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

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MGibster

Legend
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?
In D&D, you're typically killing sentient beings and taking their stuff because they're doing bad things. Those orcs are raiding nearby settlements, those bugbears are in service to an evil sorcerer bent on destruction, or those hill giants have decided Mrs. O'Leary's cows belong to them now. I don't think I've heard anyone argue that it's wrong for adventure games to have violence just that someone shouldn't see an orc and just know it's evil because it's an orc.
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
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.
I agree. I also think the same thing you say about Orcus could be said about orcs and it should be campaign dependent.
 


Mannahnin

Adventurer
I'll break it to you. A lot of Germans fighting for Hitler in WW2 weren't bad people. They loved their families and their kids. They did as their government ordered and I'm sure many of them knew nothing about the Holocaust. Guess what? Americans shot them just the same. We didn't ask to see their nazi party identification before shooting.
The "myth of the clean Wehrmacht" has been debunked for years. Regular German army often and eagerly participated in war crimes and atrocities. It wasn't just the SS. A lot of folks were motivated to pretend they didn't know, but a lot sure did.

 

hopeless

Explorer
So what did I miss?
Sounds like reaching by both sides instead of accepting there are difference between editions but to call some racist that is reaching.
This is why session zero is a thing!
 

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.

That's somewhat arguable.

There are cases of Angels "falling" and a case of a Succubus Paladin in D&D lore. This would seem to imply there is some possibility that any D&D creature could be "good."

Which isn't to say that I think you're wrong. I'm simply attempting to explore the mental space of how this discussion appears to be approaching the subject.

It has also been suggested by others that we should ignore the established in-game/in-world way things work and judge things through the lens of our real-life world.

Does that lead to PCs being evil?

PCs tend toward killing creatures and hoarding wealth.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
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
It doesn’t matter if the rules support free will for demons and beholders. They’re elemental constructs that mimic life.

Arguing that it’s the same thing as depicting actual mortal, living, sentient, species of people as always evil is insultingly absurd, and seems designed only to derail and delegitimize the actual discussion about racism in D&D .
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
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 know the exact same logic is used to undergird sexism and racism in the real world. I’m just saying the moral system in the fantasy world can be different than in a real world.

We’ve morally evolved in the real world to decide that dehumanization of other humans is bad. There’s no necessity for a fantasy world to have that same moral reasoning.
 
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In D&D, you're typically killing sentient beings and taking their stuff because they're doing bad things. Those orcs are raiding nearby settlements, those bugbears are in service to an evil sorcerer bent on destruction, or those hill giants have decided Mrs. O'Leary's cows belong to them now. I don't think I've heard anyone argue that it's wrong for adventure games to have violence just that someone shouldn't see an orc and just know it's evil because it's an orc.

Evil from the point of view of the dominant society.

Perhaps the orcs have a very good reason for raiding the settlement.
 

hopeless

Explorer
I don't see why what happens in your game has to be altered by those not involved?
This just sounds like someone trying to act like we're back in the 80's and those false claims about d&d being satanic again.
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
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.

I mean, Noctitula in Pathfinder is a former Demonlord who managed to redeem herself. When handled well, there are interesting possibilities.

But the "handled well" is perhaps the most important part.
 

It doesn’t matter if the rules support free will for demons and beholders. They’re elemental constructs that mimic life.

Arguing that it’s the same thing as depicting actual mortal, living, sentient, species of people as always evil is insultingly absurd, and seems designed only to derail and delegitimize the actual discussion about racism in D&D .

I disagree.

I believe it is relevant because it looks at what we consider to be validly sentient and how we, as a society, choose to apply negative bias based upon how much something looks or lives like us.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It doesn’t matter if the rules support free will for demons and beholders. They’re elemental constructs that mimic life.

Arguing that it’s the same thing as depicting actual mortal, living, sentient, species of people as always evil is insultingly absurd, and seems designed only to derail and delegitimize the actual discussion about racism in D&D .

So it's okay to label creatures as evil because they're different enough from you? Who gets to decide what different enough is? Is a person that has different color skin enough?
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
I’ve tried to explain to you that the backlash against D&D and other violent fantasy at that time content 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.

You don't have to be a bible-thumper to be religious, and these things reached the mainstream. But however it filtered down, the Satanic Panic itself is what started it and the wilder claims are what started getting the coverage of D&D and such. That it filtered down in different ways to different people doesn't really negate what it was about in the first place.
 

Remathilis

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

This isn't my first time doing this. Believe me, I am closer to where you are than not, but I'm seeing the writing on the wall. Alignment is a dying concept and it's going to die to the push for inclusiveness. It's collateral damage, but gone just the same.
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
Deciding you want angels to fall, gold dragons to betray, and Lords of the Nine to reform may make good stories. The monster manual has already made it clear that alignments are defaults.

