I posted the article because I thought it could possibly help reframe some of these issues. I thought, we had been discussing these elements of the game in terms of naturalistic worldbuilding (species vs magical creation vs archeytpe) or in terms of the purpose of the mechanics (simulationist vs evocative, built in limitations vs freedom), we could instead or additionally think of it in terms of aesthetic assumptions and preferences and difference in playstyle. That discussion would have to go back to the early editions of the game to see what was actually there (in terms of aesthetics, playstyle, and mechanics) and think about how all of that makes the 5e experience often discordant (the "don't think about it too much" edition, as I like to call it). For me these are more interesting and potentially productive, if complicated, discussions.
that being said, we should always leave open the following possibility:
The thing is... "older editions" did not have the same goal as we see more modern games having. Back in ye olden days of yore, orcs were EVIL AND SAVAGE! (Evil: "Morally bad/wrong; causing harm, pain, suffering" // Savage: "Wild; not civilized; barbaric"). They were specifically 'designed' so that it was an automatic "Kill them" response for the Players because from the PC's perspectives...any orc would ALWAYS seek to raid, pillage, kill and eat anyone or anything (including other orcs). The "goal" of the orcs being described as "evil and savage" had nothing to do with anything other than setting it up in-game for the human players at the table to not feel bad about killing them and taking their stuff.
Same with any other "evil race" described similarly. They were there to be KILLED not, talked to or reasoned with...because, in the context of the game, they were monsters
. And the definition of a "monster" in early editions was basically "inherently evil, cruel and vindictive, with a desire to cause pain, suffering and death" (basically, look at the Evil alignment).
So, while more modern games like to try and take the stance of "Well, they just look different than us. In the real word, people from other countries look different too...but they aren't 'evil', so we need to reflect that in our Fantasy Stories"... older games didn't. In older games, labeling a monster as evil, savage, barbaric, etc wasn't being anything other than saying "you kill these guys for XP and treasure". Because in older games, if you were captured by orcs, you got sacrificed and eaten...unless you managed to get away or somehow trick them into letting you go.
But, I'm maybe optimistic in thinking that that doesn't tell the whole story, that fantasy and in particular fantasy roleplaying offers the chance to tell different and better stories.
And we have different games for that. For example, Talislanta, Halambreya, or other genres like Star Frontiers, Call of Cthulhu, SUPERS!, etc. But when you belly up to a game of 1e AD&D or Hackmaster 4th... orcs, kobolds, drow...they are all evil monsters and you kill them. Because they are evil. They are not "just misunderstood creatures from a different culture". Stop thinking like that and you'll be fine...but if you can't, as I said, there are other games more inclined towards "greyness of morals and cultural norms". (Personally, I highly recommend Talislanta! WONDERFUL cultures all around with very different races...with pretty intricate balances of powers, prejudices, fondness, fear, the whole gamut of human emotions
Paul L. Ming