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Thread: Intersex PCs

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    Default Intersex PCs

    I have noticed that a lot of RPG books these days are going out of their way to be more inclusive of characters who do not fit into "traditional" concepts of sex and gender; for example recently when creating characters for Delta Green I saw the character sheet has gender check boxes for male, female, and other, and I have been advised to add something similar to the character creation chapter in my own game.

    In the past, I have had players come to me wanting to play intersex characters in games I was running, and I always said no; mostly because I assumed they were doing it for fetishistic reasons and would creep out the other players.

    But now I am starting to think that maybe I should ease up on it. I mean, character's genitals are never referenced in the game as is, why would that suddenly change if they were "nonstandard"?

    But, I still am afraid that people would either do it for fetishistic reasons, or just as an attention getter; but then I wonder if that is necessarily even a bad thing? And then I think that some players would be creeped out just by seeing the "other" box ticked on another player's character sheet.


    Does anyone have any experience with running a game for intersex PCs or the like? Any advice on how to avoid the pitfalls, or ideas about what the pitfalls even are?

    Thanks.


    Also, trying hard not to offend anyone with my language, but I am kind of unsure about terminology, so if anyone has any suggestions to improve that I would love to hear them.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    Personally, I would treat it the same as any choice that gives you pause. When I've seen players taking different sex or gender characters, it's mostly because they want to safely explore that identity, so I would assume that's the case here. I haven't personally encountered behaviour that I or my group found disconcerting from that, but maybe we've been lucky. On the other hand, if a player wants to be kender, that worries me because they typically either want to be disruptive (and my group doesn't welcome PVP action) or they want to try playing it positively - which can be fine, if they really know what they're doing, but can go poorly.

    In those cases I would try to engage with them before committing to characters and try to gently talk about their motivations. Try to figure out what appeals to them about this character and how that might work.

    Also, if you have a problem with players acting fetishistically, it might be worth sitting down with your players and creating some sort of safe word for "this is making me uncomfortable". We have that, it doesn't get used much, but it is very handy.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    Overall gender issues in a setting can be a huge thing, and make sweeping cultural changes. But thats for a new post.

    On a pc basis, i have never had an issue with pcs being whatever they want to put in the box. Sometime a small " how this culture handles x " or " how do you want to play that" is needed. But thats the case for a bunch of backround questions.

    So the long and short of it is, i wouldn't just say "other" as that can be insulting to some people, but go ahead and let people play he/she/them/ ect as they want. Dont worry so much about fetishism, that falls under playing poorly.

    As an added note, choosing a gender in game doesnt lead to fetishism. You can be a cis male playing a cis male human in game and fetishize yourself just fine.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    There are current trends that make this a marketable feature for a system. If it doesn’t conflict heavily with the design intent it’s... how do people say it... free real estate?
    By the metric of being wholly dependent on the GM for noncombat interaction Fighter is an NPC class.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    Intersex conditions are a whole host of conditions that vary a lot. Notably they are slowly getting more exposure in games, D&D 5e itself has two PC races with acknowledged intersex members (elves and lizardfolk), but it's at a very basic level at least partially because of how varied they are.

    Gender and nonbinary people are easier to be inclusive towards because it's something you can easily leave off a sheet or make a relatively short write-in section. Honestly my preference these days is to not have it on the sheet, as a NB person myself I feel like having to decide on a gener identify as limiting even if I'm allowed every single one which people identify with.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Intersex conditions are a whole host of conditions that vary a lot. Notably they are slowly getting more exposure in games, D&D 5e itself has two PC races with acknowledged intersex members (elves and lizardfolk), but it's at a very basic level at least partially because of how varied they are.

    Gender and nonbinary people are easier to be inclusive towards because it's something you can easily leave off a sheet or make a relatively short write-in section. Honestly my preference these days is to not have it on the sheet, as a NB person myself I feel like having to decide on a gener identify as limiting even if I'm allowed every single one which people identify with.
    I started using “gender” instead of “sex” on character sheets because too many play-testers were putting “yes please.” I wish I was joking.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I started using “gender” instead of “sex” on character sheets because too many play-testers were putting “yes please.” I wish I was joking.
    Why do we need either? What purpose do they serve?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Why do we need either? What purpose do they serve?
    In short, because it is a very efficient, quite probably the most efficient, way to share a tremendous amount of descriptive information about a character.


    I am not quite sure what you are getting that though; are you saying that RPGs don't need descriptions on the character sheet? Or that society would be better off if people were gender blind? Or something else?
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    In short, because it is a very efficient, quite probably the most efficient, way to share a tremendous amount of descriptive information about a character.


    I am not quite sure what you are getting that though; are you saying that RPGs don't need descriptions on the character sheet? Or that society would be better off if people were gender blind? Or something else?
    Yes. Yes. And yes.

