Racial features: Ogres

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Avaran

Baron
I feel that flippant hyperbolic commentary like this shows a lack of respect and degrades the underlying concerns. As well as detracts from the OP.

The topic is trying to have a respectful request to change racial make-up in an attempt to be more respectful and welcoming to people of alternate ethnicity. It is not trying to change the paradigm of the game.
My assertions are neither flippant nor hyperbolic; they hold just as much merit as the points raised by the OP and have just as much merit as the topic of the OP. I am sorry that you don't see this.
 

markusdark

Knight
The first step to get over is to realize that what happens in a game does not/should not equate to real life events/beliefs/etc. unless the larp in question focuses on this. If we wanted to get to the nit picking of it all, we are condoning/teaching people that the most efficient way to deal with issues is to kill it/burn it/blow it up and then rob the remains. If people look hard enough, they can always find something to be 'offended' by. I would bet that I could find something offensive with a larp where six people sit in a circle for four hours keeping quiet.

So accepting that it is impossible to make a larp 100% unoffensive if people look hard enough, the next step is to find out at what line do you draw for the larp about which things can be considered offensive and what shouldn't be. The origin of Alliance not allowing religious symbols (IIRC) was not to offend the various camps that they rented. Back then, you could still have pentagrams on your weapons/costumes because the Wiccan/Pagan belief systems weren't accepted. Just recently the Selunari were invented to head off any possible issues with a racial slur (and I knew personally of three larpers who refused to play in Alliance because of this prior to the change).

IMO, the level where the line should be drawn is if the offended party is able to come forward and say that they're offended. We can (and have had) people of color say in various articles that they're not happy about the stereotypical color of their nationality being put on by other people so changing up the color should be discussed. Now if a Dökkálfar was to say that it's not happy that Dark Elves are being portrayed as purple skin (and Ragnarok wasn't upon us) a simple fix to this would be to rename Dark Elves something else. Of course if a alien race of purple skinned individuals came down and were upset with us using purple for the skin, we would need to change that color but for some reason I think that LARPing would be the least of our thoughts at that time.
 
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Alavatar

Baron
IMO, the level where the line should be drawn is if the offended party is able to come forward and say that they're offended. We can have people of color come forth and say that they're not happy about the stereotypical color of their nationality being put on by other people so changing up the color should be discussed.
This is going to sound bad, but there is a little bit of irony having a bunch of white people say "Are there any black or Asian people in the room offended by this? Guess not, so lets keep it the way it is." I mean, Rachel has already provided some links about people having a discussion on the topic of Dark Elf make-up being compared to Black Face. Additionally, there are several podcasts on the subject in the nerd community. Just because we don't hear it in Alliance does not mean it isn't a valid concern.
 

markusdark

Knight
I'm sorry my intention didn't come through clearly - I have edited the comment above hopefully to fix this. To me, the fact that there are articles out there with people upset over others using black or yellow makeup shows that people are coming forward and upset over it - even if it's not in Alliance. Therefore discussion about changing the color of the skin should happen.
 

Inaryn

Knight
This is going to sound bad, but there is a little bit of irony having a bunch of white people say "Are there any black or Asian people in the room offended by this? Guess not, so lets keep it the way it is." I mean, Rachel has already provided some links about people having a discussion on the topic of Dark Elf make-up being compared to Black Face. Additionally, there are several podcasts on the subject in the nerd community. Just because we don't hear it in Alliance does not mean it isn't a valid concern.
It doesn't sound bad at all.

Thank you Seth and Rachel for standing up for your fellow human beings. More people should be like you.

It changes *nothing* at our game to change the color of the make-up required for Dark Elves and Ogres. My personal vote would be blue and orange.
 
I mostly held my tongue when this started, because I actually thought the less said the better (there are times when silent support is best). After a very hostile exchange (I honestly recommend that all parties involved in it stop posting on this topic immediately, because I think multiple people violated board rules during it), I have changed my opinion and feel that open support is necessary.

Black face is a product of racism that still creates significant anger in our society. Due to the way we portray monsters in our game, and the often limited resources we have at our disposal, we will not remove black-painted faces from the game completely no matter what we do. We can, however, remove the most common example of it in our games and, at the same time, an example that might actually be causing players to avoid an entire PC race, just because they refuse to be associated with black face. Making a minor change here, in my opinion, is a good thing that will make our game feel more welcoming, particularly to a marginalized population.

I can't quite make the same strength argument for ogres and yellow face. The situation is similar, but differs enough in the details that I don't have the necessary knowledge to formulate a strong opinion on the matter, beyond acknowledging that I recognize the basis for the concern of the OP.

