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D&D General Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes and Halflings of Color

Faolyn

Hero
Would you support having some lineages-- a very small percentage of the total-- that are highly sex-dimorphic, such that males and females are mechanically different lineages? It would take much, much less dimorphism than occurs in the vast majority of real-life species to necessitate such a differentiation in the D&D rules.
How dimorphic? Are we talking "males have horns but females don't" or "males look like dragon-bulls while females look like jackal-headed humanoids"?
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
No. It also doesn't work on my network. A summary would be welcome.
Bummer. I'm not gonna type a bunch of stuff out, so, screenshots it is. Screenshot 1.pngScreenshot 2.pngScreenshot 3.pngScreenshot 4.pngScreenshot 5.pngScreenshot 6.png

Google can find you more details if you want, but this covers the basics.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Okay. Thanks for screenshotting and posting that. As to not take the rest of the thread off topic and possibly step on/over some site rules, I'll PM you my response.
No problem. I will also say here, nevermind the google recommendation, it will mostly lead you to spurious crap like people being offended he portrayed the thoughts of a teenager being physically attracted to another teenager, which he wrote in just about the most wholesome and indirect manner possible.

I don't like the guy, but I don't have any respect for spurious, bad faith, or overwrought criticisms hyperbolically made to seem like a big deal.
 

How dimorphic? Are we talking "males have horns but females don't" or "males look like dragon-bulls while females look like jackal-headed humanoids"?
also tagging @Shroompunk Warlord

I played a 13th Age game once where for one species males were orcs and females were tieflings. It added nothing to the game, largely because no one was playing either race.

With the right players, I could see it working - I know of at least two animes that use a variation on the concept. But it's also one of those things that very easy to do badly.
 

Previously only Humans were ever shown as being non-European in D&D, and the other common core races of Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes and Halflings were always depicted as being "white" even if some published campaign settings have for example said that some Dwarves have brown skin or that Wood Elves are "bronze" colored.

I'm certain I've seen illustrations of bronze colored dwarves and gnomes
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
also tagging @Shroompunk Warlord

I played a 13th Age game once where for one species males were orcs and females were tieflings. It added nothing to the game, largely because no one was playing either race.

With the right players, I could see it working - I know of at least two animes that use a variation on the concept. But it's also one of those things that very easy to do badly.

I mean... yeah, at least that much. Like the Drow in 3.0 being differentiated by a rule most tables ignored doesn't count. Pathfinder has the Lashunta who are both +INT but males are +STR/-WIS and females are +CHA/-CON. The Last Sovereign (so, so NSFW) theorizes, but doesn't confirm, that orcs and succubuses are the same species.

I'm not really proposing it as a good idea, but it just struck me as a very odd piece of mythology/biology to deliberately reject when it's so common in both, and not directly related to harmful real-life ideologies.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Awkward but complete serious question. And I am entirely open to the possibility that I know nothing and asking something really stupid. Totally willing to be corrected, but the goal here is to advance everyone's understanding.

Are goliaths "coded" black?

Now I am of the opinion that taking northern European folkloric creatures and giving them dark skin is a very poor way to make fantasy worlds more inclusive. We all accept that skin color doesn't define anything and that prejudices are all about cultural differences. So thinking the issue is addressed by changing the skin color of existing peoples seems very dishonest to me.
If we want to have fantastic peoples who are not based on Northern Europeans, I think we should instead add new peoples that culturally reflect other parts of the world and their cultures. And it immediately got me thinking if goliaths are intended to do that?
Are goliaths "coded" black? Kinda. I doubt intentionally, but they do share some uncomfortable similarities with stereotypes of Africans and African-Americans. They also share a bit of the "noble savage" stereotype. Goliaths are described as . . .
  • Darker-skinned (grey to brown)
  • Large, physically imposing, and primitive
  • Naturally gifted athletes, with a society centered around athleticism
  • Competitive and boastful
There's more to the goliath's that just the above, it's not a 1:1 representation, and again, I doubt it was intentional . . . but it's there. Goliaths aren't a folkloric creature adapted to D&D . . . well, other than the concept of "giants". They arose out of a D&D design fad during the 3rd Edition where designers were created "monster-lite" PC races, or PC versions of monstrous races. You can't play a demon or devil, but you can play a tiefling. You can't play a dragon, but you can play a dragonborn. You can't play a giant . . . but you can play a goliath.

