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General Two underlying truths: D&D heritage and inclusivity

It must be pick on Oofta week?
Imagine if all these posts went into making a new ancestry guide for sale on the Guild or DriveThru. It would be the 1000 page supplement that might have made a change.
Instead, we get tons of rhetoric, pointing out fallacies, and not a single mind changed.
Productivity makes change. Collaboration makes change. Debating does not make change. It is like masturbation - it can be fun, but it doesn't create anything.
So I propose instead of spending all this time debating that you guys get together (zoom facetime, whetever), propose your ideas, and start writing. You can even share ideas and help edit each other's work. Seems like a lot more fun than the last four threads.
 

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jasper

Rotten DM
Margaret St Clair, The Shadow People (1969), cited in Appendix N, is also a possible source. Here it is discussed in the Advanced Readings in D&D series.
haaa. Tim is upset by.."Maybe it’s the decaying paper with the sickly-green-tinted edges, " ....... How old is he? I bought books in 70s which still tinted the edges. I had bought used books printed in the 60s with green tinted edges, and others with red tinted edges. Now if some one wants to tell me why the publishers in the 60s did this, I would thank them.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Aleena died for your sins.
Margaret St Clair, The Shadow People (1969), cited in Appendix N, is also a possible source. Here it is discussed in the Advanced Readings in D&D series.
You're doing some great sourcing, but I disagree with a lot of what is being said about Drow origins. Since I don't want to either derail this thread, or get the Drow issue derailed by Orcs (!), I will post a separate thread with my thoughts on Drow origins and the sourcing.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
This seems to say more about your own prejudices than it does about Eberron’s orcs. I’m not sure if I have heard Gaming Latinxs point to Eberron’s orcs as an example of racist rhetoric or that they share any cultural resemblances. Some I’m curious how you made the leap to how orcs in Eberron are described and Latinx peoples.
Huh. Almost like how I think people read things into the majority of the descriptions of orcs in the MM that I don't see. Also similar to how I've never had a black player complain about the depiction of orcs. :unsure:

But if you care (I'm sure it's not going to make a difference) I grabbed a copy of Baker's thoughts on orcs and highlighted some things.

While they aren’t as directly animalistic as shifters, I see orcs as a very primal race. They’re extremely passionate and emotional; this can manifest as aggression or rage, but it’s just as strong when it comes to loyalty, affection and faith. They believe in things intensely. This led to them being the first druids on Khorvaire and having one of the oldest sects of the Silver Flame – the Ghaash’kala guardians of the Demon Wastes. But they’re also highly individualistic… leaning more towards chaos than law. They are very effective in small tribes or family groups, where they all know each other and are working together… but they aren’t good with faceless authority, blind obedience, or being part of a huge infrastructure. This is one of the main reasons the orcs never dominated Khorvaire. They are barbarians by nature. They have no innate desire to build vast cities or organize huge armies; the small tribe is what they are comfortable with. This led to their being pushed into the fringes of Khorvaire by the Dhakaani goblins, and that’s where this linger to this day. If the goblins are like ants or wasps, orcs are like wolves: fierce, loyal to their pack, but not inclined to form into a massive legion of wolves and conquer the world.

In playing an orc – whether as a player or DM – I’d emphasize this primal and passionate nature. They feel emotions strongly, and are quick to anger but equally quick to celebrate. They believe things deeply, and can be very spiritual. As an orc, you’re loyal to your pack – whether that’s your family or your adventuring companions – and quick to distrust massive, faceless forces and invisible authority. This may seem at odds with the idea of strong faith, but they’re equally distrustful of monolithic organized religions. The Ghaash’kala are one of the oldest sects of the Silver Flame, but they operate in small clans and have never formed the sort of political hierarchy that you see in the Church of the Silver Flame. So as an orc, follow your heart; explore your faith; be true to your friends and suspicious of those who would tell you what to do.

If I just took the words I bolded I'm sure you could match it up to some stereotypes. But maybe if I keep repeating it and then saying "I've already proven..." it will make a difference? No?
 