    It really gets less information across than you think, at least in my view. I'm also completely fine not having any description fields, or just having it be a space you can write a few sentences in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Yes. Yes. And yes.

    It really gets less information across than you think, at least in my view. I'm also completely fine not having any description fields, or just having it be a space you can write a few sentences in.
    Ok then.

    I am personally completely uninterested in playing a game that isn't "fiction first" and have trouble coming up with a single word that can tell me more about a person than their sex. Now, one could argue that there are more important words; but I can't think of any that actually carry more information.

    At least, for a human.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    Just let people do it. And if it works fine, then it's fine. If it becomes creepy and inappropriate, then stop doing it.

    While I'm a cis white woman myself, I've played both male and female characters, and played a variation of gay, straight, bi, and asexual. These days I've kind of preferred to say "Identifies As" rather than write their biological sex. I game with a couple of people who are non-binary, gender-fluid, and one who is trans, and they've been very positive to adopting that descriptor for character profiles.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Ok then.

    I am personally completely uninterested in playing a game that isn't "fiction first" and have trouble coming up with a single word that can tell me more about a person than their sex. Now, one could argue that there are more important words; but I can't think of any that actually carry more information.

    At least, for a human.

    Race (elf, human, dwarf, etc).
    Color of skin and/or hair.
    Build (built like a brick house, small and waifish, portly, etc).

    Not saying that it's wrong that the first thing you see is a person's appearant sex/gender, but that is only an aspect of who they are, and not nescessarily even a major part of how they see themselves.
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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    We're playing a bunch of fantasy creatures which quite literally can range from plant people to shapeshifters with no fixed sex. I've played a few of both (with the former expressing an alien curiosity over humanoid genders and the latter wondering why everyone was so uptight about such things) but it's never a defining element of play.

    I tend to find that when people bring their character's sexuality/orientation/general proclivities up a lot, it doesn't matter what they are, it becomes an issue for the table.
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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    Just let people do it. And if it works fine, then it's fine. If it becomes creepy and inappropriate, then stop doing it.

    While I'm a cis white woman myself, I've played both male and female characters, and played a variation of gay, straight, bi, and asexual. These days I've kind of preferred to say "Identifies As" rather than write their biological sex. I game with a couple of people who are non-binary, gender-fluid, and one who is trans, and they've been very positive to adopting that descriptor for character profiles.




    Race (elf, human, dwarf, etc).
    Color of skin and/or hair.
    Build (built like a brick house, small and waifish, portly, etc).

    Not saying that it's wrong that the first thing you see is a person's appearant sex/gender, but that is only an aspect of who they are, and not nescessarily even a major part of how they see themselves.
    I second this advice.

    Also, for what it's worth, I'm a cis white male, but I've always sort of viewed elves as a little..."gender-ambiguous", even in previous editions. My most often re-used character concept is an elven mage named Tessrel Moonshadow, who goes by "Tess" to his friends (which is kind of an androgynous nickname). His most recent incarnation in 5e was as an Eladrin Sorcerer. Especially since this was post-MToF, on his character sheet I listed his gender as "Elf". Which I feel says everything that needed to be said in regards to that.

    Disclaimer/caveat: I know I just consistently used male pronouns with regards to that character, but that's more in the nature of trying to be concise in language. I personally find "they/them" to be imprecise when trying to describe a single individual, but that is solely from a grammar and syntax point of view. And I am personally ignorant of the correct pronoun to use for such an individual, so I default to "he/him/his" out of simplicity and, quite frankly, laziness.
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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Intersex conditions are a whole host of conditions that vary a lot. Notably they are slowly getting more exposure in games, D&D 5e itself has two PC races with acknowledged intersex members (elves and lizardfolk), but it's at a very basic level at least partially because of how varied they are.

    Gender and nonbinary people are easier to be inclusive towards because it's something you can easily leave off a sheet or make a relatively short write-in section. Honestly my preference these days is to not have it on the sheet, as a NB person myself I feel like having to decide on a gener identify as limiting even if I'm allowed every single one which people identify with.
    As a trans woman, I like to make that explicit as part of characters I play.
    Last edited by Scots Dragon; 2020-12-24 at 01:37 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    A game setting does need to be designed to be fun and functional to game in.

    But there's more to good worldbuilding than piling the "parts to game in" on a big pile.

    Farmland isn't there to be adventured in, primarily, but one assumes it's still there and part of the landscape -- just because adventurers don't go there often doesn't mean it doesn't or shouldn't or needn't exist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I started using “gender” instead of “sex” on character sheets because too many play-testers were putting “yes please.” I wish I was joking.
    Haha, that's a classic. In fact, when I readied a bunch of characters for convention play as a GM, I put that on the elf's character sheet. (All of the characters had gender-neutral names and ambiguous or nonsensical dara on the "sex" part of the sheet.)

