Censorship at The Piazza

Discussion related to board management, suggestions for improvement, and formal announcements.
Patrick
Bugbear
Posts: 171
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 4:16 am
Gender: male
Location: Spokane, Washington

Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Patrick » Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:44 am

The recent decision to move the thread about "The Mother" to the Black Pudding forum has been gnawing at me, so I stopped to give it some deeper consideration. Inasmuch as the conversation had turned into a flame war, I think the move was appropriate. But the posts of two moderators within the thread leave the impression that this was censored because the content was deemed inappropriate, not because of a flame war. The actions of the moderators in this instance, I believe, are inappropriate and harmful to the hobby.

Before I list my reasons, please note that this is not intended as an attack on the moderators. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to discuss Mystara and OD&D that Ashtagon provides here, and her efforts to keep this community strong. I have read, communicated with, and respected Havard for something like 15 years, and I also appreciate his dedication to serving as a moderator here. I hope that my rationale will convince the moderators to reconsider the appropriateness of such discussion, even if they dislike it personally:

1. The idea of a monster repeatedly raping a victim is not foreign to Mystara. Aaron Allston establishes that, by Flaurmont 18, 1010, Synn has charmed Jaggar von Drachenfels and they are lovers (PWAI, p. 189). Ann Dupuis reports that they are rumored to be lovers in 1013 (JA, p. 142). This implies more than two years of Synn systematically raping Jaggar.

2. The original post appropriately implies that rape is immoral. Demogorgon (like Synn) is not good people, and Yellowdingo's initial post does not attempt to justify her behavior or excuse it in any way. Demogorgon is a villain who does bad things.

3. The argument that rape is an inappropriate activity for a D&D villain to engage in implies that rape is worse than murder (as many characters in Mystara and other settings commit murders, and moderators have been silent on this point). This correlates to the pernicious and patriarchal idea that rape is worse than murder, and its corollary that it one is better dead than raped. The sexism inherent in such lines of arguments is explored in several works... a good one available on the net is Corey Rayburn's "Better dead than r(ap)ed?: The patriarchal rhetoric driving capital rape statutes" (http://www.stjohns.edu/media/3/01a2886f ... 2ca8c6.pdf).

4. The argument was advanced that it is acceptable to treat rape as titillating (vampires, dryads, succubi, etc.), while treating rape as abhorrent and violent is unacceptable. I believe, if anything, the opposite is true: romanticizing rape leads to desensitization and objectification. Portraying rape as abusive and traumatic, as Yellowdingo's original post does, is more accurate and more socially responsible. By perpetuating a stereotype of role-players as men who engage in rape fantasies while choosing to ignore the ugliness and violence of rape, this argument harms the hobby.

edited to correct Ashtagon's pronoun: my apologies!
Last edited by Patrick on Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Blacky the Blackball
White Dragon
Posts: 2037
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:47 am
Gender: male
Location: Brighton, UK
Contact:

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:11 am

Hi Patrick,

As someone who is a moderator but wasn't involved in the thread in question (or in its closing/removal) I think I can answer this as a reasonably neutral party.

Yes, the thread was moved because its content was deemed inappropriate rather than because it became a bit of a flame war.

The thing to remember here is that while The Piazza is intended as a place to foster community, it is not community owned. While anyone is free to make suggestions about how things should be run, when it comes down to it it is Ashtagon's board and it is up to her (Ashtagon's a woman by the way) what is suitable and what is not.

She thinks that "tentacle rape" of the type described in the thread is not appropriate, so it goes. I will say up front that the moderators that closed and moved the thread did so before consulting with her, but she (and the rest of the moderators) were informed that it had happened and she and we agree that it was the right decision. (There may be a moderator who disagrees with the lock/move, but none have expressed that opinion.)

I have no wish to get into a discussion of the morality of rape and of the comparison between rape and violence in either role playing games or society; since while I have nuanced views on the subject this is not the place for them - and besides, my views on the subject are relatively irrelevant. Even if I disagreed with Ashtagon's stance completely it would still by my duty to moderate based on her stance rather than my own.

However, I will point out that all your examples of what is considered "acceptable" by the D&D authors involve magically-aided seduction rather than violently forced tentacle-rape. There is a huge difference between the two.
Check out Gurbintroll Games for my free RPGs (including Dark Dungeons and FASERIP)!

(I'm a moderator for "The Orc's Revenge" and its sub-forums. If I need to post anything officially as a mod, rather than just as a user, I'll post it in green.)

User avatar
Sock Puppet
Troll
Posts: 347
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:02 pm
Gender: prefer not to say

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Sock Puppet » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:11 am

Hi Patrick,

Just to confirm, yes, it is censorship. Guilty as charged. And it was closed because of inappropriate content.

