Zombies Don’t Have Gender


The other day I was reminded that I never posted how things went when Javi was DMing at Anonycon.

The quick summary is that he had a great time and was eager to do it again this weekend. He has not yet learned practical aspects of the craft: if you let the players buy dragons at the ride shop in town, or pour the M&Ms GaryCon’s DM concierge service brought him onto the table and say “everybody take four”, it will take a long time to get everyone to focus on the dungeon again. However I am filled with pride that he knows that dragon-riding and candy-coated chocolate are good ways to awesome up your players.

Quote from the player of the druid Layla, sitting to the left of the GM screen: “Skeletons don’t have gender.”

Quote from Javi, boasting to a spectator: ‘I’m draining levels!”

Javi played in two other all-kids games earlier at GaryCon. Friday’s was very expertly run by the player of Sir George, identifiable in the picture above by his black gm lanyard. Saturday’s Haunted Keep was run by Paul Stormberg, who taught me that bringing a treasure chest full of coins, jewels, potions, wands, and cloaks is a great way to awesome up kids especially; he kept them enthralled for seven hours (!).

13 Responses to “Zombies Don’t Have Gender”

  1. 1 SAROE
    March 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Uh, yeah they do. Skeletal differences is often how they tell the gender of decayed bodies. There is an entire TV show about it.

  2. March 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Probably forensic anthropology is among a druid’s talents, but it was cross-talk overheard at the table not relevant to the plot so this opportunity to add educational content to roleplaying with kids was missed.

  3. 3 richardjohnguy
    March 25, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I imagine Layla’s player was talking about animate skeletons, which is an interesting thought – perhaps they don’t each have their very own actuating ghost, which might have some memory of gender. Perhaps instead they’re animated by a general (collective?), genderless malignity? Or maybe gender, that highly social construct, just doesn’t survive the rigours of decomposition?

  4. 4 Anne
    March 25, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Perhaps she was making a commentary about the culture of the intelligent undead. Skeletons belonged to men and women when they were alive, and may still be identifiable as such as undead. But skeletons do not identify themselves with gender, and gender is not an important organizing feature of skeleton society.

    What forms of inequality structure the wealth and power among skeletons? Perhaps it is size, and perhaps in their total inversion of all the norms of the living, status among skeletons accrues to the smallest. At the bottom of society are giants and men. The middle class contains women, elves, and dwarfs. The elite come from children, halflings, and goblins. The kings, of course, are the infants and the still-borne, who rule the dead, having barely known life.

  5. 5 John
    March 25, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    While skeletons do, arguably, have sex, in that they can be divided into male and female by physical traits, one would have a hard time arguing that they have gender, either in the sense of a self-identity, or as a social construct imposed from without. Layla’s player was obviously making an incisive point about the cultural gender binary and its effect on our perceptions of the undead community.

  6. 6 richardjohnguy
    March 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    yeah, John said what I meant, but I wish I’d meant what Anne said.

  7. 7 John
    March 25, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    So that makes my comment redundant AND inadequate, I guess.

  8. March 25, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Javi just opened the laptop and said in an exasperated presaging-teenage-years “Dad, you got it wrong, she said zombies don’t have gender.” I changed the title of the post as he requested, but left the text alone to explain our digression which would have likely been quite different if I had paid more attention to which combat I was writing about.

  9. 9 richardjohnguy
    March 25, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Sorry, John. Not at all what I meant. I have to get better at this communicating thing.
    Zombies, though – that’s even more interesting and rather confirms our discussion.

    … of all the undead I’d imagine vampires, ghosts and liches would be the most gendered, but what do I know? Maybe dying immediately clears that whole eros/thanatos thing right up.

  10. 10 John
    March 25, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    ^^ I was just kidding.

  11. March 26, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Few of the lesser undead are properly accessorized to be female.

  12. March 26, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Javi clarified the conversation leading up to the reflection on zombie gender:

    DM: The zombies are attacking Mr. and Mrs. Jones’ house!
    Player: How do we know it’s Mr. and Mrs. Jones’ house?

    DM: The zombie slaps the cleric across the face for 4 damage!
    Cleric player, girl: You wouldn’t hit a girl, would you?
    Another player, boy: What if the zombie is a girl?
    Druid player, girl: Zombies don’t have gender.

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Past Adventures of the Mule

March 2012

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