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  1. #21
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    What I find most interesting is that the OP asked for ideas on how to change the gender balance, and almost everybody responded by saying there was no imbalance.

    I find that very depressing.
    Call me Bob.
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  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    True, but currently the basic setting has ruler/law combo domains routinely, but very few law/other combo's in Anuire - and in raw mechanics the priest domain is at a major disadvantage compared to the landed regent, as are guild and source.
    This is a flaw of the mechanics, not necessarily the story/setting. And even, with regards to the mechanics, only a minor flaw if played creatively, rather than accepting the hand the rules seem to have dealt. Also, if the game assumed a position where the lesser nobles in a realm were more like historical nobility--as in, fractious, opportunitistic, and far from undyingly-loyal--you'd find that the landed regents actually are usually in a tight spot, without nearly the freedom of maneuvering that the other domains afford.

    Female gods will clearly undermine the male dominated faith approach common to the Abrahamic religions, its harder to say that women are inferior when some of them are gods.
    Historically, I don't see how this is true. Godesses abounded in pagan cultures throughout our world throughout history. Yet only rarely (if ever) did women truly, culturally, and regularly reign over men; most often, those cultures were just as male-dominated as any other. It's really only in the Western culture (of Christian-descent) that women have achieved the levels of equality and respect that we take for granted today.



    Mostly, though, with regards to this thread, I must question to some degree the premises.

    1. Why must a woman's worth be defined by how much she can be like man? This is the false premise and the hidden misogyny that I find common today. It hides an even worse "patriarchal" assumption--that a woman isn't really of equal dignity to a man unless she can essentially be a man. It's sick. The sexes are different, with different gifts, different strengths, but equal dignity. Why can't a woman be respected for being a woman rather than for being like a man? Whatever happened to the "feminine mystique?"

    Rather than really get us deep into that hornets nest, though, of considering this whole social problem, I'd just like to lend my support to any ideas that make up any disparity in interest/focus of the setting by emphasizing women as women, not merely making a superficial (and ultimately at least equally sexist) change of just equalizing statistics (and ignoring the uniqueness and difference of women).

    Thus, the idea of making Vos matriarchal, as respecting Kriesha and winter, can have more depth and recognition of a difference than just evening the numbers throughout the setting. I always, likewise, assumed that the Sidhe were at least as female-dominated as male (with their Queens and race as a whole seemingly taking more after Galadriel and Lothlorien than most RPG elves).

    Likewise, sorcery, particularly in Birthright, has great potential in this area, and truly can begin to embrace that "feminine mystique" in many ways. That women would be more prevalent, powerful, and talented in this area could fit in well and explain a lot--why Anuire (which did always seem quite egalitarian to me, nonetheless, historically more like Elizabethan England than prior ages) might marginalize sorcerers, but would also create a major opening for Khinasi to even be dominated by women. Even if they weren't direct rulers in Khinasi, the culture could easily allow for powerful sorceresses to be the powers behind the thrones, pulling strings. Some long-needed changes to Source holders (to bring them up to par with other domains) would help here.

    2. The other question I have is whether something as superficial as changing some character sexes around is really what it takes to draw in more female players. That, too (because of its superficiality, ignoring the differences in interests between women and men), strikes me as sexist in itself. I'm not saying that it's a pointless endeavor. I'm saying that if we really want to appeal to women, and respect their differences, we need to look deeper than just throwing in a bunch of female characters.

    Ultimately, this question may be unanswerable for Birthright. After all, there are reasons that certain hobbies attract more men than women, and vice versa. And its not just representation of your kindred sex in those hobbies. Its that different things appeal to us. Sports and gaming may have plenty of women interested in them, but look at the demographics and you see that these, like all past times, are not evenly distributed across the sexes, in terms of their fans. Strategy games in particular seem to attract more men than women. Its a difference in how our minds work and where our interests lie.

