Socially Conscious Roleplaying

TQCA few minutes ago I backed a Kickstarter project. I don’t do that very often, for a variety of reasons, but I felt that I had to contribute to this one. The Queen’s Cavaliers is not only a fun, lighthearted, fast-playing (from the previews I’ve seen, at least) game of swashbuckling adventure, I think it’s going to be an important game. I think it’s going to break some new ground, not in its rules or its setting, but in the social statement it makes. And I think it’s going to be important because it’s not beating you over the head with its message, it’s just slipping it into a fun, lighthearted adventure game as if there’s nothing at all unusual about it.

You see, The Queen’s Cavaliers takes great pains to be inclusive of women. Female characters have an equal role in the setting. There are parallels to The Three Musketeers’ France, but women don’t take a back seat to men in anything — combat, politics, social status, anything. And that’s just the beginning. In the preview materials, there are openly gay characters, and at least one transgendered character. It’s not in your face. The writing, from what I’ve seen so far, doesn’t hit you over the head with it. It’s just there. It’s a part of the setting that’s almost taken for granted by the characters in the setting.

Now, I know that this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, for religious, political, or personal reasons. I know that some folks are going to be offended, take umbrage, or quietly decide that this game isn’t for them. I know that some might run the game and play in it and gloss right over the LGBT content. That’s okay. Because while that stuff, showing LGBT as part of society without flinching, is in there to make a point for their benefit, it’s not exclusively in there for them.

To grow the tabletop roleplaying hobby, or even to maintain its current numbers and keep it from dying off, we need new players. To get new players, we need games that allow people to see something that appeals to them on a personal level. What The Queen’s Cavaliers does is create a world where women, people of color, gay people, transgendered people, all people, have a seat at the table. Something other than all white men or women in chainmail bikinis. Something that doesn’t ignore the existence of LGBT people. Something that allows players to play characters that are like themselves, in a world that accepts them for who they are.

One of my design goals for Starship Tyche has been to expand the definition of inclusiveness beyond the groundbreaking diversity presented in the original source material it was inspired by. That means that not only will there be various races and nationalities on the command deck, working together and getting along with each other, it means that LGBT people will be represented. It means that different religious and political views will be represented. It means that everyone, regardless of race, creed, color, gender, orientation, age, national origin, body type, or stance on Nickleback will be able to play a character that reflects them, reflects what the look like and what they believe and how they live, and be treated as an equal.

Consider backing The Queen’s Cavaliers. If not for the system or the setting, for the message of diversity, inclusion, and equality it represents. It’s ground that needs to be broken, and explored further, and its success might well pave the way for further, much needed  discussion.

3 comments for “Socially Conscious Roleplaying

  1. May 8, 2014 at 5:54 am

    I can see why. But personally, I feel it’s more rewarding to have characters overcome obstacles, than to create a fantasy world in which the obstacle simply doesn’t exist.
    There’s nothing wrong with going that way, but personally, I don’t feel it’s making a strong statement. It’s avoiding to deal with the issue, rather than confronting it. It may not ignore the existance of ostracized people, but ignores the existance of ostracism. If you want to make a bold statement, you need to show the strugle instead of making it disappear.

    • May 8, 2014 at 10:51 am

      But that’s the point. Rather than play in a fantasy game where you have to fight the same fights you struggle with in real life, you get to escape to a fantasy world where it’s a non-issue. It’s not avoidance, it’s relief.

  2. May 11, 2014 at 2:59 am

    If you really want to play out the struggle in The Queen’s Cavaliers, you can always play up the sexism angle — i.e., be downtrodden oppressed men struggling against a society which considers them second-class citizens.

    Or maybe the plight of non-queer people in queer-friendly Lutetia?

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