    Personally, I consider sex, gender and sexuality of a character trivial. When I made a randomizer for sex and gender, it deliberately involved a chance to create asexual, trans and intersex characters. I'm not sure why people make a such a big deal about it. Especially in context of speculative fiction, which, before you get to realistic and realistically muted portrayals of various intersex conditions, has always had mythological and exaggarated androgynous and non-sexed beings. Getting creeped out by an intersex human when you could run into a Baphomet-worshipping shape-shifting lust demons or changelings or have your physical sex altered or removed by a magic potion is... quaint.

    There's a thing to be said for adding intersex (etc.) option to character creation, though: unless you're going to model human (or non-human) physiology to a very deep extent or going to dwell significantly on some culture's stance on sex and gender (etc.), there honestly isn't much to be done besides noting "yes, these people exists and you can play one if you want to". If you're going to abstract it away to the same degree most systems abstract physical differences between males and females (that is, by not acknowledging any difference), it is even more trivial than it'd otherwise be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scots Dragon View Post
    As a trans woman, I like to make that explicit as part of characters I play.
    That's fine, I just think that works better as part of a description box long enough to fit a couple of sentences in. 'Charlie is a little under six feet tall, has coffee coloured skin, green knee length hair, grey eyes, and was assigned make at birth but identifies as a woman' is a nice concise description that gets across most things and to me doesn't mean I have to be prescriptive with my character's gender identity.

    I'm not against having the space to make such things clear. I'm against the sheet saying I should put such things on it when I don't always want to.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    I find myself agreeing with AnonymousWizard that I find no real value in having a "gender checkbox" on any character sheet, and would much prefer having just a big box for character description where the player can write what they feel is important.

    As for inclusion of gender identities past "cis man/woman" in your game, there's lots of ways to go around it. You may simply decide to drop any mention of gender and just let players decide for themselves (this is notably easier in certain settings, I think), or include mentions of how the setting treats gender identities past cis men and women - and if going this route you have to make lots of choices. In one of my own settings which is mostly influenced by Mediterranean Antiquity, I've decided to be very ahistorical and just make sexuality and gender identity a non-issue: nobody in that world will give you crap for who you are, unless they're a complete *******.

    I'm not against letting players have characters that are a different gender or sexuality from them, at least on principle. The only question I ask myself when receiving such a request is evaluating the person: yes, we have all heard stories about the creepy guy rolling up an elf maiden and bringing their fetishes to the table, but I'm going to kick out that sort of person no matter what. But I consider most of the people I game with mature enough to not have such worries when it comes to playing as something they're not.

    They will, however, still giggle like middle-schoolers if they manage to turn an NPC's name into a innuendo .
    Last edited by Silly Name; 2020-12-24 at 05:36 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Silly Name View Post
    I find myself agreeing with AnonymousWizard that I find no real value in having a "gender checkbox" on any character sheet, and would much prefer having just a big box for character description where the player can write what they feel is important.
    I think the key is that it should be up to the player if it's on the sheet. 90% of players will put it on, but gender (as well as hair, eye, and skin colour) going on the sheet should be their choice.

    The only question I ask myself when receiving such a request is evaluating the person: yes, we have all heard stories about the creepy guy rolling up an elf maiden and bringing their fetishes to the table, but I'm going to kick out that sort of person no matter what. But I consider most of the people I game with mature enough to not have such worries when it comes to playing as something they're not.
    I find myself agreeing with this, and find myself glad that the only time I've seen a 'slutty lesbian (well, bisexual) sorceress' character played it was by a woman who knew when to play it up and when to tone it down. Yes the character only wore about three dragon scales, but this came up so rarely most of us just ignored it (I eventually decided she was wearing something over it in my mind, even if that was just a coat or cloak for travelling).

    Which brings me to a point, after a certain age most players who have one of these are doing so for entirely mature reasons. I once had a transgender transmuter wizard who was trying to develop a permanent gender-change spell (willing targets only) and who used a mixture of practical (disguise kit proficiency) and magical means to pass as their gender. Unfortunately that game never got very far.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    First, a terminology note: "intersex" is a medical condition where the body displays both male and female sexual characteristics, to a greater or lesser degree. It has nothing to do with your gender or sexuality, and not everyone who is biologically intersex claims it as a label. When in doubt, use "queer." That covers anyone who's not cisgender and heterosexual.

    As for queer characters in games? Put me firmly on team "who gives a ****." Mature players will be fine no matter what gender and sexuality they assign to their character; disruptive ***holes will be problems no matter how many limits you put on their character. If the person is worth playing with, let them play whatever identity they want.

    As for queer characters in setting? That's a little more tied to what themes you're exploring. Personally, I try to avoid real-world bigotry in my games--there's more than enough of that in everyday life. Regardless of historical context, NPCs will use the right pronouns and not care one whit about the gender of the people you're sleeping with. (And unless I have a firm idea already, I give them a 1/5 chance of being genderqueer themself (with the remaining 4/5 being divided equally between identify as male/identify as female), and if their sexuality ever comes up, I roll 1d6 for their position on the Kinsey Scale.)

