Re: female characters & Blood Over Gold

From: donald_at_g4UkEcxe_ZmW1qfirwBa9lWmEF6JrTt8iiu27wj2ue8MYaFjJ588_aMaaH7iyQN9fT7zP
Date: Sun, 27 Jul 2008 00:53:38 GMT

In message <> Alison Place writes:

>Thanks for the info on 'Blood over Gold', Bryan. So, the sons are
>the default heirs, while the daughter is alliance/rule-through-marriage
>material in most people's minds. Why was making the daughter a
>non-traditional choice necessary? Why are they Trader PRINCES?
>Intrigue, bargaining ability and cleverness are certainly not
>restricted to males. Why isn't the daughter interestingly flawed
>like her brothers, and therefore just another potential choice with

Having now got a copy I can comment and I'm not as favourably impressed as Bryan on the sexist side. Firstly let me say it's a fascinating book with loads of campaign material - a great publication and well worth getting. My criticisms are purely with regard to the issue we're discussing - sexist assumptions and female PCs.

The Trader Princes are a Malkioni culture - i.e. Western European fantasy medieval with all the sexism that entails. So the daughter's flaw is that she's female and its probably a bigger handicap than the two brothers have. I can't help feeling that most groups will go for a male PC marrying the beautiful princess and taking over the house although as Bryan says there are many alternatives. Certainly neither of the princes are an attractive match for a female PC. The all male attitude is reinforced by there being only two female NPCs described - the princess and her mother. And by the Saints of the Ashara church - all male except the healer St. Xemela and St. Estevana one of two thieves. Personally I'm not very convinced by a thief god in a church based round a trader saint. The clash between the equal exchange and unequal exchange runes seems too much.

The Wenelians are a hunter gatherer variation on the Orlanthi as their grain goddess is weak because of the experiments of the godlearners so women haven't the balancing power that they have in Dragon Pass.

The Islanders are a fishing variation of the Orlanthi, again without a decent grain goddess to balance male power.

The Pralori (Elk Hsunchen) are even more sexist. The does stay with the herd and only some of the bucks get involved with the outside world.

So female PCs are likely to come from outside and there's plenty of opportunity for that as it's on a trade route.

To widen the possibilities I'd switch the characteristics of the princess and either one of the princes. Then you get a prince who is a good catch for a female PC and a princess who gives the PC the power they are looking for but at a price. Or maybe switch the sex of all three and leave a competant but ineffectual son at the mercy of two coniving sisters.

It's reasonable that most cultures in Glorantha are patriarchal and that inevitably limits female PCs when those cultures are written about but even in the most patriarchal cultures there are decent roles for women. After a bit more digesting the book I should at least get some decent ideas for female NPCs in Wenelia which are a notable omission.

>How one defines heroic during societal breakdown is an interesting
>question. Is it heroic to hold tight to the old ways, even if you'll
>die, or is it stupid? Do you stay on your inherited lands, or move
>wherever you need to? Who will rise to the mark in exceptional
>circumstances? Phrased that way, the gaming options open for
>female characters expand. With the exception of the recent
>series on the Dragonrise, however, I can't think of a published
>campaign talking about societal catastrophes. Griffin Mountain,
>Borderlands, Sun County, Zola Fel River Voices (all of which I've
>played), and now Blood over Gold - they are all about people
>working in existing societies. I won't argue that there's some
>flux, but the cultures as a whole aren't being turned upside down.

In BoG the catastrophy has happened - the overland trade route the Trader Princes built is obsolete. Fay Jee was recently sacked by wolf pirates. How do the Princes retain their power and wealth in the changed world? Or do others supplant them as has happened with House Caroman? Maybe there's room for an Esrolian merchant woman to take over a house and show the men how it should be done.

Donald Oddy


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