Dungeons and Perverts

James Wyatt, the designer of the latest Dungeons & Dragons starter set, is trumpeting how progressive the game’s values are:

d&d pervert

And what could possibly be more authentically faux medieval than that?

I believe Shuma Gorath has already boasted how the worship of evil would supplant all other religions? And you thought he was just a comic book bad guy?

shuma gorath triumphant

No doubt you are wondering ‘Didn’t John C. Wright, famed international author and curmudgeon, just use that picture yesterday to underscore some point about Leftist crazies forcing Catholics to pay for abortifacient contraceptives and calling their unwillingness to do so a war on women?’

Yes, well the picture is appropriate today as well, now that gamer crazies are trying to manipulate kiddie ideas about decency and perversion in sex in a game otherwise concerned with spelunking robbers who slay monsters.

The picture is appropriate every day. Just in case you forget, the insanity from the Left never stops.

It. Just. Never. Stops.

103 Comments

  1. Comment by Brian Niemeier:

    If I were more cynical, I’d say that Wyatt’s comment betrays yet another flailing attempt by WoTC to regain the industry dominance they ceded to Paizo by brazenly copying the insufferable PC propagandizing that infected Pathfinder years ago.

  2. Comment by Matthew L. Martin:

    I don’t know; I’ve followed Wyatt’s stuff on and off since he was a freelancer, and he’s always had a liberal streak. :)

    And remember that both companies are headquartered in the People’s Republic of Greater Seattle.

    There’s a very noisy GLBTQETC. contingent in the gaming hobby. I’m currently on notice at one major forum after publicly declaring I agree with Catholic teaching on sexual matters.

    But I was feeling skeptical on 5E anyway. OTOH, given the noisiness I mentioned, this could be the equivalent of protection money.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      GLBTQETC?

      I have to ask: is that for real? Or are you making a parody? I just cannot tell any more. The last time I saw the acronym for the perverts it was only four letters; then it was five. Now it is how many, and who knows what they stand for?

      You are exaggerating, right? That is not a real acronym?

    • Comment by Stephen J.:

      Matthew L. Martin: “I’m currently on notice at one major forum after publicly declaring I agree with Catholic teaching on sexual matters.”

      Which forum, out of curiosity? If it’s RPG.net, I am Stephen’s total lack of surprise.

      • Comment by M. L. Martin:

        Consider yourself unsurprised. :)

        • Comment by Stephen J.:

          I suspected as much. I used to post there very regularly myself, until realization that any attempt to actually explain and defend either the Catholic faith in key areas, or a politically conservative position, would only earn a dogpile the size of Mount Everest even if I did it calmly and impersonally enough to avoid moderator action.

          (Honestly, I don’t recall it being that bad ten years ago; I used to make quite specific apologetics-style posts for Christianity which I can’t see getting anything but frothing outrage now. When simply announcing one’s Catholicism gets one put on mod watch… sheesh.)

  3. Comment by Random:

    I really enjoyed D&D as a kid, it’s such a shame RPGs have become the playground for social justice warriors, gender-neutral-pronoun fanatics, and sexual perversion advocates.

    The new rules are pretty good though. I’ll just have to take sharpie to some parts to avoid forced sanity checks.

  4. Comment by Scholar-at-Arms:

    Yet another reason to stick with 1st edition AD&D, even more than Gygax’s, ah, idiosyncratic prose style.

    It’s important to note that the gaming community, particularly RPGs where the potential for this sort of madness is obviously greater, is dominated in tone if not in number by the sort of ideologues who Vox Day calls the “pinkshirts of SF.” Bioware has been the most notable up until now with their Mass Effect and Dragon Age games garnering a lot of attention for the homosexual romance storylines. Paizo publishing, a company I have some goodwill towards, has also been rather loony with regards to sexual mores and Political Correctness. Their Pathfinder RPG (a D&D clone, essentially) contains one of the goofiest examples of PC-speak I’ve seen in my life: taking the venerable D&D term “henchman,” meaning a more or less devoted retainer who serves out of loyalty rather than for pay, and modified it to – wait for it – “henchfolk.”
    The mind boggles, Jeeves.

    • Comment by Nate Winchester:

      And yet bioware still gets in trouble… lol

      Actually to be somewhat fair, it kind of works out for video game makers. Think about it, you can just script 1 romance in a game then allow player choices to determine what “skins” end up on the romance partners, then you get all sorts of PC kred while you were ultimately being lazy.

      • Comment by Jared Anders:

        There were a couple of decent points in that link, but mostly I feel dumber for having read it.

        Of course, in a large part whoever wrote that is simply playing a catch-22 on video games, you’re damned if you do and damned it you don’t.

        Capcom (Japan) sets a Resident Evil game in Africa, racist. (Up to that point) They haven’t set games anywhere but America and Europe, oh that’s racist. Heck, they add an African lady to the game as the second playable character (along with the one who’d been in games before) and its *still* racist because they didn’t make her dark skinned enough.

        Not to mention they simply get a lot of stuff flat out wrong.

        Still, chain-mail bikini syndrome is obnoxious.

        • Comment by Jared Anders:

          Oh, and it even gets worse.

          I thought it odd that they were complaining that the Redguard take a “massive” penalty to Intelligence in the Oblivion installment of the Elder Scrolls. So I looked up the stats on all the races included in game. (http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Oblivion:Races since the link they put doesn’t work)

          Hmm, hyperbole or actively trying to force a conclusion? Not sure.

          Anyway, the Redguard (Moors) do have the low end on starting intelligence, but like any other race/gender player character they can raise it significantly. Funny thing is though, that’s on the low end compared to _all_ the other races, including the elves who are explicitly stated to be smarter than all humans and better at magic. (Which is all the intelligence stat really matters for anyway)

          But wait, there’s more. The Nords (Scandinavian, duh) have the same intelligence stat, the Imperials (Romans) are only slightly higher, and only the Bretons (Humans with Elf ancestry) on the high end.

          In fact, there’s basically no difference between the Nord and Redguard stats at all.

          I’m going to stop there before I really lose it and start to rant.

    • Comment by ConceptJunkie:

      Perhaps, but the rules have evolved to be much more mature. 1st edition D&D was still just barely a step or two from a miniatures war game. The combat rules and other game mechanics have become much more fleshed out, and the options for character creation were not limited to essentially the old video game “Gauntlet”.

