Author Topic: Metatype Cultures  (Read 478 times)

firebug

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Metatype Cultures
« on: (16:03:29/01-06-17) »
So I've been reading through the section of Run Faster that discusses the metatypes and how they fit into society, as I realized I didn't really know much about dwarves beyond "they fit in well enough".

What I read didn't seem to make sense to me and sounded kind of dumb.  Three quarters of all dwarves are connected?  They have a strict mainstream culture that you can be exiled from?  This sounds like something that would make sense for an ostracized, xenophobic metatype where 75% of them lived on the same relatively small landmass.  But not for what is supposedly the metatype that's more or less accepted and fits in everywhere.  I'm not saying they wouldn't have their own culture at all, but this one that takes a huge precedence over all other cultural aspects?  Enough to have mechanic effects, where as long as they're not an exile, a dwarf would rather deal with another dwarf "no matter where they fall in a nation, corporation, or religion" over anyone else "even non-dwarves of their parent culture".

The other metatypes I get it for.  Elves, for instance, are put on pedestals by humans subconsciously with such strength that even they start to buy into the stereotype of what an elf must be like.  They aren't treated like people, similar to how celebrities are treated, and so flock together to get away from it.  They are distanced from other metatypes because of this, they are grouped together.  But even their section mentioned "elf cultures", as in, plural.  There isn't one universal elf culture they all prioritize over all other cultures.

But the chapter still kind of phrases it as just "nah elves are just like this".

Maybe that kind of stuff makes sense in D&D, where all the races are super segregated and those are the only cultures that exist, but in a setting that is directly based on the real world, where the metatypes are all over the world (not equally of course...) it just seems unrealistic to say that they have their own cultures over all the "human" cultures without social causes.

Like I said, in the case of elves, how I explained it makes sense.  Orks are similar, just in the other direction.  They are feared, mistrusted, and thought of as stupid and brutish, and so pushed out of society.  As a result, it gets separated into "orks" and "non-orks that hate us".  And trickle some trolls in there too.  And since they are forcibly segregated from other cultures, they develop their own culture.

But dwarves are explicitly not segregated, and are the best integrated metatype.  Why would this result in them having one united global culture that takes precedent over all other cultures?  I don't get it.

Is the chapter in Run Faster badly written, or am I missing something here?
« Last Edit: (16:12:53/01-06-17) by firebug »
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Re: Metatype Cultures
« Reply #1 on: (16:55:10/01-06-17) »
It's an instinctual drive to find and connect with others like ourselves. So even if dwarves "fit in well enough", they'll still have a desire to bond with other dwarves over other metatypes. This is the basis for every culture on Earth, and some take to it more than others. Some don't take to it at all.
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Re: Metatype Cultures
« Reply #2 on: (17:56:59/01-06-17) »
Yes, but above ALL other cultures?  When "like yourself", over 3/4 of dwarves consider metatype to be the defining factor of likeness above all other factors?  If in real life, a person said "I would rather deal with a white person, even if we've got strong religious differences, polar-opposite political beliefs, and they worked for an opposing business, rather than deal with a black person" and then claimed that 75% of white people felt this way...

Like I said.  I'm not saying dwarves wouldn't reach out to one-another to relate in ways only another dwarf can relate to.  It's that it's that over all other cultural connections, AND that it's apparently a single unified culture across the globe.

I meet up with people who have the same very specific experiences as me all the time, and it's important, but I don't automatically prefer dealing with those people over all others.

It conflicts with them being so integrated, which implies they won't have the same level of "feeling like an outsider" and thus needing to find others that the other metatypes do...  I am NOT saying they don't experience any.  If humans experience it, all metatypes experience it.  But compared to other metatypes it would be less, which doesn't match how extreme the concept of them all grouping together to form a single worldwide culture seems.  A single culture where most of them know eachother, and word spreads so quickly that if you overstep the boundaries of one dwarf, you get ostracized by all of them, aside from the few who are part of the counterculture.
« Last Edit: (18:05:37/01-06-17) by firebug »
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Re: Metatype Cultures
« Reply #3 on: (18:19:45/01-06-17) »
It happens today a fair bit once you get out of the Western World.