I was the one who closed that thread. Whilst nothing is set in stone, it is unlikely that that thread, or any similar thread, will be allowed on the forum. One of the unwritten rules of this site is that if the thread content makes me throw up a little in my mouth, it's going to get locked.

To address your points:

1. Yes, canonically Synn and Jagger were lovers, and that Jagger was probably magically charmed. However, nowhere was any hint of either party being brutalised by the affair exist in canon. And given what we know of how long charm person lasts, it is quite reasonable to suppose that Jagger was eventually with her of his own free will. There is no canonical suggestion of rape going on.

2. No one ever suggested that rape was moral, and I certainly hope no one ever tries to.

3. Rape is an inappropriate activity for a D&D villain to engage in. The issue here is that rape is not something conventionally seen in pen & paper role-playing games. The kind of role-playing that "rape" is more commonly associated with are BDSM and similar explicitly sexual ideas. I have no wish to take The Piazza in that direction.

4. Where vampires, dryads, succubi, etc are involved in fantasy RPGs, the sex aspect is there as titillation, but there is also a strong essence of seduction and romance involved. The actual sex (if any) almost always takes place off-camera in traditional fantasy fiction (some modern writers like to be a bit edgier, but I am not a modern writer). Equally important, these creatures exist in fantasy literature not as rapists (even for incubi, which oddly enough, barely register in traditional fantasy literature), but as objects of romantic or seductive desire or symbols of temptation. Temptation is a key word here -- that implies to a meaningful extent that there is some level of consent going on. Even traditional sex demons existed as plot devices to tempt the good folk from righteousness, not as a plot device to wreak random havoc through sexual brutalistion.

One final point worth noting is that in the case of the Mother from the original thread, that creature's existence is entirely about rape. In every single other example cited in this thread, the creatures or characters involved are either as much about the romantic/seductive side of sex, or they are deeper characters that have many other aspects, and the sex is an incidental side of their characterisation.
Last edited by Sock Puppet on Fri Jul 08, 2011 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
I am Ashtagon's sock puppet account.

User avatar
Blacky the Blackball
White Dragon
Posts: 2037
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:47 am
Gender: male
Location: Brighton, UK
Contact:

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:33 am

Blacky the Blackball wrote:I will say up front that the moderators that closed and moved the thread did so before consulting with her, but she (and the rest of the moderators) were informed that it had happened and she and we agree that it was the right decision. (There may be a moderator who disagrees with the lock/move, but none have expressed that opinion.)
Sock Puppet wrote:I was the one who closed that thread.
My apologies - because someone else started the thread about it in the moderation area, I thought they'd moved it, not you. So I was mistaken in the above quote about who closed and moved it. However, my point that the moderators have all agreed with the action with no dissenting opinions is still correct.
Check out Gurbintroll Games for my free RPGs (including Dark Dungeons and FASERIP)!

(I'm a moderator for "The Orc's Revenge" and its sub-forums. If I need to post anything officially as a mod, rather than just as a user, I'll post it in green.)

User avatar
cab
Storm Giant
Posts: 1701
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 11:50 am
Gender: male
Location: Cambridge, UK

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by cab » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:38 am

Patrick wrote: 1. The idea of a monster repeatedly raping a victim is not foreign to Mystara. Aaron Allston establishes that, by Flaurmont 18, 1010, Synn has charmed Jaggar von Drachenfels and they are lovers (PWAI, p. 189). Ann Dupuis reports that they are rumored to be lovers in 1013 (JA, p. 142). This implies more than two years of Synn systematically raping Jaggar.
With the greatest respect, that may 'imply' sexual contact, it may 'imply' any number of things, and at a push one could interpret it as 'implying' rape. There is a world of difference between a vague implication of rape in a story and what we had in that thread.
2. The original post appropriately implies that rape is immoral. Demogorgon (like Synn) is not good people, and Yellowdingo's initial post does not attempt to justify her behavior or excuse it in any way. Demogorgon is a villain who does bad things.

3. The argument that rape is an inappropriate activity for a D&D villain to engage in implies that rape is worse than murder (as many characters in Mystara and other settings commit murders, and moderators have been silent on this point). This correlates to the pernicious and patriarchal idea that rape is worse than murder, and its corollary that it one is better dead than raped. The sexism inherent in such lines of arguments is explored in several works... a good one available on the net is Corey Rayburn's "Better dead than r(ap)ed?: The patriarchal rhetoric driving capital rape statutes" (http://www.stjohns.edu/media/3/01a2886f ... 2ca8c6.pdf).

