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Thread: RPMiller: Faery's Tale

  1. #11
      Naryt is offline
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    Post WARNING LONG SEMI-RANTISH :)

    Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a qualified person, although I do play one at work.

    The first nine pages do fairly well keeping the setting very gender neutral. We do see good Queen Leanan and evil King Slaugh and all the art shows somewhat gender ambiguous male and female faeries. The pixie description even does well right up to where "Late each night, a pixie curls up inside a friendly flower to sleep. The petals close around the pixie, protecting her while she dreams, and open to greet the sun at dawn." I definitely can't read that as is to my boys and have any hope of them playing pixies. "Late each night, pixies curl up inside friendly flowers to sleep. Across Brightwood, petals close around the sleeping pixies, protecting them while they dream, and open to greet the sun at dawn." None of the flavor is lost and yet I now have a chance to get my boys to be pixies without having to reword what is written. Also, the only art for a pixie is a classic "Tinker Bell" style pixie.

    Page 11 "Faery Lore: Pixie Led" has the pixies misleading a female traveler. Also, the description on Brownies suffers the same issue as pixies: "Brownies are sensitive folk, and a brownie who feels put upon by her adopted family usually turns to pranks to even the score; stacks of dirty pots mysteriously fall over, clean clothes are found spattered with mud, bowls of porridge are upset, and so forth until the brownie feels satisfied." It's easy enough to just write "and brownies who feel put upon by their adopted family usually turn to pranks . . . and so forth until they feel satisfied." Again, the only brownie art is a pointy eared little woman.

    On page 12, we again have a Faery Lore box, this time Cold Iron "instantly drains a faery’s magical life force, causing her to fall into a deep healing sleep" instead of "instantly drains the magical life force from faeries, causing them to fall into a deep healing sleep." Another female human falls victim to faery magic via Faery Rings.

    The sprite description has "Dancing gracefully through combat, a sprite parries and strikes in perfect time to a joyful song of battle only she can hear . . . ." It could just as easily been "Dancing gracefully through combat, sprites parry and strike in perfect time to a joyful song of battle only they can hear . . . ." Despite this, we do get the idea that sprites can be male from the art on page 13.

    The pooka description on 13 states, "She gains the abilities of the chosen animal . . . ." Again, why not use "They gain" to keep thing gender neutral? The pooka is also described as giving human travelers wild rides before "dumping her [the hapless human] into a distant pond or lake." As with the art for the pooka is likely male,it is somewhat ambiguous but if that's a womans face...eww!

    I could go one with each page but will, instead, summarize: Not once, excepting in the story and narrations, is a feary described as male and yet throughout we have descriptions of female faeries. Other than the two male faeries in the narration, we have the Goblin King and the visible villains of the narration, the troll and goblins. The art is better at portraying male faeries but by the time we see those images, faeries being female is already fairly well entrenched but even the art is slanted. There are 18 pieces of art (two are repeated). Three (one repeated) show a male faery only (assuming the pooka is male). Four more show definitely male and female faeries with one male goblin thrown into the mix. One is ambiguous enough to pass either way but leans more toward the feminine side. The other nine show only female fey with one hag thrown into the mix. The art falls, roughly, with seven for the males (with one evil goblin in there) and thirteen for the females (with one evil hag in there), better but still nearly two to one.

    The good vs evil, female vs male issue is not nearly as stark but with the above slant in place, it seems more evident. King Slaugh is evil, the evil troll and goblins in the story are all male. True, page 14 says of faeries who become goblins, "She loses her former form and gifts, taking on the hideous shape and awful powers of a goblin." Again, though, this only increases the faeries are girls feel from above. Hags are also inherently female so that does help balance this some but the ultimate incarnation of evil is the Goblin King and the ultimate incarnation of good is the Faery Queenx2, Leanan and Selene.

    Why do I feel that any perceived gender bias is a big issue in this? Because, as Don noted, faeries are most often seen as being either female or feminine. Tinker Bell, Winx Club, fairy godmothers, fairy princess and the list continues. Do an image search on fairy or faery, how far do you have to dig to find a masculine fairy? OK, how much further do you have to look to find a masculine fairy that isn't simply a girl fairy without the curvy bits?

