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2012-12-07 Female Warriors

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Recently, Rachel wondered about Warrior women: how to include female characters in a historical RPG?

I left a coment:

I think I’d go for genre conventions, thus if we’re playing a historical RPG, then the histories written by men are my guide. For my Pendragon campaign, for example, I felt that the fiction and the campaign focuses on the deeds of men. The rules also have a separate section for female characters that I could have ignored but which decided to keep in the game, wondering whether they’d add variety. Later I realized that it was going to be hard for me to run adventures mixing martial prowess and female characters created with these rules and so I ended up with an all-male cast of characters.

For me, that is a reason not to play a historical RPG. I’d prefer a fantasy or alternate history version where we either have characters of all genders or the game is about the inequality itself. Much like I don’t like to have slaves in my games unless we’re playing a game about fighting slavers.

I don’t enjoy importing real world problems into my games unless we can engage with them.

If we create characters again, I think simply allowing female knights using the exact same rules as male knights is what I’m going to do.

Just to be clear I practically don’t play strictly historical role-playing games. We play in Fantasy Japan, we play in the Gaslight Twenties where H.P. Lovecraft was right, we play in a D&D madness that is but vaguely inspired by the medieval ages and the classification of polearms—none of that requires any gender imbalance.

An excellent rule of thumb I like to pursue in my fantasy role-playing games is something I once read on a blog post elsewhere. When introducing a non-player character, roll a d6:

1young man
2young woman
3middle aged man
4middle aged woman
5old man
6old woman

I remember when I was young, all my characters were between 16 and 18. These days all my characters are in their thirties. All my non-player characters where men unless they were a witch. Rolling a die forces me to randomize where I apparently have prejudice. That is a good thing.

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