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5E Evolution of D&D, and choices

Sacrosanct

Legend
Over just the past week or so, we've seen threads about how WoTC is rethinking alignment, shelving Oriental Adventures, etc. With everything going on in society in general, it makes complete sense that companies are also evaluating how they approached certain related topics in the past.

Several folks are happy. Some are upset. Some are relieved, while others disappointed. But here's the thing: we always have a choice. We always have. Ideals, assumptions, stereotypes, cultural sensitivity, progression, regression, they all happen in an ever changing environment. The game doesn't remain static like Uno. It changes not only mechanically, but philosophically with each revision.

And we as consumers have the choice to play it or not. This is not a new thing. We all still have our favorite editions, and no one has come, or will come, to take those away. When WotC took over, I wasn't a big fan, and didn't play 3e all that much. When 4e came out, I really didn't like the direction they went and still played AD&D. When 5e came out, I was brought back in. We can talk about it on forums, and voice our opinion at WoTC, but ultimately the only power we have is to choose to play or not, and choose to play the way we want or not. Trying to force others to play how we want is when it becomes problematic, especially when those changes are to bring in other types of players. AFAIC, I got my game, and if some things change about it that I might not be a fan of, I still have my game, so why not let others have theirs too?

So if WoTC refines alignment, gets rid of making all orcs evil, shelves OA, removes references to gypsies, and hires cultural writers, you can either keep playing the game how you want to play it, or don't and stick to whatever you game you do want. The times are a changing. No one is forcing anyone to stay on the train if you don't want. And even if you get off, you can always get back on. Trust me, that's what I did, and it's entirely possible. But all this arguing back and forth about how YOU ARE WRONG with a half dozen threads about the same topic isn't all that productive.
 

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Mercurius

Legend
Deja vu.

But yeah, an obvious truth(s) that should be frequently repeated.

Let us hope that WotC takes a Big Tent approach and provides published material for a wide range of options.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Well, all I can say is that YOU ARE WRONG. :p

Okay, kidding aside I only have an issue with people that make assertions of how I must run my game, claim that certain things are self evident, or that there is or needs to be one way to play.

Things will continue to evolve and change. How much impact that will have in my home campaign remains to be seen. I only hope that we still have room in the big tent to satisfy both those people who want to drinking the metaphorical beer while eating popcorn and playing a game about killing monsters to those who want to have deep philosophical debates about the morality and meaning of good and evil.

People play for different reasons and with different styles.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Well, all I can say is that YOU ARE WRONG. :p

Okay, kidding aside I only have an issue with people that make assertions of how I must run my game, claim that certain things are self evident, or that there is or needs to be one way to play.

Things will continue to evolve and change. How much impact that will have in my home campaign remains to be seen. I only hope that we still have room in the big tent to satisfy both those people who want to drinking the metaphorical beer while eating popcorn and playing a game about killing monsters to those who want to have deep philosophical debates about the morality and meaning of good and evil.

People play for different reasons and with different styles.
For example, the talk around alignment. By removing "all orcs are evil" from the core rule, it allows people who prefer the moral philosophical discussions, or a game world that is much more grey, to have that. Me personally? I prefer my games to be simpler, with far fewer moral ambiguity scenarios, because to me it's a game. Not a model of real life. Because it's a game I have that luxury. Sith are the bad guys, etc. But the important thing is that by WoTC making that change, it doesn't force me to also make the change. I can play how I've always played. It's my choice I still have. And other people can get the progress they prefer as well.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
For example, the talk around alignment. By removing "all orcs are evil" from the core rule, it allows people who prefer the moral philosophical discussions, or a game world that is much more grey, to have that. Me personally? I prefer my games to be simpler, with far fewer moral ambiguity scenarios, because to me it's a game. Not a model of real life. Because it's a game I have that luxury. Sith are the bad guys, etc. But the important thing is that by WoTC making that change, it doesn't force me to also make the change. I can play how I've always played. It's my choice I still have. And other people can get the progress they prefer as well.
Fair enough. I just think the game just loses something if everything becomes a "make all of your own rules" instead of emphasizing that the entries in the MM are just suggestions (along with some other changes that have been beaten to death in other threads).

