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12:04 AM
@AncientSwordRage I'm scanning the 5e description and woof. Not so much inspiration from real-world cultures as inspiration from the reductive and condescending "noble savage" stereotypes imposed on real cultures.
Competition taken to self-destructive extremes, and cruelty to the disabled and infirm, are classic traits Western imperialism assigned to cultures that they only encountered during famine, plague, and apocalyptic disaster caused by the Westerners.
D&D also implies (but is so disinterested that it doesn't even bother to affirm or deny) the classic mistake of thinking that nomadic cultures have no sense of place or stewardship.
The individualist attitude that doesn't apply to any actual culture I'm aware of which develops in those sorts of conditions. Mutual accountability, not personal excellence, is the watchword in extreme environment.
And of course nonsense like "even those goliaths who have left their people grapple with the urge to give up their lives as their physical skills decay" is just ableism pure and simple.
It's probably derived from grossly distorted reports of senilicide among the Inuit.
What this description is showing me, is a Goliath culture in the throes of colonial trauma.
Their "customs" as described are not normal, or sustainable.
@BESW this
it really baffles me that people don't have an expectation of mutual accountability in environments that demand high human performance
(then again, it's something the West actually managed to rediscover through the back door, so it's not surprising that people who aren't exposed to safety-culture concepts don't get it)
If they really just "wander from peak to peak" like the "the wandering wind," that's because they've been displaced from the lands their ancestors traveled to curate over the seasons and years and generations.
I'm fine with the idea of a culture that values friendly competition and personal betterment. But it's depicted here in a shockingly toxic extreme and defined so exclusively around physical fitness that it's just ableism. "Any adult who can’t contribute to the tribe is expelled" isn't how any sustainable society works.
12:23 AM
It's not even 'cartoonish' ... It's ... Awful
A group like the Goliaths would value their elders as sources of wisdom and skill. Their memories and generational knowledge would be crucial in effectively responding to serious but infrequent situations.
(And also, yanno. Grandma.)
> Because of their risk-taking, goliath tribes suffer from a chronic lack of the experience offered by long- term leaders. They hope for innate wisdom in their leadership, for they can rarely count on a wisdom grown with age.
@BESW yeah, any system without a Deep State's going to be in for a rough time -- it's like trying to run a military without any NCOs :P
@BESW Maybe after ya wrote that, you could've gone "oh, and that's why I should re-write this entire article."
Q: How to enchant my Dhampir's face

Zweiclops1206I'm thinking of playing a Dhampir player character (details in Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft). I want to build around the Vampiric Bite feature, listed below: Vampiric Bite Your fanged bite is a natural weapon, which counts as a simple melee weapon with which you are proficient. You add your ...

This is all really insightful. I haven't read the entry in a long time, and ... I'm sort of glad I hadn't?
12:30 AM
Yeah, it's...
> Few folk can claim to have seen a goliath, and fewer still can claim friendship with them.
GOSH I wonder why they might avoid and distrust outsiders and seem to have an unreasonably small population. Let's READ BETWEEN THE LINES SHALL WE.
@BESW wow
"kill all old people, wonders why there are no wise old people"
We know of populations IRL that lack elders. It's the result of violent and deliberately inflamed trauma like AIDS.
I just mean that literally they wrote a population that expels anyone who isn't physically strong anymore,... and then brought up the plight of not having a high level of wisdom accumulated through having a lot of years under your belt to go around
such awareness
@AncientSwordRage So you've got a few choices, I guess. You could go with what's on the page and play a caricature; re-build Goliaths from the bottom up to be a sustainable nomadic culture that values competition, reveres its elders, and curates its land; or you can take what's on the page and see it for what it is--an outsider's assumption that a culture undergoing a traumatic apocalypse is its normal traditional state.
@trogdor Yeah, it's definitely not a deliberate nuanced choice on the part of the writer. But if ASR wants to roll with it, there are examples to draw from on what that sort of community looks like... and why it looks like that.
12:44 AM
I could probably work with both angles
Personally I’d rather play a non-traumatized character, and if I did consider going that direction I’d check in with the table first because it’d have a good chance of really changing the game’s tone.
