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General The Importance of Page 33

It is about Ravenloft and gothic horror as such.

You see, your vanilla FR players when encountering a zombie it is just another bag of hitpoints, to overdraw it a bit so you better get the meaning.

In Ravenloft your PC is expected to show (and best RP!) fear when encountering something supernatural, be it a Zombie or something like a Goblyn (yeah in Forlorn they are spelled like that, and they are a bit different to your normal goblins in so far, that their special attack is to bite you directly in your face)

So now you are expected to RP fear when encountering everything besides normal bears and wolves, and you come along wanting to play a Tabaxi or a Dragonborn? Darn, if I am to eventually run away from something looking like a goblin, even as an experienced and battle hardened adventurer, then what will normal townsfolk do, when encountering a dragonborn?

If you want to play Ravenloft like a vanilla campaign your free to do it but imho you miss out all the fun

Edit for more clarity: The need to RP fear and madness is even more essential to Ravenloft than what races you allow there as a DM, but deducting from that you just cannot allow races who fall more or less under the =monster-category. In some domains this might even include elves!
The fear of a zombie is not because it looks weird. It is because it is undead, literally a thing that should not be. Neither of those things are descriptions of tabaxi or dragonborn who are both living, breathing with thoughts and dreams.
 

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Coroc

Hero
The fear of a zombie is not because it looks weird. It is because it is undead, literally a thing that should not be. Neither of those things are descriptions of tabaxi or dragonborn who are both living, breathing with thoughts and dreams.
As are Goblyns, only they dream and think of face biting
 

Coroc

Hero
Ravenloft is not just gothic horror. Certainly Barovia is, but the setting outgrew that pretty early on (although for some reason later editions wanted to shrink back to just the Transylvania by another name).

Darkon, by far the most useable of the domains, is fantasy horror, complete with demihuman majority towns. Paridon is Victorian Horror (ie Jack the Ripper), Dementileu, Mordent and Lamordia are 18th century romantic horror. The Amber Wastes is Hammer Horror complete with the Mummy. Bluetspur is Lovecraftian style cosmic horror. There's many flavours and nothing about Tabaxis that render them unsuitable for a campaign set there.
So you love Tabaxi (Btw. I also think they are cute)? But then include them as normal part of the normal people, have them towns consist of 30% Tabaxi or make everyone a Tabaxi.

But certainly a Tabaxi in Victorian London or any 18th century French setting would have caused much more terror than a man armed with a knife don't you think?

Bluetspur is a league on its own, especially the absolutely unplayable as written official 2e adventure.
Amber waste or other egyptin-style-mummy-is-the-BBEG will not make any walking cat monsters more trustable will they?
Ok the egytpians had some animal headed deities, so maybe your Tabaxi would be mistaken for a god, but that is surely not your intention.

As I said upward, if you want to normalize moster races then make them big minorities in the normal population then it gets a bit believable, although sitill not my cup of tea.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
Perception is what you and all the others have been talking about from the start. If you're looking for axioms, I'm not sure you're going to succeed.
Sure, but doctorbadwolf raises a good point: assuming both you and drbadwolf are both playing in the same campaign, why should your « talking animals are inherently silly » outweigh his « tabaxi are a interesting serious race and I have a cool concept for one ». Presumably, since it is his character, he is more invested in it than you should be.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Gothic horror, which Ravenloft mixes with epic fantasy D&D style, is a more specific genre than just horror.

Genre is something that, if you want, you can bend. So, you want to run a Ravenloft campaign strong in the gothic horror genre . . . but want to allow a PC to play a tabaxi? It can work, but it does stretch the genre. However, nothing wrong with trying to maintain a tight genre feel, as long as you can convince your players to go along with it.
IMO, Barovia isn't a gothic horror reflection of our world (which is admittedly the case in most tales of gothic horror) but rather of a D&D world. That's not really an issue since the vast majority of those who play Ravenloft are experienced D&D players for whom it all translates. They know what a D&D world looks like, so it isn't hard to extrapolate a gothic version thereof.


Regarding the discussion of a tabaxi or dragonborn being regarded as a monster like a goblyn, I think that's a missed opportunity. You probably don't have an entire party of them, right? The townsfolk can see that they are traveling with other humans or demi humans.

So one way to play it in order to establish a feeling of being strangers in a strange land is for them to treat that character as a freak. They're not going to grab their torches and pitchforks right away, but many of the townsfolk give them a wide berth and the ones who don't are there to gawk or ask impolite questions. If something strange happens in town, there's at least one jerk who immediately points to the freak that came into town with that group of strangers, and people glare at the character suspiciously.

