D&D 5E Latest D&D Errata: Drow, Alignment, & More

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Sage Advice is a series of articles in which Jeremy Crawford, one of the D&D Studio’s game design architects, talks about the design of the game’s rules and answers questions about them.


D&D books occasionally receive corrections and other updates to their rules and story. This Sage Advice installment presents updates to several books. I then answer a handful of rules questions, focusing on queries related to Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons and Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos.


Official errata has been published for the following books:
Here's some of the highlights.
  • Alignment is removed from the Racial Traits section of races.
  • Drow have undergone lore changes which reflect the different types of drow. The 'darkness of the drow' sidebar which portrays them as only evil has been removed.
  • Storm King's Thunder alters references to 'Savage Frontier' and 'barbarians'; Curse of Strahd alters references to the Vistani.
  • The controversial Silvery Barbs spell has been clarified.
As a drow, you are infused with the magic of the Underdark, an underground realm of wonders and horrors rarely seen on the surface above. You are at home in shadows and, thanks to your innate magic, learn to con- jure forth both light and darkness. Your kin tend to have stark white hair and grayish skin of many hues.

The cult of the god Lolth, Queen of Spiders, has cor- rupted some of the oldest drow cities, especially in the worlds of Oerth and Toril. Eberron, Krynn, and other realms have escaped the cult’s influence—for now. Wherever the cult lurks, drow heroes stand on the front lines in the war against it, seeking to sunder Lolth’s web.
 
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Scribe

Hero
Now, it is possible for demons and angles to literally be extensions of some greater force, to be little bitty avatars - so they literally do not have a will of their own. But that's not usually how they are portrayed in the game. Instead, they have quite a bit of free will, but it happens that their will ultimately always bends towards the baneful.

But, that's not the same as having no free will at all.

I agree.

To expand upon my position.

Demons, Angels, Undead (Negative Cosmic Force to go with whatever would be Positive) all come from a baseline Cosmic Energy. Fine.

As such, I have no issue with them DEFAULTING to Evil/Good/Evil (Negative being Evil in this scenario).

If however, they are free to think on their own, given opportunity and reason, it does not seem to me that they should be limited in changing their behaviors, and ultimately (in a scenario with Cosmic Forces being real/mechanical fact) their Alignments.

As such, what difference does it make if a Gnoll is Humanoid, but with a creation process that involves Evil (Cosmic) or a Demon with a creation process that involves Evil (Cosmic).

I dont have my book on hand, but a Gnoll is created by some kind of ritual right now, is it not? If they are in fact already magical beings, does it matter what their super/sub type is re: Humanoid/Demon?

If they have free will regardless, what difference does it realistically make, assuming we accept that either way they COULD change their outlook, behavior, and therefore Alignment?
 

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Really struggling with the brothel change, given the bad real world connotations of similar things like:
Taverns
Butchers
Scrimshaws
Apothecary
Weaponsmiths
and the like.

And if you can't cope with the B word never buy The Jack Hack rpg
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
Humanoids generally have free will imho.

Things like Aberrations, Elementals, Outsiders, Undead technically kinda sorta depending on the specific being.

I've often toyed with a non evil species that treats humans as pets. They neuter them, breed them how they want, eat them perhaps and otherwise control all aspects of their lives.

A good mind flayer could theoretically exist but it better be voluntarily starving to death or have something like a ring of sustenance and refrain from reproduction.
 



Well, if there was ever a sign Dark Sun is going to be significantly different when it's finally released, I think this is it.
I mean, it being significantly different was inevitable, but I'm pretty sure they'll just replace slavery with extremely oppressive serfdom that isn't called slavery, but is in fact more or less identical to non-chattel forms of slavery, if they do a Dark Sun. Certainly historically the line between "serf" and "slave" has been a lot less clear than many people might think. All over the world there have been situations where large groups of people were not, technically, slaves, but were, in fact, not allowed to decide where to go, who to work for, and paid very little if at all. There were undoubtedly Roman slaves with vastly better lives and even genuinely greater freedoms than some serfs, whether those serfs were in Britain, Europe, Russia, East Asia, pre-Colombian South America or whatever.

There are distinctions. In pre-Christian periods in Rome you could basically mistreat your slaves at will, but serfs might, in theory, have some rights to trial. Then again, so did late-Roman slaves. But on the other hand, Rome had laws like, if one slave in household kills their master, all the slaves in that household are put to death (this was a real law that seems to have been enforced at least a few times - it was notably extremely unpopular with the working and middle class of Roman, but the upper class considered it essential), and generally serfs didn't face that level of collective punishment (though god, I bet if I looked into Russia under the Tsars I'd see some stuff which was pretty close).

