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

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Remathilis

Legend
The hope is, that D&D is easier to get into without a long-time player to teach you the ropes now than it was in 2008, and even if 6e radically changes the game and drives all the grognards away, the game will still thrive, as it becomes more accessible and welcoming to a wider new audience.

I’m not confident WotC is ready to make that leap of faith, especially with the sting of the 4e backlash still weighing on the minds of the people steering the ship. But I hope I’m wrong.

A lot of media outlets have tried that gamble and it hasn't always worked out for them. Marvel, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Doctor Who are just a few of the properties that have tried to increase diversity, sometimes at the cost of keeping its original fanbase happy. Unfortunately, it doesn't always appear that an influx of new fans counterbalances the loss of old ones. That's not to say stupid stuff like "get woke, go broke" or such nonsense, but it does mean you have to honor the past while simultaneously introducing greater diversity. Too much change too quickly shatters the fanbase, something D&D should take great steps to avoid.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Oh, don’t get me wrong - I definitely don’t want to chase anybody away from the game, including grognards. But making the game more welcoming to marginalized people is a higher priority to me than retaining grognards.
As a grognard, I say you won't chase away grognards by making the game more welcoming. Here's the thing, and I apologize for name dropping but I think I need to make the point.

Jennell Jaquays, Pauli Kidd, and Mike Monard are part of the old guard who were there literally at the beginning D&D and now pretty much have nothing to do with the OSR because a lot of bigots have taken over, and people like Venger saying he speaks for the OSR (don't get me started).
Others like Tim Kask, Frank Mentzer, Jean Rabe, Tracy Hickman, and Peter Atkinson are a lot more progressive than anything else in their views, and being more inclusive certainly wouldn't drive them away.
In fact, the only vocally conservative old guard that I know of is Jim Ward, and he's not expressed any hostility towards inclusivity that I'm aware of.

I'm sure I'm missing a bunch of names there, but those are the ones I've ever had first hand communication with. Point being, anyone who says being inclusive will drive away grognards isn't a real grognard, because many of the OG are pretty progressive folks. In fact, one of the reasons I started the Chromatic Dungeons project was because it didn't sit well with me that so many who were there at the beginning and helped create this very hobby, were leaving the OSR. And that's just not right.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
A lot of media outlets have tried that gamble and it hasn't always worked out for them. Marvel, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Doctor Who are just a few of the properties that have tried to increase diversity, sometimes at the cost of keeping its original fanbase happy. Unfortunately, it doesn't always appear that an influx of new fans counterbalances the loss of old ones. That's not to say stupid stuff like "get woke, go broke" or such nonsense, but it does mean you have to honor the past while simultaneously introducing greater diversity. Too much change too quickly shatters the fanbase, something D&D should take great steps to avoid.
For sure! It’s definitely always a risk.
 

Essentially WOTC ran from the backlack of 4e and to the old school. However old school D&D was designed to "just be played" you weren't supposed to think about it.

Not touching this thread, but just to clarify here: 4E was rejected by a lot of people purely for the mechanics. It had nothing to do with political, social issues, etc. And it wasn't purely about old school versus new school (it was about people who were playing 3E not transitioning to 4E because the system was too different). And D&D at the time lost nearly half its fans to Paizo (which was a much more progressive company if I remember than WOTC at that time). Fifth edition succeeded because it was able to unite the fan base again rather than divide it (and again, that was all about mechanics as well)
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Not touching this thread, but just to clarify here: 4E was rejected by a lot of people purely for the mechanics. It had nothing to do with political, social issues, etc. And it wasn't purely about old school versus new school (it was about people who were playing 3E not transitioning to 4E because the system was too different). And D&D at the time lost nearly half its fans to Paizo (which was a much more progressive company if I remember than WOTC at that time). Fifth edition succeeded because it was able to unite the fan base again rather than divide it (and again, that was all about mechanics as well)
Yep. And I don't know how much I agree with the assertion that "old school wasn't meant to be thinking about it, just play instead." I'd posit you had to do MORE thinking in TSR era, because if you didn't, your characters died all the time. You didn't just look at your character sheet for a power/skill, roll a dice, and be done with it. TSR era D&D was all about player skill rather than character skill we saw start in 3e.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Not touching this thread, but just to clarify here: 4E was rejected by a lot of people purely for the mechanics. It had nothing to do with political, social issues, etc. And it wasn't purely about old school versus new school (it was about people who were playing 3E not transitioning to 4E because the system was too different). And D&D at the time lost nearly half its fans to Paizo (which was a much more progressive company if I remember than WOTC at that time). Fifth edition succeeded because it was able to unite the fan base again rather than divide it (and again, that was all about mechanics as well)