As for details, as I noted previously, I think gray would lead to confusion and don't really have a great idea beyond that.

-MS

P.S. - As far as I can tell, the clear basis of dark elves in our game is derived straight from Dungeons & Dragons, not Norse mythology, and the history of dark elves in D&D has nothing to do with Norse mythology (and is actually a little bit racist).
 

Tantarus

Squire
So lets say we change them, cause shrug, why not if that is what people want. I think that purple is better then blue to avoid smurf jokes. Also why not remove the white hair and elf ears to ease up on the make up requirements of which Dark elves have always suffered from? That would be a pretty good quality of life fix for dark elf players, I think.
 

Eldor

Artisan
P.S. - As far as I can tell, the clear basis of dark elves in our game is derived straight from Dungeons & Dragons, not Norse mythology, and the history of dark elves in D&D has nothing to do with Norse mythology (and is actually a little bit racist).

Drow:
Drow are a species of elf in the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. Etymologically, term is probably derived from the Shetland Isles Drow (Webster's Unabridged Dictionary (1970) states: "Drow, n., [scot.] A tiny elf which lived in caves and forged magical metal work."). The word's origin is identical to the origin of the word "troll," which both go back further to the Scottish Gaelic word spelled "trow." The original Scottish Gaelic word is pronounced "dtrow" with a soft "dt" sound, and the original pronunciation sounds similar to "troll." The word is also found in Cornish and Welsh, with slight pronunciation differences. The race itself seems based on another dark elf, specifically the Dokkalfar of Norse mythology.

Not actually a little bit racist.

Please do not assume something, to make it fit your argument.


Having researched this further, I offer Gary Gygax's own words for greater accuracy.

Nothing like [the Drow race] is found in any Norse mythology at all. Dockalfar had crow's feet and were ugly. The Scots "drow" were simply "dark elves." Thus TSR, now WotC/Hasbro can claim rights to the Drow as depicted in the D&D game system because of the unique nature of their description and attributes.

Gary Gygax (1938–2008), February 5, 2004, EN World Q&A VI

"Drow" in an Anglo-Saxon word. I found it in an old unexpurgated dictionary way back when. It means "dark elf." From that entry I created the drow race for AD&D, of course. There is no other background for them in myth or fable. Their characteristics were designed as they were to make them a suitable set of inhabitants of the subterranean world.

Gary Gygax (1938–2008), October 23, 2002, EN World Q&A I

I wanted to have a new, unique, and interesting race of demi-humans that dwelled in and command much of the vast underworld of Oerth. They were, as stated, of Evil bent as a race, so the clear intent was to have fell opponents for non-Evil PC. That all drow were not of Evil I also noted in the "Gord the Rogue" tales, for Leda, a drow, was certainly not of malign sort.

The drow abilities were given to them to highlight their unique nature and potency.

Gary Gygax (1938–2008), October 14, 2002, EN World Q&A I
 
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So I play and Ogre and would have no problem changing the color of the race. As a Larper besides having a fun game the thing I want most is more Larpers. If there is a group of people who are hesitant about playing our game because of a make-up color I personally have no problem changing that. I think personally regardless of Norse mythology and blackface and this that or the other the more players we have the more fun we have. Now you can use the slippery slope argument and say well anyone can get offended and blah blah blah but ultimately there is a sizable chunk of people who either don't larp or don't play our game because of that make-up. If it was only like two people or whatever it probably wouldn't be on our radar. I personally know 2 people who dont play alliance because the black make-up makes them uncomfortable. To paraphrase one person "the black make-up is shocking. Every time I see it, it brings me out of game and into the real world" I talked to that person and they understood it had no racist intent but the fact remains our culture has a history with black make-up covering up faces and when people see it that is one of their first thoughts. Regardless of people being offended or any other reason, I think most people on the forum would like to see more people play. Any way just my two cents. Curious how this turns out. :) (that is a smiley face to ease tension)
 

Ruki

Scholar
I'm liking the mostly positive feedback on the topic of changing the colors! Hopefully the owners see this and consider it.
 

mythic

Knight
Owner
Calgary Staff
This is where I again will say, please talk to your Chapter Owner (or the ones you feel comfortable speaking with) if you feel strongly about this issue. It has been brought up before (within the Owners' group), and not enough owners, at the time, believed it to be an issue. We have several newer Owners, so they may have a different opinion then before and it may get some traction.

I will say that I agree that the Dark Elves colour should be changed. I think a grey colour would be great because you can easily shade and highlight that colour. I don't think the Ogres need a colour change, but I would not say no if enough players really thought it should be changed. Blue or Green I would avoid (Smurf and Shrek references), but other than that I really don't see an issue.

