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#1 van Riebeeck

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 03:10 AM

I am about to start a dangerous discussion here: Gender differentiation. For some reason, this seems to be a no-no in roleplaying games. We happily accept humans and Xenos have different builds and have no problem in accepting humans born and raised on starships differ from humans born on hive worlds. But the most obvious difference amongst humans, that the males and the females of the species have a different build, seems to be completely forgotten or probably, avoided.

Now the last I wish to do is to impose 'male chauvinist pig ideas' on role playing. But I like games to attempt to give a realistic portrayal of a non existant reality. This is one of the reasons why I prefer seeing male guardsmen in a fantasy setting, as it is just far more believable from a historic point of view. The second reason is that making male guardsmen the norm, is that it will make female PC guardsmen stand all out the better. How epic would Jeanne d'Arc have been if young girls had regularly lead armies to glory?

As such, I am wondering what good optional rules would be to portray the gender differentiation between male and female humans. Let me clearly say, optional, open to the choice of the player.

Firstly, and most importantly, there is the physical fact that the average female is not as strong as the average male. Females are about 52%-66% as strong as males in the upper body, and 70%-80% as strong in the lower body. This is one of the most important reasons why those male guards mentioned are more believable. If you have to carry armour and wield a club, muscle mass is very important. This is not to say that women can not do it, but males have a definite advantage there. Just as it does not mean that a strong woman will not be able to pound a weak man in the ground, these numbers are all generalisations.

In game terms this might translate in a -5%/-10% strength modifier, and that is quite hefty.

Secondly, males have on average a higher muscle mass, heavier bones and larger hearts pumping more oxygen rich blood around that even clots better then female blood.

So in game terms that might even give toughness modifier, portraying the average stamina difference.

Obviously, this has an impact on the game, as strength and toughness are some of the most important stats, directly impacting the ability of a character to inflict and withstand damage. Just translating the existant physical differences in rules would make female characters far less desirable to play. Which is one of the reasons I would always make any gender differentiation in player characters optional.

But, there might be the option to offset these negative modifiers on basic strength and toughness with positive modifiers on other stats or characteristics.

The problem is, what to choose. Where we can just take a look and confirm the physical difference, I think most people agree that mental and social differences are far harder to measure if they are even there. One thing seems certain, and that is that neither man nor woman is really smarter, more social or more determined.

Still, game balancing would require to enable female characters getting a hefty advantage if they use the optional rule to decrease their strength (and possibly toughness). So I would be all in favour to allow an increase in choice of one of the mental and social characteristics. Of course, this runs the risk of power gaming (female psykers would then outshine male psykers, to mention but one problem). Another option is to grant female characters extra skills to make up the physical stat difference, but on the long term this is not really a fair trade off.

Alternatively, we could make female characters more heroic. Taking on a world were physical violence is a common thing while being less well equipped by mother nature is a brave act of defiance, that shows the true grit of a real hero. This can be translated in luck, the eye of the God-Emperor watching over you and quickly picking up everything around you. An additional fate point would sound quite right and faster skill progressions (say a 10% XP bonus) might not be unlogical either (like the good old D&D XP bonus for wise priests or strong fighters, those characters were obviously born heroes). In each case, this might offset the optional malus.

I know I am hazarding myself on thin ice here, and I hope the female readers will forgive me broaching this subject. But trust me, the last thing I wish to do is to create difficulties for girl gamers. The more, the merrier. It is only my wish to reinforce the suspension of disbelief that makes me consider these rules. And, the wish to make female characters all the more heroic.

 

                                             Friedrich van Riebeeck, Navigator Primus, Heart of the Void

 

 



#2 Gribble_the_Munchkin

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 03:46 AM

Danger Will Robinson! Danger!

 

Quite honestly i agree with almost everything you said.  Although i would point out that the female humans tend to have a small but noticeable increase in pain threshold over male humans. Lowering toughness could be avoided just bearing this in mind.

Honestly though, i don't think it really requires special rules. I let my players determine where their stats go (i.e. if playing a gun slinger concept, the player puts the best score in BS, etc). This naturally works things out as most people put their stats where they are appropriate.

While i agree that, on average women are smaller and less bulky than men, this doesn't have to be reflected in game terms as the PCs aren't average.

