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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 36 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [The Coyote Lode] How do I handle race in an Old West Dungeon Crawl Game?  (Read 3189 times)
Troy_Costisick
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« on: April 13, 2012, 02:38:43 AM »

Heya,

I want to continue developing my Game Chef Game "The Coyote Lode."  Here's the link to the GC thread: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=32933.0  Here's the link to the file: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9KW0-YiNVWqMnVrcnpxZzRVc00/edit

I had to cut a million things out of this to get down to the word count requirement for Game Chef.  This turned out to be a good thing.  It's made me think hard about the different aspects of the game and how critical they are.  Before I go any further, tho, let me just give you a brief description of the game as it stands now:

This game is a one-shot dungeon crawl game set in the Old West after a horrific mining accident wiped out an entire mining company and turned the workers into flesh eating zombies. The object of the game is to pull as much wealth out of the mine without being killed before it floods with toxic water.

It's a lot like ODnD reskinned with an American Old West theme.  Obviously, as I expand the game, I'm going to want to include things like Magic.  How do I do this without being insensitive?  Say I want to have shaman or spirit callers.  Obviously those would be associated with the Sioux or Cherokee or another group of Native Americans.  I don't want to trivialize these cultures and beliefs, but by it's very nature, a dungeon crawl is trivial.  It's not about addressing historical accuracy, prejudice, religion, politics, or anything like that.  It's all about killing monsters (undead miners in this case) and taking their stuff.

I don't want to be irreverent toward a group of people but I also don't want to turn this game into Dog Eat Dog.  That's not what it's about.  Any advice on how to merge classic dungeon crawl tropes like spells, magic, miracles, and artifacts with a very regrettable historical period in America? 

Peace,

-Troy
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Justin Halliday
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2012, 04:34:40 AM »

Sounds to me that if you offend everyone equally, it could be okay. 

So to extend the magic beyond just Native Americans, you could also have Chinese, Puritans/Preachers (more of a class than a race), and even some kind of Snake-Oil shyster or a Jewish mage like a Kaballist (need more research here).

Then each of these magic races (or classes might be better) would have their own set of spells that match their various mythologies.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2012, 06:11:06 PM »

Depends - when the various (christian, was it?) groups called D&D devil worship, they were upset by it - did it bother you to keep playing it and by such, upsetting them? Not sure how native indian culture somehow became more sacred somehow?

It depends on A: Whether as a whole they feel their culture has to be taken very seriously (TM) and B: If you feel any culture that demands to be taken very seriously can't have a little bit of sillification. I mean, what are you gunna have - a dude who summons some ancestor to throw a thunderbolt at the zombies or such? It sounds silly and you already seem to call it silly - its not like your representing some true knowledge of them. Really can't all cultures stand a bit of sillification, or they must all be treated with dread sacredness?
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Evergreen
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« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2012, 08:47:19 PM »

Do you feel that the earnest belief in shamanic magic and ethereal spirits deserves deference? If you were depicting Native Americans' racial aspects in a cartoonish way, that would be folly and useless, but wielding any supernatural doctrine as a convenient reference for the rules of magic is never, ever oppression.
Also, I've never known a Native American or black individual who felt that emotional guilt on the part of modern whites is really respectable, and for good reason.
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Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2012, 03:56:54 AM »

Depends - when the various (christian, was it?) groups called D&D devil worship, they were upset by it - did it bother you to keep playing it and by such, upsetting them? Not sure how native indian culture somehow became more sacred somehow?

It depends on A: Whether as a whole they feel their culture has to be taken very seriously (TM) and B: If you feel any culture that demands to be taken very seriously can't have a little bit of sillification. I mean, what are you gunna have - a dude who summons some ancestor to throw a thunderbolt at the zombies or such? It sounds silly and you already seem to call it silly - its not like your representing some true knowledge of them. Really can't all cultures stand a bit of sillification, or they must all be treated with dread sacredness?

You guys make some good points.  This game is a cartoon, and I'd like to play up the grim and silly humor of the horror-western genre.  I think it should be easy to avoid stereotypes if I just focus on the action.
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dindenver
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2012, 02:58:09 PM »

Troy,
  Certain words have lost their meaning. A perfect example is "Shaman," thanks to Everquest and WoW, there are thousands of people that hear that word and think its another kind of priest (which I guess you can say is true at its most atomic level).
  I think the trick is, you want to avoid stereotypes and avoid casting minorities as the bad guys and/or less evolved unless you do so equally to the majority...
  That isn't to say that there is such a thing as racism math, but you do want to avoid stereotypes or other derogatory depictions...
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Dave M
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2012, 06:12:54 AM »

Hi Troy,

Spend some time at Deeper in the Game. It includes some resources and viewpoints which will at least permit you to decide whether there's an issue.

Best, Ron
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Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2012, 05:04:29 PM »

Hi Troy,

Spend some time at Deeper in the Game. It includes some resources and viewpoints which will at least permit you to decide whether there's an issue.

Best, Ron

I read Chris' blog every day, even going back through his archives and reading old articles.  Thanks for the tip, though.  You can never bring up Deeper in the Game too much IMHO.

Peace,

-Troy
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