D&D General "Red Orc" American Indians and "Yellow Orc" Mongolians in D&D

Hussar

Legend
So your answer is you want less material in future editions, and constant vigilance in case there is more material we have to remove. I asked what we are replacing content with, not what is your ideal philosophy going forward. What do you want the books to have in them?
But, we can't answer this without specifics. Should we replace Blaargnaar's in the next book? What would we replace this fictional, made up thing with, without any context or background? Given that you give no context for your question, how can we give you a specific answer?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Things like stuff in 'Orcs of Thar' or more recently the Vistani are one thing. Those are obviously offensive. And I'd argue that dark skinned elves being the evil ones (and to be cursed with black skin!) or the language used regarding evilness of the orcs as recently as in Volo's are pretty blatant too. And when it comes to things like the Ferengi or issues with the Eberron's cultures I can see the certain similarities people point out, but it starts to feel far more incidental. But then again, if people feel it is a problem, who am I to tell them that it isn't? It just is that if you're creating an entire fictional setting, it probably is pretty much impossible to do it so that something in it couldn't be interpreted to resemble some real stereotype by someone. Because people have invented a lot of stereotypes about each other during the human history!
 

Ok. How do y
But, we can't answer this without specifics. Should we replace Blaargnaar's in the next book? What would we replace this fictional, made up thing with, without any context or background? Given that you give no context for your question, how can we give you a specific answer?
Ok. How do you want races and classes described in the PH? What's ok to write about monsters in the MM? Are we even allowed to call them "monsters" anymore? Pick a humanoid race from the MM and tell me how you would rewrite it? Don't just tell me what's not acceptable. Tell me what is.
 

1. The comments about the goblins in harry potter bearing antisemetic tropes were made by Jon Stewart, who is Jewish. So I would take them seriously on those grounds, without (OBVIOUSLY) coming to the conclusion that every Jewish person would have the same reaction or opinion.

2. It's clear to me from the original video that Stewart is pointing out these tropes without being personally "offended" per se. The article mentions that he later "clarified that he was flagging racial tropes 'so embedded in society that they’re basically invisible,' and not calling Rowling herself antisemitic" (my emphasis). Here is his video response saying explicitly that he is not looking for JKR to apologize or anything to be censored (CW: language

3. That is an important point: discussing art/literature/culture and pointing out these tropes is not the same as being offended (as one would, for example, if someone in public directed derogatory language toward you). It's part of an analysis that seeks, among other things, to understand how and when these tropes are taken up and reproduced, and to what end. Often you'll find that people who point out these tropes, like the OP, are also huge fans of the work (hence their interest).

4. The author's conscious intention and immediate social and historical context is one thing an analysis can consider, but isn't inclusive of all the possible influences that find their way into a representation. As a mundane example, one could write a noir mystery and have something of an understanding of the genre without even being aware of the origins of it. Works of art, novels, games, etc are cultural documents--they tell us things about the culture in which they are produced. The point of analysis is to make those implicit influences explicit.

5. What one does with analysis is, as has been said many times over the course of this thread, dependent on individual interest and context. It is not the case that analysis that X uses racist tropes, for example, are the same as calls for it to be removed, or censored, or that the analysis should lead to any discrete action whatsoever. Perhaps one does nothing, except go forward with a new and different perspective on a text. Personally, even if I disagree, I ultimately find learning about new perspectives to be inherently interesting and often helpful in approaching works of art.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
So your answer is you want less material in future editions,
WTF? No. I never said that. Just because some settings might be left behind doesn't mean that there will be less material in future editions. You can add new settings if you get rid of old ones. You can replace races that are taken away with new ones that don't have the problems that the old ones did (again, Caliban and Hexblood).
and constant vigilance in case there is more material we have to remove.
That's the price of inclusion. We have to discuss issues and not ignore them or dismiss them out of hand when they're brought up. That's how society works. We communicate, we debate, and we change what needs to be changed. We don't excuse problems when they show up and say "oh well, they were bound to happen, we're only human after all". We instead address them when they come up while acknowledging that this will continue to happen because we are human. If we ignore the problems, they get worse. That's simply how the world works.
I asked what we are replacing content with, not what is your ideal philosophy going forward. What do you want the books to have in them?
And I answered. Because there is not just one problem, so there's not just one solution. And I'm not the one that can or should be making those changes. They should listen to the experts (sensitivity readers and cultural consultants). I'm not one of those, so I don't have the answer.

Again, I'll point you to the Perfect Solution Fallacy. I don't have a perfect solution for every single problem in D&D's present issues and its historical issues. It's not fair to demand that I attempt to give one, either. The philosophy is the answer, because this isn't just one problem, it's a collection of problems and all of them have different solutions.

