Best Practices for Religious Representation, Part I: Check for Traps

Religion suffuses role-playing’s most basic structure: the adventuring party with a fighter, thief, wizard, and cleric. Fantasy mainstays like demons, dragons, heavens and hells, pantheons, diverse monsters, and magic originate in religious lore. The decisions people make without thinking about their cosmology carry ideological weight that validates some demographics and denies others—and not even just in terms of religious identity. This article is a toolkit to help creators and players of games and fiction build religious characters and organizations, portray them with fairness and respect, and draw on real-world lessons to craft fictional religions which sing.

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The Fortune Cookie Incident

This is a story about a racist role-playing game I encountered at Dreamation 2019. This game exemplifies how racist expressions draw on public-facing and commercially available cultural expressions: in this case food, cinema, and sport. It is also a story about the man who designed and facilitated the game, but I wish it didn’t have to be. I want to focus on what he did, not who he is, because he now realizes the thing he made harms Asians and he wants to improve.

I don’t know whether he’ll succeed, though, because he wrote a game about fortune cookies.

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