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D&D General The Rakshasa and Genie Problem

ad_hoc

(he/they)
If game designers want to include creatures and peoples from another culture, esp. one which has been oppressed by imperialism is simply to hire authors from those cultures.
 

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If game designers want to include creatures and peoples from another culture, esp. one which has been oppressed by imperialism is simply to hire authors from those cultures.

To me, this doesn't sound like a real solution to the problem, it's just trying to buy your way out of it. People from "those cultures" can promote stereotypes just as well as imperialists can, especially when their job depends on it.

I will agree that employing from the cultures you want to depict is a big step. But there's no guarantee it's a step in the right direction. You still need to do all the important work, starting with paying them properly, and ending with making a conscious effort to depict the culture appropriately. But simply hiring a few minority authors and claiming you're in the clear? Nope. That's a blatant diversity hire, and it's just a band aid on a systematic illness.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
To me, this doesn't sound like a real solution to the problem, it's just trying to buy your way out of it. People from "those cultures" can promote stereotypes just as well as imperialists can, especially when their job depends on it.

I will agree that employing from the cultures you want to depict is a big step. But there's no guarantee it's a step in the right direction. You still need to do all the important work, starting with paying them properly, and ending with making a conscious effort to depict the culture appropriately. But simply hiring a few minority authors and claiming you're in the clear? Nope. That's a blatant diversity hire, and it's just a band aid on a systematic illness.

You're putting a lot of word in my mouth here.
 

Argyle King

Legend
You're putting a lot of word in my mouth here.

Can you elaborate on which words you feel were placed into your mouth?

I would like to better understand the viewpoints of others before continuing to engage in a thread which has the potential to spark discomfort among the community.
 

Smackpixi

Explorer
To me, at least in 5e, problem isn’t so much that there are monsters that are derived from stereotypes or caricatures of non Western European cultures, that’s not exactly great, but redoing those monsters isn’t the fix. The real problem is the lack of non-western European societies in 5e. Forgotten Realms is huge, there are areas for the Chinese, Aztec, Zulu, Arabic, etc cultures to be represented like Europe is on the Sword Coast. It’s a shame that is’t happening. Like once you have those cultures represented and developed in not just a one off sourcebook but in adventure books and stuff, the Yuan-ti become less problematic, when the cultures they’re inspired by also hate those evil snake people it becomes better.
 

Bluebell

Villager
To me, at least in 5e, problem isn’t so much that there are monsters that are derived from stereotypes or caricatures of non Western European cultures, that’s not exactly great, but redoing those monsters isn’t the fix. The real problem is the lack of non-western European societies in 5e. Forgotten Realms is huge, there are areas for the Chinese, Aztec, Zulu, Arabic, etc cultures to be represented like Europe is on the Sword Coast. It’s a shame that is’t happening. Like once you have those cultures represented and developed in not just a one off sourcebook but in adventure books and stuff, the Yuan-ti become less problematic, when the cultures they’re inspired by also hate those evil snake people it becomes better.
Exactly this. If you're going to have an evil monstrous race that is explicitly based on a certain real world culture or race, then you need to have actual people of that culture represented as well.

Likewise, the problem isn't putting evil monsters in culturally specific clothing. The problem is that that culturally specific clothing isn't seen on any good/neutral characters as well.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Exactly this. If you're going to have an evil monstrous race that is explicitly based on a certain real world culture or race, then you need to have actual people of that culture represented as well.

Likewise, the problem isn't putting evil monsters in culturally specific clothing. The problem is that that culturally specific clothing isn't seen on any good/neutral characters as well.
Which, in the case of Eberron not having cultures that are derived from real world cultures, would mean genies and coutals and raksashas and oni are an issue. That means effectively:

1. They can't be part of Eberron, betraying the first rule of "if it exists in D&D, it exists in Eberron". That is especially bad for the raksasha and coutal, as they play major roles in Eberron's history that filter up to the modern day.

2. Eberron would need radical revisions to add Arabian, African, Mesoamerican, Indian, Asian, etc cultures to it's human population. Considering Eberron's map is full, this would mean either adding these cultures to Sarlona (birthplace of humanity, but currently conquered by psionic overlords) or Xen'drik (a shattered continent where humans never existed previously). Or a new continent would have to be added to Eberron to accommodate these new cultures.

3. These creatures can exist, but in some generalized or stripped format. The coutals become some generic celestial, the raksasha is replaced a generic shape shifting fiend.

Either way, in Eberron's case you're talking about fundamental changes to the history, geography and design of Eberron. We're talking Spellplague 4e Realms level changes. It's not a small fix.

Still, considering how WotC has changed 5e Ravenloft and it's current stance on previous cannon, I guess such radical changes to Eberron aren't out of the realm of possibility. I wager a new Eberron book after 2024 might be in order.
 


