OneDnD One D&D Permanently Removes The Term 'Race'

In line with many other tabletop roleplaying games, such as Pathfinder or Level Up, One D&D is removing the term 'race'. Where Pathfinder uses 'Ancestry' and Level Up uses 'Heritage', One D&D will be using 'Species'.


In a blog post, WotC announced that "We have made the decision to move on from using the term "race" everywhere in One D&D, and we do not intend to return to that term."
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Would love to have seen a transcript of WotC's discussion on the word change and then compare it to Enworld's discussion, where we discuss the possibility of monstrosities (centaurs) fornicating with animals (horses) and the evolution of fantastical species in crystal spheres not tampered by the divine. Goodness.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I dunno, I feel like that’s one case where picking all the traits of one “species” and none of the other is pretty fitting. Either you have an extra set of limbs you can use for manipulating objects, or one you can use for flight. No mixing and matching. 😜

You might feel like it's trouble.
Others might find it an amazing roleplaying opportunity.

What we need to be careful of is avoiding it being an amazing min-max opportunity.

That's why I suggest including Half-elf and Half-orc as example Custom Lineages in the PHB. while sidebarring other custom lineage ideas to the DMG, and then providing guidance there for all the other PHB lineages. And then a splatbook (Mordenkainen Presents Again: Monsters AND Peoples of the Multiverse?) can include a chapter on hybridising all the other lineages included in that reference tome, while also adding in popular new lineages that have shown up in splatbooks since its predecessor went to copy-editing in 2021, like say, Gem Dragonborn or Ordening Goliath (assuming that's actually a stealth playtest option for Fizban Presents: Glory of the Giants and not actually put here for the 2024 PHB, as much as I'd love it to be and would love the Firbolg to be rolled into it as a variant).

I was going to blame the whole 1/2 thing in D&D on Tolkien, but then just remembered John Carter and Dejah Thoris. (And it would get rid of a bunch of Glen Cook things).

Would restricting it to humanoids hurt too badly in exchange for avoiding wondering about Thri-Kreen/Halflings? (So, Thri-kreen are out; as are centaur being Fey).
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I was going to blame the whole 1/2 thing in D&D on Tolkien, but then just remembered John Carter and Dejah Thoris. (And it would get rid of a bunch of Glen Cook things).

Would restricting it to humanoids hurt too badly in exchange for avoiding wondering about Thri-Kreen/Halflings? (So, Thri-kreen are out; as are centaur being Fey).
I wouldn’t worry about it, personally. Just include a custom lineage option and direct players who want some exotic combination to use it to express their lineage however they like.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Species in a sense that applies pretty well to this situation goes back to at least 1561 ("Species of Homo"). The more specifically general biological sense goes to at least 1608 (used with Genus in a zoological sense about crocodiles).

These dates are more modern than many D&D things, but older than I thought they would be. The spyglass (on the D&D equipment list) looks like it goes back only to 1608.

Avoiding work and wikipediaing, it looks like Aristotle used genos and eidos that were translated as genus and species (even if they don't map exactly)? It looks like eidos also sometimes means "form". (Does "form" seem odd, or does that work?)
Aristotle used Eidos because he was referring to what modern biologists would call phenotypical distinctions rather than genotypical ones.

Much of Linnean Taxonomy was based on this phenotypical idea of relations, so for example, dolphins were considered Fish by Aristotle and other early taxonomists, as opposed to Mammals (though really, Dolphins are as much Fish as Sharks and Coelacanths and Koi and Kitties and Humans are - all of us Vertebrates are all just different specialised forms of Fish, or else Fish is a meaningless paraphyletic term).

Form is odd, therefore, because it's really eidologically (not specifically) referring to appearance. And by WotC's current playtest standards, my Half-elf can be Species: Human and Eidos: Human-Elf Hybrid, looking quite a bit like an Elf but not entirely.

I've been diving too much into weeds in this discussion, but I think Form would actually make this all worse because of the Drow problem: Drow is now a Subform of Elf, and thus you're instantly thinking how Drow look different from High Elves, and thus relating appearance to mechanics on a superficial level.

