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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
5851 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2020 :  07:34:56  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ed has written plenty on this topic here at the 'Keep. Like this:

Ed's efforts:
The quick answer to your initial question is that every time I try to write anything non-standard regarding gender and characters who are “strong”/dominant or “weak”/submissive [strong females paired or interacting with weaker males, for example, such as Shandril and Narm] my editors have fits (“Doesn’t fit our readership! Will hurt sales! Must fix at once!”). Such things “don’t fit” the genre expectations.

In various ways, there’s been a (usually friendly) tug-of-war between me and TSR/WotC/Hasbro over various details of the Realms since my first hints of the Realms were published in (what was then) “The Dragon” back in 1979. The “original” Realms, “my” Realms, was my own imaginary fantasy setting for fiction before D&D® ever existed, and then my own D&D campaign world for years before it became an “official” D&D® setting. It was purchased to be the official ‘home’ of the 2nd Edition D&D® game, and therefore by definition had to be, and still must be, ‘all things to all people.’

In light of that prime philosophy and publishing need, it’s foolish to upset some Realms fans by stating matters too baldly and being too definite when we (various Realms designers and authors) can HINT to our collective hearts’ content -- and in doing so, leave DMs full leeway to run particular characters however best suits their principles and preferences.
In fact, it’s ALWAYS better design work to hint (“Elminster says he’s heard of many orc sightings in and about the ruins”) rather than stating things too precisely (“There are six orcs and one hobgoblin in the ruins, and they’ll be found waiting for PCs in the following rooms . . .”). Hence the very existence of unreliable narrators such as Elminster, and storytelling colour (“fluff” to some) over rules stats in most Realms writings. The Realms is people (characters) and THEIR STORIES, not stats -- and not merely their bedchamber preferences, either.

It should come as news to no one that many consumers, particularly in the United States, have religious and societal views that clash with in-thy-face lesbian, gay male, and bisexual lifestyles.
With that said, yes there are a LOT of “non-modern-real-world-American-mores-standard” relationships in the Realms. I don’t make a big issue of it for several reasons.

First, offending some fans as referred to above. Secondly, TSR Code of Ethics/WotC and Hasbro Code of Conduct prohibitions (e.g. on sodomy, incest, etc.) and editorial censorship, which has (as some scribes have already noted) by and large been relaxing over the years, but has occasionally reached ridiculous heights. For example, I once had a fight with a DRAGON assistant editor over an article (which I refused to finish, under such conditions) wherein I wrote that many Arthurian tales describe Lancelot and Guinevere as “lovers,” and was told that I couldn’t use the word “lovers” or IN ANY WAY IMPLY extramarital sex (i.e. Arthur could be assumed to make love to his wife so long as I made no direct reference to it, but I couldn’t even hint that someone else could). Sheesh. I directed the editor to the standard roster of Greek and Roman myths, legends, and fables for hardcore sexual hijinks, but she dismissed my point as irrelevant.

So what you correctly refer to as “dance around definitions,” is how staffers at WotC have to operate, and merely good business sense (again, those who wish to read the obvious hints re. lifestyles can do so, and those offended by such matters don’t get their noses rubbed in it so harshly that it ruins their enjoyment of the setting). simontrinity is correct in saying that I can go much farther in sexual matters (and, yes, innuendo, which I enjoy) these days than I could when I started writing Realms books. So the horizons ARE widening.

However, my great friend and Realms-champion Steven Schend has, as usual, already said it best in this thread: that we shouldn’t be defining characters by their sexual preferences. There’s far more to people than their jobs, or their hobbies, or how they like to dress, or how they engage in sexual behaviour.

I’ve actually written many gay (and far more bi- ) males and females into the Realms that NO ONE recognizes as such, purely because they DON’T adopt modern real-world sterotypical styles (such as so-called “butch” behaviour or effeminate “limp-wristed and lisping”).
In “my” Realms, there’s no general prejudice against love of same gender or love of both genders. There ARE individuals who hold such prejudices, and in general, members of nobility or royalty or any other group in which lineage and inheritance is important frown on deviance from whatever their locally accepted norm of pairing is, so that “the line can be maintained in a clear, can’t-be-challenged manner.”

In Fiction:
I’m not sure if you’ll see a clearly lesbian or gay male character in a novel soon, because the only way to give them that status “clearly” is to engage in protracted sex scenes, which are seldom okay with editors (a story would have to be constructed that would make such matters integral to the plotline and not “gratuitous,” and although I can and have written colourful porn, it’s not something WotC would welcome in the Realms line). Let’s just see how far I can go in the Knights novels, shall we? :}

And yes, I regard your problem (“I personally would love to see characters in the Realms that I can personally relate to, and I keep coming up short.”) as something that Realms fiction as a whole should address, for as wide a variety of Realms readers as we can collectively manage. So in design or creative terms, there is or should be a “place at the table” for, say, openly lesbian characters.

Bear in mind, however, that many Realms fans delight in pouncing on me for being a dirty-minded “pervert” (most of them, of course, not even understanding the meaning of that word) for merely showing casual nudity, kissing, caresses, and even footrubs in my fiction . . . things many Canadians (and, from my conversations with them, more than a few Americans) who went to summer camp in their teens accepted as normal in such settings. (And being as the Realms is “my” setting, *I* get to define what is ‘normal’ in the Realms; that’s even in the original Realms agreement).

and:
On to polyamory (committed relationships): quite common in backlands Realms villages, often ‘dressed up’ in annual festival customs (such as Midsummer Night) to make the maximum number of people comfortable with it. In many farming and frontier areas of the Realms, “families” dwelling and working together may consist of several males and several females, not “one-man-one-woman.” Again, don’t expect this to be underscored in print in official products, because it points towards incest and the polygamous controversies current in some American states, and in general upsets some folks who might otherwise happily buy Realms products. Remember the editorial fits I caused just mentioning brothelsXXXX ahem, “festhalls.” My view was that I was just reporting, a la National Geographic: ‘The native women have long, floppy . . .’ and the TSR editors disagreed violently. BTW, the very existence of all those brothels point to the number of men and women in the Realms who want casual sex, or who don’t get what they want at home, or who don’t want to wait until they get home. Sex IS alive and well in the Realms.

