The problem with Evil races is not what you think

shawnhcorey

wizard
Which circles back to my original question: how sure of a being's evilness must one for it to be that simple?

How can you be unsure? It says they're evil in their description. Either you play the game as written (which means you don't have to worry about morality) or you interpret it as real.

And if you pretend it's real, how do purely evil races survive? A completely evil race would name their offspring Spare Rations 1, Spare Rations 2, Spare Rations 3, ... Being evil, they would not just be selfish but go out of their way to hurt others, any other including their own offspring. So how can the race survive if infanticide is a requirement?

As I said before, a race cannot be purely evil. It can at most be extremely xenophobic but purely evil races cannot last.

And if they're not completely evil, you judge individuals by their deeds and not condemn entire populations by the actions of some or even most.
 

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Tolkien didn't think of his orcs as fallen angels, at least if fallen angel is considered synonymous with demon as it is in Christianity.

JRR Tolkien, The Annals of Aman (1958) in JRR Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien, Morgoth’s Ring (1993):

Orcs we may name them; for in days of old they were strong and fell as demons. Yet they were not of demon kind, but children of earth corrupted by Morgoth, and they could be slain or destroyed by the valiant with weapons of war. (pg 109)​

In Letter #71 (1944) he seems to view them as separate categories (emphasis mine): "a motley alliance of orcs, beasts, demons, plain naturally honest men, and angels." A similar separation is employed in Letter #131 (1951) (emphasis mine): "elves, dwarves, the Kings of Men, heroic 'Homeric' horsemen, orcs and demons, the terrors of the Ring-servants and Necromancy, and the vast horror of the Dark Throne." Letter #141 (1954): "Orcs (the word is as far as I am concerned actually derived from Old English orc 'demon', but only because of its phonetic suitability)." "Phonetic" means the sound of speech, not its meaning.

However Tolkien did regard other entities in his fiction as demonic or even Satanic. The Annals of Aman: "in Utumno he [Melkor] wrought the race of demons whom the Elves after named the Balrogs." (pg 70) Quenta Silmarillion (1951-1952), in Morgoth’s Ring:

Melkor built his strength, and gathered his demons about him. These were the first made of his creatures: their hearts were of fire, but they were cloaked in darkness, and terror went before them; they had whips of flame. Balrogs they were named by the Noldor in later days. (pg 159)​

In Letter #153 (1954) Tolkien refers to Morgoth as "Diabolus". Letter #156 (1954): "the absolute Satanic rebellion and evil of Morgoth and his satellite Sauron". In the same letter, Sauron's deception of the Númenoreans is a "Satanic lie".

It can be concluded that balrogs are the closest analogues in Tolkien's fiction to demons, while Morgoth and Sauron are Satanic. Orcs are something else.
You’re spot on, I meant more in the figurative sense, evoking of rather than literal in the lore. Referencing the mythology and religion influencing him. As the Elves have this more angelic quality of them compared to the more whimsical woodland elves. Of d&d or earlier works.

(so again a literary theory interpretation ) if orcs (originally at least as Tolkein agonised over settling on origin) were the twisted corrupted elves, Made, turned into symbols of hate, that’s the kinda imagery I was alluding too.

of course, I do like the idea as well of him later settling on them being corrupted men. It becomes that perfect symbol of the war machine making man a monster. So either one works I. Different ways :)
 
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shawnhcorey

wizard
You’re spot on, I meant more in the figurative sense, evoking of rather than literal in the lore. As the Elves have this more angelic quality of them compared to the more whimsical woodland elves.

(so again the literary theory interpretation ) if orcs (originally at least as Tolkein agonised over settling on origin) were the twisted corrupted elves, Made, turned into symbols of hate, that’s the kinda imagery I was alluding too.

of course, I do like the idea as well of him later settling on them being corrupted men. It becomes that perfect symbol of the war machine making man a monster. So either one works I. Different ways :)

Tolkein studied old tales of northern Europe. The oldest tales of elfs had them as beings of white that helped travellers. As time when on, they went from good to indifferent to mischievous to wicked to evil. And their skin when from white to dark.

Middle Earth reflected this as elves were the older good, angelic beings and orcs the newer evil, dark ones.
 

Tolkein studied old tales of northern Europe. The oldest tales of elfs had them as beings of white that helped travellers. As time when on, they went from good to indifferent to mischievous to wicked to evil. And their skin when from white to dark.

Middle Earth reflected this as elves were the older good, angelic beings and orcs the newer evil, dark ones.
Yes indeed, quoted me just before my edited reference to that 😂. And that’s how I like to interpret it on one level.

On another, them as soulless, hateful, depersonalised tools of war and industry, tearing down an English Pastral (sp) ideal. Which I think is a purposeful echo of the Romantacism movement from older literature.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
The problem is people making such vile interpretations. Games are unreal.

There's this idea going around that if a thing is fictional, it cannot be harmful. That all responsibility for any harm done by fiction rests on the reader - the author is blameless.

This is incredibly bogus.

I could write a fictional piece about Smaging Smard, talking about how they are racist, sexist, have poor math skills and even worse hygiene, and how they enjoy knocking children's ice cream cones to the ground to make them cry. And then, by your logic, I can blame you for "interpretting" that I am talking about you.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Tolkein studied old tales of northern Europe. The oldest tales of elfs had them as beings of white that helped travellers. As time when on, they went from good to indifferent to mischievous to wicked to evil. And their skin when from white to dark.

Except, in the original language the desription is ambiguous. "Dark elf" is more likely to mean "dark of heart" than "dark of skin" in the original.
 


There's this idea going around that if a thing is fictional, it cannot be harmful. That all responsibility for any harm done by fiction rests on the reader - the author is blameless.

This is incredibly bogus.

I could write a fictional piece about Smaging Smard, talking about how they are racist, sexist, have poor math skills and even worse hygiene, and how they enjoy knocking children's ice cream cones to the ground to make them cry. And then, by your logic, I can blame you for "interpretting" that I am talking about you.
That fictional piece is not really equivalent about Smaging Bard though as obvious pieces of disguised parody or slander, or outright hate speech disguised as narrative can be either legitimised (as in parody works) or dealt with legally.

No one is has said reader must bear all responsibility. But creative works are a two way process between authorial voice and intent and reader understanding, experience etc.

And specifically at the table it’s very much a group’s responsibility to decide what works for their particular needs.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
And specifically at the table it’s very much a group’s responsibility to decide what works for their particular needs.

Sure. But then, if a thing does not work for your particular needs... that's the basis of criticism.

Ergo, if some bit of D&D rules or cotent doesn't work for you, that's a bit that's valid to criticize.
 

Sure. But then, if a thing does not work for your particular needs... that's the basis of criticism.

Ergo, if some bit of D&D rules or cotent doesn't work for you, that's a bit that's valid to criticize.
Indeed, there’s lots of potential different things to criticise. And other groups might not share your groups’ particular issue or not agree with your view of it as an issue. Something might only be an issue for a particular while because of circumstance (such as renaming of demons and devils before they slowly made their way back in).

I don’t think anything is invalid to criticise, I just don’t think all criticisms are valid. And that applies equally to all. The validity of a criticism is also subjective as to what is “valid” to you.
 

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