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D&D General How To Reconcile the Settings

Doug McCrae

Legend
It depends on how exactly you classify human species, but right now it's looking like around 100,000 - 50,000 years ago or so there were at least 5 human species concurrently. Us, Neandertals, Denisovans,Homo Floresiensis (hobbit people), Luzonensis.
Opinions vary on this, depending on whether the palaeoanthropologist is a 'splitter' or a 'lumper'. A lumper would consider homo neanderthalensis and homo sapiens to be a single species, whereas a splitter would not. But both would agree that homo floresiensis is (or is part of) a separate species. A lumper might group floresiensis in the same category with homo erectus, or even homo habilis.

Apparently denisovans are not yet recognised as a formal taxon, and I think the same is true for luzonensis.

So the consensus of scientific opinion is that there were at least two different hominin species living on Earth 100k years ago, and there could be more depending on the system of categorisation one uses.

I'm getting most of this from Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction 2e (2019) by Bernard Wood.
 
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Yes put in a sidebar saying this is where Tieflings come from but they are rare.

Only one rate race per party (maybe 2 if it's a 6+ person party).

Tiefling make a reasonable amount of sense on Greyhawk, but they probably won't have it easy.

But if you have a party of a Drow, Tiefling, Half Orc, Gith and Goliath you're kinda missing the point IMHO.

Personally I'll probably use alignment and racial restrictions on a 5E GH Homebrew.

Eh, I don't see Tieflings making sense in Greyhawk. Sure, there is extraplanar contact, but it's not really keeping with the feel of the setting to have random half-outsiders running around. Drow exist, but are basically kill-on-sight to the surface races. Goliath seems fine if you make them be the frost barbarians and say that they're just big humans.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
also, all hominids that had close to human intelligence are extremely competitively expansionist. Thats the best thing we got for comparison against "huminoid species" since those two are basically the same thing in many (thought not all) ways.

Okay lets take the standard races through a kinda evolutionary lens

Humans, Halflings, Dwarfs, Elfs and Orcs are all Hominids, Gnomes are Fey and imc Goblins are amphibians

Humans— Homo Sapiens are an adaptive, expansionist species found in all biomes
Halflings - I consider them an off-shoot of Human, a distinctive phenotype adapted to a specific habitat (like Pygmy and Negrito on Earth)
=> Humans being so adaptive is why they are the dominat species across most worlds
=> When Humans and halfings crossbreed the result is a short human

Dwarfs - highly adapted to living under mountains, thus not prone to expand beyond alpine areas. ie Dwarfs are happy in the mountains and become grumpy when they go to lower altitudes because they are outside their habitat, nonetheless they have a high level of endurance.
=> Populations remain confined due to limits of Habit


Elfs - are an interesting case because of the effect of magic. They appear to be highly adapted to Forest biomes. However when Elfs move outside their natural habitat their inherent magic causes Elfs to mutate into new subspecies.
=> Populations of Elf subsepecies remain small due to extreme speciuation


Orcs - a Hominid species that share a common acnestor with Humans (or Elfs?), they are expansionist but unable to gain dominance v humans (their is a theory that Neanderthals were less cooperative than Homo Sapeins and this was one reason why didnt survive contact)

other races I assume developed elsewhere
 

Hussar

Legend
Where are people getting this massively xenophobic (kill on sight) vibe for Greyhawk? It's certainly not present in the supplements or the writings. Greyhawk has always been pretty kitchen sink. Never minding all the experimentation by the Scarlet Brotherhood.

The other thing is, when discussing population numbers and whatnot, and the presence of large predators, etc, we shouldn't forget that we create settings to serve the game, not the other way around. Just because the PC's stumble over monsters all the time doesn't mean that everyone else does too. The reason we have PC's stumble over monsters is because it's fun. A setting where you meet on monster in your entire lifetime would be very boring.
 