Again, nothing wrong with your damsel story if a given group wants to play out a classic fairy tale story. If they want to they can subvert it and make it a dude in distress, who marries the successful warrior woman. The problem only arises when it becomes the default mode, or implies that women must be helpless damsels.

Not sure what your sister has to do with this?
Because she is the one at the table, not Jung, not a cultural anthropologist dissecting old stories. A woman who would find this story farcical at best.

You again seem to be missing the point. You asked, "why should we not keep every trope and story DnD has ever told" (summarizing innaccurately, I know) and my response was to point out that some of those tropes and stories are just bad and hold no value beyond historical or scholarly value.

And historical and scholarly value is not what we are at the table to play.

We can't erase the history, or remove these stories from every library on the planet, all we are talking about is not writing them down in the books released for the game. You could still go to your local library, get a copy of Sleeping Beauty, and put it in your game as an adventure, but why should the game present it to you as a possible trope?



I get your point. We seemingly enjoy different things in a RPG book, maybe along fluff/crunch lines. But there's another aspect that I want to highlight: discussing the history provides context to understand how orcs have been depicted in a variety of ways and can be customized to your game.

As for the second paragraph, this highlights the differences expressed in this thread and drawing a connection between orcs and racism. I can't speak for everyone, but I think the vast majority of those arguing for the inclusion of "traditional orcs" don't agree with that interpretation and want an option for such orcs. The Big Tent honors both sides (if we must use sides). It says: "here are a variety of orcs; orcs are like people, they can be good or bad and everything in-between. We'll give you some options for a bit of each, so you can decide how they are in your world."
Sure discussing the history is great. But I'd rather it be in a history book than my rulebook.

And, since I am proposing we make orcs people, that they could be good or bad or anything in-between, I'm curious why you think the side who is proposing we change nothing because it is fine would accept that.

I mean, we didn't need examples or options for evil human organizations, did we? We've had evil dwarven groups before and we didn't need examples to explain how and why dwarves can be evil.

I think the very fact you feel that we need to explain that orcs are people, and give examples of good and bad orcs, shows the problem in stark relief. Because we've never needed to do that for any of the "civilized races".

I don't know how I can be much clearer. I think some of the wording and imagery around orcs (and a few other humanoids) can and should be changed. Period. On the other hand, I think having the option of some black and white, good and evil is important to the game. Also give people the option of everything being morally gray and mushy like the real world or options for in between.

I think certain monsters being evil for supernatural or mythical reasons is better than limiting certain creatures are evil based on a specific culture and religion. If you do the latter it starts sounding a lot like "those [insert religion] from [insert region] are all evil, radical terrorists". Again, if that's what you want it should be an option, I just don't think it should be the only option.

Somebody mentioned Eberron's orcs as an example of a "good" depiction. I looked at it and thought "Just like that stereotype of Latinos. Passionate, dedicated to family and church but not very industrious (e.g. lazy)." Most races in D&D end up starting out with a caricature of some aspect of real world people because we can only describe non human creatures from our frame of reference.

But I also have a bad habit of trying to respond to people who address me or ask questions which means the wheels on the bus go round and round pretty much forever. Have a good one.

Do you have evil organizations of humans in your game? Anywhere? Thieve's Guild, Death Cult, Iron Legions of a Tyranical King, any of it?

If you do, how is making orcs people wit moral complexity going to prevent you from having evil orcs? It didn't prevent you from having evil humans.

And, since the game has half-orcs, the game has to acknowldge orcs as people. Otherwise, the themes of sexual violence are far too strong and problematic, especially with the language around orcs being problematic as is.

I get you want your mindless, black and white morality, just kill them all games. I want those too. Since I've done it with humans, I see no reason I can't do it with orcs.


Huh. Almost like how I think people read things into the majority of the descriptions of orcs in the MM that I don't see. Also similar to how I've never had a black player complain about the depiction of orcs. :unsure:

But if you care (I'm sure it's not going to make a difference) I grabbed a copy of Baker's thoughts on orcs and highlighted some things.