I think extreme serfdom is going to be a lot more palatable. There'd be no buying and selling of people as individuals, but there'd be huge oppression, no rights, no freedoms, probably made to work for a negative wage (i.e. less than you're charged for room/board), or similar stuff.

So if you do that we end up with a rather "Cyberpunk"-like Dark Sun, in a certain way. And Dark Sun was always basically Psionicpunk, or Obsidianpunk, or whatever, so that seems like a pretty natural fit. In some ways it might actually be a better fit, weirdly enough, than the half-Roman, half-American South slavery of 2E Dark Sun, which always had some questionable elements.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I mean, it being significantly different was inevitable, but I'm pretty sure they'll just replace slavery with extremely oppressive serfdom that isn't called slavery, but is in fact more or less identical to non-chattel forms of slavery, if they do a Dark Sun. Certainly historically the line between "serf" and "slave" has been a lot less clear than many people might think. All over the world there have been situations where large groups of people were not, technically, slaves, but were, in fact, not allowed to decide where to go, who to work for, and paid very little if at all. There were undoubtedly Roman slaves with vastly better lives and even genuinely greater freedoms than some serfs, whether those serfs were in Britain, Europe, Russia, East Asia, pre-Colombian South America or whatever.

There are distinctions. In pre-Christian periods in Rome you could basically mistreat your slaves at will, but serfs might, in theory, have some rights to trial. Then again, so did late-Roman slaves. But on the other hand, Rome had laws like, if one slave in household kills their master, all the slaves in that household are put to death (this was a real law that seems to have been enforced at least a few times - it was notably extremely unpopular with the working and middle class of Roman, but the upper class considered it essential).

I think extreme serfdom is going to be a lot more palatable. There'd be no buying and selling of people as individuals, but there'd be huge oppression, no rights, no freedoms, probably made to work for a negative wage (i.e. less than you're charged for room/board), or similar stuff.

So if you do that we end up with a rather "Cyberpunk"-like Dark Sun, in a certain way. And Dark Sun was always basically Psionicpunk, or Obsidianpunk, or whatever, so that seems like a pretty natural fit. In some ways it might actually be a better fit, weirdly enough, than the half-Roman, half-American South slavery of 2E Dark Sun, which always had some questionable elements.

Serfs generally don't get sold as chattel although I'm sure it's happened or they got sold as part of a land transfer.
 

Serfs generally don't get sold as chattel although I'm sure it's happened or they got sold as part of a land transfer.
Yeah that's what I'm saying - no individual sales, so no direct slavery analogue, but saying no individual was indeed meaning to highlight that they might get sold as part of a land transfer or the like. It also means you don't have any worry about PCs getting their hands dirty with slavery, and don't even need "slave prices" for the NPCs/economy, and no-one can argue that you do.
 

Just because orcs are imaginary brutish, evil monsters in a game, doesn't mean that people possessing one iota of common sense are going to just assume that entire races of real people and evil in real life, because they read it in a lore entry in a D&D book. Isn't this assuming that people are passive sheep, easily influenced by some mystical "Dark Dungeons" level of mind control that D&D has over them?

No, it isn't assuming that.

It's assuming that a constant deluge of stereotypes in every form of media we consume slowly but inexorably influences people and leaves them open to increasingly hurtful beliefs.

Avoiding those stereotypes in D&D won't solve the problem, but neither will refraining from chucking your McDonald's bag out your car window clean up the environment.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Yeah that's what I'm saying - no individual sales, so no direct slavery analogue, but saying no individual was indeed meaning to highlight that they might get sold as part of a land transfer or the like. It also means you don't have any worry about PCs getting their hands dirty with slavery, and don't even need "slave prices" for the NPCs/economy, and no-one can argue that you do.

Well afaik serfs didn't gold sold as such but I'm sure one can find examples if you look hard enough.

At uni I saw a photo of serfs being used as beasts if burden dragging a barge up the Volga river.

If I had the choice I would ask where and when for the slave part.
 

No, it isn't assuming that.

It's assuming that a constant deluge of stereotypes in every form of media we consume slowly but inexorably influences people and leaves them open to increasingly hurtful beliefs.