      But “Henchfolk” is just pathetic.

  5. Comment by HMSLion:

    There’s a reason for the Old School revival that is sweeping the RPG world.

    • Comment by Matthew L. Martin:

      From my experience, which is admittedly limited, the Old School Renaissance rejects the “Decadent Pagan Romans” atmosphere of certain publishers and fora in exchange for a “Savage Pagan Babarian” feeling. One of the major voices of the OSR does boast of gaming with porn stars, after all. :)

      If there’s a section of the hobby sympathetic to Christian Civilization, I’d love to know about it.

      • Comment by Scholar-at-Arms:

        There was James Maliszewski’s Grognardia, run by a Catholic man, but that blog went dark a year and a half ago. The gaming blogs I read nowadays (which are all OSR) mostly make no bones about being non-believers.

        That being said, I think that Savage Pagan Barbarians are thoroughly superior to Decadent Pagan Romans. Conan is a better man than Elric in every way.

        • Comment by M. L. Martin:

          I remember Maliszewski, and recognized his name from Jimmy Akin’s blog, but Grognardia always rubbed me the wrong way for dismissing the stuff I grew up with–Dragonlance, Ravenloft, 2nd Edition–as a betrayal of D&D.

          And the OSR runs all the way from him to at least one persona acting as an outright Satanist. :)

      • Comment by D. Lyons:

        There was also the Blood of Prokopius blog run by a Eastern Orthodox man, though unfortunately it hasn’t updated since September of last year.

    • Comment by Noah D:

      From my experience, the OSR is not in response to this kind of thing, it’s coming from much the same people.

  6. Comment by Kenton Kilgore:

    To be fair, even in 1st Edition AD&D, Corellon is (as described in the DEITIES AND DEMIGODS book) “…alternatively male or female, both or neither.”

    I was not aware of what Bioware has been doing, as for many years, I have been devoting my spare time to Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000–which is about as far from “pinkshirt SF” as you’re going to find.

    • Comment by ConceptJunkie:

      Yeah, GW was too much in the other direction, IMO. I remember making jokes about “dwarfs with mohawks” almost 30 years ago…

      • Comment by Pellegri:

        I think some of the pleasure I get out of the WH40K franchise is that it’s completely over-the-top ridiculous in terms of the grimness and gloom and doom.

        And they’ve never caved on demands to make female Space Marines. I like that too.

        • Comment by ConceptJunkie:

          There’s nothing wrong with it, if that’s your taste. I’ve never had any interest in it, though.

          It’s like how you look through the SF section of a typical bookstore, and most of it seems to be military-style stuff. I’m sure there are a lot of good stories there, and I’ve read a few myself over the years, but I really don’t have much interest in all the war, war, war stuff.

          • Comment by Pellegri:

            Completely understood! Just making a–one man’s meat sort of argument. Where you and others find the excesses of the system a turn-off, I love it because it’s that extreme.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Let us be completely fair: saying that a certain pagan deity named Corellon is described as male (Hermes) or female (Aphrodite) or both (as Hermaphroditus) or neither (as Yogg-Sothoth) is interesting and slightly eerie, much like discovering that Tiresias was transformed into a woman for the blasphemy of driving asunder two mating snakes, or, more to the point, like discovering that the Chaos god Arioch is worshiped by the serpent-men of R’lin-K’ren-A’a.

      In other words, it is bit of local color, a quirky and memorable aspect of this odd and unusual spirit being.

      Now, imagine the step between that, and saying, “Dear Gamer, you may play an adulterer, or an evil priest who sodomizes children, or a elf who cannot get an erection unless a she-orc dressed as a Nazi whips his pink elf buttocks with a scourge and rips hot wax on his elf-nipples.”

      Do you honestly see any connection between the one and the other? It makes no excuse to say, “Well, Arioch as a Chaos God might be into kinky Nazi-orc nipple wax fetishes! That is a completely realistic and harmless bit of colorful description to add…”

      No, it was added for one purpose only: to salute the sexual perversion which is the highest form of love and ecstasy the romance-hating, male-hating, marriage-hating, decency-hating, normal-hating freakshow freaks of the Left can imagine.

      It was to salute Antichrist, the spirit that despises what Christ suffered and died to save: men made in the image of God.

      • Comment by Altse Hashke:

        I always figured Gygax was basically saying the Elven pantheon were like certain parts of the Hindu one, like that image of Shiva, the Ardhanarishvara, that’s half male and half female (“Ardhanarishvara” means “half-woman lord”).

        Of course, don’t let’s talk about how these peons embarrass themselves whenever they talk about non-Western cultures, like India.

  7. Comment by TimP:

    Yeah, that made me roll my eyes when I was reading through the new “Basic D&D” pdf too.

  8. Comment by Nate Winchester:

    Hmmm… now John knows I generally agree with him BUT, I’m going to kind of play devil’s advocate here.

    1) Hasn’t the above quote always been the case, it was just at the discrecetion of the GM? I mean it’s not often (if ever) that the sex/gender of a character comes into play but why were “rules” for it needed in the first place? It just strikes me as if someone like GM said, “Our new cars will be oxygen compatible!”

    2) As has been pointed out so often on this blog, so what, isn’t it true to the story? Let me back up and build a case. Certainly we have no end of reproductive variations here on Earth. Some life forms are asexual. Some are hermaphrodictic meaning they can breed asexually or sexually (acting as both mom and dad to another that’s both). Seahorse fathers carry the babbies instead of mom. As I haven’t heard anything yet like a square-cube law relating to reproduction (has that changed?), then why not scale up some of these oddities into a faerie or alien people? For example one of my biggest pet peeves are shapeshifters. Does it not break verisimilitude for them to be gendered or have sexes? (unless it’s a plot point that they are “gender locked” when they change forms)

    Of course I freely admit that some of this is because I love biology and fantasy and I like to imagine like, “how would a society be set up if the members were egg-layers” or “would a society of shapeshifters value love even more since appearance is of no value to them” (no really, I’ve brought that up elsewhere) or more.

    I guess what I’m saying is that while I don’t think I disagree with you, I do think maybe the argument needs to be better phrased.

