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Mirumoto Kuroniten

Dark-skinned people in Rokugan and fantasy worlds

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14 minutes ago, Mig el Pig said:

Perhaps I didn't make myself clear but where did i ask for for a little bit of everything?

I'm just saying that if they did include a few people from other racial backgrounds, into places where they logicly could concurr, into L5R we don't have to consider the complete setting an unappetizing mess. 

Do I ask for it? Do I want it? Do I care if they do or don't? Not really,  the setting has been retconned throughout it's history, every one of us has a diffrent mental image of Rokugan in our mind anyway and even those aren't constant. But if they would do it there are oppertunties in the setting where they could be included.

If you were playing a L5R rpg would you walk out of the game if the dm decided to add some Saracen, Parthian, Persian, Egyptian or even Baktrian elements to the Unicorn?

 

No but neither do i see a need for the setting to change to accommodate it.   For the most part foreigners who wander into the empire are killed.

 

But.   Burning sands has the egyptian mideastern cultures,  the ivory kingdoms and naga represent a fantastic view of india.   Merinae and thrane represented europe.  The problem is all these cultures are enemies, with strictly controlled diplomatic contact restricted to 2 different clans by imperial decree.   All of these things exist in setting, are handled in setting, and are footnotes at best in the story of the rokugani empire. 

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1 hour ago, Drudenfusz said:

... I have to say the supposed Asians look often rather Caucasian anyway, ...

Not a good thing either... Call me an Asian supremacist.

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19 minutes ago, Willisbatman said:

When the Scorpion Clan return from The Burning Sands they brought thousands of dark skin people with them in the forum of the Sepet Army AEG just never did anything with those characters

As the world's biggest Senpet fan, I am sad you forgot poor Abresax.

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There is one fundamental flaw in the comparison between gender representation and ethnic/racial diversity. 

There have been, and still are, lots of places in the world that are not ethnically or racially diverse. Places in the world that don't have around 50% of women in their population, though? Yeah, that's...not really a thing that happened outside some very narrow organizations. 

You can justify fairly easily (via isolation) an ethnically homogenous setting without invoking racism or discrimination. There are times where it,s problematic (mostly, in the gross over-representation of all-white casts, something Rokugan is not guilty of) ; but you don't need to directly invoke racism or rely on it in order to achieve that goal. (In the specific case of Rokugan, there is also the matter that an obvious samurai culture peopled by non-asian people is a can of worm all of its own)

The only way to have a setting where women aren't as present as men, on the other hand, is to have active rules in your setting limiting women participation ; in other words, to make sexism a cornerstone of your setting. It can be done, of course; but it should only be done sparingly and with excellent narrative reasons (NARRATIVE reasons, not faithfulness to the original setting). These reasons don't exist in Rokugan. 

Edited by Himoto

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16 minutes ago, Himoto said:

The only way to have a setting where women aren't as present as men, on the other hand, is to have active rules in your setting limiting women participation ; in other words, to make sexism a cornerstone of your setting. It can be done, of course; but it should only be done sparingly and with excellent narrative reasons (NARRATIVE reasons, not faithfulness to the original setting). These reasons don't exist in Rokugan. 

What about the settings focusing mostly on war and conflict? Historically women were almost completly absent in military conflicts.

Is it sexist to not include a lot of women in this kind of setting?

Sorry I just don't like dealing in absolutes ;)

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Even in such a setting, women would still be 50% of the population (which is not necessarily the same as 50% of the named characters), and to exclude them from military activities and thus from the story you would still need to rely on the existence of sexist rules in the setting. That's the core of it. If you need to have active sexism in your story to justify your setting's gender balance, then you need to think twice about the setting you're writing. 

Again, it can be done, sparingly and with excellent narrative reasons (faithfulness to the original setting not being a narrative reason). But the general rule of thumb should be to avoid those except when necessary. 

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1 hour ago, Gaffa said:

As the world's biggest Senpet fan, I am sad you forgot poor Abresax.

I never would forget him ! But AEG never did anything with him which I feel a huge waste ( he had a card printed then was forgotten )

Edited by Willisbatman
I had to many nevers

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Vectors for further ethnic diversity (note that anything other than the existence of the Phoenix and Unicorn clans in this post is based upon the old setting lore)-

The Mantis/Yoritomo's pirates- Criminal fringe in a xenophobic empire- probably less xenophobic than most. Rama Singh and Arjuna Singh from the Ivory Kingdoms both joined the Mantis in the old continuity.

