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Thread: Are there going to be POC (People of Color) in The Banner Saga?

  1. #1
    Junior Member jobedius's Avatar
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    Question Are there going to be POC (People of Color) in The Banner Saga?

    Because there have been people from all over the world in Europe in Viking times (the Vikings have been as far as Constantinople so why shouldn't people from other regions have been to Europe) and since Stoic takes a realistic approach on the Viking theme (no horned helmets, yay!) I think out would make sense to include people of color.

    Plus, it would be awesome!

  2. #2
    Backer Aduro Visare's Avatar
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    Hmm, I could see POC being used somewhere in the game. Maybe in later parts as the Viking group continue migrating there could be a chance to move into new lands and then we could see more a more diverse cast. Could also be interesting if they had a fantasy mash-up of the Vikings and the Zulu people or something similar (Zulu>Egyptians because latter is overplayed).

    Still, even as a person with African roots I would feel that having POC just for the sake of it is unnecessary. And having POC as part of the Viking hoard would seem strange if there is no back story to describe why he/she is there. Maybe an immigrant that joined? Would his/her differences cause conflicts in the camp and thereby force the player to make decisions about how to deal with this problem? I could possibly see that, but having random POC sprinkled into the units would be just too unViking.
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  3. #3
    Backer lamaz's Avatar
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    I agree with Aduro Visare that having a POC for just the sake of it would be little odd. But it would be cool if there was like one guy who'd be this wise man/great warrior/adventurer or something who had joined up with the rest of the caravan. Sort of like Morgan Freeman!

  4. #4
    Junior Member jobedius's Avatar
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    Of course nobody wants a token POC, nevertheless I am really bored of the whites-only Europe portrayed in 99% of all fantasy worlds (thank god Stoic chose not to include the standard goblin and orc villains but go for the Shadow of the Colossus-like Dredge).

    I don't know if I really agree on the notion that POC would need a backstory on why they would be there more than any other character would need one. I have no idea how scientifically proven this is but the explanation that the Roman Empire stretched across almost all of Europe and North Africa and since the Romans did not only conquer lands but also integrated people into their society (military, bureaucracy, etc.), by the time of the Vikings Romans of African/Middle Eastern origin just where present in Europe (plus traders, slaves, scholars etc.). I think that our present picture of Europe in medieval times is whitewashed and it should not strike us as odd to have non-white vikings. They should not need an „in case your wondering“-explanation. But of course of our image of white Europe they would.

    Or maybe they wouldn't. Though they don't play a huge role in the movie I like the diversity of the monks in Brendan and the Secret of Kells. And they didn't strike me as odd or out of place at all even though I watched this movie (more than once) way before I started to care about this.

    And just to feed this with at least one tiny fact: One of the two women buried in the Oseberg ship was (probably) of Iranian origin.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by jobedius View Post
    Of course nobody wants a token POC, nevertheless I am really bored of the whites-only Europe portrayed in 99% of all fantasy worlds
    I completely agree, and do wonder would the inclusion of POC characters really be all that jarring to your average player.

    Also, relevant link
    (*cough cough tv tropes cough*)

  6. #6
    Backer lamaz's Avatar
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    Thanks for the interesting links POC in Viking era Scandinavia still seem to have had somewhat interesting backstories. The high-ranking woman in the Wikipedia article certainly seems to have had one. So I think a backstory would still serve a purpose.

    If there would be POC in the game and none of them were a main character or otherwise explored in more detail it would probably start an outcry of some sort. The characters in the main cast will need to have backstories, would be odd if they didn't, right?

    Anyway, I think Stoic has answered a question concerning this matter in some interview.. I just can't find the interview now.

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    Junior Member ali123's Avatar
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    Superbacker Troll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lamaz View Post
    Thanks for the interesting links POC in Viking era Scandinavia still seem to have had somewhat interesting backstories. The high-ranking woman in the Wikipedia article certainly seems to have had one. So I think a backstory would still serve a purpose.

    If there would be POC in the game and none of them were a main character or otherwise explored in more detail it would probably start an outcry of some sort. The characters in the main cast will need to have backstories, would be odd if they didn't, right?

    Anyway, I think Stoic has answered a question concerning this matter in some interview.. I just can't find the interview now.
    First of all, to have a POC in a far northern country, that person would obviously have some kind of story, since at that time he could only hve been there by having traveled (or made to). And I totally agree that it mustn't feel strange to see the guy without a single reason for his presence.

