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D&D General The Rakshasa and Genie Problem

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.

The green book series was one of my favorite for AD&D. Made good use of A Mighty Fortress and Glory of Rome (they had quite a number of others too).

The setting material at the time I think benefited a lot from the boxed set format. They could put so many little things in those to help bring settings to life. I don’t imagine we will see that kind of boxed set as the norm again anytime soon but WOTC is in a position I think they could feasibly make a return to that approach
 

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Remathilis

Legend
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.
I'm well aware, and frankly shocked WotC didn't follow suit. Even a collection of modules like Saltmarsh would have been interesting.
 

Remathilis

Legend
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.

Yeah, didn't signal my transition to raksasha more clearly, but I'm still not against elementals being more tightly bound to alignment than mortals.

Raksashas are fiends, ones that for most editions weren't extraplanar but still embodiments of Evil in flesh. That is my hard line on alignment: if literal fiends aren't always* evil, why call them fiends? Make then monstrosities like minotaurs or medusas.

* 99.9%
 

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?
I mean, I'm still pretty thoroughly in the "devils and demons are Basically Always Evil" camp, I just believe that if you're gonna do that, you need to do your homework. Explain why they are. I've come up with three answers to the question thus far. Others may exist.

You've almost certainly heard my Jewel of the Desert spiel, so I'll spare you (this time). "Always evil because they fought an infinite war for the right to be always evil" actually puts something down; it shows how these beings can be both intelligent and capable of understanding that their deeds are evil, without compromising the absoluteness. Even the one exception, a succubus who turned away from that...only did so because she changed what she was by doing it.

The second answer, that I proposed some time ago but haven't used yet, was a "redemption is hard" perspective. There's a stairway in Hell. It goes directly to Heaven. Climbing it means admitting your sins and guilt and the horrors you've done, and truly coming to terms with all of that stuff. It's a long, difficult climb--but the beings of Hell have all eternity to climb it, and never truly grow tired, so they can just keep climbing for however long it takes. Once you reach the top, you've earned your forgiveness; truly completing the journey (which cannot be skipped or sped up by anything, not outside aid, not magic, nothing) makes you ready to enter Heaven. The celestials rejoice greatly each time a soul comes out the top...because that's tragically rare. The problem is twofold. First, redemption is hard, and hurts, and takes time, time you have to be constantly working, never giving up even when it seems hopeless and the cavalcade of your misdeeds seems to stretch off eternally. Second, it's so easy to just...maybe back off for now and try again later. You can only reach the top once, but you can try as often as you like...so...maybe just spend a little time in Hell, work up your strength first. Except the only way to not suffer in Hell is to do some pretty nasty things; the only way to thrive in Hell is to do outright awful evil. Any devils powerful enough to contact the mortal world have long since given up any thought of ascending the Stairway to Heaven--for them, it would take eons, and mean sacrificing all the power they've built up.

Third answer is less interesting IMO, but has its potential uses. All outsiders are, effectively, magic AIs. They can't be reprogrammed, they just...are what they are. They can think rationally, but they aren't really "good" or "evil" in behavior so much as "good energy with a hardwired Good AI" or the like. So they can do a lot of things that look like good or evil, but realistically, they're just doing what they're programmed to do by reality itself, and are kinda objects of pity as a result. Perhaps justify it with something like an Ahura Mazda/Angra Mainyu kind of split, where there was a Big Good deity and a Big Evil deity (and Big Chaos etc. if you like) and these beings broke down into smaller pieces; they don't really have a choice because they're the tiny bits and pieces of a much grander but currently non-present entity.

My first and second answers explain why these beings are still moral agents who can be held responsible for their behavior, while still sticking to the notion that, if you meet an X, you can know it's got alignment Q--having alignment Q is a prerequisite for being an X, not a consequence of being one. The third accepts that these beings aren't actually moral creatures at all, and in a sense aren't even creatures with "behavior" in the proper sense; they don't "choose" anything, they just act out their defined nature, and thus should be opposed, but can't really be held responsible for the stuff they do, any more than an entity appearing in Conway's Game of Life has "responsibility" for what it does.
 


Remathilis

Legend
I suspect they haven't followed suit because they're worried about social blowback if it's not to everyone's liking. The whole thing with ToA has made them extremely gunshy about approaching other cultures at all.
I guess meant: I'm surprised it didn't happen in the honeymoon period between three start of 5e and ToA when it was still making the old mistakes.

Guess there just wasn't enough time.
 

I guess meant: I'm surprised it didn't happen in the honeymoon period between three start of 5e and ToA when it was still making the old mistakes.

Guess there just wasn't enough time.
Yeah. Thank goodness they've moved on from well-intentioned if un-nuanced lore to the superior no lore position.
 

Voranzovin

Explorer
I mean, I'm still pretty thoroughly in the "devils and demons are Basically Always Evil" camp, I just believe that if you're gonna do that, you need to do your homework. Explain why they are. I've come up with three answers to the question thus far. Others may exist.
I'll add a fourth option, which I use in my campaigns: all beings from the outer planes both create and are created by humanoid moral choices. A fiend isn't just a being that happens to be evil. It's the concepts of hatred, tyranny, selfishness, and malevolence themselves, made flesh. That's why there are cities in the Abyss, even though demons don't have commerce or agriculture--humanoids build cities, so their dark reflections do too.

If you successfully slay a demon--not just send it back to the Abyss, but actually destroy it--then you've actually lowered the amount of hatred and destructive rage in the world, if only by a small amount. If you destroy a devil, the humanoid drive to tyranny and domination is just a little bit less evident. If you actually managed to destroy Asmodeus (which you won't) and prevent something else from taking his place (even more unlikely), you might create massive changes on the prime material plane, causing whole societies to change their alignment.