The Unicorn- Kinda their thing.

If they exist, the Tortoise clan- While they were, in the old lore, created to deal with decidedly European outlanders, their mandate technically covered all foreign nations.

Phoenix/Yobanjin- Actually not that great a divergence, since the Yobanjin are basically from the same ethnic background as Rokugani- they're the descendants of the people who would not accept the rule of the Kami. Moreover, at various points the old lore claimed that the Phoenix had no actual samurai at Yobanjin Mura.

The Burning Sands- A multiethnic desert grab-bag, the Burning Sands include the Senpet (not-Egyptians), various flavors of not-Arab, not-Romani, and not-Romans, among others. Both the Unicorn and the Scorpion logged some time there- note that the Scorpion Clan only did so after an event which has not yet and may not ever occur in the new continuity.

The Ivory Kingdoms- Not-India, before they were largely wiped out by the Cult of Rhuumal shortly prior to the Destroyer War. While still foreigners, they had relatively cordial relations with Rokugan in the grand scheme of things.

Thrane and Merenrae- Age of Sail not-England and Not-Spain/Portugal, respectively. While of little use to the OP question about dark-skinned people, I mention them for the sake of covering what the old setting gave us in terms of world-building.

The Island-State of Anisrana- Invented and depopulated in the span of a single tale, it seems to have a tamarind/cinnamon/lemongrass tea thing going on.

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5 hours ago, Bayushi Bajie said:

OP said there isn't enough dark-skinned people in L5R and LoTR when there clearly is. What OP wanted was prominence for "dark-skin people" in the story which is really not needed which for me smells like entitlement.

We are consuming the story and setting, and it is being produced in a different social context, than the period in which the myths and stories and societies upon which it is based existed. That includes the myths and stories and societies of the nineties.

Most people advocating for inclusion are not advocating for a "colorblind" setting, or a quota. They are saying that modern storytellers, telling modern stories (even when retelling older stories), should look for opportunities to include diverse characters. This can be done in many ways, as appropriate. You can even *highlight,* rather than ignore, Rokugan's xenophobia with a few gaijin traders, mantis pirates, and other characters at the fringes. You can revisit the ethnic heritage of clans for the reboot -- the Unicorn could inherit more of their ethnic heritage from their journeys in the Burning Sands, and appear more Middle Eastern and/or South Asian. Another clan could easily take on more Mongolian features. That these opportunities are more obvious and numerous for women speaks to the reasonable assumption that women would live at all levels of Rokugani society throughout Rokugan, while ethnic diversity is influenced by other factors like climate, geography and population mobility.

Other clans' features could tend more toward various Asian phenotypes (Vietnamese or Korean or Chinese or what have you). It's reasonable, even expected, that a culture like Rokugan would produce strong regional phenotypes, due to Clan loyalties and the climates of their lands. Consider the variation among Europeans. Even if you ignore national boundaries, East, West, North and South each look very different demographically.

Most importantly, there's really no rule that xenophobia or identity be driven by skin color. It can be eye color, hair color, height, build, what have you. If one were to attempt a color-blind Rokugan, Rokugan's xenophobia and ethnocentrism could be applied to anyone who doesn't hue to a particular way or ways of displaying your clan colors (or their lack), marking outsiders culturally, to a point where outsiders are forbidden from such displays. Rokugani might where clan hats, ronin clanless hats, and outsiders go hatless by law and custom. While hats might be silly, the point remains that once again, this can easily *highlight* the xenophobia of Rokugan. Or not, if creative isn't exploring that angle.

The ultimate point is that stories and history are products of their time, and didn't trouble their audience. Preserving those assumptions in new works for a new audience, even when based on older works, is silly.

Speaking for FFG, they're obviously making diversity of various kinds a priority, because they recognize that they are speaking not to Feudal Japan, or the nineties CCG market, but to modern audiences, and they're making efforts to reflect that audience. Nobody's perfect, and maybe they don't go far enough with one IP, or push too hard with another, or misstep and go about it the wrong way. It would be silly, though, to resign the effort, both because it better reflects their audience, and their ambition to *grow* that audience.