I mean this is kinda one of the better reasons why I just don't want to mess with D&D anymore
@BESW I'm actually not playing a Goliath, but my character (she's a dwarf) meets one in in the backstory and ends up trying to out drink him.
(Side note: I avoided using the R-word anywhere in that discussion, because bleaugh. And it was an entirely unnoticeable omission.)
The main character's ancestors (grand and/or great-grandparents) arrived in the mountains and made a home there. I haven't decided/agreed with the DM who was there first (the dwarves in the mountain, or the Goliath's on the mountain), but after the main character's mother left home to go adventuring, the very small community dispersed and left the mountain home more or less abandoned besides a few squatters. About 20 years later the mother returns with a caravan of dwarves, humans, gnomes
She helps resettled the place and I'm guessing the Goliath's, who never left aren't best pleased about it
@BESW noted
12:58 AM
@AncientSwordRage Or maybe the Goliaths are happy to have trading partners? Really depends on how well-behaved the town is.
@BESW it's probably both, a mix of attitudes
A choice your group could make is to simply decide that your fictional world doesn't re-create IRL exploitation/oppression narratives.
I think that's already been agreed on
The town respects the Goliaths' sovereignty and although there are misunderstandings and tensions the town knows it's on Country and Goliaths have authority to bring their justice systems to bear when necessary.
Resources are allocated according to mutually agreed-upon treaties that didn't involve any threats of force. And so on.
(Did you notice that the Beyond writeup doesn't even mention any sense of justice or structure of governance?)
Just one line about how their leaders are bad.
1:42 AM
@BESW it's very conspicuous now
@AncientSwordRage Yeah, a lot of those write-ups, the most telling things are what they leave out
Well, this entire thing is very horrifying. I'm glad I didn't include much of the original lore, I hadn't developed goliaths much so just gave them some small basic traits and backstory without really looking twice at how D&D describes them. This is appalling.
We've already generally been pretty strong about avoiding the "noble savage"/tribalism stereotypes and inventing our own lore, so this makes me very glad we made that decision.
Yeah, if I ever have a campaign in an epic-fantasy-ish setting again, I'm probably gonna use The Thousand Cousins for my baseline.
D&D as a franchise has too much of this nonsense built into its core assumptions for any amount of setting/lore revision to really work for me, I think.
...I should think about how my Traveling Librarians game can (or can't) adapt to a fantasy setting without taking the head off the robot.
1:58 AM
We try our best in our group. Most of the major race "lore" has been strongly rewritten or just kinda ignored for our campaigns, it's not something I reference super frequently. But it's absolutely highly problematic and there's not a single D&D race that doesn't have some aspect of canon I hate.
I was saying in the Discord earlier how we don't RP racism in our groups just because it's unfun and uncomfortable, but unfortunately multiple D&D races have little blurbs to the effect of "other races might be uncomfortable around you" which is like... thanks, WoTc, that's really gonna be fun to roleplay, I'm sure that will be enjoyable.
For me the lore is... re-writable, but the foundational concept of protagonism it embodies in its premise and its rules is something I increasingly want to push against in my own work.
What do you mean by protagonism? I haven't heard that term before
The set of ideas and assumptions around what defines a main character.
Things like "is a hero," "makes decisions for others more than others make decisions for them," "increases in power over the course of the story," "carries a gun," "is forgiven," and so on.
Ahh, I see. And D&D is built around the notion that most protagonists will be traditionally heroic
That makes sense. And as you say that's so deeply rooted into the foundation that it's not something you could just rewrite.
Meghna Jayanth is talking about video games when she defines "white protagonism" specifically, but it generally applies to D&D as well.
Protagonism itself isn't bad, but the constellation of assumptions which defines D&D's protagonism, well. The games I've written tend to be about people who have decisions made for them, or who are helping someone else grow or change rather than acting to grow themselves.
I'm currently writing a game where the POV characters are people who rally the support of their local community to let them take dangerous solo journeys out to isolated groups, in order to say "when I come back next time, what should the community send with me to help you?"
When when one player at the table is playing out their POV character's solo journey, the other players at the table are embodying the land they're traveling through and the isolated people they meet.
So there's no such thing as an NPC, every character --including the Land-- is given interiority by the people at the table.
2:12 AM
That's fascinating! That would be really fun to play.
