I’m in the process of consolidating the “Antagonists and Archvillains” category into “Character Classification,” and the “Fractious Factions” category into the various categories that better represent it. Long enough ago, I thought factions would be a bigger deal, but I’ve recently seen the error of my reasoning. Let me explain.
Before I had anything really set in stone, I had set my mind firmly against the idea of incorporating a concept like “race” into my roleplaying game, for all the Unfortunate Implications that came with it. I wanted to “do away with racism” by eliminating it from the game entirely. I realized a couple problems with doing that.
First of all, “race” as a concept in gaming rather objectifies it. Racism scarcely exists in gaming because none of the social taboos exist that go hand-in-hand with race as it’s defined in the quote-unquote “real world.” Gaming (especially roleplaying) provides too many opportunities to explore this concept to leave at the wayside.
Second, race provides a cultural context for many characters which would otherwise be absent if I focused on establishing organizations, which are based on personal choices, over “races,” which are based on birth (or whatever passes for birth with a particular species). Race has formative implications, whereas “faction” does not.
Finally (though far from exhaustive), race is one of those traditional choices made by players during character creation through roleplaying games the world over. Inasmuch as I would eliminate it from my game system, it isn’t just relevant to the time period I’m favoring (the ancient Mediterranean and Middle East), it’s essential to the setting.
Race doesn’t just determine the parents to whom a particular character is born, it determines much of what they know and believe, however much that might fail to appear with any relevance in the game. It provides a great deal of identity, and too much to just ignore. Begrudgingly, I bow to the demands of a genre convention.