D&D General Two underlying truths: D&D heritage and inclusivity

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It says half-orcs who are weaker end up dead, but that human blood often gives them cunning (more intelligence) and self-discipline (implying orcs are unable to control themselves) to go far.

It doesn't say the human blood is what gives them the cunning. It says that the human blood gives the the right mix of cunning, ambition and self-control. Orcs are cunning and the most cunning orcs become the war chiefs(from the MM). I think the cunning comes from the orc side, as I have often seen cunning used to describe creatures that aren't necessarily smart, but can still be tricky. Animals are often described as cunning. Had it said intelligence, knowing that orcs have a penalty, I would probably agree with you.
 

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Valchrys

Villager
As for color-coded dragons it is both problematic and stupid. Dragons are actually the other classic example, where people discover a clutch of dragon eggs and the debate comes on. They are Blue Dragons, can you raise them to be good, or will they always turn out evil. Is it safer to kill them as babies now so they don't kill later, ect ect ect.

Also, if a dragon lands outside of town, I don't want the color of it's scales to tell people whether or not it is an ally.

So, instead, I made them practically elementals. You don't see a Red Dragon or a Gold Dragon, you see a dragon of boiling rock and writhing flames, stone-like scales wrapped around a white-hot core. Prevents a whole lot of issues.

Dragons have an interesting model that could be useful in creating another angle in understanding the problem with orcs. On reading this post, I wondered why dragons can't change their color. The answer, ofc, is that D&D is founded on nature over nurture and this notion is cemented in the various racial gods. But dragons have two counterweight gods, Tiamat and Bahamut. Why couldn't the dragon's color not correspond to their chosen god? This keeps the lore intact while letting dragons have a choice. But dragons aren't the problem, I know.

This same idea works for Drow. An elf chooses to be a high (or whatever) elf or chooses to be a Drow because they have counter weight gods, Lolth and Corellon. It doesn't fix the black skin but it keeps the lore intact, I think. This also fits with what makes an elf an elf which is that they can choose to be whatever they want, whenever they want.

Orcs don't have counter weight gods in the default setting. Luthic doesn't counter Gruumsh. She would need to a be a stronger voice but she could be a starting point to giving orcs meaningful choices. Other people have talked about changing gods and I'm not saying anything new. But I thought looking at the problem from the angle of dragons might be helpful.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Dragons have an interesting model that could be useful in creating another angle in understanding the problem with orcs. On reading this post, I wondered why dragons can't change their color. The answer, ofc, is that D&D is founded on nature over nurture and this notion is cemented in the various racial gods. But dragons have two counterweight gods, Tiamat and Bahamut. Why couldn't the dragon's color not correspond to their chosen god? This keeps the lore intact while letting dragons have a choice. But dragons aren't the problem, I know.

This same idea works for Drow. An elf chooses to be a high (or whatever) elf or chooses to be a Drow because they have counter weight gods, Lolth and Corellon. It doesn't fix the black skin but it keeps the lore intact, I think. This also fits with what makes an elf an elf which is that they can choose to be whatever they want, whenever they want.

Orcs don't have counter weight gods in the default setting. Luthic doesn't counter Gruumsh. She would need to a be a stronger voice but she could be a starting point to giving orcs meaningful choices. Other people have talked about changing gods and I'm not saying anything new. But I thought looking at the problem from the angle of dragons might be helpful.


Hmm, that is an interesting route to take. I'd want there to be a more solid link between Green Dragons and something else, but that is a fun idea to have dragons essentially have two colors, depending on their alignment.

When I first started messing with the Drow, I did a bit where the Goddess that used to be Lolth intercepted a massive blast of energy from a portal to the Far Realms. She was twisted and went mad, and the elves in that city were literally "coated" in her shadow. There society was a bit Addams family and I found it fun.

Now I'm more leaning on having all elves be broken into sects, focusing on different styles of magic. Still in a very conceptual phase though.


And, Luthic is actually a great way to counter-blanaced Gruumsh. In Volo's when they talk about the war between Gruumsh and Magbuliyet they mention that it is very possible that the war will be decided by Luthic getting involved, because Mag's has never faced a foe as determined and fearsome as the Cave Mother. She is devoted to Gruumsh though, but if there is a schism, she would be a great balancing force.
 

I'm kind of in favor of a dragon being able to have any alignment, regardless of its color. In my homebrew setting, dragons aren't born evil at all. But as they grow older, they accumilate more injuries and may grow spiteful and dangerous. They are basically creatures wracked by constant pain, and yet they don't die, so they become cranky to a lethal degree. I've always liked this take on dragon alignment more than the rules as written.
 


5atbu

Explorer
Last I checked, cows and pigs are fleshy and we eat them all the time.

I see cannibalism in the more narrow definition: the act of eating one's own species. Thus, a Dwarf eating an Elf would not be cannibalism (Elf might in fact be standard fare for a Thursday!) but a Dwarf eating a Dwarf would be.

If it's expanded to include the eating of any "kindred" creature, the implication is that those creatures are much more similar than different; and while that does seem to be the general push of late I'm not particularly on board with it.
I think a multi sapients society would have probably decided if eating a sapient species was taboo. I also bet they would have many many different views on it.
 