4. The argument was advanced that it is acceptable to treat rape as titillating (vampires, dryads, succubi, etc.), while treating rape as abhorrent and violent is unacceptable. I believe, if anything, the opposite is true: romanticizing rape leads to desensitization and objectification. Portraying rape as abusive and traumatic, as Yellowdingo's original post does, is more accurate and more socially responsible. By perpetuating a stereotype of role-players as men who engage in rape fantasies while choosing to ignore the ugliness and violence of rape, this argument harms the hobby.
No one has stated that rape as a concept can't happen in a game, or that it can't be a driving force for a villain; the thread was distasteful for the way that it handled rape. If, for example, you had as an adventure premis a bunch of PC's sent out to deal with an orc tribe who killed all the men-folk of a village before raping the women and burning the homes, and then went on to discuss how the PC's would hunt these orcs down and any dilemmas stemming from this, no one would consider that too distasteful. Again, wiht the greatest respect, thats not how that thread read. And this was a broad consensus view among the moderators.

User avatar
Hugin
Messenger of Odin
Posts: 4154
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 9:40 pm
Gender: male
Location: Fergus, Ontario

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Hugin » Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:28 pm

As a member of this community from day one, I'd like to express my appreciation of the stance that Ashtagon takes in regard to what is appropriate and what isn't. People are free to game however they so desire but this forum has limitations, and I thoroughly agree with those limitations.

User avatar
Birchbeer
Shade
Posts: 769
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:58 pm
Gender: male
Location: Niagara Frontier
Contact:

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Birchbeer » Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:03 pm

I think the Demogorgan inspired creature should have been written up as known for kidnapping people and occasionally new breeds of monsters/creatures appear afterwards. What it does to people should have been left as a vague inference, in a Lovecraftian way. I've found not saying something allows for my players imaginations to kick in more and let them envision the potential horrors. Hell for all they know the tentacle creature could abduct people and then force them to play chess until they win... ;)

Seriously though, I appreciate your efforts. Censorship gets a bad rap when people believe it's used against them, but isn't respected for what it is. If there were no discernment of what is good/bad then anything would go and the quality of discussion would drop, people would leave and go somewhere else. I like it here, discussions are insightful and give a lot of ideas for me to work through with my players. I hope that this continues :)

If I could suggest one thing, could we create a Rules list, things that should not be posted or if posted, expected to be deleted as it violates the spirit of the board? (And if said post exists... well I must be blind then and never went hunting for it...)

User avatar
Sock Puppet
Troll
Posts: 347
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:02 pm
Gender: prefer not to say

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Sock Puppet » Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:06 pm

In all honesty, there probably won't be a rules list, because no matter how exhaustive the mod team tries to be in creating it, someone will think of something inappropriate that isn't on the list, and then when it inevitably gets shut down, they'll scream loudly that it wasn't on the list. There is also the danger that any such list might be seen as a challenge, to see how close to the line they get get before the mods get baited.
I am Ashtagon's sock puppet account.

User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
Posts: 7929
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: USA, California

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Chimpman » Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:16 pm

I'm not a moderator, but I just wanted to say that I appreciate all of the efforts of the folks who are, and I wholeheartedly agree with their decision in this instance.
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.

ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
Posts: 3477
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm
Gender: other

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by ripvanwormer » Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:39 pm

Patrick wrote:3. The argument that rape is an inappropriate activity for a D&D villain to engage in implies that rape is worse than murder (as many characters in Mystara and other settings commit murders, and moderators have been silent on this point). This correlates to the pernicious and patriarchal idea that rape is worse than murder, and its corollary that it one is better dead than raped. The sexism inherent in such lines of arguments is explored in several works... a good one available on the net is Corey Rayburn's "Better dead than r(ap)ed?: The patriarchal rhetoric driving capital rape statutes" (http://www.stjohns.edu/media/3/01a2886f ... 2ca8c6.pdf).
The particular fallacy at work here is called a category error, which is to say you're comparing two things that are different enough that a comparison of relative value isn't meaningful, as if you had said "world peace is better than trees" or "I'd rather drive to work in a Buick than in a wet burrito." While it's quite likely better to be a rape survivor than a murder victim in real life, it doesn't follow that stories and role-playing scenarios about rape ought to be less offensive than (or even equally offensive as) stories and role-playing scenarios about murder. There's a reason Agatha Christie wrote murder mysteries rather than rape mysteries, and Angela Lansbury starred in Murder, She Wrote rather than Rape, She Wrote, and that reason isn't patriarchal bias or sexism. Death or the threat of death, in fiction, fills a number of useful purposes, including increasing dramatic tension by upping the stakes and increasing verisimilitude by upping the realism. An RPG scenario without the threat of death becomes a much tamer event; certainly, there are countless ways of threatening the PCs or NPCs that don't involve potentially killing them, but death is a particularly dramatic threat. Arguably, then, the threat of death is an important ingredient in telling a story. Rape or the threat of rape, on the other hand, adds not merely to the dramatic tension/realism but changes the entire tone of the story, adding flavors of violation/humiliation/trauma/prurient tones that death alone doesn't do. There are any number of dramatic and exciting stories you can tell without adding rape to the mix, whereas telling a story with no threat of death in it is a very different affair; the two story elements thus belong to entirely different categories. This is also, incidentally, why the syllogism "death is worse than torture, so if it's legal to kill enemy soldiers then it ought to be legal to torture them" is also a category error. A kill-or-be-killed situation on the battlefield is manifestly different from abusing a helpless prisoner. I point that out not to start a debate about the efficacy of torture, but just to further illustrate what I mean by category errors. The Corey Rayburn essay you linked is also relevant, noting that while death may be worse than torture, a court may be free to apply the death penalty while being prohibited from applying "cruel and unusual" punishments that fall short of death. This is a little different: the court was acknowledging that killing convicts is more extreme than, say, cutting off their hands, but still ruled that there should be legal limits to how living convicts could be treated.
Corey Rayburn wrote: In 1958, the Court, in Trop v. Dulles,expanded upon the finding in Weems and held that even though jurisdictions had the authority to apply the death penalty, they were not free “to devise any punishment short of death within the limit of [that] imagination.”
...which means, by the same token, that it's perfectly consistent to allow death into an RPG story without having to permit every imaginable story element short of death.