    As for queer characters and character sheets? Inclusivity is important, but I think the dominant question there is the system's themes. Delta Green, iirc, assumes characters are government agents of some sort, so a "male/female/other" checkbox sort of fits the government-paperwork aesthetic. If your game is heavily focused on romance, it probably does make sense to include separate lines for gender and sexuality; if it's about being abandoned in the wilderness and trying to survive, you might not bother with recording gender at all. If in doubt, you can't go wrong with a blank line.
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2020-12-24 at 09:19 AM.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    In my circles intersex was more of does it make for interesting characters and contributing to the story. If a concept made more sense to play as one gender versus another we ran with it. The only time I ever was in a game that flat out banned players not doing this was about 2 years ago at an adventure league game. Issue on that was one of the players was being an idiot using the game to force cram social justice jargen down everyones throat. A male playing a trans female orc. It wasn't in the sense of open dialogue discussions on the issues he brought up in roleplay scenes but just that anyone born male was inheritly evil. It got to a point the ladies in the group (3 of 7 players total) were not having it and asked the owner of the comic shop we played at to ban him as he was making the environment toxic for everyone. After that we all agreed for the game which we rebooted, each gender would only play there own gender.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    But, I still am afraid that people would either do it for fetishistic reasons, or just as an attention getter; but then I wonder if that is necessarily even a bad thing? And then I think that some players would be creeped out just by seeing the "other" box ticked on another player's character sheet.
    Regarding fetishistic reasons -- when a person first comes to my gaming group, I have a list of 'community expectations' that I have everyone read (and actually ask them what it said, or otherwise make sure they didn't just pretend to pay attention), and it includes something to the effect of, "Everyone else present at this gaming table are not here to bear witness to your exploration of a personal sexual kink. That is not the purpose of this game. You are perfectly capable of creating your perfect sexual avatar using game rules on your own time." And I tell people that I expect them to respect that. Universally. We also use X cards and when someone takes something too far, anyone and everyone can veto it and retribution for that veto is not tolerated. That is a universal for my game, and this particular situation is no exception.

    Regarding attention-getting reasons -- I am continuously mystified* by the number of people online in rpg/nerd communities decidedly worried that someone else just might be doing something unusual to be noticed and/or to be unique in some way. We have multiple over-worn terms for the concept-- snowflake, edgelord, etc. To me it seems decidedly like that grade school insult, "they think they're soooo special!" Like, what exactly is the problem? We are playing power fantasy games where people are getting to pretend they are wizards or cyborgs or billionaire playboy crimefighters -- getting to be special for a few hours out of the week is a primary reason for the existence of these games.
    *despite managing teams of people who all fall into this community.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    The thing about "specialness" is fairly simple: a lot of game masters design their scenarios as something independent of the characters. So if a player then brings in a character incongruous with that scenario, it's going to draw attention away from what the GM has set up.

    The follow-up question then becomes "okay, so why not design scenarios dependant on the characters?" And the answer is that players come up with their characters independent of not just the scenario, not just the game master, but the entire game. Their character concept comes somewhere else entirely and the scenario, the game master and the game system are all something to bend to suit that concept.

    You can't justify such "specialness" with power fantasy. In fact, games are crappy vehicle for power fantasy. Don't get me wrong, you can get a decent power fantasy out of a game - after the fact, if you're succesfull in a game. Baking that power fantasy into your character concept, before a single game move has been made, is a statement you don't want to play the game, you just want to win it.

    However, when it comes to this point (about power fantasy), sex and gender are trivial, because they typically don't give you mechanical power in a game. When they do, it's usually because the game group has silly ideas about what these things mean socially, often to other players rather than anything in the game. Because inside a game world, being intersex, trans, etc. doesn't have to be anything special in a way that'd get anyone attention.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Regarding attention-getting reasons -- I am continuously mystified* by the number of people online in rpg/nerd communities decidedly worried that someone else just might be doing something unusual to be noticed and/or to be unique in some way. We have multiple over-worn terms for the concept-- snowflake, edgelord, etc. To me it seems decidedly like that grade school insult, "they think they're soooo special!" Like, what exactly is the problem? We are playing power fantasy games where people are getting to pretend they are wizards or cyborgs or billionaire playboy crimefighters -- getting to be special for a few hours out of the week is a primary reason for the existence of these games.
    *despite managing teams of people who all fall into this community.
    I think this is probably because many of us have had contact with or behaved as that guy at some previous point in our lives. The fear isn't of somebody being unique or stepping out of line, but rather the motivation behind that specialness. That is to say, a desire to stand out among the other people in the room and possess some greater level of significance among them, even at the cost of these other people. Usually, this motivation leads to an unwillingness to engage with the same ground rules that everyone else has agreed to and holds to, and a desire to hog the spotlight.

