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"Why RPG Abilities Gender Neutral?" Topic

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Deucey Supporting Member of TMP04 Jun 2021 11:27 a.m. PST

I always wondered why male humans didn't default to a higher Strength at least than females.

Col Durnford04 Jun 2021 11:37 a.m. PST

Girls play RPG? When it all started it was an all male game. I mostly ran mixed gender games and it never really came up. You roll your dice and take your chances.

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP04 Jun 2021 11:46 a.m. PST

You want science in your RPGs/ The horror!

Stryderg04 Jun 2021 12:01 p.m. PST

Didn't one of the early versions of D&D have a lower max strength for females of various races? Baring that, my guess is that it's just easier to have one less thing to worry about.

lkmjbc304 Jun 2021 12:11 p.m. PST

Because there is no difference between male and female. Females are just as strong as males. Any perceived differences are just social constructs of the patriarchy used to oppress females.

To say otherwise is racist.

Joe Collins

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP04 Jun 2021 12:17 p.m. PST

In the 1e AD&D rules, Gygax had a lower max. Strength for females of every PC race. It was dropped in 2e+ rules. I played Basic D&D rules, for three months, back in 1980. I do not remember what they had for gender limits, if any.

USAFpilot04 Jun 2021 1:25 p.m. PST

"Why RPG Abilities Gender Neutral?"

Answer: because of the cancer known as political correctness or wokeness if you prefer,

AD&D had many gender and racial restrictions. Women and halflings were limited in strength, dwarves and half-orcs were limited in charisma. And sometimes the normal limits could be exceeded; elves could naturally get a 19 in dexterity. When I played Baldur's Gate on the PC, I'd always pick an elf to be my thief so I could max his dexterity. This all added a little flavor to the game.

But as we know, in real life the genders are equal. That's why men and women are not separated into two leagues at the professional sports level. Take the NBA for example, a mix of both men and women players sharing the same court. Yea right.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP04 Jun 2021 3:01 p.m. PST

Because there is no difference between male and female. Females are just as strong as males. Any perceived differences are just social constructs of the patriarchy used to oppress females.

To say otherwise is racist.

Actually, in relation to height, males are a bit stronger pound for pound, our bodies develop bigger muscles while females develop…other parts! , also, as they are generally less tall, males get the advantage of leverage due to their longer limbs, limbs being generally in proportion to size.
Of course, females and males have a lot of individual variation and some females are stronger and some males less strong. Individual training can make a lot of difference to any individuals perceived strength too.

FYI: Racism is different, I think you meant 'Sexism'

USAFpilot04 Jun 2021 3:30 p.m. PST

Ps. I think he meant sarcasm.

HansPeterB04 Jun 2021 3:41 p.m. PST

The whole "because 'wokeness" thing is ridiculous.

I suspect that the answer to the question asked is obvious: 1) there is no good reason in a fantasy game setting to impose a handicap on characters that will irritate a substantial proportion of your player base (and by the way, I started playing D&D in '75, and my first group was evenly divided btw men and women); 2) fantasy literature and film are filled with female characters who don't appear to be meaningfully less capable than males. In D&D, "strength" is an attribute that most importantly affects combat ability (at lease back in the day), so if we imagine that female characters can be as lethal as the males, it makes sense to give them equivalent "strength." No reason to start moaning about PC and wokeness to arrive a plausible explanation.

USAFpilot04 Jun 2021 3:47 p.m. PST

Utter nonsense. On average a man is stronger than a woman. Sure there are examples of strong women like Red Sonja, but those are very rare. There is a reason why armies have always been composed of all men with few exceptions until fairly recently in world history. It doesn't take a lot of strength to pull a trigger. This is nothing more than pure wokeness.

Stryderg04 Jun 2021 3:55 p.m. PST

I would disagree about it being based in "wokeness" simply because it started back in the day (80's-ish). But that's my two cents.

Striker04 Jun 2021 4:23 p.m. PST

Some games still have the ability mods.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP04 Jun 2021 4:31 p.m. PST

Maybe because it's just a game?

HansPeterB04 Jun 2021 4:45 p.m. PST

Some folks are having difficulty grasping the meaning of "fantasy…" (And characters like Red Sonya are not rare at all.).

USAFpilot04 Jun 2021 4:58 p.m. PST

Riddle me this than, if men and women are physically equal, how come sports are divided between a men's and women's league?

repaint04 Jun 2021 5:18 p.m. PST

RPGs have started to have a more than reasonable dose of Woke Culture lately (5E and Old School Renewal).