Avoiding those stereotypes in D&D won't solve the problem, but neither will refraining from chucking your McDonald's bag out your car window clean up the environment.
It also means people reading about orcs won't go "HOLY HELL THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT MY ANCESTORS!!!".

Because literally, in 5E, presumably now errata'd out, but prior to that, there was stuff about orcs which was practically identical to stuff in racist textbooks from the mid-century and earlier (and in some disturbing cases, much later).
 

Well, if there was ever a sign Dark Sun is going to be significantly different when it's finally released, I think this is it.

I mean, maybe? Attitudes and opinions change over time. I think Deadlands is a pretty good example of that. Though in the case of this, I think part of the problem is that to change a rather egregious situation in PFS, they made it so that it had to have a "storyline solution". Part of the problem is that trying to solve it with a "storyline" is doing the exact same thing that frustrated people before. There's context and baggage about doing it "in-universe" that is part of the problem in that situation.

As to whether or not WOTC could do a good enough job explaining slavery within Dark Sun... I mean, probably not. It's always been a beloved but niche setting for a reason.
 

Ixal

Adventurer
Well afaik serfs didn't gold sold as such but I'm sure one can find examples if you look hard enough.

At uni I saw a photo of serfs being used as beasts if burden dragging a barge up the Volga river.

If I had the choice I would ask where and when for the slave part.
Not directly, but serfs were tied to their land and the land got traded.
 



Staffan

Legend
As to whether or not WOTC could do a good enough job explaining slavery within Dark Sun... I mean, probably not. It's always been a beloved but niche setting for a reason.
That's a hard nut to crack. Slavery is a HUGE part of Dark Sun, to the point where the intro adventure in the original box starts the PCs off as slaves and the first published adventure has the characters enslaved in the first part and then they spend the rest of the adventure working in the slave pits (with the adventuring stuff in between). I think a slavery-less Dark Sun would be to do the setting a huge disservice.

I mean, for me who has been living most of my life on easy-mode privilege-wise (white, cis, male, straight, living in one of the richest countries in the world), fictional slavery is... well, spicy is not the right word, but it's close. Playing a character who's a slave, or running a game where the PCs are slaves, can be fun if it leads to breaking free and hopefully extracting vengeance and maybe even overthrow the system that allows slavery. If the game world starts out being perfect, there's not much room for the PCs to make it better. At the same time, I recognize that for many people, slavery is not an abstract evil – it's a very concrete evil their not-that-distant ancestors were subjected to, and it would be super uncomfortable for them even with slavery shown as utterly evil, and even with slavery being locally abolished at the end of that first published adventure.

I don't know how to reconcile these things. The best ideas I can come up with are (a) give up – it's too much of a minefield, or (b) put the mother of all trigger/content warnings on the products.
 

When they say Pathfinder isn't going to have slavery anymore, do they mean as an institution or forced labor in general? If the latter it will be a bit...suspension of disbelief breaking to never have any bad guys ever forcing people they've abducted to mine for an evil artifact or whatever unless villains never ever take prisoners.

Duergar exist in their setting, right? I'm curious to see if they radically change duergar lore or just never reference them again.
 

That's a hard nut to crack. Slavery is a HUGE part of Dark Sun, to the point where the intro adventure in the original box starts the PCs off as slaves and the first published adventure has the characters enslaved in the first part and then they spend the rest of the adventure working in the slave pits (with the adventuring stuff in between). I think a slavery-less Dark Sun would be to do the setting a huge disservice.

I mean, for me who has been living most of my life on easy-mode privilege-wise (white, cis, male, straight, living in one of the richest countries in the world), fictional slavery is... well, spicy is not the right word, but it's close. Playing a character who's a slave, or running a game where the PCs are slaves, can be fun if it leads to breaking free and hopefully extracting vengeance and maybe even overthrow the system that allows slavery. If the game world starts out being perfect, there's not much room for the PCs to make it better. At the same time, I recognize that for many people, slavery is not an abstract evil – it's a very concrete evil their not-that-distant ancestors were subjected to, and it would be super uncomfortable for them even with slavery shown as utterly evil, and even with slavery being locally abolished at the end of that first published adventure.

I don't know how to reconcile these things. The best ideas I can come up with are (a) give up – it's too much of a minefield, or (b) put the mother of all trigger/content warnings on the products.

Same way they do everything. With a heavy handed change. “And slavery was defeated forever, but life is still hard and the land still dying in the Realm of Dark Sun.
 



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