    That's just from an RPG community viewpoint, but I think about sums up why you see that sort of attitude. It's really not a useful assumption to have in every case, as that just ends up causing you a lot of headaches and drives away people who want to explore new concepts, but that seems to be the main reason to me. It's less about "somebody's trying to stand out" and more about "somebody's trying to make what they want more important than what I want". A pretty primal fear, all things considered, with all that implies.


    Anyways, in regards to the OP, I don't think there's any need to worry. There's a good >99% chance the player just wants to explore a particular non-binary identity for their character, for whatever reasons that may be. Unless your game explicitly allows sexual content, I doubt they'll be using it as an outlet for those sorts of fantasies, and are really just looking to explore them from a personality and personal experience standpoint. Don't feel the need to include any particular content tailored towards their queer nature either, unless they specifically ask for it. (By which I mean stories that deal with bigotry, difficulties in romance, or other such topics.) You'd only be making a lot of work for yourself and risk upsetting them with topics that hit too close to home.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    You don't win people over by beating them with facts until they surrender; at best all you've got is a conversion under duress, and at worst you've actively made an enemy of your position.

    You don't convince by proving someone wrong. You convince by showing them a better way to be right. The difference may seem subtle or semantic, but I assure you it matters a lot.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Theoboldi View Post
    I

    Anyways, in regards to the OP, I don't think there's any need to worry. There's a good >99% chance the player just wants to explore a particular non-binary identity for their character, for whatever reasons that may be.
    Sadly having read many of the OP's previous threads about their misadventures in Bizarro Gaming World, I suspect there will probably be a very good need to worry. I'll still fully advocate for doing so on the 1% off chance it's legit as you hope it will be, though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel, on quest rewards View Post
    "Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

    I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Sadly having read many of the OP's previous threads about their misadventures in Bizarro Gaming World, I suspect there will probably be a very good need to worry. I'll still fully advocate for doing so on the 1% off chance it's legit as you hope it will be, though.
    Bizarro...?

    reads OP's username again

    Oh no.

    Well, even if it's Talakeal's crazy players, I'll stand by my decision.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    You don't win people over by beating them with facts until they surrender; at best all you've got is a conversion under duress, and at worst you've actively made an enemy of your position.

    You don't convince by proving someone wrong. You convince by showing them a better way to be right. The difference may seem subtle or semantic, but I assure you it matters a lot.

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    Wow, lot's of good responses. Thanks!

    Wall of text incoming!

    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    Just let people do it. And if it works fine, then it's fine. If it becomes creepy and inappropriate, then stop doing it.

    While I'm a cis white woman myself, I've played both male and female characters, and played a variation of gay, straight, bi, and asexual. These days I've kind of preferred to say "Identifies As" rather than write their biological sex. I game with a couple of people who are non-binary, gender-fluid, and one who is trans, and they've been very positive to adopting that descriptor for character profiles.
    IMO that is a bit wordy for a character sheet.

    I have had trans players, but never a trans character, so it has honestly never come up. Personally, I get enough dysmorphia in real life, I don't want to also have to deal with it in game, so I just play a female character.

    From a verisimilitude perspective, the idea of a transperson doesn't make sense in all settings. Most that I play in either have the technology / magic available for people to change their biological sex if they really want to, and most are egalitarian enough and / or primitive enough that they don't have a concept of gender which is divorced from biological sex.

    The other problem with "identifies as" is it comes across as obfuscation. If a character in a game is openly trans, that information should be available to the players. If they are not open about it, well, that is kind of where my problem lies. The players should be allowed to notice / figure it out for themselves at some point, but that is going to require an awkward scene which I feel will play like the horrible transphobic "liar revealed scene" in movies like Mrs. Doubtfire or Ace Ventura.


    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    Race (elf, human, dwarf, etc).
    Color of skin and/or hair.
    Build (built like a brick house, small and waifish, portly, etc).

    Not saying that it's wrong that the first thing you see is a person's apparent sex/gender, but that is only an aspect of who they are, and not nescessarily even a major part of how they see themselves.
    As I said, species probably says more, but most RPGs I play don't allow nonhuman characters to begin with.

    I am kind of floored though, at the idea that hair color or body build would say more about a person than their gender. Even if we are just going by looks, gender influences a whole host of features, as well as fashion, physical capabilities, familial ties, psychology, and role in society. Obviously not everyone conforms to gender norms, but as a quick baseline description it serves well enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    I tend to find that when people bring their character's sexuality/orientation/general proclivities up a lot, it doesn't matter what they are, it becomes an issue for the table.
    Man, you would hate playing with me then. Outside of one shots, I don't think I have had a character in decades whose sexuality didn't determine their narrative arc.

    This really seems to be an issue of railroading rather than making people uncomfortable though.

