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Mirumoto Kuroniten

Dark-skinned people in Rokugan and fantasy worlds

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12 hours ago, Bayushi Tsubaki said:

2) The Empire may not be as big as people are assuming. Maybe there really isn't as much space, globally, between the North and the South to warrant drastic changes in skin tone (we've seen the Empire, but we've never seen it in comparison to it's surrounding lands).

Italy's pretty small, but has quite a lot of regional variation between northern and southern Italian (for example).

Obviously there are different historical factors at play, but worth bearing in mind.

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Based on that LBS map, I'd guestimate Rokugan to be about the same size as Zhejiang or Fujian (not both) which really isn't that large, grand scheme (2-2.5x the size of Japan).

As for Italy, it hasn't been the xenophobic nation that Rokugan is. It has Germanic influence in the north and Arabic influence in the south, which plays a huge part in the differences. (ie: The historical factors can't be brushed off so easily. ;) )

Edited by Bayushi Tsubaki

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2 hours ago, Bayushi Tsubaki said:

As for Italy, it hasn't been the xenophobic nation that Rokugan is. It has Germanic influence in the north and Arabic influence in the south, which plays a huge part in the differences. (ie: The historical factors can't be brushed off so easily. ;) )

Well, by your estimation of 2-2.5 times the size of Japan, that also makes it about the size of Italy and Germany combined. I'm not sure how you're getting that from that map, though, as it doesn't have a scale any more than the various maps of Rokugan.

I've always taken Rokugan to be closer to the size of China or Europe than the size of Japan, personally. Though that's not based on a real analysis. Just what it feels like.

And really, if we want to debate migration patterns, I think we're way beyond how xenophobic (and how successully xenophobic) Rokugan is, or issues of relative land mass.

There comes a point where what we are willing to suspend disbelief over says much more about the audience than it does about the work.

Which brings us back to the argument of, "it's a fantasy world!" Which is fine, really. But that cuts both ways. It's just as legitimate to say "it's a fantasy world, it can handle more diversity," as it is to say, "it's a fantasy world, diversity doesn't make sense."

It really isn't an issue of which one is plausible in any objective sense, so much as an issue of what FFG decides is so and what we are willing to accept.

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41 minutes ago, BD Flory said:

Well, by your estimation of 2-2.5 times the size of Japan, that also makes it about the size of Italy and Germany combined. I'm not sure how you're getting that from that map, though, as it doesn't have a scale any more than the various maps of Rokugan.

I've always taken Rokugan to be closer to the size of China or Europe than the size of Japan, personally. Though that's not based on a real analysis. Just what it feels like.

And really, if we want to debate migration patterns, I think we're way beyond how xenophobic (and how successully xenophobic) Rokugan is, or issues of relative land mass.

There comes a point where what we are willing to suspend disbelief over says much more about the audience than it does about the work.

Which brings us back to the argument of, "it's a fantasy world!" Which is fine, really. But that cuts both ways. It's just as legitimate to say "it's a fantasy world, it can handle more diversity," as it is to say, "it's a fantasy world, diversity doesn't make sense."

It really isn't an issue of which one is plausible in any objective sense, so much as an issue of what FFG decides is so and what we are willing to accept.

I kind of hope they leave it subjective.

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1 hour ago, BD Flory said:

And really, if we want to debate migration patterns, I think we're way beyond how xenophobic (and how successully xenophobic) Rokugan is

I just want to interject here, that I feel we may be bringing real-world experiences with the term "xenophobia" into L5R when we probably shouldn't be - namely, that being xenophobic is inherently a bad thing. In our multicultural, globalized society, yes, it's important to accept and tolerate diversity. But in an isolationist culture like Rokugan, which has never found itself in need of outside influences (and in fact often looks upon the Unicorn with contempt for advocating them), and whose spiritual figures who have put these ideals forth as are observable, objective truth, we need to consider that just as much as we value diversity IRL, history in Rokugan has shown that true strength is bred through unity rather than diversity.

Anyway, just my two zeni.

Edited by Ide Yoshiya

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That's true, but the stories we tell say something about us, too. If we tell a story that lionizes xenophobia (no pun intended) -- where xenophobia is not only common, but rational and correct -- it also says something about what we feel about our world. It's what stories do.

That aside, I'm not even sure I agree with your assessment. I mean, I don't know all the ins and outs of the story over 20 years, but the Unicorn, with all their foreign influences, were just as important as the other clans on the Day of Thunder. Or they had just as much of a shot at being important, anyway. :)

And once again, I don't think anyone in this thread is advocating for diversity without regard to story and setting. A society with a wide range of skin tones can be xenophobic. "Asian," like "European," includes a variety of phenotypes and skin tones. Outsiders, of whatever ethnicity they might be, can be rare, and mistreated and disadvantaged in various ways.

