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Salamileg wrote:
Yeah, I really love the LOCG for showing the different ethnicities of fantasy races in Golarion, it's not something I've seen anywhere else.

Yeah. It's one of the more important steps and something I hope they expand on.

Too often I think the in fantasy fiction, different species are written more like ethnic groups, with generally one dominant society and cultural tradition, especially for less player facing or popular options.

And an ancestry is going to feel a lot less like a stand-in or stereotype of a real world group if they have nuanced and varied cultural traditions of their own. Plus I'd argue in general it's just better writing than having these extremely monolithic cultures.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

In general, diversity almost always helps with these issues. If there are dark-skinned elves that are not Drow, and drow that are not dark-skinned, and drow that aren't evil, and evil elves that aren't drow, then "Drow" doesn't have to do as much work. When one representation of a race or ancestry has to do all the work, the result is almost always reductive. And in matters of race and ethnicity, reductivity draws from the wells of real-world issues. At that point, you can have "evil Drow" as a convenient bad guy because you aren't saying something about the essence of drow, and therefore about the essentialness of ancestries in general.

Unless a group represents a very small population, almost a specific community or tribe rather than a species, race, or ethnicity, each ancestry should represent groups with multiple cultures in them, multiple sects, and multiple nations and kingdoms.


Squiggit wrote:
Salamileg wrote:
Yeah, I really love the LOCG for showing the different ethnicities of fantasy races in Golarion, it's not something I've seen anywhere else.

Yeah. It's one of the more important steps and something I hope they expand on.

Too often I think the in fantasy fiction, different species are written more like ethnic groups, with generally one dominant society and cultural tradition, especially for less player facing or popular options.

And an ancestry is going to feel a lot less like a stand-in or stereotype of a real world group if they have nuanced and varied cultural traditions of their own. Plus I'd argue in general it's just better writing than having these extremely monolithic cultures.

This can sometimes work, when a species is isolated, geographically or otherwise. Even some PF species are that way, but most are widespread.


thejeff wrote:

And Orcs aren't really the weakened cannon-fodder either. They show up around the same time and in the same ways as humans do. A couple levels later as fodder and at any point as classed and more powerful bad guys.

Weakened cannon-fodder is more goblins and kobolds. There's a place for that and it still doesn't need to be "always evil, kill on sight". Just weak enough to use as enemies in numbers.

I think the key isn't so much how they're used as enemies, but how often and in what context they show up as non-enemies. It's one thing to have a note saying "they're not always evil" or even one adventure somewhere where there's a non-evil group of them, but to have them show up semi-regularly as non-villainous NPCs - living in towns, doing their thing.

Thanks, thejeff.

I don’t know how I’m failing to communicate clearly…but, apparently, I am. Sorry to anyone I confuse.

Weakened cannon-fodder is more goblins and kobolds…and now mitflits…but not halflings and gnomes. Why?

Perhaps because only some beings are labeled disposable, evil foes. If that description gives automatic permission to commit offenses against these labeled peoples, then I think this is a problem.

I agree the key is not how some beings are shown as enemies but how else they are shown. (I’ll use fey for my examples.) Is the mitflit committing an atrocity…or is he foraging vegetables for his supper? Is the hag perpetrating some foul deed…or is she in the marketplace for her weekly shopping? Are the PCs acting heroically when they attack beings because “they are always evil”?

I don’t know how else I can say this…so I probably won’t say much else if anything. I hope I didn’t wander too far off topic.

Liberty's Edge

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scary harpy wrote:
thejeff wrote:

And Orcs aren't really the weakened cannon-fodder either. They show up around the same time and in the same ways as humans do. A couple levels later as fodder and at any point as classed and more powerful bad guys.

Weakened cannon-fodder is more goblins and kobolds. There's a place for that and it still doesn't need to be "always evil, kill on sight". Just weak enough to use as enemies in numbers.

I think the key isn't so much how they're used as enemies, but how often and in what context they show up as non-enemies. It's one thing to have a note saying "they're not always evil" or even one adventure somewhere where there's a non-evil group of them, but to have them show up semi-regularly as non-villainous NPCs - living in towns, doing their thing.

Thanks, thejeff.

I don’t know how I’m failing to communicate clearly…but, apparently, I am. Sorry to anyone I confuse.

Weakened cannon-fodder is more goblins and kobolds…and now mitflits…but not halflings and gnomes. Why?

Perhaps because only some beings are labeled disposable, evil foes. If that description gives automatic permission to commit offenses against these labeled peoples, then I think this is a problem.

I agree the key is not how some beings are shown as enemies but how else they are shown. (I’ll use fey for my examples.) Is the mitflit committing an atrocity…or is he foraging vegetables for his supper? Is the hag perpetrating some foul deed…or is she in the marketplace for her weekly shopping? Are the PCs acting heroically when they attack beings because “they are always evil”?

I don’t know how else I can say this…so I probably won’t say much else if anything. I hope I didn’t wander too far off topic.

Maybe there is an inverse prejudice that Halflings and Gnomes are "always good". Note that this does not cover Humans which often appear as cannon-fodder for Evil too.

Or the above ancestries are often portrayed as victims of Evil, which is not the case for Goblins or Orcs.

And Humans are often found on both sides : soldiers of Evil and victims of Evil.


I thought the basic idea is that of the six core ancestries, each is roughly around one of the six non-evil alignments:

Dwarfs- LG
Halflings-LN
Gnomes-NG
Humans-TN
Elves-CG
Goblins-CN

Scarab Sages

PossibleCabbage wrote:

I thought the basic idea is that of the six core ancestries, each is roughly around one of the six non-evil alignments:

Dwarfs- LG
Halflings-LN
Gnomes-NG
Humans-TN
Elves-CG
Goblins-CN

I think James Jacobs said that, although I disagree with several entries.

That's my gripe with how Pathfinder does alignment, come to think of it. It's hard to understand how some creatures live up to the alignments in their statblocks.

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