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D&D General The Rakshasa and Genie Problem

Is there a Nerath sourcebook? Google fails me. I only gave one 4e publication, but I’m interested.
This forum has a number of threads that go over different subjects in depth:

The Piazza - Nentir Vale

Information about the world (history, locations, NPCs, etc) was scattered throughout nearly every sourcebook. A world map didn't appear until the Conquest of Nerath board game, when WotC released a number of articles to go with the new map.

There was probably also more lore given about the planes, gods, etc, than the Material Plane itself.

Oh, by the way, the Shadowfell city of Gloomwrought mentioned in passing in Wild Beyond the Witchlight as the original home of two shadar-kai NPCs was detailed in a boxed set during 4E. It was nice to see it be acknowledged.
 
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Remathilis

Legend
There was probably also more lore given about the planes, gods, etc, than the Material Plane itself.

That fit me was a positive, since that allowed a lot more expansion. I added things from other settings, homebrew, 3pp stuff, and didn't feel I was betraying some established cannon. A little more structure (or at least better organizing) would have been nice.
 

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I laughed so hard the earth shook, the skies opened and a new age dawned on the forum…an age of harmony and understanding. An age free of flame wars
 



Faolyn

(she/her)
I mean, we can literally just look at D&D and see the stereotype in it. Even the good decadent Arab creatures have slaves, it's just that they treat them nicely. If it weren't part of the stereotype, there wouldn't be a need to have the good ones have them as well; then it would be the mark of evil ones. But instead, they all have them. The reasoning is obvious: when you show off rich, decadent Arabs, there is an expectation that they have slaves. If you want to run around it, you can, but it's literally right there in the modern main book.
To be fair, the way they're written is that genies themselves a slave race, that it's very likely that any particular genie had been a slave themself, and thus their entire mentality is based around the concept of either owning others or being owned because that's all they know. After all, the traditional genie-in-a-lamp the slave of whoever rubs the lamp, and is imprisoned within it as well. Therefore there's the question of who enslaved others first?

I do agree that it's a bad stereotype, I'm sure WotC is never going to put out a Volo's-like book that delves into genie history (even if it'd be cool, though) and reveals this.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
That's the real issue, isn't it? They are wearing the cultural garb of a people while being evil. The hobgoblins in Asian armor had the same problem. Maybe we should eliminate creatures wearing cultural garb or even just drastically reduce the art depicting said creatures.
Or just not have hobgoblins as being Typically Evil villains.

If there was an actually well-done Edo period-inspired human culture in D&D, nobody would upset, because if it were well-done, it would show both the good, neutral, and bad aspects of the culture. But with hobgoblins, their lives are described as brutal and artless.

If hobgoblins aren't Typically Evil (or Always Evil, or even Often Evil), but are people, then yes, there will be ruthless hobgoblin warlords to fight, but that wouldn't be the norm, and the fact that they are shown in Japanese-inspired garb wouldn't be a problem.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Or just not have hobgoblins as being Typically Evil villains.

If there was an actually well-done Edo period-inspired human culture in D&D, nobody would upset, because if it were well-done, it would show both the good, neutral, and bad aspects of the culture. But with hobgoblins, their lives are described as brutal and artless.

If hobgoblins aren't Typically Evil (or Always Evil, or even Often Evil), but are people, then yes, there will be ruthless hobgoblin warlords to fight, but that wouldn't be the norm, and the fact that they are shown in Japanese-inspired garb wouldn't be a problem.
Hobgoblins, I accept. They're a mortal race and capable of moral choice.

Efreeti, the actual evil genie (as in, if they were good, they'd be djinn) or raksasha's, literal FIENDS, aren't allowed to be Always/Often Evil?