I want to be able to play silver-to-purple-skinned and silver-to-green haired Night Elves that are mechanically Drow but more similar to the heroic nature-focused but clearly Dark Elf from Warcraft, say. That makes sense. But if I'm told that the Drow Form, and thus the Drow Mechanics, are specifically tied to Dark Skin, and to Sunlight Sensitivity and Superior Darkvision, now I'm thinking, well maybe my Night Elf might as well be its own lineage and I create Pallid Elves and publish it in the Explorer's Guild to Wildemount when I could have just said that in my Exandria setting, some Drow are below-ground baddies that worship Lolth, while other Drow are Nocturnal Sehanine Moonbow-worshipers. And it's not just Matt Mercer doing that; 4e had Dusk Elves as mechanically a sub-sub-lineage of Wood Elf yet narratively Drow that abandoned Lolth for Sehanine. And these Dusk Elves I believe date back to earlier edition ideas too, since they have connections with the Mists of Ravenloft. But the 4e Nerath and 5e Exandria narratives would have been perfect for recasting Drow - much the way Keith Baker recast Drow as Jungle warriors from the shadowy forests of Xen'drik from the start with Eberron way back when it debuted in 3.5e.

What I mean to say by this is: don't use a FORM of jargon that highlights characters that deviate from racist white Euroamerican standards of beauty as being somehow different and potentially lesser than their white versions. We end up with a term that's functioning in similar problematic ways to what the 2014 PHB already has.

And finally, NO term WotC picks, nor any term picked by the player base even if at odds with WotC's jargon, will alone fix the racism issues in D&D. This is a multifaceted problem that demands a multifaceted approach to resolving. But the term choice is AN important factor.

tldr: I don't think Form is the right choice. How about Ancestry?
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
this woke stuff kills me. are we so sensitive that a word like race is really that bad. so call it species, heritage, ethnicity...i could argue woke crap about all of those as well. this generation of wokeness is ridiculous.
Mod Note:

We COULD argue, but your choice of rhetoric betrays your ossification. You will not be participating in this thread any longer.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Aristotle used Eidos because he was referring to what modern biologists would call phenotypical distinctions rather than genotypical ones.

Much of Linnean Taxonomy was based on this phenotypical idea of relations, so for example, dolphins were considered Fish by Aristotle and other early taxonomists, as opposed to Mammals (though really, Dolphins are as much Fish as Sharks and Coelacanths and Koi and Kitties and Humans are - all of us Vertebrates are all just different specialised forms of Fish, or else Fish is a meaningless paraphyletic term).
All categories are socially constructed, and say more about the values of the culture constructing them than about the things being categorized.
 

Amrûnril

Adventurer
Taxonomy has been rejecting what they teach us in grade school about Domain-Kingdom-Phylum-Class-Order-Family-Genus-Species for decades now. Cladistics is where it's at.

If we accurately represented Birds in the old Linnean binomial nomenclature, the ENTIRETY of the Bird Class would be a single Species of Dinosaur. So we either have to accept that the system is biologically bunk and can't represent actual proportional distances of relationship between thingys and we're just decided some thingys look different enough that we're starting over at a higher level of the system with them, like Birds, or else we need to throw it out and replace with visual diagrams of endlessly nested and cross-pollinating lineages.

Taxonomic classifications above species are biologically meaningful in that they denote a group of organisms where each member is more closely related to each other member than to anything outside the group. What they don't have, is any sort of consistent scale. So a family can be as small as Hominidae, which includes only one extant species a handful of ape species, or as large as Poaceae, which includes every species of grass anywhere in the world.
 
Last edited:

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Taxonomic classifications above species are biologically meaningful in that they denote a group of organisms where each member is more closely related to each other member than to anything outside the group. What they don't have, is any sort of consistent scale. So a family can range in size from Hominidae, which includes only one extant species, to Poaceae, which includes every species of grass anywhere in the world.

I kind of wonder how much current taxonomy would change if the slate were wiped clean and the mammalogists were assigned birds to do and the ornithologoists were assigned mammals...
 

Clint_L

Hero
Taxonomic classifications above species are biologically meaningful in that they denote a group of organisms where each member is more closely related to each other member than to anything outside the group. What they don't have, is any sort of consistent scale. So a family can range in size from Hominidae, which includes only one extant species, to Poaceae, which includes every species of grass anywhere in the world.
I take your point. Worth pointing out that Hominidae family has many extant species, though. Us, for one. But also varieties of gorillas, chimps, and orangutans. Yup, we are classified as apes (great apes, specifically, which is nice. I like being known as "great').
 

