The problem with Evil races is not what you think


I would argue that the most popular RPG is an adolescent power fantasy and coincidentally a lot of fun. In my years of gaming, I don't think I've ever witnessed a player or DM act out a sexual assault in game. I don't doubt that it happens but I've never been worried when playing with new people.

I've been lucky in avoiding that too. But Jean Wells and Kim Mohen in Dragon #39 wrote on the difficulty female players found themselves running into


Roger Moore's article on Women in D&D in Dragon #57 was brought up elsewhere recently.


That he felt the need in the paragraphs that follow to explain that having NPCs rape female players characters was a bad thing says something about the state of some of the folks at RPG tables.
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5ever, or until 2024
But what if the killer robots the PCs must destroy really have some self-awareness?

I always like to go back to the original monster manual in cases like this. You can ally with or charm any of them, and you can try to kill any of them, given the consequences. Many are intelligent. Many have treasure that you may want to take. (And Orc don't really stand out in analogy terms. Unless the issue is hating elves and being good miners).

The discussion of alignment is very brief, and notes it can be modified by "good or evil intent" and thats it relevant for "general behaviour". It also notes the two definitions of monster--something you encounter--and something "horrible and wicked" and gives the example of an encounter with an evil high priest as being one and likely the other. Sadly the EHP is not stated up, even with the section on "Men".


Staff member
This is a delicate topic. I very much want commentary to course correct me where necessary. Thank you in advance.
Dude, the course correction has been offered, but you’re not hearing it.

As others pointed out already, the issue isn’t the existence of always-evil races. It is the existence of always-evil races that are described in terminology linked to real-world racism and bigotry.

It is- and always has been- lazy worldbuilding to rely on negative stereotypes. It instantly alienates those at whom those slurs and stereotypes have been directed. It is just that it has taken 40 years for those concerns to be taken seriously by the majority of the gaming community.

For context, consider that DC Comics‘ Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) had an Asian sidekick nicknamed “Pieface“ introduced in 1960. The character was commonly referred to by that name until the 1990s, when Thomas Kalmaku told Hal off. Ask an Asian comic book fan, and you’ll probably be told that nickname was NEVER OK. But it took a literal generation for there to be a recognition and correction.

That is where the RPG hobby is now.


41st lv DM
My inclination is to say that there is nothing wrong with creating a stock enemy species, servant of the dark lord for your game, but due to the cultural baggage associated with orcs, goblins and others, it is best to make that thing out of whole cloth, free of the associations noted in the OP.
Yeah. See, I'm lazy though. So I'm just going to keep using evil orcs, goblins, etc. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel.

Tell you what though. I'll throw you a bone & concede that somewhere in my make believe world there might well be not-evil-people-orcs.
But as the DM? I guarantee that unless you make the effort to go find them, the only orcs you'll meet are the evil ones. There might be a story reason for that - but the only way you'll ever learn it is to make an effort on your end. These orcs aren't "people". They are mobile sacks of HP & XP armed with axes. So as they raid your villages, plunder caravans, & such? You can slaughter them like the generic bad guys that they are.
Oh, and don't worry about the children. The only young orcs you'll be meeting are simply weaker versions of the adults armed with smaller axes, & are just as evil.
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Hard disagree.

The idea that only "bad players" lean into the negative stereotypes embodied in our favorite fantasy races is hogwash, IMO.

It's systemic racism. The kind of racism you don't always realize you're engaging in until somebody points it out to you. Even if you are a "good player" . . . skilled, mature, tolerant, open-minded, and work hard not to be racist.
It's not that orcs or drow are stand-ins for any specific human group.
It's that the existence of evil and savage races in fantasy gets us used to accepting that some groups are inherently evil and savage and can't be reasoned with and don't deserve approaching humanely.

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