    • Comment by TimP:

      That could be the interpretation except that it specifically mentions the idea of “male” [sic] humans stuck in a female body, and it’s in the player-focused character creation section, rather than a “Neat World Building Ideas for DMs” section.

      Edit to add: I agree with your general idea though; for example Elves are generally portrayed as having much less sexual dimorphism than humans, so it could be interesting to explore the implications of that in a fantasy world. “How would a species without any clearly defined sex boundaries be different from human?” for example.

      • Comment by Nate Winchester:

        Ok I missed the player section.

        Actually aren’t “wrong body” tropes fairly common in sf/f too? I mean possession alone…

        I think gender-swap&lock is also a popular trope, at least in Japan stories (or so I’ve heard).

        Of course the larger question I now realize is that if gender makes no real difference (what you pick didn’t affect your stats last I saw), then what’s even the point of “A trapped in not-A” sex/gender wise?

        Hmmm… a fantasy land like California where wizards perform the work surgeons do here (altering looks, gender, etc) could make for either a humorous satire or horror story.

        • Comment by TimP:

          Yeah, it’s not mentioned in Wright’s post, but this is a quote from the Character Creation section of the new “Basic D&D” pdf Wizards just released.

          And yes, sex doesn’t affect your stats, I think the reason for this is any change no matter how trivial is going to get feminists up in arms, and any difference that’s actually accurate is going to make female characters very challenging to play in the usual murder-hobo play style*, though perhaps viable/better for some sorts of diplomatic game. I’ve never played it, but I think Pendragon might have actual realistic sexual differences between characters.

          The only other affect of sex is that some NPCs will treat you different at the DMs discretion, and there is a limited number of magic items that have sex based special effects. Including the Girdle of Opposite Gender, which is a cursed item that transforms it’s wearer into the opposite sex as the name implies, and does allow for some of the ideas you suggested.

          * Women have their strengths, but not a whole lot of them are relevant to wandering around in caves, stabbing monsters in the face, and stealing their stuff.

    • Comment by TrueSaidTheLiar:

      1) While someone could, in theory, run a game where everything mentioned in that paragraph it’s not something you’d see in a major published setting previously. whereas given its prominent place in these Basic Rules, and transgender being the new hawtness, expect to see it reflected in the new Forgotten Realms. This isn’t solely a D&D thing, the newest and upcoming games from Onyx Path/White Wolf suddenly have transgender characters front and center.

      This is very much a big deal to the people pushing for the normalization transgender stuff and having looked over major RPG forums garnered more gushing and excitement than any other aspect of the newly released.

      2) All that’s well and good, but the fantasy races in D&D aren’t experiments in exotic biology (a trope much more common in science fiction than fantasy in general), they’re humans in funny suits combined with a collection of small bonuses and penalties related your particular funny suit. This has nothing whatsoever to do with any story and everything to do with a very specific political/cultural agenda that happens to be the cause du jure in much of geekdom in 2014.

      The only place where I’d take issue with anything in the blog post is the idea that this is something where WotC is being “progressive”. WotC isn’t on the forefront or edge of anything with this, they’re situating themselves entirely in the dead-center of mainstream geek culture in 2014.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Let me answer the devil’s advocate with the angel’s advocate:

      It has likewise always been the case that the Moderator, instead of using ‘orcs’ could people his faux medieval world with creatures called ‘Jews’ who grind up lawful good Christian children to make sourdough bread.

      You agree with me that any moderator wishing to capture the authentic flavor of a faux medieval setting could do this? And give the Jews tails, and have them be in ghettos in his make believe world, and then have the player characters raiding into the ghettos to save Christian children, and get xp for slaying as many Jews as possible and stealing their stuff, just like orcs.

      And, any moderator could, at his discretion and as he liked, have invented a make believe race called, oh, let us say, the Tuetons, or the Aryans, or the Ubermensch, and given them extra saving throw bonuses based on the purity of their racial stock. And the players could be an elf or half elf, or Slav, or Irishman, or Tueton.

      And the mission could be to clean out the Jews from Latveria in preparation for a great crusade against the Easterlings.

      NOW THEN clearly there is a difference between (1) you and I privately acknowledging that a moderator could, if he wished, using the D&D rules, run a Jew-cleansing campaign and (2) the Game Designer saying explicitly in the introduction “Thor, the God of Racial Purity, has always had the Swatika or Tetragammaton as his symbol. You can run a Jew-hunting campaign by substituting ‘orc’ for ‘Jews’ and in your make believe world, you can harmlessly pretend your Jews grind the bones of kidnapped Christian babies to make their bread…” and so on.

      The difference is that in the second case no one can avoid the knowledge that the game designer is a Nazi, loyal to Nazi ideas, and is breaking the Fourth Wall to urge the kids playing to play out Nazi ideas and ideals.

      So, too, here, pervert Wyatt is breaking the Fourth Wall to tell kids it is all OK to play a sexual misanthrope, sodomite, lesbian, transsexgendrometroheffilump, or cross-dressing freak. Freakishness is good. Sex misbehavior is good. Normal people are bad. Marriage is bad. Monogamy is bad. Christ and all His talk of chastity, marriage, purity and monogamy is bad.

      That is what Wyatt is saying, and even the devil’s advocate will not be so shameless as to deny that this is the message sex-warped Wyatt is understood to give, and all men understand him to give.

      • Comment by Rainforest Giant:

        You forgot the horns on the jews. Otherwise spot on. I’m sure the good aryans would not only have superior physical prowess but better Hugo Boss uniforms.

        This game designer knew he was spitting on every believer and cutting himself off from true Christians and the games they might buy for themselves and their children and he just doesn’t care. Says something all by itself.

  9. Comment by Jared Anders:

    Ugh. You know, if people want to play whatever in RPGs I’m fine with it. It is a game, after all, but having this clunky statement in character creation is not only pointless its offensive.