As far as censorship goes, I'm a free speech absolutist in that I'll absolutely defend Yellowdingo's right to write a gazetteer about squicky monster sex, but I'll also defend Ashtagon's right not to host it. I think it's perfectly fair that when someone in a community steers too far into what that community deems tastelessness, the rest of the community helps steer them back toward social norms. The hobby isn't going to meaningfully be harmed by anything that goes on in this one internet forum, but social pressure toward toning down the rapiness isn't going to do anything but help it.

I apologize if I became too emotional or flamey in the last thread. Steering me toward more genteel styles of argumentation is also part of the community enforcing social norms.

User avatar
outlander78
Troll
Posts: 415
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 8:30 pm
Gender: male

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by outlander78 » Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:19 pm

"One of the unwritten rules of this site is that if the thread content makes me thow up a little in my mouth, it's going to get locked."

That's awesome. That should be written rule #1. I like how friendly and clean the Piazza is, and I hope it stays that way - I would love it if "edgier" topics were discussed elsewhere. If you want to get younger players into the game, a little censorship (preferably self-censorship) may be necessary.
Please try my old school computer game and let know what you think.

Patrick
Bugbear
Posts: 171
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 4:16 am
Gender: male
Location: Spokane, Washington

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Patrick » Fri Jul 08, 2011 5:32 am

Hi, everyone!
Blacky the Blackball wrote:Hi Patrick,

As someone who is a moderator but wasn't involved in the thread in question (or in its closing/removal) I think I can answer this as a reasonably neutral party.
Just for the record, I also wasn't involved in the thread in question and therefore consider myself a reasonably neutral party ;)
Blacky the Blackball wrote:The thing to remember here is that while The Piazza is intended as a place to foster community, it is not community owned. While anyone is free to make suggestions about how things should be run, when it comes down to it it is Ashtagon's board and it is up to her (Ashtagon's a woman by the way) what is suitable and what is not.
I should have read Ashtagon's profile instead of assuming she was a "he." My apologies. I also agree with everything in this paragraph.
Sock Puppet wrote:Hi Patrick,

Just to confirm, yes, it is censorship. Guilty as charged. And it was closed because of inappropriate content.
No accusation intended :D My choice of subject header may have been unnecessarily inflammatory, but we are in agreement that it is censorship.

Ashtagon, I appreciate you hosting this forum and I absolutely respect your right to decide what is and is not appropriate, even when I disagree with your decision. And I apologize for my pronoun error :oops:
Sock Puppet wrote:3. Rape is an inappropriate activity for a D&D villain to engage in.
I disagree. But I understand where you're coming from, and I respect your right to enforce this position in The Piazza. I think that we can have plenty of productive discussion without ever dealing with rape as a tool of villains.
cab wrote:No one has stated that rape as a concept can't happen in a game, or that it can't be a driving force for a villain....
I'm guessing that you started writing this, Cab, before Sock Puppet's contradictory post. My personal perspective is closer to yours, Cab.
Birchbeer wrote:I think the Demogorgan inspired creature should have been written up as known for kidnapping people and occasionally new breeds of monsters/creatures appear afterwards. What it does to people should have been left as a vague inference, in a Lovecraftian way. I've found not saying something allows for my players imaginations to kick in more and let them envision the potential horrors. Hell for all they know the tentacle creature could abduct people and then force them to play chess until they win... ;)
Hear, hear! I wish that this suggestion had made it into the original thread.