I did a cursory write-up of how such a campaign would be approached, without any rules or mechanics, which you can download here.
I'll take a look at it after I finish attacking my emails :D
Now I'm trying to turn it into a fully systematized game. Taking a lot of cues from No Dice No Masters style games like Wanderhome.
@BESW I find this bit especially interesting because a piece of writing advice I often get is to make characters more active in the narrative - making decisions, controlling the plot, proactive instead of reactive, etc. - so traditional writing advice also tends to push you towards that "traditional protagonist" narrative role. Non-traditional protagonists can be just as effective, it's just that most writing advice doesn't lean that way. The bias clearly exists in the writing world, too.
@Sciborg Very much so, but it's just one way of making stories.
One of my favorite examples is the film Jupiter Ascending, which most "tests" for agency would say has a passive, agencyless main character.
2:17 AM
As with education, standardized testing doesn't cover everything :p
But her decisions have so much weight that the entire story bends around them. What she doesn't have at the start of the film is informed agency, or "volitional choice." She's being pressured to make decisions without context, and the whole film is about her journey to learn and understand the context so that her decision at the end of the film has the effect she actually wants.
(A common test of agency is "does the character move on their own, or are they moved by others," and Jupiter spends most of the film kidnapped, coerced, and tricked from one scene to the next.)
That's a great point. It's not that she isn't making decisions, it's that the decisions she makes are wrong or misinformed without her understanding why, and the film is her journey to understand and make the correct decisions.
But here's the thing about making characters 'active' in the narrative: we can decide without deciding for others, we can learn how to live with obstacles that we cannot overcome.
The kind of narrative that popular writing advice pushes, is very individualist (success and failure are purely personal responsibilities, outside forces are insignificant in the face of Right Choices) and subscribes to Great Man ideology (history is made by a small handful of individuals making choices for everyone else, rather than through community action).
(This is why people ask why Superman doesn't just fix all the problems in the world. And it's why he doesn't.)
Wanderhome has a sidebar that absolutely demolishes a major element of common protagonist assumptions, and D&D's assumptions in particular:
> "Problems In All Their Forms"
Nowhere is without problems. When you arrive at a place, you might not yet know what those problems are, but they’re still there under the surface. Problems form naturally, as natures and kith slam against each other. However, you must remember: you are never going to solve a place’s problems. You are travelers from beyond. As welcome as you are, this is not your home, and the locals know far more than you do about how to resolve their struggles and worries. The best you can do is ease pain, tackle short-term challenges, and give someone tools that might some
I never thought about the connection between D&D's protagonist ideology and Great Man/savior thinking. That's absolutely fascinating. There's always the joke about the story revolving around the party but in this case, philosophically speaking, it's very literal and it's very much not reflective of reality.
When I read this in Wanderhome, I realized it was expressing a core reason why my Traveling Librarian game needed to insist that the POV characters are members of the local community, and to use mechanics to reinforce their connection to Land and People.
2:29 AM
On some level this is making me rethink my entire DMing approach. Jeez.
Because otherwise, my librarians are just missionaries.
For a very small and practical example: in my game Goblin Court, PCs choose goals that they want to achieve, like writing poetry or sharing food. I originally wrote one of those goals as "kiss someone."
Oct 8 at 4:41, by BESW
As I revised the text, I noticed that this had the potential to justify a player making their goblin act like a pest. Changing it to "get kissed" was a simple way to make the goal less ambiguously consensual.
This is an example of shifting the "who decides for who" question outside of the player's character and quietly subverting the way our assumptions about protagonism can dehumanize others.
This is all wonderful food for thought for me to chew on. I've never received this perspective from anyone before and it's so fascinating to consider and look back on my previous games from this angle. There's a lot of implicit encouragement built into D&D to solve people's problems, because a lot of games reward you for solving someone else's problems with the implicit assumption being they can't do so themselves for some reason.
Like the whole RPG joke about "why do i need to get you 5 healing herbs, why can't you get them?"
But then you rethink it and you realize that you're making the heroes come across as annoying "here let me solve your problems for you" white knights at best, and missionaries and invaders at worst.
There's a lot of VERY good dialogue and design out there around these kinds of ideas, but D&D isn't anywhere near them.