Maybe I misunderstood you and you're asking for specific changes that I think would help avoid these issues in the future, which I will put in the spoiler below. Again, I don't claim that these are perfect, just that I think they'll help. I am not an authority on this, and this should be taken with as much weight as any other internet rando that likes to debate with people a little too much.

Firstly, the game needs to stop conflating Race and Culture. This change started with Tasha's, but it needs to be a part of the core rules. D&D has a ton of different settings, and none of them have different races and cultures exactly the same any other, so the base books need to stop assuming that Orcs, Drow, Goblinoids, and so on are evil or that Lolth, Gruumsh, Maglubiyet, or similar entities exist in the base game. Racial features should be unconnected from culture, and all cultural mentions should be in setting-specific books and sections of the core rulebooks if they feel the need to give examples. If the game wants to support Eberron, Exandria, and similar settings, it needs to from the Core Rulebooks, instead of relying on those books to re-teach who the races are to people that buy them. (This involves moving Culture to a "Background"-like feature.)

Secondly, stop stealing real life cultures to use in new settings. It's fine to take inspiration from certain real life cultures (especially if the culture is long-dead), and it is impossible to not take inspiration from real world cultures, but having your world's different cultures explicitly be fantasy-counterpart cultures (especially if you tie foreign cultures to non-human/"monstrous" races) is often a problem. If you consciously take inspiration from real world cultures, it's often better to mix-and-match certain cultures together to make something new to avoid stereotyping real world peoples. Brandon Sanderson is a great example of this, as his fantasy cultures do draw from the real world, but blend so many aspects of different cultures together to the point where the possibility of stereotyping real world people really isn't a problem anymore.

Third, stop treating Antagonists, Villains, and Monsters as the same thing. I blame Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes and Volo's Guide to Monsters for creating this problem in D&D 5e (there were parts of it in the Monster Manual, but way less than in these two books). If the Duergar, Goblinoids, and Orcs are supposed to be evil, why are they written to be the victims (Duergar being captured by mind flayers and abandoned by Moradin and his followers because they were enslaved, the Goblinoids having their gods be killed/conquered by Maglubiyet and having to serve him in an eternal war, Orcs being cheated out of a place in the world and having to claim what was rightfully theirs from the "good" gods that cheated Gruumsh in the first place)? If they're villains, don't code them like victims. If they're victims that are fighting the party, they're antagonists, not villains. Don't say they're "monsters" or "villains" that are okay to kill if they were the victims, because even if they are trying to kill the party, they're not villains, they're antagonists.

That's all that comes to mind at the moment.
 

Hussar

Legend
Ok. How do y

Ok. How do you want races and classes described in the PH? What's ok to write about monsters in the MM? Are we even allowed to call them "monsters" anymore? Pick a humanoid race from the MM and tell me how you would rewrite it? Don't just tell me what's not acceptable. Tell me what is.
I think something got chopped there. But, I'll go with your specifics, but, I'm afraid, some are not specific enough to comment.

Races in the PHB - AFAIK, there aren't any real issues there outside of drow and orcs. A bit of rewrite there and we're good to go. I mean, that's already been dealt with hasn't it? And, why

Monsters in the MM - Ok, that's too broad. There are what, 300 (ish) monsters in the MM. Some are perfectly fine, some have some issues. Gonna need a more specific list before I can answer. But, why would calling monsters "monsters" be a problem? Have you heard anyone seriously criticizing calling a dragon a monster? Can you point to specific instances here or is this purely hypothetical?

But, no, I will not pick a race and tell you how I would rewrite it because, frankly, why would I? There is no "what is acceptable or not" checklist that you can just plop down and follow. That's not how this works. We deal with issues as they come up, not create hypotheticals to drown out the real issues that are actually hurting people. So, again, please bring up specific issues and not hypotheticals. Ferengi as a Jewish caricature is not a hypothetical. People have been pointing to that for decades. There is a fair degree of very specific examples - not just the imagery but also the description and dialogue in the shows - that supports the interpretation.

See, that's the problem. I point to similarities in the pictures and get told, oh, well, that's just not good enough. Others point to the connections between the laws of acquisition and Jewish laws, the treatment of women, and various other points of similarities, and that gets ignored because the pictures aren't good enough. It gets rather frustrating to have to keep repeating the same arguments over and over again because people want to only focus on line by line fisking the issue without bothering to step back and see the whole picture.