But despite all the activity here and there I don't expect truly significant change for some time to come, more clarification and public campaign setting specific changes.
 

I just think the game just loses something if everything becomes a "make all of your own rules" instead of emphasizing that the entries in the MM are just suggestions (along with some other changes that have been beaten to death in other threads).
I get that this is hyperbole, but I've got to say, I think hyperbole is a big part of why these conversations go off the rails, so maybe we can like, stop using hyperbole for a week or something?

Obviously, making a creature not have a fixed alignment isn't remotely comparable to "make all of your own rules", so like, let's just not go there, eh?

I think one major elephant in the room, which you have actually acknowledged is this fear that, if you choose to run things in some sort of old-skool way, you'll be seen as a racist or whatever. Well, here's the shocking truth - society is changing, and it doesn't really matter what WotC does. Even if WotC didn't change, if people start feeling like the "default" Orc presentation is racist, well, that's how people feel. The only difference is, either you and WotC get seen as racists, or just you do. Obviously from WotC's perspective, they'd prefer not to be in that club. But them keeping elements that society starts to see as racist or sexist or whatever is not going to magically make people not see you as racist, if they see those things as racist.

Do you see what I'm saying? WotC doing nothing, or changing nothing will not prevent societal change. It will not prevent new players going "Orcs sure sound like something my racist uncle would be on about..." or "Wow, really blackface elves?" about the Drow. Sorry. Maybe society won't change that much (doubt it though, especially as people who play RPGs have long tended to be people who are more sensitive to this kind of thing, and still to some extent are).

This is why I think all these "But let's get them to try NOT to change Orcs!" comments and so on are deeply misguided. It's like, yeah, they could do that, but all that's going to happen is people going to think WotC are kinda racist. Because they need actual change to make stuff convincing.

Will people grouse? Of course they will. We're grognards for grog's sake. We'll grouse about anything. But as @Sacrosanct says, you can get off the train. 5E is already an extremely functional game and will remain so. Getting off it won't stop the rest of society from changing, though.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I get that this is hyperbole, but I've got to say, I think hyperbole is a big part of why these conversations go off the rails, so maybe we can like, stop using hyperbole for a week or something?

Obviously, making a creature not have a fixed alignment isn't remotely comparable to "make all of your own rules", so like, let's just not go there, eh?

I think one major elephant in the room, which you have actually acknowledged is this fear that, if you choose to run things in some sort of old-skool way, you'll be seen as a racist or whatever. Well, here's the shocking truth - society is changing, and it doesn't really matter what WotC does. Even if WotC didn't change, if people start feeling like the "default" Orc presentation is racist, well, that's how people feel. The only difference is, either you and WotC get seen as racists, or just you do. Obviously from WotC's perspective, they'd prefer not to be in that club. But them keeping elements that society starts to see as racist or sexist or whatever is not going to magically make people not see you as racist, if they see those things as racist.

Do you see what I'm saying? WotC doing nothing, or changing nothing will not prevent societal change. It will not prevent new players going "Orcs sure sound like something my racist uncle would be on about..." or "Wow, really blackface elves?" about the Drow. Sorry. Maybe society won't change that much (doubt it though, especially as people who play RPGs have long tended to be people who are more sensitive to this kind of thing, and still to some extent are).

This is why I think all these "But let's get them to try NOT to change Orcs!" comments and so on are deeply misguided. It's like, yeah, they could do that, but all that's going to happen is people going to think WotC are kinda racist. Because they need actual change to make stuff convincing.

Will people grouse? Of course they will. We're grognards for grog's sake. We'll grouse about anything. But as @Sacrosanct says, you can get off the train. 5E is already an extremely functional game and will remain so. Getting off it won't stop the rest of society from changing, though.
I will agree that some of the wording, presentation and art is problematic. Beyond that, there's been thousands of lines posted.

