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D&D General Drow in early D&D

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
@billd91

Also the 3e FR Sun Elf are factually smarter and viewed as more "civilized" than other races. How could one not read reallife European racist traditions into that worldview?
Actions, actions, actions, that’s how. A racist view that leads to enclaving is fundamentally different from one that leads to colonial exploitation. Note - I’m not saying that it isn’t a form of racism, just one with a significantly different moral implication.
 

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eyeheartawk

Works 60% of the time, every time
I never understood the whole "haughty we are better at everything elves" thing. If they were so much better at literally everything they would be running the world in all these campaign settings.
 

Yaarel

Legend
Actions, actions, actions, that’s how. A racist view that leads to enclaving is fundamentally different from one that leads to colonial exploitation. Note - I’m not saying that it isn’t a form of racism, just one with a significantly different moral implication.
I suspect the cure to supremacism, is for each group to have a custom to adopt an outsider into the group.

So if the Sun Elf has some kind of cultural ideal involving magical scholarship and magical artisanship, or whatever, and there are members of other races who value this and want to be part of this, the Sun Elf culture needs to have some kind of adoption process, for these outsiders to become genuine members of Sun Elf society.

The custom can differ from culture to culture, but each one requires some kind of method of inclusivity.
 



Sithlord

Adventurer
Being "haughty" and feeling "pity" for inferior races, does make one racist.

I’m thinking more along the lines of isolationists wanting to stay away from humans and their petty wars. And not wanting their children and culture contaminated by warmongers. And yes they would probably see themselves as superior to violent human societies which is not a stretch. But we have to see racism in everything.
 

Yaarel

Legend
I’m thinking more along the lines of isolationists wanting to stay away from humans and their petty wars. And not wanting their children and culture contaminated by warmongers. And yes they would probably see themselves as superior to violent human societies which is not a stretch. But we have to see racism in everything.
I admire indigenous cultures. I want them to preserve ancient ways of being human.

This kind of ethnic instinct helps keep humanity diverse, which is good for the survival of the human species. At least some group somewhere might be more likely to adapt and to survive in a new situation.

I understand why people want to distinguish between isolationism and supremacism.

But the truth is, no human community is separate from any other human community. We are all humans, even when we choose to express diverse identities.

I want a reasonably fair ethical principle that applies to all of us equally, that balances the needs of a unique identity with the needs of our shared humanity, in a way that is as mutually beneficial as possible.
 

Yaarel

Legend
I hope D&D 5e removes the word "race" from every 5e book published so far.

The term is a buzzword that is too loaded with objectionable connotations.

Even when there is maybe the slightest hint of reallife racism, such as the "haughty" Sun Elf, the word "race" becomes supercharged in a way that is bad for WotC business.
 

Faolyn

Hero
I wonder what good old Raven c.s. McCracken is up to these days? (Did I spell that right?).
Apparently still producing Synnabar.

 

Faolyn

Hero
I’m thinking more along the lines of isolationists wanting to stay away from humans and their petty wars. And not wanting their children and culture contaminated by warmongers. And yes they would probably see themselves as superior to violent human societies which is not a stretch. But we have to see racism in everything.
That's pretty racist, to view everyone outside their group as violent contaminants. It's like, gated community, "not our kind"-style racism.
 

At the time drow appeared in D&D, Michael Moorcock’s Elric novels were tremendously popular. A great many players at the time would have recognized Melniboneans in Gygax’s drow - decadent, sophisticated, depraved, cruel, utterly selfish, slave-owning, demon-worshippers. At conception, drow were basically a hybrid of norse mythology and Moorcok’s Melniboneans - themselves inspired by the elves in Poul Anderson’s the Broken Sword, which was itself rooted in Norse mythology.
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
I hope D&D 5e removes the word "race" from every 5e book published so far.

The term is a buzzword that is too loaded with objectionable connotations.

Even when there is maybe the slightest hint of reallife racism, such as the "haughty" Sun Elf, the word "race" becomes supercharged in a way that is bad for WotC business.
Well. I hope they don’t do it. But I see your point. It’s mainly ignorance that is the problem and trolls seeking to flame things up.
 

teitan

Legend
On a similar note, a friend of mine and I were talking about D&D at work when another coworker (who doesn't play D&D) overheard our conversation and asked what a "halfling" was. I told him, "it's a hobbit with the serial numbers filed off."