Tribals in Africa will deal more favorably with other members of the same tribal alliance then they will with outsiders or external Tribals.

Muslims preferr to deal (and react more favorably) to other Muslims.

Many Hindi sects will ONLY deal with Sects of the same caste as they are.

The World's a fairly bigoted place out there, and despite what CNN and a few whiny Snowflakes will claim, the "West" really is the most tolerant place on it.

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Re: Metatype Cultures
« Reply #4 on: (18:34:33/01-06-17) »
African tribes, hindi sects...  Those are likely very small.  Compared to 14% of the world's population, anyways.  Each individual sect, each individual tribe...  That's fine.

Those people are trusting the people around them with similar beliefs who they've known on some level.

But, I have a lot of trouble believing that most of the dwarves in the world know eachother as well as African tribe members know eachother.

A bunch of groups who are exclusionary?  That makes sense.  One giant group that spans the whole globe where the ONLY conjoining factor is your physiology and that you don't do crimes?  That just seems so unbelievable, even in Shadowrun, where communication is so easy. Hell, ESPECIALLY, in Shadowrun, where there's even more conflicting ideologies (rather, at least more "living ideologies") than in real life, since it includes real life plus extra fantasy stuff.  And again, this coming from the metatype that has had the least issues integrating into societies everywhere.

Even Humanis can't agree on things that well, and they're not 75% of all humans.
« Last Edit: (18:37:44/01-06-17) by firebug »
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Re: Metatype Cultures
« Reply #5 on: (19:47:07/01-06-17) »
900 million Hindi in India alone, 850 million tribal africans out of a population of 1.2 billion.

1.6 billion muslims.....

Those numbers are much more then 14% of a mythical population :D

I get that its hard for you to understand. I didn't get it either until I spent considerable time in these locations. (4 years in the India/pakistan area, 10 years in the central/northern Africa).

The way these areas work is very difficult to explain to someone who hasn't seen it with their own eyes.

When I say 'Tribal Africans' what you are tjinking and what that means are 2 very different things.... one can be from 2 different African countries and still be from the same Tribal group. In fact, many of the violent outbreaks in Africa are along Tribal lines and not national. There, the accent of your dialect can get you beaten (or worse!) Faster then your country of birth. Don't confuse Tribal with primitive or uneducated either.... while many in Africa do not have the same educational chances that we in the West have/had, this doesn't mean they are stupid.... they just have an.... African view to issues that is different then our Western views.

The Hindi are a strange people, with an unfathomable sect/caste system that transends money or position. You can be rich, BUT from the wrong sect - thus no one will speak or even acknowledge you. You can be poor and obvously diseased and a wanted criminal for horrible crimes and be entirely protected - because you are from the 'right caste'....



I have no problem seeing dwarves trusting other dwarves over anyone else, simply because I have seen this very same thing in world today with my own eyes.
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Re: Metatype Cultures
« Reply #6 on: (01:34:21/01-07-17) »
Yes, it's just bad, bad writing, pigeonholing an entire metatype into one "culture", with a binary option to either opt in or opt out of it.  Previous overviews of the metatypes, even the short snippets in the main SR5 book, were good overviews that laid out typical traits of the metatype, the reasons for them, and how some individuals of that metatype didn't fit the stereotypes.  Run Faster has a lot of good resources for players and GMs, but this section really fell flat.

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Re: Metatype Cultures
« Reply #7 on: (02:45:43/01-07-17) »
Hindu is still split into MANY sects.  I'm talking about the size of a single sect compared to the entire dwarf population.  According to the internet, 15 percent of the world is Hindu.  Split that into the numerous different sects, and it's a significantly smaller number.  And for a LOT of those people, they're also geographically close to eachother.  Otherwise you wouldn't be able to say "non-western".  A majority of the reason those people would feel that way is because it's how everyone they were raised around feels.  It's how the people in that area act, and people generally want to fit in to the culture around them as it's what they've been raised with, and it feels right.