I'm just saying that at it's base D&D has some simple, basic assumptions. If you're a casual player, you know who the monsters are. You can play a hero, you can play a murder hobo, you can play a TTRPG version of Doom.

I think the game loses something if all monsters have no alignment or simple categorization. I also don't see any major changes anytime soon, it's not like they're going to release 6E when the game is still growing and selling record numbers.

P.S. Stop telling me I'm a racist because I don't have an issue with evil monsters.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Things will continue to evolve and change. How much impact that will have in my home campaign remains to be seen.
That's a key point: the effects of any WotC changes to the game won't be seen now, but in ten years players new to the game during that time will quite logically start out with (and likely maintain) different expectations than old-timers like me, because that's how the game is being presented, and therein lies the potential clash.

We already see this now, in a more game-only way, with new players having expectations around near-guaranteed combat winnability and very rapid healing-recovery amd lower lethality that simply don't match what a lot of old-timers cut their teeth on, and it leads to headaches and arguments when one type of player tries to play at the table of another.

I only hope that we still have room in the big tent to satisfy both those people who want to drinking the metaphorical beer while eating popcorn and playing a game about killing monsters to those who want to have deep philosophical debates about the morality and meaning of good and evil.

People play for different reasons and with different styles.
Agreed. The trick is to not have those styles become so incompatible that one style simply cannot play with another.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Has this been a serious suggestion by someone? Was it in a thread here or one of the D&D writers?
It's been suggested a bunch of times in threads here at least (and maybe by one or more WotC folk elsewhere, I'm not sure any more) that blanket default-alignment descriptions e.g. Orcs are Evil, Elves are Good, etc. be taken off some (or many?) relatively common Prime-Material creatures.

Thus, monsters would still have alignments but it'd be on an individual-by-individual basis, with less (or no) creature-type default to fall back on.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Has this been a serious suggestion by someone? Was it in a thread here or one of the D&D writers?
Yes. "If you want evil orcs you can still have them, just have them be part of an evil organization or individual evil orcs." They then point to Eberron where orcs are any alignment because that's the "correct" way to do it.

Who told you that you were?
Maybe I've just heard it so often I've become over sensitive. Basically it's become a mantra. "Saying orcs are evil is racist".
 

Catolias

Explorer
Reading this and other threads has me thinking that the evolution of D&D needs to be total - a new edition will come sooner than later.

The preferred default system in 5e of determining ability point shoehorn players who want a “strong, long lasting” character into stereotypical PCs - the Dwarven fighter, the Elven bard or sorcerer, the Halfling rogue, the Half-Orc barbarian. Mountain Dwarf Sorceror? Possible, complicated, but a weaker character.

If WotC is honest in saying we are diverse and inclusive, it will mean changing ability increases from being linked the current genus / family / ancestry (or “race” in the PHB) to a class and skill system.

I tend to play 3.5 more. This too has issues given the race based bonus / penalty system. I’ll admit I may be subjective here but the mechanics were different because of its extensive skill system and the use of class (not “Race”) to determine proficiency and saves. That is a critical element that will help reduce stereotypes.

So long as WotC says 5e is about reconnecting to the D&D roots in 1e, 2e, BECMI, there’ll be a problem because each of those editions emphasise race over class
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Reading this and other threads has me thinking that the evolution of D&D needs to be total - a new edition will come sooner than later.

The preferred default system in 5e of determining ability point shoehorn players who want a “strong, long lasting” character into stereotypical PCs - the Dwarven fighter, the Elven bard or sorcerer, the Halfling rogue, the Half-Orc barbarian. Mountain Dwarf Sorceror? Possible, complicated, but a weaker character.
They’ve mentioned that an upcoming unannounced product will include rules for customizing ability score increases from “race.” I think it’s far more likely that they will print updated core books that include these optional rules, and possibly some of the player options that get frequently reprinted, such as the spells from the EEPG and XGTE, the underdark variants of gnomes and dwarves, possibly Eladrin, maybe the Tiefling variants, etc. and likely playable Goblinoids and Orcs.
 

