Depictions of Slavery in Golarion


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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James Jacobs wrote:
Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
What happened with the silver ravens?
I found them to be more interesting that the Firebrands.
The Silver Ravens are still around. They're a part of the Firebrands, which is a new faction that we invented in 2nd edition to make up for the fact that we really didn't have much appealing for chaotic good players to look to join, traditionally.

They don't have an archetypes just for them though do they?


Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:
Hey, if we had trouble keeping track of the chronology, it is no surprise that a player who was repelled by slavery storylines (and likely left organized play until they heard about 9-00) would also be confused by the chronology. Also, we should remember that just because PFS banned PCs from owning slaves did not mean that slavery narratives were not still happening in PFS.

I mean its also worth noting that despite all his whinning an insistence otherwise nothing actively contradicts the freelancer because I've legitimately heard the same issue worded slightly differently. Pathfinder Society wasn't ever allowed to retcon or change the setting in the degree or capacity that would be required to abolish slavery in Absalom. You would get enemies and factions specifically developed for Pathfinder Society to play around with and have their status quo changed.

Its also worth noting that even after that you would have plotlines with the Society that were still really iffy. Like this season of Pathfinder Society has to the potential to bomb really hard in that department though I'm going to take a shot in the dark and say that they are aware of the issues.

Silver Crusade

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"As long as I've been around I haven't actually seen ANY real public criticism"

Then you weren't looking, these forums nearly tore themselves apart over it, leading up to Slavery options getting banned we had three pro-slavery threads going at once.

I remember, I didn't sleep any in that 24+ hours of posting (Compton can confirm this) due to arguing with people trying to justify slavery and keep their bought slaves for their characters.


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I, for one, am glad to see the barbaric practice of slavery banished from the world we all lovingly inhabit. Ridding our societies of such cruelties allows us to focus more fully on wholesome endeavors like accepting an egg to be implanted in our warm, fleshy body cavities.

Once we, as a community, can overcome the flaws of our past and fully embrace values that emphasize the intrinsic worth of all our fellow mortals, we open ourselves up to a new world of possibilities (like willingly allowing an oviposited egg the size of a human heart to gestate within ourselves until it transforms us into a more perfect being no longer burdened by the troublesome ethical/moral/societal frameworks preventing us from uniting as one abyssal amalgamation).

This is a wild ride we’re all embarking on and I’d love for us all to see it through to completion.


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No, you're looking for slaadi, next door on the lrifht.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Themetricsystem wrote:
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
The consensus that slavery shouldn't be featured ever seems brand new to me. Did anyone here ever post criticism of Age of Ashes or Lost Omens Legends before this week? Or are there just a lot of recent converts?

/shrug

As long as I've been around I haven't actually seen ANY real public criticism of it on these forums other than one or two instances where it was questioned why it was by RAW allowed for PFS (after which time it was eliminated) so I imagine if they have been getting feedback about it making people uncomfortable I have to imagine nearly all of it came in the form of direct emails, consultation they paid for by sensitivity readers, organized play leadership communications, and direct feedback they received from their freelancers who were tasked with writing content pertaining to the subject.

Maybe I've just not been looking in the right places, at the right times to notice it, or it has just been a personal blindspot.

Honestly, I think that's a big reason why so many people have been taken aback by the move as it seems to be rather sudden for the far-reaching implications it has for the setting, adventures, and lore that they are invested in producing here-forward.

I’ve posted and reposted a post from Sara Marie from three years ago about how advocating for slavery is against community rules, but sure, never been a problem.


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It also came up in every thread about gnolls/hobgoblins/etc.


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Curious and somewhat dismayed about all the Andoran hate in here. Andoran really ISN'T a USA analog. The closest it comes to that is being like that nation you would expect to see founded if somebody had leaked the most idealistic of the pre-Revolutionary writings to Golarion, and some idealistic people there translated them and took up the ideals, and DIDN'T make a Faustian bargain with slaveholders, and actually took the professed ideals seriously for at least long enough to establish a nation that was actually good.

Note also that from a technical standpoint, Andoran's government is NOT an analog of either the Continental Congress or the US government . . . even if for no other reason than that it is a parliamentary government rather than a presidential/congressional government.

Scarab Sages

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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
Remember that you're the agitating force right now. You're the ones saying Paizo is obligated to print more slavery content. All we're saying, fundamentally, is, "Eh, we're good."

When have I said Paizo has any obligations at all? I've just been point out bad arguments and mistakes where as I see them.