At the time Paizo was selling more erm mature content. The end of Savage Tide and early Pathfinder/3.5 had a lot of interesting erm R16 type content.

They times it down after they made some sort of child preying demon.
 


Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Not touching this thread, but just to clarify here: 4E was rejected by a lot of people purely for the mechanics. It had nothing to do with political, social issues, etc. And it wasn't purely about old school versus new school (it was about people who were playing 3E not transitioning to 4E because the system was too different). And D&D at the time lost nearly half its fans to Paizo (which was a much more progressive company if I remember than WOTC at that time). Fifth edition succeeded because it was able to unite the fan base again rather than divide it (and again, that was all about mechanics as well)

I never said that 4e was rejected for politicial or social issues. What I said was the WOTC reverted to lore and story concepts from before 4e. However many of the updates and changes about how D&D hanndled things like race were happening in 4e. And some of that progression was lost as D&D went back to older ideas.
 

Warhammer fans can sometimes get very angry when people mention the racist implications of the Warhammer mythos, and will often angrily insist that orcs are based on football hooligans so cannot be racist. But then you have savage orcs, whose iconography is largely based on cartoonish versions of African cultures
Games Workshop definitely has a certain toxic wing to its fandom.

There's a certain part of society that basically idolizes the Imperium of Mankind. . .they look at them and think THAT's what they want things to be like.

Vehemently anti-science, xenophobic, authoritarian, religiously fundamentalist, absurdly militaristic, lead by a cult of personality. . .they're a fascist's dream.

I do wonder how many people get involved with WH40K because the Imperium and its mindset has become something of a memetic thing in some corners of the internet.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Games Workshop definitely has a certain toxic wing to its fandom.

There's a certain part of society that basically idolizes the Imperium of Mankind. . .they look at them and think THAT's what they want things to be like.

Vehemently anti-science, xenophobic, authoritarian, religiously fundamentalist, absurdly militaristic, lead by a cult of personality. . .they're a fascist's dream.

I do wonder how many people get involved with WH40K because the Imperium and its mindset has become something of a memetic thing in some corners of the internet.

It was satire once upon a time. It's also an improvement over the other options.

I find Warhammer stupid over all ymmv.
 


ccs

41st lv DM
I feel deja vu lol. Originally, yes, orcs were inherently evil. They were literally described that way in the MM from 1979. Not until years later, in dragon articles, and 2e, and other books did that change. But originally? They were very much inherently evil. There was no other information at the time (late 70s) to remotely tell you otherwise.

Edit and for the pedantic folks out there, when this same topic came up not long ago, the 1e MM says the alignment is the characteristic of the creature. The definition of inherent is "in a... characteristic way". And orcs are lawful evil. There is no other conflicting information for anyone picking up the MM in 1979 and not assuming orcs are evil, inherently.
Yeah, except for those sections in the intros of the various books that explicitly tell you that in this game you should feel free to change anything you please.
I, a decently intelligent 11/12 year old, read those pages in Basic & 1e and understood perfectly well that I could (for example) change an monsters alignment if I pleased.
I feel like I'm in the minority in having read those pages (or at least understanding them).
 