So, no, again, I cannot answer your question to your satisfaction because you refuse to be very, very specific in your questions. Choose an actual issue and then we can talk. Because throughout this thread, people have been pretty careful to focus on specifics and stuff that can be demonstrated. Hypotheticals are pointless.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
Not familiar about Ferengi in TNG (haven't seen those episodes) but am with DS9.

Just because something slightly resembles something I think the nuance is intent and context.

Fantasy and Sci Fi is a bit big in monoculture which can be a problem.

The Ferengi pictured earlier I'd also an individual, not all of them look like that. I don't think the connection is strong enough and the stereotype is finance and banking the Ferengi were more mocking contemporary 80's culture/capitalism (greed is good).

Where the line is I think is how explicit is the example, intent behind it and the context of the scene.

One problem in media is they overcompensate which often leads to crap stories. I like a compelling villain I don't care what colour they are.

So if a showbook has a variety of characters (heros, anti heros, villains etc).

Stringer Bell, Tony Soprano, Gus Fring, Quark, Grand High Poobah Ferengi whose name I forget. Sanitized is boring.

Quark and co are a big reason why DS9 is the best Trek;). Well the casting, storylines, character development, Sisko etc helps as well.
 

WTF? No. I never said that. Just because some settings might be left behind doesn't mean that there will be less material in future editions. You can add new settings if you get rid of old ones. You can replace races that are taken away with new ones that don't have the problems that the old ones did (again, Caliban and Hexblood).

That's the price of inclusion. We have to discuss issues and not ignore them or dismiss them out of hand when they're brought up. That's how society works. We communicate, we debate, and we change what needs to be changed. We don't excuse problems when they show up and say "oh well, they were bound to happen, we're only human after all". We instead address them when they come up while acknowledging that this will continue to happen because we are human. If we ignore the problems, they get worse. That's simply how the world works.

And I answered. Because there is not just one problem, so there's not just one solution. And I'm not the one that can or should be making those changes. They should listen to the experts (sensitivity readers and cultural consultants). I'm not one of those, so I don't have the answer.

Again, I'll point you to the Perfect Solution Fallacy. I don't have a perfect solution for every single problem in D&D's present issues and its historical issues. It's not fair to demand that I attempt to give one, either. The philosophy is the answer, because this isn't just one problem, it's a collection of problems and all of them have different solutions.

Maybe I misunderstood you and you're asking for specific changes that I think would help avoid these issues in the future, which I will put in the spoiler below. Again, I don't claim that these are perfect, just that I think they'll help. I am not an authority on this, and this should be taken with as much weight as any other internet rando that likes to debate with people a little too much.

Firstly, the game needs to stop conflating Race and Culture. This change started with Tasha's, but it needs to be a part of the core rules. D&D has a ton of different settings, and none of them have different races and cultures exactly the same any other, so the base books need to stop assuming that Orcs, Drow, Goblinoids, and so on are evil or that Lolth, Gruumsh, Maglubiyet, or similar entities exist in the base game. Racial features should be unconnected from culture, and all cultural mentions should be in setting-specific books and sections of the core rulebooks if they feel the need to give examples. If the game wants to support Eberron, Exandria, and similar settings, it needs to from the Core Rulebooks, instead of relying on those books to re-teach who the races are to people that buy them. (This involves moving Culture to a "Background"-like feature.)

Secondly, stop stealing real life cultures to use in new settings. It's fine to take inspiration from certain real life cultures (especially if the culture is long-dead), and it is impossible to not take inspiration from real world cultures, but having your world's different cultures explicitly be fantasy-counterpart cultures (especially if you tie foreign cultures to non-human/"monstrous" races) is often a problem. If you consciously take inspiration from real world cultures, it's often better to mix-and-match certain cultures together to make something new to avoid stereotyping real world peoples. Brandon Sanderson is a great example of this, as his fantasy cultures do draw from the real world, but blend so many aspects of different cultures together to the point where the possibility of stereotyping real world people really isn't a problem anymore.

Third, stop treating Antagonists, Villains, and Monsters as the same thing. I blame Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes and Volo's Guide to Monsters for creating this problem in D&D 5e (there were parts of it in the Monster Manual, but way less than in these two books). If the Duergar, Goblinoids, and Orcs are supposed to be evil, why are they written to be the victims (Duergar being captured by mind flayers and abandoned by Moradin and his followers because they were enslaved, the Goblinoids having their gods be killed/conquered by Maglubiyet and having to serve him in an eternal war, Orcs being cheated out of a place in the world and having to claim what was rightfully theirs from the "good" gods that cheated Gruumsh in the first place)? If they're villains, don't code them like victims. If they're victims that are fighting the party, they're antagonists, not villains. Don't say they're "monsters" or "villains" that are okay to kill if they were the victims, because even if they are trying to kill the party, they're not villains, they're antagonists.