Remember that your own opinion that "abolition is such a painful topic that its ongoing plotline must be abandoned immediately" is less than a week old. Most everyone, yourself included, were fine with abolition being part of the setting.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
Kobold Catgirl wrote:
Remember that you're the agitating force right now. You're the ones saying Paizo is obligated to print more slavery content. All we're saying, fundamentally, is, "Eh, we're good."

When have I said Paizo has any obligations at all? I've just been point out bad arguments and mistakes where as I see them.

Remember that your own opinion that "abolition is such a painful topic that its ongoing plotline must be abandoned immediately" is less than a week old. Most everyone, yourself included, were fine with abolition being part of the setting.

That's the way it works when someone shines a light on a hot topic issue. To be clear I've never been fine with slavery, I was not a member of the community the first time this came up, and when someone shines a light in an area that needs to be addressed the people in a community will evaluate if they agree if it is an issue and either jump aboard the conversation or not.

Just because it wasn't in the lime light a few weeks ago does not mean people were ok with it. Very presumptuous to believe so.

And to be clear my issue is that slavery was portrayed to be not only of neutral alignment, but they listed the actual cost and ability for heroes/players to own slaves.

Fighting against slavery is a noble plot point, but when paizo has admittedly fallen so short on the topic? I am also ok with them abandoning it and letting gaming groups write in their own content as they deem appropriate and hopefully in a manner that let's everyone at the table feel included.


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I remember one of the more uncomfortable moments I had in a PbP campaign was Hells Rebels and trying to make an alliance with a certain slave-owning character. The benefits of the alliance were clear, as were the risks of offending the person. We decided to buy the slaves off the person to free them but even that was fraught and at least two of us felt a bit foul talking about what the price of a person was.

Honestly, I'm perfectly happy to see it dropped as something that is emphasized in the materials. That said, if we're establishing the standard as Paizo not writing about "problematic content," I have notes. Genocide (ongoing today and there are refugees of it throughout the world), child murder, torture (I know survivors) ... Perhaps as with many things this is a more nuanced conversation and not one easily distilled into polemics.

A lot of us play these games to be with friends and have a good time. Sometimes, and I would argue when RPGs are at their best, we also play them to explore difficult and complicated topics and from that experience gain a better understanding of the topic and ourselves. (In fact, I had a long conversation with a psychiatrist who thinks the role play of darker themes and characters can be therapeutic and a constructive outlet for our antisocial tendencies.) Does that mean we need more material from Paizo on slavery in Goladian? Of course not; I have never had a campaign centered around it and I agree: Paizo had bungled its handling in the past. But the implicit characterization that those saying Paizo shouldn't shy away from difficult content are ipso facto racist trolls is problematic in itself.

Dark Archive

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Kobold Catgirl wrote:


Evil Horse wrote:

Are they going to remove the spell Dominate?

Legit question.

I doubt it. The issue isn't loss of autonomy in general, it's specifically the overemphasis on slavery as a plot device. Slavery in the United States is primarily associated with white supremacist chattel slavery, and its effects linger to this day, making it a uniquely unpleasant issue. Again, compare it to how Pathfinder does not feature a lot of content focused on sexual assault, or on genocidal death camps.

The technical definition of "slave" is a lot less important than the coding. Slave auctions, particularly featuring Black slaves and white slaveowners, have very, very direct connotations. Pathfinder has featured that sort of content extensively already, so if you're keen on it, go back and play Serpent's Skull.

I think they should but for different reasons. Nothing says "Let's have some fun!" and then failing a save to lose all agency of your character. I refused to use this spell in org play.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I think it is important again to point out that this change in policy related to no longer writing stories and lore that address slavery is rooted in paizo's consistently handling those stories in ways that have felt problematic to players and writers of an entire social group. NOT that depicting slavery or having adventures that explore the theme of slavery is inherently problematic.

This decision is not Paizo saying no stories about exploring the limits of free will and those who try to enforce there will on others is bad. It is saying that slavery has been written into Golarion previously in ways that make it very complicated to try to tell stories from the company-wide perspective (and not the individual table perspective) about abolition that are not going to be reductionist, problematic and potentially harmful to a large swath of potential players.

Paizo deciding that that mistake was bigger than they can fix with efforts to errata the historical lore or amend "in scene" with adventures is a result of having tried, and failed to do so well upon multiple occasions. Moreover, Paizo has had a lot of success "moving the spotlight" away from slavery as the defining theme of entire regions of Golarion and onto the ways in which the cultures in those regions can have rich, deep and interesting lore, history and potential conflicts not driven by slavery.

