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D&D 5E A Lineage and Its Variants: The New Race Format Going Forward

Given fictional worlds filled with stuff that blatantly defies the knowledge science has provided us, why insist on this one thing holding?
Sure, it doesn't need to. But this started by a person (incorrectly) applying a modern definition of species into fantasy context. If we say that: "This setting has several intelligent species, such as humans, elves, dragonborn and goblins," most people can understand what is meant just fine.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Sure, it doesn't need to. But this started by a person (incorrectly) applying a modern definition of species into fantasy context. If we say that: "This setting has several intelligent species, such as humans, elves, dragonborn and goblins," most people can understand what is meant just fine.

Why not say, "This setting has several intelligent peoples...."? It is understandable, but removes the implied real-world-biology model that doesn't hold up under scrutiny.
 

Why not say, "This setting has several intelligent peoples...."? It is understandable, but removes the implied real-world-biology model that doesn't hold up under scrutiny.
Because it doesn't actually tell you what's going on. Like sure, if I say "humans, elves and dragonborn" you can conclude that these are actually different species as you're familiar with them, but if this was custom world, and I said "Oggs, Hyrrans and the Boobli" you wouldn't know if these were different species, or whether this was analogous to "French, Swedish and Chinese," cultures of one species.
 
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Helpful NPC Thom

Adventurer
The argument that "genetics in D&D don't work like genetics in real life" is like saying "physics in D&D don't work like physics in real life," except they do. Presumably, a spark and kindling produce fire, fire and water produce steam, and steam and a teakettle produce a whistling that tells the British it's time for biscuits.

Certain expectations from the real world carry over into the game, and they inform and ground gameplay.

The implication of the D&D rules is that yes, genetics do work like real life, which is why half-elves and half-dragons and aasimar and tieflings and sorcerer bloodlines exist. The racial change is arbitrary and amounts to "a wizard did it" for explanation, which rightly rankles those who enjoy a marginally more cohesive fantasy world, those who enjoy the design aspect of racial ability scores, and those who enjoy keeping D&D's traditions alive.

It's not a dealbreaker for me, but sweeping discontent under the rug with "it's fantasy, it doesn't have to work like real life" is quite dismissive.

For those dissatisfied with the changes, I can only encourage you to take the chassis of D&D and customize it for your home games. Remove, alter, and add elements according to your preference. It's how Runequest started.
 
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That's... kind of the point isn't it?

Because if you did create all new peoples, you would then describe them in the work, thus clearing up any confusion.
Sure. But point still stands that 'peoples' in usual parlance refers to cultures. So if we use it to refer to different species too, it is weird and potentially confusing. Are my character's 'peoples' humans or Cormyrians? In a world where different intelligent species actually exist, they absolutely would have clear terminology for this.
 

Composer99

Adventurer
@Lyxen, @Yaarel quoted the WotC Gothic Lineages Unearthed Arcana in a post on the first page of this thread.

The pertinent paragraph is
Finally, going forward, the term “race” in D&D refers only to the suite of game features used by player characters. Said features don’t have any bearing on monsters and NPCs who are members of the same species or lineage, since monsters and NPCs in D&D don’t rely on race or class to function. [Emphasis added by Yaarel.]
which states outright that monsters belong to a species or lineage (otherwise they couldn't belong to the "same species or lineage" as player characters).

It... doesn't make sense to insist that people can't show you "a monster that has a lineage" when there is WotC documentation that explicitly states monsters and NPCs are members of a species or lineage.

Perhaps it's the case that no monster or NPC stat block refers to the term "lineage" as of yet (and might never do so explicitly), but... there it is in black and white: monsters and NPCs are members of a species or lineage. If a monster stat block as "orc" in the name, are we really supposed to assume it's not the same lineage as a player character orc (or in the same family of orc lineages if there are many to choose from)?

(I suppose you could argue that "same species or lineage" isn't meant to refer to the species or lineage of player characters, but the sentence IMO parses better if it is meant to refer to PC species or lineage, what with the follow-on reference to monsters and NPCs not needing to "rely on race or class to function." But even then, monsters and NPCs are pretty clearly members of a species or lineage.)

Finally, lest you refer to the fact that the UA is a playtest document and its contents are therefore provisional, I should note that the text quoted comes from a 'Design Notes' sidebar (single-quotes used to differentiate using quote marks for definitional purposes versus actual quoting of other text), a peek behind the design intent curtain rather than regular playtest content.
 

Dausuul

Legend
The implication of the D&D rules is that yes, genetics do work like real life, which is why half-elves and half-dragons and aasimar and tieflings and sorcerer bloodlines exist.
I believe that is the first time I've seen half-dragons advanced as an example of genetics working like real life*.

*I mean, okay, granted, a dragon is a fictional creature; it is theoretically conceivable that its DNA could be compatible with human DNA. But in the real world, one would not generally expect a six-limbed, scaled, multi-ton, egg-laying species to interbreed successfully with humans.
 

Ulorian

Explorer
Mod Note:
I was responding to a report on the post - folks were being ticked off by it, and with some cause.