While they aren’t as directly animalistic as shifters, I see orcs as a very primal race. They’re extremely passionate and emotional; this can manifest as aggression or rage, but it’s just as strong when it comes to loyalty, affection and faith. They believe in things intensely. This led to them being the first druids on Khorvaire and having one of the oldest sects of the Silver Flame – the Ghaash’kala guardians of the Demon Wastes. But they’re also highly individualistic… leaning more towards chaos than law. They are very effective in small tribes or family groups, where they all know each other and are working together… but they aren’t good with faceless authority, blind obedience, or being part of a huge infrastructure. This is one of the main reasons the orcs never dominated Khorvaire. They are barbarians by nature. They have no innate desire to build vast cities or organize huge armies; the small tribe is what they are comfortable with. This led to their being pushed into the fringes of Khorvaire by the Dhakaani goblins, and that’s where this linger to this day. If the goblins are like ants or wasps, orcs are like wolves: fierce, loyal to their pack, but not inclined to form into a massive legion of wolves and conquer the world.

In playing an orc – whether as a player or DM – I’d emphasize this primal and passionate nature. They feel emotions strongly, and are quick to anger but equally quick to celebrate. They believe things deeply, and can be very spiritual. As an orc, you’re loyal to your pack – whether that’s your family or your adventuring companions – and quick to distrust massive, faceless forces and invisible authority. This may seem at odds with the idea of strong faith, but they’re equally distrustful of monolithic organized religions. The Ghaash’kala are one of the oldest sects of the Silver Flame, but they operate in small clans and have never formed the sort of political hierarchy that you see in the Church of the Silver Flame. So as an orc, follow your heart; explore your faith; be true to your friends and suspicious of those who would tell you what to do.

If I just took the words I bolded I'm sure you could match it up to some stereotypes. But maybe if I keep repeating it and then saying "I've already proven..." it will make a difference? No?

Yeah, um, you might want to extend those bolded words a bit to include the words next to them.

For example, while you bolded:

"they aren't good with...authority...obedience...being part of a huge infrastructure....no innate desire to build...."

You left out "faceless authority", "blind obedience", "no innate desire to build vast cities or organize huge armies" which adds a bit of context.

In fact, since that no desire to build is where I think you are getting your "laziness" from which is really the bigger sticking point of the trope, I think it is important that context is explored. An orc would have no problem building a house for his family, or building a shrine to the spirits he worships. In fact, since they live in small tribes, they are probably very active since hunting is an activity that takes a lot of time and energy.

What they don't have a desire to do is build a city, or a temple, or conquer a nation. They are actually amusingly enough, fairly similiar to stereotypical hobbits. Very happy with their small community, thank you very much sir.
 

Because she is the one at the table, not Jung, not a cultural anthropologist dissecting old stories. A woman who would find this story farcical at best.

You again seem to be missing the point. You asked, "why should we not keep every trope and story DnD has ever told" (summarizing innaccurately, I know) and my response was to point out that some of those tropes and stories are just bad and hold no value beyond historical or scholarly value.

And historical and scholarly value is not what we are at the table to play.

We can't erase the history, or remove these stories from every library on the planet, all we are talking about is not writing them down in the books released for the game. You could still go to your local library, get a copy of Sleeping Beauty, and put it in your game as an adventure, but why should the game present it to you as a possible trope?





Sure discussing the history is great. But I'd rather it be in a history book than my rulebook.

And, since I am proposing we make orcs people, that they could be good or bad or anything in-between, I'm curious why you think the side who is proposing we change nothing because it is fine would accept that.

I mean, we didn't need examples or options for evil human organizations, did we? We've had evil dwarven groups before and we didn't need examples to explain how and why dwarves can be evil.

I think the very fact you feel that we need to explain that orcs are people, and give examples of good and bad orcs, shows the problem in stark relief. Because we've never needed to do that for any of the "civilized races".




Do you have evil organizations of humans in your game? Anywhere? Thieve's Guild, Death Cult, Iron Legions of a Tyranical King, any of it?