In that context, the decision is practical and will result in more, and better content getting created rather than having to have the whole company focus its story telling on a theme that they feel like they are consistently not doing well representing.

Equating this decision to something like, "Paizo is backing away from using difficult narrative material" seems like it is misunderstanding what was decided and why.

What is grossing some folks out on these forums is that it feels like "slavery" as a theme is being talked about like it is something that only has a conscious effect on a small group of individual players who should excuse themselves from the table, when really, and especially in the USA, it has actually impacted the whole of US economics, politics, and culture in ways that are still actively being ignored. Writing stories about that theme in a fantasy setting that trivialize the harm slavery has caused, and that make addressing the evils of deeply institutionalized systems (US property law today is still heavily entrenched in the difficulty that the US has had in trying to rationalize how people could be treated as property) as easy as a couple of heroes stepping in to save the day, is a really, really bad idea to pursue moving forward for Paizo.

Talking about these issues and playing games that explore them with people you know and trust is something that everyone should be free to decide to do or not to do at their individual tables. There is enough existing material within the setting to run these stories for years and years and years. Be careful if you do choose to run them, in thinking about the ways it will be portrayed at your table and wether it will cause harms to your friends or potential new friends you are hoping to have join you in this hobby.

Let's stop trying to pressure Paizo into forcing this theme to be a persistently poorly-handled focus of adventures when they have writers, and freelancers ready to tell much more varied, interesting and deeper stories about these regions of their globe than the only interesting thing happening here is that Colonial Empires have come in and are oppressing everyone who otherwise have no culture or depth.


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And hey. Maybe over the next few years, as Paizo continues to expand the voices in leadership and mature as a company, they find that they want to try their hand at some stories on this topic again. It isn't like they can't change their minds. Just that, for now, they won't be dealing with it going forward. It is an editorial decision. Let the company grow and continue the process of finding its voice.

Silver Crusade

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UnArcaneElection wrote:

Andoran really ISN'T a USA analog. The closest it comes to that is being like that nation you would expect to see founded if somebody had leaked the most idealistic of the pre-Revolutionary writings to Golarion, and some idealistic people there translated them and took up the ideals, and DIDN'T make a Faustian bargain with slaveholders, and actually took the professed ideals seriously for at least long enough to establish a nation that was actually good.

That pretty much matches the view of America that quite a few Americans I've met over the years seem to have.

Yes, its a completely false myth. But quite a few Americans seem to believe it.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Sara Marie wrote:

Paizo.com is not going to be hosting discussions with people trying to justify or be an advocate (devil's or otherwise) for slavery. Unfortunately this has been how many discussion threads about slavery, including this one, have ended up going.

Slavery is something that has caused multigenerational damage to real, human, people. It has inflicted trauma on countless lives, directly and indirectly, and the repercussions and the racism it has fueled still reverberate across our society and people’s lives today. Human trafficking continues to perpetuate the injustices and cruelty of slavery to this day.

It’s part of our mission to encourage and support gaming environments where people feel welcome, included and safe. When a topic like slavery comes up and people try to justify it, it reads as trying to justify hundreds of years of pain, suffering, countless indignities, rape, and murder inflicted upon the lives of other humans. While one person might feel that they are discussing theory or abstract subjects, for too many people the subject of slavery is not some abstract concept, it is an active painful reminder that there are other humans who would try to excuse or justify this awful practice. Coming across this type of thread on our forums when simply trying to read about a roleplaying game causes harm to people in our gaming community and it is unacceptable.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber

My thoughts:
If paizo never wrote about slavery that would have been prefect but that boat has long since passed. Golarion is their world and with a stroke of a pen remove it for the game. there are some ways to do this in my opinion some are better than others. Slavery is an atrocity and paizo's new stance is to be silent about it (no longer mention it in books).

“Silence in the face of atrocity is not neutrality; silence in the face of atrocity is acquiescence.”
— Samantha Power

the best is to end it in Golarion my ideas best to worst are:
1) An AP where the players work along side with one or more agencies (bellflower network, firebrands, etc.) to put an end to slavery. paizo makes money with this. (this AP should have a content disclaimer)
2) paizo give a lore reason for this such as those agencies actually succeed and move to fighting tyranny, disband, etc.
3) an errata (in my opinion not very satisfying)


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Meanwhile, here I am thinking how bizarre it is that the mear fact of asking for a reasonable explanation of how it ended is seen as horrible.