This enforces a feeling of isolation and otherness even within the relative refuge of a town. People naturally find comfort in banding together, but if you can take away the sense that they can, in any way, rely on those townspeople, the characters will lose that sense of comfort. You take away the safety of the safe place without taking away the place, and that makes them feel all the more exposed.


I'm not claiming to be any kind of expert on horror, much less gothic horror. Certainly, a lot of this comes down to preference. For the most part, I think not wanting X in a horror game is simply a preference. That's obviously leaving aside silly outliers, like replacing Strahd with The Count (from Sesame Street). Vahn dead adventurer, two dead adventurers, three dead adventurers... bwa ha ha ha ha!

I'm perfectly willing to accept that not every gaming group would enjoy a tabaxi (or whatever) in their Ravenloft campaign. However, I don't think there's anything inherent to tabaxi that makes them a poor fit for Ravenloft outside a subjective perspective.
 

S'mon

Legend
Watership Down is basically horror with bunny rabbits. But it's not Bram Stoker's Dracula with bunny rabbits. I think solitary predators like cats are a particularly bad choice for furry protagonists if you want horror. Prey animals like rabbits and mice can work for certain themes. But this stuff definitely needs thinking about or you are going to lose the majority of your audience. Saying "I don't care - I'm the GM" (or, worse, "I don't care - I'm playing my character") does not cut it when there are five other people round the game table.
 

Hussar

Legend
Huh, it's kinda funny. I played Curse of Strahd with an excellent DM a few years back. My ranger became a were-raven. And was part of a group that welcomed were-ravens.

I'm kinda wondering why a tabaxi or a dragonborn would be out of place in that setting.

But, hey, to each his own.
 

Rdm

Explorer
Here's my simple question: WTF are you doing using (non-4e) D&D for a no-casters campaign. About 40% of every single non-4e PHB is spells. About two thirds of classes are casters.

On the other hand I have played a bard as a pure charlatan who didn't actually have any spells, but was capable of coincidental trickery. This isn't "I reskinned fireball" but "I was very careful and detailed in the spells I picked".



If you can use gods as an excuse to not allow races then you can certainly use them as an excuse to allow races. Which means that the continuity argument vanishes in a puff of smoke.



And my problem with this argument is that D&D races are in general not that flavourful. They are light stereotypes that provide a little background colour - and most fantasy worlds are too homogenous anyway because there are only a few minds working on them. Humans of any culture are far more diverse than just about any fantasy setting even with the range of fantasy races.

The only race I can think of that has a serious impact on the themes of the setting for good or ill is the Warforged of Eberron. The Last War lasted about 100 years and ended only a couple of years ago. But Warforged are new; the oldest playable warforged types are 1d12 years old for the simplest types (fighters and barbarians) to 1d4 years old for the most complex (wizards, artificers). Also from memory there was a ban on new warforged two years ago -so roll a 1 and you're illegal.

Does mass production of warforged in little more than the past decade say a lot about Eberron on its own? Definitely. And it does so in ways that the normal kitchen sink melange of elves (of all types), dwarves, orcs, gnomes, halflings, etc. don't.

But does this mean that I can't play a warforged in another setting? Of course not. A warforged is essentially an android made via magic. I've played a warforged made centuries ago by a mad wizard and trapped for most of that time. Did it disrupt the setting much? No. Mad wizards are a thing and adventurers are weird. There may have been other warforged in the setting but I'm not aware of any.

And likewise small communities and far away communities disrupt very few settings and add a tiny amount of spice. You don't get a stronger setting by excluding things - you get one by picking things to focus on.
You could use the gods as an ‘excuse to include more options’. But then they would become different gods. You keep trying to say that excluding things doesn’t effect flavor but that is manifestly not true. Regular halflings and Prests in Dark Sun provide an entirely different flavor. Adding in elves to a campaign world where the long lived races that might be able to remember the times before the great apocalypse don’t exist changes Some fundamental underpinnings of the setting. Including half orcs and half elves says certain things about how different groups are able to interact. Just because there are cases where you can ‘just add them in!!!’ Without effecting flavor does not mean you can always do so. They can be gone for a reason.
 

Rdm

Explorer
IMO, Barovia isn't a gothic horror reflection of our world (which is admittedly the case in most tales of gothic horror) but rather of a D&D world. That's not really an issue since the vast majority of those who play Ravenloft are experienced D&D players for whom it all translates. They know what a D&D world looks like, so it isn't hard to extrapolate a gothic version thereof.


Regarding the discussion of a tabaxi or dragonborn being regarded as a monster like a goblyn, I think that's a missed opportunity. You probably don't have an entire party of them, right? The townsfolk can see that they are traveling with other humans or demi humans.

