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 Post subject: The New World and Slavery
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 1:04 am 

Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:51 pm
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So how exactly does this work in this setting? I'm black so I tend to want to play black characters. But slavery was a thing in the New World, so how does the institution of slavery affect playing a black character in this setting?


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 Post subject: Re: The New World and Slavery
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 10:57 am 
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Dace wrote:
So how exactly does this work in this setting? I'm black so I tend to want to play black characters. But slavery was a thing in the New World, so how does the institution of slavery affect playing a black character in this setting?


Sticky subject. I don't propose to be an expert on early American slavery. I suspect that things are probably much uglier once you get into the late 18th and early 19th century, with the classic southern plantation model.

Ultimately, the degree to which you want to make slavery an issue is up to you as a GM. Personally, I wouldn't gloss over it, but I would give my players plenty of reasons to support emancipation.

The Pope and the Catholic church had come out opposed to the institution of slavery by the 17th century, so you can bet the Ashen Cross aren't going to stand for it at all, nor the Sainted Mothers. I believe Spain had an existing order during the period that any slave that made it to Spanish territory was immediately emancipated, leading to many escaped slaves from British colonies to head south for Florida. I'm not sure about the French, but I would think they were similar in their outlook. The other orders will probably be pragmatic about it depending on their personal beliefs. In the colonies, slave labor on tobacco farms was also made up of indentured servants and indians. I can't see the Ghost People being fans of that.

Something else to keep in mind is that witch hunters are concerned with issues outside the din of most common folk. So just because society at large practices slavery does not mean it is going to be any more of an issue to your average witch hunter than religious persecution. Plus, the pulp nature of the game means you can put the Adversary in a position to exploit the racial hate and prejudice. Monger demons can exploit racial tensions to a fever pitch. I don't mean this to "white wash" (seems such an inappropriate phrase for this discussion) the ugliness of slavery, but rather it allows the GM to craft stories where the witch hunters can actively work against the institution and promote emancipation even at this stage of history. With no nazis to kick around, the one sure thing you can bet most modern players will rally around is the chance to smack down some vile evil slavers in the service of the Adversary.

Last point, I'd like to point out both the Thieftaker series by D.B. Jackson and Robert McCammon's Speaks the Nightbird. Both of them include emancipated characters of one stripe or another. In the former, you have Janna Windcatcher, a powerful sorceress and herbalist who runs her own tavern (the Fat Spider) and apothecary (matchmaking and love potions) business in British Colonial Boston. In Witch Hunter terms, she would be an Animist, with maybe a shot of Voodoo and some skill in Alchemy (probably 2 ranks or more). And she's not one to be trifled with. So there is precedent in the genre for emancipated characters with freedom, power, and influence within society.

Tom

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 Post subject: Re: The New World and Slavery
PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 10:28 pm 

Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:51 pm
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Quote:
Sticky subject. I don't propose to be an expert on early American slavery. I suspect that things are probably much uglier once you get into the late 18th and early 19th century, with the classic southern plantation model.


Oh it get's much worse lol. The 17th century is at this interesting time in history where the idea of race is just starting to take root. And most of what we know of race now are pretty much formulated on America's justification of slavery. So the worst parts of racism and slavery have yet to happen by the time line of this game. Thing's are pretty much just getting started.

But that does beg the question on how non whites are treated in the setting. Sure race as we know it isn't a thing but it is still something that I think matters and is important. I wonder how they are treated in Europe for instance, likely not as bad as in America (after all Ethiopia was sending emissaries to the courts of France).

I still wonder though, how are such characters treated. I think it's something worth a side bar in an upcoming book. I know it's a sticky thing but it's likely best not ignored. For instance, does a black Witch Hunter in Boston need to worry about proving he's not a slave.

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Something else to keep in mind is that witch hunters are concerned with issues outside the din of most common folk.


See I thought about this. But then R&R indicates that there is at least some form of racism (or at least mistrust) directed at Jewish Witch Hunters. So to some extent I think that just being a Witch Hunter isn't enough in some cases.

So it makes me wonder at times if they would behave better or if they would fall prey to the same foibles that non Witch Hunters fall prey to.


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 Post subject: Re: The New World and Slavery
PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:51 pm 
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Dace wrote:
But that does beg the question on how non whites are treated in the setting. Sure race as we know it isn't a thing but it is still something that I think matters and is important. I wonder how they are treated in Europe for instance, likely not as bad as in America (after all Ethiopia was sending emissaries to the courts of France).

I still wonder though, how are such characters treated. I think it's something worth a side bar in an upcoming book. I know it's a sticky thing but it's likely best not ignored. For instance, does a black Witch Hunter in Boston need to worry about proving he's not a slave.


A sidebar? See, this is when I wish Witch Hunter had something of a dedicated zine, because I think the topic deserves a full article.

Would an African witch hunter in Boston have to worry about proving his legal status? I would think that would depend on so many different variables that it would be best left to the GM's discretion. Has she made any enemies among people of status? Is the constable or watch captain a raging bigot? Does someone of influence covet what she possesses? I would be an idiot to say she wouldn't suffer some extra hurdles in life. But WH is a game about kicking evil monsters in the ass, not about exploring complex social issues UNLESS that exploration involves, or results in, kicking evil monsters in the ass.

And don't even get me started on what the addition of real sorcery thrown into the mix does. It sure didn't work out to well for the Spanish.

Quote:
Something else to keep in mind is that witch hunters are concerned with issues outside the din of most common folk.


Quote:
See I thought about this. But then R&R indicates that there is at least some form of racism (or at least mistrust) directed at Jewish Witch Hunters. So to some extent I think that just being a Witch Hunter isn't enough in some cases.

So it makes me wonder at times if they would behave better or if they would fall prey to the same foibles that non Witch Hunters fall prey to.


Well I would argue there is a difference between mistrust and prejudice and outright enslavement. Granted, the history of anti-semitism in Europe has a lot in common with America's stain of racism. It's been interesting doing research on Frankfurt and Strasbourg to see the lot of Jews in the Holy Roman Empire. For example, in Frankfurt (and many other places in Germany, Jewish "citizens" were not permitted out of their neighborhoods after dark, under penalty of jail and confiscation of property and wealth. While they might have enjoyed the status of citizenship, it did not convey voting rights and a lot of other privileges that Christian citizens received. These sorts of laws led to their ultimate conclusion during the second world war.

The Orders of Solomon have other concerns than the ugliness of mankind. Not every instance of hatred is born of the Adversary. American slavery began as a pragmatic solution to simple labor issues (to put it mildly), but festered into something far more corrosive and ugly. So individual witch hunters (and orders) might support slavery (and even indentured servitude) on a personal basis. But I do think they would draw the line as a group when one of their own (regardless of ethnicity or religion) was enslaved. This is a matter of simple pragmatism: the forces of the Adversary far outnumber acting Witch Hunters in any local, so to have one of their own benched puts the entire operation in jeopardy.

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