Mind of tempest

Adventurer
Yeah, except for those sections in the intros of the various books that explicitly tell you that in this game you should feel free to change anything you please.
I, a decently intelligent 11/12 year old, read those pages in Basic & 1e and understood perfectly well that I could (for example) change an monsters alignment if I pleased.
I feel like I'm in the minority in having read those pages (or at least understanding them).
given the existents of people who are super rules lawyers who get angry if you change anything about the game, lots of people just default as it is easier for them.
 

Satanic panic brought us 2nd edition. The edition I started with and which I forever hold in my heart.
I am sure (deducing from the last playtest), that this discussion will bring us 6th edition (or 5.5) and it will be a great one.
Due to time restraints, the difference will be small, but we will get an overhaul to base classes and races and backgrounds.
This will generate very positive feedback and due to the compatibility will not face big backlash from the fans, who after 10 years of 5e dearly want base classes to be better balanced.

And truth be told. DnD of old was racist*. It is 50 years old and world has changed a lot since then.

edit: * in hindsight.
 
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ccs

41st lv DM
I'm not sure Games Workshop has ever been politically conscious. I grew up near GW HQ, so I've been there more than once. They used to have a bunch of dioramas in the back. I think it's now been turned into a proper museum that you pay to enter nowadays, but when I was a kid it was more a place that the guy running the shop would take you to see when it wasn't busy.

One of the biggest (and best) dioramas they had was the one showing the Praetorian Guard's defense of some outpost against a horde of Orks. Praetorian guards were just Mordians with the head of a Cadian painted differently, but the diorama was popular enough that they released a line of Praetorian models.

Thing is, this whole scene was based on the film Zulu. That's not interpretation, that's what the creators said. And they chose to represent the British soldiers by human Imperial guardsmen, and the Zulus by Orks.
Those were the Mordian Iron Guard:
Mordian-Iron-Guard-4-1.jpg
sporting re-sculpted heads with pith helmets instead of the caps in the first pic (some included beards as well)"
Preatorian.jpg
The Warhammer World is full of real world cultures represented by monsters. But even to the people who created that the idea that evil elves had black skin seemed problematic.
LOL. REALLY? The company that made & sold these guys (pygmies, from WHFB 3rd ed):

pygmy.jpg

and later used orks to stand in for the Zulus vs those pith helmeted Praetorian Guardsmen, feared social blowback if they painted their Dark Elves up as D&D Drow?
Yeah, I don't think so..... Maybe they just didn't want a legal issue with TSR. Or, more likely, they were aiming for their own IP take on the Dark Elves.

It's been one DnDism that I have refused to accept in my games. If drow have been condemned to live beneath the surface and suffer in the sun, then they must have pale, almost translucent skin. Anything else offends reason.

Well, the Drow didn't evolve you know They were marked with black skin to match their eeevil black souls & driven from the light of the sun via divine retribution (you know, for being eeevil.).
Stuff like that's not uncommon throughout RL myth, folklore & religion. So no reason it shouldn't be present in a fantasy game inspired by such sources where the gods and Good & Evil are actual things.

But hey, change anything you like. You're TOLD to do that in the intro pages of the game.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Old school Roleplaying and Wargamining was very jokey,with forced tropes, and meant to not seriously.

The issue is that that if the whole climate s jokey and not serious, you breed stupid ideas. Or breed ideas that break the second to change something. And it is easy for problematic stuff to get in and move around unnoticed. Especially when you try to sell inside jokes.

A lot of inside jokes are terrible.
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
Grogs haven't actually had much impact on 5E's success. I forget the percentage, but the percentage of players over 35 is pretty surprisingly small compared to the rest.