So why isn't that the case for dwarves?  They're raised fitting in to the mainstream society around them (as again, the book mentions how dwarves meld into society with minimal issue).  But apparently regardless of who's around them, or how they were raised, they are either part of the 3/4 of dwarves in a global megacommunity, or one of the exiles who is looked down upon by all the other dwarves.  And even then, that just means they prefer exile dwarves, not non-dwarves.  The books talk about it like it's a basic binary function.

But here's another thing. According to Shadowrun, even the Hindu people?  The dwarves among them would rather deal with foreign dwarves with totally different political and religious values than the non-dwarves of the same sect and caste.  Or rather deal with dwarves from the "wrong" sect, over an elf from the same sect or caste as them.

Yes, it's just bad, bad writing, pigeonholing an entire metatype into one "culture", with a binary option to either opt in or opt out of it.  Previous overviews of the metatypes, even the short snippets in the main SR5 book, were good overviews that laid out typical traits of the metatype, the reasons for them, and how some individuals of that metatype didn't fit the stereotypes.  Run Faster has a lot of good resources for players and GMs, but this section really fell flat.

I am curious if any of this kind of culture was mentioned in the earlier editions.
« Last Edit: (02:56:01/01-07-17) by firebug »
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Re: Metatype Cultures
« Reply #8 on: (17:12:52/01-07-17) »
I feel like that section of Run Faster tried to give each race a somewhat distinct feeling from each other, and that extends into culture, but it also doesn't necessarily take into account  how integrated and spread out the various metatypes are. Or at least it should be noted that the metaracial stereotypes are sometimes true, I'm some circumstances, and to some people. But it isn't universal.

Elves, as an example, are like you said and is stated in the books, subconsciously held on a pedestal as pretty, arrogant, occasionally aloof, etc. The Elves of the Tirs certainly play up certain racial stereotypes, especially when it comes to the superiority and mysticism of the metarace. But as for elves in other cities/countries/etc? A lot if them probably say "Frag that" and just try to be treated like everyone else.

So for Dwarves, I can see how maybe there's developed a sort of social acceptance/belief that Dwarves will be treated well by and treat other Dwarves with a little more courtesy, honesty, etc than other meta races. And if you treat them poorly or well, word gets around, not unlike some Jewish communities in even current times.

Doesn't mean it's a 100% truism everywhere. With things like that, I tend to take the wording they have and dilute in water until it makes sense to me.
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Re: Metatype Cultures
« Reply #9 on: (03:01:40/01-08-17) »
With things like that, I tend to take the wording they have and dilute in water until it makes sense to me.

That's really the only way for it to seem believable.  It's just harder for me to do that for the presented dwarven culture when they explicitly state that it's all one group, and that about 3/4 of all dwarves are part of it.

If it was stated that among a local community, dwarves will all naturally stick together and help eachother (not to the point of excluding everyone else, but) regardless of the dwarf's social class or whatever, that can make sense.  Something like that "Dwarves tend to always seek a sense of community with eachother in addition to the community they are in, with the dwarves around them." instead of "Dwarves form a single global community they are all either a part of or exiled from that takes precedence over any culture they're a part of."

It's so unbelievably extreme; but if you water it down to something that actually reflects how people work then it's fine.  It's just clearly not what is written in the chapter.
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Re: Metatype Cultures
« Reply #10 on: (11:53:53/01-12-17) »
Well dwarves, like elves, are also both subjected to and are subject to "being put on a pedestal ".  The reason why dwarves integrate so well into mainstream society is exactly because of this. Dwarves are thought of as honest hard working people who prize doing a good job above all else, so in essence are judged just as much as elves are based on stereotypes originating in decades if not more of fantasy influenced images of how dwarves are.

The dwarves them selves are not immune to buying into this stereotypical image, so it is not inconceivable that many of them would indeed prefer their own kind due to this. Also remember that the dwarves did face their share of prejudice in the beginning of the 6th world, the ork underground in Seattle were founded by orcs and dwarves together for example.

