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Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:30 PM

Human Privilege: Roll your D20

Last edited Sat Apr 7, 2012, 08:40 AM - Edit history (2)

I think it would be beneficial to explain what people mean by "white privilege" in a simplified way, so I'd like us all to engage in a little thought experiment.

Many of us have played Dungeons and Dragons, GURPs, or a similar game system (especially us white kids, lol). Many of the players' interactions with the game world involve the rolling of a set of dice. A 20-sided die is called D20 for short. Likewise, a D6 is a conventional 6-sided specimen.

Imagine a game world where humans are the dominant species, both in terms of economic and political might. No one is saying that humans are the strongest, the bravest, or the most inventive of the races in the world; this is only a reflection of the current map of the domain.

Your character is another race, say a dwarf, and you're in a human-dominated town, and you need a new axe, since the one you have shattered when you bludgeoned a troll with it. You go to the merchant with your party, and you are presented with a price list.

This list is generated using a set of base prices, modified by a dice roll and a racial modifier, a bias if you will, that depends on the state of the merchant and your character. Now, you find that whenever you interact with most merchants as a non-human that somehow, you just don't get good deals as often human party members do.

This is because the dice roll that sets the local prices is modified by a + 1 if you're a non-human, and an extra +2 modifier for dwarves (everyone just KNOWS they like money) and orcs (just because). So the Axe (+2 against undead) that you have your eye on costs a base price of 10 gold * (the result of the D20 + racial modifier)/10. The merchant may offer you a better price than he would to the human cleric at the inn next door, but on average he will not. The dwarf can't say he's being cheated; the merchant could give any number of reasons for raising the price on him, and he would have anecdotal evidence of not overcharging some other dwarf. The merchant, if confronted, might say "He's shifty. His beard is dirty. He has an awful lot of those dwarfy gold rings, so he can afford pay, if you know what I mean."

Once that money is gone, it's money he won't have for later. That's one less health potion, one less lb of food in his pack, that makes it a little bit harder for him, and all of Durin's folk, to succeed at his quest. Imagine, now, that this modifier comes into play in pretty much every other D20-mediated aspect of non-combat life in the game world, and the problem becomes even more obvious.

In essence, the inequity in the system is modeled as a statistical bias, a privilege, in favor of humans. On average, humans will have an easier path in life, through no fault (or effort) of their own. Is every human going to see the benefit of it? No. Will every dwarf be hurt by it? Not at all. That bias does shape how the system works, though, and does place pressure on non-humans, especially averaged over time and all members of the population.

This is, of course, super simplified; the real world is infinitely more complex.

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Arrow 22 replies Author Time Post
Reply Human Privilege: Roll your D20 (Original post)
sudopod Apr 2012 OP
nadinbrzezinski Apr 2012 #1
sudopod Apr 2012 #2
nadinbrzezinski Apr 2012 #5
sudopod Apr 2012 #7
nadinbrzezinski Apr 2012 #9
nadinbrzezinski Apr 2012 #18
malthaussen Apr 2012 #4
nadinbrzezinski Apr 2012 #10
malthaussen Apr 2012 #11
nadinbrzezinski Apr 2012 #12
joshcryer Apr 2012 #17
nadinbrzezinski Apr 2012 #19
Paulie Apr 2012 #3
provis99 Apr 2012 #6
sudopod Apr 2012 #13
TriMera Apr 2012 #8
sudopod Apr 2012 #14
joshcryer Apr 2012 #15
sudopod Apr 2012 #16
Prophet 451 Apr 2012 #20
sudopod Apr 2012 #21
Starry Messenger Apr 2012 #22

Response to sudopod (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:36 PM

1. I ran a game like that

When kids wanted to get this white Priviledge shit. All humans were GM controlled.

Three sessions, they got it...these days they apply it to the real world.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:39 PM

2. " All humans were GM controlled. "

Oh lord. I like that! Pain is a fine teacher, lol.

Penny Arcade is relevant here, I think:

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/03/04
http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/03/29

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Response to sudopod (Reply #2)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:45 PM

5. Oh racial modifiers were bad

One kid who was stubborn decided to run a troll...

These days, last time I talked to him, a while ago...he's a teacher and volunteers with a minority outfit in town.

Dwarfs had it the best...orcs, half orcs and trolls not so much.

Elves were ok by humans sometimes. There is this dark elf problem and all elves look alike.



Of course there is a mech warrior time travelling game. Kuritan, US north west, Oh August 1941. There was a gun and webby suspicious locas and FBI.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #5)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:47 PM

7. Dark elves

That's basically R.A. Salvatore's entire income, right there. :p

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Response to sudopod (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:53 PM

9. Yup

I enjoyed it when I did it, but no time to play any longer

And I will never recomend anybody writes for any of these companies...the games companies play involve mythical stilettos and no rule books.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #9)


Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:45 PM

4. Maybe it was just because I was born when White Privilege was accepted fact

... because I just don't get how anyone could deny it now.

It's just history and logic, after all. When has the dominant faction not discriminated against all the others?

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #4)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:53 PM

10. People still do

Even now even here on DU.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #10)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 08:00 PM

11. I'm hip

But to me, it ranks with belonging to the Flat Earth Society.

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #11)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 08:14 PM

12. I am worst than you

I wish they joined the flat earth society.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #1)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 01:33 AM

17. That's great. I wish I had parents like that.

They were fundies though. D&D was satanic, etc.

Shame this thread isn't getting more recs.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #17)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 01:47 AM

19. They were not my kids

I took a risk at the store after the crew started arguing race.

So the teacher in me came out, and told them I'd show them how it worked.

We, hubby and me, were known for dark but thinking games.


By the way I had a fundy once tell me how fast I was on my way to hell, was working on an adventure for a really small company.

I just looked the lady in the eye. "Too late, I'm Jewish, already on the way there."

She just stood there mouth agape.

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Response to sudopod (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:44 PM

3. Fun post and tells it like it is

Well played!

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Response to sudopod (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:46 PM

6. ever notice that the Dungeon Master is always a white guy?

 

how come you never see a half-orc as DM? and what's with all that Mountain Dew; is it part of Dungeon Master Privilege?

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Response to provis99 (Reply #6)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 08:14 PM

13. EVERYONE knows that orcs can't handle their mountain dew, "if you know what I mean." :3 nt

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Response to sudopod (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:52 PM

8. Nicely done, sudopod.

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Response to sudopod (Original post)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 12:08 AM

14. kick nt

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Response to sudopod (Original post)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 12:30 AM

15. +1 DU Rec. +10 You're Awesome. +20 Shield from Flamers. :)

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #15)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 12:39 AM

16. +20? Sweet! nt

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Response to sudopod (Original post)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 06:06 AM

20. That... actually really helped

I knew that this existed but always had a little problem really understanding how it would work in practice. Your example really did help me grasp the concept. Thanks.

I'm also going to incorporate a version of this into my homebrew system. Thanks again.

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Response to sudopod (Original post)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 01:36 PM

21. kick nt

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Response to sudopod (Original post)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 01:50 PM

22. k&r

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