D&D 5E D&D Races: Evolution, Fantasy Stereotypes & Escapism

DarkMantle

Explorer
And I'm not really advocating for making different fantasy and sci-fantasy races more alien . . . go to far with that, and they become unrelatable. Perhaps a bit more alien than is traditional, perhaps. For me, it's about being more mindful about understanding the difference between "people", "monsters", and "spirits". Is it okay to slaughter all the orcs? Well, are they "people" or "monsters"? In D&D, they traditionally are coded as "monstrous people" but evil, savage, violent . . . . the same language humans use in the real world to demonize other groups of humans.

I think I got it, but not 100% sure! At some point, I would like to revisit this. At this time, it does not feel like a good time to get back into this, not because of you (you've been great), but because of certain other posts here that I don't think are useful or helpful. Maybe if/when things calm down :)
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Faolyn

(she/her)
My, how inclusive ! This really confirms my view of the subject, you only want to push YOUR personal views and that of a minority. I, on the other hand, would very much like to have D&D be really inclusive, to be played with friends all over the world, as I have actually done in 4 continents. And for that, I really don't need good words used all over the world to be distorted by narrow, specific, nationalists views. It does not help.
How are you being excluded?

(I'm still waiting to find out what hypothetical word you used that has made hordes of people attack you on social media.)
 

I think I got it, but not 100% sure! At some point, I would like to revisit this. At this time, it does not feel like a good time to get back into this, not because of you (you've been great), but because of certain other posts here that I don't think are useful or helpful. Maybe if/when things calm down :)
do you mean like making fantasy people more non-human or what makes something a monster?
 

DarkMantle

Explorer
do you mean like making fantasy people more non-human or what makes something a monster?
Are you clarifying what part that I'm not 100% sure about? Making fantasy people non-human or what makes something a monster?

Dire Bare feels, if I understood correctly, that fantasy races aren't leaning towards more non-human, which I respect and I totally agree on the non-relatable part.

"what makes something a monster" - I'm not clear what you mean?
 

Are you clarifying what part that I'm not 100% sure about? Making fantasy people non-human or what makes something a monster?

Dire Bare feels, if I understood correctly, that fantasy races aren't leaning towards more non-human, which I respect and I totally agree on the non-relatable part.

"what makes something a monster" - I'm not clear what you mean?
if we want things we can fight what we need is a pure monster, not monstrous people, do you follow?
 


Irlo

Hero
The errata on Tomb of Annihilation:
  • Entertainer (p. 10). In the last sentence, cut the words "and exotic".
  • Chultans (p. 12). In the last sentence of the third paragraph, delete the word "tribal".
  • Introduction (p. 15). In the last sentence of first paragraph, delete the word "exotic".
  • Introduction (p. 15). In the first sentence of the second paragraph, change the word "savage" to "terrifying".
  • Garden (p. 28). In the first sentence, delete the word "exotic".
  • Prisoners of the Yuan-ti (p. 118). In the last sentence of the first paragraph, change the word "tribes" to "homes".

I don't expect to convince Lyxen, and I'm only quoting the above for context for my comments to follow. I'm posting this for folks who aren't already entrenched in their opinions on the use of these terms -- focusing on tribal, particularly, as an example -- who might want to understand the objections.

The article linked here is a clear, cogent analysis of the use of the term tribe specifically related to African cultures. I encourage everyone to read it. I really like this article. It was published in 1997 and cites sources from the'70s. This is not new information or a new perspective.

https://projects.kora.matrix.msu.edu/files/210-808-1340/Background_Paper_010_opt.pdf

An argument was made in this thread that the term tribal is a "good word," "very good," and "useful." In it's context when applied to real world African cultures, it turns out it's not especially useful. The word has no coherent meaning. (You don't need to read past Page 1 of the linked article to find supporting arguments for that assertion.)

How is it more useful when applied to fantasy African analogs in the Forgotten Realms? What does it convey about the unreal world fantasy culture?

There's a reason that Chultan's were described as tribal in ToA, and there's a reason that Chult itself was described as a savage land. (The post earlier in this thread about the Dark Continent addresses savage well enough.) It's because the writers use those terms as loaded short-hand to bring to mind all the tropes, inaccurate ideas, and mish-mash of semi-emotional reactions that some of us are used from the "history" we're taught and the pop culture we're exposed to. Not because they are well-considered terms with accurate, precise meanings that no other words can convey.

I read reviews of ToA before deciding to purchase it. One reviewer explained that, although the adventure was good, with a lot of good things going for it, it fell flat due to WotC's lazy fall-back to those tired savage, tribal, exotic references. It was a disappointment. With slight additional effort and consideration, that failing could have been prevented. So why not make the slight additional effort?

In the end, WotC heard at least part of that message and made tiny changes that make the adventure a little better for some people. (I would argue it's a little better for all of us, but I don't want to argue today.)