Please also always remember that the long-lived members of the Chosen are EXCEPTIONS to the rules: their very longevity and loss of sanity leads them to grasp at affection whenever they can, and to consider themselves so far beyond all notions of prudishness and propriety (they’ve outlived entire kingdoms full of social thou-shalt-nots, and been around long enough to see many priesthoods make major changes in doctrine) that they just don’t care what others may think of them -- unless they need the support and aid of particular “others” at the moment.

So, yes, Alustriel does take pleasure in hosting orgies in which she physically enjoys both males and females, and lots of them enjoy each other, and lah dee dee dah dah. This does not make her a nymphomaniac, an empty-headed lust bunny, or deficient in any way. In fact, she’s achieved more through seduction and founding firm friendships and making others long for another chance to dive into the comfort of one of Alustriel’s large and well-filled baths than many rulers ever manage with dozens of treaties and scores of wars, skirmishes, and threats.
If you need validation, yes, Alustriel and Zelauma make love. Storm makes love with both guys and gals (the Harpers don’t regard her as a ‘den mother’ for nothing :} ). Think of her as the comforting arms they run to, for advice and soothing companionship and understanding. However, she does as much listening and dispensing warm soup as she does riding and being ridden.

And:
I hesitate to wander around identifying major NPCs as gay males or females, because someone else reading this may be far more comfortable in their use of the Realms if I never put such notions into their heads regarding particular characters.

So let me say just this much: most males in the Realms weep, hug, and even caress and kiss as much as real-world modern females do. How comfortable a given character is with doing such things with others of the same gender (or, for that matter, with persons of different races) varies widely -- but it’s safe to say that given the opportunity, most characters have “tried everything” at least once, and between travelers outside their own communities (where such acts might well upset family members, especially if loss of virginity is involved), there’s little or no stigma in such experimentation.

Please note the full implications of this: if your character in the Realms is part of an adventuring “party” and female or male characters in that party hop from bedroll to bedroll as nights on the trail pass, those bed-hoppers WILL NOT be generally viewed as “loose” or “perverted.” Note that I said “generally.” Couples in committed relationships whose partner goes off jumping the bones of others without prearrangement are going to feel just as hurt and betrayed as you might expect. Moreover, some characters will be uncomfortable with such behaviour, sometimes for religious reasons. Myself, I see this as best left to the roleplaying chemistry of individual gaming groups rather than shoved down anyone’s throat by my or anyone else’s Realms writings.
However, just between you and me (and of course everyone across the world with Net access who reads this :} ): I personally happen to be a guy who likes gals, but I’m quite comfortable kissing, hugging, and even caressing or comforting guys. Such activities don’t happen to turn me on sexually. I’m a “toucher,” and always have been: I hug and kiss a lot, perhaps more naturally than I shake hands (when greeting females formally, I was taught to kneel and kiss their hands). However, I know that such close contact gives a lot of people the creeps, and I have utterly no interest in upsetting people outside of a roleplaying session in which we’re both acting: if someone goes red or jerks away from me, oops: MY bad. That’s why I don’t want to write too forcefully about such things.

But I hint like crazy. Steven not only expressed Khelben and Laeral’s relationship perfectly, he directed you to some of his character writeups for a look-see, and I’ll do the same: look back over my Realms writings (such as the NPC sections of the Volo’s Guides) and the hints are there. Bushels of them, in fact. :}

Although overly aggressive butch lesbian behaviour and over-the-top prancing ‘mincing’ gay male behaviour both strike me as ridiculous, the relationships underlying them (including the physical sides of such relationships) do not. When the lesbians who happen to own the cottage four down from mine go out on their dock at dusk to make love, I don’t yell angrily at them, ridicule them, or rudely watch them, but if I happen to be out on my point (which is high enough to overlook their dock), I’ll smile and wave at first sight and then carry on as if they’re not doing anything. This has led to them in turn casually accepting my distant presence: they usually make love, then plunge in for a dip that includes lots of splashing and laughter, and then they climb back out on the dock to dry off (if the night’s too cold or mosquito-ridden for that, it’s on with the towels and back inside). Either way, they usually wave and call “good night” as they go.
That’s the same style and balance I’d like to strike in my Realms writings: casual acceptance of such matters for those interested in them, and a tacit agreement to overlook them for those who aren’t.

And as far as the Realms go:
In the list that follows, “ND” means ‘not derogatory,’ a neutral, formal term, acceptable in polite society conversations, proclamations, etc. “M” means mild (common figure of speech, not really an insult), and “E” means derived from Elvish slang. Also, assume descriptive phrases to be Common, and unfamiliar (invented) words to be words from various other languages and local dialects, adopted into Common. Materials inside quotation marks are pronunciations.
For obvious reasons, most of these will probably never appear in published Realms products.

male homosexual ND = liyan (E: “LEE-awwn”), praed (derived from gnome slang)
effeminate male homosexual = dathna ND, simpering man-lover
bisexual man ND = tasmar
lecher M = winker
Casanova,
tireless woman-chaser = cod-loose winker
masochistic man = dusk
[note: refers to a male who enjoys self-bondage and/or being bound, being whipped or pierced or otherwise hurt]

cross-dresser (either gender) ND = saece (E: “SAY-sss”)
male or female who enjoys being forcibly enspelled (including shapechanging)
as part of sexual play = wild one, thaethiira (E: “thAY-th-EAR-ah”)
prostitute ND = coin-lass, coin-lad
[note: the above is roughly the equivalent of our phrase “neighbourhood professional;” I haven’t listed less polite euphemisms because there are literally dozens]

lesbian ND = thruss
dyke = battlebud
butch (manly woman) = harnor
submissive female M = rose
masochistic female M = dusk rose
[note: the above refers to a female who enjoys self-bondage and/or being bound, being whipped or pierced or otherwise hurt]
‘loose’ female = wanton, slut, sreea (E: “SREE-uh”)
bisexual female = shaeda (E: “SHAY-dah”)