It's only playtest so species may go.
I prefer Pojj ( product of jiggy jiggy) but that may not be favoured by all

Origin is my pick ( as it covers having an elven mummy and human daddy, etc).
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
I wouldn’t worry about it, personally. Just include a custom lineage option and direct players who want some exotic combination to use it to express their lineage however they like.
The only thing I'd worry about is minmaxers.

Tasha's "Customize Your Origin" is a stop-gap that works in the context of 2014-2020 character ancestry features having a mixture of proficiencies and innate abilities. You could swap proficiencies, but not innate abilities. "Custom Lineage" sidebar can almost be copy-pasted into the 2024 PHB and cover say, Quarter-Elf-Quarter-Halfling-Quarter-Orc-Quarter-Ardling characters, but otherwise it's just a Variant Human with a couple different options instead of the second ability score boost. And while it can ALMOST capture Half-elf (the only thing you're really missing is Fey Ancestry and the extra ability score bumps), it certainly doesn't help with defining Half-orc as somewhere between Human and Orc, outside of saying, hey, you can choose either human or orc lineage-feats. And even THAT option to help you more carefully define your character encourages minmaxing if such feats are created in a way that breaks when you put them together - something that might be avoided by design with Human-Elf combos and Human-Orc combos due to historic precedent of Half-elves accessing both lineages' feat pools etc and Half-orcs doing likewise with both their lineages, but when you get to Half-Halfling-Half-Thri-Kreen or even Mottled Ancestry characters like my Quarter character I'm not going to type a second time, you're getting into Min-max territory.

Plus, the ONLY thing you could really hang on this lineage are the Size choice (mostly available for everyone save weirdly Dwarves and Elves, despite mythological precedent), the Walking Speed (standardized at 30 for everyone), the Bonus Feat (core Human feature) and the Darkvision/Bonus Skill Prof (choice). You'd need to flesh this Custom Lineage out further to equal the power of the other lineages, given that ability scores and language profs have been pushed into character creation / background.

So you could flesh it out the Simic Hybrid way and give a bunch of other cool flavourful options of a hybrid character (albeit, not a lobster claw or gills or semi-wings or tentacles, probably); you could just list off some other less-OP features that various lineages get, like Damage Resistance to a type of your choice, or +5 ft of movement, or powerful build or fey ancestry, and let you choose 2 of these features instead of just 1 like in Tasha's.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Probably never will go away, not in our lifetimes at least.

They stopped calling it spell memorization 22 years ago in 3e and replaced it with "preparation", I still hear plenty of people call it "spell memorization".

People tend to use the terms and language from when they learned the hobby, especially for core concepts like character race.

In my group, spell memorization is used by a 21 yo student who, apparently, have never been contemporary to the term.

Can you elaborate on that?

Not going to answer for him, but it's very much used like "ilk" in English. Also, it's the generic term for "some sort of". Outside of academic use, where espèce is very much like species (which other deems to scifi) and strongly imply being animal, it's not very evocative and as pedestrian as using "thingy" in English. Of course, the onus is on the translator to find a suitable term in the destination language. Which might be "race", since it's not as loaded as it seems to be elsewhere in the world. The "race of kings" was swiftly ended by a sharp razor, but nobody ever thought Louis XVI, and Marie-Antoinette were a different species. Also, at the other end of the language formality spectrum, it's more used as a stand-in for "mother" in a general insult implying having intercourse with one's race, and as a general expletive, especially among younger people, so the associations are different but not the same as the Anglo-Saxon sphere.
 
Last edited:

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I wouldn’t worry about it, personally. Just include a custom lineage option and direct players who want some exotic combination to use it to express their lineage however they like.

But if John Carter and Dejah Thoris work, what if the Adem in Kingkiller Chronicles are right about how reproduction works for them, and Kvothe (and most readers) are wrong. What if the chickens in the farm down the road bear live young, and the deer in that forest lay eggs? Are the Green Martians 1/2 Centaur 1/2 Thri-Kreen? [Why do I have to grade papers now instead of making up things to throw into campaigns*]
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I'm curious which other words were nuked due to what came up during... 'The term "species" was chosen in close coordination with multiple outside cultural consultants.' I assume that many of them were tried out.
 