    Different groups are all over the place in terms of maturity level, in an astounding number of areas. I’ve had groups that were completely fine with cold blooded torture (either from the villains or the protagonists, different times) yet got squeamish at even flirting with the patrons in a bar. (Male and female player characters)

    Other groups might not mind sexual content in the game, yet have issues with violence. (Why they were playing D&D, the game that rewards being murder hobos with experience is another story)

    And of course, there are also the groups that are made up of fairly young children, who shouldn’t be seeing crap like that anyway. (I can’t find the link now, but there was an artist whose kid wanted to play D&D for his 8th birthday, so the dad made simplified kid versions of classic D&D characters then ran a game using the 4th edition rules for everything else)

    Bottom line, the assumption is you can do whatever until the guy in charge says you can’t. Wyatt saying this does nothing besides attempt to earn brownie points because in the end he has no say on what actually happens at a single solitary table.

  10. Comment by MTC:

    Been playing live for 33 years in various stages of intensity and engagement, and over email for the past 15 years. We tried 2nd and 3rd editions to expand the game and realized quickly how bad it was. We are currently playing a 1st edition with slight mods to include some of the good things (few) in the 2nd edition. Can’t imagine what they are pushing now.

    MTC

  11. Comment by Centurion13:

    Second edition for me, all the way. It has the best supplements written by the bestest authors at a time when PC fever had not quite gotten the stranglehold on the industry that it has now.

    The rules are good, house rules to smooth certain things (combat, f’rinstance) and the GM is free to tell the story without rules lawyers beating down his ears every game night.

    Of course, if you WANT to play a male elf in love with another male elf, dozo. But frankly, I must confess I have never felt the urge. I have never felt the urge to watch it done by another player. I have never even felt the urge to hear it retold. I guess I just don’t fit their demographics…

  12. Comment by AstroSorcorer:

    Wow, D&D has changed from the old days. You could always do anything with the rules, and have a campaign world of either the sacred or the profane. But, this is the first I’d heard of D&D advertising sex.

    I remember when everyone was worried about D&D trying to corrupt poeple when it was run by TSR or Wizards. Frankly, the basic system then was about the eternal struggle of Good vs. Evil (and looting monsters).

    What is disturbing is it took being bought by a children’s toy company (Mattell) before it went off the rails to crazy-land. When 4th Edition came out I knew there was going to be trouble. Gray areas where alignments of Good and Evil were no longer actual moral forces of the universe, but simple preferences. (A character could have a preference for cheese, or torture). In the new Monster Manual, monsters had alignments of “Evil” or “Neutral”. I thought, well, I’m guessing Elves can be any, so I’ll keep looking. Metallic Dragons, nope “Neutral”. OK, Angels, there, I’ll find something considered “good”. Nope, “Neutral”. That should have been all I needed to see about the awful revisionism to come.

    • Comment by Tom Simon:

      What is disturbing is it took being bought by a children’s toy company (Mattell)

      Hasbro, actually. Hasbro bought everything in the 90s and thereabouts. (I have heard that they bought Avalon Hill, makers of the Civilization board game, by mistake, because they wanted to buy Sid Meier’s Civilization computer games, and didn’t know the difference.)

      Mattel is odious, but let’s not blame them for the deeds of a different odious company.

    • Comment by R.Carter:

      “But, this is the first I’d heard of D&D advertising sex.”

      Then you missed out on a very specific supplement which I shall not name here. For the record, I am genuinely envious of your ignorance in this.

      • Comment by Noah D:

        IN defense of Wizards of the Coast, that supplement was produced by a third party, under the OGL – the license (ha!) that allowed the glut of d20 system products in the wake of the release of 3e. OGL was both brilliant, and problematic. Some of the best stuff came from non-WotC producers, as did the worst, and this falls well into that latter category.

        It’s instructive to note that as of 4e, the OGL was gone, gone, gone from WotC products, and I’ve talked to people in the industry who have said that that product was the one that killed it.

        The OGL is still in use by other people and companies, as it’s quite useful for encouraging fan additions, amateur or professional.

  13. Comment by Chris McCullough:

    Wouldn’t the player who identifies as a woman just play the game with a character that’s a woman?

    The entire point of this is escapist fantasy where you can be what you want, right?

    • Comment by Stephen J.:

      Yes, but it also has to be politicized fantasy where you can be praised for being what you “really are”. Which is why it’s not enough for individual sufferers of gender identity dysphoria to be treated simply as if they are now and were all along the sex they present/identify as; they have to be acknowledged for their exceptional presentation/identification in itself, too, and whatever difficulties they have endured in embracing and practicing it.

      Hence the takeoff of the terminology of “trans men” and “trans women”, as opposed to such individuals simply asking as they once did to be called “men” and “women” whatever their chromosomal makeup.

    • Comment by Pellegri:

      No. I know (personally, albeit internet-personally) two roleplayers who are ostensibly “trans men”. One played (extremely effeminate) men. The other mainly played a transman, wrote fiction about gender-confused characters, etc.

      • Comment by Stephen J.:

        Reminder/clarification check: Am I correct in understanding “trans man” to mean a biological woman who permanently and publicly assumes a male name and persona, possibly including cosmetic surgical alteration?

        As above, when I first heard about this concept at all the very strong preference was that such people be called simply men (or “women”, if they were men attempting to self-redefine as female). The latest insistence on retaining the “trans” identifier strikes me as counterproductive, if full social integration as identical with “born”/”cis-” individuals of the desired sex is the desired goal.

        • Comment by Pellegri:

          Oops. I think this comment may have been deleted because I used a bad word. Reproduced below with the word in question starred out; my apologies to our host if this double-posts:

          Yes. They were born female (what is commonly called “assigned female at birth,” because gender sex is a social construct dontcha know, and it’s not like you can tell 999 out of 1000 babies belong to one or another biological sex) and assumed male names, etc. One of them was too ill for surgery, the other … I really don’t know, but both were quite open about being trans.

          The individual who preferred to roleplay men had a very obviously female voice and so couldn’t really pass as male, and from what I recall wasn’t really attempting to other than having close friends use the name “Tom”. I don’t know anything about the other individual’s attempts to pass, but “he” was very active in trans communities that supported the uniqueness of the trans individual, not needing to pass, etc.

          These are people who claim that it doesn’t matter what one’s sexual anatomy looks like, it should be called opposite-sex anatomy because one is of that sex (“that’s my lady-***** because I’m a woman”). You don’t need to pass, get surgery and hormonal therapy, or even attempt to live as the sex you think you are, you just are because you say so.

