Man, I started to read those and just couldn’t get into it. Not as bad as some others, though. My campaign is set in the Moonshaes, and there is a set of novels there, but they’re so filled with super casual references to using magic to rape people that I had a hard time getting through them. Lovely setting, and the author was clearly trying to empower (some) of his female characters, but I get bored when every villain is introduced with “also this guy rapes people but let’s not call it that.”
I started rereading them for a few months ago because I thought I wanted to do a podcast about them.
In the first book of The Crystal Shard, no line of dialogue is spoken by a female character. Only one female is given a name, and it is another character’s daughter. The sword fights were kinda fun to read, though.
It sucks that the space is not welcoming to anyone other then a cis-white-male basically. I suspect you might get some enjoyment out of a friend of mine’s blog, called Bluestockings Organic Gaming. She talks about a lot of this, her personal history with it, what she does to make a space, getting new players, avoiding bad people. She’s pretty incredible. I would hazard it would be useful as she breaches a lot of tough topics.
Good topic! After an initial subpar experience DMing I’m now super intentional about who I invite to play when I start a new D&D group.
I seek out players with little or no prior experience. I’ve found these players to be enthusiastic and eager to learn. They’re also less likely to complain about my DMing style, make constant comparison to previous editions and why they’re better, or be unproductively ornery. I also make sure the group is at least 50% (or more) women.
My current game is made entirely of poc (most of whom are queer) and it’s a ton of fun. They love their characters, love the role playing, and are always so receptive to whatever I have planned. Stark contrast with an earlier (all white, mostly male group) who thought it was fun to constantly derail the story or be “evil” for no reason.
It’s always an awesome experience when someone tries RPGs for the first time and really gets into it. I’m glad your current game is rolling along excellently!
I’m currently (albeit very slowly) developing a campaign setting inspired by Abbasid and Almoravid North Africa. In doing so, I’m trying to make a point of finding areas where I can show that the setting is welcoming on social issues, despite being a forbidding awful place in many other ways. So far this is the one completed piece I have regarding that facet of the campaign setting.
I’m also trying to do what I can to make my corner of the OSR (community focusing on/inspired by older editions of D&D) to be more welcoming and inclusive.
I was initially really hesitant to GM, but I kind of forced myself into the role after none of my friends in High School really wanted to.
Now I can’t imagine not being a GM. I love the set up, I love building worlds, I love asking questions and having my players answer so they can shape the worlds that we all build together. It took me a while to even become competent at it, and I’m still not good, but I learned to love the hell out of it.
But I have a similar problem. All my regular players are straight white men. They’re a super fun group to play with. Have been for years. It’s been amazing to watch them all grow as role players and world builders as we moved from D&D to Pathfinder to Powered by the Apocalypse games, and how much better they’ve gotten at more off-the-cuff games like Fiasco and Follow. But I want to diversify my group. The first D&D group I ever played in was actually relatively diverse, comparing them to my current group of regulars. Our DM was a person of colour, almost all the players were queer. We had a really great time playing and the characters we created matched the diversity of the group.
Thats not to say the worlds I build with my current group aren’t reflective of the diverse reality we all experience, but a lack of diversity around the actual table has become a little bit of a sticking point for me. I’ve asked some other friends if they want to join up with my group, or start a new one, but it’s rarely met with enthusiasm. At most I’ll get a “yeah maybe…” and then no followups. It’s so disheartening to see members of this community act as gatekeepers, especially on the grounds of “realism” as if a game where elves throw fire and lightning at dragons is a place where realism should be a major consideration. Role playing is something that I think most people can enjoy on some level, and I hate that the culture surrounding it can be so damn toxic.
Something I came up with for the “Yeah maybe…” folks who are unsure about how the game works/hesitant to commit is a one-off adventure (about an hour in length) that introduces them to roleplaying.
Creating a character can be daunting, complicated, and time consuming for a beginner so I send them one of those D&D class/alignment quizzes. Folks love quizzes and it gets them thinking about possibilities without having to page through a massive handbook. For game play I use a super simplified version of the Dungeon World system that streamlines stats into 3 categories and utilizes 1d6. Happy to explain more if anyone is interested!
Overall, these days I’m a lot more amenable to writing short one-off adventures for absolute beginners. One of my favorite game memories is pulling someone in who had no prior knowledge and basically just happened to be in the vicinity at the time. Witnessing her transition from “???” to excitedly taking bandits out with a crossbow will always bring a huge smile to my face.
I’ve been GMing for one group of friends since 2009 through multiple games and systems, while running for other side groups on and off. Problem is, I’ve grown a lot in the way of identity/gender/sexuality/justice in these 9 years, while most of my players… have not. I sometimes go back and look over my old material and sometimes I bump into something that makes me cringe because it’s offensive or tiptoeing up to that line without crossing it. Some of those things were ones my players latched onto and ran away with.
While I continue to play with them and have steered my games (and life) away from any toxic garbage, I’d really like to seek out new people to play with as well, so that I can explore the types of stories I’d like to explore from perspectives that aren’t a circle of 5 cis straight dudes who become guarded and “politely cautious” whenever the topic of queer persons comes up. Has anyone else faced a similar issue?
This was a huge issue for me when I was running Pathfinder games for a group in late High School/early Post-Secondary.
I once generated a character on the fly for my group who decided to go down a narrative thread I wasn’t expecting them to find for a while and I hadn’t quite decided who the leader of a faction would be. They were the leader of a group who had begun to re-populate an abandoned town near a castle, and they were non-binary.
When I introduced them using “they/them” pronouns I was told by my players to stop play, was made to clarify their pronouns and then was told, basically unanimously, that “it would be too hard” to remember to use “they/them” when this character was “on screen” so to speak. Anything outside of the norm in terms of gender was a no-go.
That made it really hard for me to act and voice any character at that point. What if they discovered a past NPC was queer? Would it be “too hard” to deal with that identity? This was also a group that regularly dropped pretty bad ableist language so don’t even get me started on trying to represent any kind of neurodivergence. It just made DMing that group pretty fraught in the sense that I didn’t feel I could deviate from Fantasy 101 shit, and that also made it extremely boring. The group fell apart not long after that.
I haven’t played this myself, but a friend of mine enjoyed The Watch. He described it as a fantasy metaphor for destroying the patriarchy, and I don’t think you can play as a male character in it. I think the options are genderqueer, non-binary, trans woman, cis woman or fluid. The story is that femme people are better at resisting “the Shadow”, which turns masc people into war machines.
It sounds pretty interesting! I’d quite like to try a campaign where the feminism and intersectionality are actually baked into the gameplay and story.