For reference, here is a very famous CosPlayer, Yaya Han's, Dark Elf: https://img04.deviantart.net/2448/i/2015/322/9/2/lineage_ii___dark_elf_profile_by_yayacosplay-d9h3uo3.jpg
 

Samyania

Scholar
Seattle Staff
Well that there's a stone elf with a tan.
 

Samyania

Scholar
Seattle Staff
Also we already have a green, tusked race, and Teir'dal and Dunmer both come in purple sometimes. You can do a lot with a lovely violet.

If anything, I think grey makes sense for ogres, but I was under the impression that's the direction they're going with Oathsworn, so not that.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
I do not believe our portrayal of Ogres and Dark Elves is racist.

I do believe that if a salty person wants to ruin a Dark Elf player's life, they need only snap a picture of them wearing their makeup and post it on Facebook.
 

MaxIrons

Squire
Oregon Staff
Marshal
If there is racism in any of the Alliance races, it's diffuse and a result of our society as a whole having key racist ideas being part of the general literary landscape. By that I mean tropes like the noble savage, which have roots in colonialism are a key component of the works that form the basis of the fantasy genre in general. However, that is A. beyond the scope of this discussion, and B. something that individual plot teams can decide to tackle as they wish.

To go back to the topic on hand, I understand that changing something that has been around for a long time is very hard. You may be ideologically opposed to what is perceived as the reason behind such changes. It could be a fear that this thing you've put heart and soul into for decades will change into something completely different. It's okay to want to stick to traditions, and in the absence of good reason to change we probably shouldn't make them.

What I consider to be a good reason has been presented: We can easily be mistaken for promoting blackface with our makeup color choice for Dark Elves. This is not a statement that we are doing blackface, but rather that it is easy for someone else, without a gaming background, to mistake that for what we are doing. For very little cost, we can change to a different pigment that we place on our skin to indicate we aren't human. The same argument applies to a lesser extent with High Ogres, as yellowface was much less common.

I'm not calling anyone racist here, I'm not providing slippery slope arguments. I'm saying we have an opportunity to make our game look better to our unintended, non gaming, audiences at a low investment.
 
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Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
I'm also not going to lie; I don't think that the game that is Alliance is so incredibly vested in Dark Elf portrayal that it's terribly out-of-line for us to do a color change.

We live in an age now where we need to be more conscientious of our portrayals. The advent of social media is a big deal, even if there are people in this conversation who don't actively use it. Any given organization might be extremely small-time until someone decides to crusade against us. Whether their message is accurate or not is irrelevant; what matters is that

1) Yes, we have a race that uses black makeup

2) The USA's population is, by and large, vastly without knowledge as to what LARP really is, what High Fantasy really is, etc. A lot of people's only delving into magical fantasy is limited to Harry Potter Andy LotR.

You think that people really have any clue what "Dark Elves" are? You think they'd listen when we talked about Gary Gygax?

They would not.

I don't know what Alliance has as an overall active population, but I suspect we're outnumbered by people who'd come after us.
 

Muir

Fighter
Honestly, the issues of racism aside (although I agree that we can and should be more conscious of how it looks), I'm in favor of reworking dark elves to get them away from the boring D&D cliche'd 'darker and edgier' elves anyway. It's an opportunity to do something that isn't tied to forty years of other systems' cruft.

For similar reasons, I think going in the direction of red or blue oni as an archetype to make High Ogres more obviously different than High Orcs and more interesting than 'Orcs who hate necromancy' is a good thing that we should be actively pursuing.



Something like that makes a much cooler and more evocative picture than 'these guys are yellow, oh and they don't like necromancy'.
 

MaxIrons

Squire
Oregon Staff
Marshal
Honestly, the issues of racism aside (although I agree that we can and should be more conscious of how it looks), I'm in favor of reworking dark elves to get them away from the boring D&D cliche'd 'darker and edgier' elves anyway. It's an opportunity to do something that isn't tied to forty years of other systems' cruft.
Except that we now have what... thirty years of it being this very game, and some people playing the same character for twenty or more of those? Maybe a rework is in order, but that would be a much tougher pill to swallow than just a recolor. Short of a full reboot, I can't see it going over well with our long term players. I also don't see a full reboot going over either.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
Oathsworn and Selunari had their culture reworked due to their RL counterparts being discriminatorily portrayed. I do not believe a similar reason exists for dark elves.
 

Muir

Fighter
To be clear, I'm mostly speaking as a matter of appearance for the dark elves, as well as being a bit more strict about keeping other games' references from bleeding in. The write-up we have for Dark Elves is pretty good on its own, but spider-worshiping always-evil villains need to be avoided.
 
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