It's "entitlement" to assume that nothing should change from the nineties version, or from its inspirations, because you don't care to see, or oppose those changes. That version is out there for you. You can prefer whichever you like. You just can't lock it in amber, fixed for all future versions.

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6 hours ago, Bayushi Bajie said:

representation is being tackled and approached by both settings by symbolism. One just need to see themselves in relations to the elements of the story being told. I like my stories to tackle ideas rather than cater to certain demographics/races.

If this is true, why do you have such a problem with a more diverse Rokugan? After all, you just need to see yourself in relation to the elements of the story being told, right?

There's nothing mutually exclusive about diversity and the exploration of ideas. Indeed, properly exploring ideas requires many perspectives.

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15 minutes ago, BD Flory said:

If this is true, why do you have such a problem with a more diverse Rokugan? After all, you just need to see yourself in relation to the elements of the story being told, right?

There's nothing mutually exclusive about diversity and the exploration of ideas. Indeed, properly exploring ideas requires many perspectives.

I simply don't feel being more diverse adds literally anything productive to the game or story.  There are already 7 clans that are going to be jockeying for story time, everyones going to have their favorite characters they'd rather see featured in stories.  More has universally not been better for the story when added to this game historically.

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3 minutes ago, McDermott said:

I simply don't feel being more diverse adds literally anything productive to the game or story. 

Nor does the lack of diversity, which is the point. If you truly value ideas, and can relate to the story and setting regardless of whether it is diverse or not -- which is the standard you've set for everyone else -- whether FFG'S take is more diverse shouldn't matter.

No one's suggesting FFG should add clans that don't already exist, or that people aren't arguing should be added already (like Mantis). No one's saying FFG needs to add more characters.

What you seem to be saying is that if some of those characters weren't Asian, you wouldn't connect as well to the story. But shouldn't you be valuing the ideas, and connecting to the setting and story regardless of how diverse it is? That's whay you're saying people should do, after all.

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7 hours ago, Bayushi Bajie said:

OP said there isn't enough dark-skinned people in L5R and LoTR when there clearly is. What OP wanted was prominence for "dark-skin people" in the story which is really not needed which for me smells like entitlement.

I love when that happens!

First of all, I like my L5R centered around Rokugan with Japanese-looking characters. However, I am open-minded, and hoped more people on this forum would be. Just because I am okay with something or even love it, does not mean I hate everything else. I would love to see stories with black heroic samurais but I still love and prefer Japanese looking dudes and women as samurai in my L5R.

Secondly, OP, that is I, never said there isn't enough dark-skinned people in L5R and / or in LotR. I challenge you to quote me. Moreover, what OP wants is for people to keep their words in their mouths and NOT put them in mine. What OP, still I, wanted was to answer a question asked by someone else, and I guess not many people went and read the thread where the question was asked (the forum has a search option). What OP wants is sharing his opinions about an interesting subject and hear thoughts of other people on this forum about.

Finally, about the entitlement: I am white, as in light-skinned... I genuinely believed it was unnecessary to specify it, because it does not change what I think. Yep, the colour of my skin is irrelevant to my ideas. If anything, I would be entitled to light-skinned heroic samurais from mediterranean and catholic descent, even though they are actually atheists.

 

11 hours ago, BordOne said:

I mostly agree with you but this point is weak sauce. The whole argument here boils down to "we cannot have more black characters because its too early".

It is indeed weak sauce, simply because what prevents it is not a rational thought but an unconscious answer to what we have come to accept as truth. Trying to force a new reality upon someone will either cause him or her to reject it or break because it is exclusive with pre-existing beliefs. Changing someone's reality has to be done carefully, with soft touches.

Also, legions of heroic black samurais is not something that would be accepted by the majority of the audience. Therefore, it would lead to an economic loss and thus is not done.

You mentionned that there are examples of women and gaijin samurai in history. Good. However, that changes nothing here. When talking about reality, a distinction with historical accuracy needs to be made, what is considered truth may very well vary from what really happened in history. Moreover, a few examples are exactly what it means not to have diversity, they are a few.

I hope my point came across more clearly. If not, ask me more questions and I will gladly try to express it in a different way.

 

11 hours ago, MrMenthe said:
11 hours ago, Mig el Pig said:

A few black Mantis sailors wouldn't ruffle my feathers, nor would it be impossible in the setting. They would get a lot of strange looks when they enter a mainland harbor though.

