liz writes stuff down
27Aug/16Off

The underappreciated men’s rights activist as a character background

As we all know, men's rights activists are grossly misunderstood. On the surface, the men's rights movement looks to be about getting equal rights with respect to things like adoptions and custody disputes[1], but actually, the movement is primarily a coordinated attack on women. After all, nothing says "we just want men to have equal opportunity" like threatening violence against women (content warning: rape, death threats).

With the men's rights movement coming into its own more and more, it's been the background motivating an increasing number of adventurers. I playtested a sun elf warlock who has my variant pact with the Patriarchy and this new men's rights activist background yesterday - it was loads of fun.

From page 125 of the Player's Handbook:

Every story has a beginning. Your character's background reveals where you came from, how you became an adventurer, and your place in the world.

Here's a new background for the increasingly popular men's rights activist:

Men's Rights Activist

You have spent your life oppressed by women. You have watched other men share this fate, and you have formed a small brethren with some of these men to serve as the sole force for progress towards true gender equality in the world.

Choose a cause to focus on. Are you going to be the one to champion the cause for male adventurers to get the same increased recognition and pay as their less talented female colleagues? Are you going to fight for magical teachers to revamp their mentoring to focus only on the underserved needs of restless male wizards-to-be? Perhaps you will be the one to combat the discrimination men face in not being allowed to unconditionally unleash their barbaric rage? Figure out how to channel your anecdotal experiences to make necessary systemic progress.

Skill Proficiencies: History, Insight
Languages: Dialects of Abyssal and Draconic in which all sentences begin "Well, actually"
Equipment: A tinderbox, a scroll of the collected offenses against men from a dying male elder from the town you grew up in, a set of fine clothes, a pouch that automatically disappears whenever anyone allied with you asks you about how much money you have, and 30 gp you have inherited

Feature: Authority on the Hierarchy of Privilege

When you meet someone, you are able to immediately determine every way in which they are better off than you. You are also able to recall knowing someone who is even more privileged than they are in the town you most recently visited.

Suggested Characteristics

Men's rights activists are shaped by their experiences with the women they have known and their imagined ideas about women they have never met. Their reflections on half thought-out what-ifs affect their mannerisms and ideals. Their flaws might be that fiction often affects their reality as much as their obviously fully unbiased observations.

d8 Personality Trait

  1. I envy a particular woman's position in life and constantly belittle the unnecessarily hard work she has had to spend her whole life to get there.
  2. I can find common slights against even the most dissimilar of men and empathize with them completely.
  3. I see the potential for discrimination against men in every event and action. Women try to ruin us, we just need to see it.
  4. Nothing can shake my paranoia.
  5. I slander women in almost every situation.
  6. I am tolerant of other people as long as they are men.
  7. I've enjoyed high status and undeserved aid from society. Easy living coddles me.
  8. I've spent so long interacting only with men that I have little practical experience relating to women.

d6 Ideal

  1. Equality. Everyone, not just men, benefits from equal opportunity. (Good)
  2. Power. I hope to one day push women to the lowest class in society. (Evil)
  3. Change. We must help bring about the changes the world needs to advance us all. (Any)
  4. Awareness. The path to power and self-improvement is through spreading knowledge. (Neutral)
  5. Responsibility. It is my duty to protect and care for the men who cannot do so themselves. (Lawful)
  6. Respect. I must prove that I can do anything I want despite the oppression of my gender. (Chaotic)

d6 Bond

  1. I would die before admitting a woman deserves her lot in life more than I do.
  2. I will someday get revenge on the woman who wronged me.
  3. I owe my life to the man who enlightened me about the oppression men face.
  4. Everything I do is for the common man - man, not person.
  5. I will do anything to protect the men I know.
  6. I seek to destroy the unfair ways society advances women.

d6 Flaw

  1. I judge women harshly, and give myself a pass on all my faults.
  2. I put too much trust in those who enlighten me about another way men are oppressed.
  3. My self-righteousness sometimes prevents me from noticing my hypocrisy.
  4. I am inflexible in my thinking.
  5. I am suspicious of strange women and expect the worst of them.
  6. Once I notice something oppressing men, I become obsessed with it to the detriment of everything else in my life.

[1] Interestingly enough, feminism champions these causes.

25Aug/16Off

The Patriarchy as an otherworldly patron

As we all know, the patriarchy is just a figment of feminist imagination. My friend Geoffrey and I feel that such figments of the imagination are well suited for becoming otherworldly patrons for Dungeons & Dragons 5E warlocks, so we created a variant otherworldly patron for the Patriarchy.

From page 108 of the Player's Handbook:

The beings that serve as patrons for warlocks are mighty inhabitants of other planes of existence - not gods, but almost godlike in their power. Various patrons give their warlocks access to different powers and invocations, and expect significant favors in return.

Some patrons collect warlocks, doling out mystic knowledge relatively freely or boasting of their ability to bind mortals to their will. Other patrons bestow their power only grudgingly, and might make a pact with only one warlock. Warlocks who serve the same patron might view each other as allies, siblings, or rivals.

Here's our new option for an otherworldly patron, the Patriarchy:

The Patriarchy

You have made a pact with a system in some other plane of existence - you're not sure which one, but you're absolutely positive it's not the plane you're in.

You can only make this pact if your character is a cishet man. Since you are a cishet man, the Patriarchy will constantly work for you, no matter how often you try to deny its existence or defy its assistance.

The Patriarchy gains power by working against certain characters, and your pact gives the Patriachy the right to draw from those around you. Any female characters, wood elves, drow, half-elves, half-orcs, dragonborn, tiefling, or fey within a 10-foot radius of you - whether or not they are allied with you - must roll a d20 before attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks at the DM's discretion[1]. If they roll a 1, they roll with disadvantage. It may be beneficial to have a party that consists of none of those characters.

Expanded Spell List

The Patriarchy lets cishet men choose from an expanded list of spells when you learn a warlock spell. The following spells are added to the warlock spell list.

Patriarchy Expanded Spells

1st level: command, heroism
2nd level: calm emotions, enhance ability
3rd level: stinking cloud, water walk
4th level: compulsion, phantasmal killer
5th level: dominate person, mislead

Additionally, you know the friends cantrip and do not have to count it against the number of cantrips you can learn.

Blindness to Privilege

Starting at 1st level, every time you see a character make an attack roll, saving throw, or skill check, if your applicable modifier or skill bonus is higher than theirs, your character believes that they rolled with your bonus. If they fail, you believe it's because they are not working hard enough.

Reverse Discrimination

Starting at 6th level, whenever any female characters, wood elves, drow, half-elves, half-orcs, dragonborn, tiefling, or fey get any temporary bonus or advantage on a roll, so do you, as long as you complain loudly.

Double Standards

Starting at 10th level, when you get advantage on a roll, you get to roll with increased advantage - on every d20 roll, roll four d20 and take the maximum.

Any female characters, wood elves, drow, half-elves, half-orcs, dragonborn, tiefling, or fey within a 10-foot radius of you - whether or not they are allied with you - must roll a d20 before attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks at the DM's discretion. If they roll a 1, they now roll with increased disadvantage - roll four d20 and take the minimum.

Exceptionalism

Starting at 14th level, your party members react as if you had rolled the best possible number for every roll. For instance, if you were likely to kill an enemy by rolling a natural 20 on attack and the maximum for damage, your entire party leaves combat to celebrate, and the enemy gets a surprise round. Since the Patriarchy draws power from female characters, wood elves, drow, half-elves, half-orcs, dragonborn, tiefling, and fey, those characters do not get a surprise round.

[1] The Patriarchy isn't perfect.