 

For instance. I've played a female assassin in DH. She had good, although not exceptional strength and toughness since she was, effectively a professional athlete (and her chosen sport was death!). Another of my players has a female scholar with low strength and good toughness. She isn't terribly meaty but she keeps fit and has enough combat experience to be able to take a kicking.

I used to do martial arts for a couple of years in the real world and the women i trained with weren't as big (and usually as strong since the two are directly related) as me but you could easily tell the ones that had trained longest as they could take the damage and keep going. I'd honestly take toughness entirely out of the discussion.

 

Strength might be more appropriate but again, if you character isn't very strong, it doesn't matter whether they are a guy or a girl. I can easily picture a average female guardsman (real world equivalent - female soldier out in afghanistan atm) that could easily out lift, out arm wrestle and out punch an average male scholar (real world equivalent - me) despite being smaller and lighter.

 

Its an interesting question, but its not one i think needs to be converted into rules changes.



#3 bobh

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 08:24 AM

I'm not worried about female guardsmen - females have fought in most wars since history has been recorded - but the obvious dangers to their person restricted their participation on a mass scale due to chauvanism not lack of ability when trained.  Even among human females there are those that are MORE capable than many human males.  These rise to the top when considering survivability and would likely be well represented in any Warhammer setting - Sororitas, Inquisitors Guardsmen et cetera.  Gender is no reason to change characteristic bases.



#4 MILLANDSON

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 09:05 AM

bobh said:

I'm not worried about female guardsmen - females have fought in most wars since history has been recorded - but the obvious dangers to their person restricted their participation on a mass scale due to chauvanism not lack of ability when trained.  Even among human females there are those that are MORE capable than many human males.  These rise to the top when considering survivability and would likely be well represented in any Warhammer setting - Sororitas, Inquisitors Guardsmen et cetera.  Gender is no reason to change characteristic bases.

Basically, this. There's no reason at all for any sort of gender-based characteristic differences.


~Yea, Tho I Walk Through The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death, I Shall Fear No Evil~

 

Posts/views/opinions are in no way representative of FFG, and are entirely my own.


#5 Bilateralrope

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 11:41 AM

>>Firstly, and most importantly, there is the physical fact that the average female is not as strong as the average male.

True. But there is one major fact you have overlooked. When you look at characters in a specific role, you aren't looking at the average of the whole population. You are looking at the average of people who are good enough for that position. So women being weaker on average than men doesn't mean that women in that role will be weaker*, instead it means that there are less women in that role than men but the women who are good enough are going to be about the same** as the men who are good enough.

 

*That would be favouring women because they have a lower barrier to entry.

**Meaning too close to show in RPG stats.



#6 Vandegraffe

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 08:34 PM

Methinks you are overlooking the obvious.  Yes, females have, on average, less muscle mass than men.  However, females are, on average, significantly more flexible than men and tend to have better reaction times as well. 

So, if you must differentiate, say -5 Strength, +5 Agility for a female character.

Then again, the point that all PC's are exceptional and have elite stats is good, too.  Most of the games I've seen have not had any stat based differences on gender, and have worked just fine.

Cheers,

- V.



#7 van Riebeeck

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 02:05 AM

Obviously, PC's are always the exception. In truth, the feeling of malaise that made me ponder about this has more been caused by seeing fully integrated units of heavy melee infantry in other games. While there have been some female warriors in the past, on the whole those were the exception that confirmed the rule. Only in rare cases, like the Scythians, Dahomey or Onna Bugeisha, have we really seen female warriors operate in some numbers.

Modern days do differ though, and a larger involvement of females humans in modern (and WH40k) armies is perfectly logical, as the two main constraints that limited women participating in fighting, i.e. strength and the consequences of sexual activity (which to a woman are quite a bit more constraining), have for a large part been overcome by technical advances. Still, even today more musculature are a great advantage for both the common infantry soldier (more ammunition is a good thing) and the fighter pilot (higher muscle mass to body weight directly affects the G's you can pull). But the differences are far, far smaller, and it doesn't matter a jot if a girl or a boy is aligning that tank gun. Even so, millenia of evolution seem to push males more then females towards killing each other.