          I agree, however, that if the entire project is to become the sex one believes oneself to be rather than the sex of the body one was born with, consciously identifying as “trans” is counterproductive. And there are in fact vocal (if anonymous) members of the transsexual community who try to make that point, and are shouted down as “cis-acting” or…whatever else by other members.

          It’s a mess.

  14. Comment by Noah D:

    Eh, skip 5E and play Dungeon World instead. Much, much, much better game.

    http://www.dungeon-world.com/

    Granted, it’s part of the ‘indie’ RPG ‘scene’, so it comes out of the people who demand and applaud things like this, but it’s rather free of it, and a very good game. It does D&D better than D&D.

    (It’s funny, the indie RPG community, while trumpeting perversion and other bizarrities at every opportunity, has managed to produce some superb games: Dungeon World, Dogs in the Vineyard, Fiasco, Agon, PrimeTime Adventures, Hillfolk, the list goes on and on.)

  15. Comment by Cambias:

    I think the most likely explanation is historical. During its first flowering of popularity, D&D got some pretty rough (and unwarranted) criticism from Evangelical Christian groups (also in a flowering of popularity at the time). D&D was denounced from various pulpits as Satanic, and I personally know of people whose parents tried to forbid them to play because of that.

    So there’s a kind of built-in anti-Christian tendency in the roleplaying hobby. It’s rife with the more gratingly ignorant sorts of atheists and self-proclaimed pagans.

    Couple that with the current climate of loud public attacks against anyone displaying insufficient enthusiasm for gay marriage, etc., and you can see how a publisher of a mass-market product would want to give themselves some cover against such attacks.

    I’m not trying to justify this foolishness (which will likely provoke considerable derisive eye-rolling among the actual players and gamemasters using the book), but I think this is a more accurate explanation than any conscious propagandizing. They are fish, and they don’t realize they’re getting things wet because they can’t imagine anything which is dry.

    • Comment by M. L. Martin:

      The curious thing is, Wyatt’s a former Methodist minister.

      But generally agreed. Some notes:

      1. I’m new here, but I’m not convinced language like perverted is positive, but I know and know of gay individuals (their term, and I don’t feel qualified to judge them on that) who are living and striving to live chaste Christian lives. Similarly, I think ignorance and misguided compassion explain the paragraph better than malice.

      2. I am of the opinion that the real harm done by the anti-D&D crusade was not putting Christians off gaming, but putting gamers off Christianity.

      3. I’ve long been partial to the statement in Basic, under the cleric description, that “the D&D game does not deal with.the ethical and theological beliefs of characters in the game.” Insert “have to” before “deal” and we’re golden. And in the wake of this, can we also add “sexual” to that?

    • Comment by Mary:

      I still remember reading suggestions at the end of the GURPS Arabian Nights book. It suggests Crusaders but points out that players may have difficulty getting into being Crusaders — just after it suggests a jihad based campaign with no such suggestion that it may be difficult.

    • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

      Per Havel (second-hand at the moment, haven’t read the original myself), they are saying, “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient.”

      http://thefederalist.com/2014/04/08/the-rise-of-the-same-sex-marriage-dissidents/

  16. Comment by HMSLion:

    There’s one other question I would ask.

    Why? I’ve never seen fantasy RPG in which sex came up at all. You explore dungeons, have adventures, slay monsters, collect loot. Good, honest entertainment.

    This is the same sort of in-your-face ugliness as so much modern “art”.

  17. Comment by Zachary Ricks:

    Well, maybe this is a good place to mention Tracy Hickman (co-creator of Dragonlance and Ravenloft, and practicing Mormon) and his three-part essay on morality in Fantasy, where he asserts that Fantasy is a moral medium, that people learn from games whether the gamemaster wants them to or not, etc.

    The three parts are all good reading, I thought, but it’s the third one in particular that I think fits here – https://web.archive.org/web/20050204232924/http://www.trhickman.com/Intel/Essays/Ethic3.html. (All three of the parts aren’t on his website any more, and are available at archive.org).

  18. Ping from Dungeons and Greengrocers | John C. Wright's Journal:

    […] In re a recent article in this space, we note that even corners of our culture which have nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity, or sanity, or sex, or reproduction, or marriage, have now firmly made a public statement to despise and denigrate Christ and kiss the rump of the Antichrist. […]

  19. Comment by Zaklog the Great:

    On a personal note, I kind of consider myself a cross-gamer. In video games I often tend to play female characters (twice choosing them by accident (Samus in Super Smash Bros. before I knew her story and a female dinosaur in Primal Rampage)). In fighting games this is deliberate, because I think designers tend to give female characters speed over raw power, which I find a more interesting option.

    This applies to tabletop RPGs as well, though, as, in my limited experience, my best-played characters have been female. I’ve only played tabletop RPGs a little bit, so I’ve only had a few characters, but the ones I’ve been best at playing a story through have been women.

    I don’t know what this says about me. I’m male, and quite happily so. Much like the International Lord of Hate, I’m a cisgendered heteronormative fascist. I’ve had the leftist nonsense word “transphobic” slung at me several times over the past year, which I’m pretty sure has not existed much before the past year.

    But there ya go. I seem to be a cross-gamer. Those who are so inclined may psychoanalyze away.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I play females rather than males roughly half the time, but in my case, it is because I like drawing pictures of my characters while I am playing, and I would much rather draw a curvaceous heroine than a handsome hero. Women are more fun to draw than men: Look at how often girl-type Ranma shows up in the credits versus in the show, for example.

      Also, if I am playing a female, I can run from combat with no feeling of shame.

      A third and deeper reason is that I am dissatisfied with my various female characters in my books as being unrealistic and stiff, or the stuff of male fantasy, so I thought playing a female character is the best way to learn how to write from a female point of view. I find that playing a female in a game where there is love, romance, and marriage, and actually trying to live up to the unwritten rules of romance females routinely put up with, is nearly impossible, due to the nuanced complexity, the power, and paradox of the various forces at play in the male and female psyche.

      And I am secretly a lesbian trapped in a male body. I find myself unaccountably attracted to women for reasons no psychiatrist can explain. Oh, no, wait that is someone else. I am secretly a Houyhnhnm trapped in a yahoo body which I find disgusting: where are my hoofs! My beautiful hoofs! No, wait, that is horsebarking crazy. I am secretly G.K. Chesterton trapped in a sarcastic body much less jovial than he was. No, that makes no sense either. I am secretly Er reincarnated into the body of man who is cursed never to believe in reincarnation, forced by Karma to live the same life again and again until I realize that I am forced to live the same life again and again. The moment I realize reincarnation is real, I will be sent to the Last Judgment.