Remathilis

Legend
Man, if they could be trusted to do Asian, African or American cultures in the first place, we wouldn't be here.

Let's go with this one!

Set Keith Free! Set Keith Free!
Eberron is owned lock stock and barrel by WotC. At best, the consult with Keith on how to change things to match the new vision, at worst they go ahead without his blessing. There is no scenario where Eberron goes back to Keith and he, unshackled from WotC's mandates, makes a non-all-inclusive "focused" Eberron.

Actually, maybe Eberron just gets put on ice with Athas, Krynn, and Mystara as settings too toxic to publish anymore.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Actually, maybe Eberron just gets put on ice with Athas, Krynn, and Mystara as settings too toxic to publish anymore.

I'm now wondering how they could all be spliced with something like what we saw near the end of the Loki TV series ...
 
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Remathilis

Legend
I'm now wondering how they could all be spliced with something like what we sawn near the end of the Loki TV series ...
I mean, there was a setting that had non-gypsy Vistani, warforged, draconians, the Keep on the Borderlands, the Tomb of Horrors, Castle Ravenloft, etc, and was practically a Greatest Hits of the past 30+ years of D&D. It was called Nerath, and it was awesome. Too bad it was tainted with being the default setting for 4e and being rejected when 4e was.
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I mean, there was a setting that had non-gypsy Vistani, warforged, draconians, the Keep on the Borderlands, the Tomb of Horrors, Castle Ravenloft, etc, and was practically a Greatest Hits of the past 30+ years of D&D. It was called Nerath, and it was awesome. Too bad it was tainted with being the default setting for 4e and being rejected when 4e was.
I played in some games, made some characters, and read some of the books, but never got much into the setting (probably curmudgeonly rejecting some of the changes to the default out of hand).
 

Voadam

Legend
I mean, there was a setting that had non-gypsy Vistani, warforged, draconians, the Keep on the Borderlands, the Tomb of Horrors, Castle Ravenloft, etc, and was practically a Greatest Hits of the past 30+ years of D&D. It was called Nerath, and it was awesome. Too bad it was tainted with being the default setting for 4e and being rejected when 4e was.
I don't remember Nerath having Arabic or Indian cultures in the setting though.

Awesome fallen Dragonborn and Tiefling empires, but no specifically fantasy analogue Arabic or Indian ones that I recall.

Nerath was fantastic but not a kitchen sink of fantasy analogue kingdoms that I remember.

Not that I think a kitchen sink or even a full setting is required. Points of light and/or unexplained elements like genies and rakshasas can be lots of fun in a fantasy game. One option among many for different aesthetics and dynamics.
 


TheSword

Legend
Eberron is the most progressive and accommodating setting D&D is yet to produce. It’s extremely well thought out.

It’s already been released in full for 5e, with a companion Keith Baker hardback. The suggestion that Eberron is too toxic to produce is pretty crazy.

This is literally the first time we’ve heard of an issue with it, and even the OP doesn’t think it is a question of offense or racism. It’s a literal handful of people on here who think the genies and Rakshasa have racist depictions in Eberron and that is very tenuous!
 

Remathilis

Legend
I don't remember Nerath having Arabic or Indian cultures in the setting though.

Awesome fallen Dragonborn and Tiefling empires, but no specifically fantasy analogue Arabic or Indian ones that I recall.

Nerath was fantastic but not a kitchen sink of fantasy analogue kingdoms that I remember.

Not that I think a kitchen sink or even a full setting is required. Points of light and/or unexplained elements like genies and rakshasas can be lots of fun in a fantasy game. One option among many for different aesthetics and dynamics.
Nerrath was only lightly detailed beyond the Nentir Vale, so it wouldn't have been hard to add them without disruption. It would be a great foundation to build off of.

Ironically, Faerun has similar expansion opportunities, but level of detail it already has could be seen as a detriment.

Nerrath isn't perfect by any means, but it has enough blank space that adding what is needed would be trivial.
Is there a Nerath sourcebook? Google fails me. I only gave one 4e publication, but I’m interested.
Sadly, Nerrath's lore is scattered across countless 4e sourcebooks and Dragon Magazines. A sourcebook was in the works but cancelled when the Next playtest was announced. The best sources are various wikis.
 

RoughCoronet0

Dragon Lover
Is there a Nerath sourcebook? Google fails me. I only gave one 4e publication, but I’m interested.
Sadly no sourcebook as Remathilis stated. The closest I have found to a compilation of Nentir Vale lore and mythology story pieced together by some fans from various official and semi-official sources.

Edit: Though, a large portion pf this compilation is of the lore pertains to the creation of the material plane and the Dawn Wars.
 


Remathilis

Legend
hyperbole.

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