    If, for example, I am on a quest to rescue my lady love from the Dark Lord or to prove my worth to her father, the only disruption is if you are playing a game that is too rigid to incorporate player motivations into your story. On the other hand, if the disruption comes from the fact that I am also a woman (which has happened), then I think maybe I am not the problem there.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    Disclaimer/caveat: I know I just consistently used male pronouns with regards to that character, but that's more in the nature of trying to be concise in language. I personally find "they/them" to be imprecise when trying to describe a single individual, but that is solely from a grammar and syntax point of view. And I am personally ignorant of the correct pronoun to use for such an individual, so I default to "he/him/his" out of simplicity and, quite frankly, laziness.
    Agreed.

    I really wish the nonbinary community had chosen to go with an invented pronoun rather than using "they". Reading a plural pronoun for a singular individual always confuses the heck out of me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    That's fine, I just think that works better as part of a description box long enough to fit a couple of sentences in. 'Charlie is a little under six feet tall, has coffee coloured skin, green knee length hair, grey eyes, and was assigned make at birth but identifies as a woman' is a nice concise description that gets across most things and to me doesn't mean I have to be prescriptive with my character's gender identity.

    I'm not against having the space to make such things clear. I'm against the sheet saying I should put such things on it when I don't always want to.
    In my experience, character sheets have traditionally read like forms or identification cards. I agree that a box for prose is helpful, and my game includes one, but I don't think it needs to take the place of concise fields; I imagine many players would have trouble picking out important details from prose, if they bothered to read it at all.

    I don't personally have a problem leaving things blank or writing none on a character sheet, for example under hair color if I am playing a lizard person or constitution if I am playing an undead. But you are still going to have to describe your character at some point, and I imagine most people are going to want a description of at least your biological sex, even if that is androgynous or intersex or whatnot.

    Heck, I remember one time when I gave my character a gender neutral name and didn't disclose my gender, and everyone at the table just assumed I was playing a male character. When I finally did disclose my gender, they insisted that I was lying to them, that they all clearly remembered me introducing myself as a man, and that I was now trying to pull a fast one on them with a retcon. That was a VERY uncomfortable conversation that I don't want to ever have to repeat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Silly Name View Post
    In one of my own settings which is mostly influenced by Mediterranean Antiquity, I've decided to be very ahistorical and just make sexuality and gender identity a non-issue: nobody in that world will give you crap for who you are, unless they're a complete *******.
    My world is very similar, but people still need to procreate. I can't imagine a world were some sort of man / woman family structure isn't present in some degree, even if it isn't as ubiquitous as our world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    First, a terminology note: "intersex" is a medical condition where the body displays both male and female sexual characteristics, to a greater or lesser degree. It has nothing to do with your gender or sexuality, and not everyone who is biologically intersex claims it as a label. When in doubt, use "queer." That covers anyone who's not cisgender and heterosexual.
    I didn't actually mean to discuss the entire spectrum of queer characters, although many of the same issues may crop up. I specifically meant intersex, although I am aware that some schools of though label all transpeople intersex as they have brain structures or hormone levels atypical to cisgendered members of their biological sex.

    Spoiler: Specifics are spoilered for slightly graphic terminology
    Show


    In this particular case; one of my very good friends has a fetish for / fascination with women with male genitals, either pre-op trans women or naturally intersex individuals. There are numerous more precise labels here, but I don't think any of them are particularly politically correct.

    He has on several occasions asked if he could play one in my campaign, and I have previously said no. I am not afraid he is going to disrupt the game with graphic sex scenes or anything of the sort. But I am concerned about how to reveal that information to the rest of the group. If I just don't say anything, it seems weird that none of the other party members wouldn't notice at some point and I am hiding information from the rest of the party. On the other hand, as I said above, I really don't want an awkward and potentially highly transphobic reveal scene. Or, maybe I am just afraid that someone will be creeped out if they notice he has marked "other" on his character sheet.

    I had a similar experience in my last campaign, where I had a recurring NPC who was a nymph, and when I made a character sheet for her (as I do for all my recurring NPCs) I used a doodle another friend had drawn, not explicitly for that purpose, which, though not nude or graphic or overtly sexual, had an exaggeratedly feminine "Jessica Rabbit" physique. I never even meant for the players to see it, but I uploaded it to the group drop box where I kept all of my campaign notes, and when one of the players discovered it and shared it with the rest of the group, it resulted in a very awkward conversation where one player called me creepy and another player kept making references to the whizzard and his magical realm.

    Heck, I had another experience where a player chose to seduce an NPC to get information. There was no description of the event, but I insisted on RPing out the "pillow talk" as it was very vital to the plot to know exactly what information the PC got from her. But the idea that a male DM was RPing a female NPC that a male PC had had sex with freaked one of the other players at the table out and led to another very embarrassing exchange.

    So, yeah. I personally don't introduce graphic or explicitly sexual content into my games, even though I am personally not going to be disturbed by it, but everyone has a different line, and I am very concerned about offending someone else at the table with something I am ok with.