So there you have it.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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keftiu
Senior Scribe

376 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2020 :  07:48:33  Show Profile Send keftiu a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I really don’t love a lot of that! There’s some implications I find deeply uncomfortable, not least of which the one that a character couldn’t be gay without having sex on screen or fitting a feminine gay or butch lesbian stereotype. Neither too does kink, orgy hosting, or a Realmsian term for a slut (which I’m not sure needed to be said) have anything inherently to do with queer identity. Respect some of the man’s work, sure, but this sure does read like a very cis, very straight man fumbling some things, especially by focusing so much on the sexual.

Just means there’s more work to be done!

4e fangirl. Here to queer up the Realms.
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
5851 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2020 :  23:07:03  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by keftiu

I really don’t love a lot of that! There’s some implications I find deeply uncomfortable, not least of which the one that a character couldn’t be gay without having sex on screen or fitting a feminine gay or butch lesbian stereotype. Neither too does kink, orgy hosting, or a Realmsian term for a slut (which I’m not sure needed to be said) have anything inherently to do with queer identity. Respect some of the man’s work, sure, but this sure does read like a very cis, very straight man fumbling some things, especially by focusing so much on the sexual.

Just means there’s more work to be done!



I just posted slabs from Ed's Candlekeep posts, and wasn't selective re topic and didn't edit as I was in a bit of a rush - my bad.

And I suppose that's the truth of a made up place. It's not going to be to everyone's taste. You are free to change the Realms to suit your own worldview. Looks like you want to. Enjoy.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus

Edited by - George Krashos on 10 Jan 2020 23:09:22
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
479 Posts

Posted - 12 Jan 2020 :  13:32:44  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In Erin Evans Fire in the Blood we learn that the dragonborn Mehen is openly gay. It's subtly done, he (or the author) don't come right out and throw it in your face, it's just sort of revealed that he doesn't "chase after women". I re-read the paragraph a few times, thinking "Is she trying to tell me that Mehen is gay?" Or that he just doesn't go out much looking for a mate, preferring to instead focus on raising his two foster daughters. But later on there is another dragonborn male that finds out about Mehen's sexual preferences and starts to get a little bit flirtatious with him. I was actually going to ask the board if homosexuality is more prevalent among dragonborn, seeing that there are two DB characters in this book and both are gay. Obviously a small sample size, so perhaps I shouldn't make any assumptions.

Mehen is known as "Clanless Mehen" for an indiscretion that caused him to be exiled from his people. At this point in the story that event had not been elaborated on, and I honestly wondered if him being gay was what got him kicked out of his home, but that turned out not to be the case, so hopefully we can cross homophobic off the list of dragonborn cultural mores.

As far as transgender go, I've long viewed the 4e+ genasi as a thinly-veiled metaphor for trans. They can alter their own elemental affinity to another subtype if they don't "feel comfortable in their own skin". There were two novels, I can't think of the names now, that utilized this racial feature prominently. One mentioned how a firesoul, born to two firesoul parents, never felt "right" about themselves, and transitioned themselves to another element. I know that's probably not exactly what you're looking for keftiu, that the only acceptable trans are magical misfits that need to utilize fantastical, mystical metamorphoses to become their best version. But acceptance usually comes in small increments, so I saw this as at least an encouraging attempt (albeit probably perceived as fumbling among your community) by WotC.
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Erik Scott de Bie
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
4597 Posts

Posted - 12 Jan 2020 :  17:06:53  Show Profile  Visit Erik Scott de Bie's Homepage  Send Erik Scott de Bie an AOL message Send Erik Scott de Bie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
George, when was that excerpt from Ed you shared originally posted? Is it recent or from years ago?

quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

Sidebar: I believe Labelas Enoreth, the elven deity of time, is or was listed as appearing as both male and female at once. I think this is more about being beyond gender, rather than non-binary as we would explain it in our world..but I still liked that concept in the early D&D days!

I consider all the elven deities to be genderfluid, just like I consider all elves to be to some extent genderfluid. That's even a mechanical thing built into 5e!

quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

That said, there's also the fact that, among drow, women are naturally more attracted to divine magic, while males are to arcane (or so it was back in the 2e/3e era, when Ed introduced this concept).



I'm not sure that was anything more than a cultural thing: most drow societies revolve around Lolth, who favored female clergy. Drow males wanting to do something other than swing a sword didn't have many other options, aside from the arcane.



I've always assumed that it was innate, given that the drow's favorite class was cleric for women and wizard for men, no matter which faith/culture they came from, but it might just be that it was a cultural thing and WotC didn't bother to change it for different factions (which should have been done, IMO, at least for the Vhaeraunites).

This gets into a larger conversation about nature vs. nurture, but speaking about the Realms in a narrative sense, I tend to fall on the "cultural" side of the argument.

Drow society has been dominated by Lolth and her evil matriarchy* for basically the entire existence of the drow, so obviously the beliefs and expectations are baked into them from an early age. The priesthood of Vhaeraun is actively rebelling against that, but even so they can't just automatically shake off their cultural conditioning.

The mechanics are kind of a moot point now that 5e doesn't include "favored classes," but it's an interesting conversation piece.