    I'm not saying its not a worthy endeavor to try to appeal to more women and to better welcome those who join us in this great game. I'm saying just keep in mind that what appeals to men by and large may not appeal to as many women, and vice versa, and lets not just gloss over those differences or treat them as if they're not real--that, to me, would itself be sexist. So we can't expect that we can change Birthright to appeal to women as much as men and expect it to be the same type of game.

    So I would encourage looking for meaningful changes deeper than the numbers.

    Now that I've probably offended everyone, I'll get off my soapbox.

  3. #23
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    The other question I have is whether something as superficial as changing some character sexes around is really what it takes to draw in more female players.
    I don't know, but what I do know is that not having made that superficial change caused people to not play, so it sure couldn't hurt.
    Call me Bob.
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  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Mostly, though, with regards to this thread, I must question to some degree the premises.

    1. Why must a woman's worth be defined by how much she can be like man?
    Honestly not sure where you're getting that from. That's not an implication of the original post nor anything that anyone has said in it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Ultimately, this question may be unanswerable for Birthright. After all, there are reasons that certain hobbies attract more men than women, and vice versa. And its not just representation of your kindred sex in those hobbies.
    Roleplaying is much closer to dressing up and playing with dolls than it is to sports like football, though.

    There are definite barriers to female participation in roleplaying games based not on the nature of the game itself but on the way that the people who play it -- and who produce the games that are played -- systematically exclude women players.

    So yeah it might be nice to say "only guys like to sit around telling stories and moving around their little dollies on the table," it's not only untrue, but it also hides a lot of the sexism that is prevalent in the RPG hobby that you only hear about when you start really listening to women players (and women who tried to play, and gave up).

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Duck Call Lass View Post

    There are definite barriers to female participation in roleplaying games based not on the nature of the game itself but on the way that the people play it.
    That in a nutshell, is it.

    It's a fantasy game, it gives you a foundation, a set amount of facts and ideas, nothing in the game says a woman cannot be Emperor or Wizard or High Marshal... its all on the DM and players.

    I have played in Birthright PBeMs that were DMed by women (actually two entirely different campaigns that were run/overseen by women, not men). Birthright is a setting that I have seen draw more interest from women than any other D&D based game. IMO that has to do with it having little to do with hack-and-slash fight-or-flight type of gaming and more to do with intrigue and politics. The setting allows a woman to play any role, the only biases truly inherent in it are the ones projected into it by the players using it.
    The better part of valor is discretion

  6. #26
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    You got it rugor, so the question is, how do we address that in the context of the Birthright game.

    While it is true, that it is up to the DM to tweak their individual campaigns, the barrier (or rather the disincentive) that DCL has spotlighted is in the setting as presented in the canon material.

    I think that since we are now three editions (or four, depending on if you count 3.5 as a separate edition) and nearly 20 years out from when the setting was published, that we should be more willing to abandon our strict adherence to that canon.
    Call me Bob.
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  7. #27
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    There is a saying that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but anyone in the publishing industry will tell you that the cover it vitally important - it is an attempt to indicate the type of story that will be found within as the "purchase", or in this case the decision to play, is inevitably made without detailed knowledge of the setting.

    So although I fully agree with the "equal does not mean identical" issue, I do see the gender of rulers, or at least "main characters" as a "shop window" issue and so consider that we should think about it.

    I agree with people who have said that compared to the medieval world BR is clearly far more gender equal, indeed it is probably better than the modern world (the UK has had a pitiful 1 female PM), but it could be better, particularly outside Anuire.

    When making extensions we should consider thinking "how will this look to a woman / person from one of the source countries (for the non-Anuirean nations)" - I know that I've looked back on a few bits I've wrote in PS Danigau with embarrassment.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by arpig2 View Post
    What I find most interesting is that the OP asked for ideas on how to change the gender balance, and almost everybody responded by saying there was no imbalance.