If you do, how is making orcs people wit moral complexity going to prevent you from having evil orcs? It didn't prevent you from having evil humans.

And, since the game has half-orcs, the game has to acknowldge orcs as people. Otherwise, the themes of sexual violence are far too strong and problematic, especially with the language around orcs being problematic as is.

I get you want your mindless, black and white morality, just kill them all games. I want those too. Since I've done it with humans, I see no reason I can't do it with orcs.





Yeah, um, you might want to extend those bolded words a bit to include the words next to them.

For example, while you bolded:

"they aren't good with...authority...obedience...being part of a huge infrastructure....no innate desire to build...."

You left out "faceless authority", "blind obedience", "no innate desire to build vast cities or organize huge armies" which adds a bit of context.

In fact, since that no desire to build is where I think you are getting your "laziness" from which is really the bigger sticking point of the trope, I think it is important that context is explored. An orc would have no problem building a house for his family, or building a shrine to the spirits he worships. In fact, since they live in small tribes, they are probably very active since hunting is an activity that takes a lot of time and energy.

What they don't have a desire to do is build a city, or a temple, or conquer a nation. They are actually amusingly enough, fairly similiar to stereotypical hobbits. Very happy with their small community, thank you very much sir.
Whatever needs to be done to push a certain narrative.
 

Aldarc

Legend
What they don't have a desire to do is build a city, or a temple, or conquer a nation. They are actually amusingly enough, fairly similiar to stereotypical hobbits. Very happy with their small community, thank you very much sir.
Clearly Tolkien based his Hobbits on Latinxs then. ;)
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Kind of funny how one person's interpretation and association of an orc to one ethnicity is a joke that can be dismissed out of hand, while another's is serious and taken at face value and spawns thousands of posts.

Almost like people can read things into text if they want to whether there's actually a connection or not. :unsure:
 


Aldarc

Legend
Kind of funny how one person's interpretation and association of an orc to one ethnicity is a joke that can be dismissed out of hand, while another's is serious and taken at face value and spawns thousands of posts.

Almost like people can read things into text if they want to whether there's actually a connection or not. :unsure:
Your posting history on this topic makes me skeptical that you are arguing any of this in good faith though. I have seen what you have written in this thread and others, as well as the comments that you chose to like, a number of whom come from posters were banned from threads and the forum for anti-inclusive and offensive comments who had less than savory things to say on this matter. So pardon me for professing that I would be more willing to engage your post with greater attention if your thoughts on this matter evidenced sincerity and good will. But I do think that @Chaosmancer responded adequately enough with an apt comparison to Hobbits.
 

Derren

Hero
Kind of funny how one person's interpretation and association of an orc to one ethnicity is a joke that can be dismissed out of hand, while another's is serious and taken at face value and spawns thousands of posts.

Almost like people can read things into text if they want to whether there's actually a connection or not. :unsure:
Considering that they are now attacking your personally shows that you are on to something. Not that it isn't completely obvious to everyone by now.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Considering that they are now attacking your personally shows that you are on to something. Not that it isn't completely obvious to everyone by now.
And just precisely what, in your own words, do you think is that something that he is on to? :unsure:

Do you honestly believe that the orcs of Eberron are based on or share significant enough cultural affinities with Latinxs while also utilizing racially problematic rhetoric? I would point out that no one really argued that orcs in D&D represented a particular ethnicity. What people did argue is that the language used to discuss orcs shares affinities with the dehumanizing language of white supremacists.
 

Doug McCrae

Legend
The Baker quotation looks a lot closer to the noble savage trope than to stereotypes of latinx people. Baker's orcs are like Conan - "barbarians by nature", passionate, non-urban, individualistic, reject authority and large organisations. Or the aliens in Avatar - non-Christian but this is seen in a positive light as "spiritual".

Latinx people otoh are stereotyped as dangerous criminals, illegal immigrants, simultaneously hard working and lazy. Latinx women are sexualised. There is a fear that Latinx, and other dark-skinned people, are outbreeding and therefore replacing white people.