In fact, I'd say it's wrong to say that "being in touch with it's roots" made 5E particularly successful, given the age of people playing. I think 5E's success comes from it being an accessible and pretty playable game, combined with streaming/YouTube and particularly Critical Role introducing it to a mass audience at exactly the same time a ton of '80s nostalgia was around (none of which requires 5E to be in any way like '80s D&D, indeed, it basically isn't), and also hitting at a time when a lot of 20-somethings were looking for stuff that was social but fun and yet also not necessarily super-drunken (board games got a huge boost from this at the same time - indeed at board game cafes in London, the "grog" percentage, i.e. people my age and above, was like 10-15% tops - most people were clearly in their 20s and highly diverse in terms of both gender and race (which was delightful to witness - seeing two Middle-Eastern girls in their 20s playing some serious LCG deckbuilder for example!). Accessibility and hitting at the right time are key to 5E.

As for racism, I do think there is a bit more in older D&D fans than I'd like, though, honestly, I'm skeptical about how it compare to the general population. Older RPG fans skew white and male, but they also skew liberal/leftist/open-minded - D&D fans less so because you get more people who like the black-and-white worldviews they see alignment as endorsing, and like to romanticize the past more - but still I suspect compared to the population in general it's not bad.
I meant more that D&D has made a successful franchise of refreshing and updating previous editions IP. Created in those earlier editions.

Do we honestly think Curse of Strahd didn’t benefit from Tracey Hickman’s consulting?

Developing D&D shouldn’t be a zero sum game, where attracting diversity comes at the cost of our long time loyal fan base. As has been said, the bigots are a small proportion mostly born out of ignorance. Their voice is amplified by the medium of the internet but I think we’re doing a pretty good job of drowning them out.

Look at this thread. Aside from a very small number of exceptions no one is debating whether we progress, just how to do it and how fast.

...that’s progress.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Hiya!

No. OSR/Old D&D isn't racist.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
Or more to the point... the game and most of the players weren't intending to be racist.

But because cultural mores change over time... parts of the game and some of the attitudes of the OSR/Old D&D might now be considered racist at this point in time.

So if you are a part of the OSR/Old D&D and that matters to you... that parts of the game you enjoy have undertones of racism... all you need to do is to see what people are talking about when it comes to racism in OSR/Old D&D and choose to change the bits in your game and your attitudes towards them that could be considered racist without getting bent out of shape over it.

Of course we know that's hard... heck, people here on the boards get bent out of shape by rules changes or additions all the time even without ones with any racial undertones. And our defense mechanisms and hackles immediately jump up when any potential racism is implied. But really, what's worse? Pretending that the rest of society just doesn't "get it" and going about your business the same as you ever did... or acknowledging the potential and making small changes along the way just to keep yourself in check?

I know for me personally... I'm always seeing things in media that someone is decrying as -ist or an -ism and I sigh heavily and think "Really? You're getting upset about that, now?!?" But then I take a moment to just think whether whatever that is is actually any kind of a big deal that impacts my life in any way shape or form and I realize that no it doesn't. So going along with the idea is no skin off my back if others believe it to be important in making more people happy.

And while I know there's a lot of folks desperately afraid of the whole "slippery slope" argument where they think society's going to break off and sink into the ocean if we "allow" this change to our mores to occur... trying to bring it to a screeching halt is rather pointless. Because the people pushing for these changes to our societal mores are usually younger than you and will outlive you. So you can try and fight the changes all you want, but eventually you're gonna die and the younger people will be able to keep those changes in place without you there to cockblock them anymore. So why make yourself miserable for the few years remaining in your life by trying to swim against the current and trying to prove to the young folks that this thing they believe is all wrong and they're going to hell if they continue it? :)
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Case in point... giving your pronouns to people.

Now, I don't do it personally... because I'm old and I don't have that habit established in my brain in any way, shape, or form. But I'm not going to get bent out of shape that the people younger than me are beginning to do it and think it would be much better if all people did. Especially since no one is "forcing" me to do it. So why should I care that this is now a thing? I can certainly understand why it's a thing, and why other people go along with it... so what is the point in arguing with them that it's a stupid thing to do or a waste of everyone's time? That's just making myself miserable shouting at the clouds.
 

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