Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fighting Women (Redux)

[checking my privilege as I walk through the Valley of Darkness]

So in the comments section of this morning's post explaining my reasons for male-female specific mechanics (found in the chargen section of ability scores), Monkapotomus wrote the following:

"Ultimately I suppose it is no different than racial caps on attributes but it seems strange to me that you would have a specific type of female character in mind that you want to model but not a specific type of male character you want to model."

Ouch. That hurts.

What Monk has hit on, is a basic in fallacy in my thinking and design process. "Justified" or not, my design choice places a restriction on the character concepts of half the population...and no corresponding restriction on the other half.

Yes, any player can choose to play a character of either sex. Over the years, I've had several players (both male and female) choose to "play for the other team." But the majority of the time, my players (both male and female) have preferred to play characters with whose sex they gender-identify. All the women with whom I've played (more than a dozen as I count in my head), more often than not, chose to play female characters...regardless of whether they were straight, bi-, or gay.

[yeseven when playing fighters in 1st edition AD&D with its sex-related strength restrictions]

As Monk says, it's not really the arbitrary cap that I'm using that's a problem...especially considering I have a particular concept that I'm trying to model. But I'm only trying to model something for female characters...characters that will (probably) usually be played by female gendered players. And yet, I'm saying to the male folks, "Have at it! You can do anything you want! You're male, after all!"

Which is, of course, unfair.

So much as it irritates me to A) admit I was wrong, and B) change my carefully crafted mechanics (I thought it was a pretty neat effect/cool, myself), I will be rewriting this part of the book. Players can still swap (one) ability score for another, so I'll leave it to them to decide what they want to model conceptually. And that freedom of choice will be the same for all players, regardless of gender.

Sorry for my short-sightedness. Thanks for calling me on it.
: )
Stop looking at me like that! It's being changed!


  1. You are cool. Yeah I think that's the right way to go with it.

  2. I was going to suggest limiting male intelligence in the same way as female strength, but . . . that seemed an inappropriate joke at the time.

    Glad to see you drop it, JB.

  3. I'm glad to see you put a lot of thought into this. I thought the idea had merit, but it was a bit of a tricky customer to handle correctly. I think what I'd do is make it so you can pick which stat any character applies 2d6+3 to, and then give them three points they can assign to any stat (including to the "weak" one to bring it in line with others.) That's just one idea though.

    1. @ Rachel:

      Thanks. I think I'll be sticking with something a little less fiddly, though (just to keep it simple).
      : )

  4. I prefer this version to the one you first posted. It was a little jarring to hear you go on about how Strength didn't make a difference in fighting, but female-gender women didn't get a high Strength anyhow.

    Also, it seemed...overly...something to make human sexual dimorphism true across all player races. Does a dwarf need to be 7' tall to have an 18 Strength? Is it really necessary that dwarfen women be weaker than dwarfen men? (It is possible that you're not using demihuman races and these points don't matter, but they're part of my thinking).

    If it's necessary that men and women have different stats, treat them as subraces.

    1. @ Nathan:

      I do, too. File the first version in that mental "what the hell was I thinking" drawer.

      I'm not sure there will be demihumans in the game...I'm playing around with some mechanics at the moment. If they are included, they WILL have a restricted range of ability scores (though these restrictions will not be "sex related").

  5. Ok, I have been reading this blog (from a town lost in Carpathian mountains half across the world) for two or three months now, carried by my newfound love for OSR games, reveling in the Author's insight. I never felt a need to comment, as I'm only getting a hang of B/X and the systems descending from it, but this time, I just can't stop myself.

    You know... So far I thought this "woke philosophy" is something the sultans of Hollywood came up with, something too outlandish to exist outside of their palaces of gold and marble. So these two posts and comments underneath were a true culture shock, Internet and all notwithstanding.
    "Female-gender women"? Is that an expression you can hear used in a real conversation? Is thinking abou modeling real-world sexual dimorphism in a make-belive game something to issue an apology for? It reminds me of my childhood spent under communist rule, when publicly announced self-critisim was an expected conduct after straying away from ideological line of the Party.
    Good Lord, I'm glad I limited my kids' exposure to Western popculture to the stuff produced up to the 1980s and I think even that might have been too much.

  6. @ bebok:

    Well, I wrote this back in 2014. Living in Paraguay at the time, issues of sex and gender identity were in my mind. On the one hand you have liberal Uruguay (a neighbor country) where a person is allowed to report themselves as whatever gender they (on driver's licenses, for example). On the other hand you had Paraguay with its practically medieval view on gender roles.

    So, at the time I was writing, yes..."gender" was an identification thing that was being discussed in the region (South America) where I was living. I probably should have written "female-gender persons" (i.e. "female identifying")...THAT would have been more accurate.

    Six years later, living in the USA, it's a more minor concern (to me)...I try to write my stuff gender neutral and let people be what they want to be. There are enough issues in this country without me needing to participate in hardcore "gender activism" (not sure if that's even a thing).

    Thanks for reading; glad you're finding enjoyment in these games (*I* certainly do).
    : )