A "Why Oh Why" RPG Thread [+]

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Why oh why do GM's think they are game designers?
Because it is in the DNA of the hobby. It has always been part of the game and 5e's "rulings not rules" approach, perhaps ironically, leads to the creation of homerules just to help groups ensure consistency from one session to another in a campaign.

And, to be fair, it is not only DMs. A good number of homerules in my campaigns have come from player suggestions.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Atomoctba

Adventurer
Because after creating house rules, NPCs, dungeons, cities, maps, ect. most GMs have done the same things designers are doing. GMs are just doing it for the love of the game while designers are doing it for profit.

Why oh Why are evil monsters (e.g. Orcs or Demons) problematic to certain gamers?
It tends to be ok for gamers that see them as nothing more than "faceless enemies". Just someone to hate and combat. For other gamers is exactly the problem, once equates to prejudice (I hate them just because yes) and prejudice is bad in the real world, and most of time can be equally bad in game.

The problem turns worse when gamers start to equate "monster" races with real ethnicities. Ok, if orcs are like X people or goblins are like Y people, the prejudice is very explicit, even because it leans on the worst stereotypes rather than the good ones.

To end, there is the problem to some people to see an entire race/species/ancestries as inherently evil. I could say that "of course, demons are inherently evil, without free will. They are expressions of evil incarnate", but even the "no free will" part is sensible for many people.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Why oh Why are evil monsters (e.g. Orcs or Demons) problematic to certain gamers?
Because taking an entire sentient, mundane race and calling it evil reminds them of real-world harmful stereotypes. From my observations most of the objections are made with non-planar creatures like orcs. I don't see many people complaining about demons and devils being evil and celestials being good. When I do, it is more an argument about what is evil and good and the alignment system in general.

For myself personally, I feel that the game is flexible enough to accommodate a wide variety of sensibilities and play-style preferences. The more interesting debate for me is to what degree should the core books have world-building preferences built into them. I prefer most of that be put into setting guides. But it is difficult to balance. The core rule books get rather bland when you cut away all the fluff.

My favorite monster books--my favorite books in 5e in general--are those that give a lot of lore and fluff with the stats. Volo's Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes are my two favorite books in 5e and both are now legacy content. I can understand that argument that the fluff and lore should be relegated to setting books, but that would be easier to accept if the settings got more support.
 

Gradine

The Elephant in the Room (she/her)
Why oh Why are evil monsters (e.g. Orcs or Demons) problematic to certain gamers?
A lot of good answers to this so far, but to give a macrosociological perspective on it:

Our world has consistently grown more and more interconnected as globalization sweeps across the... err, globe. There are many, many, ramifications to this, some positive, some negative, many where the jury's still out. One unequivocal positive of this, however, is our ability as a species to connect with regular people from all walks of life across cultures, nations, religions, experiences, etc; which has allowed more people the opportunity to grow in their abilities to imagine the other complexly. The more different types of people we get to meet and share stories with the more we come to realize that they are not good people or bad people but just people. In a world where significant political movements are growing increasingly reliant on painting entire groups of "others" with broad, largely negative, brush, stories that perpetuate these (provably false) narratives begin to chafe more and more against our actual lived experiences connecting with these very same "others".

At the same time, fantasy literature has grown a long ways from Tolkien's orcs. Seminal series from the 90's such as Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire, for instance, began subverting our expectations of others, from human cultures like the Aiel, Seanchan, or Dothraki, to non-humans like the Ogier. Warcraft 3 in 2002 turned everything we thought we knew about the orcs in that series on its head, and just a few years later Eberron brought a very different type of orc and goblin to D&D. With the global pressures noted above, it was only a matter of time for the rest of D&D to catch up. Honestly it took longer than I expected.

Tl;Dr: Changes in the global socio-political landscape began necessitating more complex narratives involving sentient, free-willed mortal beings to better align with consumer values.
 

Why oh Why are evil monsters (e.g. Orcs or Demons) problematic to certain gamers?
Some other good posts on this here but I'd really say with Orcs, for me, it comes down to:

1) They tend to end up either filling the role of "other humans" or literally being identified with human cultures - typically ones that were heavily "othered" by the West, and conquered by colonizers/imperial forces. Even if you're not intending Orcs to be, say, Native Americans, if you've managed to set up a situation where they're directly analogous to that, and you're saying the PCs need to kill them, that's uhhhh awkward.

2) Race-war/genocide/ethnic-cleansing, even if you're saying "But they were all bad people!" is gross. It's creepy. It's not fun to sign up to be in a death squad for beings based on their race/species - well, I'm sure it is for some people, but that's even creepier!