(*Note my qualifier: not all matriarchies are evil, obviously, and it is very clear the drow structure of government is intensely evil.)

quote:
Originally posted by keftiu

I really don’t love a lot of that! There’s some implications I find deeply uncomfortable, not least of which the one that a character couldn’t be gay without having sex on screen or fitting a feminine gay or butch lesbian stereotype. Neither too does kink, orgy hosting, or a Realmsian term for a slut (which I’m not sure needed to be said) have anything inherently to do with queer identity. Respect some of the man’s work, sure, but this sure does read like a very cis, very straight man fumbling some things, especially by focusing so much on the sexual.
I acknowledge your discomfort with Ed's wording--he is a product of his era, which doesn't excuse it, obviously. And I agree, this definitely sounds like a very cis, very straight man fumbling with some of these concepts.

Ed and I are old friends, and I do believe his heart is in the right place. He just doesn't always have the best words to express it.

I do want to clarify one thing, which is that I don't think he's saying one *can't be LGBT" or something without engaging in sexual activity, etc. Rather, he's saying that an author would have trouble in the Realms *clearly marking* a character as *not cishet* without talking about their sexual activities.

Now, whether that's true or not is debatable (I personally think there are plenty of ways to do that), but when we talk about having "real, unambiguous representation," generally cishet people just don't pick up on subtlety, and the cisheteronormative culture warriors will come out of the woodwork to explain away or burn to the ground any potential queer content. I say that, speaking from experience, as an author who has intentionally stuffed queer content into my books, unabashedly, but still finds readers constantly ignoring, overlooking, or explaining it away.

It's frustrating, is what it is.

But I do think the Realms is evolving and getting better about all this, as I've noted before.

quote:
Just means there’s more work to be done!

Ain't that the gods-damned truth.

Cheers

Erik Scott de Bie

'Tis easier to destroy than to create.

Author of a number of Realms novels (GHOSTWALKER, DEPTHS OF MADNESS, and the SHADOWBANE series), contributor to the NEVERWINTER CAMPAIGN GUIDE and SHADOWFELL: GLOOMWROUGHT AND BEYOND, Twitch DM of the Dungeon Scrawlers, currently playing "The Westgate Irregulars"

Edited by - Erik Scott de Bie on 12 Jan 2020 17:07:56
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keftiu
Senior Scribe

376 Posts

Posted - 12 Jan 2020 :  18:36:15  Show Profile Send keftiu a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Appreciate thee thoughtful reply, Erik!

4e fangirl. Here to queer up the Realms.
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Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
3952 Posts

Posted - 12 Jan 2020 :  19:14:06  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In truth, Western Patriarchy just runs deep in our culture; and even those of us who consider ourselves allies, and even have children who struggle beneath this thousands of years “institution” that exists, can’t fully comprehend the needs of those unlike ourselves well enough to do what may be needed done in a manner best suited for our loved ones.

I am in that ally group firmly as I love my bi son deeply...but can’t always say/do the thing he needs most from me because I can only relate so well to his thoughts and/or feelings. The best I can do is stand by what he says is best for him...and I feel certain that is how Ed Greenwood feels as well; though I obviously don’t know his actual thoughts.

The Old Grey Box and AD&D for me!
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
8991 Posts

Posted - 12 Jan 2020 :  22:09:24  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

quote:
Originally posted by keftiu

I really don’t love a lot of that! There’s some implications I find deeply uncomfortable, not least of which the one that a character couldn’t be gay without having sex on screen or fitting a feminine gay or butch lesbian stereotype. Neither too does kink, orgy hosting, or a Realmsian term for a slut (which I’m not sure needed to be said) have anything inherently to do with queer identity. Respect some of the man’s work, sure, but this sure does read like a very cis, very straight man fumbling some things, especially by focusing so much on the sexual.

Just means there’s more work to be done!



I just posted slabs from Ed's Candlekeep posts, and wasn't selective re topic and didn't edit as I was in a bit of a rush - my bad.

And I suppose that's the truth of a made up place. It's not going to be to everyone's taste. You are free to change the Realms to suit your own worldview. Looks like you want to. Enjoy.

-- George Krashos



Let me echo these remarks. One of the things that I see is people worried too much in making the realms a politically correct place. Quite frankly, its not. Its very accepting, but its still a place where multiple different races that hate each other, live amongst one another, kill each other, take each others things, and sometimes might even eat each other, etc....

In this environment, there will be some cultures that will push a very man/woman lifestyle, and that will purely be based on NEED in some situations. Heck, we see it amongst the dragonborn that they have a requirement that they must procreate. In some cultures (especially those that would need to individually produce each child via multiple attempts), this would mean that the luxury of being able to choose who they partner themselves with in life would be not allowed.

Then there are some cultures that will be biased based on race and/or ethnicity within a race (we see racial ethnicity being a priority in the Mulan races, but also in Dambrath as well where the Crintri ruled over pure blood humans).

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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keftiu
Senior Scribe

376 Posts

Posted - 12 Jan 2020 :  23:01:55  Show Profile Send keftiu a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Might I ask; what is gained by replicating patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia in the Realms? There are enough political and fantastical threats - surely not every evil of our world needs to be replicated?

When I was working on my project on trans culture in Eberron, I reached out to Keith Baker a number of times, and his response re: bigotry stuck with me - that in a world with demons, aberrant horrors, and worse, hating someone based on gender identity/expression or orientation just felt silly.

4e fangirl. Here to queer up the Realms.
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Erik Scott de Bie
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
4597 Posts

Posted - 12 Jan 2020 :  23:51:16  Show Profile  Visit Erik Scott de Bie's Homepage  Send Erik Scott de Bie an AOL message Send Erik Scott de Bie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

One of the things that I see is people worried too much in making the realms a politically correct place. Quite frankly, its not. Its very accepting, but its still a place where multiple different races that hate each other, live amongst one another, kill each other, take each others things, and sometimes might even eat each other, etc....

None of this “politically correct” business. That’s a pejorative term invented by the right wing to justify bigotry and hate.

We’re not talking about “political correctness.” We’re talking about basic respect and whether people acknowledge reality of other people. It’s really that simple.