Mercule

Adventurer
First of all, I have no idea why you feel the need to mention them eating their young.
Your point just got me thinking, "Hmm... what would raising offspring look like if the race was inherently evil. What would removing parental love from the equation look like?" Eating their young was one thing that comes from that.

Secondly, why ask me what the difference between them and the other evil races is if you are just going to dismiss it?
I didn't dismiss it so much as show how it'd look. Why do you keep dismissing a made up premise for a made up species?

See, I don't think you should have Half-Orcs in settings where orcs are born evil. Because that is problematic.
I think the rape aspect has been acknowledged as problematic for a long, long time. Pretty sure that's why they were taken out of 2E. Other than that ("other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"), I don't see why half-orcs are problematic in a world where orcs are born bad.

I also, don't really like half-orcs and half-elves as storytelling concepts. I always have to mess with them, because the idea of "born of two worlds and not accepted by either", while something a lot of people struggle with, always felt... I don't know. I want the world to be better than that.
Oh, I agree. I actually really hate the half races and generally exclude them from my home brew settings because they raise questions that don't have good answers outside Tolkien. My response to your question wasn't intended as justification for half-orcs, in general. It was nothing more than an answer that accepted that half-orcs existed and orcs are "born bad" and how I would work within those constraints.
 


Doug McCrae

Legend
I think the rape aspect has been acknowledged as problematic for a long, long time. Pretty sure that's why they were taken out of 2E.
I think they were removed for much the same reason as the assassin class, demons and devils - fears over anything associated with evil, particularly evil PC options, following the Satanic Panic. Sexual violence in fiction was much less of a concern in the 80s than it is now.
 

Hussar

Legend
/snip

If you think orcs are somehow different and special, fine. You're entitled. I just think that slapping an artificial classification on an artificial monster to justify it doesn't help the argument any.

Again, let me ask, is anyone saying that any of the descriptions of those other creatures mirror the racist descriptions of real world peoples? No? Then, well, you just discovered the problem.

There's a reason no one is complaining about centaurs or bullywugs. THEY DON'T USE RACIST LANGUAGE IN THEIR DESCRIPTION.

Is that clear enough? No one is saying to change the "classification" (whatever that means) or being artificial about anything. All that is being said is to change the description to use language that does not mirror the real world language of racism. Is that really that difficult to understand? It's been repeated ad nauseam. Look at the solutions that have been brought up in this thread. NONE of them talk about reclassifying anything. None of them talk about radical changes to anything. ALL of them talk about minor changes to the language to excise the racist language being used.

Do people just not bother reading any of the solutions being brought up?
 

Hussar

Legend
Oh, and here's the text from the 3.5e description of half orc:

Half-orcs tend to be short-tempered and sullen. They would rather act than ponder and would rather fight than argue. Those who are successful, however, are those with enough self-control to live in a civilized land, not the crazy ones.

Ummm, are folks still not seeing the issue here?

Note, look at the 5e description of half elves. They are described as having the best of both heritages. So, when you mix elf and human, you get a better elf AND a better human. But, mix an orc with a human and you get a better orc. :erm:
 

Oofta

Legend
Again, let me ask, is anyone saying that any of the descriptions of those other creatures mirror the racist descriptions of real world peoples? No? Then, well, you just discovered the problem.

There's a reason no one is complaining about centaurs or bullywugs. THEY DON'T USE RACIST LANGUAGE IN THEIR DESCRIPTION.

Is that clear enough? No one is saying to change the "classification" (whatever that means) or being artificial about anything. All that is being said is to change the description to use language that does not mirror the real world language of racism. Is that really that difficult to understand? It's been repeated ad nauseam. Look at the solutions that have been brought up in this thread. NONE of them talk about reclassifying anything. None of them talk about radical changes to anything. ALL of them talk about minor changes to the language to excise the racist language being used.

Do people just not bother reading any of the solutions being brought up?

Dude, WHY THE ALL CAPS???

I think the argument about what qualifies a creature as a person got borderline silly. I also think it's a separate issue from the orc issues. IMHO either a person is ... well I just posted so it's not hard to read what I said. I said nothing about the role of orcs in the game.

If we ever discover intelligent alien life will you argue that they are not people because they don't look like humans? What if they don't carry babies the way we do? What if they look like Larry Niven's puppeteers (see below)?

puppeteers.jpg
 

Hussar

Legend
Dude, why the obfuscation side dodges over and over and over?

You asked why Orc ’s are getting special attention. It was answered yet again. But here you are bringing up even more ludicrous examples that have nothing to do with the thread, heritage vs inclusivity in DnD or about the specific issues linked to the topic.

So I figure a few caps are warranted since you are obviously not listening.
 
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Dude, why the obfuscation and naughty word side dodges over and over and over?

You asked why Orc ’s are getting special attention. It was answered yet again. But here you are bringing up even more ludicrous examples that have nothing to do with the thread, heritage vs inclusivity in DnD or about the specific issues linked to the topic.

So I figure a few caps are warranted since you are obviously not listening.
Rightfully used for emphasis.
 

