WFRP Social Justice & Representation

For general discussions about WFRP
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skerrigan
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I'm a big fan of playing games for the sake of it and keeping my political inclinations out of it (which is easy, I have disdain for all spectrums of the UK political spectrum). I'm not particularly interested in involving modern gender politics in my game, as it's not something that really interests me and dates any piece of work. Case in point, the current POTUS - popular media is obsessed with portraying Trump-like characters. Star Trek, There's even an NPC in the Adventures Afoot in the Reikland who wants to Make the Reikland Great Again. (Gee, I wonder who that's a pastiche of). That kind of commentary is only really amusing when its subtle (like say Empress Magritte being Margaret Thatcher) and not in your face.

That said, I kinda like Toby's ideas. Karla Grunburg is a brilliant idea, a bit like the Judean People's Front in Life of Brian (so your chief enemy is Chaos? No, they're second, our first is the church of Sigmar), as is an ogre entering the olympics as a halfling (I identify as a halfling, I like pie and I have fur on my feet, you Mootphobe!)

As for Age of Sigmar, it's a new setting so it can get away with African style Sigmarite priests and "Escaped Mental Patient haircut" female Stormcasts. WFRP's Empire is predominantly German, Bretonnia's France, Tilea is Italy and so on. They're also broad stereotypes, which are amusing but anyone with half a sense knows don't exist IRL.

That said I also don't like the idea of official material encouraging punching of anyone IRL, even if you disagree with their crazy ideas. I can't help but note in his last 3 posts or so @HerrArnulfe wants to punch a lot of people that exist in real life through the medium of WFRP.
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Herr Arnulfe
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tadcan wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:25 pm
It'd be more hesitant with dealing with these issues with someone who identified from that community without having a discussion beforehand about what approach is ok. In other games people have talked about no pvp or no graphic violence, anything against children etc before hand, so in an ideal world this should be no different. With the non-binary identification, there are cultures that have had the concept of a third sex or similar which matches that experience.
Agreed, I'd probably avoid dark humour and mental illness for transgender NPCs in 2020. Although I laughed at the crossdressing goblin in TEW and found the gender-repressed murderer in Beasts in Velvet compelling, the 80's was a different time. However, I don't think a GM or writer needs to be gay or trans themselves in order to feature gay or trans characters in their stories.
Herr Arnulfe
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skerrigan wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:31 pm
That said I also don't like the idea of official material encouraging punching of anyone IRL, even if you disagree with their crazy ideas. I can't help but note in his last 3 posts or so @HerrArnulfe wants to punch a lot of people that exist in real life through the medium of WFRP.
To be clear, I don't advocate punching anyone IRL. "Punching X in the face" is just shorthand for games involving morally unambiguous villains.
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Orin J.
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Herr Arnulfe wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:21 am
There ought to be some degree of social injustice in order for the setting to claim its "grim and perilous" title. If the default Empire society is progressive and inclusive, then bigots and murderers are pushed to the fringes. I'm just wondering if it might be possible to reimagine Chaos cults in that context so we can have it both ways. For example, rather than asking players to deal with casual racism in every session, perhaps the racists are secret Khornate cultists that you can uncover and punch in the face guilt-free.
that doesn't really work from a publisher's viewpoint, though. there's not really any way to reframe racism so that it doesn't reflect racism, that's just devaluing the severity of the problem which isn't all that considerate of people who are being racially prejudiced against.
Toby Pilling wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:59 pm
I've always found extremist Shalyans make great Antifa type facists too.
....Wat.
skerrigan wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:31 pm
That said I also don't like the idea of official material encouraging punching of anyone IRL, even if you disagree with their crazy ideas. I can't help but note in his last 3 posts or so @HerrArnulfe wants to punch a lot of people that exist in real life through the medium of WFRP.
I'm here to state that i officially endorse punching fascists. their core idealogy is that they should and will violently oppress everyone they consider lesser than them once they are assured success, and that arguments of logic or compassion are worthless. you punch them until the crawl away and teach everyone else why when they ask, because if you try to resolve the matter without punching then one day they've convinced enough people to side with them that they're able to hold the monopoly on violence and they will kill people for the color of their skin or family they were born to. for all men to be free, none must be allowed to deny the freedom of others and that's the goal of fascism in a shellnut.