Perhaps I should have phrased this a bit differently: Let's ensure political correctness never plays a role by our portrayal of a fictional game world, but always aim at the highest degree of believability. In that case, I should probably not even have dreamed of posing it here, as Warhammer and Politcal Correctness are completely inimical to each other, which for a large part explains its attractivenes. Where else can you send out a penal battalion with explosive collars and still be one of the 'good' guys (or girls, obviously).

 

                                                                                        FvR



#8 bobh

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 06:14 AM

Adrenaline works in women too.  When I spar with my daughters I walk away with significant bruising, and the oldest is 8.



#9 Bilateralrope

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 11:04 AM

van Riebeeck, I have a question for you: Pick a profession which requires it's members meet certain physical minimums (for example, fire fighter). Do you believe that the average female of that profession is significantly weaker than the average male of that profession ?

Can you prove it ?

 

Because, unless you can show that difference, you have no basis for introducing gender differentiation and claiming realism. It doesn't matter that the average strength of the overall population differs, because we are talking about a subset of the population which excludes the weaker members of both genders. Meaning the averages for that profession will be higher than the averages of the entire population.



#10 Nerdynick

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 02:09 PM

Well, the topic is certainly intriguing.  And I'm for a game that portrays realism (especially science fiction).  However, I will agree with what seems to be the general opinion and say that characters are not the norm and that's enough of a reason for them to be equals in all areas.  However, that's not very helpful, so I'll make a few points:

 

A similar thread popped up like this (on a Shadowrun forum, i believe).  The point was made there that, while women might not be stronger, they do tend to apply themselves more fully.  Women who practice fighting (whether martial arts, fencing, or shooting) tend to perform slightly better than their male counterparts (one could attribute this to trying to prove themselves, but that sort of pride is much less typical of females than males).  A personal account to back this up: My high school's JROTC unit currently has the best Rifle Team in the US (as far as civilians go, anyway).  They've brought back the Junior Olympics gold medal for shooting for the past 4 years.  And guess what?  The ratio of boys to girls on that team is about 1:5.

So I guess my point there is that, to make up for the difference in raw physical ability, women tend to focus on having higher WS and BS.  Something that makes sense, as you have to adapt to survive.  And the gun is the ultimate leveler on the battleground, male or female, civilian or storm trooper, a bullet in the head will still kill you.  Barring armor and cybernetics :P

 

Another significant difference is how the average female psyche interprets sex (my source here being talks at length about the differences in our psyches with my long time girlfriend).  It is my understanding, at least, that the evolution of early human (or proto-human) society has led the female sex drive to search for a mate that can protect them (you can argue that as much as you want).  To this extent, females tend to be significantly less vulnerable to seduction.  And as modern society has proven countless times, females are a lot better at it than men, as the male psyche tends to search for attractive features rather than a caring disposition.  So rules wise, you could implement something there.

 

 

And if you're really desperate, you can just give them frenzy once a month. *dodges rotten vegetation* :P



#11 Agmar_Strick

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 09:17 PM

 

There are plenty of real and interesting differences between the two sexes. But interesting in a rp context? no so sure.

sure, men are (statistically) physically larger, stronger, more durable, feel less pain and have better endurance and night vision.

but they are also less genetically stable and don't live as long.

Woman carry and bear the young of our species. Whilst, as abilities go, it's a pretty awesome one, are your players going to pay for it? is is interesting to the plot?

"my character isn't planning on having chi.0ldren in-game, may as well play a man for all those little physical bonuses."



#12 Badlapje

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 09:59 AM

well if you want realism then you should also implement the intelligence factor.  Men are more likely to be at the ends of the spectrum regarding intelligence and women are more likely to be near the average.  So there's more complete idiots with men, but also more geniusses.  Conversely there are less idiots with women but also less geniusses.

So to represent that: you can institute the roll on character creation that:

roll 1d100.

