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D&D General Old School DND talks if DND is racist.

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Remathilis

Legend
I’m sorry no it doesn’t act like a person: for the reasons I said before. It superficially resembles a person in appearance. But in many crucial ways it is utterly alien.

Nobody that I’m aware of are claiming that demonic Succubi should be reclassified as anything other than evil.

This argument is being used to try and delegitimise reasonable claims that humanoids shouldn’t be viewed as any alignment.

I think it’s wrong and flawed. We weren’t asking for the baby to be thrown out with the bath water.
I told you the line doesn't stop with orcs and drow. The line stops when EVERY sentient species has equal opportunity to be good, evil, or something in between. Humanoids, monstrosities, giants, fey, elementals, aberrations, dragons, celestials, fiends. If it can think and make moral choices, it has just as equal opportunity to be LG as CE.
 

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TheSword

Legend
Supporter
But that's a judgement call. Beautiful females that embrace their sexuality are all evil temptresses out to corrupt helpless men is very much an issue.
And if the only beautiful seductors were female appearance then there could be a claim of misogyny. But that isn’t the case so where is the harm? Incubi fulfill the same role.

Whenever we are looking at these issues I do think we need to look at where harm lies. It’s my biggest beef with people wanting to remove the entire alignment system.
 
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I told you the line doesn't stop with orcs and drow. The line stops when EVERY sentient species has equal opportunity to be good, evil, or something in between. Humanoids, monstrosities, giants, fey, elementals, aberrations, dragons, celestials, fiends. If it can think and make moral choices, it has just as equal opportunity to be LG as CE.
Well, Erinyes are fallen angels, so I guess we're already there?

I do wonder what sort of changes people honestly think will happen to alignment beyond moving the word "usually" from the paragraph describing alignment to the individual stat blocks.
 

Catulle

Adventurer
RrHo'kay. Gonna try and clear up what I said because writing stuff past midnight while I'm trying to get to bed is not the best way to write something clear, concise, and on-point. So I want to tackle a few things more broadly and without just trying to respond to people because I find when you get into a quote-heavy discussion, you lose sight of the argument for the sake of responses and comebacks. Anyways...

The Satanic Panic...
Thanks for being the one to emphasise what the satanic panic actually was. It is utterly infuriating how the narrative has metastasised that it was about the obstacles nerds like us faced to playing some trivial games as opposed to the profound direct trauma inflicted on (mostly) women and the subsequent devastation of families arising from some deeply unethical psychology practice.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
But isn't that the divide in viewpoints? In the real world, if it looks, walks, talks, and acts like a person, it is a person, because there's nothing else it could be. In a fantasy world, it can look just like a person but actually be a puddle of evil goo, because cosmological evil is something that exists in the fantasy world.

It looks from here that you are so busy trying to justify a thing with in-world biology and metaphysics that you seem to be missing the fact that, to this day, the exact same logic is used to justify real-world racism and misogyny:

They aren't human. They are sub-human. They aren't people. They don't think like us. They are alien. They aren't intelligent like us. They don't feel like us. They have other drives and instincts that control them...

Now, get your head out of your setting for a moment. Think of this from the real-world perspective.

The exact same logic that is used in the real world, is being used on this fictional symbol - that symbol looks like members of your demographic. The portrayal is like those leveled at your own people in the real world for centuries.

How the heck do you figure that looks? How are you not trying to weasel word things to be able to continue the same sexism or racism under an excuse of fictionalization? Really, guys, the traditional image of the succubus is the "fallen woman" - she's not an alien. For centuries the succubus was the embodiment of a thing men claimed dragged them to Perdition, rather than take responsibility for their own actions! You really think you can overcome that depiction with some in-game-biology handwaving that she's "not really a person"? You think that flies for anyone other than yourself?
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
And if the only beautiful seductors were female appearance then there could be a claim of misogyny. But that isn’t the case so where is the harm?

Whenever we are looking at these issues I do think we need to look at where harm lies. It’s my biggest beef with people wanting to remove the entire alignment system.
Succubi are very much rooted in misogamy misogyny*. There are non-human creatures that do not have an evil alignment as the default, so why doesn't it go both ways?

I think it should be made clearer that alignment and culture are defaults. I will likely never have a good aligned Balor in my campaign, but they are thinking, intelligent creatures. Just because they're demon spawn doesn't change that.

Much like in the Dresden files Goodman Grey is a male scion of a Naagloshii (a type of demon), it can happen. Form does not dictate function, not even in D&D where I think having generic bad guys is a good thing.

*EDIT: stupid auto-correct. :mad:
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
So do you believe a succubus or a balor has the same opportunity to be LG as an elf or an orc?
Lol. Well that puts paid to my claim that no one is really asking for that.

I frankly don’t care two hoots what the default alignment of a balor, mindflayer, sphinx, hydra, dragon, or any creature that doesn’t draw inspiration from reality. (Which many monstrous humanoids do, from the cultures ascribed to the them).