Johnathan
Tolkien refers to Hobbits as Halflings as well but yeah I use the same description!
 

Doug McCrae

Legend
At conception, drow were basically a hybrid of norse mythology and Moorcok’s Melniboneans - themselves inspired by the elves in Poul Anderson’s the Broken Sword, which was itself rooted in Norse mythology.
I'm sure you're right about that. Origins of the Drow in Dungeons & Dragons gives a very thorough account and it puts a lot of emphasis on Moorcock's Melnibonéans (who were, ofc, a metaphor for the British Empire).

The article also mentions Thomas Keightley's Fairy Mythology, Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions, L Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt's The Roaring Trumpet, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Black Martians from The Gods of Mars, and the spider-people from Abraham Merritt's The Face in the Abyss as a source for driders.
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I hope D&D 5e removes the word "race" from every 5e book published so far.

The term is a buzzword that is too loaded with objectionable connotations.

Even when there is maybe the slightest hint of reallife racism, such as the "haughty" Sun Elf, the word "race" becomes supercharged in a way that is bad for WotC business.

The best way to end fantasy racism, is to end fantasy races.

….I recommend starting with the elves.
 



DEFCON 1

Legend
Well, here's the issue... despite the game calling them 'races'... elves and humans and dwarves are more like different species. So it's not really possible for an elf to be "racist" to humans, the same way we wouldn't classify our dealings with horses or apes or dogs or cats as "racist".

I'm pretty sure the elves see humans the same way we humans see other animals. We see them as intelligent, loving creatures, but we do not attribute to them the same sanctity and rights as we do humans, nor do most of us treat them as though they are on our level. Now, are we "racist" towards the rest of the animal kingdom if we think of them as one or more steps down on the evolutionary chain? I'm sure some people would say yes, but most of humanity would not. It's not a stretch to see the elves to humans connection the same way.

If I had to guess... the primary reason why we real humans see fantasy elves and fantasy humans as functionally equivalent is due to the fact that they can inter-breed. Now setting aside the fact that that idea is scientifically stupid... the fact that Tolkien allowed for it gave us real humans the idea that humans were on the same level as elves-- evolutionarily, if not societally. But I suspect that if we tried to actually get into the heads of these fantasy elves... the original intention of their design was that humans weren't equal. We were nothing more than puppies and kitties that elves thought were probably cute in their own way, but lived exceedingly short lives, and they treated us nicely because elves aren't inherently cruel and we were entertaining to have around. But we weren't elves, and it would have been ridiculous for any elf to treat us like we were.

In point of fact... this is exactly why I say that all D&D races are actually nothing more than "humans with rubber masks". Because we describe them by their comparison to humans, usually by highlighting one or two traits and attributing them to their entire species. Grey/High/Sun Elves are all "haughty" by human standards. But in truth... those elves should actually be so alien to us human beings that any attempt to describe them in that way would be as pointless as wondering "Hmm... I wonder how my cocker spaniel sees me?" We will never know how our dog sees us, we CAN'T know how they see us, and all we do is again, artificially assign it human traits. But they aren't real. The same way our description of elves are unreal and artificially assigned.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Well, here's the issue... despite the game calling them 'races'... elves and humans and dwarves are more like different species. So it's not really possible for an elf to be "racist" to humans, the same way we wouldn't classify our dealings with horses or apes or dogs or cats as "racist".

Considering how humans seem to be able to procreate with elves, dwarves, ogres, orcs, devils, and probably more, I'm not sure we can truly consider them different species. If humans were able to have (intelligent, society functioning) children with dolphins, I highly doubt we would be ok having dolphins perform by force at SeaWorld.
 

wellis

Villager
I hope D&D 5e removes the word "race" from every 5e book published so far.

The term is a buzzword that is too loaded with objectionable connotations.


Even when there is maybe the slightest hint of reallife racism, such as the "haughty" Sun Elf, the word "race" becomes supercharged in a way that is bad for WotC business.
Honestly, I actually dislike this because I feel it is just the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs, and then pretending the new rearrangement is magically better.

It reminds me of a Japanese term for replacing an old word that is now considered bad with a newer word. And then eventually the newer word is considered bad and replaced with another newer word. And so on.

Being "speciesist" isn't any better than being "racist." They're both nasty and prejudiced.

That's why I get so irritated when people complain about "race" for this and then think "species" is any better.

All that literally does is just slap a new coat of paint on the same broken wall you could say. It doesn't change anything.
 

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