If male:

a roll between 0 and 40 = -5 starting intelligence 

a roll between 41 and 60 = normal starting intelligence (25 + 2d10)

a roll between 61 and 100 = +5 starting intelligence

 

If female: 

a roll between 0 and 20 = -5 starting Int

between 21 and 80 = normal starting Int

between 81 and 100 = +5 starting Int

 

Of course, there'll be more differences that need to be reflected.  The higher pain threshold for women for example only works when they are in labour.  Not at any other time (and it's the result of a high release of endorphines to soothe the pain at that time).  To me it sounds awfully complicated (even with the basic stuff) and i honestly don't know of a single rpg where this is implemented.  I wouldn't want to either.  It only takes a very little amount of SoD or situational narrative to explain it away.  Keeping the system as simple as possible while still accounting for variety is what makes for a good rpg imo.



#13 Bilateralrope

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 10:40 AM

Badlapje said:

well if you want realism

 

Then you should first figure out what reality is. Every single time I see someone claiming that RPG stats should differ between genders they always cite the differences between average stats over the entire population. When someone points out that the player characters are a subset of that population, a subset with an average different to the population average, the person pointing it out is ignored. Just like in this thread.

 

Also, how wide is the distribution of strength across the population ?

Specifically:

 - What percentage of men are weaker than the strongest 1% of women ?

 - What about 5% of women ?

 - 10% ?

 - 50% ?

 

If you can answer these questions in a way that supports gender differentiation* and I still refuse to implement it, then you can play the "political correctness card".

 

*Meaning you show a large enough difference that it will be noticeable in-game.



#14 Badlapje

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 11:20 AM

did you actually read my post beyond those first couple words?  Doubt you did to be honest.  Or you'd see that i agree with your position. 



#15 van Riebeeck

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Posted 27 July 2011 - 02:42 AM

Bilateralrope, as in an answer to your question, take a look at the differing standards the US army applies to women and men in the physical fitness tests. It show without a doubt that within the same profession, the physical standard men have to meet are quite higher then the standards women have to meet. Take the number of puships required, a man needs to be able to do 42 pushups minimum to pass, a woman 19. And we are not talking here about soldiers serving in special forces, but the general tests any US army soldier has to take twice a year.

If we take your firefighters as an example at the moment about 2% of the US firefighters are female. Some of the problems female firefighters encounter are:

Sexual dimorphismAccording to the publication, LA Weekly, "Firefighters pull heavy lengths of hose, climb stairs while wielding giant power tools like chain saws, and lift 180-pound, 35-foot wooden ladders — akin to carrying a concrete lamppost. Firefighters' physicians say that a human expected to pull the heaviest hose lines must weigh at least 143 pounds. And that's just for starters. "Less than 10 percent body fat was not enough," says Mary, who purposely gained 15 pounds of muscle to achieve the bulk she needed."[17]

 

There have been occasional charges of some departments lowering standards so that they could hire more women. In 2005, Laura Chick (the LA City Controller) stated in a report that Fire Chief Bamattre rolled back physical requirements and ordered that women were passed even if they failed their tests.[18]

Trusting that these two examples amply prove that there are marked physical differences within the same profession, I hope this will be enough to convince you. If not, I am well willing to dig further then a few readily grabbed wiki pages, but even if I am not a betting men I would gamble on being proven right.

 

                                                                                                                            FvR

 

 



#16 bobh

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Posted 27 July 2011 - 12:44 PM

I suggest you cease re-fighting the gender war on this forum before it explodes in your face.  FYI the strongest, deadliest and most determined women are not always applying to be soldiers and or firefighters (other demographic factors lead them to the military - for instance - like poverty, not capability).  They have many other options that are less deadly to their persons , thus, reducing their participation.



#17 van Riebeeck

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 02:45 AM

The above post was nothing else then an answer on the question whether or not the average physical dymorphism between the sexes in general also applied to specific professions where this could play an important role. Obviously, this is, on average, the case.

The point here is of course average, as there is no reason why a woman could not be stronger then a man. As I said at the start, such a rule should at most be optional and never enforced. Credible participation of human women in NPC organisations is another thing. Technology obviously is the big equaliser here, but the lower the tech level the more logical it will be not to see vast numbers of, say, female legionnaires. To me, such political correct interpretations of history, even in an alternate reality, disrupt the suspension of disbelief. I could have proposed another optional rule, giving all men a bonus on their strength (at the cost of something else), but an optional bonus might even generate more flak then an optional malus, even if it is more realistic. Just taking a look at Olympic level male weight lifting compared to female weight lifting should make it obvious that even in the best of the best in the same category of sports, the average male strength advantage is still present.