Part of the issue is that we've been talking about inside the game only so far, which is small peanuts compared to the ethics of the industry itself and how D&D is positioned there.
Yeah. I feel genuinely bad for not having encountered or internalized this area of discourse before - it's probably because I laser-focus on D&D as my most prominent tabletop game interest. But it feels so important for me to keep all this in my mind going forward about how I present things in roleplaying games and how I structure narratives. It's now clear to me that I have a lot of thinking and growing to do.
My understanding of the hobby changed dramatically when I started engaging with the RPGSEA and RPGLATAM spaces.
Don't beat yourself up about having stayed within the boundaries drawn for you; you were never supposed to notice they existed.
Now that you see them, you've got a whole exciting new world to learn about!
2:45 AM
I hope so, you've genuinely opened my mind today. Thank you :)
I feel like you're the kind of person whose brain I could pick for hours
I stopped playing D&D partly because I saw how awful things like the Goliath write-ups were, but I'm never going back because of things like how Wizards treated Orion D Black.
@Sciborg haha, I'm around here a lot, but there's other people here with great insights too, and I encourage you to look elsewhere as well. I'm not a voice of experience, but I try to link to them as much as possible.
Every few days I do a link-dump in this chat of interesting games, essays, twitter threads, etc, that I've found online.
A lot of the ideas about protagonism I brought up here, are from this:
yesterday, by BESW
DiGRA India Conference 2021 Keynote #1: "White Protagonism and Imperial Pleasures in Game Design" by Meghna Jayanth. (text available here) (it's about video games but a lot of the concepts and principles are transferable)
Definitely going to follow this stuff more. I mostly just lurk around here for free DMing advice and Costco samples :p
@Sciborg this is definitely my favourite non-rpg chat... That makes sense. Honest!
how.... how dare. i thought meme chat was something special ;-;
@Sciborg oh... I uh... I obviously mean on stackexchange
Not discord, that's something else 😊
2:55 AM
you just gonna dunk on the sphinx's lair like that, i see how it is :p
Games like ARC, Mnemonic, Balikbayan, Pasión de las Pasiones and The Sun's Ransom, have really helped me expand my ideas about what games can be.
@Sciborg shhh don't tell them... Or SFF....
@Sciborg I'm open to chatting on Discord if that's ever more convenient/comfortable, just let me know; I see your info in your profile so I can shoot you a yawp.
Not all conversations are the sorts of things that should be seeded to the Googles.
Viditya Voleti asks on twitter "Any cool indie games you've been reading/playing that have done real interesting stuff with move design? Newer and smaller the better!"
"Stranger Kings, Dice, and Authority From Beyond" article by Federico Sohns on Medium. I always felt curious about why, in the creative space of tabletop roleplaying games, we developed such a fixation with dice.
CAPITALITES [early access] by babblegumsam. the urban asian roleplaying game
"Kickstarter Will Move Its Crowdfunding Platform to Blockchain" article by Jackie Davalos for Bloomberg. It’s creating a new company to develop and distribute the technology.
AG Reeder Art is sharing on twitter the illustrations he did for the new version of Cozy Town by Jamila R. Nedjadi. (illustration one) (illustration two)
@BESW I would genuinely love that, feel free to friend me. I'll probably have questions in the future and you are a great resource for learning all of this.
Being exposed to all of this information will change how I play tabletop games in future significantly, I want to make my games a healthier place.
3:11 AM
@BESW This is making a lot of indie and small-press TRPG people very very unhappy. Expect a massive shift toward GameFound, itchfunding, and similar alternatives.
(Of course, Kickstarter was never an option for a significant chunk of the world; game-makers in the Global South mostly had to find trustworthy sponsors in countries like America because the digital finance options Kickstarter uses aren't available in countries like the Philippines.)
@Sciborg just don't leave me out of the wisdoming 😜
@BESW this is dreadful... Not that I rely on Kickstarter much. Hopefully it will push me to use alternatives more
@AncientSwordRage Mayhaps we could make a group chat <3
A group chat with less-than-three is not a group 🤔
3:28 AM
I meant with you, me and BESW, if we all wanted to wisdom together
"Emotional Signalling" essay by Bankui on Deeper in the Game. I think we need more games that differentiate between being placed in a mood/attitude vs. a depth where you start changing the direction of how you live your life. Because these two things are very different.