Amrûnril

Adventurer
I take your point. Worth pointing out that Hominidae family has many extant species, though. Us, for one. But also varieties of gorillas, chimps, and orangutans. Yup, we are classified as apes (great apes, specifically, which is nice. I like being known as "great').
Good to know. I study plant ecology, so my animal examples may be a decade or so out of date.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Taxonomic classifications above species are biologically meaningful in that they denote a group of organisms where each member is more closely related to each other member than to anything outside the group. What they don't have, is any sort of consistent scale. So a family can range in size from Hominidae, which includes only one extant species, to Poaceae, which includes every species of grass anywhere in the world.
That's not always true, though. As a fellow botanist, I'd love to bring up how Raynoutria and Fallopia and Persicaria - all genera - regularly hybridize ACROSS genera, hence why Knotweed has a taxonomic history that would baffle even Ring Species experts. We can't seem to agree whether Turtles are more closely related to Archosaurs (Crocs & Birds) or to Lepidosaurs (Lizards), and even if the molecular DNA analyses suggest that they ARE more closely related to Birds, whether they are within Archosaurapoda or just a sister group to Archosaurs (Archosauramorpha).

We run into trouble with Taxonomy REGULARLY, and things are always moving around. It's just a quagmire, and D&D does NOT need to get into it. Unfortunately, we seem to be running head on for it because now we're treating Eladrin, Sea Elves, Shadar-kai, and Astral Elves as full species sitting alongside Elves, while treating High Elves, Wood Elves, and Drow as subspecies of Elves. We're acting like somehow High Elves and Wood Elves and Drow are more closely related to each other than to any of the others. Narratively, that's not necessarily the case. In some worlds and editions, High Elves and Wood Elves form a distinct clade apart from the others, while in other worlds and editions, High Elves and Eladrin form a clade distinct from Wood Elves. Specifically when it comes to the Forgotten Realms, a key part of the 4e thesis was that Eladrin from the Feywild were discovered to be the same clade as High Elves and Moon Elves, while Wood Elves and Wild Elves were different, and just called Elves for the most part. But then late in 4e, we get Dex/Int Elves as a second option to Dex/Wis Wood Elves, and they start acting like High Elves were a type of Elf and could be built with the Elf mechanics and not the Eladrin ones. And now fast forward to 5e, and Eladrin are most definitely their own thing apart from High Elves and Wood Elves, but this is still FR-official lore.

You see the problem of bringing taxonomy into D&D? We don't need that. Let's just present ALL options as full Species/Lineage/Ancestry/Heritage options, and let players work out the specifics of their character and whether they're like Elrond i.e. Part Dark Elf (Ñoldorin), Part Wood Elf (Sindarin), Part High Elf (Vanyarin), Part Human (First AND Third Houses of the Edáin), and Part Aasimar (Maiar).

Oh, and I JUST realised that Aasimar is a mixture of Asura and Maiar. DOH. I know they dropped it from 4e because it sounds like you want "more donkey", but I never thought about how it's likely just as Tolkien-derived as it is mythologically-derived.

TLDR: Make High Elf and Drow and Forest Gnome etc full separate write-ups from Wood Elf and Rock Gnome, etc. Or collapse them into a single people (Elf and Gnome) and let players work out the specifics. I don't think we NEED to distinguish Wood Elves from High Elves, or Rock Gnomes from Forest Gnomes. Just give features from both to a single people. Drow might be trickier, but I'd take the radical tact of claiming that they'd be better off just as a culture with universal elf stats, and lock some Drow-specific feats behind having a Drow background for your Elf.
 

One of the most iconic Hybrid species characters of all time is Star Trek's Spock. He's the iconic Vulcan, and doesn't seem to have abilities much different from any other Vulcan, even if he's part Human. So in some ways as a D&D One playtest example, someone just picked "Vulcan" for their character abilities and then wrote how they were Part-Vulcan Part-Human in the characters concept. Roughly the same thing applies for Deana Troi who's Part-Human Part-Betazoid, in that she just used the "Betazoid" abilities.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Relevant to some of the biology stuff here...

1669935787231.png


Is evolving from animals into a humanoid problematic at all? Or am I misremembering other things?
 


Visit Our Sponsor

Latest threads

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top