A lot of the differences are being tuned down between races, gender, good and evil.

I don't get into debate with SJWs as unfortunately we are not using the same semantics or dialectic anymore but it's quite interesting from an anthropologist perspective to see how ideology has made its way into gaming concepts.

This trend will probably fade because Woke doesn't pay, turns on itself and generally speaking 2+2=5 won't cut it.

I am sure historians will have a treat researching the early 21st century.

Korvessa04 Jun 2021 5:27 p.m. PST

I think there are some key facts we can all agree on:
1) The average male is bigger & stronger than the average female.
2) Some females can be bigger or stronger than some males.
3) We do this as an escape and to have fun, why bother with something that takes away the fun and creates unnecessary friction?

Thresher0104 Jun 2021 6:09 p.m. PST

I suspect in most cases, since the standard default was assumed to be male, for right or wrong, in your average RPGs.

Of course, Joe and USAFp may be on to something.

Now, it may be a lot more difficult for designers to handle ALL of the presumptive "genders" and/or "identities" other than the real two, or three (if you count in hermaphrodites as a separate class for the latter), complicating matters a bit.

Anyone got a good, rough idea of a base negative modifier for female strength, speed, weight, and height values?

One anecdote I've heard is that in the 100 yd. dash, men are finishing it, while women are at about the 80 yd. mark, so a -20% value seems to be about right, based upon that one value alone.

Perhaps a larger differential for strength?

For height, perhaps about a -10% modifier, e.g. average woman's height used to be about 5' 5", and for males, 5' 10", so 65" and 70" respectively, which is slightly less than a 10% difference, but I'm good with rounding off just for convenience.

John the OFM04 Jun 2021 7:07 p.m. PST

The wokey wokey haters are spitting all over their monitors. They're drooling.

It's a Bleeped text fantasy game!
Change it if it upsets you that much!
A question to the haters. Do you actually play D&D? Any "other" fantasy RPG?
I change rules all the time in games I play. There will not be a sinister knock on my door. I actually rate AWI militia higher than the rules and scenario books I use. Well, some of the time. I reserve the right to differentiate.
Grow up.

By the way, Red Sonja and some others kick ass. Lagertha?
If a 13 year old GIRL wants to have a powerful female fighter, why does that upset you? RPG characters are unique, one off people.

USAFpilot04 Jun 2021 7:30 p.m. PST

Doesn't bother me. Like you said, it's a fantasy game and who doesn't like Red Sonja. Gygax wrote the rules maybe trying to add some realism. Later editions took out those rules. What does bother me is that 5th edition had to go out of there way and add a paragraph explaining the wokeness of it all. Why say anything. Yea, I hate the cancer of political correctness that is infecting our society.

John the OFM04 Jun 2021 7:46 p.m. PST

Doesn't bother you? You could fool me. grin

Zephyr104 Jun 2021 7:53 p.m. PST

"One anecdote I've heard is that in the 100 yd. dash, men are finishing it, while women are at about the 80 yd. mark, so a -20% value seems to be about right, based upon that one value alone."

The same 20% devaluation also (anecdotally) applies to Canadians… ;-)

"Why RPG Abilities Gender Neutral?"

Most fantasy settings have magic potions that can help with that… ;-)

Whirlwind04 Jun 2021 8:18 p.m. PST

As several other posters have mentioned, for PCs, players aren't (usually) generating random members of the population, so if Strength is an important part of the game, then the small proportion of females who fall into the male strength zone need to be over-represented. For NPCs, the GM isn't normally generating random members of the population, they are dishing out attributes to NPCs as they need them for the story.

If you are playing a game that does generate random members of the population and you want to reflect this, then you want your female characters to have an average strength in the 50%-66% range. This is simple to do in most games. I play Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay a bit, and average NPC human strength is "3" and so average female NPC human strength becomes "2".

Speed OTOH is trickier. The 'absolute' difference is probably about 10% at the top end, but this interacts with average height, build and societal expectations in complex ways. If you really want to do it, then go for maybe 75%.

I have a decent number of RPG rules published over the last 40-50 years. Very few of them at any time have had female PCs as systemically less strong than men, so it is totally absurd to attribute this to current political debates.

John the OFM04 Jun 2021 8:46 p.m. PST

It's a silly thing to get upset about.
Brienne of Tarth kicked the ass of the Hound.
The Hound brought down The Mountain.
And Arya Stark.

As I said above, why do you want to deny 13 year old girls Empowerment? Does that threaten you?