    Quote Originally Posted by GentlemanVoodoo View Post
    It got to a point the ladies in the group (3 of 7 players total) were not having it and asked the owner of the comic shop we played at to ban him as he was making the environment toxic for everyone. After that we all agreed for the game which we rebooted, each gender would only play there own gender.
    That can be a really stressful situation for some people. As a closeted trans-woman, I would never be able to feel comfortable in such a group.

    I don't always play female characters, but I can't really enjoy a male character anymore.

    My most traumatic gaming horror story involves what I consider that best game I have ever been in. I had been playing an (asexual) female character for three years and absolutely loving it. Then, the game ended, and while we were discussing the follow-up game, one person in the group said to me "Would you mind playing a male character this time, because you are really bad at playing a woman."

    And that was traumatic enough for me to ghost the entire group despite it having previously been the best game ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Regarding fetishistic reasons -- when a person first comes to my gaming group, I have a list of 'community expectations' that I have everyone read (and actually ask them what it said, or otherwise make sure they didn't just pretend to pay attention), and it includes something to the effect of, "Everyone else present at this gaming table are not here to bear witness to your exploration of a personal sexual kink. That is not the purpose of this game. You are perfectly capable of creating your perfect sexual avatar using game rules on your own time." And I tell people that I expect them to respect that. Universally. We also use X cards and when someone takes something too far, anyone and everyone can veto it and retribution for that veto is not tolerated. That is a universal for my game, and this particular situation is no exception.

    Regarding attention-getting reasons -- I am continuously mystified* by the number of people online in rpg/nerd communities decidedly worried that someone else just might be doing something unusual to be noticed and/or to be unique in some way. We have multiple over-worn terms for the concept-- snowflake, edgelord, etc. To me it seems decidedly like that grade school insult, "they think they're soooo special!" Like, what exactly is the problem? We are playing power fantasy games where people are getting to pretend they are wizards or cyborgs or billionaire playboy crimefighters -- getting to be special for a few hours out of the week is a primary reason for the existence of these games.
    *despite managing teams of people who all fall into this community.
    I agree with the first paragraph on its own. I agree with the second paragraph on its own. But, taken together, they read like "kink-shaming" to me.

    I don't see why it is ok for someone to play Thor because they like the fantasy of being a powerful Viking god, and ok to be Tony Stark because they like the fantasy of being a billionaire super genius, but not ok to play She Hulk because they are attracted to large muscular women or not ok to play Starfox because they like the fantasy of never being rejected by a woman.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    The thing about "specialness" is fairly simple: a lot of game masters design their scenarios as something independent of the characters. So if a player then brings in a character incongruous with that scenario, it's going to draw attention away from what the GM has set up.

    The follow-up question then becomes "okay, so why not design scenarios dependent on the characters?" And the answer is that players come up with their characters independent of not just the scenario, not just the game master, but the entire game. Their character concept comes somewhere else entirely and the scenario, the game master and the game system are all something to bend to suit that concept.

    You can't justify such "specialness" with power fantasy. In fact, games are crappy vehicle for power fantasy. Don't get me wrong, you can get a decent power fantasy out of a game - after the fact, if you're successful in a game. Baking that power fantasy into your character concept, before a single game move has been made, is a statement you don't want to play the game, you just want to win it.

    However, when it comes to this point (about power fantasy), sex and gender are trivial, because they typically don't give you mechanical power in a game. When they do, it's usually because the game group has silly ideas about what these things mean socially, often to other players rather than anything in the game. Because inside a game world, being intersex, trans, etc. doesn't have to be anything special in a way that'd get anyone attention.
    RPGs are generally rigged in favor of the PCs; you don't win all the time (or at least shouldn't imo) but baring something going disastrously wrong you generally triumph in the end.

    I don't necessarily think that power fantasies need to go hand in hand with mechanical bonuses though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Theoboldi View Post
    I think this is probably because many of us have had contact with or behaved as that guy at some previous point in our lives. The fear isn't of somebody being unique or stepping out of line, but rather the motivation behind that specialness. That is to say, a desire to stand out among the other people in the room and possess some greater level of significance among them, even at the cost of these other people. Usually, this motivation leads to an unwillingness to engage with the same ground rules that everyone else has agreed to and holds to, and a desire to hog the spotlight.

    That's just from an RPG community viewpoint, but I think about sums up why you see that sort of attitude. It's really not a useful assumption to have in every case, as that just ends up causing you a lot of headaches and drives away people who want to explore new concepts, but that seems to be the main reason to me. It's less about "somebody's trying to stand out" and more about "somebody's trying to make what they want more important than what I want". A pretty primal fear, all things considered, with all that implies.


