This is really critical stuff. Please do take the time to read this quite carefully.

Blackpowder & Bloodlines is very deliberately examining some specific themes. The organisers of Blackpowder & Bloodlines find many of these themes abhorrent. Because of this, we are deliberately exploring them in the hopes of learning more about ourselves in a safe environment. We encourage you to take a similar attitude.

Themes we are examining

  • Nationally-based racism
  • classism
  • religion and faith
  • politics
  • privilege and colonialism.

We think there is benefit for a bunch of Australian gamers to take a good long look at things like the experience of Colonialism.

We absolutely do not condone things like racism in the real world, but think that in a fantasy environment if we take a good look at it, we may be able to learn something. Think of it as an experiment into the sociological benefits of roleplaying, or something.

A game for adults?

One important aspect of this is the creation of a safe environment to make this examination. This is why we put so much importance on this being a game for adults – not because youngsters could be offended or wouldn’t understand. But that we require a certain level of maturity in our shared endeavour.

This is also why it is so critical to emphasise the difference between the actions of our characters (who may display behaviour that is less than acceptable to our modern morality) and our participants (who we expect to be mature and respectful to everyone).

I have said it before, and I will say it again: The organisers of Blackpowder & Bloodlines find many of the themes found in the game abhorrent. Because of this, we are deliberately exploring them in the hopes of learning more about ourselves in a safe environment. We encourage you to take a similar attitude.

Themes we are not exploring

  • Slavery
  • sexuality and gender
  • children
  • sexual content in general (In particular, non-consensual sexual encounters or sexual violence)
  • cannibalism (This includes Sollunian-Uruk cannibalism)
  • the physical attributes of your fellow participants.

It is not that there isn’t benefit in examining such things in a safe environment, as we are with the confrontation of religions and faiths, just that this is not the game for it. We have a specific focus and these simply aren’t part of it. The problem with these themes is that if they are in the game at all, they will dilute the particular themes we are interested in and so we just do not want them in the game.

There is another aspect, too, which is that some of these things can cause very real pain for our participants. Do not do it.

Themes that do not exist in the game

Stuff like slavery, sexual violence, cannibalism and any opinions you may or may not have about the physical attributes of your fellow participants are not part of the game.

We will never put these themes into the game and we don’t want you too, either.

Themes that exist, but won’t be explored in game

To explain further, let us consider the examples of Sexuality and Gender. While these things clearly exist in the world, we are not going to be examining them as an in-depth topic, like we are with class privilege.

More explicitly, your character may be male, female, queer, asexual, transsexual, they may be straight, or anything else, but none of these things carry the social weight or stigma that our world does. It just isn’t particularly interesting.

So if you want to have a romance plot and find a willing character with a compatible sexuality, then great, but if they have an incompatible sexuality, then just let it go – no harm, no foul. The most recent in-game political scandal is the Matrial Pontiff’s refusal to marry the new Patronic Pontiff. The refusal is the source of the scandal, not the fact that both are women.

Similarly, gender has basically no effect on job-based stereotypes – a female townguard raises no eyebrows, there is no assumption that the ruler of a nation is male nor that order of inheritance is influenced by a child’s gender.

If this is a difficult way of thinking to you, one way to do this is to imagine your character has the sexual and gender-based moral values of a perfectly accepting socially-liberal paradise. Take it as a challenge.

Last words

We are doing something that we think is very interesting here, but in a very deliberate fashion. That means we require the social contract that exists between all of the participants to be explicit. This part of it is a heavy topic, but a critical and complex one.