fought a whole bloody war because of that....
Herr Arnulfe
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Orin J. wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:30 pm
that doesn't really work from a publisher's viewpoint, though. there's not really any way to reframe racism so that it doesn't reflect racism, that's just devaluing the severity of the problem which isn't all that considerate of people who are being racially prejudiced against.
I didn't mean to replace racism with something else, but rather to changie the scale of it. So e.g. instead of facing systemic racism every session, an Arabyan PC might be opposed by a KKK-type Chaos cult.
Robin
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One thing that would help, I think, would be actively asking some women, some non-white people and some trans folk to write for the game. That's perhaps the best way to see a bit more diversity in the actual material. I was always sad that Server Goddess didn't have time to post more on StS and that there were, apparently, no other women posting to the group.

Regards,

Robin
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Orin J.
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Herr Arnulfe wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:11 am
Orin J. wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:30 pm
that doesn't really work from a publisher's viewpoint, though. there's not really any way to reframe racism so that it doesn't reflect racism, that's just devaluing the severity of the problem which isn't all that considerate of people who are being racially prejudiced against.
I didn't mean to replace racism with something else, but rather to changie the scale of it. So e.g. instead of facing systemic racism every session, an Arabyan PC might be opposed by a KKK-type Chaos cult.
my point was that making it a chaos cult doesn't really do anything to change the scale of it, you're just kind of making an excuse. even as a chaos cult those are still the people in the community wearing masks which is the issue. it's more of a balm for people that would otherwise feel bad for being able to see themselves in the position of the racists "oh it's because of the chaos gods" while doing nothing to actually address what makes it wrong.

you're not seeing it from the recieving end, you're just trying to soften the edges for the people that can afford to sit on the sidelines and say it's not their business.
Herr Arnulfe
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Orin J. wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 9:01 am
my point was that making it a chaos cult doesn't really do anything to change the scale of it, you're just kind of making an excuse. even as a chaos cult those are still the people in the community wearing masks which is the issue. it's more of a balm for people that would otherwise feel bad for being able to see themselves in the position of the racists "oh it's because of the chaos gods" while doing nothing to actually address what makes it wrong.

you're not seeing it from the recieving end, you're just trying to soften the edges for the people that can afford to sit on the sidelines and say it's not their business.
I didn't think either of us were looking at it from the POV of e.g. an Arabic gamer playing an Arabyan PC in the Empire. I thought we were discussing ways to retain WFRP's gritty social injustice while making the setting more socially progressive. I can only imagine that busting up a KKK cult would be more entertaining than grinding, low-level discrimination, but I fully admit that I'm not qualified to make that determination due to my position of white privilege.
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Orin J.
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Herr Arnulfe wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 9:30 am
I didn't think either of us were looking at it from the POV of e.g. an Arabic gamer playing an Arabyan PC in the Empire. I thought we were discussing ways to retain WFRP's gritty social injustice while making the setting more socially progressive.
no, i'm saying this isn't functionally possible. you either embrace people will be offended by the material you're addressing or you remove it. there's no way to have social injustice as a plot point or set dressing without it plausibly offending people. WFRP was always about being more gritty and unpleasant than welcoming and happy and it's best to just accept the situation for what it is and accept that some people will be uncomfortable with them.
Herr Arnulfe
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Orin J. wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 11:52 am
no, i'm saying this isn't functionally possible. you either embrace people will be offended by the material you're addressing or you remove it. there's no way to have social injustice as a plot point or set dressing without it plausibly offending people. WFRP was always about being more gritty and unpleasant than welcoming and happy and it's best to just accept the situation for what it is and accept that some people will be uncomfortable with them.
Are we worried that people will be offended by a Chaos cult of violent racists that's portrayed as being unambiguously evil? Sorry if I'm not quite following.
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Toby Pilling
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Surely though the fact that different races do actually exist in the Wahammer world might have an effect upon how much people are bothered by differences within a race. Racisim between races is already established - such as the animosity between Dwarfs and Elves. Also, there most certainly are racial differences in characteristics - Elven intelligence or Dwarf toughness, for example. One could have great fun with that - 'Check your Elf privilege!'
With Slaanesh and Tzeentch, it's quite likely that changing gender is possible. Also, the vast majority of slavery appears to be undertaken by the unambiguously evil Dark Elves (it's implied that most of their victims are white Old Worlder's for that matter, like the Barbary Pirates).