    If you think of a The 13th Warrior style background, now that makes things interesting.
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  9. #9
    Backer Rymdkejsaren's Avatar
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    Historically a person of colour amongst the vikings would most likely have been taken as a slave and then brought back home. They could then have worked their way to become a free man or woman. The vikings valued skill highly so if you were good at what you did (fighting, keeping house, a craft) then you could earn your place amongst them no matter what your skin colour was (not that it would have been an easy road, their society was very brutal).
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  10. #10
    As a Norwegian I couldn't be more strongly opposed to that idea. It'd ruin the authenticity of the setting, and greatly reduce my immersion in it. It'd be contrived political correctness, akin to when Hollywood changed our pagan god Heimdallr ("whitest of the gods") into an African in the recent Thor movie. I trust Stoic to remain true to their current vision.


    Quote Originally Posted by lamaz View Post
    But it would be cool if there was like one guy who'd be this wise man/great warrior/adventurer or something who had joined up with the rest of the caravan. Sort of like Morgan Freeman!
    That's possibly the most stereotypical kind of character that exists in the American film industry, and Morgan Freeman almost always plays that exact character in different kinds of settings.
    Last edited by Enorthmar; 01-04-2013 at 05:41 PM.

  11. #11
    Backer Grits's Avatar
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    Interesting post. I'm all for diversity but not if it's forced. No reason why every game needs to have one character from each race.

  12. #12
    Junior Member jobedius's Avatar
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    @Enorthmar:

    I'm repeating myself and others here but since you seem to largely ignore everything that has been said before in this thread, here we go again:

    "As a Norwegian" I'm sure you will have noticed that there are POC walking the streets of your country right now. Why would you think that they have not been there at Viking times, especially when back then the Muslim world was the center and the technologically most "advanced" culture of the "western" world? The Norwegian Vikings made their money mostly with slave trade if I remember correctly (I think Dublin was set up as a slave trading post) and the slaves where brought to Constantinople and other places in the Mediterranean by the Vikings. That's why you find Arab silver coins in Viking graves.

    Anyway, it's pretty bizzare to grant the Vikings that they might have traveled as far as America but at the same time to believe that none of the Arabs ever went to Europe. And this is just plain wrong: Arabs did travel to Europe: the real life inspiration of the main character of the aforementioned The 13th Warrior, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, was an Arab scholar who traveled to today's Russia and gave first hand witness of a Viking ship burial.

    So it is a fact that non-white people and Vikings have met in the north of Europe and if POC in the Banner Saga would brake your immersion that doesn't have to do anything with "authenticity" at all but with the (unauthentic) whitewashed picture Hollywood and other media paint of this era (history being written by the winners …).

    I think it would be nice if the Banner Saga would be one of the places where we start working against this distorted view of reality so in the future people don't have to be "opposed" to POC in the North.

    I'm sorry that racebending Heimdallr hurt your pagan feelings but now you know how lots of people all over the world feel almost constantly because that happens the other way round all the time, (see racebending.com and their tumblr). Also, did it ever occur to you that Morgan Freeman "always" plays the Magical Negro because that's one of the few roles (white) Hollywood screenwriters can think up for black actors?

    Anyway, fear not: I'm pretty sure that there won't be any POC whatsoever in the Banner Saga and you can immerse yourself fully in this authentic Aryan version of Viking life (with authentic horned gods an authentic strange glowing creatures).

  13. #13
    Backer Allvaldr's Avatar
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    Sure enough there were POCs (what silly term is that anyway? Did I miss the latest step in political correctness?) in Viking Scandinavia ... in the major port cities. To start claiming here you'd find POCs all over the place is just a completely idiotic point of view.

    Heck, I was born in the 1980s and I never even saw a living, breathing POC until my first visit to a major trade city as a teen.

    And to get back to this Achmed type ... why do you think his travels are considered so historic, why is his name still known in history? Because it wasn't normal what he did. If you were to find a kebab shop in every viking hamlet, obviously this person wouldn't have been of any relevance to history.
    Last edited by Allvaldr; 02-20-2013 at 06:06 PM.

  14. #14
    In this context, what about Asian characters? I believe they most likely also existed in or around Viking society, seeing as the Vikings went as far as what is commonly seen as the border of Asia (Constantinople, Volga river).