I have not seen a single person, not 1, asking for Paizo to continue writing about slavery because it's good. Let alone that Paizo has an obligation to do it. But maybe that is just me missing the Mods delivering divine smites.

You want to know what I have seen? People asking for Paizo to give at the very least the bare minimum explanation in lore for it. Or at the very least to make it clear whether this is a full retcon (the worst possible way to handle it) or just them admitting that they currently are unable to write about it respectfully (leaves the plot points open for the future).

As it stands they are trying to have their cake and eat it to. Which does not sit right with me.


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It's pretty clear to me is not "we are ending slavery in the inner sea" so much as "we are placing discussions of slavery below the Pathfinder baseline, so we're not going to tell stories about it."

It's like how the Pathfinder setting did not magically solve sexual violence so that it never happens, it is that this is not something that will be discussed in books published by Paizo.

Notably things being below the Pathfinder baseline are not things that they will never or can never feature in books, but are things that require exceptional care to do so correctly (recall that Book 6 of Hell's Rebels literally had content warnings because that stuff got DARK).


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Quick fact check: Many people have implied slavery is neutral or tried to equivocate on it over the years, including a few of late, and several people have said Paizo has an obligation to publish more slavery content (one man has threatened to sue for a refund). I recognize that you are among neither group, though. I think it's valid to advocate respectfully for a lore explanation.

It's also worth noting that nobody has criticized Paizo for "endorsing" slavery by including it. We have criticized them for including societies that practice it marked as nonevil, and for enabling players to own slaves in PFS. We have also criticized them for fetishizing it irresponsibly, and for featuring it in insensitive ways. We have also criticized them for turning the "free the slaves" event into a weird "earn your freedom" story where no slaveowners are punished (not abolition, but manumission, basically).

Nobody has yet engaged with the sexual assault comparison to my knowledge. I find that a little curious, since it seems to me to be a very clear parallel: Paizo used to include mentions of a graphic and traumatic subject that disproportionately discomforted a minority group in their kitchen sink fantasy setting, they realized they were fetishizing it, and they decided to scale back its usage.

Nobody's threatening boycotts over Paizo no longer featuring sexual violence in new products. Treating slavery as something distant and comfortable while recognizing the triggering nature of sexual assault feels... a little inconsistent to me.


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CrimsonKnight wrote:

My thoughts:

If paizo never wrote about slavery that would have been prefect but that boat has long since passed. Golarion is their world and with a stroke of a pen remove it for the game. there are some ways to do this in my opinion some are better than others. Slavery is an atrocity and paizo's new stance is to be silent about it (no longer mention it in books).

“Silence in the face of atrocity is not neutrality; silence in the face of atrocity is acquiescence.”
— Samantha Power

the best is to end it in Golarion my ideas best to worst are:
1) An AP where the players work along side with one or more agencies (bellflower network, firebrands, etc.) to put an end to slavery. paizo makes money with this. (this AP should have a content disclaimer)
2) paizo give a lore reason for this such as those agencies actually succeed and move to fighting tyranny, disband, etc.
3) an errata (in my opinion not very satisfying)

The problem with at least the first two of these approaches is that the issue isn't really "Slavery is a bad thing to have in RPGs and should never be mentioned or should be removed at once", but "Paizo has repeated handled slavery badly, even when trying to clean up its previous bad handling of slavery."

If we could trust Paizo to be able to handle it well enough to clean it up with satisfying in world narrative, then we could trust them to handle it well enough to keep using it. The approach they're taking is unsatisfying. I agree. But it's basically them saying "We're going to drop this because we keep screwing it up and we've come to realize we can't handle it well." Which might not be great, but it's far better than a clumsy AP that keeps the focus on how badly they're handling it for years.

They basically tried that on a smaller scale in Absalom - with a PFS event that led to ending slavery there. It got mixed reviews, from what I can tell. And after that, the Absalom lore book still had a lot of not great references to the aftermath.

Maybe another attempt would get it right, but there's little reason to think so.


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Temperans wrote:

Meanwhile, here I am thinking how bizarre it is that the mear fact of asking for a reasonable explanation of how it ended is seen as horrible.

I have not seen a single person, not 1, asking for Paizo to continue writing about slavery because it's good. Let alone that Paizo has an obligation to do it. But maybe that is just me missing the Mods delivering divine smites.