Challenging stereotypes should be correspondingly different in the Warhammer world. What about overturning the racism towards Greenskins, particularly Half-Orcs and Hobgoblins (is 'Greenskin' a racist term, for that matter)? Those are the other fun ways to bring in the current obsession with race, methinks.
tadcan
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Herr Arnulfe wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:40 pm
tadcan wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:25 pm
It'd be more hesitant with dealing with these issues with someone who identified from that community without having a discussion beforehand about what approach is ok. In other games people have talked about no pvp or no graphic violence, anything against children etc before hand, so in an ideal world this should be no different. With the non-binary identification, there are cultures that have had the concept of a third sex or similar which matches that experience.
Agreed, I'd probably avoid dark humour and mental illness for transgender NPCs in 2020. Although I laughed at the crossdressing goblin in TEW and found the gender-repressed murderer in Beasts in Velvet compelling, the 80's was a different time. However, I don't think a GM or writer needs to be gay or trans themselves in order to feature gay or trans characters in their stories.
I wasn't trying to say that you can't be from the community to talk about it, just that you should have a conversation about it so you aren't making something the butt of a joke for being weird and different and a thing you don't understand. Which is why I talked about writing characters with a valid reason for being that type of personality, which would apply to playing NPC's. At a previous job I worked beside a gay guy and we would rip the shit out of each other with some very dark humour that could be very close to the bone, like I accidentally insulted our boss who was sitting with us. Or with someone else made an off hand comment about coming out of the closet in regards to doing something else as a sly joke. I wouldn't have been comfortable doing that ten years ago. There is something powerful about in-group joking over a shared knowledge, but there is a process to get there.
FasterThanJesus
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Toby Pilling wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:21 pm
Surely though the fact that different races do actually exist in the Wahammer world might have an effect upon how much people are bothered by differences within a race. Racisim between races is already established - such as the animosity between Dwarfs and Elves. Also, there most certainly are racial differences in characteristics - Elven intelligence or Dwarf toughness, for example. One could have great fun with that - 'Check your Elf privilege!'
Terry Pratchett considered that angle quite frequently in the Discworld novels and drew the same conclusion. These things always need binding to a context and operate within the consistency of the world it is set.
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Orin J.
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Toby Pilling wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:21 pm
Surely though the fact that different races do actually exist in the Wahammer world might have an effect upon how much people are bothered by differences within a race.
the more alike two groups are, the more aggressively they attack each other for their differences. look all all the different sects of christians in history slaughtering each other.
Toby Pilling wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:21 pm
With Slaanesh and Tzeentch, it's quite likely that changing gender is possible.
you should absolutely not do that. you're implying something very bad about people who are transgender there, though i don't think you're realizing it.
Herr Arnulfe
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Toby Pilling wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:21 pm
Surely though the fact that different races do actually exist in the Wahammer world might have an effect upon how much people are bothered by differences within a race. Racisim between races is already established - such as the animosity between Dwarfs and Elves. Also, there most certainly are racial differences in characteristics - Elven intelligence or Dwarf toughness, for example. One could have great fun with that - 'Check your Elf privilege!'
True, the current WH fantasy setting isn't particularly gritty in terms of racial injustice. Elf/Dwarf "speciesism' is generally benign and cartoony. Sigmarite/Ulrican tribal divisions are rarely explored outside of politics. I would say there's implied anti-Arabyan racism given the number of crusader knightly orders, but nobody seems to want to touch Araby in WFRP, so it's largely invisible. Anti-Strigany racism is somewhat "justified" by their connection with undead.
Toby Pilling wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:21 pm
With Slaanesh and Tzeentch, it's quite likely that changing gender is possible. Also, the vast majority of slavery appears to be undertaken by the unambiguously evil Dark Elves (it's implied that most of their victims are white Old Worlder's for that matter, like the Barbary Pirates).
WFB 8e Dark Elves became more relatable actually. They're still evil, but more ambiguous now, especially factoring in Malekith's role in the End Times. GW sort of swapped roles between Chaos and Dark Elves in terms of "relative evilness".