    I find that very depressing.
    I didn't read it as denying an imbalance, just that we needed to see the numbers.

    Allow me to think out loud for a bit. It looks to me like Anuire comes close to the desired 50% ratio. I'm certainly OK with the idea of bringing out the Vos as "women rule behind the throne, men are the ones who are warleaders" concept. Perhaps something similar would work for the Rjurik or Khinasi. I'd be reluctant to make the same change for all 3 cultures, though.

    Having Anuire as something unique in having some of their women ruling is interesting, too. They are supposed to be more socially/politically advanced (at least they think so), and perhaps the most influenced by the elves, who we thought of as more matriarchal, too. Maybe the other cultures are sort of rejecting gender equality as part of resisting the Empire and/or sidhelien influence? That might put an interesting spin on a game concept I have for Suiriene (the Anuirean outpost island).
    Last edited by Lee; 09-23-2014 at 12:32 AM.

  9. #29
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    I didn't read it as denying an imbalance, just that we needed to see the numbers.
    You needed to see the numbers? Why? Why do you need it proven to you that an imbalance exists? The fact that women perceive an imbalance in interesting player positions should be sufficient without having to do a statistical analysis. And listing various female abominations to counter the perception is silly because they aren't available to play (or at least not normally - hmmmm, now there's an interesting campaign idea... hmmmm...).

    The reason why the numbers don't matter is because women who see a lack of interesting choices won't stick around to read your lists of available female regents, they have already seen them and don't find them sufficiently cool to want to play them, and so will go look elsewhere for their gaming fun.

    It isn't the raw numbers in any one place, it is the limited choices that are available. And as much as I like my Vos idea, that isn't in and of itself a solution, because that just inverts things (though having one of the major cultures female dominated is a neat idea if for no other reason than to deepen the differences between cultures.) What is needed is a good selection of exciting positions for women to play, without them having to be an oddity in whatever region is being played.

    Now this doesn't mean that one culture, let's say the Khinasi, couldn't be majorly male dominated, and the Vos majorly female dominated and the other cultures spread out in a spectrum between those two extremes, the flavour of the over all culture isn't as important as the availability of interesting positions to play.

    Of course, the simplest way to resolve this issue is just to simply declare that the canon regent ha died and the player's PC has inherited, and so the gender of the regent presented in the canon is unimportant.

    However, to get even deeper into this topic, one could argue that there is a shortage of appealing female archetypes in fantasy role playing period (how would you like it if your fighter was expected to run around in a chain mail loincloth?), and it behooves us all to listen carefully when one of the few women who do play share their thoughts and impressions. Assuming of course that we want our hobby, and this setting/ruleset in particular to grow and prosper.
    Last edited by arpig2; 09-23-2014 at 01:11 AM.
    Call me Bob.
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  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by arpig2 View Post
    You needed to see the numbers? Why? Why do you need it proven to you that an imbalance exists? The fact that women perceive an imbalance in interesting player positions should be sufficient without having to do a statistical analysis.
    What I would like to see, is more than the opinion of one or two women.
    I would think it would be wise to seek out the opinion of those women who have played the game, have a background with it, and with other RPG / PBeM games and get THEIR perspective.

    Its certain to have more value than my own, in regards to this topic.

    As I said in my last post in this thread, I have been involved in three PBeMs the past decade, two of the three were overseen/DMed by women (plural in both cases). There was never any discussion or debate from them in regards to this particular topic that I recall, which makes me wonder why now there is this perception.

    By canon: Who rules Roesone? Who rules Medeore, Talinie and Tuornen? What temple/god is prevalent in Ariya, Binsada? Make the Vos run by women you say... Aren't the priestesses of Kriesha all powerful in some tribes?

    As to how you can dress it up, to better lure in future players of the female persuasion, that is up to the DM and players involved... unless you are talking about re-writing what is canon, and shifting the focus of the game, and redoing the artwork, and the whole nine yards.
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