One of my favorite games of all time is Caves of Qud, and it’s about to get better. The game, for those who aren’t familiar, is a traditional Rogue-like set in the far distant future, the world now full of mutants and machines. The game randomly generates a great deal of “proper nouns” and even a lot of lore on each playthrough. It’s available for $15 on Steam, itch, GOG, Humble, or directly from the website itself.
On May 7th, Chaos, one of the developers of Caves of Qud uploaded a mod to the Workshop (cw: see further below) called “Gender and Pronoun Sets”. Describing its function, chaos wrote:
Adds gender and pronoun sets, of sorts suitable for the Qud setting, to character generation and various NPCs and NPC interactions.
The mod allows total customization of pronouns (within the confines of the English language, naturally). By default, there’s the nonspecific, male, and female genders, and they, he, and she. The pronoun sets can be chosen regardless of selected gender. Even cooler, all pronouns and genders can be edited at will. Even cooler still, the game has procedural generation for both pronouns and gender. Are you etale with lox/leir/fier pronouns? Or xyngetine with zailm/smex/ras pronouns? Or mustar haneve with lez/boz/ler pronouns? Or something else? It’s all available here.
Awesome! In the context of Caves of Qud, this makes a lot of sense. It’s already set in the distant future, and science fiction often speculates on future where the gender binary is dissolved. And when your game has characters like Mayor Nuntu, an albino ape who is the mayor of a mushroom town in the middle of a jungle, why not rethink gender? Caves of Qud also has a huge range of possibilities for in character creation. You can be a cyborg gunslinger, a two-headed psychic, a web-spinning swordsman, or a million other things. This character building lets me, as a player, to construct my own unique backstories and characterizations. I’ve played as a porcupine engineer, a knight unstuck in time, a martial artist with robot fists, and an electric sheep warrior. Adding pronouns even further develops my ability to do so. It also, of course, is just way more inclusive to allow this kind of expression in play!
Here’s what the gender/pronoun customization screen looks like:
[Image: The gender/pronoun selection screen. Featured genders include: nonspecific, male, female, hograr, and exglolite. Featured pronouns include: he, she, and they pronouns, as well as many neopronouns such as xe, ze, szas and vyer. Some of these genders and pronouns listed are randomly generated.]
Caelyn Sandel, a writer for the game, wrote on the page “Asphodel, the Earl of Omonporch has been in the game for four years and has had xe/xem pronouns the entire time.” Asphodel is a sentient plant who lives in a banana grove and has electric powers. Meeting xem is part of the mainline quest.
That mainline quest isn’t complete yet, though, and neither is Caves of Qud. It’s been in development for several years, and is slated for completion in 2020 (though, you know how these kinds of deadlines go). Which brings me to the next bit of info, as Chaos writes:
This is essentially a sneak preview of functionality that will probably be part of the shipped game in a similar if not identical form.
While this is currently a mod, this feature is likely to be featured in the final product. Another developer, Brian Bucklew, confirmed as much. Again: Awesome!
Now, with all this, it’s not shocking that there were some… unsavory responses from certain parties in the discussion on the Steam page. Complaints about “SJWs” and the like. But… that being said, much to my surprise… most responses are actually overwhelmingly positive. Despite the handful of bigots, the comments outside of the flamewar are full of praise and appreciation for this mod. This gives me hope for at least this game’s community.
long story short: Caves of Qud owns bones and it’s gonna get even better