3) The way biological humanoid "evil monsters" get described almost always ends up aligning with how real-world, recent (like, like 100 years, often more recent than that) ways that genocidal groups or ultra-oppressive racist groups have described humans that they don't like. Volo's for 5E had a good example, where, I'm sure accidentally, the description of Orcs was more or less exactly the description you'd get from an educated KKK member who was expressing their honest (and utterly horrifying) opinion on Black people. To the point where there have been racist textbooks and the like with nigh-identical language. This is very hard to work around, because it's very easy to fall into it.

And the key thing is - this is rarely intentional - not never - c.f. The Orcs of Thar which is very much intentional on point 1 and de facto point 3 - but it's just incredibly hard to avoid if you make entire biological, free-willed groups of being "evil". Even if they say it's "just cultural" you start walking at speed towards a whole bunch of creepy late 1800s and early 1900s "White Man's Burden"-type stuff, where these beings need to be "civilized".

Personally I don't have the same problem re: Demons so long as we're taking an approach where they aren't biological beings with free will, but something more like robots or immortal spirits that have a limited range of potential decision-making. I think there are genuinely far fewer issues with "Robot hunter" or "Demon slayer" than "Orc killer". Though you can then recreate the same problems by "doing a Blade Runner" and making it clear the robots/demons DO have free will, of course, if you like that sort of thing!
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
It tends to be ok for gamers that see them as nothing more than "faceless enemies". Just someone to hate and combat. For other gamers is exactly the problem, once equates to prejudice (I hate them just because yes) and prejudice is bad in the real world, and most of time can be equally bad in game.

The problem turns worse when gamers start to equate "monster" races with real ethnicities. Ok, if orcs are like X people or goblins are like Y people, the prejudice is very explicit, even because it leans on the worst stereotypes rather than the good ones.

To end, there is the problem to some people to see an entire race/species/ancestries as inherently evil. I could say that "of course, demons are inherently evil, without free will. They are expressions of evil incarnate", but even the "no free will" part is sensible for many people.

Because taking an entire sentient, mundane race and calling it evil reminds them of real-world harmful stereotypes. From my observations most of the objections are made with non-planar creatures like orcs. I don't see many people complaining about demons and devils being evil and celestials being good. When I do, it is more an argument about what is evil and good and the alignment system in general.

For myself personally, I feel that the game is flexible enough to accommodate a wide variety of sensibilities and play-style preferences. The more interesting debate for me is to what degree should the core books have world-building preferences built into them. I prefer most of that be put into setting guides. But it is difficult to balance. The core rule books get rather bland when you cut away all the fluff.

My favorite monster books--my favorite books in 5e in general--are those that give a lot of lore and fluff with the stats. Volo's Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes are my two favorite books in 5e and both are now legacy content. I can understand that argument that the fluff and lore should be relegated to setting books, but that would be easier to accept if the settings got more support.

A lot of good answers to this so far, but to give a macrosociological perspective on it:

Our world has consistently grown more and more interconnected as globalization sweeps across the... err, globe. There are many, many, ramifications to this, some positive, some negative, many where the jury's still out. One unequivocal positive of this, however, is our ability as a species to connect with regular people from all walks of life across cultures, nations, religions, experiences, etc; which has allowed more people the opportunity to grow in their abilities to imagine the other complexly. The more different types of people we get to meet and share stories with the more we come to realize that they are not good people or bad people but just people. In a world where significant political movements are growing increasingly reliant on painting entire groups of "others" with broad, largely negative, brush, stories that perpetuate these (provably false) narratives begin to chafe more and more against our actual lived experiences connecting with these very same "others".

At the same time, fantasy literature has grown a long ways from Tolkien's orcs. Seminal series from the 90's such as Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire, for instance, began subverting our expectations of others, from human cultures like the Aiel, Seanchan, or Dothraki, to non-humans like the Ogier. Warcraft 3 in 2002 turned everything we thought we knew about the orcs in that series on its head, and just a few years later Eberron brought a very different type of orc and goblin to D&D. With the global pressures noted above, it was only a matter of time for the rest of D&D to catch up. Honestly it took longer than I expected.

Tl;Dr: Changes in the global socio-political landscape began necessitating more complex narratives involving sentient, free-willed mortal beings to better align with consumer values.

