Who ordered the can of worms?
In the past role playing games were viewed as the domain of the introverted nerd-man-child. However, in today’s social networking age it has become apparent that almost all ages, social groups, races, and genders have role players among them.
In my local RPG group, the concept of gender equality is often a default state of mind. When we sit down to game there is no special treatment given to either gender. (Except maybe the moms. Moms are awesome and I am willing to jump through hoops so they can participate with a baby on their hip. Go moms!)
What I want to look at is how we can create an enjoyable, thought provoking environment using the concept of “Gender Equality” in game.
First up we have a typical setting. Guy and gal players are equal, so in game PCs of both genders are equal. This avoids controversy and allows for a very relaxed play style. These games are especially good for teaching new players. Most people are already learning a whole new social skill in learning to role play, and don’t need another.
The limiting “issue” if you will allow, is that we often play in historical and cultural settings where this wasn’t (or isn’t) a reality. This is known as an “Anachronism,” applying something to an era or place where it was not present. We remove these barriers out of respect for our fellow players and generally improve our RPG experience.
What if we didn’t though?
The PCs enter a new area and stop to resupply in the first village they encounter. The male PCs quickly discover that none of the women in the town will trade with or even acknowledge their presence. The more the PCs try, the more nervous the townswomen get.
So what is going on in this village? Are the local women so devalued and oppressed that they fear to even look in the direction of the male PCs?
The male PCs are soon rounded up by a local all female guard and thrown in the town jail. The female PCs are informed that charges have been brought against them for not keeping “their” men under control.
You see what I did there? I took a situation, gave it a semi-historic surface appearance, and then with a very simple flip the PCs have an interesting adventure to play out.
Another option is to play a more historically accurate setting. How is this fun you ask? Allow me to elaborate.
In our local group, some of the biggest murder hobos and thieves are the women players. They enjoy breaking normal social boundaries in game, as much as the guys.
This is a good environment for “Maid Marion” style games. Social norms dictate female PCs to behave in a certain way that prohibits adventuring. So the girls have to be creative and sneaky in their dealings. They never know when they might find a governess attempting to drag them home.
Are they loud rebellious princesses? Are they secret vigilantes? These games can be a lot of fun.
The Prince is in Another Castle
One last option is somewhere in the middle. Maybe certain areas are less “progressive.” A female PC gets kidnapped and taken here. What will she do while temporarily relieved of her rights? How far will the party go to change or violate the laws of the land to rescue her? (Maybe they aren’t willing to? Oh the drama! The horror! The humor?)
Maybe a baroness visits and a male PC gets taken. Technically he has rights, but nobody in the barony is gonna cross the baroness.
A word of caution on these two suggestions: talk to the player of the kidnapped PC ahead of time. This will help prevent them from feeling railroaded and they can assist in playing up the situation.
Whatever Floats Your Boat
Ultimately, the choice is yours. Get to know your group and see how unconventional RPG gender equality might enhance the experience.
Remember: the goal of playing a RPG is to have fun!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I can hear the power gamers coming….