Where are people getting this massively xenophobic (kill on sight) vibe for Greyhawk? It's certainly not present in the supplements or the writings. Greyhawk has always been pretty kitchen sink. Never minding all the experimentation by the Scarlet Brotherhood.
Honestly at this point I just think it's people projecting their neophobic and elitist sentiments onto a "classic" setting. Like, people, just come out and say you don't like tieflings and the latest generation of players that they're massively popular with. Don't do this whole Greyhawk song and dance.
 
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cbwjm

Hero
Wouldn't it be kill them before they kill you? If orcs are constantly sweeping out of the hills and slaughtering villages or drow are coming up through the underdark and doing the same then that would colour anyone's perceptions of the race and make them a kill on sight race. For Grayhawk I'd say that tieflings just arrived too late, like an edition too late. With Iuz and Iggwilv running around the setting I feel like the setting has a high interaction with demons and tieflings could easily be found there. Might be more likely to be working for the bad guys but I'd still say they'd fit the setting.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Probably the 1E phb.

Drow for me wouldn't be kill on sight because they're to mysterious. Curiosity mixed with a fair bit of caution.

Tieflings wouldn't have it easy, worse than half ircs IMHO.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Honestly at this point I just think it's people projecting their neophobic and elitist sentiments onto a "classic" setting. Like, people, just come out and say you don't like tieflings and the latest generation of players that they're massively popular with. Don't do this whole Greyhawk song and dance.

Or ... it's just a preference.

It's a game. Sometimes I don't want to think too hard about real world ethics. So yes, sometimes there's black and white, good and evil. That's not going to work for everyone, but fortunately there's plenty of room for all sorts of options. That doesn't mean that people that don't want every race under the sun allowed as a PC in their campaign are "elitist". It just means they've made a decision for what makes sense for them.
 

That each race has ridiculous population numbers that add up to a total population that is environmentally unsustainable is an assumption that only you are making. It would be easier to take @Hussar's 360 million and say that is the total population on the continent period and subdivide population numbers for each race from there.

To reference some of the published settings: Faerun as of 1372 DR had a rough population of 68 million sapients, though I would probably multiply that be at least 1.5 to account for monstrous humanoids, so 102 million sapients. Khorvaire in 998 YK had a population of 15 million; even if we assume that number should be 10 times as much due to 3e jank creating a population density equivalent to Siberia which is frankly bogus, that would still only take us to 150 million. Even accounting for a larger population prior to the Last War, it would take a lot to crack Hussar's 360 million.

Meanwhile from the way you're arguing, I'm assuming you're assuming at least a 1 billion population in an area of 1 or 2 continents that are resource deprived? If that's what you're assuming, I don't know where that's coming from.

Also, note of trivia: scholars today theorize that the population of the Americas prior to Columbian contact was 50 million.

That all humanoids=hominids is not a safe assumption to make, especially in settings where certain races were created in their current form rather than evolving naturally. Again, there could be biological, psychological, or cultural reasons unique to each race that justify why they are generally restricted to a certain area. Maybe a species is over-adapted to a certain biome and can't thrive outside that climate. Maybe a species is culturally tied to certain sacred relics and/or sites and don't have a strong cultural impetus to migrate. Maybe they have conflicts at home that are interfering with their ability to push outward. Maybe they have made contact with the outside world but relations as of now are peaceful.

Plus, there is always planar shenanigans to consider. Perhaps a certain race has more of its population in the Feywild or in the Elemental Planes than on the Material, no matter their origins.
1. I dont assume massive populations. I assume it will happen if those popilations contact at all which happens without the massive amounts.

2. Its unquantifiable how "safe" that assumption is. But it is the most direct assumption available to make and the safEST roughly. Bar none.
 