Its an artistic choice that has zero impact on racism. I don’t believe minorities are feeling uncomfortable because the Mindflayers are defaulting to evil. If you have credible sources suggesting there is a link then please point me in that direction. Again if you want to recreate Fall-From-Grace then that’s an artistic choice.

By expecting it @Remathilis you are undermining the credible elements that seek to revise the game in practical terms that might make a difference.
 

Wishbone

Paladin Radmaster
Succubi are very much rooted in misogamy. There are non-human creatures that do not have an evil alignment as the default, so why doesn't it go both ways?

I think it should be made clearer that alignment and culture are defaults. I will likely never have a good aligned Balor in my campaign, but they are thinking, intelligent creatures. Just because they're demon spawn doesn't change that.

Much like in the Dresden files Goodman Grey is a male scion of a Naagloshii (a type of demon)[/SPOILER], it can happen. Form does not dictate function, not even in D&D where I think having generic bad guys is a good thing.
Assuming you mean misogyny and not the hatred of marriage?
 


TheSword

Legend
Supporter
It looks form here that you are so busy trying to justify a thing with in-world biology and metaphysics that you seem to be missing the fact that, to this day, the exact same logic is used to justify real-world racism and misogyny:

They aren't human. They are sub-human. They aren't people. They don't think like us. They are alien. They aren't intelligent like us. They don't feel like us. They have other drives and instincts that control them...

Now, get your head out of your setting for a moment. Think of this from the real-world perspective.

The exact same logic that is used in the real world, is being used on this fictional symbol - that symbol looks like members of your demographic. The portrayal is like those leveled at your own people in the real world.

How the heck do you figure that looks? How are you not trying to weasel word things to be able to continue the same sexism or racism under an excuse of fictionalization?
I’m sorry but if you think it’s wrong to ascribe default evil alignment to a creature that feeds on the live brains of mentally controlled creatures then I think we have a fundamentally different understanding.

People were historically using superficial biological differences to justify racist ideology. Not fundamentally different ones... like being a demonic creature draining the life essence of a person before dragging their soul into hell.

Suggesting a comparison is trivializing a real problem.

I’m fully behind “any alignment” for humanoids. I am totally against expectating WOC to do that for everything.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It looks form here that you are so busy trying to justify a thing with in-world biology and metaphysics that you seem to be missing the fact that, to this day, the exact same logic is used to justify real-world racism and misogyny:

They aren't human. They are sub-human. They aren't people. They don't think like us. They are alien. They aren't intelligent like us. They don't feel like us. They have other drives and instincts that control them...

Now, get your head out of your setting for a moment. Think of this from the real-world perspective.

The exact same logic that is used in the real world, is being used on this fictional symbol - that symbol looks like members of your demographic. The portrayal is like those leveled at your own people in the real world.

How the heck do you figure that looks? How are you not trying to weasel word things to be able to continue the same sexism or racism under an excuse of fictionalization?
Well, this is the first I’ve ever heard of anyone suggesting on any level that demons being evil is racist, so...that’s a weird way to start my day.

No, demons being evil is not comparable to a race of mortal people being evil. They are inherently different cases.
 


It looks form here that you are so busy trying to justify a thing with in-world biology and metaphysics that you seem to be missing the fact that, to this day, the exact same logic is used to justify real-world racism and misogyny:

They aren't human. They are sub-human. They aren't people. They don't think like us. They are alien. They aren't intelligent like us. They don't feel like us. They have other drives and instincts that control them...

Now, get your head out of your setting for a moment. Think of this from the real-world perspective.

The exact same logic that is used in the real world, is being used on this fictional symbol - that symbol looks like members of your demographic. The portrayal is like those leveled at your own people in the real world.

How the heck do you figure that looks? How are you not trying to weasel word things to be able to continue the same sexism or racism under an excuse of fictionalization?

I agree with much of what you're saying.

At the same time, I'll ask what I've asked elsewhere: if approaching game design from the perspective that all sentient beings should be respected, how is that reconciled with a game which often centers around killing said beings and taking their stuff?

What would you suggest as how you would approach adventure and encounter design?
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
Alright, so let's get on to the second half here.

I want to talk about media, influence, and racism. First off, I think it's indisputable that media and pop culture influence attitude. How deeply it can cause someone to move or what certain things might influence can be debated, but the idea that it can shape perceptions is basically the backbone of how we influence anything: advertising, propaganda, etc... these things are based on the idea that the media you consume will influence what you think and how you think about it. Watch some of the propaganda films like Jud Süß or Der Hitlerjunge Quex, and you can see how these things would shape people's belief.

A more direct example to TTRPGs would be the one @Minigiant and @Scribe talked about with the GW Open Statement. GW's setting has elements that aren't necessarily problematic on their own, but can easily be taken that way. So they didn't address it, and eventually some in the community ran with the xenophobia of the Imperium, and basically allowed their property to become associated with a bunch of racist, alt-right bullshit. And that's not all on them, but it shows how media can direct things: you have something problematic, and the wrong people come to it, use it, help make it into something that it isn't meant to be, and influence others who might be interested. That's a much more direct version of what we are talking about.

