Because Legion of Liberty: Superheroes of 1776 was set in an alternate colonial America, a number of thorny issues were inevitably going to come up in the setting – slavery, treatment of indigenous peoples, and gender issues. As a middle-aged privileged white guy, I recognized a high probability of mis-steps in this arena. Fortunately, I saw a post on Twitter asking for people to name an awesome diversity consultant, and that led me to James Mendez Hodes.
I came a bit late to the party in terms of diversity consulting; ideally, it happens in the setting development rather than after a near-final draft has been written. This is why James’s credit in the setting book is “Late Stage” consulting. With that said, the process was very straightforward and, as far as I am concerned, completely worthwhile.
James reviewed the complete text of Legion of Liberty, looking for anything concerning and making suggestions for changes. One simple one was to use singular “they” for gender-ambiguous pronouns, rather than either all “his” or alternating “his” and “hers”. He also suggested a statement of reconciliation explicitly acknowledging the land rights of indigenous peoples that were forced from their homes of origin by European colonists.
Part of Happy Monster’s mission statement is to make games for everyone. That means we need to take into account cultural wounds and conflicts that might affect players’ ability to enjoy the game. History is full of such issues, and alternate history is not a “get out of jail free” card for it. I’m confident that Legion of Liberty is a better product for considering these issues with James’s help.