So one way to play it in order to establish a feeling of being strangers in a strange land is for them to treat that character as a freak. They're not going to grab their torches and pitchforks right away, but many of the townsfolk give them a wide berth and the ones who don't are there to gawk or ask impolite questions. If something strange happens in town, there's at least one jerk who immediately points to the freak that came into town with that group of strangers, and people glare at the character suspiciously.

This enforces a feeling of isolation and otherness even within the relative refuge of a town. People naturally find comfort in banding together, but if you can take away the sense that they can, in any way, rely on those townspeople, the characters will lose that sense of comfort. You take away the safety of the safe place without taking away the place, and that makes them feel all the more exposed.


I'm not claiming to be any kind of expert on horror, much less gothic horror. Certainly, a lot of this comes down to preference. For the most part, I think not wanting X in a horror game is simply a preference. That's obviously leaving aside silly outliers, like replacing Strahd with The Count (from Sesame Street). Vahn dead adventurer, two dead adventurers, three dead adventurers... bwa ha ha ha ha!

I'm perfectly willing to accept that not every gaming group would enjoy a tabaxi (or whatever) in their Ravenloft campaign. However, I don't think there's anything inherent to tabaxi that makes them a poor fit for Ravenloft outside a subjective perspective.
conversely there is nothing that makes them a good fit outside of a ‘subjective perspective’. Why does your subjective perspective auto win?
 



Orius

Adventurer
Mystara may be a kitchen sink, but there's also something of a nostalgia angle here too. Many people who play it want to hearken back to their experiences with the old D&D game and stuff like dragonborn do not have the nostalgia angle. In fact, it might work against it. They might be happy with using the 5e rules for various reasons, but they don't want to use everything either and they're not so hardcore that they want to go back to Classic D&D or its retroclones.


I'm not sure why people can't simply accept that some players just have very different tastes. And forcing a DM to run a game that's not to his taste will result in a bad game. Though I would suspect any long term group generally shares similar tastes and a player going against that is either new or that one guy the group hasn't gotten around to booting yet.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
They are objectively a bad fit if they ruin the atmosphere for one of the participants.
Particularly if that one participant is the DM. I try to do a lot of collaborative story telling (it's the big advantage of a DM vs software) but ultimately the DM has veto rights.

Personally I don't like kitchen sink settings, D&D is already kind of silly, kitchen sink makes it worse for me.
 

S'mon

Legend
Re Mystara, well it's certainly a Menagerie setting. I wouldn't include Dragonborn as native to the core Known World setting, but I wouldn't object to a far-travelled Dragonborn from another continent. With stuff like half elves and half orcs I'd probably just allow them in. Tieflings are probably the trickiest due to BECMI demons being Immortal-level entities, that might require a lot of retconning to the Mystaran core cosmology. Genasi pose far fewer problems and I'd likely allow them in/from Alasiya.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
They are objectively a bad fit if they ruin the atmosphere for one of the participants.
That's just wordplay. What you're essentially saying there is that anything that ruins the atmosphere for one of the participants in a TTRPG is objectively bad. Which might or might not be a reasonable argument to make.

However, if that thing is a tabaxi in Barovia then it is nonetheless only an issue due to that participant's subjective preference. It isn't objective.
 

If you can use gods as an excuse to not allow races then you can certainly use them as an excuse to allow races. Which means that the continuity argument vanishes in a puff of smoke.
Nope, the argument stays stronger than ever. True gods can do both. But if they don't want something, nothing a mortal can do can change their mind. It is not a matter of "if they want", but a matter of "not wanting". Continuity stays on.
 
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Rdm

Explorer
That's just wordplay. What you're essentially saying there is that anything that ruins the atmosphere for one of the participants in a TTRPG is objectively bad. Which might or might not be a reasonable argument to make.

However, if that thing is a tabaxi in Barovia then it is nonetheless only an issue due to that participant's subjective preference. It isn't objective.
It absolutely is not ‘just wordplay’. The point of the game is the enjoyment of all of the participants, and if it harshes that then it is objectively a bad fit for that groups conception of the setting which is' in the end the only conception of the setting that really matters. What your group thinks about anthropomorphic bunny ninjas in Middle Earth is in all ways irrelevant to my game.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
It absolutely is not ‘just wordplay’. The point of the game is they enjoyment of all of the participants, and if it harshes that then it is objectively a bad fit for that groups conception of the setting which is' in the end all that really matters. What your group thinks about anthropomorphic bunny ninjas in Middle Earth is in all ways irrelevant to my game.
It's nonetheless a preference, and therefore subjective.
 

Sometimes I think the parallel worlds will be canon in the D&D multiverse someday, and this will allow different versions of the official worlds, for example to can add new races or classes, or Krynn(Dragonlance) where the players don't know what is going to happen because it's practically a reboot with an alternate plot.
 


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