Okay lets take the standard races through a kinda evolutionary lens

Humans, Halflings, Dwarfs, Elfs and Orcs are all Hominids, Gnomes are Fey and imc Goblins are amphibians

Humans— Homo Sapiens are an adaptive, expansionist species found in all biomes
Halflings - I consider them an off-shoot of Human, a distinctive phenotype adapted to a specific habitat (like Pygmy and Negrito on Earth)
=> Humans being so adaptive is why they are the dominat species across most worlds
=> When Humans and halfings crossbreed the result is a short human

Dwarfs - highly adapted to living under mountains, thus not prone to expand beyond alpine areas. ie Dwarfs are happy in the mountains and become grumpy when they go to lower altitudes because they are outside their habitat, nonetheless they have a high level of endurance.
=> Populations remain confined due to limits of Habit


Elfs - are an interesting case because of the effect of magic. They appear to be highly adapted to Forest biomes. However when Elfs move outside their natural habitat their inherent magic causes Elfs to mutate into new subspecies.
=> Populations of Elf subsepecies remain small due to extreme speciuation


Orcs - a Hominid species that share a common acnestor with Humans (or Elfs?), they are expansionist but unable to gain dominance v humans (their is a theory that Neanderthals were less cooperative than Homo Sapeins and this was one reason why didnt survive contact)

other races I assume developed elsewhere
It actually comes down mostly to sex. Homo sapiens fucked like rabbits comparitively. They fucked neanderthals too. Absorbed them and or killed them but mostly its the sex. They just bred like crazy.

Homo sapiens are actually a remarkably unlikely but successful hybridization of many hominids. Normally it wouldnt be so easy to make an everything salad but it just happened to be genetically posssible. And so it happened.
 

1. I dont assume massive populations. I assume it will happen if those popilations contact at all which happens without the massive amounts.

2. Its unquantifiable how "safe" that assumption is. But it is the most direct assumption available to make and the safEST roughly. Bar none.
So you're arguing that:
  1. Tens to hundreds of millions of people on a single continent is already too many, even when we've seen in history that it's perfectly possible?
  2. People are idiots, peaceful diplomacy and conflict resolution is impossible and all armed conflicts will escalate to wars of extermination?
  3. Humanoid races, no matter if they evolved naturally on the Material Plane, were created in their current form by gods or by advanced precursors, or are descended from Fey, elemental, or other extraplanar immigrants, are going to fall into patterns of behaviour resembling early homo sapiens and other genus homo organisms, no matter their origins, technology level, or quirks of being?
... I don't think that holds up. At all. How far are you extending these assumptions? Elves? Lizardfolk? Thri-kreen?
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Honestly at this point I just think it's people projecting their neophobic and elitist sentiments onto a "classic" setting. Like, people, just come out and say you don't like tieflings and the latest generation of players that they're massively popular with. Don't do this whole Greyhawk song and dance.

I think part of the issue with Greyhawk is that because it was the first big setting (Blackmoor is pretty niche), it really didn't have many options for races, and almost all of Gygax's original players were human (maybe all, I'm not sure).

And because Greyhawk is so directly tied to nostalgia and playing D&D "how it was originally meant to be played" (I'm trying to think like a grognard now), I understand why people would find a PC of an unusual race in Greyhawk off-limits, as they were typically cast as racial enemies, most famously Drow in Against the Giants.

Part of me respects that, especially as I do like the idea of maintaining the "danger" factor of certain races like Drow and Orcs, which I think Forgotten Realms has inadvertently made a lot tamer as half-orcs and Drow PCs are considered fairly normal (and in the case of D'rizzt have made a Drow PC practically a stereotype). Seeing these races firmly placed as terrifying again would be nice to see.

Of course, I'd like more depth added to Greyhawk Orcs/Drow as having a race being evil "because they are" is problematic for entirely different reasons...
 

