Comics: Roll Dice Already!

Of Whites and Men

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Tash is examining the rulebook.

Tash: I can’t help but notice that nearly all the premade characters in this book are white men.

Emma: That’s just what they want you to think.

Tash: Explain.

Emma: Most of those NPCs are clearly false identities created by the real investigators.

Tash: And why would they do that?

In the game, several NPCs crouch in a car, holding up white masks to shield their dark skin.

Emma: The Mythos destroys your mind with unknowable truths about the cosmos, so to protect themselves these investigators took on the blandest, most “generic” personas they could think of. It’s brilliant.

Farid, out of game, looks skeptical.

Farid: Or we could just accept that the writers didn’t put enough diversity into their premade characters.

Emma pounds her fists on the table.

Emma: That’s not nearly as fun!



  1. Alverant

    So here’s the question, do you go by what’s most likely true or by what makes the better story?

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      In general, most good stories are fairly unlikely. Real life just doesn’t have the dramatic timing we’d like it to. There does come a point though, in which a story becomes so unbelievable that it stops being good.

  2. Greg

    That’s something I’ve struggled with a bit in games that take place in historical settings. Is it “realistic” for Miskatonic Univeristy to have non-white students or professors in 1925? Does it take me out of immersion in the setting to have women private eyes or gangsters?

    If diversity is an important issue with your group (and it really should be), maybe just play Cthulhu Now instead of dealing with the emblemic bigotry of the 20’s.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      While non-white, non-male faces would be unusual at Ivy League American schools of 1925, that’s not the insurmountable problem some make it out to be.

      For one thing, Miskatonic is a fictional university. It would be entirely believable for it to be ahead of its time, with a more diverse faculty and student body. The Mythos calls to all!

      That’s just one option. 1920s Mythos adventures could also take place outside the white dominated halls of academia. In fact that’s usually where my CoC games take place: in the streets where there’s no authority to ask for help.

      Finally, it’s usually fine to have historical games take place in an alternate history where certain prejudices don’t exist, or are lessened. The Marvel Films do that and most people don’t notice the changes they make, like a non-segregated WWII American army.

      Since we’re already adding fantasy creatures to history, it doesn’t really make sense to draw arbitrary lines about what’s realistic and what isn’t.

  3. Lillian Ripley

    Also the way we’ve been taught history has given us a heavily edited picture of the past. While the examples listed may feel unrealistic there is precedent for all of them in real world history.

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