Re: "Don't mention the gyrda!"

From: Alison Place <alison_place_at_lIyfoZ0EVnawIJVC4VrDpUl-k9E7O_vFaqThopxFBg7R9qT-HdWXA0Cr7JBVRwc>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 06:26:59 -0700 (PDT)

Hello, Donald,

     Different but equal the Orlanthi might be, but it is built into the nature of the Orlanthi (and especially Uz) societies that males are more expendable than females, and therefore get to do more exciting (and therefore gameable) stuff. Young guys going off on raiding expeditions, for instance, is built into the Heortling mindset, just as learning healing, spinning, weaving and how to tend the fire is built into it for women. Which one would you find more exciting? Which would you tell stories about?

     Yes, what the women do is essential for keeping everyone fed and clothed, but it's not the stuff of sagas. Just as getting out there and ploughing the fields, or finding lost sheep at night in the rain, is just as important for the men to do, but not set into heroic songs. The grinding tedium of everyday life is just not particularly exciting, to us or to them.

     Now, the Esrolians should be different. They, I am sure, consciously extol the heroism and wisdom of their female leaders, just to remind the men why it's such a good idea for women to lead them. A tradition of female officers should also give lots of opportunities for tactical and strategic brilliance, and for personal heroism.

     It's generally assumed that women, as a whole, don't prefer hack-and-slash. My gamers really do enjoy planning, discussing political or social consequences of actions, etc. (two of our six are female). Mind you, every one of my PCs has also been at least halfway competent at some sort of combat, either physical, or spiritual (a shaman). So far, I suspect that most of the women who play are like me - happy when necessary to inflict heavy damage with a flail, and crow over a critical hit to the head. It's just that doing that as a first resort is boring. By the way, good for you for playing female characters. None of the group with whom I've played ever have. Maybe I should suggest it, for whatever we do next. I'm not sure how they'd react to the suggestion, but now, I'm curious.

     As for the feminist viewpoint, naah, I don't really mean that. A little more effort to design interesting roles for female characters, though, would be encouraging. Preferably not just as exceptions to the rule, e.g. Light Lady Vega of Sun Dome County in Prax. For instance, 'Blood over Gold' has been released lately, and received very good reviews. The review that I read implies that the sons of House Caroman are the potential heirs. Are there any women in commanding roles? Would female PCs be effective in this campaign? I don't know - could Jeff fill us in?

     As for pastimes, I don't really think that interest in hockey or football (of any variety) will wane soon among the guys. However, women's hockey has become far more common over here, mostly in the last ten years. Non-physical pastimes, where gaming fits in, are easier to share. I sympathise with gaming companies, though. If there isn't a known market out there, taking a risk in a low-profit field, and then losing money, is a fool's move.

     You mention the teenage male market. The teenage years are still a prime time for recruitment. How can gaming companies spread the word that their products are a fun way for girls to spend time, too? That's when I started, because my friends (science fiction fans, all of them) were also wanting to try gaming. I don't know. Yet, many of the premier fantasy authors and many of the buyers are women, which should imply that young women should also enjoy the right kind of RPG scenarios.

     Anyway, speaking of mundane tasks, must go weed my garden.

Bye for now,

Although the Dara Happens and Carmenians are patriarchal I feel several of the other major cultures of the Empire aren't. The nest based culture of the Rinliddi implies a matriarchy and the one ruler we know of, Deezola, was female. There are signs of female leadership in some other writeups as well. Nor does it make sense that a ruling goddess should appear without some tradition of female leaders.  

> >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.

> Personally I find it fun to play female characters. I avoid doing it all the time though.

> >What can be done about it? It's not possible to mandate that x% of new characters or NPCs be female. ... 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!

> I don't think a modern feminist viewpoint fits well in most of Glorantha. Simply because it isn't the modern world. Equally I find a modern sexist viewpoint imposed on Glorantha cultures by default to be equally grating. In cultures like the Heortlings and Praxians without women's magic everyone would starve and you can bet they all know it.

> >There's another way to look at it, and that is that as society becomes more liberal and egalitarian, so does one's pastimes. [] 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. []

> It's not as bad as it was. When I started gaming the typical proportion of women was zero. Now it's around 10% with some groups up to 40%. That's a big change in the last forty years. With that change has come others - less emphasis on combat and winning, more emphasis on fun and story. The commercial publishers are still following rather than leading which is why there are vastly more publications catering for the teenage male gamer than anyone else.

Donald Oddy                   

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