More importantly, trying to achieve as realistic a portrayal of the imaginary reality that is a fantasy world makes female PC's stand out all the more. If every second warrior is a woman, how interesting will it be to play that female gladiator? If we look back to some of the fantasy classics, Red Sonja is quite a bit cooler as she is a heroic woman in a male world. If women besting males at swordplay would be as normal as men besting men, where would be the fun? In my opinion, trying to keep the sexual dimorphism of men and women in mind while portraying the setting of an adventure world will only improve the story of female characters.

                                                                                                                      FvR



#18 Mordechai Von Razgriz

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 09:38 AM

If I may, Van Riebeck, The Red Sonja  example is fine if you want your caracters to be indeed special BY being female ; for myself, and a lot of people, being male or female have usually no effect on the coolness factor. Who is the character, his/her demeanor, his/her personnality, his/her choices, turmoils, deeds & misdeeds, that's important. His/her sex is usually a cosmetic choice, likewise you prefer your character tall or short. So, do we really want to create penalties/bonus on a cosmetic choice, in a universe working on the rule of cool ?


Cum historia mutat valde, Razgriz revelat ipsum; Primum Monstrum scelestus est.
Cum potentia sua Monstrum fondet mortem in terram, Deinde moritur.
Cum somnus finit, Razgriz surget iterum, Magnus heros est.

Game Master of http://excathedra.forum-gratuit.net/, Rogue Trader PbP campaign.


#19 van Riebeeck

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 02:59 AM

If a the gender of a character is a cosmetic choice, then any differentiation is obviously not needed. For me, gender choice can never be cosmetic as there are few things that have more impact on who we are and, if we truly RP, who our characters are then our gender. Sure, if we limit games to hack and slash, it does not matter. But once you take a step further, it is something that offers so much potential to enrich the game that it would be a pity not to use it. Same with Tall or short now you mention it. Darn, would Tyrion Lannister (if you don't know him, do discover a Game of Thrones) be half the man he is if tall or short would not be important?

 

                                                                                                              FvR

 

P.S. Yes, I do admit that Tyrion is one of my favourite characters ever.



#20 Mordechai Von Razgriz

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 06:57 AM

van Riebeeck said:

If a the gender of a character is a cosmetic choice, then any differentiation is obviously not needed. For me, gender choice can never be cosmetic as there are few things that have more impact on who we are and, if we truly RP, who our characters are then our gender. Sure, if we limit games to hack and slash, it does not matter. But once you take a step further, it is something that offers so much potential to enrich the game that it would be a pity not to use it. Same with Tall or short now you mention it. Darn, would Tyrion Lannister (if you don't know him, do discover a Game of Thrones) be half the man he is if tall or short would not be important?

                                                                                                               FvR

 P.S. Yes, I do admit that Tyrion is one of my favourite characters ever.

I was not  really talking about an Hack n' Slash style campaign either. If you want to base your character first on "I'm a female" or "I'm a male", fine ! I do think that it entails a character a bit shallow. Being a men or a women have effects, sure. But it is along the same of chosing if your character is a little bit under or over average concerning his size. Shall we give a malus to Intimidation to someone because he is a ten centimeter smaller than the average, or asking awareness tests for the one who is ten centimeter taller to avoid bumping  at door steps ?

Sure, you can extract a lot of drama from your character being from one sex or the other. But you can do so also with his/her birthdate and astrological sign, the relationship between his/her parents,  if she/he has siblings or not. Do you think we need rules for that too?

For this kind of things, I'd rather let the rules out, and just let my players  use their imagination. Rogue Trader is a game with a lot of rules, but it is character driven. As your characters are quite free and can decide what they can and will do, who they are is important and influence the game. The players have the same freedom. Shall we straight-jacket them, by giving them rules on how to give personnality on their characters ? Personnaly, I don't think so.

 


Cum historia mutat valde, Razgriz revelat ipsum; Primum Monstrum scelestus est.
Cum potentia sua Monstrum fondet mortem in terram, Deinde moritur.
Cum somnus finit, Razgriz surget iterum, Magnus heros est.

Game Master of http://excathedra.forum-gratuit.net/, Rogue Trader PbP campaign.





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