I may have misunderstood, but I took the original post to be kind of a draft, an outline of idea to be further refined, rather than a final version. I absolutely agree that a Lovecraftian approach would have been more interesting. And I also definitely like the idea that all those years of /ahem/ "chess matches" drove Denwarf mad: it illustrates the consequences of the horror under the Atlan Tepes, and we need not see, spelled out, exactly what happened.
ripvanwormer wrote:The particular fallacy at work here is called a category error....
There's a reason Agatha Christie wrote murder mysteries rather than rape mysteries, and Angela Lansbury starred in Murder, She Wrote rather than Rape, She Wrote, and that reason isn't patriarchal bias or sexism.
Your points have merit, Rip, but I disagree. The acceptance of violence coupled with the rejection of sexuality in literary traditions in the Victorian era through much of the 20th Century are, I believe, social constructs that have deeply patriarchal roots. Consider what was likely the most romanticized story containing sexual violence from this era: the attempted rape and murder of Maria Goretti. This is almost certainly not the right place for a critique of the role of the media and the Catholic Church in this sad story, but I do think it is relevant that the most visible artistic references to rape pre-feminist-movement condemned the victims or exalted chastity above all else.

Additionally, I think a large motivator in the mystery genre's focus on murder is that a murder without surviving witnesses is mysterious. Without literary contortions, a rape survivor can normally identify his or her victim, while a murder victim cannot. Comparing the prevalence of rape and murder in the mystery genre is, I think, a category error.
ripvanwormer wrote:The hobby isn't going to meaningfully be harmed by anything that goes on in this one internet forum, but social pressure toward toning down the rapiness isn't going to do anything but help it.
I agree that there will be no significant impact on the hobby from any particular thread here: my choice of words was based on Ashtagon's explanatory comment closing the thread. I disagree, though, with the notion that anything approximating whitewashing or romanticizing rape (admittedly not your words, but I hold that it's a fair paraphrase of "toning down the rapiness") will help the hobby.

User avatar
Morfie
Metamorph
Posts: 824
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:48 am
Gender: male
Location: New Zealand

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Morfie » Fri Jul 08, 2011 5:41 am

It is a good quote, though perhaps the word 'thow' should be amended to 'throw' before it's etched in stone :)

As for censorship, the Moderators can do what they want on the Piazza as far as I'm concerned.

Rape is a theme that does not belong in D&D and I certainly won't be using a creature where characters have to roll a save against rape in my campaign.

User avatar
Ashtagon
Hierarch
Posts: 3743
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 5:45 pm
Gender: female
Location: Hillvale, Isle of Dawn
Contact:

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Ashtagon » Fri Jul 08, 2011 6:44 am

3. Rape is an inappropriate activity for a D&D villain to engage in.
Just to clarify, what I meant was that making rape the chief of the villain's crimes adds nothing useful to any plot. Conventional fantasy expects villains to kill people and take their stuff. The killing of innocents is normally enough in any fantasy scenario to motivate good men and women to action. Adding rape to that mix is not necessary. There's a reason WotC decided to discourage the Book of Erotic fantasy. It basically does nothing to enhance the plot.

I also think making this the primary crime of a villain, especially a villain of such power that even the gods themselves are beaten on occasion, would put most women off the game. Realistic rape is not a scenario that any woman wants to role-play, and even "sex-play rape fantasy" situations (which do not have a place in D&D or this forum) are off-limits to the vast majority of women. The creature as described in the original post would do nothing to change the idea that D&D is a boys' club.
Emma Rome, otherwise known as Ashtagon
Image
Overall site admin for The Piazza. My moderator colour is pink!

User avatar
ghendar
Cranky Grognard
Posts: 698
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 8:11 pm
Gender: male
Location: 1e Saltmarsh. The real one.

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by ghendar » Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:24 pm

outlander78 wrote:"One of the unwritten rules of this site is that if the thread content makes me throw up a little in my mouth, it's going to get locked."

That's awesome. That should be written rule #1. I like how friendly and clean the Piazza is, and I hope it stays that way - I would love it if "edgier" topics were discussed elsewhere. If you want to get younger players into the game, a little censorship (preferably self-censorship) may be necessary.

The problem of course is what's edgy to you might not be edgy to me and vice versa. As far as rape in RPGs is concerned, it has no place in any of my games, but there are any number of "edgy" topics that I'd like to be discussed here. We don't need the Piazza to be completely vanilla. (imo)
Fifth registered member, bitches!

If the Unapproachable East was so unapproachable, how did anyone get there?

