Reverb Gamers: Opposites Attract
Question #9: Have you ever played a character of the opposite sex. Why or why not? If yes, how did the other players react?
I've never played a female PC. I've played plenty of female NPCs, and for a long while I wasn't at all sure if I was "getting it right". And then I decided that "right" was a matter of playing them as people, and not worrying about gender, sex, or the like, except as one more characteristic.
I do take some care to make sure that a majority of the cultures in my campaign world are fairly egalitarian, though. In a world where there are interventionist gods, and a good few of them are female, it's rather harder to pull the "men are better than women" schtick. In addition, the two elder races of the world - dragons and elves - have female goddesses. Female dragons are generally bigger and more powerful than males, and male and female elves really don't have a lot to distinguish them.
Certainly there are cultures which have male or female primacy, or gender roles. One race of near-humans hold that all magic is for women, and anything purely physical is for men. The drow are matriarchal. Dwarves are patriarchal. Some cultures in one era use a Celtic-style inheritance, where a man's property and titles pass to his eldest sister's eldest son. I'm allowing for a slight bias toward men in the militaries of various nations and cultures, and maybe a slight bias toward women in spellcasting. But the notion that any player can say "I want to play THIS character", and have gender be just another choice to make, is important.
As it happens, the vast majority of players I've dealt with have played characters of their own gender. Thinking back across thirty-odd players in the last decade, I can think of only one who chose to go the other way.
I've also poked a little at some of the middle ground between sexes and genders. A number of the notable NPCs in two out of three eras have been openly gay or bisexual; there's one entire culture which revolves around "quads" of two mostly-gay couples. There was a prominent ruler in one campaign who was referred to as "the Baron", who wore male clothing, and used a male pronoun, despite being evidently female. There've been a few more who I decided were working harder on passing, and the player characters never looked close enough to realise anything different - although I'm not sure that makes a difference anywhere outside my head.
Obviously, a great deal of this is idealistic. But I reckon I get to choose which biases and unpleasantnesses from the real world I want to represent and deal with in my own world, and sexism, in any direction, is something I mostly want to leave out.
Posted by Drew Shiel at January 17, 2012 10:10 AM