Ofc they could do a few black Mantis, or some gaijins from burning sand / ... merchants tolerated by the rokugani. I was talking at a larger scale (similar to the male / female topic) and in a more egalitarian way (black/white/arab samourai). That is, in my mind, impossible to do well in this particular setting.

Exactly. I believe it is impossible to represent a large amount of heroic dark-skinned characters in Rokugan, for now. The basis of my premises is that it is not yet possible but what if it could be done? And how could it be done?

Yes, a few select characters can be dark-skinned, no worries. However, that does not translate to an equal representation. Again, I am not saying I want it to happen in L5R.

 

6 hours ago, Himoto said:

There is one fundamental flaw in the comparison between gender representation and ethnic/racial diversity. 

The comparison was in answer to the context of the question for which this thread aims to be answer. You can easily find it with the search option of the forum.

Moreover, the comparison was done in regards to the means of an increasingly egalitarian gender representation and how that could be applied to other things, specifically the representation of dark-skinned people in fantasy worlds. The comparison is not between the two concepts, only between the methods qnd the reasoning behind them.

I understand why it may look like like differently and this point was probably not as well worded as it should have been. Your point is perfectly valid, however it does not invalidate mine. I only wanted to show that historical accuracy and what we accept as truth, in this case that samurais were mostly light-skinned men, can easily be something else in a fantasy setting, given the right context. The existence of women in feudal Japan  makes it easier to accept their depiction as heroic samurai, however it also helps showing that what was not, can be. To make it as clear as possible: there were only a few women that samurai hisorically speaking, however we now have a lot them depicted as heroic samurai in L5R. Therefore, by extrapolating the means it came to happen, we could have  dark-skinned samurai, even though there were none. However, and that is a given, it will not be easy and will be evenn harder that it was for women.

Edited by Mirumoto Kuroniten

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7 hours ago, cielago said:

yes, god forbid we actually talk about the subject, rather than simply dismiss it out of hand. WHAT HORROR. WHAT SHAME. 

OP made a genuine, considered effort to approach the subject even mindedly, to show how representation is an evolving issue and how l5r can approach it in a reasonable way, and his first response is a piece of garbage like this. 

stay classy, guys. 

Do you have a point? Anything to add? Are you just going to go after someone else's opinion because you don't like the way it was worded? Did the liberal arts college comment bring up a sore memory? 

7 hours ago, Buttlord said:

 The veneer of courtesy needs to show some cracks in it if it is to be appreciated. A ‘racially pure’ society is only interesting if it actually isn't.

What is and is not interesting is generally subjective. 

50 minutes ago, BD Flory said:

We are consuming the story and setting, and it is being produced in a different social context, than the period in which the myths and stories and societies upon which it is based existed. That includes the myths and stories and societies of the nineties......

Most people advocating for inclusion are not advocating for a "colorblind" setting, or a quota. They are saying that modern storytellers, telling modern stories (even when retelling older stories), should look for opportunities to include diverse characters. This can be done in many ways, as appropriate. You can even *highlight,* rather than ignore, Rokugan's xenophobia with a few gaijin traders, mantis pirates, and other characters at the fringes. You can revisit the ethnic heritage of clans for the reboot....

....The ultimate point is that stories and history are products of their time, and didn't trouble their audience. Preserving those assumptions in new works for a new audience, even when based on older works, is silly....

...It's "entitlement" to assume that nothing should change from the nineties version, or from its inspirations, because you don't care to see, or oppose those changes. That version is out there for you. You can prefer whichever you like. You just can't lock it in amber, fixed for all future versions.

Why should the creator of any content feel pressured by anything other than the free market to alter their product?

Assuming an American audience, should X% of the characters have darker skin? Are you saying that modern audiences need representation and cannot enjoy a work of fiction as it is as some other writers of fiction claim? I'm not assuming you are. You obviously put some thought into this.

Silly to whom?  Who is the primary market for this game? Is it new players or returning customers? Does the existing fan base have a voice in how their beloved product is presented?

You're mistaking entitlement with preference and a desire for the familiar. Was the CCG around Emperor and Ivory full of diversity that I somehow missed? Was this being saved for Onyx?

I removed the bit about prejudice toward anything other than skin color or ideology  because it doesn't really make sense outside of Dr. Seuss's Star-Bellied Sneetches or other stories for children.