I said a long time ago, when orcs and drow were the topic at hand, it wasn't going to stop at humanoids. I am being proved right that even extra-planar beings are being criticized for being majority Evil. Fiends, the literal definition of Evil Incarnate, is being pushed to be "any alignment". That doesn't sit well with me. Can we not even allow Demons/Devils/Fiends to be examples of the Always Evil/Exception that Proves the Rule?
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Hobgoblins, I accept. They're a mortal race and capable of moral choice.

Efreeti, the actual evil genie (as in, if they were good, they'd be djinn) or raksasha's, literal FIENDS, aren't allowed to be Always/Often Evil?

I said a long time ago, when orcs and drow were the topic at hand, it wasn't going to stop at humanoids. I am being proved right that even extra-planar beings are being criticized for being majority Evil. Fiends, the literal definition of Evil Incarnate, is being pushed to be "any alignment". That doesn't sit well with me. Can we not even allow Demons/Devils/Fiends to be examples of the Always Evil/Exception that Proves the Rule?
Personally, I prefer no alignments and Always Evil fiends. I like how Level Up did it, where Evil (and Good, Lawful, and Chaotic) is just a tag some creatures, like fiends, have.

But anyway, when I bring up the idea of why fiends, being literally made of Evil, are OK to have an evil alignment, other people point out that they can rise. Also personally, I prefer the idea that a fiend that stops being Evil stops being a fiend.

But would an efreet stop being an efreet if it weren't evil? Well, part of the definition--probably the main definition--of an efreet is that they're powerful elemental spirits. So I would imagine that an efreet would stay an efreet if it weren't evil. It's still fire, after all. It would just represent the creative or helpful aspects of fire instead of the destructive aspects.
 

GreyLord

Legend
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.
Then let them write what they WANT to write instead of dictating it to them.

What you state above has been used for DECADES on reasons why a company or group doesn't need to or should not hire a minority. It is an AWFUL opinion.

If anything, having a larger minority employee network increases the diversity in the workplace and might (though, yes, you are right, it might not, but there's a bigger chance if you have people from different backgrounds of having diverse ideas than having everyone from the same background) give more diverse ideas and creativity.

Hire them, pay them equal wages, give them equal benefits, and that's a start. It's a better start then making an excuse of why one shouldn't hire them. Of course they don't claim they are in the clear, but you HAVE TO START somewhere and it's a better start than many other ideas.

If more minorities are hired, there is a FAR better chance of them writing things that they understand and are pertinent to them than some White Boss dictating to them what is or is not acceptable.

There may be no guarantee, but it's a better start than a bunch of white guys trying to write out what they THINK that culture is like...which invariably leads to a LOT of stereotyping and worse.
 

Bluebell

Explorer
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.

I would suggest that the problem isn't about just one setting, but about official DnD/WoC materials in general lacking diversity. I don't think anybody would try to argue that every single setting must include every single culture, just as not every setting needs to include every official fantasy race, etc.

Which is to say that Eberron having creatures like rakshasa and oni but no people of the cultures those monsters originate from isn't that big of a deal if there are also official settings featuring people of those cultures.
 

Bluebell

Explorer
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.

I would suggest that the problem isn't about just one setting, but about official DnD/WoC materials in general lacking diversity. I don't think anybody would try to argue that every single setting must include every single culture, just as not every setting needs to include every official fantasy race, etc.

Which is to say that Eberron having creatures like rakshasa and oni but no people of the cultures those monsters originate from isn't that big of a deal if there are also official settings featuring people of those cultures.
 

Remathilis

Legend
I would suggest that the problem isn't about just one setting, but about official DnD/WoC materials in general lacking diversity. I don't think anybody would try to argue that every single setting must include every single culture, just as not every setting needs to include every official fantasy race, etc.

Which is to say that Eberron having creatures like rakshasa and oni but no people of the cultures those monsters originate from isn't that big of a deal if there are also official settings featuring people of those cultures.
If I were WotC looking at a thread like this, my first thought would be to charge full steam with Faerun as the default setting and provide supplemental support to Kara Tur, Maztica, Zakhara, Chult, Multhorand, the Moonshaes, etc. Faerun theoretically has every culture on Earth tucked up somewhere on it, getting some experts to do proper deep dives that flesh out those areas. Then they could say they have expanded the D&D game with these supplements that is only a teleport spell away from Sword Coast.