      Or…

      I am an imaginative fellow who likes playing play pretend with make believe people trapped in a world where I can make a living at it, so, compared with HP Lovecraft or Robert E Howard, jimminy, I am perfectly normal psychologically.

      Spending my evenings pretending I am Catwoman, companion to Doctor Who and the dragon from Zelazny’s ROADMARKS novel, fighting time-eating vampires that ride the Hounds of Tindalos who are sucking up the life energy of all the alternate universes makes perfect sense.

      If anyone thinks he can unriddle my psychology in the midst of all the crazy things I say in public for public consumption, considering that I am a lawyer, a newspaperman, and a science fiction writer, all three of them professions who make sh*t up for a living, that anyone is wa-aa-ay crazier than any crazy he will deduce inside of me. Good luck, internet psychiatrist.

      What, you have not read ROADMARKS? Noy Jitat! Does no one read the classics! Roger Zelazny!

      (http://www.amazon.com/Roadmarks-Roger-Zelazny/dp/0345253884)

      • Comment by Nostreculsus:


        If anyone thinks he can unriddle my psychology in the midst of all the crazy things I say in public for public consumption, considering that I am a lawyer, a newspaperman, and a science fiction writer, all three of them professions who make sh*t up for a living, that anyone is wa-aa-ay crazier than any crazy he will deduce inside of me. Good luck, internet psychiatrist,

        Chongo longo!Someone with Geschwind syndrome would say that.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          And you win EXTRA bonus points for recognizing, using, and answering correctly the most obscure make-believe cusswords of all time, second only to swearing by the gallium guts of Noshabkeming! Congratulations!

          Even the database of science fiction swearwords does not contain it! (Yes, on the internet, there actually is a database of make believe SF four letter words. http://www.cuparius.com/words/odd/swearwords.html)

          These expressions are from PIRATES OF THE DARK WATER, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlZ7Url1GZc a freaky weird cartoon made by the otherwise straitlaced Hanna-Barbera company, a show I thought no one ever saw but me).

          • Comment by DGDDavidson:

            Cheese and crackers, the database is also missing all the Kim Possible swears.

            Speaking of which, not to derail the conversation utterly, but I made it through all of that show after your recommendation, and I have to concede to you that it does indeed tank in the fourth season after Ron and Kim become an official couple . . . I kind of see it as making the same mistake as most boy-girl buddy cop shows. The original Get Smart started to suck after Max and 99 got married, too.

            If they’d simply ended Kim Possible with So the Drama, I would have been happy. It made for an excellent grand finale, and I was happy to see Kim and Ron become a couple. I just didn’t want to see them as a couple, which in fact is true of most TV show ships I can think of. I didn’t want to watch Aang and Katara dating after the end of Avatar, either.

          • Comment by Stephen J.:

            Strangely, I recognized Noshabkeming’s gallium guts (right up there with Klono’s carballoy claws, I believe?), but had not clue one about “Noy jitat” or “Chongo longo”.

            There’s a line in the fantasy saga THE BELGARIAD where the cranky old master sorcerer Belgarath says to his descendant and apprentice Garion, “You’ve got a strange sort of mind, boy. You grasp the difficult things easily, but you can’t seem to get hold of the simple ones.” I often feel like Garion when I recognize really obscure references but miss more well-known ones.

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              Heh and heh. Pirates of Dark Water are the very definition of obscure: the complete story was never told as the show was cancelled with less than six of the twelve treasures recovered. It was truly a toon experiment in the ‘New Weird’ genre long before New Weird was born.

          • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

            Actually, not long ago, I tried seeing if I could find that show on Netflix. (Nope.) I remember that it had a clear plot endpoint and I didn’t remember how far it had gotten. I don’t even think it has a TVTropes page, though, and almost everything has a TVTropes page.

  20. Comment by Brian James:

    I downloaded the 5th Edition PDF and noticed the blatant pandering to the LGBTWTF crowd. If pandering to politically correct wackos is going to be the new norm for WotC, then I’ll be taking my spending money elsewhere.

    Speaking of which, can anyone recommended a good fantasy tabletop RPG? I played and enjoyed 1st Edition AD&D back in the day, and prefer the classic “Humans, Elves, Dwarves, etc team up to fight evil in a Middle Earth type fantasy setting” themes. A system that is currently supported would be nice. And preferably from a company who hasn’t sold its soul to Shuma Gorath with the ridiculous appeasement of perversions and Grave Disorders.

    • Comment by AstroSorcorer:

      3rd and 3.5 Edition D&D have much of the flavor of earlier D&D, with a coherent and flexible rule system that allows DMs to make a wide variety of challenges. Good and Evil are actual primal forces of the cosmos, and can be channeled and detected in powerful Clerical spells. Many of the rules and supplements are likely available for a discounted price online.

    • Comment by jlv61560:

      Have you considered The Fantasy Trip? It’s an old system (published by Metagaming back in the day, and out of print since they went bust). It was Steve Jackson’s first attempt at a fantasy RPG (and arguably better than GURPS in my opinion), but even though it’s long out of print, there is a lot of on-line support and web pages, several of which may allow you to get copies of the various materials on-line, and Dark City Games is publishing a line of solitaire dungeon crawls (that can be played by regular groups as well) that use a slight variation on the rules. Additionally, there’s a gentleman publishing a pretty good version of it under the title Heroes and Other Worlds via Lulu. So it sort of still gets support….

      The system itself is elegantly simple, can be taught to an eight year old in about 20 minutes, and was originally designed because Steve Jackson got sick and tired of the poor combat rules in D&D and thought he could do better (he was right). It’s just good old fashioned fantasy role play, without all the PC nonsense that’s crept into D&D over the years. After all, don’t we play fantasy role playing games precisely to escape all that BS?

    • Comment by TimP:

      I don’t have a gaming group, so I never got the chance to get any games off the floor, but the Old School Renaissance (OSR) has produced a few “Retroclones”, which are basically games that use the OGL (open-source) parts of 3.5E to make a pseudo-clone of a different version of D&D.