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13 hours ago, Mirumoto Kuroniten said:

 

The amount of dark-skinned people depicted as heroic characters in fantasy worlds is not always linked to the setting. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien does not depict dark-skinned heroic characters, nor does the Peter Jackson's version. But why? Indeed, why?! It would not be a stretch to have dark-skinned hobbits, or a dark-skinned Gandalf, even though he is called the White. Lord of the Rings's setting is heavily fictional and having less ties to reality would be a perfect starting point to help change old ideas and broaden minds.

 

If you have to ask this, you missed the point of both the books and the movies. Maybe you should check out Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Other than that, I like that you brought up the overall topic.

As for asking someone to quote you,  as you did above,  why are you playing in semantics instead of understanding the perception of intent? A reader could clearly assume that you have a desire to see more people with dark skin represented, whether or not it was your intent.

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24 minutes ago, qwertyuiop said:

Do you have a point? Anything to add? Are you just going to go after someone else's opinion because you don't like the way it was worded? Did the liberal arts college comment bring up a sore memory? 

let me see if i've got this right. you're critisizing me from not having a point, or adding anything, and going after someone because i didn't like the way their post was worded. 

which is exactly what the post i was calling out did. but you don't have a problem with that post, because you agree with their snark. cool. 

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37 minutes ago, BD Flory said:

Nor does the lack of diversity, which is the point. If you truly value ideas, and can relate to the story and setting regardless of whether it is diverse or not -- which is the standard you've set for everyone else -- whether FFG'S take is more diverse shouldn't matter.

No one's suggesting FFG should add clans that don't already exist, or that people aren't arguing should be added already (like Mantis). No one's saying FFG needs to add more characters.

What you seem to be saying is that if some of those characters weren't Asian, you wouldn't connect as well to the story. But shouldn't you be valuing the ideas, and connecting to the setting and story regardless of how diverse it is? That's whay you're saying people should do, after all.

I'm not the one advocating for a change in setting.  The burden is on you to prove that it improves the setting rather than dilutes it.  In my experience with the game (20ish years at this point) it has been better received when it was focused on the rokugani more than the gaijin or nonhumans.  There is a limited amount of time and resources FFG is going to have to spend fleshing out details and stories regarding this card game and the playerbase has a pretty insatiable thirst for it (to the point that weekly fictions weren't enough).  Why should they widen the focus when they likely aren't going to have enough resources budgeted to focus on any individual clan to the satisfaction of that clans base?  What does introduction of these other things do other than create the limitless lobbying for more (minor clans/ratling/naga/yobanjin/any other minor subfaction that has been introduced in the history of L5R) story inclusion?  How can that NOT dilute the story of the 7 clans? There are only so many hours in a day for writing and only so many resources FFG is going to be willing to devote to writing free fiction.

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51 minutes ago, qwertyuiop said:

Why should the creator of any content feel pressured by anything other than the free market to alter their product?

People who want diversity are no less part of the free market than people who do not. The free market doesn't care why people buy a thing or not. Why should FFG feel pressured by anything other than the free market to *not* alter AEG's product?

No one here is arguing that FFG should be legally required to create a more diverse Rokugan.

55 minutes ago, qwertyuiop said:

You're mistaking entitlement with preference and a desire for the familiar. Was the CCG around Emperor and Ivory full of diversity that I somehow missed? Was this being saved for Onyx?

I'm not, actually. The post I responded to claimed it was "entitlement" to have a preference for more diversity. That's no more true that it is "entitlement" than it is to have preference for less.

1 hour ago, qwertyuiop said:

I removed the bit about prejudice toward anything other than skin color or ideology  because it doesn't really make sense outside of Dr. Seuss's Star-Bellied Sneetches or other stories for children.

Tell it to Jane Elliott, Philip Zimbardo, or any Jew ever.

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32 minutes ago, cielago said:

let me see if i've got this right. you're critisizing me from not having a point, or adding anything, and going after someone because i didn't like the way their post was worded. 

which is exactly what the post i was calling out did. but you don't have a problem with that post, because you agree with their snark. cool. 

Are you going to answer me? Did I criticize you or ask you a question? If I don't have a problem with the other user's snark, it's because he/she at least made a response.  I don't want to speak for the user, but what I got from it was an opinion that the topic isn't really a discussion that's needed for for a fantasy setting while these topics appear reminiscent of discussions that might take place on a college campus.

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