TBH, I am shocked we never did get an AP set in Kara Tur, or Zakhara. The farthest afield we got was Chult, but I guess after the royally funged that one up, there might have been a hesitance to do it again.
 

If I were WotC looking at a thread like this, my first thought would be to charge full steam with Faerun as the default setting and provide supplemental support to Kara Tur, Maztica, Zakhara, Chult, Multhorand, the Moonshaes, etc. Faerun theoretically has every culture on Earth tucked up somewhere on it, getting some experts to do proper deep dives that flesh out those areas. Then they could say they have expanded the D&D game with these supplements that is only a teleport spell away from Sword Coast.

TBH, I am shocked we never did get an AP set in Kara Tur, or Zakhara. The farthest afield we got was Chult, but I guess after the royally funged that one up, there might have been a hesitance to do it again.
God no. Make new stuff. With enough effort you may be able to fix Kara-Tur. But it's not worth the effort.

It's not just about avoid bad depictions and adding details. It's also about missed opportunities.

Plus making more changes to the Forgotten Realms...it's already worn thin.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Personally, I prefer no alignments and Always Evil fiends. I like how Level Up did it, where Evil (and Good, Lawful, and Chaotic) is just a tag some creatures, like fiends, have.

But anyway, when I bring up the idea of why fiends, being literally made of Evil, are OK to have an evil alignment, other people point out that they can rise. Also personally, I prefer the idea that a fiend that stops being Evil stops being a fiend.

But would an efreet stop being an efreet if it weren't evil? Well, part of the definition--probably the main definition--of an efreet is that they're powerful elemental spirits. So I would imagine that an efreet would stay an efreet if it weren't evil. It's still fire, after all. It would just represent the creative or helpful aspects of fire instead of the destructive aspects.
My general preference for alignment is thus:

Natural creatures like humanoids or giants don't have fixed alignments, but the cultures they come from may nudge them in certain direction. If the orc tribe Krusk grows up in are raiders and pillagers, Krusk is more inclined to be CE, but that's not a given nor is it reflective or all orcs.

Unnatural creatures (aberrations, fey, undead, and maybe dragons?) have unnatural moral compasses and thus are typically found in a small band of alignments, though exceptions exist. You can assume a specter is most likely evil, a satyr is mostly likely chaotic, and a red dragon is most likely evil, but it's not 100% guaranteed. These creatures simply don't see morality the same way a human or elf does and it's part of what makes them UNnatural.

Extraplanar entities (Celestials, Fiends, Elementals) are created and molded by their alignments; they are the exemplars of these views. Other morality isn't just unseeable to them, it's an anathema. Few of these creatures ever change their outlook enough to change alignment, and those who do (Zariel, Grazz't) are legendary for it. You should be able to count the exceptions to them on one hand.

But that's just me, I like having some things be stronger aligned than others. I kinda like the idea some things are just so alien that they don't see the world like a 21st century human does.
 


My general preference for alignment is thus:

Natural creatures like humanoids or giants don't have fixed alignments, but the cultures they come from may nudge them in certain direction. If the orc tribe Krusk grows up in are raiders and pillagers, Krusk is more inclined to be CE, but that's not a given nor is it reflective or all orcs.

Unnatural creatures (aberrations, fey, undead, and maybe dragons?) have unnatural moral compasses and thus are typically found in a small band of alignments, though exceptions exist. You can assume a specter is most likely evil, a satyr is mostly likely chaotic, and a red dragon is most likely evil, but it's not 100% guaranteed. These creatures simply don't see morality the same way a human or elf does and it's part of what makes them UNnatural.