User avatar
cab
Storm Giant
Posts: 1701
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 11:50 am
Gender: male
Location: Cambridge, UK

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by cab » Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:53 pm

Patrick wrote:
Sock Puppet wrote:3. Rape is an inappropriate activity for a D&D villain to engage in.
I disagree. But I understand where you're coming from, and I respect your right to enforce this position in The Piazza. I think that we can have plenty of productive discussion without ever dealing with rape as a tool of villains.
cab wrote:No one has stated that rape as a concept can't happen in a game, or that it can't be a driving force for a villain....
I'm guessing that you started writing this, Cab, before Sock Puppet's contradictory post. My personal perspective is closer to yours, Cab.
Context is everything. The example I chose (orcs killed all the men folk, raped the women, burned the village, and the PC's are given the job of hunting down and killing the orcs) would, I suspect, be a scenario for a game that few would be that upset about. On the other hand, a named NPC villain or monster having the goal of rape would be something rather more people would be offended by; I'd use the the former scenario, but not the latter. And what we're looking at in that thread was way more like the latter.

User avatar
cab
Storm Giant
Posts: 1701
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 11:50 am
Gender: male
Location: Cambridge, UK

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by cab » Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:56 pm

ghendar wrote: The problem of course is what's edgy to you might not be edgy to me and vice versa. As far as rape in RPGs is concerned, it has no place in any of my games, but there are any number of "edgy" topics that I'd like to be discussed here. We don't need the Piazza to be completely vanilla. (imo)
I'd have thought that edgy ought to be fine. In my opinion we weren't on an edge with that topic, we'd fallen over the edge into the duck pond.

User avatar
Blacky the Blackball
White Dragon
Posts: 2037
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:47 am
Gender: male
Location: Brighton, UK
Contact:

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Fri Jul 08, 2011 3:03 pm

cab wrote:Context is everything. The example I chose (orcs killed all the men folk, raped the women, burned the village, and the PC's are given the job of hunting down and killing the orcs) would, I suspect, be a scenario for a game that few would be that upset about.
Personally, I tend not to even include rape in that sort of context. In my games orcs tend to show as much disgust at the thought of mating with a human as humans show at the thought of mating with an orc. After all, the ideal standard of beauty for most orcs is other orcs of their preferred gender. Why would they be interested in those ugly pink squishy things with flat faces and no tusks?
Check out Gurbintroll Games for my free RPGs (including Dark Dungeons and FASERIP)!

(I'm a moderator for "The Orc's Revenge" and its sub-forums. If I need to post anything officially as a mod, rather than just as a user, I'll post it in green.)

User avatar
cab
Storm Giant
Posts: 1701
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 11:50 am
Gender: male
Location: Cambridge, UK

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by cab » Fri Jul 08, 2011 5:50 pm

Blacky the Blackball wrote: Personally, I tend not to even include rape in that sort of context. In my games orcs tend to show as much disgust at the thought of mating with a human as humans show at the thought of mating with an orc. After all, the ideal standard of beauty for most orcs is other orcs of their preferred gender. Why would they be interested in those ugly pink squishy things with flat faces and no tusks?
Preferences of orcs in your game are, of course, your own business :)

I wouldn't suggest that such should be something orcs should do, I'm merely trying to draw a distincion between a deeply horrible thing in the background of a storyline of an adventure, and the more 'in your face' feeling one may get from having the same topic right in the forefront.

User avatar
Blacky the Blackball
White Dragon
Posts: 2037
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:47 am
Gender: male
Location: Brighton, UK
Contact:

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Fri Jul 08, 2011 6:25 pm

cab wrote:
Blacky the Blackball wrote: Personally, I tend not to even include rape in that sort of context. In my games orcs tend to show as much disgust at the thought of mating with a human as humans show at the thought of mating with an orc. After all, the ideal standard of beauty for most orcs is other orcs of their preferred gender. Why would they be interested in those ugly pink squishy things with flat faces and no tusks?
Preferences of orcs in your game are, of course, your own business :)

I wouldn't suggest that such should be something orcs should do, I'm merely trying to draw a distincion between a deeply horrible thing in the background of a storyline of an adventure, and the more 'in your face' feeling one may get from having the same topic right in the forefront.
My point wasn't that orcs in my campaigns don't add rape to their pillage and plunder recipe because they don't fancy humans, but the other way around. My orcs don't fancy humans because I don't want to add rape to their pillage and plunder recipe.

I don't want to include rape in my campaigns at all (my players are 7, 10, 13, 38 and 40 - and all but the ten year old are female; but to be honest I wouldn't want to include it even if that weren't the case) My comments were more directed at the - almost certainly accidental - implication that even if rape isn't front-stage-and-centre, it must at least be in the background because it is unrealistic to have evil races that don't do it.
Check out Gurbintroll Games for my free RPGs (including Dark Dungeons and FASERIP)!

(I'm a moderator for "The Orc's Revenge" and its sub-forums. If I need to post anything officially as a mod, rather than just as a user, I'll post it in green.)