And if you’d rather LGBTQ people not be in your games, fine—don’t have them in your games. It’s your realms.

quote:
Originally posted by keftiu

Might I ask; what is gained by replicating patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia in the Realms? There are enough political and fantastical threats - surely not every evil of our world needs to be replicated?
I’ve actually given this a lot of thought, and the answer is that the realms is a lot of things to a lot of people. Some LGBT people I’ve olayed with really like facing down homophobes and defeating bigoted villains. Some of them like having backstories that involve prejudice, which they can rise above and prove their detractors wrong.

And some don’t—they’d much prefer bigotry not exist in their realms, because that’s what they deal with in real life and they want to escape from that.

So the answer is: it depends on your table and your game.

I can’t say definitively how widespread anti-LGBT bigotry is in the realms, but I can explain *how* it is perceived: silly and the province of evil people. (Just like in our world.)

quote:
When I was working on my project on trans culture in Eberron, I reached out to Keith Baker a number of times, and his response re: bigotry stuck with me - that in a world with demons, aberrant horrors, and worse, hating someone based on gender identity/expression or orientation just felt silly.

Keith is great, and he is absolutely right here. Anti-LGBT bigotry is a hallmark of evil aligned individuals, and even then, it’s weird.

Erik Scott de Bie

'Tis easier to destroy than to create.

Author of a number of Realms novels (GHOSTWALKER, DEPTHS OF MADNESS, and the SHADOWBANE series), contributor to the NEVERWINTER CAMPAIGN GUIDE and SHADOWFELL: GLOOMWROUGHT AND BEYOND, Twitch DM of the Dungeon Scrawlers, currently playing "The Westgate Irregulars"

Edited by - Erik Scott de Bie on 12 Jan 2020 23:53:36
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
33605 Posts

Posted - 13 Jan 2020 :  03:08:38  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dalor Darden

In truth, Western Patriarchy just runs deep in our culture; and even those of us who consider ourselves allies, and even have children who struggle beneath this thousands of years “institution” that exists, can’t fully comprehend the needs of those unlike ourselves well enough to do what may be needed done in a manner best suited for our loved ones.

I am in that ally group firmly as I love my bi son deeply...but can’t always say/do the thing he needs most from me because I can only relate so well to his thoughts and/or feelings. The best I can do is stand by what he says is best for him...and I feel certain that is how Ed Greenwood feels as well; though I obviously don’t know his actual thoughts.



I'll echo this. I don't have any LGBT folks in my family, but I otherwise agree: sometimes people lack the experience and awareness that people with other experiences have. It's not just for sexuality; we're most familiar with what we ourselves have experienced, and sometimes have a blind spot to anything else.

Once upon a time, I was a homophobe. It was basic ignorance on my part; when I was a kid, homophobia was thriving and accepted. I grew out of it, but I was still ignorant of how LGBT people were sometimes treated. One day I was speaking with a coworker, and he told me of a time his husband was in ICU and he (the coworker) couldn't visit him because it was "family only." The legalization of gay marriage in the US was still many years away when we had this conversation, so the hospital had ignored their marriage and kept him out.

That moment was when I started trying to be an ally. I stumble, though, because I'm not LGBT and have blind spots because of it.

I just hope that when I do stumble in one of my blind spots -- no matter the topic -- that someone takes me aside and enlightens me on it, rather than taking offense.

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George Krashos
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Posted - 13 Jan 2020 :  04:29:40  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Erik Scott de Bie

George, when was that excerpt from Ed you shared originally posted? Is it recent or from years ago?



Can't say exactly, I didn't keep note. I do nowadays for Ed's musings, but didn't back in the day.

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Seravin
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Posted - 13 Jan 2020 :  08:08:00  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by keftiu

Might I ask; what is gained by replicating patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia in the Realms? There are enough political and fantastical threats - surely not every evil of our world needs to be replicated?





Not that I disagree with you - but isn't that one of the things the Witcher series (the books I'm speaking of here) tries to convey - that despite the existence of ACTUAL monsters in their world, the humans with their prejudices and unwarranted hatreds of differences are the real threats to the world.
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AJA
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Posted - 14 Jan 2020 :  01:08:49  Show Profile Send AJA a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Erik Scott de Bie
George, when was that excerpt from Ed you shared originally posted? Is it recent or from years ago?

Erik, most of it comes from Ed's 2004 "Ask Ed" thread) (scroll down to 10 Sep, posted by The Hooded One):
http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1901&whichpage=53


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LordofBones
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Posted - 14 Jan 2020 :  01:28:02  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

quote:
Originally posted by keftiu

Might I ask; what is gained by replicating patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia in the Realms? There are enough political and fantastical threats - surely not every evil of our world needs to be replicated?







Not that I disagree with you - but isn't that one of the things the Witcher series (the books I'm speaking of here) tries to convey - that despite the existence of ACTUAL monsters in their world, the humans with their prejudices and unwarranted hatreds of differences are the real threats to the world.



In one of the books, it is revealed that the Elves were just as bad to the native humans of their world.

Nobody is an angel.
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sleyvas
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Posted - 14 Jan 2020 :  10:14:22  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Erik Scott de Bie

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

One of the things that I see is people worried too much in making the realms a politically correct place. Quite frankly, its not. Its very accepting, but its still a place where multiple different races that hate each other, live amongst one another, kill each other, take each others things, and sometimes might even eat each other, etc....

None of this “politically correct” business. That’s a pejorative term invented by the right wing to justify bigotry and hate.

We’re not talking about “political correctness.” We’re talking about basic respect and whether people acknowledge reality of other people. It’s really that simple.

And if you’d rather LGBTQ people not be in your games, fine—don’t have them in your games. It’s your realms.



Not looking to start a fight, but I also do not like to be told that I'm using hate speech (to be clear, much of what you said is exactly what I agree with). Politically correct is a thing, and its a tool being used to quash people's ability to espouse ideals contradictory to other people's ideas (in all directions). Words themselves aren't evil, and some people have taken to you using them as being wrong, which is the core of political correctness. If you don't agree with someone's premise in this worldview, then you must be "anti" them, which isn't always the case, and I'm finding its certain members of our community that get adamant about policing how we talk.