Extraplanar entities (Celestials, Fiends, Elementals) are created and molded by their alignments; they are the exemplars of these views. Other morality isn't just unseeable to them, it's an anathema. Few of these creatures ever change their outlook enough to change alignment, and those who do (Zariel, Grazz't) are legendary for it. You should be able to count the exceptions to them on one hand.

But that's just me, I like having some things be stronger aligned than others. I kinda like the idea some things are just so alien that they don't see the world like a 21st century human does.
My general preference for alignment is thus:

Natural creatures like humanoids or giants don't have fixed alignments, but the cultures they come from may nudge them in certain direction. If the orc tribe Krusk grows up in are raiders and pillagers, Krusk is more inclined to be CE, but that's not a given nor is it reflective or all orcs.

Unnatural creatures (aberrations, fey, undead, and maybe dragons?) have unnatural moral compasses and thus are typically found in a small band of alignments, though exceptions exist. You can assume a specter is most likely evil, a satyr is mostly likely chaotic, and a red dragon is most likely evil, but it's not 100% guaranteed. These creatures simply don't see morality the same way a human or elf does and it's part of what makes them UNnatural.

Extraplanar entities (Celestials, Fiends, Elementals) are created and molded by their alignments; they are the exemplars of these views. Other morality isn't just unseeable to them, it's an anathema. Few of these creatures ever change their outlook enough to change alignment, and those who do (Zariel, Grazz't) are legendary for it. You should be able to count the exceptions to them on one hand.

But that's just me, I like having some things be stronger aligned than others. I kinda like the idea some things are just so alien that they don't see the world like a 21st century human does.

I should preface this by saying, I don't really play D&D that much anymore (mostly I play other systems and my own systems), and my default preference is actually for more no alignment or morally gray worlds (or systems that cleave better to more real world conceptions). But I do like alignment in D&D (I think because when I do return to D&D, it is because I want those classic D&D trappings, and I think there is something about D&D that just works and is highly functional----in the sense that I can always reliable start and continue an ongoing campaign using D&D, whereas some other systems, even ones I like, may not be as consistently reliable....not quite sure if I am expressing this well). And with D&D alignment in particular, I think one of its challenges is, because it has changed much over the years, it has to support a wide variety of approaches to the game to satisfy different expectations.

I think another expectation is alignment in service to this notion of a cosmic battle where different groups have taken sides. I don't think this needs to mean that a big C chaotic orc, or a CE orc has to always be so (unless you are dealing with orcs who are literally manifestations of evil), but that as a general rule the Orcs are aligned with Chaos or Evil, or Chaotic or Evil forces. This makes sense in a cosmic struggle setting, but it makes less sense in a more grounded setting.

Another expectation is simply as shorthand to make things easier to run. So you might have monsters and races with a wide variety of cultures, but the alignments just denote tendencies, and are largely a tool for the GM to use for handling encounters easily.

Now my favorite setting was always Ravenloft. Which didn't really have an abundance of orcs, and most monsters were in service to horror, so alignment there mattered in terms of dealing with the morality of the setting (because of things like powers checks) and with managing NPC behavior and knowing the flavor of evil a given monster represented. I found it handy, but in truth Ravenloft was always more concerned with the divide between good and evil, than with questions of law, chaos and neutrality.

And I think there has long been a history in the game of people using alignment how they want to, ignoring it, etc. I know there are many campaigns I ran where alignment wasn't really treated the way it is in the rulebook.

I guess what I am getting at, is I can see the challenge alignment presents to designers for dungeons and dragons because it needs to be able to handle a baseline system that can be used for any GM to make their own setting, allow for the GM to take any number of the above and other approaches, and be flexible yet not different enough to handle a range of official settings. That is a tall order, but I think serving that order, and the wide ranging player base, is one of the keys to D&D's success.