It's not Orwellian, it's not a word-ban, and it's not a moral condemnation of people who still use tribal, savage, and exotic in their games or anywhere else. It's a change that acknowledges that those terms in this context do not convey anything specific or useful, that they do convey an awful lot of unconsidered baggage, and that they disappoint at least some of their customers.

If you use these words in your game, why not think about what you are really trying to say? I bet you'll find more accurate and useful ways to convey the information.
 



Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I'm just so very tired of having the exact same arguments trotted out every single time this stuff comes up. It's tiresome. I really need to learn to not click reply.
A slow trickle of water can carve a huge gorge out of solid rock given time.

I think the ones repeatedly forwarding those arguments are hoping to erode the strength of opposition to them.
 



palikhov

Ukrainian
This is a great point. I've absolutely noticed this too, but I don't remember if this has ever been called out explicitly.

Fantasy humans can also go really, really bad. Like so bad (or utterly insane) that they're sacrificing innocents to a demon god or trying to summon an entity to destroy the world. That can be far less moral than anything in real-life.

So it's interesting to me that on one hand fantasy humans are morally advanced to your point, but in other ways, can be far worse.

Maybe we could explore some reasons why that might be?



I think this is a fantastic contribution to the thread, thank you kindly!
I remember short novel in Forgotten Realms about half-human half-goblin - son of goblin female after sexual attack of human mercenary.

And I not remember any example of opposite.

Also i remember racism of Waterdavian nobles - who hire assassins to kill half-elven members of Noble houses because "blood must be pure"...


Humans are same. But existing in reality of Faerun gods - change things and society.
 

DarkMantle

Explorer
if we want things we can fight what we need is a pure monster, not monstrous people, do you follow?

What I know
  • You have every right in the world to fight (or not) whatever creature you want to to fight and not fight whatever creature you don't want to fight
  • Upthread I wrote "I 100% support someone's need to see a fantasy world where their needs are properly represented in the fiction. This is very important."
What I do not know
  • Who is "we"? You and Dire Bare?
  • What is the actual impact of my opinion on your gaming? As I am an anonymous rando from Canada with zero influence on how you play D&D or even how D&D products have/are/will be written
  • Since you did choose to quote me, what did your question have to do with what I messaged to Dire Bare?
 


Hussar

Legend
Just because you have a problem with it does not mean that it is 'problematic'.
Just to add to @DarkMantle's point above, the "you" here is doing an awful lot of heavy lifting. That these terms are problematic are pretty much obvious by now. It's not some tiny voice crying in the darkness. These things have been talked about for decades. The only difference is that now, unlike for the past several decades, these issues are actually gaining traction.

If you think that terms like "savage" or "primitive" or various other words haven't been an issue all the way along, you haven't been paying much attention.

Language changes. Words gain and lose connotations and gain and lose common usage. There was a time when I would refer to a bundle of sticks using a particular word that now, if I were to use it exactly the same way, in very clearly defined circumstances, would still probably not be the best word to use simply because of the negative connotations. Same with using the word "gay" for happy or brightly colored. Sure, in context, it might be exactly the right meaning word - a gaily colored float in a parade - but, again, because language changes, I'm pretty sure that if I'm writing for public consumption - a newspaper or RPG book - my editor is going to be striking that word out and subsituting "colorfully" or "brightly" and any of a dozen other words.

Censorship? Not really. It's perfectly acceptable practice and has always been done. That's WHY we have editorial staff after all. Choosing the best word is not simply a case of choosing the most accurate definition.

So, in the end, if you don't have a problem with a word, it probably means that you haven't been paying attention.
 


AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
IMO, statistics often back up the truth of many stereotypes (not all or even most, but many) making them true generalizations. However, regardless of the truth or falsity of such generalizations it's still not right to judge an individual based on generalizations about whatever group you place them into - especially when that group is based on something about themselves that they had nor will have any control over.

IMO, there are many bad (savage, barbaric, brutal, etc) 'tribes' out there even today. Certain gangs make an excellent example of such tribes. I bring this up to say this: there are 'others' we legitimately should fear, that behave outright brutally toward those that get in their way and that should be othered for it. So IMO, othering is not simply an outdated psychological defense mechanism - othering serves a real purpose even in modern day society. That said the savage, barbaric and brutal have never been relegated to one race or nationality - all races and nationalities are guilty for all have had factions within them that have done horrific things. I would even go so far as to suggest that any such faction within any group deserves to be othered when it treads too far into the savage, barbaric, brutal territory.

Taking this back to D&D - Orcs and other evil races are othered in D&D - but for good reason, they are meant to represent some of the most outright evil factions of D&D. In this sense it's not really any worse othering them than it would be for us today to other Nazi's or Hell's Angels or MS-13.

Now I get that entire races/religions have been othered within the last 100 years (and sooner) and that shouldn't have happened. But, IMO othering itself isn't necessarily the problem - it's inappropriately othering that's the problem IMO. Some human factions really are and have been bad enough that they simply aren't the same as everyone else.
 
Last edited:


Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top