181 – Planning Your Campaign for Social Justice

The Mythcreant Podcast

Social justice is important in all storytelling mediums, but it can be especially critical in RPGs, where the barrier between player and character is thinnest. Ambushing a player with something harmful can ruin your evening, possibly the whole campaign, and cause real harm to your friend. Few GMs would do this on purpose, but how do you avoid doing it on accident? Fortunately, we have advice for that!

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:


Cosmic Horror

Miskatonic University

Why Historical Accuracy Isn’t a Reason to Exclude Diversity

Emperor Justinian




Unknown Armies

Serenity RPG

Legend of the Five Rings

Disability in roleplaying games:

Treat your friends to an evening of dark ritual murder. In a fictional game scenario, of course. Uncover your lost memories and save the day in our stand-alone game, The Voyage.

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  1. Bryony

    I agree with the caution arround humour – I am a disabled queer women, and with other people in those communities have an absolute hoot about some of the situations and such that arrise from those identities, but with people less clued in it gets awkward.

  2. Lizard with Hat

    Related to the mage – barbarian body swap are this questions.
    Is the brain of a person altered by the body swap?
    I mean in most cases the sawped people retain thier memorys so shouldn`t that have an effect on the brain?
    If not, do they then have still access to thier memorys, and how?

    Just thought these are some intressting points which could be played with.

    • Michael

      Yeah, these stories always seem to assume strict dualism, that the mind is completely separate from the brain. That isn’t plausible to me, but even if you have it in a fictional world, a change of body should affect someone deeply. As the podcast mentioned trans people, that’s similar to what a person who underwent this might experience. Yet so far as I can remember these stories don’t have the character experience dysphoria, though you’d expect they would. That could be interesting to explore in a story, though also disturbing with readers that actually have this (and for some who don’t). It seems even more extreme effects should occur if a human is turned into an animal etc. Honestly however that seems harder to portray.

      • Lizard with Hat

        a solution could be a subconscious tether between the swaped persons. The memories and thought patterns they use are stil that of there own brains but transfered to them by the swap-magic. But should the swap-magic fail things turn unpleasant (or even more unpleasant).
        I think this allows to adress the implications of body-swap while offering a workaround so the unplesant stuff can be ignored if one wishes to do so.

        • Michael

          That seems like what I’ve seen sometimes. However it’s difficult to write, and they often drop one personality or make it secondary.

  3. Fay Onyx

    For those who are interested in an example of body swapping magic that is depicted particularly well, I recommend Episode 11 of Season 2 of the Inn Between Podcast. Because this is scripted, they were able to go pretty far in swapping bodies between characters with different genders and embodiments. The cast of main characters has two cisgender men, two cisgender women, and a nonbinary person.

  4. Fay Onyx

    In regards to the idea of role-playing games not being therapy, a great reference for this topic is the Session Zero podcast. (Sadly they don’t seem to have transcripts.) Here is their summary:

    “Session Zero is a discussion podcast that seeks to explore the psychology of role-playing. Each episode will feature a new aspect of the experience of role-playing, viewed through the lens of psychology by clinical psychologist Porter Green and industrial-organizational psychologist Steve Discont, They’re doing the thinking, and you get to do the listening.”

    This discussion podcast regularly touches on the psychological benefits of role-playing in a nuanced way that I think illuminates what sorts of things are appropriate for a role-playing group where people are coming together to share an experience with friends (as opposed to a clinical setting). It’s also just a really interesting perspective on role-playing games.

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