Latinx people are considered to be mostly Roman Catholic so this part doesn't fit at all:
Keith Baker said:
This may seem at odds with the idea of strong faith, but they’re equally distrustful of monolithic organized religions. The Ghaash’kala are one of the oldest sects of the Silver Flame, but they operate in small clans and have never formed the sort of political hierarchy that you see in the Church of the Silver Flame.
This is part of the American national identity:
Keith Baker said:
they aren’t good with faceless authority, blind obedience, or being part of a huge infrastructure... quick to distrust massive, faceless forces and invisible authority
Latinx stereotypes are mostly about fear and threat - criminality, stealing jobs, replacement. Baker's account of orcs presents them in a fairly positive way. They are uncivilised, non-urban, close-to-nature, emotional, but basically good people - spiritual, free spirited and independent. That's the noble savage.
 
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Mercurius

Legend
Because she is the one at the table, not Jung, not a cultural anthropologist dissecting old stories. A woman who would find this story farcical at best.
So don't play it at your table. Simple enough. But should you and your table determine what WotC produces? What other groups use in their games?

You again seem to be missing the point. You asked, "why should we not keep every trope and story DnD has ever told" (summarizing innaccurately, I know) and my response was to point out that some of those tropes and stories are just bad and hold no value beyond historical or scholarly value.

And historical and scholarly value is not what we are at the table to play.

We can't erase the history, or remove these stories from every library on the planet, all we are talking about is not writing them down in the books released for the game. You could still go to your local library, get a copy of Sleeping Beauty, and put it in your game as an adventure, but why should the game present it to you as a possible trope?
I get your point, I just see it differently. I'll say it again: There is nothing wrong with the damsel in distress if it is within a larger context of a variety of tropes, "one trope among many."


Sure discussing the history is great. But I'd rather it be in a history book than my rulebook.

And, since I am proposing we make orcs people, that they could be good or bad or anything in-between, I'm curious why you think the side who is proposing we change nothing because it is fine would accept that.
There are extremists on both sides who won't budge one bit from their "my way or the highway" approach, but you're speaking with someone who doesn't buy the "orcs are racist" thing, and I've made suggestions just to that effect: broaden the scope of orcs so that they include a variety of possible depictions.

I mean, we didn't need examples or options for evil human organizations, did we? We've had evil dwarven groups before and we didn't need examples to explain how and why dwarves can be evil.
Duergar? Should we get rid of those, too?

I think the very fact you feel that we need to explain that orcs are people, and give examples of good and bad orcs, shows the problem in stark relief. Because we've never needed to do that for any of the "civilized races".
Yes, because orcs weren't originally conceived of as a civilized race.

Do you have evil organizations of humans in your game? Anywhere? Thieve's Guild, Death Cult, Iron Legions of a Tyranical King, any of it?

If you do, how is making orcs people wit moral complexity going to prevent you from having evil orcs? It didn't prevent you from having evil humans.

And, since the game has half-orcs, the game has to acknowldge orcs as people. Otherwise, the themes of sexual violence are far too strong and problematic, especially with the language around orcs being problematic as is.

I get you want your mindless, black and white morality, just kill them all games. I want those too. Since I've done it with humans, I see no reason I can't do it with orcs.
All of which I agree with and have suggested as much. Again (and again): broaden orcs to include a variety of depictions.
 

Kind of funny how one person's interpretation and association of an orc to one ethnicity is a joke that can be dismissed out of hand, while another's is serious and taken at face value and spawns thousands of posts.

Almost like people can read things into text if they want to whether there's actually a connection or not. :unsure:
It's like you can't read quotes, or do anything except cut-paste half of the story. Most of the words you emboldened were followed or preceded by words to put them in context.

Also, most of the words you did embolden don't point to hispanic stereotypes, they fit Americans in general better than hispanics, IMO, but I don't think Keith Baker based his orcs on any existing culture, but instead took all the good stereotypes of Orcs in Forgotten Realms and the other settings, and threw out the bad ones, like the evilness and Gruumsh cults.