@Sciborg It's a joke about using the <3 emoticon.
(Friend request sent.)
I feel very dumb for letting that fantastic joke fly right over me
Forgive me Ferret
Urrgh Bankuei's essay has me wanting to go back to my old "Where Are We Going?" game because it's all about changing direction.
3:45 AM
Heyo all
So I have a question about finding a place to publish/get a system playtested?
@Ben Selling it or just distributing it?
I want to see my "Diablo Corruption" system get a bit of a playthrough before I ruin it with more bright ideas.
@GcL Distributing it. I don't want to sell a faulty product 😅
It was a google doc, no? You could convert it to markdown and publish it via github pages.
@GcL github? I thought that was only for code lol
Anything amenable to version control and plain text generally fits into git's paradigm pretty well.
Heck, I used to collaborate on papers in gh repos.
3:49 AM
Fair enough
Anyway, github pages are a way of getting a github.io site backed by markdown. Or you could author the html directly.
I'll look into it. Is there any places in particular (aside from potentially here) that I can post it?
@GcL Was thinking that. since I enjoy using the Homebrewery
@Ben Either way, I'd break up original doc by section or chapter.
Do you still have the link/access to it?
That's a good point. I very well might. Lemme see.
I've got a Corruption v2 doc shared with me.
3:55 AM
Ypu, that's the one :)
@Sciborg you were already forgiven before you asked
4:08 AM
@GcL Could you suggest where the "breaks" go?
@Ben Done. I'd keep the initial draft as markdown and let github pages jekyll do the html and styling. I usually do this sort of work in two stages: get the content in as plain text or markdown, then go back and fuss about with the config for the theming and styling.
It wouldn't surprise me if someone has a jekyll theme for DnD content. Failing that, there's got to be some CSS or SCSS out there that can be adapted to a jekyll theme.
Yeah, the only reason I did any "formatting" is just for clarity in the original doc. But since we're splitting it up that doesn't seem necessary anymore
Heading 1 to heading 3 and lists are the majority of what I end up using.
4:44 AM
Welp... I really think I'm doing that wrong. Lol
In the meantime, any suggestions on where to share would also be appreciated :)
Hey @linksassin
How do?
@Ben Hey, I'm pretty good. Work is going well, Australia is thumping England at the Gabba. All is good in the world.
Awesome to hear!
I have a mate that would likely agree with that last point too haha. It goes over my head a bit though :P
You? Sorry I haven't been around much. Bit busy.
Understandable. Being blue has a very different meaning around here :P
I'm good. Christmas this year is a whole new level of stressful cos not only do I have a whole other family to shop for now (de facto partner and kids), but I am also organizing the building, purchase, and moving into a new house
@Ben Juggling! and even more impressive is that you're doing it upside down!
5:24 AM
All the blood rushing to my head gives me a headache sometimes too :P
6:20 AM
@Ben I'll take a quick stab at it tomorrow if you like. If you think the result would work for you, we can transfer the repo to your account.
6:30 AM
@AncientSwordRage If it's an actual dug-in Mountainhome then the goliaths probably just winter there to scout the lowlands for the next year/multicycle journey.
Surface agriculture might or might not mess up their spring or autumn plans depending on how far out it goes, but caviculture probably won't unless there's some steez going on with a deep river.
There could be some real big drama if Some Wizard decides to put up a stargazing tower or just the regular old Industrial Magic Lightshow kind.
There's a lot of potential in a stable long-term relationship where they basically show up every winter for three months of trading and cohabitation, maybe leave a few people behind to keep contact/advocate for their interests in the town's decisions.
I'll admit this is to some extent because I don't think of nomadic people as engaging with a fruitful and rewarding cave ecosystem and to a greater extent because I don't think of goliaths as particularly eager cavers, on account of their prodigious Tallness attribute.
7:31 AM
Q: When did the Dungeons and Dragons Insider exist?

TrishBack in 2010, 4th Edition D&D was the main deal in D&D-land, and Wizards of the Coast did offer the Dungeons and Dragons Insider service, which was (on the stack) described as: [...] the Dungeons & Dragons Insider subscription is a good purchase. You get access to an online database containing ...