I simply stated that the realms is a dark place, and a lot of folk don't have the luxury of dwelling on some things that people here might be able to reflect on... quite simply because they've got to worry about getting killed, robbed, or eaten by their neighbors who don't even look like them and may have an entirely alien mindset.

I'll also agree that some people use the realms as an escapist opportunity, and having sections of the realms being that way allows for that. But, the worry would be that they take it too far when I hear words that say things like why would you allow any of XYZ in the world. There should be racists in Faerun (and racist can have different connotations in a world with actual separate races) in my viewpoint, because there ARE racists. Whether that's Thay or the Eldreth Veluuthra (sp?) or drow or mind flayers or the people of Unther or those people in Mulmaster that just think that the people of Mulmaster are the best. Having such and roleplaying through such CAN be used as a healing tool or a means by which to better understand one another. It can also be used to view this world and its views through another lens that might fracture some long held stereotypes by some folk.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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sleyvas
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Posted - 14 Jan 2020 :  10:27:15  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

quote:
Originally posted by keftiu

Might I ask; what is gained by replicating patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia in the Realms? There are enough political and fantastical threats - surely not every evil of our world needs to be replicated?





Not that I disagree with you - but isn't that one of the things the Witcher series (the books I'm speaking of here) tries to convey - that despite the existence of ACTUAL monsters in their world, the humans with their prejudices and unwarranted hatreds of differences are the real threats to the world.



Kind of different, but the same can be said for "the walking dead" tv series. Given a "worldview" one can see that the best thing would be to just band together and kill all the zombies, but the problem became that they fractured and couldn't all agree. Too much infighting about who should lead, how things should be done, who needs what resources more than someone else, etc... But that's human nature, and the nature of every being. They seek to protect what they need.

As an aside... the witcher is a book series? I never played the games, but I've been watching the Netflix series and I'm liking it. Is it really good? Who is the author?

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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sleyvas
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Posted - 14 Jan 2020 :  13:36:07  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One of the best things I can see to do with this thread is to propose... how do you use it? By that, I mean to what end do you wish to go by being obvious about someone's sexual preference or need to be of a certain sex? Would it be more acceptable for a human man to impregnate a an orc to produce a half-orc child (or a farmer allowing his daughter to sleep with ever passing elf) even though it produces half-breed children simply because "hey, they're still increasing the size of this community, and we need every hand we can get with them gnolls over the hills sneaking in in the night and nabbing people in their sleep".

When it comes to reproduction, lesbian relationships in the realms can easily produce their own child because if they sleep with men and get pregnant, there's generally no way to take the child away. However, a gay male couple would run into issues. They could adopt, but there may be "more suitable" applicants available (even if said applicants simply want the children so that they can have them work their farm). Some may run into trying to go to extreme measures, such as stealing a baby in its womb via magic, which isn't exactly an option in our world (that I know of anyway). However, with the ability to erase minds and well.... magic... it might be possible to say have a male impregnate a human female then transfer the child to another vessel to carry the child (and with magic.. that might be a another human female willing to help the couple, a female of another race, a cow, or even a magical "mothering" construct crafted from flesh).

Not really queer culture, but since we were talking reproduction there's also hags, which steal children and turn them into hags, but they CAN also produce hagspawn. Is hag culture geared towards woman only, with males being treated as nothing more than seed? Do they have an inherent hatred towards males, or is it that all hagspawn will be male and the only way to produce new hags is the other way? Nothing in the hagspawn description implies its male only... I might want to reread that. I do know things have varied by edition as well.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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keftiu
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376 Posts

Posted - 14 Jan 2020 :  20:00:11  Show Profile Send keftiu a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

One of the best things I can see to do with this thread is to propose... how do you use it? By that, I mean to what end do you wish to go by being obvious about someone's sexual preference or need to be of a certain sex? Would it be more acceptable for a human man to impregnate a an orc to produce a half-orc child (or a farmer allowing his daughter to sleep with ever passing elf) even though it produces half-breed children simply because "hey, they're still increasing the size of this community, and we need every hand we can get with them gnolls over the hills sneaking in in the night and nabbing people in their sleep".

When it comes to reproduction, lesbian relationships in the realms can easily produce their own child because if they sleep with men and get pregnant, there's generally no way to take the child away. However, a gay male couple would run into issues. They could adopt, but there may be "more suitable" applicants available (even if said applicants simply want the children so that they can have them work their farm). Some may run into trying to go to extreme measures, such as stealing a baby in its womb via magic, which isn't exactly an option in our world (that I know of anyway). However, with the ability to erase minds and well.... magic... it might be possible to say have a male impregnate a human female then transfer the child to another vessel to carry the child (and with magic.. that might be a another human female willing to help the couple, a female of another race, a cow, or even a magical "mothering" construct crafted from flesh).

Not really queer culture, but since we were talking reproduction there's also hags, which steal children and turn them into hags, but they CAN also produce hagspawn. Is hag culture geared towards woman only, with males being treated as nothing more than seed? Do they have an inherent hatred towards males, or is it that all hagspawn will be male and the only way to produce new hags is the other way? Nothing in the hagspawn description implies its male only... I might want to reread that. I do know things have varied by edition as well.



I don’t know why you think a thread asking about queer culture to propose a “loan out my daughter to strangers to make strong babies” nightmare scenario or to fixate on the nitty gritty of reproductive mechanics.

I’d much sooner steer in the direction of things like “what is like like for transgender Rashemi, given the gendered magical traditions of that culture - but also the practice of mask-wearing (indicating some degree of choosing your own identity) and their lengthy history with the notoriously fluid spirits and fey?”