Oh yeah. Political correctness. Woke. Yawn.
Take it up with RE Howard. GRRRRR Martin. Tolkien for that matter. Who killed the Witch King?

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP04 Jun 2021 10:05 p.m. PST

"Baring that, my guess is that it's just easier to have one less thing to worry about."

I don't think this was ever a consideration with D&D. :-)

repaint04 Jun 2021 10:48 p.m. PST

Funny how some people can become very nervous when the narrative of the "correct thinking" is challenged.

After a while SJWs become highly predictive, mostly in their effort to shut you up, attack you personally and challenge your values.

D&D has become very dull with their stance of "everybody is a champion" / "good&evil are simply a question of perpective" (newly released guide to Ravenloft).

If some people enjoy this, all the power to them. There's no need to become all upset when somebody voice a different opinion and points the intrusion of identity politics into RPGs.

The use of the word "Haters" is, by the way, a very nice attempt to close any discussion by lending a reprehensible emotion to people who simply do not support the poster's narrative.

I think people with common sense are starting to wake up to the ideology, means & tools some other people are very keen to force down the throat of everybody else around.

I recommend Douglas Murray's Madness of the crowd on identity politics:
a) it is well written
b) it's really an eye opener on all these ideologies that are attempting to take over people's minds and conscience.


Picked it up by chance and gave me tools to reflect. SO very much worth a read IMHO.

USAFpilot05 Jun 2021 7:12 a.m. PST

why do you want to deny 13 year old girls Empowerment?


Oh, you old meanies picking on a little girl. VIRTUAL SIGNAL ALERT

Stryderg05 Jun 2021 7:14 a.m. PST

I don't think this was ever a consideration with D&D. :-)

Fair point, I had not considered that. How many pages is the latest version? ;)

The use of the word "Haters"…

I think some things should be hated and it's not a reprehensible emotion at all. I mean, consider those foul Orcs. They are certainly deserving of some cold steel hatred, not that I'm advocating for physical violence against them of course, I'm just commenting on some of their barbaric actions and qualities, which are probably justified given their cultural background, and…

Is there some other game we can play?

Personal logo Inari7 Supporting Member of TMP05 Jun 2021 3:57 p.m. PST
Martin Rapier06 Jun 2021 3:08 a.m. PST

If you want to go the whole hog with male/female RPG characteristics, as women (on average) have a higher pain threshold and better resistance to cold as well as more developed social skills, how about CON+1, CHR+1 and STR-2?

The average attribute scores then don't change, but tbh I prefer systems where you allocate the points across characteristics rather than throwing dice like the old D&D system.

The age mods in Traveller were always rather entertaining, I'm sure they were a bit overly generous to us oldies….

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2021 7:01 a.m. PST

It rather depends on the edition of D&D. There are about 13 or 14 different editions of the game, depending on how one labels TSR's Dragon Quest introductory boxed "board" game, but these can be categorized into different classes of the game:

Original D&D (the white booklets and Greyhawk, Blackmoor, and other supplement booklets.)

Advanced D&D (aka 1st edition and 2nd edition)

Classic D&D (encompassing the Holmes Basic Set, the Moldvay/Cook Basic and Expert sets, the Mentzer Basic, Expert, Companion, Master and Immortals sets, the Allston Rules Cyclopedia reference book, and the "Black Box" Introductory sets near the end of TSR's tenure.)

And of course Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro's D&D game (and Paizo's Pathfinder clone).

OD&D and AD&D has abilities limits and boosts based on sex and "race" (species, really, so as to not throw in confusion; all human races are equivalent— the differentiation is humans compared to elves, dwarves, halflings, half-elves and half-orcs, not real world human races).

Classic D&D has no distinctions according to sex, and racial distinctions are based on minimum scores to be a character of said race— but humans have no minimums except as required for a specific character class. Note that Classic uses the "race as class" rule— an elf is a member of the Elf character class (essentially a Fighter/Magic-user dual class), and cannot be any other class. Same for dwarves and halflings. But all classes and races can have 18 maximum in a stat, and it never rises above that (there are no 19, 20, 21, etc. stat abilities, even for monsters— monsters don't have stats, they just can do what they can do).