I'm not saying that they didn't go overboard in their description of how all encompassing this dwarf culture is but given the fact that social media makes physical distances a lesser factor it isn't totally inconceivable that a dwarf culture similar to how tribal bonds transcends national borders could have grown out of a feeling of shared experiences and a buying into their own stereotypical image.

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Re: Metatype Cultures
« Reply #11 on: (12:55:02/01-12-17) »
I sort of figured it was allegory to the world's Jewish population (which happens all the time with dwarfs); going by 'generalities,' you can take a Jewish person from Ethiopia, Ukraine, Israel and the United States, throw them in a room and common ground and camaraderie will be developed very quickly compared to others.  I'm not making any claims as to how valid it is, just that it seems to be a perspective the writer may have been working from. 
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Re: Metatype Cultures
« Reply #12 on: (15:23:55/01-16-17) »
Kind of / sort of.  Here's the singular thing that really does bind the dwarves together racially, across tribal / cultural lines:

Height.

Yeah, I went there, but it's true - culture is created or, arguably, can be said to exist, when there is a commonality between two or more people.  When you have your 14% of the world population averaging a foot and a half less height than everyone else around them, there is an immediate, instinctive 'us vs. them' insularity created.  There's a similarity for trolls, but going down is easier than going up.

"Oh, god you have all your counters at a decent height.  And the fridge!!"
"I know, right?  I can't tell you how many times I've gone over to a friend's house --"
"-- and had to grab a chair to get a beer off the top shelf of the refrigerator!!"
"Bingo!!  Or a glass out of the cupboard ..."

It's immediate bonding material.  Even if they have literally nothing else in common, physical characteristics mean something, they matter.  It forms a bond, however tenuous, to the point where calling attention to it in order to indicate that someone is not going to get special treatment because of it would be a thing.  "And don't think I'm gonna cut you any slack just 'cause you're a dwarf too."  But if absolutely nothing else can be a topic of conversation, bitching about 'the bigs' and their heightist attitudes will always be a dwarven icebreaker.
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Re: Metatype Cultures
« Reply #13 on: (17:21:43/01-16-17) »
I feel like that section of Run Faster tried to give each race a somewhat distinct feeling from each other, and that extends into culture, but it also doesn't necessarily take into account  how integrated and spread out the various metatypes are. Or at least it should be noted that the metaracial stereotypes are sometimes true, I'm some circumstances, and to some people. But it isn't universal.

(snip)

Doesn't mean it's a 100% truism everywhere. With things like that, I tend to take the wording they have and dilute in water until it makes sense to me.

I super agree with the last part of your post!  Writers always seem eager to make big points, and that tends to make things go too far.  Of course if they keep things light and throw in a ton of generalities then we read the section and go "Well, that was a waste of time."

I get that they probably felt that dwarves needed a more distinct identity, but personally I tend to ignore that portion in my game, or at least modify it to make it less of one cohesive culture, and more that dwarves form strong networks. 

Think about it, with their lifespans and tendency towards good health, most of the SURGE baby dwarves are still alive and in the prime of their lives, by this point many having reached quite senior positions (to the limits of what racial bias they face).  After all they are every bit as smart as humans are on average, and have better self-regulation, so overall they'll probably do a little bit better.  But they started off as a pretty small minority and faced barriers ranging from 'can barely see over the board room table' to outright anti-meta bias.  They have a strong chance of deciding to mentor other dwarves, support other dwarves, reach out to other dwarves, etc.  This sort of tendency will tend to form strong networks.

I don't think that this automatically means that two dwarves from wildly different spheres, groups, cultures, etc will automatically choose to work together, but I would say that within regions and groups there is a pretty strong expectation of reciprocal support, and possibly quite strongly closed ranks against those who will not support the others or bring them a bad name.  I just don't see it as a global fixed network where you are in or out everywhere.  Especially as mechanically neither the core book nor Run Faster chose to reflect this at all.

 

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