<p>I meant that I didn’t play during Kaladesh and I’m not super familiar with either the worldbuilding of the set nor the specific content of the criticisms of it. I want to understand why people take issue with it. What exactly is it about the depictions in Kaladesh that people find objectionable? I simply don’t know what the criticisms are, only that they exist and I want to better understand what it is about Kaladesh that people find offensive, insensitive, or disappointing. </p>
Sorry for the delay, I wanted to make sure I had time and write some out properly. I’m not going to link to a specific blog post because every time it makes the rounds, the people who wrote about it get hate. For the purposes of this discussion, and to avoid confusion, I’m going to use the term “South Asian” here to encompass the countries in the Indian subcontinent (some people get hung up on ‘Indian’).
Here are high-level issues.
- It’s a South Asian setting where no one South Asian was on the creative team. There were consultants, yes, but it’s unclear in what capacity.
- The plane’s aesthetic is explicitly inspired by South Asian jewelry, not really culture. So it’s just costuming. Anyone who wanted a top down South Asian setting probably isn’t going to get one, as WotC staff have made statements in the past that audiences wouldn’t ‘get’ it. So Kaladesh is it
- The angels (a western religious concept) used imagery typically used to depict Hindu deities. Also, there are angels. And no avatars, weirdly, which IS a Hindu thing that would have been mostly okay to use and work with the worldbuilding (Avatar of Invention rather than Angel of Invention).
- It’s ‘aetherpunk’. which is a reskinned steampunk and steampunk, as a genre, has a lot of roots in British colonialism, which, uh, very negatively impacted South Asia.
- I don’t like the gremlins. This is just me, but gremlins in the modern concept were a folklore thing from British RAF pilots typically in colonized countries, which is a bad look with everything above.
- Cat hybrids. South Asia doesn’t really have a cat thing, culturally, so it’s weird they’re all here.
- Rakshasa is the Hindi word for demon, but D&D has them as weird cat demon things, and then it’s not used at all.
This isn’t everything, and this is just my opinion, but the bottom line is (as the father of a boy of Indian descent) it’s VERY HARD to find positive South Asian representation in media. I love Kaladesh, but that doesn’t mean it’s without problems.