8:29 AM
idea.me is a Latin American crowdfunding platform that some TRPG creators are talking about as an alternative to Kickstarter.
8:59 AM
@Glazius that fits well with the when the story is set
What's 'caviculture' though cave agriculture?
@Glazius Google tells me steez means style or fashion, but I'm not sufficiently caffeinated to parse what you wrote even with that knowledge
I'm gonna go with guinea pig breeding, because that's the cutest possible choice.
But yes from context I'd guess it's intended as a neologism for underground farming.
So now I'm hoping for talpiculture
Ordoalea Publishing offers on twitter to assist people who "need help using #itchio as a crowdfunding platform."
3 hours later…
12:04 PM
@BESW headcannon loaded
12:52 PM
Q: How to identify magic items?

FrancisJohnWhen using the Detect Magic spell to determine the properties of a magic item, do you have to succeed on the Knowledge arcana check in the third round of Detect Magic before you use the spellcraft skill to identify the exact properties?

1:50 PM
(I probably can't ask this on main:) have you ever seen someone try to heal by eating just a ton of goodberries? Did the DM assign any penalty for eating ~20 days worth of nutrition in one sitting?
2 hours later…
3:51 PM
@AncientSwordRage Yes, sorry. "cave farming" as opposed to "field farming".
It's definitely somewhat disruptive to find that the diverse ecosystem you were planning to benefit from in your spring out/autumn back has been replaced with a single high-protein grain defended with violence. But no intervention in the ecosystem is totally without effect, and it's also possible that focused cave farming could e.g. mess up your summer hunting as the effects are propagated through underground rivers that later become surface ones when the mountain on top of them runs out.
4:43 PM
posted on December 09, 2021 by Bardic Wizard

 I’m busy this week so here’s pictures. Mostly spinning. Haven’t done Christmas presents as much as I should. I’m missing materials anyways. Roving I loosely put together and spun. Wool.  White cotton-ball cotton (more on that at a later time) and the roving above. Both about fingering weight, chainplied.  Chainplied cotton from a ball I dyed a while ago  Wider sh

5:18 PM
@Glazius gotcha
6:12 PM
@DanB There are a few Q&As about the topic rpg.stackexchange.com/q/148113/44723 this somewhat touches on the subject - and whenever people talk about goodberries they will talk about house rules.
I'm suddenly reminded of goodberry wine, a magical drink published in real D&D content.
@DanB I also think that you can write a good subjective question about dm-techniques/narrative moves etc. about such a topic on main (just takes a little smithing to make it well-received).
6:48 PM
To people who use the activity page, how do you feel about the refinements that se shipped?
I think it is still much worse than the old page, but it is usable now.
7:35 PM
@HotRPGQuestions A flawed premise, before and during 2010, the business side collapsed, the layoffs were tremendous, and the dream of pushing for a unified high-quality product into the mainstream shattered.
By that time 3.5e was the main deal, again.
7:56 PM
@DanB I'm not sure magical satiation actually counts toward your macros.
@Akixkisu It is a minor improvement.
@trogdor Logan's Run?
@Ben what about a play test?
8:19 PM
@Akixkisu thanks!
9:13 PM
@AncientSwordRage This looks like a comment addressing Dale's answer. — Akixkisu 2 hours ago
@Akixkisu huh,
@AncientSwordRage It is specific to Heat metal.
2 hours later…
10:53 PM
"Kickstarter is getting into crypto, plans blockchain move in 2022" article by Matt Jarvis for Dicebreaker. The announcement has gone down about as well as you’d expect.
"D&D publisher apologises after omitting cultural consultant credit from Strixhaven sourcebook" article by Alex Meehan for Dicebreaker. Future printings will include Tanya DePass credit.
JNButlerArt wrote a twitter thread about the need "to extend some grace and patience to the creators who are going to need time before they can pivot away from KS."
11:15 PM
"By bringing the feel of video games to tabletop roleplaying, Lumen could become the next RPG phenomenon" article by Justin Joyce for Dicebreaker. From Destiny-style looter-shooters to Phoenix Wright courtroom drama, the Lumen system is powering a new wave of video game-inspired tabletop RPGs.

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