    Intentionally, maybe, or unintentionally, more likely, the manual follows the feminine fairy motif and adds a very mild dose of women-good man-evil into the mix. Balance out the feminine fairy motif and the good/evil dichotomy will disappear completely into the background. Keep the genders neutral and you'll have masculine pixies and feminine pookas and everything in between.

    Having written all that, I do love the setting and the rules. I could go on at length about that as well but I figure that you've heard enough from me today!
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  2. #12
      Naryt is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by pyrandon
    Maybe I'm just a crappy GM.
    Garm rend me limb from limb if you're a Crappy GM! You know better than most that not every story will appeal to every reader and the same is true of game settings and just about every other thing.

    Any GM that allows a true n00b player's character to die AND still manages to make the player excited about the scene, the game and the new character he'll be playing certainly cannot be labeled as crappy.
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  3. #13
      RPMiller is offline
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    Thank you very much for that thorough review on the gender issue.

    I think I've discovered why I didn't see the gender bias as well.

    It has been common place these days, both from WOTC and from White Wolf to use the female gender as often, or in some cases more often, than the male gender. This is some sort of 'neutral gender political correctness' that they seem to have embraced and I'm not positive why. Some have said it is to make it more appealing to females. I think it is something else. Anyway, now when I read "her", I give it the same level of gender neutrality as I gave "him". That said, I can very much see where the bias is coming from especially when you take kids' reading comprehension into account, and this is something that I definitely see as an issue that Pat should address to open the game up to all genders.

    Thank you again for your post, and hopefully Pat will grace us with his presence soon.
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  4. #14
      pyrandon is offline
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    Wow--Tyran, that was an amazing analysis. I was just going by "gut feel" & experience with my son vs. the bias of the text itself, but now that I read your & peruse through my book I think you're right. Also, your point that "faerie" in the modern culture implies "female" is also well taken; it would take more power than rpg games can muster to change this (I actually remember reading some text either by or about Tolkien, who was able to do just that for elves; hard top believe that before he came along elves were much like faeries!)

    RP, you bring up a good point about the growing use of "her" as the neutral pronoun in writing today. This is an issue that is becoming universal, & that I have (as an English teacher) read a bit about. I think your political correctness explanation--repugnant as I find it--carries much weight, although it's tough to blame Sweeney, you, me, or any other modern writer for following the powerful trend. But perhaps that's a topic for another thread

    Interesting stuff. Good discussion!

    PS: Thanks too, Tyran, for the GMing compliment. Sometimes I wonder, so it's nice to hear.
    Don
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  5. #15
      Naryt is offline
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    [Roll vs your obsession with mocking all things PC]

    Naryt: Mock PC Obsession (12 or less) [3d6.skill(12,0)] => [2,2,6] = 10 vs (12) or less Success! by 2

    Phew!

    Anyway, most welcome for the analysis. [Bites tongue so as to not say anything about political correctness.] Bah, I just have to say something. Unless one has an extremely high opinion of politicians, why would one want to be like them and be politically correct?

    As to the GM comment, you well deserve it Don!
    Innkeeper at the Darkwood Inn. The Foul Punster of the Cartographers' Guild!

    Better role playing than dragon slaying!

  6. #16
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    Hi folks,
    Thanks to Rob for cluing me in on the conversation - it's very interesting to see how others view Faery's Tale. Thanks for your interest in the game, and I hope you're enjoying it.

    I don't think Faery's Tale is biased against boys so much as it tries to avoid conventional gaming assumptions that only boys wiill be playing. I recognized going into the project that, at least for younger players, faeries are going to appeal more to girls than boys. So, first I tried to be sure to include things that might appeal to boys, such as sprites, who are faery warriors, and pookas, who can change form into animals, along with pixies & brownies. (Though I have had girls play pookas & sprites, & boys play brownies & pixies, so I tried not to make too many assumptions). I also decided to treat the inherent appeal of faeries to girls as a feature rather than a problem, & went an extra step to make the writing more friendly to girls by using the non-standard female pronoun for generic references. (References to specific male or female characters use the appropriate pronouns, of course). This choice also seemed to fit the tone of the game, and helped it stand out from the pack of other rpgs a little more.