You want to know what I have seen? People asking for Paizo to give at the very least the bare minimum explanation in lore for it. Or at the very least to make it clear whether this is a full retcon (the worst possible way to handle it) or just them admitting that they currently are unable to write about it respectfully (leaves the plot points open for the future).

As it stands they are trying to have their cake and eat it to. Which does not sit right with me.

They may elaborate in a more formal statement at some point, but it seems pretty clear to me from Mona's comments that it's "them admitting that they currently are unable to write about it respectfully".

I don't think that comes with any explicit caveat about coming back to it in the future, but anything is possible. They can always change their minds.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
CrimsonKnight wrote:

My thoughts:

If paizo never wrote about slavery that would have been prefect but that boat has long since passed... Slavery is an atrocity and paizo's new stance is to be silent about it (no longer mention it in books).
The problem with at least the first two of these approaches is that the issue isn't really "Slavery is a bad thing to have in RPGs and should never be mentioned or should be removed at once", but "Paizo has repeated handled slavery badly, even when trying to clean up its previous bad handling of slavery."

the reason why I said "boat has long since passed" is that opportunity is passed. I wasn't missing the idea of my chaotic good champion fighting to free slaves in published adventures but it is one thing to just not bring up slavery and another to make a policy to never.

thejeff wrote:

If we could trust Paizo to be able to handle it well enough to clean it up with satisfying in world narrative, then we could trust them to handle it well enough to keep using it. The approach they're taking is unsatisfying. I agree. But it's basically them saying "We're going to drop this because we keep screwing it up and we've come to realize we can't handle it well." Which might not be great, but it's far better than a clumsy AP that keeps the focus on how badly they're handling it for years.

They basically tried that on a smaller scale in Absalom - with a PFS event that led to ending slavery there. It got mixed reviews, from what I can tell. And after that, the Absalom lore book still had a lot of not great references to the aftermath.

Maybe...

Then don't publish anything about it until they can get it right. hold on to some of these sensitive topics till they can be explored PROPERLY in the future. where as the responce to the letter makes it clear they are implementing a policy of silence including to the future.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
CrimsonKnight wrote:
Then don't publish anything about it until they can get it right. hold on to some of these sensitive topics till they can be explored PROPERLY in the future. where as the responce to the letter makes it clear they are implementing a policy of silence including to the future.

My impression of the situation is that Paizo's simply putting these plotlines on indefinite hold. They've looked at how the subject's been handled so far, listened to feedback, and decided they don't have the capital to do this justice right now. If, later on, a black Paizo creative pitched a storyline for places like Cheliax to Erik Mona they'd like to see happen, I don't think he would turn that down. But for right now, they've got a lot of other storylines they want to pursue that slavery didn't need to be involved with, and so not involving it makes sense for a while, while they take some time to reflect. If or when this subject comes back, it needs to be at the initiative of someone with the ability to handle it more sensibly, which would be a change to the status quo. Other than that, slavery IS a different brand of evil compared to other evils, in much the same way that sexual predators are, and so, for the foreseeable future, it's going to be treated that way.

As other posters have pointed out, it also is still possible to deal with these liberation stories without making overt referents to slavery and putting explicit emphasis on that heavy topic. Bellflowers can still go in and rescue halfling refugees suffering persecution from a tyrannical government. Like, when you see a character looking pretty messed up and tied to a chair, you don't need to spell out "Brah, this dude was totally tortured, it was horrific, you should have seen it." But putting the emphasis elsewhere, like the part where you free that person and get them out, has the opportunity to shift the tone, while not outright ignoring that, yeah, bad stuff happens in the world. And with this more minimalist approach to this kind of content, GMs can gauge how much or how little is appropriate to expand upon for their own table.

Upon reflection the past couple days, I don't think this change is nearly as significant in scale as people are making it out to be.

Liberty's Edge

Just being confronted with slavery (and even worse slavery somehow non-evil) is too painful for part of the community.

It is good that Paizo takes this onto account.

It is not that slavery does not exist anymore in the setting. It is that Paizo leaves it to individual gaming groups to decide how much they want it to be a part of their games.

As for Paizo's future content, this part is not at all. Which is both considerate for their audience and completely within their right.


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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
Quick fact check: ...

Yeah like I said maybe I just missed it the mods are really good at removing all the bad stuff. Thank you for all the hard work mods and Paizo staff!

