Idiomdrottning’s homepage

RE: How to represent disabilities in games

Bouncepaw brought up

How to represent disabilities in games

The answer is veeeery carefully.♥

On my street growing up there was a deaf girl (much older than us, while her sister was much younger than us, so we didn’t hang out with them much), a blind couple, and a man who had lost one hand. Later, one of my friends lost her leg and another friend lost his eye to a tumor. I don’t wanna kid around with this stuff or gamify it too much.

The topic shouldn’t become a joke or a toy. It’s always serious and portrayed as a serious challenge; it has spawed scenes of loss, of grief, of acceptance, of overcoming hardships and of caring for each other, helping each other; being reluctant to accept help or being grateful to accept help.

With my house rules for injuries in D&D characters can become disabled and that has happened often.

Oh, Injury!

We have rules for how that makes some things more difficult. How speed is affected by leg injuries, vision by eye injuries, and having only one arm might be the biggest limitation because it makes it difficult to combine a lamp and a spear, or combine a lamp with doing the somatic components for spells. Some weapons also deal more damage if you can use both hands.

We also have house rules (not polished & published yet, forthcoming) about crafting and using peg legs and prosthetics. There are also magic-infused versions of such things.

Teleportation, magic vision, telepathy and other such things exist in the game world, and spells that help you learn sign language more rapidly.

I don’t want to fall into the “disability as a super power” trope. We do have a houserule that disabled characters advance in level more rapidly.

School of the Hard Knocks

The original reason I brought in this rule is so that players remember their character’s scars. When it’s just words on a paper it’s easy to forget compared to in real life when it’s always there, always something you can reach out and touch.

An unintended consequence of this rule is that since XP (experience points, which you use to level) is derived from challenge, and the rules for vision, movement and dexterity make the game more challenging for disabled characters, IDK, it just has felt more fair, I dunno.

Every human is different and I can’t point to one mobility-impaired person and say “See! She is OK with these rules!” because no invididual can speak for an entire group. It’s a difficult subject and you need to check in with the other players if they don’t seem OK with having it in the game.

Don’t make it a comedy and don’t exploit it as a tragedy either.

It just is.