In the latter case, I don't think PC culture had anything to do with it (it was 1981 when Moldvay's Basic came out). Classic D&D was meant to be a simpler, more flexible game than AD&D, so the whole idea of complicated exceptions based on character sex, age, race and what not were tossed in favor of straight simplicity— your stats range from 3 to 18, and those numbers give you advantages or disadvantages in play (in Mentzer they bonus and penalty modifiers are made identical for all stats), but they don't really have any "real world" meaning. You could interpret an 18 as being a "strength range" for the "strongest humans." In fact, according to the rules the classic magical gauntlets of ogre strength simply give the wearer a Strength of 18. So if you already have Str 18, they're useless gloves. Also, the Basic lines (and their expansion sets) were marketed to adolescents, ages 10 and up, with an emphasis on heroism for the PCs rather than heavy role play, so it made sense to wave away any real world physical capability differences and not cap anyone's PC— who are supposed to be the heroic exceptions, not the norms. If a player wishes to imagine his or her character is like Wonder Woman (the Linda Carter era), why not? (Let's face it, a 10-15 year old in that time was far more likely to know about Wonder Woman than Red Sonja or Eowyn.) So I would suggest it had nothing whatsoever to do with Political Correctness (which concept rose in popular knowledge in the late ‘90s), or much less "wokeness", which is an entirely current-day form of Moral Panic.

For the record, I prefer Classic for that very simplicity and flexibility— it's the version I currently DM every Friday night.

Personal logo Inari7 Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2021 1:50 p.m. PST

In high school, I used to look down on the Classic D&D, now I greatly prefer that version!! It allowed for much more flexibility and imagination.

USAFpilot06 Jun 2021 2:49 p.m. PST

I've read that (what is now called) Original D&D was essentially unplayable because the rules were a mess. That is why Gygax allowed Dr. Holmes (a D&D enthusiast) to rewrite the rules which were then published as "Basic D&D". This allowed Gygax time to work on "Advanced D&D" which turned into a multi year project.

CeruLucifus06 Jun 2021 3:30 p.m. PST

Who is holding you back from reducing the stats of your female character to suit your roleplay concept?

Personal logo javelin98 Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2021 8:54 a.m. PST

Because Ronda Rousey can kick my flabby butt…?

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2021 12:05 p.m. PST

I've read that (what is now called) Original D&D was essentially unplayable because the rules were a mess. That is why Gygax allowed Dr. Holmes (a D&D enthusiast) to rewrite the rules which were then published as "Basic D&D". This allowed Gygax time to work on "Advanced D&D" which turned into a multi year project.

If you want to see the original game, the three white booklets are available on DriveThruRPG as PDF scans (done by WotC). I agree that they are a mess— I would have found them "unplayable" as you say, but clearly others did not!

USAFpilot07 Jun 2021 1:06 p.m. PST

Thanks, I'll check it out. I started playing in 1979 or ‘80 so I never actually saw the three white booklets. Played a couple adventures with the Basic rules then switched to Advanced for a serious three year campaign. Had great fun reading about the history of D&D in a book called "Art & Arcana" a few years ago.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2021 8:16 a.m. PST

In fact all of the TSR D&D editions are available on DriveThru with the exception of the Holmes "Blue Book" edition, which remains inexplicably absent. I recently acquired an original copy (7th printing) and re-read the rules, which were the ones I started with. It too had no stat restrictions regarding the sex of the PC, though it was written in 1978. Holmes himself had approached Gygax offering to create an introductory version, ostensibly for children ages 10 and up, and got the go ahead, as well as some knowledge of the Advanced version Gygax was already working on— Holmes makes references to the Advanced version throughout the rules, but the references are clearly "off"— book titles and even rules are different, and apparently TSR never bothered to correct anything during the three years it was in print. When the first Basic game (edited by Tom Moldvay) arrived in 1981, the D&D game was treated as a different game from the Advanced rules, and Basic was not really seen as an introduction to the Advanced edition at all.
My preferred edition is the Mentzer Basic series (BECMI) with the Allston Rules Cyclopedia (RC) as a reference work (there are minor differences). But I also have house rules— though none involve stat restrictions for any PCs, just because they don't really add anything to the game.

USAFpilot08 Jun 2021 9:56 a.m. PST

Yea, looking back now, there was too much complexity to the Advanced rules. We'd be constantly up to 3am resolving combat. If I were to ever start playing again I might go with "Basic Fantasy RPG". Terrible name but it is a streamlined D&D clone. Somewhat like basic with only the 4 primary character classes, but like Advanced in that class and race are separate,

Fergo11307 Jul 2021 12:50 a.m. PST

Old School Essentials by Necrotic Gnome is a concise, cleaned up, and understandable version of the old Basic/AD&D version of D&D. Its a great retro clone if you want to get back into that version. It lists D20 AC as well as THAC0 for those who want to use an ascending armour class instead of the original descending AC. Link to their site is here:

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