There are a lot of ways to develop diverse representation without tokenism or trying to be "colorblind."

 

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1 hour ago, Ide Yoshiya said:

I just want to interject here, that I feel we may be bringing real-world experiences with the term "xenophobia" into L5R when we probably shouldn't be - namely, that being xenophobic is inherently a bad thing. In our multicultural, globalized society, yes, it's important to accept and tolerate diversity. But in an isolationist culture like Rokugan, which has never found itself in need of outside influences (and in fact often looks upon the Unicorn with contempt for advocating them), and whose spiritual figures who have put these ideals forth as are observable, objective truth, we need to consider that just as much as we value diversity IRL, history in Rokugan has shown that true strength is bred through unity rather than diversity.

Anyway, just my two zeni.

Man I am never happy to see a cultural relativism argument. But I must say this is a first time seeing a fictional culture relativism point. 

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5 hours ago, BD Flory said:

That's true, but the stories we tell say something about us, too. If we tell a story that lionizes xenophobia (no pun intended) -- where xenophobia is not only common, but rational and correct -- it also says something about what we feel about our world. It's what stories do.

That aside, I'm not even sure I agree with your assessment. I mean, I don't know all the ins and outs of the story over 20 years, but the Unicorn, with all their foreign influences, were just as important as the other clans on the Day of Thunder. Or they had just as much of a shot at being important, anyway. :)

And once again, I don't think anyone in this thread is advocating for diversity without regard to story and setting. A society with a wide range of skin tones can be xenophobic. "Asian," like "European," includes a variety of phenotypes and skin tones. Outsiders, of whatever ethnicity they might be, can be rare, and mistreated and disadvantaged in various ways.

There are a lot of ways to develop diverse representation without tokenism or trying to be "colorblind."

 

Well, lemmie put it this way, i dont give a crap about the nations outside of Rokugan.  I dont give a crap about the burning sands, ivory kingdoms, thrane or merinae except as antagonists to the empire.  In fact I dont give a crap is too nice of a framing.  I am actively hostile to the idea of their inclusion. I feel that time spent on them is time away from the core stories and focus that made L5R as successful as it was, and you can almost track the rises and falls of the game and community population by how much focus is diverted from the great clans and their stories toward other nations and species during a given arc.    There is so much that can be done just with  the families of the great clans and the minor clans that design and story time spent on cultures outside rokugani culture is pretty much a waste of FFG's time and energy.

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42 minutes ago, McDermott said:

Well, lemmie put it this way, i dont give a crap about the nations outside of Rokugan.  I dont give a crap about the burning sands, ivory kingdoms, thrane or merinae except as antagonists to the empire.  In fact I dont give a crap is too nice of a framing.  I am actively hostile to the idea of their inclusion. I feel that time spent on them is time away from the core stories and focus that made L5R as successful as it was, and you can almost track the rises and falls of the game and community population by how much focus is diverted from the great clans and their stories toward other nations and species during a given arc.    There is so much that can be done just with  the families of the great clans and the minor clans that design and story time spent on cultures outside rokugani culture is pretty much a waste of FFG's time and energy.

I can get behind the sentiment, tho seeing the Lion pimp-slap the Yodotai was fun. I wouldn't mind somthing similar once or twice

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I gotta say I wish L5R could actually focus a lil more on non-Great Clans and spend some time with the nonhuman elements of the Empire; they exist, after all. But I also understand why that never works out, because a living story with minimum 7 different points of view that need covering with very limited fiction release just doesn't leave a ton of room for exploring hengeyokai, yuki no onna, ryu, nezumi, etc and so on.

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1 hour ago, Bayushi Tsubaki said:

I gotta say I wish L5R could actually focus a lil more on non-Great Clans and spend some time with the nonhuman elements of the Empire; they exist, after all. But I also understand why that never works out, because a living story with minimum 7 different points of view that need covering with very limited fiction release just doesn't leave a ton of room for exploring hengeyokai, yuki no onna, ryu, nezumi, etc and so on.

I mean i like the supernatural/nonhuman aspects too, its just that the line between their being a part of a story about the rokugani and the story being about them seems to blur the more they get included and you invariably end up with a grip of stories focusing on them and their POV.