So you're arguing that:
  1. Tens to hundreds of millions of people on a single continent is already too many, even when we've seen in history that it's perfectly possible?
  2. People are idiots, peaceful diplomacy and conflict resolution is impossible and all armed conflicts will escalate to wars of extermination?
  3. Humanoid races, no matter if they evolved naturally on the Material Plane, were created in their current form by gods or by advanced precursors, or are descended from Fey, elemental, or other extraplanar immigrants, are going to fall into patterns of behaviour resembling early homo sapiens and other genus homo organisms, no matter their origins, technology level, or quirks of being?
... I don't think that holds up. At all. How far are you extending these assumptions? Elves? Lizardfolk? Thri-kreen?
1 eh

2 generally um duh

3 there is reason to say its more likely than if they werent such a similar biological form.

4 yes
 

Seeing these races firmly placed as terrifying again would be nice to see.
Orcs were low level mooks. They were never terrifying. They're especially never going to be 'terrifying' now that we're in the age where Warcraft exists and orcs have moved so far past "They are the evil people we can freely attack" to "They are another culture we got problems with but they're people" that its so far in the distance no one can see it.

Eh, I don't see Tieflings making sense in Greyhawk. Sure, there is extraplanar contact, but it's not really keeping with the feel of the setting to have random half-outsiders running around.
Aside from the well known half fiends of the setting, I've always held the opinion that Planetouched should just spring up in areas where there's been big ol' magic related to a thing used. So anywhere Iuz's forces have torn through, people will just occasionally have Tieflings as kids rather than humans.
 

Coroc

Hero
Orcs were low level mooks. They were never terrifying. They're especially never going to be 'terrifying' now that we're in the age where Warcraft exists and orcs have moved so far past "They are the evil people we can freely attack" to "They are another culture we got problems with but they're people" that its so far in the distance no one can see it.


Aside from the well known half fiends of the setting, I've always held the opinion that Planetouched should just spring up in areas where there's been big ol' magic related to a thing used. So anywhere Iuz's forces have torn through, people will just occasionally have Tieflings as kids rather than humans.

You do not know my orcs in my greyhawk setting then.
First they are build more than PCs stat wise than mobs.
Second they operate as a well disciplined army in the service of Iuz.
They are well armed and some are heavily armored.
They use Pike formations and archers, sometimes mounted on manticores,
Big mob numbers can be frightening in 5e.
Their officers and generals are worthy solo encounters depending on party level.


Another take on orcs which I consider very good especially for a humanocentric low magic campaign is to describe encountered orcs or goblinoids very vaguely by their fangs red glowing eyes, martial outfit, whatever. If the players never did encounter an orc before, you can make them frightening just by using the right description.



Tieflings are not very common in my take on greyhawk but I allow them as PCs. But not those of Iuz Origins (Tanar'ri originated), but the other faction.
Iuz operations are a thing also devils got an interest in, so they are occasionally scouting Oerth with all consequences, of course they usually cannot enter the prime at will but sometimes a summoning goes wrong or whatever.
 

You do not know my orcs in my greyhawk setting then.
First they are build more than PCs stat wise than mobs.
Second they operate as a well disciplined army in the service of Iuz.
They are well armed and some are heavily armored.
They use Pike formations and archers, sometimes mounted on manticores,
Big mob numbers can be frightening in 5e.
Their officers and generals are worthy solo encounters depending on party level.


Another take on orcs which I consider very good especially for a humanocentric low magic campaign is to describe encountered orcs or goblinoids very vaguely by their fangs red glowing eyes, martial outfit, whatever. If the players never did encounter an orc before, you can make them frightening just by using the right description.

You seem to be confusing two entirely different things here.

1. Orcs, the disorganised and not-terribly - threatening beings which have existed in D&D since the 1970s, and which have never, in terms of stats, or official setting lore been "terrifying". At most they might have been mildly scary to newbies who didn't know what they were.

2. Coroc's Orcs, which are apparently massively buffed in terms of in-game stats, have a totally different culture, one which is basically identical to Hobgoblins, and even possibly have a different appearance to modern D&D Orcs.

