How Pathfinder creates a Troubling Worldview

I’m sure you only have good intentions, but this article makes it sound like you have just about as much of a grasp on tabletop games as the writers of Mazes and Monsters. That, or you‘ve had boring and unambitious DMs. Lemme go piece by piece over your analysis:

Some Things are Inherent

Someone already mentioned it but it bears repeating again; race in a tabletop game isn’t synonymous with skin pigment and ethnicity like in the real world. Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, etc. are completely different species that have evolved in different environments. Its not a distinction of “white people vs. black people vs. asian people.” but “lions vs. bears vs. wolves.” Meanwhile in the Pathfinder setting there are various different human ethnic groups and cultures, but there are no gameplay advantages/disadvantages based on it. Humans are equal regardless of their ethnicity.

Furthermore there is nothing stopping you from making a character that bucks fantasy tropes. Wanna make a Gnome thats a burly, badass barbarian? Go ahead. Wanna make a Dwarve that ditches the classic battleaxe and warhammer in favor of being a ranger? Knock yourself out. Wanna play as an Elf that’s a rugged gunslinger of few words like The Man With No Name? That’s what I did recently and it was awesome.

Now I will give you that there are systems out there like FATAL and MYFAROG that do treat human races the way you describe and with very, very prejudiced implications. However these systems are extremely unpopular and if they are brought up its usually to mock them for how morally and mechanically terrible they are.

Violence is what Matters

Again, this sounds more like a problem with the group of people you play RPGs with than a problem with the game itself. Yes, combat is a huge aspect of Pathfinder but its not the only aspect. Players can easily make characters geared towards nonviolent means of advancing through the campaign and getting more power, and likewise a DM can make a campaign focused on solving problem through means other than violence.

For example, one of the most celebrated videogame adaptations of DnD is Planescape: Torment. Its possible to play through the whole game as your typical stab first, ask questions later murderhobo. However, the game puts a much larger emphasis on using intelligence and social skills to solve your problems. The most rewarding way to complete the average quest is not by stabbing/shooting/spellcasting your problems away, but by solving puzzles, gathering information, and persuading people to help you out.

And if you just happened to be turned off at the idea of any system that puts a heavy emphasis on combat, there are plenty of systems out there that don’t. Vampire: The Masquerade does have a combat system with plenty of creative ways to be violent, but a larger focus on the game is based off of using deception, guile, and navigating the courtly politics and intrigue of Kindred society.

This is Complicated and You are Smart.

I’m not gonna argue much with this point because, frankly, I’m not a part of the greater Pathfinder online community you talk about. My community is limited mostly to the people I play games with and already have a good rapport with. I’m sorry that you’ve run into assholes that decided mocking your difficulties with playing the game is more productive than actually helping you out. All I can say is that its a problem that’s not unique to Pathfinder’s playerbase. Many a player has horror stories about running into “That Guy” who decided to be as abrasive as possible in games that are ultimately about working together as a team. Luckily, they are as you mention a small group, and there are plenty of players out there that are willing to help less experienced ones out.

The thing about Pathfinder, like other TTRPGS, is that there’s no “correct” way to play it outside of using the rules, and even then there’s nothing stopping your group from changing and altering them. Your accusations that the system inherently promotes prejudice and violence as acceptable in the real world at best comes off awkward and at worst sounds like a politics-flipped version of the panic against D&D back in the 70s and 80s. Its a big tool box for the DM and PCs to use to make their own world.