Basically, the point of the outer planes (for me) is to be able to literalize concepts like "hate" and then hit them with a sword.
 

Bluebell

Villager
Well, the latest season of Critical Role got accused of cultural appropriation for setting the campaign in that part of the setting…
I think that goes back to needing more diversity on the writing/creating side. CR, for all that I love it, is written by a white DM and played on screen by majority white players (Robbie Daymond and other rotating guests being notable exceptions). I have a lot of respect for Matt Mercer and I think he is extremely well-meaning, but he's still making blunders purely from having massive blind spots as a white guy. That doesn't mean that they're wrong for trying, but it does mean some extra care is needed to fill those gaps, whether it's on the WoC side hiring more writers or on the CR side perhaps hiring some diversity readers to advise them.

Again, this wouldn't be such a problem if CR weren't the biggest DnD show out there, and also now directly affiliated with WoC so that everything they produce is becoming official content.
 

I'll add a fourth option, which I use in my campaigns: all beings from the outer planes both create and are created by humanoid moral choices. A fiend isn't just a being that happens to be evil. It's the concepts of hatred, tyranny, selfishness, and malevolence themselves, made flesh. That's why there are cities in the Abyss, even though demons don't have commerce or agriculture--humanoids build cities, so their dark reflections do too.

If you successfully slay a demon--not just send it back to the Abyss, but actually destroy it--then you've actually lowered the amount of hatred and destructive rage in the world, if only by a small amount. If you destroy a devil, the humanoid drive to tyranny and domination is just a little bit less evident. If you actually managed to destroy Asmodeus (which you won't) and prevent something else from taking his place (even more unlikely), you might create massive changes on the prime material plane, causing whole societies to change their alignment.

Basically, the point of the outer planes (for me) is to be able to literalize concepts like "hate" and then hit them with a sword.
Perfectly cromulent. I just prefer the 4e cosmology, where stuff like that is how deities and their servants work--aka angels, and the fallen angels known as devils. Kill a deity, and you don't totally destroy that concept, but you radically weaken it in existence. Kill Asmodeus and you'd make tyranny itself weaker, accelerating the demise of corrupt regimes and potentially triggering an age of freedom and self-determination. Kill Tiamat and you'd weaken the forces of greed and vengeance, leading to an overall kinder, gentler, more generous world, at least for a time. Deities may die but the concepts they embody live on. To quote a certain knight of a frigid land, "Dreams worth fighting for don't die so easily."

But, again: perfectly cromulent. Devils and demons as embodiments of the ills of the world is well-attested in myth, legend, and creed alike.
 

Well, the latest season of Critical Role got accused of cultural appropriation for setting the campaign in that part of the setting…
My understanding is that Critical Role was criticized for that when that part of the setting was featured in the first Campaign and people were expecting the same thing for the new Campaign, but hardly anything so far has really sold the setting as non-European inspired in Campaign 3 other than there being a jungle surrounding the city and the local guards riding simurghs.

As far as Call of the Netherdeep is concerned a WotC writer named Makenzie de Armas worked on it and says that she drew on her own heritage while writing for it.
 
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Voranzovin

Explorer
Perfectly cromulent. I just prefer the 4e cosmology, where stuff like that is how deities and their servants work--aka angels, and the fallen angels known as devils. Kill a deity, and you don't totally destroy that concept, but you radically weaken it in existence. Kill Asmodeus and you'd make tyranny itself weaker, accelerating the demise of corrupt regimes and potentially triggering an age of freedom and self-determination. Kill Tiamat and you'd weaken the forces of greed and vengeance, leading to an overall kinder, gentler, more generous world, at least for a time. Deities may die but the concepts they embody live on. To quote a certain knight of a frigid land, "Dreams worth fighting for don't die so easily."

But, again: perfectly cromulent. Devils and demons as embodiments of the ills of the world is well-attested in myth, legend, and creed alike.
Absolutely--that's pretty much what I was describing. If you destroyed Asmodeus, you might usher in a golden age of liberty. Maybe it would last for a hundred years, but it wouldn't last forever. The concept of tyranny can never be truly destroyed. It would still matter a lot to all the people who would otherwise have lived under repressive regimes during that time though!
 

Perfectly cromulent. I just prefer the 4e cosmology, where stuff like that is how deities and their servants work--aka angels, and the fallen angels known as devils. Kill a deity, and you don't totally destroy that concept, but you radically weaken it in existence. Kill Asmodeus and you'd make tyranny itself weaker, accelerating the demise of corrupt regimes and potentially triggering an age of freedom and self-determination. Kill Tiamat and you'd weaken the forces of greed and vengeance, leading to an overall kinder, gentler, more generous world, at least for a time. Deities may die but the concepts they embody live on. To quote a certain knight of a frigid land, "Dreams worth fighting for don't die so easily."
I don't know if 4E invented that concept, but I will say when I read the ending of the Scales of War adventure path I found the fall out of destroying Tiamat in her own lair very inspiring. Killing the goddess of greed didn't just destroy a powerful mastermind, but actually made mortals less greedy and more charitable (while also opening up the possibility of some other being taking over as the god of greed eventually).

Bahamut regards you kindly with his platinum eyes. “When you killed Tiamat, you didn’t just defeat a god. You defeated the very wellspring of greed and envy. This doesn’t mean the end of money, but gold coins are now merely a medium of exchange. No one wants gold coins or other riches for their own sake. That’s why Magister Tulm gives away his extra wealth: He can no longer fathom a reason to keep it. It’s not strictly out of the goodness of his heart, but because he no longer has the concept of greed."
 

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