The name "goliath" is a biblical reference, from the David and Goliath story (David fights a really big guy). A lot of the ideas that went into the goliath race/culture evolved from the earlier stone children monster manual entry, which in turn evolved from the earth genasi.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
This conversation reminds me of when I was preparing for a Fantasy Western using the 5e rules. I wanted to keep in the races of the PHB, and at first I started to think, "Which culture lines up with each race?"

Then I realized that no matter how I arranged it, aligning any race with a single culture is problematic.

The real answer is to separate culture and race. If I have in my setting some Native American cultures, the people of that culture could be any race from the PHB. So could be the European settlers / colonizers. So could be the Chinese immigrants. And to me, that makes the setting a lot more exciting! Having a Cherokee Gnome and a Spanish Gnome together makes a lot more sense than saying each culture is somehow biologically different than each other.
It depends on the scope of the setting. If it's small scale, a region perhaps, then having a race with one culture is okay . . . assuming that there's more diversity over the hill. The dwarves of the vale tend to be bronze-skinned with a society centered around the smithing of iron . . . but legends say there are other types of dwarves in other parts of the world. It's also important to remember that any cultures we put into game terms, will by their nature, be stereotypes. PCs should be able to break those stereotypes if they choose, explicitly so.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
If the race looks humanlike, it is probably better to avoid dimorphism.

Even when the race is clearly nonhuman, like spider or bird, dimorphism is annoying.
 

MrMcQ

Villager
Haven't read whole thread so apologise if already mentioned.
FR wood elves are described as 'copper' in skin tone and if I remember correctly the 3rd FR campaign guide illustrated them as such.
 

Zubatcarteira

Now you're infected by the Musical Doodle
Riordan's books do get really questionable at times (Kane Chronicles flashbacks)

That said, the descriptions on the PHB already seem to give them quite a range of skin tones, so I guess it's more of a matter of art direction to get them in the images.
 

It depends on the scope of the setting. If it's small scale, a region perhaps, then having a race with one culture is okay . . . assuming that there's more diversity over the hill. The dwarves of the vale tend to be bronze-skinned with a society centered around the smithing of iron . . . but legends say there are other types of dwarves in other parts of the world. It's also important to remember that any cultures we put into game terms, will by their nature, be stereotypes. PCs should be able to break those stereotypes if they choose, explicitly so.
I wonder about this!

Right now my homebrew setting takes place in a single valley that can be crossed in two or three days. Originally the races of the valley fell into these roles:

Vampire (any race): oppressive rulers
Tiefling: upper class
Halflings & Humans: merchants, farmers, etc
Tortles: oppressed class, may be servants or slaves

These races were chosen based on the races the players picked for their characters.

If I were reinventing this campaign world, I may want to think of it like this:

Vampire (any race): oppressive rulers
Wealthy Land-Owners: common with rich tiefling families
Common Merchants and Laborers: a mix of people, including generic humans
Oppressed Servants & Slaves: mostly native tortles of the valley, also included anyone who follows tortle religion

Very little has changed except that the caste system is a result of the wealth gap between tortles and tieflings (supported by the vampires of course) rather than being based on race first.

If I were making a "standard" D&D campaign, I might borrow from Level Up and try the following:

Dwarf Culture of the Mountains
Gnome and Elf culture of the Foothill Forests
Halflings Culture of the Farmlands

And then I could briefly sketch out what each of those cultures looks like. The people who are encountered in the Mountain Dwarf Culture area, whether they are dwarves or gnomes or humans or elves, are likely going to be using the same language, wearing similar clothes, and have similar customs. Most are going to be dwarves. But it frees me up from proclaiming "all dwarves are x" and instead saying "this dwarven culture is x."
 

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