Americans stereotypically are:
  • extremely passionate and emotional that can often manifest as rage or aggression
  • Strength is important to them
  • Loyalty, affection and faith are important to them
  • Aren't good at faceless authority, blind obedience, or being part of a large infrastructure.
  • Quick to anger and celebration
  • Very spiritual.
And this fits the Eberron orcs better than latinos, IMO.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
My point is that people read into text what they want to see. The Eberron orcs are still caricatures of a certain personality and quite monolithic in how they act and think. Just like pretty much all non-human races in D&D.

It's funny - I do have some issues with the descriptions of orcs. But to me it's more indigenous peoples than black people. Probably because of all those old westerns my dad used to watch when Apaches were always murderous thugs.

That's all. Oh, and heaven forbid anyone have a different opinion on what the issue is and how to fix it.
 

My point is that people read into text what they want to see. The Eberron orcs are still caricatures of a certain personality and quite monolithic in how they act and think. Just like pretty much all non-human races in D&D.

It's funny - I do have some issues with the descriptions of orcs. But to me it's more indigenous peoples than black people. Probably because of all those old westerns my dad used to watch when Apaches were always murderous thugs.

That's all. Oh, and heaven forbid anyone have a different opinion on what the issue is and how to fix it.
We don't know what exactly caused WotC to change their depictions of orcs in upcoming books, but they've already made up their mind, and will be changing it. Arguing against the root of the change is arguing against the change, and minimizing how people feel about their depictions in other settings by saying Eberron Orcs can be seen as racist, too, isn't going to help.
 

So don't play it at your table. Simple enough. But should you and your table determine what WotC produces? What other groups use in their games?
Well, since that steroetype is "women" I think that is a rather large enough population of the world that WoTC should consider their opinions.


I get your point, I just see it differently. I'll say it again: There is nothing wrong with the damsel in distress if it is within a larger context of a variety of tropes, "one trope among many."
Sure, one trope among many, but why publish it at all? Seriously, is there some "here are the tropes for DnD" book that I'm not aware of?

You seem to think that just making a big list and saying "here are all the tropes of human storytelling, from the innocent, the grand, the racist and the misgynistic, pick what you like" somehow makes things okay. But not only does that still not make the bad tropes okay, we've never once created a book like that for DnD, so why do it now?

If people are interested in the history, they will research the history, we don't need to publish the entire history in every new book.



There are extremists on both sides who won't budge one bit from their "my way or the highway" approach, but you're speaking with someone who doesn't buy the "orcs are racist" thing, and I've made suggestions just to that effect: broaden the scope of orcs so that they include a variety of possible depictions.
Right, make them people. Make them more complex than just "all orcs in all worlds are X". That is the proposed solution, but people don't want us to take their orcs from some 60 year old magazine away from them. But we aren't, we are changing things going forwards.


Duergar? Should we get rid of those, too?
Yes but for entirely different reasons.

The story of the Duergar is that they were dwarves who were tricked into mental slavery, but since they didn't worship Moradin on his holy day (because, you know, the slave masters who controlled their brains wouldn't let them) Moradin abandoned them as unfaithful and cast them out. And, they ended up having to save themselves, their new god being the hero who freed them from slavery

They are evil for hating and attacking the dwarves... which seems completely justified since the dwarves and Moradin essentially abadoned them to slavery and torment for centuries and are blaming the Duergar for what happened to them.


So yeah, I'm all for excising the Duergar entirely.
 

Doug McCrae

Legend
It's funny - I do have some issues with the descriptions of orcs. But to me it's more indigenous peoples than black people. Probably because of all those old westerns my dad used to watch when Apaches were always murderous thugs.
I agree with this, though I'd extend the comparison to all the evil, tribal, primitive humanoids in D&D.

It's been said many times that D&D is the "Wild West with swords". In fact a Google search on 'd&d "wild west with swords"' gives 2750 results. If that's true, then who are the "Red Indians"?
 

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