Some other good posts on this here but I'd really say with Orcs, for me, it comes down to:

1) They tend to end up either filling the role of "other humans" or literally being identified with human cultures - typically ones that were heavily "othered" by the West, and conquered by colonizers/imperial forces. Even if you're not intending Orcs to be, say, Native Americans, if you've managed to set up a situation where they're directly analogous to that, and you're saying the PCs need to kill them, that's uhhhh awkward.

2) Race-war/genocide/ethnic-cleansing, even if you're saying "But they were all bad people!" is gross. It's creepy. It's not fun to sign up to be in a death squad for beings based on their race/species - well, I'm sure it is for some people, but that's even creepier!

3) The way biological humanoid "evil monsters" get described almost always ends up aligning with how real-world, recent (like, like 100 years, often more recent than that) ways that genocidal groups or ultra-oppressive racist groups have described humans that they don't like. Volo's for 5E had a good example, where, I'm sure accidentally, the description of Orcs was more or less exactly the description you'd get from an educated KKK member who was expressing their honest (and utterly horrifying) opinion on Black people. To the point where there have been racist textbooks and the like with nigh-identical language. This is very hard to work around, because it's very easy to fall into it.

And the key thing is - this is rarely intentional - not never - c.f. The Orcs of Thar which is very much intentional on point 1 and de facto point 3 - but it's just incredibly hard to avoid if you make entire biological, free-willed groups of being "evil". Even if they say it's "just cultural" you start walking at speed towards a whole bunch of creepy late 1800s and early 1900s "White Man's Burden"-type stuff, where these beings need to be "civilized".

Personally I don't have the same problem re: Demons so long as we're taking an approach where they aren't biological beings with free will, but something more like robots or immortal spirits that have a limited range of potential decision-making. I think there are genuinely far fewer issues with "Robot hunter" or "Demon slayer" than "Orc killer". Though you can then recreate the same problems by "doing a Blade Runner" and making it clear the robots/demons DO have free will, of course, if you like that sort of thing!
I just want to say these are four wonderful explanations to a very difficult questions.

Why oh why did Gygax choose Vancian magic over other styles?
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I just want to say these are four wonderful explanations to a very difficult questions.

Why oh why did Gygax choose Vancian magic over other styles?
Because he was a fan of The Dying Earth novel setting and liked how magic was presented there. It is very easy to gamify magic casting when you have slots. Not sure if Gygax had considered something like a pool of mana points and higher level spells costing more to cast.
 

JAMUMU

actually dracula
Why oh why did Gygax choose Vancian magic over other styles?
It contains limits that the more Terrence McKenna, mushroom-wizard take on magic didn't. A Vancian magician casts its spells, its out of spells. It has spells that change reality, but only under certain conditions and in certain ways. Unlike a mushroom-wizard, who needs only their imagination and a pouch full of mushrooms to change reality permanently for the greater good.

Also, he probably liked Vance's early stories about wizards.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Zelazny really sold Vancian-style magic in the second cycle of Amber books, where sorcerers like Merlin had to take a great deal of time to set up magic in advance, then make sure to use the spells before their expiration date. As Merlin puts it, sorcerers are a dime a dozen in the Courts of Chaos, but the mark of a good one is strategy and preparation, being a true Batman Wizard.

Then it gets all thrown out the window by Ghostwheel and the spikard rings, lol.

Here's one that's been rattling around in my brain awhile.

Why oh why don't more people use ki in D&D worlds?

Ki exists, and provides an alternative means to perform exceptional (bonus action dash), superhuman (paralyzing a guy with a touch), and even magical (four elements shenanigans) effects, all using an internal power source that resets with 30 minutes of meditation.

So why are Monks the only people using this ability? At the very least, you'd expect ki-using subclasses to exist for other classes!
 

Why oh Why are evil monsters (e.g. Orcs or Demons) problematic to certain gamers?
My own take is, just rip alignment out of the game entirely, except maybe for extraplanar beings. There, done.

I do have to say, though... Have people seen a lot of, "Let's go kill some orcs!"? Because in my experience, fighting orcs is almost always something a lot closer to self-defense.

Is killing an orc band that's trying to kill you worse than killing a group of human bandits that's trying to kill you? Darned if I can see how. Though depending on the situation, maybe the orcs would be easier to negotiate with. :p

Now for my own question:

Why oh why are so many players so vehemently attached to alignment?

So far as I can see, alignment is all downsides with no upsides. I've played plenty of games without alignment, and they work just fine. If anything they work better!

Yet many people will defend the concept with great energy, and it's always puzzled me. I've even heard alignment called a roleplaying aid, when it seems to me that's the exact opposite of the truth.
 
Last edited:

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top