4e fangirl. Here to queer up the Realms.
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Seravin
Master of Realmslore

Canada
1089 Posts

Posted - 14 Jan 2020 :  21:48:15  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

As an aside... the witcher is a book series? I never played the games, but I've been watching the Netflix series and I'm liking it. Is it really good? Who is the author?



The books are SOOOOO good; and so is Witcher 3 (of the games it is the best..maybe the best RPG of all time up there with the Baldur's Gate series and the best Final Fantasy games).

If you like the show, just think its a poor adaption of an amazing book series. Books > Games > tv show... back to your thread!
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Arivia
Great Reader

Canada
2965 Posts

Posted - 14 Jan 2020 :  23:05:51  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ericlboyd

So here's an odd take. One of the few areas in the Realms with strong gender-based roles is the clergy. In some churches (e.g. Sharindlar, but not Chauntea), there seems to be a strong affiliation between the perceived gender of the deity and the majority of the priesthood.

Is this because certain faiths are only "attractive" to certain genders? Or is this because gender is simply one more "litmus test" for joining the clergy that deliberately restricts its membership?

In a world where magic is available and regularly employed to change genders, what pressures or implications does this have for the intersection of gender / sexuality / faith / and calling?

I don't have any answers for any of that, but it could be something for a PC or a storyteller to explore.



Eric, while you're thinking about gender/queerness/religion in the Realms, I want to poke your brain about something.

Wasn't there one high priest who had their gender changed between the 2e god books and Faiths and Pantheons? Was that intentional? I can't remember who it is, and I tried looking it up to no avail.

quote:
Originally posted by keftiu

Might I ask; what is gained by replicating patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia in the Realms? There are enough political and fantastical threats - surely not every evil of our world needs to be replicated?

When I was working on my project on trans culture in Eberron, I reached out to Keith Baker a number of times, and his response re: bigotry stuck with me - that in a world with demons, aberrant horrors, and worse, hating someone based on gender identity/expression or orientation just felt silly.



One of the things that's attractive to me about the Realms as a queer trans woman is that it is highly gender expressive without being negative about it. Sex positivity and allowing space for everyone to live their best lives is a great facet of the setting to me, and I really appreciate Ed and the other writers following after him's efforts to create space for everyone to be who they want to be.

This was why I was stunned when I read Swords of Eveningstar for the first time and there's a negative discussion of lesbians in it, with "lass-lovers" conjured in very perjorative terms as a bad binary failure. I spoke to Ed about it, and found out that he'd included that as a comparison of just how small the characters and their world are at the outset of that book, before they leave for larger Cormyr and a greater understanding of things. Swords of Eveningstar, then, was part of Ed trying to open up a discourse for queer people in the Realms, and how they fit into other contexts of social class, geography, and cultural identity.

And I think that discussion is worth having. When we speak about issues of queer identity, we're looking at them in the larger context of 30+ years of published material. Like everything else with the Realms, we want to explore that, and add to it, and make it fit. Eric's question that I quoted about the role of gender within the various churches is a good example: how do we use the various facets of gender to question and queer the role of religion? What does that look like for specific deities? We can follow Ed's examples in the Heartlands, but I'd probably say biological essentialism and a very strict gender binary is an essential part of the drow pantheon as lead by Lolth. What do you do with that? Maybe you have a bunch of agender acolytes of Ghaunadaur who were attracted to the ability to literally melt their gendered features away. Perhaps you have a bunch of trans men working with Vhaeraun. Like with everything else about the Realms, we can build upon that, make something from it, create something good. But we build. We add. We stitch together. You do the thing endless writers have done where you find two pieces that don't fit and instead of changing one you put the connective tissue in there to make both right. And that is incredibly exciting! I was just checking out Sea of Fallen Stars and found that King Verovan of Westgate is petrified underwater. What am I going to do with that? I don't know yet, but if I put the pieces together, there is something great there.

It's worth realizing that the Realms has a lot more flesh on the bone, a lot more detail and a lot more cooks in the stew than Eberron has. Even if you go all the way back to the Old Gray Box, you have Ed's notes as interpreted and tweaked by Jeff Grubb (with additions for other TSR products.) I like Eberron, but the other hands that have touched it (James Wyatt, for example) haven't been nearly as interested in doing culture and exploring the setting as a living world as the FR writers have. And those years of work have created pieces of culture about gender, sex, and queer identity that don't match up. R.A. Salvatore slamming together mafia dons and dominatrixes isn't nearly as nuanced an understanding of kink as the published material on the Church of Loviatar. We have to live with that. We have to add to it. We have to reclaim it. But we can't reject it, or the entire ethos of the Realms as this board (and many of the designers and writers) see it goes out the window.

However, that doesn't mean that we have to replicate all of this in our own games. Use safety tools. Spend time with your players to understand their desires, limits, and concerns. I have a player in my game who is playing a lesbian, and we talked it through and what that meant to her. She doesn't want homophobia to be a thing in our game, and I respect that. It won't happen. I myself wouldn't want transphobia to be a thing in a Realms game I ran or played in. But what I do in my game, what I focus on and draw from the texts and bring to my players, is a different thing from the writing of the setting at large.

postscript: The thing that I have tried to tease out of Ed many times over the years and never succeeded in getting is a description of how transitioning works in the Realms, the ways and means and so on. I have a couple ideas about how it might be done, but getting actual concrete details would be really nice for trans representation in the setting.
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sleyvas
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USA
8991 Posts

Posted - 15 Jan 2020 :  00:15:10  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by keftiu

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

One of the best things I can see to do with this thread is to propose... how do you use it? By that, I mean to what end do you wish to go by being obvious about someone's sexual preference or need to be of a certain sex? Would it be more acceptable for a human man to impregnate a an orc to produce a half-orc child (or a farmer allowing his daughter to sleep with ever passing elf) even though it produces half-breed children simply because "hey, they're still increasing the size of this community, and we need every hand we can get with them gnolls over the hills sneaking in in the night and nabbing people in their sleep".