User avatar
cab
Storm Giant
Posts: 1701
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 11:50 am
Gender: male
Location: Cambridge, UK

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by cab » Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:21 pm

Blacky the Blackball wrote: My point wasn't that orcs in my campaigns don't add rape to their pillage and plunder recipe because they don't fancy humans, but the other way around. My orcs don't fancy humans because I don't want to add rape to their pillage and plunder recipe.

I don't want to include rape in my campaigns at all (my players are 7, 10, 13, 38 and 40 - and all but the ten year old are female; but to be honest I wouldn't want to include it even if that weren't the case) My comments were more directed at the - almost certainly accidental - implication that even if rape isn't front-stage-and-centre, it must at least be in the background because it is unrealistic to have evil races that don't do it.
Not sure where you got that implication; I would never say, or even hint, that I think that such things must be in the background of a game, merely that very many forms of villainy may be alluded to or incorporated in less graphic form than was in the thread in question. And I have no problem with that; heck, if its a bunch of adult players I've got no problem with them including anything they're all comfortable with.

D&D incorporates all sorts of nastiness, but we don't dwell on them. Fundamentally, a party of D&D adventurers make profit from slaughtering sentient creatures and taking their stuff, and we can only do that by concentrating on the heroic and fantasy elements rather than the beast like screams of dying creatures. The horrific reality of a monster-eat-monster-or-man world are necessarily things we just don't dwell on, and whether thats rape, murder, torture... in a sense it doesn't matter which, these are all real phenomena so to publically dwell on any of them with any graphic detail or to put any at the centre of a gaming discussion will cause offense.

Individual DMs and players will put as much or as little adult content into their own games as they like (my own players are adult, I've got male and female, and all of them have pretty dirty senses of humour and will take any opportunity for a bad, bad joke!), and of course a DM (like anyone spinning a tale) will tailor a story to the audience. So, personally, I won't get in the least bit upset about such things being alluded to in discussions here, but I would be opposed to more graphic portrayals because that makes the discussions necessarily much more adult, much more likely to cause offense. Personally I wouldn't choose to make rape a central part of any storyline or bad guy in my games, but as something mentioned in the background, something that has happened in the hostiry of the campaign (e.g. the orcs example I made up), that might happen.

User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
Posts: 25256
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: London UK
Contact:

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Big Mac » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:20 pm

Patrick wrote:I should have read Ashtagon's profile instead of assuming she was a "he." My apologies. I also agree with everything in this paragraph.
I made the same mistake, and spelled the name of the forum (and Havard's name) wrong for about 3 or 4 months after joining. I'm sure you had no malice. I don't think she would have been offended by that.
Patrick wrote:The actions of the moderators in this instance, I believe, are inappropriate and harmful to the hobby.
Like some of the other moderators, I only found out about the thread, after it had been removed. But I fully support what was done.

And while I respect your right to disagree with this decision, moderation has always been a "damned if you do and damned if you don't affair". Either something is cut, and some people complain about it being cut cut or something is left and some people complain that they find the content offensive.

You argue that removing the monster (from The Piazza) is harmful to the hobby. I argue that creating the monster (and publishing it anywhere) is harmful to the hobby.

You cite some of the early examples of gaming. So do I. I cite the various efforts to label D&D as harmful or satanic. Things like Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons, Dark Dungeons and the Monsters & Mazes film did their best to poison people against our hobby. It has been a long fight to discredit that negative publicity and it has taken organisations like The Escapist (and many individual fans) to work towards turning that negative PR around and making a good impression of D&D as a fun and harmless hobby that can be enjoyed by both children and adults.
Patrick wrote:
Birchbeer wrote:I think the Demogorgan inspired creature should have been written up as known for kidnapping people and occasionally new breeds of monsters/creatures appear afterwards. What it does to people should have been left as a vague inference, in a Lovecraftian way. I've found not saying something allows for my players imaginations to kick in more and let them envision the potential horrors. Hell for all they know the tentacle creature could abduct people and then force them to play chess until they win... ;)
Hear, hear! I wish that this suggestion had made it into the original thread.
That suggestion (or a very similar one) was made in the original thread (by a non-staff forum member IIRC). Given that I found the entire subject area distasteful, I was very pleased to see one of my fellow forum members offering constructive advice on what I thought was an unworkable concept.
Patrick wrote:I may have misunderstood, but I took the original post to be kind of a draft, an outline of idea to be further refined, rather than a final version. I absolutely agree that a Lovecraftian approach would have been more interesting. And I also definitely like the idea that all those years of /ahem/ "chess matches" drove Denwarf mad: it illustrates the consequences of the horror under the Atlan Tepes, and we need not see, spelled out, exactly what happened.
The thread was offensive. It had to go. Furthermore, Ashtagon has been very considerate in all this because she has discussed a very distasteful subject both privately with the forum staff and with the people who have posted here in your thread.

I am afraid I am going to need to put my "moderator hat" on here.