      OSRIC (AD&D 1E) is probably the most popular, but there’s things like Dark Dungeons (yes, I think it’s a riff on the Chick Tract), Swords & Wizardry, etc. A lot of people use the same sort of base to build new interesting things too, so if you want Sci-Fi, Stars Without Numbers is pretty interesting looking.

      Note that all of the games I mentioned in the paragraph above have free PDF downloads, and at least some free supplements/adventures.

      There’s supplements and adventures currently being produced for plenty of them both professional and hobbyist. OSRIC in fact as originally designed to allow people to make “OSRIC-compatible” supplements/adventures for 1E AD&D, since WotC won’t sell the license you need to use 1E AD&D in your advertising material.

      These are generally corroborative community projects, so despite the fact that as mentioned by some other posters they are pretty much “Savage Pagan Barbarians” as opposed to WotC/Paizo’s “Decadent Pagan Romans” they generally keep the politics out of the games themselves. At least of the rules I’ve read I haven’t noticed any of this sort of stuff, but of course there’s going to be exceptions to this for such a broad community (especially a community that includes the author of “Playing D&D with Porn Stars” as one of its broadly respected leaders; though I just noticed that he’s apparently also listed as a consultant in the new Basic D&D).

      • Comment by TimP:

        I forgot to mention it, but Stars Without Number gets some extra credit for not being one of those really silly “The Future is Atheist” games, various religions, and modified versions of religions still exist (there’s some interesting random tables for generating new religions from real world religions for example).

        In particular the free “Mandate Archive” [supplement] The Imago Dei explores an interesting idea involving religious AIs, which would be worth reading even if you have no intention of ever playing Stars Without Number.

        This is besides the pretty cool tables for generating a sector of space, the interesting setting, and the streamlined version of D&D style combat and skills rules.

    • Comment by Jared Anders:

      The best fantasy system I’ve seen recently is Dresden Files RPG, but you’d have to do some modification to use it for high fantasy instead of urban fantasy.

      On the upside, the book is written as if one of the characters in universe wrote it, and then Harry Dresden and Bob made corrections in the margins, comments, jokes, etc.

      While (like the books) there is a massive dosage of femme fatale they tend to be the monsters, and given that one of the main groups is the catholic church and the knights of the cross it is a lot more on Christianity’s side than any other rpg I can think of.

    • Comment by Darrell:

      Dungeon World is good (http://www.dungeon-world.com/) and very reminiscent of red box D&D while having an interesting story mechanic.

      Darrell

    • Comment by Noah D:

      Seconding Dungeon World. It’s very, very good. Read carefully, and enjoy!

      (Hint: the DM rolls no dice!)

    • Comment by D. Lyons:

      I’m having a lot of fun with the Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS) from Autarch. Basically a houseruled, cleaned up up and slightly more complex version of Basic D&D with a VERY thought-out and expanded set of rules for domain-level play.

  21. Comment by Stephen J.:

    Having downloaded and read that introductory document, or at least skimmed through much of it, I do have to note that the quoted paragraph above seems to be the only time the topic is brought up at all in the entire 100-page document. Without disagreeing that games intended for children as young as eleven could well stand to leave sex out of the picture entirely (and I too would be much happier if they did), are we perhaps overreacting to one paragraph out of 100 pages? It is not like the starter kit tells you how to address these topics in the game’s events and encounters, or has rules and mechanical character options specifically dedicated to sexually atypical characters that might “tempt” players into creating them.

    As per the “Dungeons and Greengrocers” post pingbacked above, that the paragraph is present at all is highly indicative of a distressing obeisance to a totalitarian cultural movement; but as was also observed there, if that obeisance is merely self-preserving lip service, then perhaps it is less indicative of corruption in itself and more simply a form of appeasement.

    • Comment by M. L. Martin:

      I tend to agree, and considering how insular the RPG hobby is, and that 5E is heavy on the nostalgia elements and marketed more to lapsed players than new ones, I’m not sure how well the children issue holds up.

      My reaction to the passage was nonplussed but acknowledged that this is where the culture and market is; WotC may be misled, but they’re followers, not heresiarchs, and sinning in ignorance and weakness, not malice.

      That said, I’m still not sold on 5E. :)

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      “… are we perhaps overreacting to one paragraph out of 100 pages?”

      When a man calmly flicks a very tiny ember from the end of his cigarette into your infant daughter’s eye, think of how many skins cells and internal organs he leave undisturbed.

    • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

      perhaps it is less indicative of corruption in itself and more simply a form of appeasement.

      The problem is, by its very nature appeasement becomes both. Their publicly presenting this as a signal of loyalty to the LGBTOMGBBQWTF crowd becomes a data point for the next person making a decision about whether to make a public declaration of loyalty. Even if voluntary (in a certain sense), this kind of totalitarianism is self-reinforcing. By “going along to get along”, they are making the problem worse.

    • Comment by Pellegri:

      To add my own relatively small thoughts to what’s above mine: Even if it’s only a paragraph out of one hundred pages, it’s still wholly unnecessary. People who are interested in characters like the Bikura from Hyperion or Dilandau from the Vision of Escaflowne or the citizens of Le Guin’s Gethen will happily play those characters anyway without being given explicit license to do so by the game system. Saying explicitly “you can play these characters!! Maybe you should think about doing so!!” signals a firm adherence to identity politics.

  22. Comment by Zaklog the Great:

    Slightly OT, but this post reminds me of your recent discussions of character alignment in RPGs which, just now, reminded me of the Ultima series of computer RPGs. Are you familiar with them? They are a truly remarkable set of games. (Up until U8, at least; I sometimes wonder if Satan himself is a major stockholder in Electronic Arts.) Ultima IV was the first computer RPG to address morality in any meaningful way, and the designer, Richard Garriot, composed an interesting ethical system for the whole story.

    Completely off-topic, as I said. We now return you to your regularly scheduled leftist lunacy invading every last corner of your life.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Sorry, I am not familiar. Since I am writer, I just make up my own games and run my friends in them, usually using either a variant of Steve Perrin’s Runequest rules.

