Social Science and Fiction Part 2: Heritability

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  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    I remember Magic, but I had the benefit of serving with some older guys for whom card games were Spades, Cribbage, and Poker, and who had grown up on ‘Choose your own adventure’ stories, so the idea of playing a game that was a giant CYOA story with an adaptive system was way more appealing.

    Now, rolling dice inside a smaller ship when the ocean was not calm, that took some doing…Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Oscar Gordon
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      I can see that getting trickier the more sides the die has.

      I read an article about role playing groups in prisons, which might be easy or very hard to do depending on how supportive the prison administration is. In some prisons, dice and cards are forbidden, lest they be used for gambling, so some prisoners make and conceal their own dice, and others make spinners – a piece of cardboard with a piece of paperclip wire inside a circle divided into however many sections; instead of rolling a die you flick the paperclip so it spins and take whatever number it ends up pointing at. Depending how supportive the prison administration is, they might seize those under the ban on gambling paraphernalia, or leave them alone.

      Anyway, it occurred to me that devices like that might also be useful in rough waters.Report

  2. Avatar bookdragon
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    says:

    While Star Trek has a lot of holes in terms of universe consistancy, when I saw this I wondered how Vulcans and Romulans fit. I’ve played in a number of Star Trek based RPGS and it is always interesting to explore the culture and mindset of a species that can expect 250 years or so of lifespan. (I admit that I particularly enjoy when Romulans are played as something other than just ‘scheming inscrutable enemy’ and the game accounts for the fact that longer lifespans can mean much longer range goals and planning).

    But this is a case I think where nature/nurture breaks a bit more in favor of nurture. Both have the volatile temper inherent to vulcanoids, but Vulcans have tempered it through emotional suppression taught from earliest childhood. Romulans otoh channel it through martial discipline. The resulting cultures and outlooks are quite different despite a genetic heritage that (despite the weird brow ridges introduced in TNG) shows little evolutionary drift.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Opening the door to evopsych opens the door to casual bigotry.

    Is it okay to have a setting in which a Drow refer to humans as “Iblith“? Let’s say a human refers to his dagger as a “Halfling Longsword”. Let’s say a Dwarf refers to a human as a “Dire Halfling”. Or an elf refers to one as a “Mayfly”. Or to humans in general as “Rabbits”.

    Keep the door shut. The only acceptable bigotry is against the things that light up when you cast “Detect Evil”.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Keep the door shut. The only acceptable bigotry is against the things that light up when you cast “Detect Evil”.

      I quite disagree.

      Every bigotry is justified by a claim to possess a reliable “detect evil” spell. Saying that elves and dwarves can’t be bigoted against one another but they can both acceptably be bigoted against orcs, is just drawing the boundary of whiteness to include elves and dwarves, and exclude orcs.

      I mean, that’s basically what the typical swords’n’sorcery races stand in for – human ethnicities and cultures, substituted with the outlandish medieval fantasies of what monsters existed beyond the world then known by Europeans. Allowing “detect evil” to work, and to have results delineated on race lines, is basically constructing a fantasy of a world where real world bigots are right. See e.g. every critique ever of Tolkien.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to dragonfrog
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        says:

        (in other words, it would be a real world “detect Islam” spell, or the like)Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to dragonfrog
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          says:

          (in other words, it would be a real world “detect Islam” spell, or the like)

          More like a “detect terrorist, serial killer, or mass murderer” spell.

          Good and Evil aren’t “my team and your team” labels in AD&D. “Evil” in AD&D is a really nasty package. You don’t get it by petting fluffy bunnies while having the wrong skin color or religion. You don’t even get it by being the enemy of Good.

          It’s very hard to see how we could have Evil mortals who aren’t committing Evil acts in AD&D (if they’re not doing that then why are they Evil?). There’s an Evil-Support-Network (i.e. Evil Gods) which actively encourage/reward Evil, these systems are self-supporting.

          There are some very minor exceptions to that, Neutral Clerics of Evil Gods (Evil Gods are Hitler level bad so this is akin to being a “neutral” death camp guard), “Reformed Demons” (if it’s even possible for a creature literally made of Evil to reform), but the corner cases are exceptionally “corner”.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    TvTropes calls this Always Chaotic Evil. You can kind of make this work in fantasy worlds because of the gods. If each race, species, or culture is favored by a particular deity than that deity can impose what they see as their preferred values on members of that race, species, or culture by their divine power. We know from our own experience that cultures can get most people to conform to the presumed share cultural values without the benefit of magic or divinity. With divinity forcing cultural conformity becomes easier. So a god that favors certain traits that we would see as negative like violent aggression or back-stabbing intrigue would have an evil culture following it.Report

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