  15. #15
    Senior Member Jorgensager's Avatar
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    I don't know where people arguing "POC" lived among the Vikings in Scandinavia get their facts, but it sounds very implausible. If you have any trustworthy links on this I would be interested, however most of what is presented as arguments in this thread so far largely appears as grasping at straws to me.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by The New Romance View Post
    In this context, what about Asian characters? I believe they most likely also existed in or around Viking society, seeing as the Vikings went as far as what is commonly seen as the border of Asia (Constantinople, Volga river).
    I'm not really sure that anyone, when asked what race the Turks or Slavs fall under, would say "Asian".

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    I'm not really sure that anyone, when asked what race the Turks or Slavs fall under, would say "Asian".
    Maybe not the Slavs, that's true. However, the Turks are, well, Asian. This map shows the current Turkic states. I'd say they lie in Asia. As a comparison, take this map. Maybe there's confusion about the words, as "race" is a quite complex term, but I'd say modern Turk people definitely are part of Asia, and thus - at least in my nomenclature - Asian.

    As an example, take the Khazar Empire. This realm conincided quite nicely with the Vikings, and as a quite important player and ally of Constantinople most likely even had direct contact with Vikings. Part of the empire lay in Asia, and they may have looked like this. Of course, these are not Chinese (or otherwise classically Asian) features, but still different from your typical Viking.

    However, I don't want no quarrel - I just want to point out that Asian and Arabic/North African-looking people might be more realistic in a Viking setting than straight out "POC". Also, if you like chaos, put the opening paragraphs of this blog post into the fray to discover that apparently Khazars may have consisted of both "black" and "white" people (or maybe it was just a confused historical source).

    I don't even know where this leads us with regard to the current discussion, but yeah. Apparently a lot is possible - whether it makes sense in the game is a different matter.
    Last edited by The New Romance; 02-21-2013 at 09:21 PM.

  18. #18
    Junior Member Ziggy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enorthmar View Post
    It'd ruin the authenticity of the setting, and greatly reduce my immersion in it.
    That's massively subjective, and kind of a strange artificial line in the sands of your disbelief. You've excepted that it's Scandinavian based, rather than an authentic representation of Medieval Scandinavia, and while certainly "as many elements as possible" go towards retaining the essential look and feel, I don't believe you can hold any one of them up as vital.

    Which isn't to say I think there should be coloured characters for the sake, given the way they're using art assets the implementation would probably be weird, but that I find that point odd.

  19. #19
    Junior Member R00K's Avatar
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    There are two distinct examples of how this could work if it had to: the Redguard in the Elder Scroll series and European traders/priests in Shogun/Shogun2 total war. Each has a different approach as one is fantasy, and the other historical - both are great games.

    This is a fantasy game, so there are options, but why? Functionally, why? Imagine that all of the characters were blue...what then? As this game is clearly based on Northern European culture pre-1066, inclusion of other groups would be odd if not done carefully. For example, I would be disappointed if there were white samurai in the Shogun 2 game/addons.

    Historically, the Vikings sold European slaves to Arabs, but did not buy slaves from Africa. THe Vikings were after silver. They had plenty of European slaves from raids all over Europe. The trade also occurred in and around the south shore of the Black Sea (Turkey), not in Northern Europe, so there would have been no encounters in Northern Europe between those living there and Arab or other "races". Historical Scandinavia, the Baltics, Wendland(Poland), the Rus, and Viking lands to the west, were homogeneously white. Likewise, Japan was strickly Asian, etc.

    The most authentic possibility would be to include Sami, or even "Skraeling" (Inuit–Yupik) peoples.

    Ask yourselves why someone might want other races or cultures expressed in this setting. Also ask yourselves how much do we want to make of race?

    Have fun!

    As an addendum, Viking history/lore does include references to leaders going to Finland for Sami magic. If magic users were included, Sami-esques people would make sense. The Sami for those who do not know, are an isolated "race" with a yet unclear origin. https://www.utexas.edu/courses/sami/d...st/genetic.htm
    Last edited by R00K; 03-03-2013 at 09:09 AM. Reason: A little more info. Removed POC - its a racially loaded and hardly universal expression that is very exclusive.

  20. #20
    @OP: There was really no need for such an utterly obnoxious and insecure reply to Enorthmar's post. Your thematic suggestion is an outlandish and an unlikely one as you yourself have noted; counter opinions are inevitable. If you think that hiding behind a guise of political correctness makes your rudeness any less tiresome to others then you are quite wrong, sir.

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