This does raise the question though: if you are unsatisfied with elements of D&D (not you Remathilis, just people in general), and I certainly found I was unsatisfied with WOTC D&D by the late 2000s; why not try other games and systems? There are games with no alignment, with more nuanced setting cultures, etc. And those games definitely could use more fans. I am a bit proponent of playing other types of games because the period I cut my teeth gaming was before the d20 boom, and it was just expected every game had its own system, and every group would play more than one type of game. D&D was our bread and butter, but it was pretty easy for me to pull away from D&D and make that less central to my play experience when I realized what I wanted from the game, wasn't what the makers felt they should be making. I get that D&D is kind of an important focal point in the hobby. But it really did eliminate a lot of negativity in my thinking about RPGs to go for other games.

Regarding your remarks on extrapljnar creatures (which I think are accurate), one thing I always found interesting about those types of beings, is in D&D they are created evil, created good, etc. And I think that is fine. But I always thought, in a cosmic battle campaign, it might actually make more sense to draw on real life lore about angels and demons. Angels and Demons, at least in a lot of traditions, are both the same kinds of beings: beings of pure spirit, who have more perfect knowledge than humans. The only difference is they used that knowledge to make different choices in the cosmic struggle of good and evil very early in creation. So the idea is angels chose to be good, demons chose to be evil, and this choice was a permanent one because they had full understanding of what that choice meant (whereas humans don't have the level of knowledge to make such an informed and permanent choice). I may be getting bits a little wrong here, no expert, but that is the gist. I always thought that approach fits nicely into a world modeled after things like Three Hearts and Three Lions (and similar novels) where there is a cosmic battle where groups are picking sides (and humans maybe have more openness on the choice, because they are the stand in for us making a choice when confronted by these forces)
 

Voadam

Legend
Hobgoblins, I accept. They're a mortal race and capable of moral choice.

Efreeti, the actual evil genie (as in, if they were good, they'd be djinn) or raksasha's, literal FIENDS, aren't allowed to be Always/Often Evil?

I said a long time ago, when orcs and drow were the topic at hand, it wasn't going to stop at humanoids. I am being proved right that even extra-planar beings are being criticized for being majority Evil. Fiends, the literal definition of Evil Incarnate, is being pushed to be "any alignment". That doesn't sit well with me. Can we not even allow Demons/Devils/Fiends to be examples of the Always Evil/Exception that Proves the Rule?
Most classic Great Wheel D&D has fiends as evil things from the outer planes where the planes are aligned, essentially elementals of evil alignment.

Genies are beings from the unaligned inner elemental planes. Most elementals are neutral though some specific ones are aligned.

Efreeti are not classicaly D&D fiends. They are evil fire elemental beings. In AD&D they were not even actually Lawful Evil, they were neutral with Lawful Evil tendencies.

1642083184089.png

In 3.5 they are always Lawful Evil but have no alignment subtype the way fiends do.

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Voadam

Legend
If I were WotC looking at a thread like this, my first thought would be to charge full steam with Faerun as the default setting and provide supplemental support to Kara Tur, Maztica, Zakhara, Chult, Multhorand, the Moonshaes, etc. Faerun theoretically has every culture on Earth tucked up somewhere on it, getting some experts to do proper deep dives that flesh out those areas. Then they could say they have expanded the D&D game with these supplements that is only a teleport spell away from Sword Coast.

TBH, I am shocked we never did get an AP set in Kara Tur, or Zakhara. The farthest afield we got was Chult, but I guess after the royally funged that one up, there might have been a hesitance to do it again.
It is not from WotC but there is the 3.5 Fantasy Arabian and genie focused Adventure Path Legacy of Fire and there is also the Pathfinder starts-off-Fantasy-Vikings-and-turns-into-Fantasy-East-Asia Adventure Path Jade Regent.

I too would enjoy a 5e WotC series of region supplements though. I enjoyed them in the AD&D era and I enjoy Paizo's versions of them for Golarion.
 


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