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6 hours ago, Bayushi Tsubaki said:

I gotta say I wish L5R could actually focus a lil more on non-Great Clans and spend some time with the nonhuman elements of the Empire; they exist, after all. But I also understand why that never works out, because a living story with minimum 7 different points of view that need covering with very limited fiction release just doesn't leave a ton of room for exploring hengeyokai, yuki no onna, ryu, nezumi, etc and so on.

I could get behind more of the side elements getting some page time. Just, not too often: the focus needs to be very clearly placed on the Great Clans.

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Ooph.  These comments in this thread are cringey.  

 

It's fantasy, they could put dark skinned folk in if they want, they have chosen not to.  It sucks.  

That said, you could easily have forces from far off lands join the game.  
 

And boy I miss the Burning Sands.  

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3 hours ago, titanmatrix said:

Ooph.  These comments in this thread are cringey.  

 

It's fantasy, they could put dark skinned folk in if they want, they have chosen not to.  It sucks.  

That said, you could easily have forces from far off lands join the game.  
 

And boy I miss the Burning Sands.  

Not as cringey as this.  Its a fantasy world they could X if they wanted is the most useless comment.  Checklist diversity is worthless.

At least have the courage of your convictions to just own what you want them to change.  Stop dancing around the reality of what you want which is to make sure every character isn't asian analogue in a setting about an asian analogue empire with loose historic ties to japan and china.

Edited by McDermott

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Which in turn is nowhere near as cringey as the Pretty Clean Not Evil xenophobia some fans insist on. 

Portray heroic characters who believe in xenophobia as one of their flaws, yes. Portray an empire that stunt and limit itself because it fears outsiders, yes. But don't sanitize xenophobia, let alone make it right. It's a rotten, at times downright murderous mentality that's founded on cowardice (in Rokugan's case, institutionalized cowardice), one that will almost always lead to serious harm for the involved parties, by isolating and limiting them. 

Portraying rokugani who are right to fear outsiders ; a Celestial Order (as AEG almost did with the Phoenix-Unicorn war) that *actively* punishes the empire for not being xenophobic enough? That's bollocks.  

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23 minutes ago, Himoto said:

Which in turn is nowhere near as cringey as the Pretty Clean Not Evil xenophobia some fans insist on. 

Portray heroic characters who believe in xenophobia as one of their flaws, yes. Portray an empire that stunt and limit itself because it fears outsiders, yes. But don't sanitize xenophobia, let alone make it right. It's a rotten, at times downright murderous mentality that's founded on cowardice (in Rokugan's case, institutionalized cowardice), one that will almost always lead to serious harm for the involved parties, by isolating and limiting them. 

Portraying rokugani who are right to fear outsiders ; a Celestial Order (as AEG almost did with the Phoenix-Unicorn war) that *actively* punishes the empire for not being xenophobic enough? That's bollocks.  

Yeah, but who  is to argue with the celestial order/gods?

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3 hours ago, Himoto said:

Which in turn is nowhere near as cringey as the Pretty Clean Not Evil xenophobia some fans insist on. 

Portray heroic characters who believe in xenophobia as one of their flaws, yes. Portray an empire that stunt and limit itself because it fears outsiders, yes. But don't sanitize xenophobia, let alone make it right. It's a rotten, at times downright murderous mentality that's founded on cowardice (in Rokugan's case, institutionalized cowardice), one that will almost always lead to serious harm for the involved parties, by isolating and limiting them. 

Portraying rokugani who are right to fear outsiders ; a Celestial Order (as AEG almost did with the Phoenix-Unicorn war) that *actively* punishes the empire for not being xenophobic enough? That's bollocks.  

Dude china didn't NEED anything from the west, until british merchants started smuggling in opium.  There was a whole war fought about it until the UK forced a bunch of concessions out of the emperor.  Obviously modern times are different, but we're dealing with a medieval era setting. 

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Quote

Yeah, but who  is to argue with the celestial order/gods?

The two order of beings who are above any fictional celestial orders and gods : Readers, and writers. 

Quote

Dude china didn't NEED anything from the west, until british merchants started smuggling in opium.  There was a whole war fought about it until the UK forced a bunch of concessions out of the emperor.  Obviously modern times are different, but we're dealing with a medieval era setting. 

Even by then, China was trailing severely behind in technology, which directly contributed to losing the aforesaid war. This was after about two centuries (ish) of relatively (compared to Rokugan) mild xenophobic isolationism. 