MODERATOR NOTICE (by Big Mac): Moderators are human beings, so it is always possible that they may make mistakes.

If you think that a moderator has made a mistake, please feel free to PM them to discuss the situation. If you wish to appeal a moderator decision, the moderator will discuss the topic with other moderators and canvas their opinions.

If you are not happy discussing something with a particular moderator, you can discuss it with any of the other moderators that you feel more comfortable talking too.

Things can always be bumped up to Ashtagon who, as owner of The Piazza has the right to overturn the decisions of any of us.

The Kippin' Griffin is another way (more publically) that you can bring up issues and problems with The Piazza.

You thought there was a mistake made here and started this thread to discuss it. At this point you were right to do this.

However, before posting comments about this being an initial draft, that I am replying to here, Ashtagon made it quiet clear in an earlier post that the thread actually made her throw up a bit.

That is the word from the boss that the thread had to go. Ashtagon's word is final. There might be cases where things are ambiguous and further discussion might change things. Ashtagon is a very reasonable person who considers the needs of the community as a whole. She has been known to change her mind when provided with new information. This is not one of those times. As Blacky said, there is not a single member of the moderator team that wants to see rape monsters discussed at The Piazza.

While it is acceptable to ask "why the thread was removed", your comments are bordering on using this thread as a way to continue the banned discussion. The same applies to other people discussing this with you.

This may cause this thread to be locked. It has caused other threads to be locked before (and not by me).

To be honest, I am personally finding the continuing discussion of the pros and cons of rape in RPGs quite a bit revolting myself, even in general terms.

Everyone has made their views clear. There is no place on The Piazza for threads like that. If anyone needs clarification on anything, there may be a valid reason for keeping this thread open. But the rape monster thread is not going to be brought back and if anyone else makes pro-arguments for the thread to come back, I shall personally ask Ashtagon to look into locking this thread or removing some or all of the later posts in the thread.

I am not going to ask for the thread to be locked now, but I shall be keeping an eye on it.


Some people on the Internet mistake the job of moderation as some sort of promotion above the other members of the forum. It is not.

It is mostly a very mundane job involving doing repetitive housekeeping things like removing spam, moving threads to more appropriate parts of the forum and fixing broken BB code.

Very occasionally a non-mundane thing comes along. And it is usually either one of the members of the community saying things to upset another or something offensive.

It is never easy to deal with this sort of thing. Like I said before, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

At the end of the day, sometimes people don't like the decisions of moderators (on any forum). And sometimes, when things get bumped to Ashtagon, people are still unhappy. But every forum has moderators and they all have rules that they follow.

In this case, one of us thought the subject was important enough to discuss and we have already had quite a long behind the scenes discussion about this topic.

I'm sorry that you are not happy about the judgement call that was taken here. I am glad you brought this up. Ashtagon has been kind enough to explain her reasoning (which she is not obliged to do). I hope that Ash's comments in this thread has made things a bit clearer to you, and that even if you do not agree with Ash, you know why she made the call and what to expect in furture. The decision is not going to change.

I think we should all move on from this topic and talk about Dungeons & Dragons. Dungeons & Dragons is a great hobby that can pull us all together. There are so many cool things that we can agree on that it is a waste of time to focus on what we disagree on.
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and follow The Piazza's Twitter feed so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum (and administrator). My moderator voice is green.

User avatar
NeilCFord
Orc
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:37 am
Gender: male

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by NeilCFord » Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:36 pm

Big Mac wrote:I think we should all move on from this topic and talk about Dungeons & Dragons. Dungeons & Dragons is a great hobby that can pull us all together. There are so many cool things that we can agree on that it is a waste of time to focus on what we disagree on.
+1!

I was about to ask if this thread had got horribly off it's original topic.

- Neil.

User avatar
Sock Puppet
Troll
Posts: 347
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:02 pm
Gender: prefer not to say

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by Sock Puppet » Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:11 am

And now, some statistics...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics (25/100k)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co ... icide_rate (5/100k)

Each month, there is a decent chance that you will talk to two or three women who have personally experienced being raped.
I am Ashtagon's sock puppet account.

ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
Posts: 3477
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm
Gender: other

Re: Censorship at The Piazza

Post by ripvanwormer » Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:58 pm

Patrick wrote: I disagree, though, with the notion that anything approximating whitewashing or romanticizing rape (admittedly not your words, but I hold that it's a fair paraphrase of "toning down the rapiness") will help the hobby.
I just wanted to point out that this isn't even a little bit what I meant. By "toning down the rapiness" I meant "putting less rape in there," not "romanticizing the rape." I made more specific suggestions in the thread in question (having the monster reproduce by asexual budding, for example) that should have made it clear what I was getting at.

Locked

Return to “The Kippin' Griffin”