With D&D, there are also some more direct versions. The Vistani are the obvious one, where they are based on bad stereotypes based on the Romani, and it's perhaps even worse given that they are meant to look helpful and nice but are secretly working for the overarching bad guy of the scenario. It feeds into classic cultural stereotypes of distrust towards the people, and while it perhaps wasn't meant to be racist, we all understand it as such at this time.

The problem is the stuff that is less about blunt depictions and more about continuing bad, ill-thought-out ideas or things that fuel greater ideas that feed into systemic racism. With Orcs, there's a lot of unspoken coding going on when we are describing a "tribal, barbaric, untamable people" who are less intelligent than us. That matches a lot of verbiage used when talking about colonized peoples, like Native Americans, Mesoamericans, and Sub-Saharan Africans. It is not as direct, but it's there, and it's easy for people to fill in the blanks when they've been taught to for years through media portrayals and pop culture.

Further, you have the mechanics. Having a -2 to intelligence is nothing on its own, but we also have an entire racial movement based around IQ-trutherism and The Bell Curve that asserts that African-Americans are simply not as smart as other people. Again, this is not the creators of D&D trying to be racist, but rather what they've made being looked at in the greater context of society: having a brutal, tribal people who are objectively dumber on the whole than other races suddenly looks way more problematic even if it wasn't intended (and that's without going into the implications of Half-Orcs and their relationship with rape, yeesh). This is what people are talking about when talk about "biological essentialism".

How do you fix it? Well, we need to take into account the society we are in rather than just blindly holding on to what we had. Can you fix Orcs? Sure. I mean, taking away the Intelligence modifier is a start, but starting to show Orcs are more complicated than barbaric raiders is better. Moving away from "Race of Hats" is a solid way of avoiding these pitfalls while also making the settings more interesting. These things also carry for other changes, like the Vistani or D&D missteps in Chult and other stuff. We're long past due at looking at this stuff, and people should look at this as an opportunity to have more interesting and complex takes on the fantasty classics as the standard and not the exception.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Succubi are very much rooted in misogamy misogyny*. There are non-human creatures that do not have an evil alignment as the default, so why doesn't it go both ways?

I think it should be made clearer that alignment and culture are defaults. I will likely never have a good aligned Balor in my campaign, but they are thinking, intelligent creatures. Just because they're demon spawn doesn't change that.

Much like in the Dresden files Goodman Grey is a male scion of a Naagloshii (a type of demon), it can happen. Form does not dictate function, not even in D&D where I think having generic bad guys is a good thing.

*EDIT: stupid auto-correct. :mad:
Grey can be neutral because he is a mortal (if a potentially extremely long lived one). This is an explicit aspect of that world, that mortals are defined by free will, while many supernatural creatures have their drives and personality defined by their nature, even if that nature is rooted in some choice made long ago.

Cambions should probably have free will in D&D . Demons needn’t.

There’s nothing wrong with saying Orcus could become a good guy theoretically, but there is also nothing wrong with saying he cannot.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Well, this is the first I’ve ever heard of anyone suggesting on any level that demons being evil is racist, so...that’s a weird way to start my day.

No, demons being evil is not comparable to a race of mortal people being evil. They are inherently different cases.
Well, I've said it every time these thread start. That any line we draw is completely arbitrary. Either creatures with intelligence close to or exceeding the intelligence of people have at least some free will or they don't.

The odds of a fiend or orc being good may or may not be near zero, that's up to the campaign. That should be reinforced with more than just a sentence or two buried in the intro to thE MM
 

I think when you simplify it down like that it loses all meaning. At the end of the day, you can't just detach the Satanic Panic from what it was about: a moral panic about imagined Satanic conspiracy that was kidnapping, abusing, and killing children. There's no basis in reality for it, and how it manifested literally ruined lives. I mean, the McMartin Daycare tragedy is just fucking godawful to read about.

But none of that really compares to what's being debated today: we know that systemic racism exists. We can debate how much it influence things, whether certain portrayals feed into that, etc... but we can agree that it's a real problem and that it exists within stuff like D&D to varying degrees. But it's not the same as saying that Mike Mearls is a Satanic Pedophile who abuses kids in his basement, and that the game he made helps lure them in.
I’ve tried to explain to you that the backlash against D&D and other violent fantasy content at that time wasn’t just religious. Teachers, principals, child psychologists in my educated, urban, Canadian city had what they thought was evidence that boys indulging in this media were becoming withdrawn, violent, and suicidal. That it was unhealthy and potentially dangerous. These were educated, well-intentioned authorities - not bible-thumpers. Many of them were progressive (my hippy art teacher forbade us from drawing D&D characters and monsters in class). And they pointed to depression, drug abuse, and suicide of teenagers as real consequences of immersion in violent fantasy worlds, not phantom pedophile rituals.
 
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