But please, please don’t pretend these three examples have any impact on race relations or diversity.

It isn’t inclusivity. It’s just extremism.

WOC have kept default alignment for monsters and any alignment for humanoids in products since their inclusivity statement.

I’d be very interested to be signposted to arguments for the complete removal of alignment on grounds of inclusivity.
 
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Personally, I have zero issue accepting the fact that D&D has a racist history. And I am 100% in approval of trying to make D&D more inclusive. But it's still jarring when someone tells me I'm racist because I like the fact that 3e dwarves have a +2 Con -2 Cha modifier.
No, I get it, and I get why they are defensive. I know I was at one point, and then I started talk to other people about it. It's one of those things where you don't just flick a switch, but it's a journey where you become more aware of how other people view stuff. Though c'mon with that last sentence.

That last sentence is less hyperbolic than you think. I have been told (on these very boards) that using STR modifiers for an orc's attack and DEX modifiers for a gnome's attack is not being "inclusive". I have been told that using racial ability modifiers means D&D is inherently prejudiced, to the point where it cannot be fixed.

There are extremists on both sides. I am not going to say they are equally bad - racist extremists are definitely worse, by a wide margin. But there are definitely people who weaponize inclusivity as well.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
That's somewhat arguable.

There are cases of Angels "falling" and a case of a Succubus Paladin in D&D lore. This would seem to imply there is some possibility that any D&D creature could be "good."

Which isn't to say that I think you're wrong. I'm simply attempting to explore the mental space of how this discussion appears to be approaching the subject.

It has also been suggested by others that we should ignore the established in-game/in-world way things work and judge things through the lens of our real-life world.

Does that lead to PCs being evil?

PCs tend toward killing creatures and hoarding wealth.
This is exactly the problem with engaging with that asinine, backward, distraction of an argument about demons. It does not matter, but it is becoming what the thread is about anyway, purely via repetition.

It’s pure BS whataboutist nonsense.

As for the “are PCs evil” thing, it depends on what they’re actually doing. I’ve never played in or run a game of D&D where the PCs just went into old ruins full of sentient people to genocide them and take their stuff.

That sort of thing isn’t what modern D&D adventures are written to be about, either.

Instead, PCs are solving problems. Raiders are attacking villages. The PCs are hired to stop them. The PCs get a reward and also get to keep any valuables they find, hopefully returning at least some of it to those it was taken from, but the villagers know when they agree to the terms that the somewhat merc PCs will probably keep the good stuff.

Or, my current rogue PC is an adventurer because a Wizard killed his ships crew in order to make them his undead thralls in order to win a fight with another Wizard over territory, and that Wizard then became a lich, and is at the head of a cult that seeks to end the world in demonic fire and rule over the ashes.

Treasure is very much a secondary concern.

The PCs of Dragonlance are trying to save the world from evil dragon armies and bring back the gods.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
No one is disputing that fighting enemy combatants in a recognized war is acceptable in this thread. I hope no one is advocating for mass murder of orc civilians or not accepting that murdering surrendering foes in cold blood is acceptable in any games—seems like war crimes might fall into the clearly evil side of the alignment chart!
Yeah I thought about replying to that pointing out that no one is suggesting D&D have no enemies, but I don’t think it’s a good faith argument to begin with.

I mean, Noctitula in Pathfinder is a former Demonlord who managed to redeem herself. When handled well, there are interesting possibilities.

But the "handled well" is perhaps the most important part.
Sure, but that is a wholly separate topic from racism in D&D.
I disagree.

I believe it is relevant because it looks at what we consider to be validly sentient and how we, as a society, choose to apply negative bias based upon how much something looks or lives like us.
No, it doesn’t. It’s a puerile fallacy, at best.
So it's okay to label creatures as evil because they're different enough from you? Who gets to decide what different enough is? Is a person that has different color skin enough?
This is unacceptable. You should be ashamed to have even typed that out. Stop trying to distract from the actual discussion about race in D&D with this crap.
Deciding you want angels to fall, gold dragons to betray, and Lords of the Nine to reform may make good stories. The monster manual has already made it clear that alignments are defaults.

Please, please don’t pretend these three examples have any impact on race relations.
Exactly.
 

MGibster

Legend
Evil from the point of view of the dominant society.

Perhaps the orcs have a very good reason for raiding the settlement.
Well, no. Good and evil were objective forces in past editions of D&D. When you cast detect evil, the results were the same regardless of what culture you were from. But I will admit that I have never looked to D&D to provide a nuanced look into such issues that might have moral shades of grey. For me, It's always been a high fantasy game of good versus evil with little in the way of moral ambiguity. There were no baby goblin dilemmas in my campaigns.
 

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