Chaos bargains might might work for transsexuality, but not transgenderism. Now that science has shown humans to be only 15% gender dimorphic, self-identifying as another gender can no longer be considered dysfunctional. All humans are non-binary in their genders and they always have been, it's just a question of degree. I suppose transgender characters could strike daemonic bargains for sex-change mutations, but that probably falls outside the scope of most groups' gameplay.
Toby Pilling wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:21 pm
Challenging stereotypes should be correspondingly different in the Warhammer world. What about overturning the racism towards Greenskins, particularly Half-Orcs and Hobgoblins (is 'Greenskin' a racist term, for that matter)? Those are the other fun ways to bring in the current obsession with race, methinks.
I'd be wary of the "Orcs=blacks" metaphor unless I was looking to do something really edgy and subversive. D&D is currently undergoing a major overhaul of its races and that's one of the hot-button issues.
makrellen
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No players in my campaigns have ever felt represented. No one. Ever.

My players play characters that are not themselves. They exist purely in a fantasy context and you can not draw parallels between how people of a particular race, gender, age or religious belief are treated in game and in real life.

I know this is not a popular opinion on most forums/social media but I do not see representation of gender/race/etc in game as a sign of respect to those groups in real life. I strongly believe in equality but also in separation between fictional character issues and real world issues.

Would I avoid topics like persecution of people due to their beliefs in my game? Absolutely if I felt players would need not to deal with that in this hobby.

Would I add character traits like race or religion or gender just to ensure those groups were represented? Never.
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Hyarion
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Bingo, Makrellen. Well said.
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Wolf
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Herr Arnulfe wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 4:39 pm
How far should WFRP stray from medieval demographic simulation?
Right from the outset WFRP has never felt the need to conform to reality, but RW gender roles were less strict than is sometimes thought (the ‘roaring girls’ of the early 17th century were exceptional but showed that they could, effectively self identify as men, in medieval times other women led armies and archeology has recently confirmed female warriors in Norse society) and although not common, there were non-Caucasian medieval and Renaissance individuals, even in Northern European, not very cosmopolitan Tudor Britain (such John Blank, King Henry’s trumpeter). Of course, there would have been issues of racism but the struggle against injustice is true for all WFRP characters, isn’t it?
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Orin J.
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Herr Arnulfe wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 9:16 am
I'd be wary of the "Orcs=blacks" metaphor unless I was looking to do something really edgy and subversive. D&D is currently undergoing a major overhaul of its races and that's one of the hot-button issues.
i mean they're supposed to be based on irish soccer hooligans more than anything........
Herr Arnulfe
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Wolf wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 4:53 pm
Right from the outset WFRP has never felt the need to conform to reality, but RW gender roles were less strict than is sometimes thought (the ‘roaring girls’ of the early 17th century were exceptional but showed that they could, effectively self identify as men, in medieval times other women led armies and archeology has recently confirmed female warriors in Norse society) and although not common, there were non-Caucasian medieval and Renaissance individuals, even in Northern European, not very cosmopolitan Tudor Britain (such John Blank, King Henry’s trumpeter). Of course, there would have been issues of racism but the struggle against injustice is true for all WFRP characters, isn’t it?
Yes I would agree, although social justice in WFRP has traditionally involved anti-government class struggles (e.g. freeing the peasants of Wittgendorf, investigating taxes and town councils). It's possible that "friendly mutants" were metaphors for oppressed RW groups, but that angle doesn't really work anymore under the new Chaos concept. EDIT: Witch hunters in WH fantasy ought to to be reconsidered in general IMO. No matter how much you try and explain to a female gamer that Chaos is unambiguously evil, it's not a good look having witch hunting validated and justified in the setting.
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