That's all that comes to mind at the moment.
Actually, the spoilered stuff is what I was looking for, more or less. I dont agree with all of it, and I dont think all of that is practical for a large company trying to keep all their fans happy, but thank you for your answer.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Ok. How do you want races and classes described in the PH? What's ok to write about monsters in the MM? Are we even allowed to call them "monsters" anymore? Pick a humanoid race from the MM and tell me how you would rewrite it? Don't just tell me what's not acceptable. Tell me what is.
So here is my greatest fear...

In the last two years, D&D has embraced the multiverse in earnest. At the same time, they have been responding to the notion that "lore" isn't important, and indeed both of their major deep-dive "lore" books (Volo and Tome of Foes) are rife with problematic lore. It would be easy then to scrap much of the lore altogether and only have vague, generalized info and mechanics rather than any sort of depth or detailed lore.

The current method of doing Races post-Tasha shows that; how much lore info do you have about haregons or fairies? What they look like, how they act, what they eat, what kind of societies they live in, who are their allies and enemies, etc.? We aren't even given height, weight, or lifespans anymore. It's the minimum amount of info possible to explain the concept, and the rest is either left to the settings to define them or the DM to figure out. It will be a thumbnail sketch and nothing more.

I suspect we will be seeing something that is between the current 5e write-ups in the PHB/MM (a handful of paragraphs, at most) and the SRD. A little flavor text and a general description, but don't expect things like origins, societies, or other lore like that anymore.
 

I think something got chopped there. But, I'll go with your specifics, but, I'm afraid, some are not specific enough to comment.

Races in the PHB - AFAIK, there aren't any real issues there outside of drow and orcs. A bit of rewrite there and we're good to go. I mean, that's already been dealt with hasn't it? And, why

Monsters in the MM - Ok, that's too broad. There are what, 300 (ish) monsters in the MM. Some are perfectly fine, some have some issues. Gonna need a more specific list before I can answer. But, why would calling monsters "monsters" be a problem? Have you heard anyone seriously criticizing calling a dragon a monster? Can you point to specific instances here or is this purely hypothetical?

But, no, I will not pick a race and tell you how I would rewrite it because, frankly, why would I? There is no "what is acceptable or not" checklist that you can just plop down and follow. That's not how this works. We deal with issues as they come up, not create hypotheticals to drown out the real issues that are actually hurting people. So, again, please bring up specific issues and not hypotheticals. Ferengi as a Jewish caricature is not a hypothetical. People have been pointing to that for decades. There is a fair degree of very specific examples - not just the imagery but also the description and dialogue in the shows - that supports the interpretation.

See, that's the problem. I point to similarities in the pictures and get told, oh, well, that's just not good enough. Others point to the connections between the laws of acquisition and Jewish laws, the treatment of women, and various other points of similarities, and that gets ignored because the pictures aren't good enough. It gets rather frustrating to have to keep repeating the same arguments over and over again because people want to only focus on line by line fisking the issue without bothering to step back and see the whole picture.

So, no, again, I cannot answer your question to your satisfaction because you refuse to be very, very specific in your questions. Choose an actual issue and then we can talk. Because throughout this thread, people have been pretty careful to focus on specifics and stuff that can be demonstrated. Hypotheticals are pointless.
If you dont think you can answer, fair enough. But AcererackTriple6 managed something that was good enough for me.
 

So here is my greatest fear...

In the last two years, D&D has embraced the multiverse in earnest. At the same time, they have been responding to the notion that "lore" isn't important, and indeed both of their major deep-dive "lore" books (Volo and Tome of Foes) are rife with problematic lore. It would be easy then to scrap much of the lore altogether and only have vague, generalized info and mechanics rather than any sort of depth or detailed lore.

The current method of doing Races post-Tasha shows that; how much lore info do you have about haregons or fairies? What they look like, how they act, what they eat, what kind of societies they live in, who are their allies and enemies, etc.? We aren't even given height, weight, or lifespans anymore. It's the minimum amount of info possible to explain the concept, and the rest is either left to the settings to define them or the DM to figure out. It will be a thumbnail sketch and nothing more.

I suspect we will be seeing something that is between the current 5e write-ups in the PHB/MM (a handful of paragraphs, at most) and the SRD. A little flavor text and a general description, but don't expect things like origins, societies, or other lore like that anymore.
If we consider this purely in terms of game design, is this such a bad thing? I feel like ttrpg rules and reference books should prioritize being useful at the table and not have a paragraphs upon paragraphs of lore that I may or may not actually want to use. Setting books, on the other, can be written for leisurely reading.
 