    I don't think it's the case that Faery's Tale portrays all males as ugly & bad, and all females as beautiful & good. Two of the four iconic faery heroes, Flynn & Gimlock, are male. Some of the antagonists directly encountered by the heroes in the adventures & story are male, but in several cases the adventures are set in motion by a hag - in the story, a hag is behind the kidnapping of the little girl, and in The Mute Minstrel, a minstrel has been cursed by a hag. In several cases, the faeries can find positive male allies, such as Jack in Jack & the Beanstalk, and Barnabas the Bear in The Mute Minstrel.

    It's true that we haven't yet had a direct foe who's a female so far, other than the queen's ghost in The Haunted Castle, & both she & the king are more reluctant adversaries, but we've only published three adventures so far. Some of the adventures we'll be publishing to support Faery's Tale Deluxe will have female adversaries as well as male ones.

    Anyway, I hope that provides some insight into our thinking on some of the gender issues in Faery's Tale.

  7. #17
      pyrandon is offline
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    Thank you very much for your reasonable, well-written response, Patrick.

    I must admit your rebuttal does not (for me) shed new light on the game's gender question, for I think most intuitive readers can see what you were trying to do with the game. For example, the description of sprites is obviously intended to offset the "fey"/feminine structure. Even the pronoun issue was obviously deliberate.

    I do wonder if you found Naryt's specific comments (or my son's reaction to play) at all surprising? Revealing? Interesting? While I agree your intent was not an "anti-boy" biased game, from a few of your comments above I'm guessing you realized in design that it would basically become a "girl-centric" game; do you find that a weakness or a strength?

    The true worth in the game (and yes, my daughter & I do enjoy it, thank you for asking ) is 1) in the ability to play with younger children, and 2) the clever dice pool/essence mechanic. These elements fit together so well, are so entertaining/suspenseful in play, and they allow a conscientious parent to do so much... It's not often a game creation this clever works so well. Do you plan to expand from "the fey" into other arenas using the game engine? I am creating an alternative world for the game to work with both my kids, but I would be very happy if Firefly Games gave me more material too...

    Thanks again for responding, Patrick. Good discussion.
    Don
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  8. #18
      sandy is offline
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    Post lack of bias = bias?

    Hi,

    A co-author of Faery Tale here. I'm not the definitive word, but I recall we did aim to make the book gender-neutral, rather than assuming it a boys or girls game.

    In the toy industry, boys will only buy boys toys, while girls will buy girl toys or boy toys. Therefore, toys tend to brand towards boys (feature 'he', boys on the packaging, etc) unless they are specifically aimed at girls. As a result, toys that show girls are assumed to be aimed 'at girls only'.

    RPGs tend to follow this habit, so to some degree the bias of Faery Tale is "by not aiming specifically at boys, we will likely be called a girls game".

    Cheers,
    Sandy
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  9. #19
      RPMiller is offline
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    So is the goal then to only market to girls and hope for a scattering of boys here and there?

    Based on the above post, it would seem logical that more sales would be obtained by marketing to boys and then picking up the fringe of girls.

    I'm just curious.
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  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by pyrandon
    I do wonder if you found Naryt's specific comments (or my son's reaction to play) at all surprising? Revealing? Interesting? While I agree your intent was not an "anti-boy" biased game, from a few of your comments above I'm guessing you realized in design that it would basically become a "girl-centric" game; do you find that a weakness or a strength?
    It's not so much a girls-only thing as a slightly higher hurdle for younger boys - you really have to push the sprites & pookas & fighting angles to get over the "But Tinkerbell faery stuff is for girls" reaction from 6-9 years old or so.

    It's not surprising - I knew in writing the game that was going to be one of the challenges. It's always interesting to see different reactions & interpretations of the game, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by pyrandon
    Do you plan to expand from "the fey" into other arenas using the game engine? I am creating an alternative world for the game to work with both my kids, but I would be very happy if Firefly Games gave me more material too....
    For Faery's Tale, we are planning new books on Norse-Scandinavian faery lore - dwarves, gnomes, etc. - and on the Fey Court - elves & sidhe. I'm also working on adapting the rules to a pirate game. None of these are on a production schedule yet, but I'd expect to see 1-2 next year.

    And thanks for the welcome! It's a very interesting topic for me, so I enjoy the chance to talk about it.

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