Re: "Don't mention the gyrda!"

From: Alison Place <alison_place_at_H-bH_2m_5Y9mtWqixQ1Lf400FMECaX5iIcdFch_mKkNL6c5SHp7GCR_XM261Ra_>
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2008 08:11:26 -0700 (PDT)

Hi, John,

     Thanks for the post, and the thoughts that it sparked.

     I wanted to know was the origin of the term, which I hadn't found. I did, at least, get my original question answered before the topic erupted. Thank you, all the Scandinavians and others who posted sources.

     I did miss 'gyrda' in 'Thunder Rebels', but except by reading cover to cover, there's no way to find it. It's not in the index, and it's not described under 'godi' or 'god-talker' (p. 163). 'God-talker' is generally used in the Ernalda write-up, too. Something to change if TR is reprinted, and the words stay in use. Given why I was asking, I unfortunately didn't have the time to skim 250pp to find out if it were there. (Turns out I'd have been lucky and got it on p.10.)

     Whomever it was who said that any established RPG ends up with a formidable corpus for a novice gamer, certainly had it right. That's the main reason that I'd want to reduce the number of new words in introductory material. Some do need to be used, but others don't. I still think that godi/gytha fall into the latter category, because other words do their job just as well. I can remember being confused about how to play RQ when I started in '83. When I think of all that's been published since then, my mind boggles!

     One ends up on a cleft stick. A) if more new stuff isn't published, the game dies, and b), new gamers can be frightened off by thinking that they have to master too much stuff. Still, a far better dilemma that publish nothing, and die anyway.

     On the "Don't mention the women" front, you can look at it as a losing battle. Probably even lost. Women's lib has much farther to go in the gaming community than it has in real life, as far as I can see. (For a spoof of the whole topic, anyone ever played 'Macho Women with Guns'?)

     We have almost no female writers, few female gamers, we live in male-dominated societies, and that, unfortunately, seems to be that. Most of the cultures on which Gloranthan societies are based, whether consciously or unconsciously, are also patriarchal, as you've noted in previous posts. Malkioni, Dara Happan, Kralorelan, Carmanian, etc. The big exceptions are possibly the Orlanthi (still named for a god, though) and the Lunar Empire, who worship a Goddess, but are led by Moonson to appease the Dara Happans. There's also the Uz, but they're rarely PCs, most often they're the foes, or NPCs at best.

     Four out of the five characters that I've played have been female, but that's probably because I am. Ditto, most guys play guys. We did have a guy playing our Uleria priestess in the Cinsinan freeform, but that was a last-minute fluke. Though rather a fun one.

     What can be done about it? It's not possible to mandate that x% of new characters or NPCs be female. Ain't gonna happen. There's no international governing gaming body that can demand well-rounded female characters wearing sensible armour (or other appropriate personal protective clothing) in every campaign. We can't force everyone to analyse their efforts from a feminist viewpoint, and edit accordingly. But, boy (or should that be 'girl'?), I'd like to see the effort once in a while!

     There's another way to look at it, and that is that as society becomes more liberal and egalitarian, so does one's pastimes. In other words, perhaps the battle hasn't really been joined, yet. As the impetus for change in the gaming world is usually commercial, that would mean that Mongoose and other publishers would have to work at making their products more interesting to women, to get money out of us, too. Find women who can write, too. I doubt that most men would object to more gaming women. Lack of women seems to be a major plaint, in fact. Why would she sympathise with your urge to spend heaps of time and money on silly games, if she doesn't enjoy them, too?

     Re the various KISS suggestions, as I'm still living in the RQ world, most of them don't apply. We've ignored the proliferation of cults, and the new magic systems. Though, personally, for a combustible substitute, I'd probably select Hero Wars as the new Daughters of Darkness. Thoroughly superseded, and a confusing, disliked stopgap at the time.

Bye for now,

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