If we consider this purely in terms of game design, is this such a bad thing? I feel like ttrpg rules and reference books should prioritize being useful at the table and not have a paragraphs upon paragraphs of lore that I may or may not actually want to use. Setting books, on the other, can be written for leisurely reading.
The problem for this discussion is that what's useful at the table is fantasy monocultures with non-human species painted in broad stereotyped strokes.

That feels like the elephant in the room to me here. Once we start going beyond individual bad depictions to structural criticism, we have to wrestle with the fact that non-human species are generally functionally simple because that's their basic role in the game. (I think you even see this in science fiction - the more different types of aliens you see, the more each type of alien needs to be clear and distinct and have easily identified characteristics).
 

Remathilis

Legend
If we consider this purely in terms of game design, is this such a bad thing? I feel like ttrpg rules and reference books should prioritize being useful at the table and not have a paragraphs upon paragraphs of lore that I may or may not actually want to use. Setting books, on the other, can be written for leisurely reading.
Core books have a purpose to inspire and provide context. One of my biggest complaints with 4e's original books what how little they gave me to work with. Races barely filled a page of usable lore, monsters rarely gave more than a few bullet-points worth of explanation, and class abilities had a single sentence to explain what they were in the game-world. One of the biggest noticeable changes came when Essentials was the introduction of lore back into monsters, classes, and races. Explanations, suggestions, ideas. Things that told me what a rule's place in the world was.

I will be saddened if we go back to 4e's "minimalist lore" model. The game will be weaker for it.
 

Remathilis

Legend
The problem for this discussion is that what's useful at the table is fantasy monocultures with non-human species painted in broad stereotyped strokes.

That feels like the elephant in the room to me here. Once we start going beyond individual bad depictions to structural criticism, we have to wrestle with the fact that non-human species are generally functionally simple because that's their basic role in the game. (I think you even see this in science fiction - the more different types of aliens you see, the more each type of alien needs to be clear and distinct and have easily identified characteristics).
I mean, in almost any fiction a species different than us is just an exaggeration of some human concept or stereotype given an altered physical form. Ask anyone what makes an elf different than a human and the answer HAS to be more than "pointed ears" for it to mean something. Then again, maybe they are just humans with pointed ears. Maybe that's what we (as a community) want them to be now. An elf is just a costume you put on (literally and figuratively) with some associated game mechanics attached.
 

I mean, in almost any fiction a species different than us is just an exaggeration of some human concept or stereotype given an altered physical form. Ask anyone what makes an elf different than a human and the answer HAS to be more than "pointed ears" for it to mean something. Then again, maybe they are just humans with pointed ears. Maybe that's what we (as a community) want them to be now. An elf is just a costume you put on (literally and figuratively) with some associated game mechanics attached.
I do think that's what us being pushed for. The future of D&D looks to be rather boring in that respect. Very happy I have all the previous material to pull from.
 

The problem for this discussion is that what's useful at the table is fantasy monocultures with non-human species painted in broad stereotyped strokes.

That feels like the elephant in the room to me here. Once we start going beyond individual bad depictions to structural criticism, we have to wrestle with the fact that non-human species are generally functionally simple because that's their basic role in the game. (I think you even see this in science fiction - the more different types of aliens you see, the more each type of alien needs to be clear and distinct and have easily identified characteristics).
Yes, but it seems to me the solution to that is world building: show me a world where goblinoid cultures are diverse and fully developed. I think setting books are a better place for that kind of information. It does pose a problem of how to describe a goblin in the core MM though. 5e monster books might be the worst of both: bloated descriptions that still manage to paint entire races with a broad brush, to the point that removing text actually helps make creatures more varied.
 


Yes, but it seems to me the solution to that is world building: show me a world where goblinoid cultures are diverse and fully developed. I think setting books are a better place for that kind of information. It does pose a problem of how to describe a goblin in the core MM though. 5e monster books might be the worst of both: bloated descriptions that still manage to paint entire races with a broad brush, to the point that removing text actually helps make creatures more varied.
Well yes. I think that's inevitable - you can't really do what are lot of people are asking for without setting creation. And probably, I would add, creating a new setting.
 

Well yes. I think that's inevitable - you can't really do what are lot of people are asking for without setting creation. And probably, I would add, creating a new setting.
Scribe and I have been suggesting that WotC just create a new setting that hits all the bases they want for a while now. Since the core books are going to be so thin now without descriptions, they should have plenty of creative juice left for it!
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top