Aldarc

Legend
The issue is about the language and not so much the classification. If there is a MM entry for those puppeteers that uses the rhetoric of white supremacists, then it will likely be changed. Not seeing what the fuss is about. So with that established (again), where would you like to move the goalposts today?
 

Dire Bare

Legend
This same idea works for Drow. An elf chooses to be a high (or whatever) elf or chooses to be a Drow because they have counter weight gods, Lolth and Corellon. It doesn't fix the black skin but it keeps the lore intact, I think. This also fits with what makes an elf an elf which is that they can choose to be whatever they want, whenever they want.

I think having different cultures for each racial option for players to choose from is one of the best ways to combat the racist tropes embedded in the game.

However, the "dark skin equates to evil" issue the drow have won't be solved by essentially letting them choose their skin color. In fact, it makes it worse. One of the problems IRL related to dark skin is within dark-skinned minority communities (hell, even majority communities in certain parts of the world) themselves equate lighter skin with beauty or worth. In America, there is prejudice within black and Hispanic communities based on the relative lightness of skin, this happens in India as well and probably other places as well. There are skin-lightening products marketing towards ethnic groups with traditionally dark skin, and this is yet another issue rising to our collective attention due to the BLM protests this year (but it's a long-standing issue).

One of the relatively cringe-worthy events in the Forgotten Realms series was as the end of the War of the Spider Queen/Lady Penitent series of drow-focused stories. A subset of the drow were redeemed, and as a result their skin-color changed! Apparently, before they were cursed by Corellon way back during the Crown Wars, the pre-drow were a dark-skinned elven race . . . but when cursed their skin color darkened even further to the now classic jet black. When redeemed in recent Realms history, these former drow regained their dark-but-not-quite-as-dark skin color.

The "dark skin equates to evil" trope needs to be broken entirely. Non-drow elves need some darker-skinned ethnicities/cultures, and drow elves need some non-evil cultures, and maybe some diversity in skin color as well. I've never developed anything fully myself, but I've always wanted to add a non-evil drow society to my campaign world totally divorced from the Lolth/Corellon curse story. The evil drow living in the Underdark below the main campaign area would still be a messed up society, but not quite as messed up as is traditional and individual drow would not be auto-evil. Then the adventurers discover a distant culture of above-ground drow who are like, "Lolth who?" and have a functioning, "normal" society.

Again Eberron . . . the treatment of drow in Eberron is AMAZING. They are exotic, dark, maintain a classic feel, but are new, different, and not evil. Dark and often antagonistic, but not evil. We've got scorpion-god worshipping drow who practice scorpion-acid scarification tatoos, we've got fire-magic focused drow with bright red hair living in a volcano, and the Umbragen, an underdark (Khyber) dwelling culture of drow focused on shadow-magic . . . and it's implied there are more drow cultures waiting to be discovered . . . LOVE IT.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Admittedly one problem with drow in Eberron (from what I recall) is that they were created as a slave race for the Giants in the Elvish Civil War and they live in an off-brand Africa/South America. Or broadly speaking, an exotic Southern Hemisphere continent. So there is some potential (again, likely unintentional) racial coding.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Admittedly one problem with drow in Eberron (from what I recall) is that they were created as a slave race for the Giants in the Elvish Civil War and they live in an off-brand Africa/South America. Or broadly speaking, an exotic Southern Hemisphere continent. So there is some potential (again, likely unintentional) racial coding.
Oh yeah. The treatment isn't perfect, but I do feel it's far superior than the classic D&D portrayal. Xen'drik tries to give us the "Dark Continent" feel of Mythic Africa (from a Western perspective) without the racist baggage, but . . . . not entirely successful with that.
 

Oofta

Legend
Dude, why the obfuscation side dodges over and over and over?

You asked why Orc ’s are getting special attention. It was answered yet again. But here you are bringing up even more ludicrous examples that have nothing to do with the thread, heritage vs inclusivity in DnD or about the specific issues linked to the topic.

So I figure a few caps are warranted since you are obviously not listening.
I gave my definition of what a person is. The only obfuscation I see going on is this insistence that racism can only apply to intelligent monsters in the MM that classify as "a person" while saying others are not people because of their shape or other fluff.

If it's wrong to have a racist description of one monster then it should be wrong to have that similarly racist verbiage used about any intelligent monster no matter what the physical description of that monster is.

It has nothing to do with whether the depiction of orcs needs to be altered. Y'all keep talking about subtlety and nuance but when anyone tries to discuss any tangential subtlety or nuance the dreaded all caps come out.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
If everything intelligent is a person, does personhood really mean much in D&D?

Well, everything we currently consider intelligent* on Earth is considered a person. Like seven billion of them. Quite a lot. Does it have much meaning here?

The point of calling something a "person" is to note that it ought to get a certain amount of basic respect, not be made to unnecessarily suffer, and be assumed to have some rights, so long as it holds up its own end of the social contract - life, liberty, and the purfuit of happineff, and such stuff.

You'd prefer that in our game worlds, intelligent beings... not generally get that?

Have you thought through the ethical ramifications of that?




*Not that we actually have a great definition of 'intelligent', but that's really a separate discussion.
 

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