I chose to respond conversationally, rather than with red text, because I thought folks here would prefer that to the alternative red text, warning points, and thread-bans we otherwise tend to use. The failure of instinct was merely that people would want to consider what was being said, and choose appropriately, rather than be forced to do it by authoritarian voice.

Pardon me for not putting on the hob nail boots for a first approach. I will not likely make that mistake again for a while.
All good. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I don't think there is just cause for being ticked off with the original post but that's my opinion and not germane to this conversation.

I agree with your conclusion that it's better to mod a post with a mod voice. Whether you agree or disagree with the fact that there is a problem with the post, you're just doing your job by responding in the manner in which you did and shouldn't receive any flak for doing so. Fist bump? Or just a cold and clinical handshake for appearances? 😬
 

Laurefindel

Legend
Given fictional worlds filled with stuff that blatantly defies the knowledge science has provided us, why insist on this one thing holding?
I mean, yeah, there's magic, but all the rest is perfectly explainable with modern biology.

Look at the owlbear for example. This happens when a... hum... ok, nevermind the owlbear. The centaur on the other hand is born when... ok, lets not go there either... Did you know that the chimera was a genetic fluke that happens when the embryos of... well, it's complicated and science-y and stuff. The cockatrice is clearly a naturally occuring chicken-basilisk cross, meaning that turn-to-stone genes must be dominant. Of course the habitats of wild basilisks and domestic chickens don't really overlap, but that accounts for their rarity, right? Displacer beast - mix of a black panther and, hum, otiugh? Yuk, I'd try to phase out of existence too. Better not dwell on that subject... And of course dragons can shapechange, thus altering their genetic material. That's why they can frolic with butterflies and scorpions. Simultaneously. Giving birth to pseudo-dragons ('cause it's kind-of-dragon-genetics-but-not-quite, hence the scientifically recognized use of "pseudo" in the name).

I tell you; D&D genetics, like gravity, physics, and thermodynamics, make complete scientific sense.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
All good.

Mod Note:
After well over a decade on these boards, you should have known not to do this.

Please review the Terms and Rules. When a moderator breaks out the colored text or puts "Mod Note" or similar on a post, that is NOT an invitation to discussion in-thread. If you have an issue or comment concerning such posts, you are to take them to private message discussion. The thread will not be diverted from its actual topic with such meta discussion.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Reallife will soon enough have artificial intelligence and casual gene splicing.

The same difficulties that "magic" introduces to our current scientific taxonomy, science will introduce too. How does one classify inorganic artificial lifeforms? How does one classify, modified genetic splicings from various parentages?



Regarding the elves, in my campaign they can have children with humans because the elves are humans, genetically. Actually, elves are immaterial spirits made out of magical force. When they choose to materialize into the Material Plane to wear a physical body, that body is human, albeit their magic perfuses it. Alternatively, elves could just as easily materialize in the physical form of a swan or a wolf or a snake. But culturally, the elves tend to like humans.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Regarding "magic" or superscience, when genetics becomes a choice, then humans will evolve intentionally rather than randomly, by means of learned cultures and cultural values.

Ultimately, taxonomy will look more like a linguistic map of related languages.
 

Scribe

Hero
Regarding "magic" or superscience, when genetics becomes a choice, then humans will evolve intentionally rather than randomly.

Ultimately, taxonomy will look more like a linguistic map of related languages.
Man, am I ever glad I'll be in the dirt by then. Have fun with the global disparity at that point. :ROFLMAO:
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Reallife will soon enough have artificial intelligence and casual gene splicing.
We're not going to have AI in the way most people think any time soon.

Science doesn't actually know how the human mind works. We know the mechanics and the chemistry, but not the whole picture. And we don't have the means to figure it out yet. So AIs are going to be on the level of chat bots and dedicated task machines like Deep Blue for a very, very long time.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
We're not going to have AI in the way most people think any time soon.

Science doesn't actually know how the human mind works. We know the mechanics and the chemistry, but not the whole picture. And we don't have the means to figure it out yet. So AIs are going to be on the level of chat bots and dedicated task machines like Deep Blue for a very, very long time.
Computers are expected to pass the Turing Test in this decade, the 2020s, likely around 2025.

It is hard to believe when it hasnt happened yet. But the same disbelief happened when computer scientists were predicting that computers would defeat chess champions. It seemed inconceivable until it happened.

By the end of this century, the expected events are beyond the current capacity of a human brain to predict. A computer is expected to be more intelligent than the current entire human species combined.



I agree with you skepticism that the current computer technology can ever be "alive".

But computer processing will speed up neuroscience for us to understand how consciousness works. Then we will know how to enable it. (I have a moreorless mystical perspective, that consciousness is an ubiquitous universal principle, part of the Big Bang, that a physical brain is somehow able to utilize and participate in. I am confident, science will get a sense of where the "seat of consciousness" is.)



In any case, D&D "magic" scenarios are useful exercises to navigate our near future. These are thought experiments.
 

d24454_modern

Explorer
Ligers are not fertile. If lions and tigers could produce fertile offspring they would be the same species, rather than just very closely related species.
Actually Ligers are fertile; just not with each other.

 

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