I agree with the criticisms of Paizo. They had plenty of time to learn but they kept messing up, although I think some people exaggerate how bad somethings are. Ex: The Absalom event itself was not bad outside it taking over PFS. A group of slaves joining the war to earn freedom is a great storyline, and after the fight the public agreeing to abolish slavery makes it a great payoff. The failure in that series of events was/is that a lot of people want the ex-slave owners punished. Which is a weird thing to implement both in lore and IRL. It's easy to pay reparations for harm done, but it's hard to punishing retroactively when so many people had engaged with a previously lawful act? Politics is hard and messy and I love pathfinder for at least trying to have nuance, even thou yeah they failed.

As to the sexual assault thing. I believe I have seen some talk about it when it comes to brothels, prostitutes, and any of the mind control abilities available. I have seen some threads getting locked for things getting too heated. But nothing about Paizo being evil for talking about those subjects. But then again I might have just missed it (again thank you mods for doing your best). Part of why you don't see abuse talked about as often is because Paizo is more subtle about it,

the worse case I can remember:
Nualia's story is 100% a story of emotional, sexual, and physical abuse where the victim's only real ally is themself and an evil god. But you are not told what happened or how, just enough to paint a mental image of events and for anyone interested to fill in the blanks.

On that note I agree @Opsylum. There is still the possibility of Paizo walking back on the complete silence and instead give us something where it's only implied. But I don't know it feels like there is a significant group that wants to outright eliminate any story that might even hint at it. Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if Paizo is receiving letters/emails asking them to stop writing about a whole ton of stuff in the setting. Which is impossible without removing the whole evil alignment from the game or making them caricatures (which I feel most people agree it's a bad idea).


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The Raven Black wrote:

Just being confronted with slavery (and even worse slavery somehow non-evil) is too painful for part of the community.

It is good that Paizo takes this onto account.

It is not that slavery does not exist anymore in the setting. It is that Paizo leaves it to individual gaming groups to decide how much they want it to be a part of their games.

As for Paizo's future content, this part is not at all. Which is both considerate for their audience and completely within their right.

I wish that is how the response read. Then it would be easy to see it better. James certainly helped by clarifying a bit about it.

But yeah, I really wish that they had taken the time to think about how to respond officially as about what their plan is.


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As a clumsy comparison, in Pirates of the Caribbean, there are a lot of comments the pirates make towards Elizabeth that are... pretty obviously coded as threats of sexual violence. But as a kid, I just thought it was, like, the "evil mooks clumsily hitting on the hot girl" trope. It was ambiguous enough that I wasn't aware.

Now, I think Pirates of the Caribbean is still way, way r*pier than it needed to be, but leaving something ambiguous enough for the reader to have it whichever way they want is a good idea. Let the man be tied to the chair and don't tell us what they did to him, so to speak. The GM can spin it as "they tortured him", or the GM can spin it as "they've just tied him up in an uncomfortable position and he's very tired and scared".

Scarab Sages

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Kobold Catgirl wrote:

Nobody has yet engaged with the sexual assault comparison to my knowledge. I find that a little curious, since it seems to me to be a very clear parallel: Paizo used to include mentions of a graphic and traumatic subject that disproportionately discomforted a minority group in their kitchen sink fantasy setting, they realized they were fetishizing it, and they decided to scale back its usage.

Nobody's threatening boycotts over Paizo no longer featuring sexual violence in new products. Treating slavery as something distant and comfortable while recognizing the triggering nature of sexual assault feels... a little inconsistent to me.

That's a fair point, so I'll engage with it now.

The difference is that sexual violence, while all-to present in the setting, was never a major metaplot in the Inner Sea. Abolition was.

If it helps, imagine if Paizo dropped the Whispering Tyrant storyline (the other major metaplot) because events in TG were too close to home for many people. It would be fair to question this decision, express doubts, and ask how those areas adjacent to the storyline would be affected.

I'm all for making changes to keep up with the times, and Paizo certainly has done that (drow, ogres, orcs, troglodytes, Mwangi Expanse, always evil alignments etc.) But they also kept them around and addressed them responsibly without disrupting the setting.

Until this week, they had done the same regarding slavery and abolition by telling strongly antislavery stories. That's over now and I think that's a shame.

Tangent:
Also, this has been exceptionally poor communcation from Paizo, but that's another topic.


