9 responses to “Damn Y’all White Wolf”

  1. Cuprohastes

    It’s an interesting point, but a little Wiki browsing suggests that the RL world doesn’t have universal sign language, or even nation-wide sign languages in many cases, and the majorones like ASL only came into being within the last 150 years.
    So why would you expect an universal sign language that spans all known cultures and races in a fantasy game?

    Especially given that it seems to have mirrored the RL point that most sign languages in deaf communities before the introduction of a formal language were developed ad-hoc and were highly localised.

    Additionally if someone is min-maxing and taking the mute option to bag 4 points to put into other stats, saying “OK my character can’t talk so I get 4 bonus points, but he can communicate with sign language so he can still talk fluently with everyone” is pretty much defeating the point.

    On the other hand, it occurs to me that if you establish IC that you have a *silent* and *personal* communications system that can be used over a distance by your group (The informal sign language mentioned in the rules), I’d say you’ve actually established a point of bonus because you can now:
    a) communicate silently
    b) communicate in a way that nobody else can understand.

  2. Zoe

    I used to play a tabletop game which specified that if your character went through one of several specified traumatic events, you had to choose a mental illness from a list to give to your character. I felt weird about it because it was very othering to people with mental illnesses obviously, and was making an inaccurate statement about how all mental illnesses are acquired. Sometimes players would choose a mental illness to give their character as a joke, which I thought was pretty horrible.

    I just went and looked up Exalted’s merits and flaws system. I find it interesting that they list “Diminished Senses” as a flaw but “Special Sense” as a merit. I have enhanced hearing due to sensory defensiveness, and I find it quite disabling. I wouldn’t really call it a physical flaw or merit, though.

    That rabbit is really lovely.

  3. Shataina

    As a former Exalted writer (and still a huge fan) I have my own complaints about WW and so on, and I totally agree that the game has a lot of depressingly ableist bits. Part of me wants to say, “Well, at least they did pretty well on the feminism and alternative sexuality stuff, and it seems to me that they did okay on the race stuff too although I don’t feel confident making assertions about that because I’m not very up on race theory, so I feel reluctant to get incredibly angry at them for stuff like ableism.” But then another huge part of me is like, “Dude, given that they did pretty well on that stuff, why the hell didn’t they do better on stuff like ableism?”

    After Grabowski, the original creator/designer/developer, left WW (right in the middle of the editing process for the Second Edition core :P), I think the game became much less thematically tight due to the loss of his vision (which included some dramatic anti-oppression agenda, I think). I think this is one of the reasons Second Edition has a more sexist, etc. “feel” than First Edition.

  4. Shawn Struck

    I was reblogging this, and on of my friends came up with a good compromise you might run by your GM here:


    “Probably a better solution would have been to make it a 5-point flaw and make “sign language” a 1-point linguistics skill. IIRC, WW works languages through families anyway – i.e., you take a dot in “romance languages”, not specifically Italian or Spanish or whatever, so there’s no reason a dot in sign couldn’t represent fluency with your regional standardized sign language and the chance of passing familiarity with other versions that you might encounter.”

    I bet you’re thinking of “RIFTS”. IIRC, Kevin Siembieda, the founder of the company that made RIFTS and the author of the sourc ebook said that they were totally optional and not meant to simulate real mental illness/ So that makes it -slightly- les problematic, but still kind of :\

  5. Shawn Struck

    Don’t justify the structural bigotries written into games as necessary defences against abusive players.

    You were talking about a general sense, and not directing that specifically at me, right?

  6. Naphtali

    I’ve copy-pasted this response from a similar thread over at GeekFeminism (http://geekfeminism.org/2010/03/10/ableism-in-rpg-gameplay/).

    The WW Flaws systems, particularly in the new edition of the game have been a really interesting experience for me. For those not familiar, nWoD Flaws don’t give stat bonuses, but do grant a small XP reward for sessions where the Flaw negatively affected a character, especially if the character found a clever way to deal with it. These flaws often fail to come into play, such as when a character with “poor sight” uses glasses.

    When I ST games, I usually require players to choose at least one Flaw, and I do use those flaws against them at least once an arc. It forces them to think about things, and I’ve found it makes them more aware of various issues in day-to-day life. I do, however, have unusually bright and progressive players, all of whom are players of color, and are either women, have a disability, or both.

    I agree that using disability as a lesson, and especially having someone “wear” disability is problematic, and on the surface, role-playing a character with a disability looks a lot like the fail-tastic Disability Simulation Experience. These neither examine the reality of disability nor show how to resolve disadvantages experienced in society. Additionally, there is no opportunity for a participant to learn strategies to succeed. Wearing earplugs for a day doesn’t allow time for acquiring lip-reading or sign language skills. Sitting in a wheelchair for twenty minutes does not allow time to develop the upper arm strength necessary to operate a wheelchair efficiently. Because of the long-term and introspective nature of the games I’ve seen the players who choose to take physically-based Flaws come away with a more complete and complex understanding than just “wow, being disabled sucks.” The characters are heroes, and have ample opportunity to succeed in many areas, some of which are affected by their disabilities, and most of which are not.

    Additionally, my group enjoys the ability to portray ourselves from time to time. I’m currently in a game of Innocents (new World of Darkness with children as the heroes) in which the entire party is playing as themselves. IRL, all of us in this particular group have learning disabilities/developmental disorders, and the “tavern” where the characters first met and do most of our planning is a SPED classroom. None of us have really talked about our LD’s before this game, and the Classroom has provided us a safely-distanced venue to talk about our shared experiences with the public school system, people’s perceptions of us, and how we cope with Dyslexia/Autism/ADHD.

    And, well, it’s really really nice to get more than just a pat on the head for managing to find ways to do the things that challenge us but “everyone else” has no trouble with.