      I find Runequest’s use of hit locations, armor, and attack and parry rolls much more intuitive and sensible than using a isocoshedron die to roll against a THAC0. Also, I can intuitively grasp the difference between 75% vs 50% whereas the difference between throwing above 9 on 3d6 vs 8 on 2d8 leaves my mathematically backward brain lost and puzzled.

      Aside from that, I played a lot of Diceless Amber, usually with a zilion rules to cover news powers and new situations, not because the diceless dice mechanics actually makes sense, but only because the rules are so simple to follow, that having a barracks-lawyer among the players is impossible.

      My favorite diceless Amber game was one where I decided that when Corwin drawns a new pattern, he unintentionally creates shadows based on the novels, stories, and pulp fiction of Earth, the shadow where he spent so much time and lost his memory. He pattern and the old pattern created a shadow-storm until the two patterns reconciled themselves. All the Amberites except for Brand, who had fallen into the Abyss, were altered by the new pattern. And the new pattern gave each Amberite the ability to energize one engine of a giant mechanical fighting machine, or mecha, in much the same way the blood of Amber allowed them to energize trumps.

      Julian was turned into Tarzan. Cain was turned into Lamont Cranston, The Shadow. I forget what mecha I assigned to them. Corwin himself, who introduced gunpowder into Amber, was turned into Impy Barbicane from Jules Verne: his mecha was the great moon canon Columbiad, which could shoot threw dimensions. Gerard was Captain Nemo. whos mecha was the Nautilaus. Bleys was Fu Manchu, and he controlled the flying dreadnaught Albatross. Random turned into Bart Maverick, but ended up with the flying submarine automobile called The Terror. Benedict was Doc Savage, who had the Land Ironclad from HG Wells. Brand survived falling to the abyss, and returned to the Courts of Chaos, to find it had been turned into the planet Apokalips, and he became Darksied. I don’t recall what I gave to Fiona and Llewella and Flora, but someone had Alan Schazar’s mecha from the anime VISIONS OF ESCAFLOWNE, someone had the Mole Machine of David Inns from Pellucidar, and someone had a Martian war machine, complete with heat ray, from HG Wells.

      The player characters started as children of Brand and Deirdre (you did not get to pick your parents in this version of the game) who had to make their way to Amber to claim their birthrite, and somehow stop a new war between law and chaos, while at the same time preventing the two patterns from destroying each other.

      • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

        After hearing complaints after Ultima III from some people about the pointless violence and evil imagery, Garriot realized that his game genuinely was lacking any meaningful sense of morality. To correct this, he did something unprecedented in Ultima IV (unprecedented in computer RPGs, at least).

        There was no big bad. Instead, the entire goal of the game was to become a paragon of the eight virtues. The eight virtues were based upon the three principles of Truth, Love, and Courage. Truth was the basis of the virtue of Honesty. Love was the basis of the virtue of Compassion. Courage was the basis of the virtue of Valor. Truth and love combined to form Justice. Truth and courage combined to form Honor. Love and courage combined to form Sacrifice. All of this together formed the virtue of Spirituality. Those lacking the virtues were guilty of pride which is the antithesis of the final virtue, Humility.

        To complete the game, the player had to demonstrate all of the eight virtues as well as complete a few other tasks. Obviously, compared to the richness of Christianity, this is flimsy and silly. Compared to other similar games at the time, this was a wonderful development.

        Garriot continued to incorporate ethics into the Ultima games over the next decade or, exploring new ideas and problems. Then Electronic Arts happened.

        It sounds like tabletop gaming is much more your thing, but this did sound like something you might find interesting.

  23. Comment by Centurion13:

    http://geek-related.com/2014/07/04/dd-5e-basic-rules-first-thoughts/

    Go there to check the comments section. They’re mercifully brief, but one commenter seems to break out ALL the knee-jerk insults, slights and sneers so common to the Progressive point of view. God forbid someone should actually disagree about the sudden inclusiveness – and sure enough, that was adequate to initiate a dog pile.

    I’d like to think I just didn’t express myself well enough. But I had help there and it still didn’t make a difference. If you disagree with the Speaker on Inclusiveness, you’re a bad, bad man. Period.

    And to think the rainbow coalition is willing to burn RPGs down in order to push their agenda.

    • Comment by TimP:

      I love juxtaposing sentences like these two (separated by a grand total of twenty-one words):

      Yes, the hobby needs fewer people like this. It needs no people like this in it at all.

      My idea of inclusiveness is that everyone gets to join in …

      • Comment by M. L. Martin:

        The idea appears to be ‘thou shalt not tolerate intolerance’–where ‘intolerance’ means ‘anything short of fervent approval and offering the ceremonial pinch of infant to Moloch Paneros’.

  24. Comment by Centurion13:

    Ugh. I need brain bleach. Someone help me, please.

    I looked up the Book of Vile Darkness (Icky Mean-ness would be more appropriate)

    Then I looked up the Book of Erotic Fantasy. Ah, not from TSR, this one.

    Then I found F.A.T.A.L. Which originally stood for Fantasy Adventure To Adult Lechery, but was re-imagined as From Another Time, Another Land. But with the same contents.

    It seems there’s no end to the stuff, it’s just that it’s now becoming mainstream.

    Bleh.

    • Comment by M. L. Martin:

      Oh, you poor, innocent soul.

      FATAL is like the RPG equivalent of the Necronomicon, the (in-game) Book of Vile Darkness, and the Vacuous Grimoire. It’s almost universally considered the worst RPG ever made public, with no redeeming qualities. I haven’t looked at it myself, but I know the reputation.

      But it’s a bad choice for ‘mainstream’–as mentioned, no one, outside its creators and maybe an infinitesimal amount of truly lost souls, treats it with anything other than loathing and disdain. Its notoriety (such as it is) arises from its sheer badness and the extremely bad self-promotion of its creators.

      Still, I recommend a few rounds of prayer and some doses of Chesterton, Tolkien, and/or good music to wash away the filth. :)

      • Comment by Centurion13:

        I guess what I meant by ‘mainstream’ was that, once upon a time, this sort of thing was pretty much restricted to F.A.T.A.L. Now it’s considered necessary to reassure the cross-gendered player that they, too, are welcome in all their flamboyant glory and that if you want to explore a same-sex relationship during your stay in Rivendell, why, go for it!

        Erg.

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