That's a fair point of view. For what it's worth, I'd like slavery to take more of a backburner approach--an indefinite moratorium until Paizo has been able to ensure they can do it justice. And maybe has a few more Black writers on hand who are interested in writing on the topic, since the freelancer makes it sound like a lot of them are pretty burned out on it at this point. But I would like Golarion to resolve it at some point.

Tangent:
I do think that this announcement could have been handled better, but I would expect they a) didn't assume it was that big a deal, and b) wanted to prioritize getting a quick response out to clarify the issues as much as possible. I appreciate that being a priority.

Wayfinders Contributor

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Hey all, this was posted by Ron Lundeen, and I think you should read it.

Ron Lundeen's Public Facebook Post:
I stand with Owen KC Stephens.

This week, Owen used his large platform to magnify an open letter from someone in the gaming community who doesn't have his reach. This anonymous open letter took Paizo and its publisher to task over issues of slavery as presented in a recent book. This prompted Paizo's publisher to respond almost immediately about changes in the company's products going forward that will be more sensitive to concerns about how slavery has been and will be presented. Owen also published this response.

He used his voice to speak for the voiceless, and that's a heroic thing to do.

Owen has since been receiving hate mail and death threats from trolls and cowards who despise the positive change he's helped enact. Owen's been keeping most of this vitriol out of the public eye, as befits his selfless nature.

I won't be private or quiet. What my friend Owen did was extraordinary; it's an example of how any of us with privilege should behave. I commend him. He's a good person and an asset to the gaming community, and it hurts my heart that others give him hate and pain for it.

I stand with Owen KC Stephens.

★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

Whatever you feel about this change to Paizo's ongoing storylines, taking it out on Owen is wrong. I stand with Owen. If you want these narratives, it's infinitely better to channel your passion into writing stuff for Pathfinder Infinite than to channel it into hate.

Hmm

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Owen is one of the best things to ever happen to the industry, and the amount of times I've seen the internet attack him because he takes steps to lead the industry out of a problematic past and into a better today is one of the more depressing parts about working in the industry. It makes people like Owen all the more invaluable to me, because their positivity and goodness is so much more important when it feels like everyone is being awful.

I've said this elsewhere, but not enough, because I'm a social media hermit as a result of feelings that social media is largely just a cesspool where the worst of humanity gets too loud of a voice... but Thank You Owen for helping us make gaming a better place.

*It certainly doesn't help that heading toward year 3 of a generation-defining/changing disaster in the pandemic is turning humanity into a bunch of monsters, it seems. It's more important than ever for us to be good to each other and be patient, because we're all hurting in some way or another. The less Paizo can do to further that hurt, the better, and no longer telling stories about slavery will do that. We should have stopped those stories yesterday, but I'm glad we aren't waiting until tomorrow to act on this change for the better.


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:(

It sucks that Owen is getting singled out over this, but considering how vitriolic some of the response from certain quarters has been, it's not super surprising. I think a few "anti-SJWs" see this as a new battleground--protecting their "right" to, ironically, fantasize about being slave-liberating SJWs.

It makes me even more glad the original author decided to post his letter anonymously.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Temperans wrote:
On that note I agree @Opsylum. There is still the possibility of Paizo walking back on the complete silence and instead give us something where it's only implied. But I don't know it feels like there is a...

Maybe, although that's not what I've personally seen here. Presumably the freelancer that initiated the talk about this thing didn't have a problem with how Mwangi Expanse covered the subject (or at least, they made no indication that they did), and some of the most vocal supporters of this change have rued that they won't get to smash Okeno anytime soon. The most frequent complaints I've seen are about how slavery has been depicted in Pathfinder, which has often been pretty graphic, and how players in organized play have abused game material that's not been handled sensibly. Both of these are very legitimate concerns.

If there are people asking for slavery to just not be involved, period...eh, we have some conflicting wants here, but it's easier for me to add stuff into my campaigns than it is for them to cut things out. Considering the topic at hand, it's hard to blame that (hypothetical) audience, and my own wants certainly aren't more important than theirs. I think this is a moot point, however, considering I've not really seen much of that audience anyhow. Maybe I'm missing something.


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EDIT:
I 100% stand with Owen and the person who wrote the original letter!
EDIT2:
And all the others at Paizo who support the change!

[clenched fist salute]

Humor:
A song about how REAL pirates behave!
We say "Yo ho!" But we don't say "ho". Because "ho" is disrespectful, yo!