Medieval China (through various dynasties) fortified the Silk Road, traded and sent embassies with its neighbors, welcomed foreign visitors and ambassadors, and sometime adopted their ideas. The  Yuan (Mongols) more so than the other, but even the Ming era saw flourishing trade and diplomacy. Heavier-handed xenophobic isolationism comes into play fairly late in Chinese history, and was rapidly followed by the decline and fall of the Chinese empire, a decline that they've spent the past century working hard to recover from.

Even Japan was fairly mild on its xenophobia compared to Rokugan: even at the worst of Japanese isolation, they still received yearly trade ships from the Netherlands and European books were not entirely unknown. And, of course, Japan had fairly open lines of communication with its East Asian neighbors. And that's at the worse of Tokugawa isolationism. Pre-Tokugawa, Japan still had extensive contacts with East Asia, and, at various periods, traded over a much broader region. 

Again, that period of isolation directly led to a severely technologically behind Japan (that did a much better job of catching up than Europe, but still needed decades to do it). 

-----------

Meanwhile, we have Rokugan. Rokugan, whose isolation has been near-total for not the two centuries of so or Japan and China, but for six centuries; whose xenophobia lead to conservative elements that want to put even ambassadors to death (cf Rama Singh). That rokugan has no nearby equal nation with which to maintain trade : no Korea or China (or Japan) to trade with and learn from (via the exchange of ideas). 

That Rokugan is a grossly exaggerated parody of the real instances of xenophobic isolationism in Asia, where even the real consequences (of what China and Japan actually did) are laundered away, leaving only pretty clean xenophobia. To make sure the consequences of that don't catch up with Rokugan, Wrath of God wiped out the relevant nations with footnote plagues. 

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2 hours ago, Himoto said:

The two order of beings who are above any fictional celestial orders and gods : Readers, and writers. 

Even by then, China was trailing severely behind in technology, which directly contributed to losing the aforesaid war. This was after about two centuries (ish) of relatively (compared to Rokugan) mild xenophobic isolationism. 

Medieval China (through various dynasties) fortified the Silk Road, traded and sent embassies with its neighbors, welcomed foreign visitors and ambassadors, and sometime adopted their ideas. The  Yuan (Mongols) more so than the other, but even the Ming era saw flourishing trade and diplomacy. Heavier-handed xenophobic isolationism comes into play fairly late in Chinese history, and was rapidly followed by the decline and fall of the Chinese empire, a decline that they've spent the past century working hard to recover from.

Even Japan was fairly mild on its xenophobia compared to Rokugan: even at the worst of Japanese isolation, they still received yearly trade ships from the Netherlands and European books were not entirely unknown. And, of course, Japan had fairly open lines of communication with its East Asian neighbors. And that's at the worse of Tokugawa isolationism. Pre-Tokugawa, Japan still had extensive contacts with East Asia, and, at various periods, traded over a much broader region. 

Again, that period of isolation directly led to a severely technologically behind Japan (that did a much better job of catching up than Europe, but still needed decades to do it). 

-----------

Meanwhile, we have Rokugan. Rokugan, whose isolation has been near-total for not the two centuries of so or Japan and China, but for six centuries; whose xenophobia lead to conservative elements that want to put even ambassadors to death (cf Rama Singh). That rokugan has no nearby equal nation with which to maintain trade : no Korea or China (or Japan) to trade with and learn from (via the exchange of ideas). 

That Rokugan is a grossly exaggerated parody of the real instances of xenophobic isolationism in Asia, where even the real consequences (of what China and Japan actually did) are laundered away, leaving only pretty clean xenophobia. To make sure the consequences of that don't catch up with Rokugan, Wrath of God wiped out the relevant nations with footnote plagues. 

None of what you said is actually a problem with the setting except for those who want to participate in checkbox diversity at the expense of focused storytime.

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1 hour ago, McDermott said:

None of what you said is actually a problem with the setting except for those who want to participate in checkbox diversity at the expense of focused storytime.

I'm sorry, "the natural order of this setting champions and justifies xenophobia and isolationism even among its heroes," isn't a problem for you. It rather is for other people.

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1 minute ago, BD Flory said:

I'm sorry, "the natural order of this setting champions and justifies xenophobia and isolationism even among its heroes," isn't a problem for you. It rather is for other people.

Yeah like two of you.

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1 hour ago, BD Flory said:

I'm sorry, "the natural order of this setting champions and justifies xenophobia and isolationism even among its heroes," isn't a problem for you. It rather is for other people.

They have like rat/lizardmen, the shadowlands, taint, magic people, and a very real Celestial Order where every one has their place.

Yeah. I get their xenophobia and I'm fine with it in the context of this setting.

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