Catolias

Explorer
They’ve mentioned that an upcoming unannounced product will include rules for customizing ability score increases from “race.” I think it’s far more likely that they will print updated core books that include these optional rules, and possibly some of the player options that get frequently reprinted, such as the spells from the EEPG and XGTE, the underdark variants of gnomes and dwarves, possibly Eladrin, maybe the Tiefling variants, etc. and likely playable Goblinoids and Orcs.
I’m not sure that an optional rule system for playing classes will cut it. From my perspective, it simply bakes in the race issue and it nods and winks at those who want to persist with questionable D&D origins. (Talk about digging a hole for oneself!)

If WotC claims to be inclusive and diverse, they can only do so by drawing a line under 5e and introducing a new edition. Sure, they might claim “5.5e”, but a shift to a class based system is a big difference for 5e. For instance, a class system means ability bonuses, saving throws, proficiencies are class based, not racial. There’s no being proficient with an Dwarven axe merely because you are a dwarf or a Longsword or fey ancestry allowing acces to bonus spells because you’re an elf.

Perhaps, counterintuitively, a system of “alignment” is still needed. It might be called motivation, ethos, or some such. I could see this working if it was given the sort of detail that alignment was given in 3.xe and inspiration in 5e. This motivation / ethos / attitude would be the means to guide and define classes, such as ranger or paladin from fighter, a warlock from wizard, etc.

Differences between each genus / family / ancestry could be restricted to DNA - darkvision, low light vision, movement speed or special features (dragon breath).
There might also be preferred classes. It might also involve skill modifiers and feats, but this would need to be handled REALLY carefully. For instance, like in 3.5e, I can see that humans life spans might allow them access to an additional feat. But, suggesting a rogue nimble fingers feat for a Halfling or an innate rage for a Half-Orc is irresponsible.
 

It's been suggested a bunch of times in threads here at least (and maybe by one or more WotC folk elsewhere, I'm not sure any more) that blanket default-alignment descriptions e.g. Orcs are Evil, Elves are Good, etc. be taken off some (or many?) relatively common Prime-Material creatures.

Thus, monsters would still have alignments but it'd be on an individual-by-individual basis, with less (or no) creature-type default to fall back on.
That was my understanding as well: the recent reminder of the rules that WotC released pointing out that the MM listed alignments were subject to DM change etc. That even if you're not playing Eberron, a DM could have CG orcs or neutral werewolves etc.

Hence why I was querying the insinuation that one side of the debate wants "all monsters have no alignment". It seemed a rather sweeping distortion of the position and so I was interested to know whether it had been a serious suggestion, standard forum warrior hyberbole, or a complete fabrication.
 

Derren

Hero
Differences between each genus / family / ancestry could be restricted to DNA - darkvision, low light vision, movement speed or special features (dragon breath).
Why is having darkvision because of biology ok but not being stronger because of biology?
What you propose is basically removing races entirely and everyone playing a human.
 

Yes. "If you want evil orcs you can still have them, just have them be part of an evil organization or individual evil orcs." They then point to Eberron where orcs are any alignment because that's the "correct" way to do it.
The DM introducing NPCs that don't have the same alignment as that listed in their statblock has always been a thing. That is not the same as "all monsters have no alignment".

It might have just been a really unfortunate misstatement when what you actually meant to complain about was just the default alignment simply being less default and WotC reiterating that all monsters don't have fixed alignments. However what we have to judge you and your position on is what you actually said.

Maybe I've just heard it so often I've become over sensitive. Basically it's become a mantra. "Saying orcs are evil is racist".
"Saying orcs are evil is racist" is not the same as "telling me I'm a racist because I don't have an issue with evil monsters. "
In fact I don't think that anyone has been telling you that you're a racist because you don't have an issue with evil monsters.
I'm pretty sure that no one has an issue with evil monsters. The main issue seems to be having an entire race of independently-thinking beings being evil, combined with some really unfortunate phrases and tropes used in their description that mirror historical racist rhetoric (and some still used by racists today.)
You can allow exceptions to MM alignment and remove the direct parallels to racist/colonialist language without eroding anything too fundamental to D&D. :)
 

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