Scarab Sages Contributor

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Themetricsystem wrote:
and direct feedback they received from their freelancers who were tasked with writing content pertaining to the subject.

bingo. that's a decent part of it - and as freelancers are a required part of Paizo's development schedule, we have a voice too.

To everyone arguing that this is not needed as a change: do you write for Paizo? Not the unified, monolithic entity y'all imagine the corp to be, but the people who care about the product and make it beautiful. The developers, the editors, the art team. Everybody who has been trusted with this setting, to build on it and make it great.

Is it easy to get a seat at this table? Hell no! It took me years of building my career to get my first freelance assignment with this company, writing a couple of monsters for Starfinder Adventure Path backmatter (the umbracygot and nullsoul host in #31, for anyone curious). You have to demonstrate to the team that you're willing to make the commitment of not only finishing your assignment (which has to be written in a way approachable for any GM, new or old), but also to commit to taking it in the direction intended for the setting. Yes, we can carve out our own niches, and tell our own renditions of the tales, but we can't uproot the setting...except, of course, in ways intended by the development team.

All of this is to say: you're free to have your power fantasies of owning other intelligent creatures in your home games. I'm not going to stop you. But the freelancers have a definite voice as content creators for these settings, and we will be (and have been) making our voices heard.

And if you don't like it? Then vote with your wallets. Walk away. But don't expect us to reason with you, when you don't reason with us. Bigotry, racism and trauma have no place here - and no place in the games we (not you) create. You can create what you want, hell, post it on Infinite if you want to monetize it.

But like they said on the T&C, nothing on Infinite is canon to the setting at large.

-Joshua Hennington

Wayfinders Contributor

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Applause!

Radiant Oath

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Anybody here old enough to remember WotC's "mature" boards in 2007? (I lied about my age to get in) The most active thread was a roleplay about a combination brothel and slave trader. It was graphic in every way imaginable. Even as a kid, it annoyed me to have it in the way of my very important questions about centaur nursing. It was wrong in a way I didn't yet have the language to express.

We've come so far.


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sheep shalm


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Equating ill conceived “fantasy” portrayals of the transatlantic slave trade with any attempt to portray bad people doing bad things is a big part of why the gaming community at large, and Paizo specifically is probably not up to the challenge of handling this specific theme in their primary lore and published narratives.

The fact people cannot seem to drop the idea that slavery is a taboo topic and understand that continuing to do a bad job publishing material surrounding that topic and needing to give it a rest as a primary plot point in narratives about underwritten and developed cultures other than their identity as slaves, is a very strong indicator that the plan for Paizo in its current form to keep focusing on developing different stories and creating more interesting lore not tied to slavery is the right course of action

Silver Crusade Contributor

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So, as one of those freelancers who does all that writing...

I support this move unconditionally, both in support of my Black colleagues and in line with my own experiences and beliefs. And I'm really glad Mr. Mona went all-in on committing to this. Very quickly, too. It's a good sign that at least some folks at the top are actually listening now, and ready to take the necessary steps to improve.

As for the thing itself. You can still put the thing in your games, with the consent of your group. You can still read between the lines and choose to interpret parts of the setting as involving it, again, with that consent. But it's now opt-in, instead of opt-out, and that makes all the difference.

The thing about this is, for folks who aren't Black, it's all too easy to treat it as a toy, a rhetorical object. A sticker we can put on our villains to say "these are Bad People and you have to save their victims!" We say we're "taking it seriously" and "want to be able to confront real evils"... but at the end of the session, we laugh and chat and talk about what a great time we had fighting the Bad People. It is, as they say, Just A Game. And we don't think about the people for whom it's not Just A Game.

To speak to my own experiences... I am glad that transphobia is omitted from Golarion. And that's as someone who has, once or twice, thought about writing in Gender Oppressors for punching purposes. It'd be cathartic for me, and probably for some other trans folks (I think KC mentioned similar feelings upthread)... but it'd also catch others unpleasantly off-guard and ruin a perfectly good reading or gaming experience. With frequent occurrences, it might put them off the game entirely. And given the choice, I'd rather do the punching myself and spend my words writing something everyone can enjoy. Except bigots, who I hope will read my beautiful trans NPCs and weep delicious tears.


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I don’t know that I would call anything I’ve seen in 2e “dark pulp fantasy.”


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keftiu wrote:
I don’t know that I would call anything I’ve seen in 2e “dark pulp fantasy.”

Seriously, when I read that my first thought was "Am I in the right forum?" and also "Are we playing the same game?"

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