Claiming Orcs should be "terrifying again" on the basis of an unusual homebrew take on them is not reasonable. I could, with better justification say "Kobolds should be terrifying again!" because they were in a well-run Dragon Mountain campaign, even though that was basically the only time, because that was at least an official campaign. Heck I could say the same with Halflings because in Dark Sun, they are scary little cannibals.

It's also worth noting that the whole "make D&D scary and deadly" thing was absolutely done to death quite recently by the so-called Old-School Revolution games, like Dungeon Crawl Classics. Those games are cool, but it's clear there's limited appetite for that sort of thing.
 

Coroc

Hero
You seem to be confusing two entirely different things here.

1. Orcs, the disorganised and not-terribly - threatening beings which have existed in D&D since the 1970s, and which have never, in terms of stats, or official setting lore been "terrifying". At most they might have been mildly scary to newbies who didn't know what they were.

2. Coroc's Orcs, which are apparently massively buffed in terms of in-game stats, have a totally different culture, one which is basically identical to Hobgoblins, and even possibly have a different appearance to modern D&D Orcs.

Claiming Orcs should be "terrifying again" on the basis of an unusual homebrew take on them is not reasonable. I could, with better justification say "Kobolds should be terrifying again!" because they were in a well-run Dragon Mountain campaign, even though that was basically the only time, because that was at least an official campaign. Heck I could say the same with Halflings because in Dark Sun, they are scary little cannibals.

It's also worth noting that the whole "make D&D scary and deadly" thing was absolutely done to death quite recently by the so-called Old-School Revolution games, like Dungeon Crawl Classics. Those games are cool, but it's clear there's limited appetite for that sort of thing.


Regarding 2. I absolutely wanted orcs for their CE alignment and not LE Hobgoblins because Iuz is CE.
Otoh I wanted them to be rather like hobgoblins. Their chaotic traits come out by other things. Remember 2e drow were also CE, still they had their rules and their organized society, the chaotic for them was "break the rules and do not get caught" and everything is fine.

Yes, to all of your statements, and the 5e standard orc is mechanically only dangerous to a level 1 party.
But to make just a green colored human out of it is the other end of a player playing an elf as a human with pointy ears. To me and my table RP in RPG has some meaning and that requires that an orc is an orc with all his cruelty, disgusting behavior and whatever else traits.
It is a mob who will not hesitate to eat you raw if he is hungry after defeating the party in battle. That fact is independent of his only 12 HP or what have you.
 

So you're literally saying that people who don't want to portray all Orcs as cruel, vicious cannibals aren't "real roleplayers" and that RP has no meaning to them?

Seriously?

Because if not you probably want to delete the incredible sentence where you say that.
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
Orcs were very much cannon fodder in early d&d. I don’t mind the changes. They are still pretty weak. They are definitely not beholders or mindflayers. But they are more of a challenge in the first tier than they used to be. There dangers was always numbers. They were the critter that the fighter would kill half a dozen of to show he was a badass.
 

Coroc

Hero
So you're literally saying that people who don't want to portray all Orcs as cruel, vicious cannibals aren't "real roleplayers" and that RP has no meaning to them?

Seriously?

Because if not you probably want to delete the incredible sentence where you say that.

Nope I did not say that all orcs have to be like that but what I wrote is the standard orc not from a mechanical point of view but from his typical behavior at least in my standard campaigns , sorry D&D is a bit about stereotypes, that is part of the game, and nothing I feel bad about.
And other people are free to portray their orcs as pacifistic dope-loving hippies in their campaigns if they have fun with that, and they still are of course real roleplayers and it does not devalue their campaign or playstyle in any way.

See D&D has been diverse and multicultural way before this got such a high value in society.
Already in 2e (Back in 87 or 89? i cannot remember) they decided that there be no differences anymore in stats or whatever for male or female characters. I think 1e still had this that males could have higher strength.

Still there were stereotypes and there still are and that's it it is just a game not reality.
 

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