When it comes to reproduction, lesbian relationships in the realms can easily produce their own child because if they sleep with men and get pregnant, there's generally no way to take the child away. However, a gay male couple would run into issues. They could adopt, but there may be "more suitable" applicants available (even if said applicants simply want the children so that they can have them work their farm). Some may run into trying to go to extreme measures, such as stealing a baby in its womb via magic, which isn't exactly an option in our world (that I know of anyway). However, with the ability to erase minds and well.... magic... it might be possible to say have a male impregnate a human female then transfer the child to another vessel to carry the child (and with magic.. that might be a another human female willing to help the couple, a female of another race, a cow, or even a magical "mothering" construct crafted from flesh).

Not really queer culture, but since we were talking reproduction there's also hags, which steal children and turn them into hags, but they CAN also produce hagspawn. Is hag culture geared towards woman only, with males being treated as nothing more than seed? Do they have an inherent hatred towards males, or is it that all hagspawn will be male and the only way to produce new hags is the other way? Nothing in the hagspawn description implies its male only... I might want to reread that. I do know things have varied by edition as well.



I don’t know why you think a thread asking about queer culture to propose a “loan out my daughter to strangers to make strong babies” nightmare scenario or to fixate on the nitty gritty of reproductive mechanics.

I’d much sooner steer in the direction of things like “what is like like for transgender Rashemi, given the gendered magical traditions of that culture - but also the practice of mask-wearing (indicating some degree of choosing your own identity) and their lengthy history with the notoriously fluid spirits and fey?”



Gotcha, so the point was that some cultures on Toril may actually find it more acceptable to have half-breeds than allowing individuals to pursue same sex matches. The reasoning behind the statement is that the half-breeds are at least new "resources" for the community. Yet we know that half-breeds are not treated fairly in FR either. Thus, basically its a point as to why some cultures might actually shun this kind of pairing, which they would see as a "luxury that doesn't produce fruit", and might even SAY things like "I'd rather she marry herself to a hairy damned orc first".

Would all cultures be this way? No. I would imagine it to come in in places with less individuals, thus the need for "everyone to pull their weight". People in these places might be more willing to turn a blind eye to individuals that pursue that lifestyle, but likely they'll be treated as "outside the community" to a degree. This might also make such individuals more open for attack from outsiders, as they see these people have little in the way of a support network.

As to the Rashemi being gender fluid, I'm not buying it that its common place. They are very concerned with gender, to the point that they separate themselves out. The women seem to have an idea there that they can't trust the men to rule themselves, and therefore, I can't see them "valuing" being a man that much. Now, I COULD see there being gay individuals amongst both the Vremyonni and the Wychlaran, as both groups do tend to be isolated (moreso the Vremyonni). I'd buy more that the wychlaran would be bisexual than lesbian though, as they do also seem to favor a motherly role.... but then again they may have traditions in which there is mating encouraged between Vremyonni and Hathran purely for the purpose of producing magically competent children.

But then maybe another kind of "transgender" could mean hermaphrodites? Amongst our populations something on the web is saying that "noticeably irregular" genitalia accounts for maybe 1 in 2000 births (seems a little high to me, but I'm not in the industry). Still, if Rashemen had 1 person in each village, how might that individual be treated? Arguments could be made to view it as a curse or a blessing. I'm not quite sure how they'd treat them. Part of me thinks the Rashemi witches might take such individuals away to live amongst the spirits.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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sleyvas
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USA
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Posted - 15 Jan 2020 :  00:48:42  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Arivia, I must say, that idea of the trans followers of Vhaeraun is interesting to say the least. I wonder how many might try to infiltrate Lolth's temples to work against them.

BTW, one thing I had noted in the past was in reading some of George's work. I found something that I had originally thought was a change he made, but then found out that it was actually a change made in Unapproachable East. Basically, Rilaunyr was noted in the old 2e Bloodstone lands as being one of Impiltur's Lords of Imphras II and being male. He had "Rilaunyr's Warship" and was travelling the seas to protect Impilturian interests from pirates. I then noted in his dragon article on Impiltur that it listed Rilaunyr still as a Lord of Imphras II, but now Rilaunyr is a female paladin of Sune. We had a brief discussion on it and thought it would make a good story that actually Rilaunyr, as a follower of Sune, may have sought out to become female. The other thought was that he had changed gender via magical mishap and that afterwards his interests changed and he pursued a new religion. I honestly don't know which makes a better story.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
8991 Posts

Posted - 15 Jan 2020 :  00:52:40  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

As an aside... the witcher is a book series? I never played the games, but I've been watching the Netflix series and I'm liking it. Is it really good? Who is the author?



The books are SOOOOO good; and so is Witcher 3 (of the games it is the best..maybe the best RPG of all time up there with the Baldur's Gate series and the best Final Fantasy games).

If you like the show, just think its a poor adaption of an amazing book series. Books > Games > tv show... back to your thread!




Thank you. I will hunt that down right now. I typically find that when people HERE say a book is really good... it usually is... For instance, Wooly mentioned a book with a title something like "Zeus is Dead" and said it was funny... and I have to say... silly, but I laughed my butt off.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 15 Jan 2020 :  01:15:13  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

As an aside... the witcher is a book series? I never played the games, but I've been watching the Netflix series and I'm liking it. Is it really good? Who is the author?



The books are SOOOOO good; and so is Witcher 3 (of the games it is the best..maybe the best RPG of all time up there with the Baldur's Gate series and the best Final Fantasy games).

If you like the show, just think its a poor adaption of an amazing book series. Books > Games > tv show... back to your thread!




Thank you. I will hunt that down right now. I typically find that when people HERE say a book is really good... it usually is... For instance, Wooly mentioned a book with a title something like "Zeus is Dead" and said it was funny... and I have to say... silly, but I laughed my butt off.



There's now a sequel to that one: Zeus is Undead - This One Has Zombies!. It was also very humorous.

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