    Anyways, in regards to the OP, I don't think there's any need to worry. There's a good >99% chance the player just wants to explore a particular non-binary identity for their character, for whatever reasons that may be. Unless your game explicitly allows sexual content, I doubt they'll be using it as an outlet for those sorts of fantasies, and are really just looking to explore them from a personality and personal experience standpoint. Don't feel the need to include any particular content tailored towards their queer nature either, unless they specifically ask for it. (By which I mean stories that deal with bigotry, difficulties in romance, or other such topics.) You'd only be making a lot of work for yourself and risk upsetting them with topics that hit too close to home.
    Well said.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    RPGs are generally rigged in favor of the PCs; you don't win all the time (or at least shouldn't imo) but baring something going disastrously wrong you generally triumph in the end.
    So are most single player video games; a typical game still involves a lot of trial, error and outright failure no matter how strongly the game's narrative skews towards power fantasy. The same point applies: you get your fantasy after the fact, if you play the game succesfully. It is a reward for playing the game. Psychologically, it's an exercise in delayed gratification. Trying to bake your fantasy into your character concept shows inability or unwillingness to delay gratification, and there's a host of reasons to not prefer such players.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I don't necessarily think that power fantasies need to go hand in hand with mechanical bonuses though.
    Mechanical bonuses are most obvious, which is why I made a specific point about them, but for power fantasy, any kind of power works. But if you don't have power, you can't have power fantasy; if being intersex doesn't draw a great deal of attention in the game, you can't use being intersex for attention-seeking. So on and so forth. The point I was making was that if a specific thing, in this case playing an intersex character, clearly doesn't bring power and attention in a game, you typically don't neds to worry about players doing that thing for those motives.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I agree with the first paragraph on its own. I agree with the second paragraph on its own. But, taken together, they read like "kink-shaming" to me.

    I don't see why it is ok for someone to play Thor because they like the fantasy of being a powerful Viking god, and ok to be Tony Stark because they like the fantasy of being a billionaire super genius, but not ok to play She Hulk because they are attracted to large muscular women or not ok to play Starfox because they like the fantasy of never being rejected by a woman.
    I am seriously confused by this reaction. You were the one worried about people choosing characters "for fetishistic reasons" and that they "would creep out the other players." If someone is engaging in a given fantasy in a way that is not imposing their sexuality upon their gaming neighbors, then they aren't crossing a line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    I am seriously confused by this reaction. You were the one worried about people choosing characters "for fetishistic reasons" and that they "would creep out the other players." If someone is engaging in a given fantasy in a way that is not imposing their sexuality upon their gaming neighbors, then they aren't crossing a line.
    Do note that my very next sentence was, "I am no longer sure if that is even a bad thing."

    This is really a matter of nuance and degrees, and I am not sure I can really explain it well. I have been in groups where simply playing a gay character or stating that a western town contained a brothel was considered "imposing sexuality on people." When I was a stupid hormonal teenager, I also played in some games which bordered on FATAL territory. I am pretty sure that appropriate line is somewhere between the two.

    Likewise, there is a line between disruptive behavior and simply engaging in the game. If I want to play James Bond, seduction is part of the game; but on the other hand being the Dead Ale Wives guy who ignores the dungeon crawl in favor of picking up girls in the tavern is probably disruptive.

    I have also played in games where simply having a normal, vanilla, relationship is seen as disruptive because the DM can't accommodate a character who needs to provide for their family or wants to maintain social bonds while also being an adventurer. Who is in the wrong here? The DM whose plot can be so easily derailed, or the PC who insists on derailing it? I don't know, probably both.

    At this point in my life, I really don't have a problem with the guy who has a furry fetish always choosing to play a Tabaxi, and I don't think anyone else should either. Likewise, it won't creep me out they decide to go into great detail describing their character's sex organs or want to RP graphic sex scenes, but it probably will creep other people at the table out, and understandably so.

    I think that generally, you are only going to shock people if something is obviously sexual and also unusual. If I want to play a bard with 18 charisma who uses seduction as a tool, that is obviously sexual, but isn't really unusual. If I want to play a guy with bright blue skin and three eyes, that is unusual but not obviously sexual. Neither of those are likely to shock or creep someone out unless they get too graphic. But, if I want to play a satyr with impossibly large genitalia, that is both obviously sexual and unusual, which will probably shock people.

    But, as I said, I am no longer sure if that is a bad thing.

    I am not sure if that made my point any clearer. I doubt it.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Default Re: Intersex PCs

    I don't know about intersex, however I do know that in D&D several of the official character races are functioning sequential hermaphrodites by default. The Changelings can change their physical form - including whether they are male or female - at will, and the Dromites - while usually neither - are capable of temporarily becoming either one given the correct circumstances.

    EDIT:
    Regarding Trans characters, it might be pointed out that the vast majority of Warforged could be considered trans simply from the fact that they have a gender identity at all, despite being constructs. Even the Lord of Blades, who is a radical robot supremacist, seems to identify as male.
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2020-12-25 at 01:56 AM.
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