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General Two underlying truths: D&D heritage and inclusivity

A species in a fantasy world, brought into being by an evil god, with a bloodline thinned to the point of having an option to be a player character, with the lore stigma of having ancestors of evil God spawn.
..Is racist?
Forcing a real world judgment on a fantasy concept to create a connection to be far more alike than it is, seems more of a bigoted thought.

Taking that lore away seems a perilous thing, like burning the history of a place because you're the new conqueror. Rewriting a history steeped in Tolkien fantasy, of orcs being fell creations. Drow being beholden to Lolth, etc.

A iteration of that needs to remain. Amending it to including a couple more background concepts of usually-fell races is a better idea than burning away their lore to put something completely different in its place.
sigh

Right, look. Lore is mutable, changeable, and has no bearing on what I was even talking about. You asked how people could find stuff in the PHB harmful. Well, here it is.

Half-Orcs: Mixed blood children of humans and a "low and brutish race". A race who before this edition, likely raped the women who bore half-orc children. The race that is tribal, violent, savage, along with features such as sloping foreheads. If the children are not raised in the violent orcish tribes, they are in the slums.

Tieflings: Also mixed blood, also of an evil race, also living in "the roughest parts" of towns, where they are swindlers, crime lords and thieves.

Both these races are depicted with a dark purple skin tone.

Half-Elves: Mixed blood, but with a good race. Also, the picture is white. Also wearing gold, red, and white clothes. They, like the tieflings and half-orcs don't have a society of their own so they... grow up between both worlds, sometimes forming small communities and being diplomats between their societies.


Additionally, none of the other phb racial options mention poverty or slums or crime at all. The only people specifically called out as poor and potentially criminal are the darker-skinned children of humans and evil races.

And sure, orcs are evil, so of course the children of orcs and humans are discriminated against, given fewer opportunities, and forced to live with lesser means.... but doesn't that sound an awful lot like some real world problems people might have? Might someone who has these real-world problems see this depiction and wonder why, since it is an option for anyone to be a street urchin or criminal, why these two races specifically get called out as such?
 

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TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
Challenging moderation. You’ve been here for ages- discussing moderation in-thread is a big and very old no-no.
Mod Note:

You seem to want to have a discussion over whether slavery is good or bad. It is very hard to see your objection to that statement in any other light.

We are not having that discussion here. If you want to question why slavery is bad, have it on some other forum please.
That's not what I intended to say and am sorry if it sounded like that. I was talking strictly talking about how people felt 'objectionable themes' should be portrayed in published campaign settings and why.
 

Hussar

Legend
I commend to your attention the EnWorld Terms and Rules, especially the paragraph on Be Polite.
I’m sorry but what was impolite about my post? Strongly worded maybe but impolite?

Funny you call me out for board rules yet ignore the “HOA” comment right above mine.

So, would you care to discuss my point? That people are missing the issue? Slavery in DnD has always been depicted as evil. We’ve got four classic modules A1-4 about how the pcs are meant to go put those slavers in the ground.

Does Dark Sun present slavery as good or just? I don’t think so but as I said I’m not that familiar with the setting.

I’ve never read the 2e Rome sourcebook. How is slavery presented there?
 

Hussar

Legend
That's not what I intended to say and am sorry if it sounded like that. I was talking strictly talking about how people felt 'objectionable themes' should be portrayed in published campaign settings and why.
Ok, just to play the slippery slope card for a moment, where does that end?

Let's stick with Romans for a moment. So, in our putative sourcebook about Romans, slavery is presented as good and morally justified. Or, heck, even neutral for that matter. Ok. By the morality of the time, that would be true.

How about pedophilia? After all, that was also perfectly acceptable for the time. Your PC goes to a party, gets offered a little boy for the evening, and this is meant to be perfectly acceptable. After all, it was acceptable for the time.

Ritualized murder? Let's feed folks to the lions and this is presented as good and morally justified.

So on and so forth. You really don't think there's anything wrong with that?

See, there's absolutely nothing wrong with "objectionable themes". That's perfectly fine. What's wrong is presenting "objectionable themes" as morally good. You want to do that in your home game? Great. You want WotC to produce that? Not so great.
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
Ok, just to play the slippery slope card for a moment, where does that end?

Let's stick with Romans for a moment. So, in our putative sourcebook about Romans, slavery is presented as good and morally justified. Or, heck, even neutral for that matter. Ok. By the morality of the time, that would be true.

How about pedophilia? After all, that was also perfectly acceptable for the time. Your PC goes to a party, gets offered a little boy for the evening, and this is meant to be perfectly acceptable. After all, it was acceptable for the time.

Ritualized murder? Let's feed folks to the lions and this is presented as good and morally justified.

So on and so forth. You really don't think there's anything wrong with that?

See, there's absolutely nothing wrong with "objectionable themes". That's perfectly fine. What's wrong is presenting "objectionable themes" as morally good. You want to do that in your home game? Great. You want WotC to produce that? Not so great.
Some good points but I'm not allowed to talk about this.
 

Mercurius

Legend
There's a long history of RPGs including "objectionable things"--be it in a broad sense, or more narrowly to specific ideologies. That said, WotC is in a unique positon as the market leader, so have a much more visible and influential position than a hypothetical "Blood Bath Publishing," and should tread with care.

If I were WotC, I would shy away from the more obviously objectionable themes. But I don't see anything wrong with depicting a certain culture--such as ancient Rome--in a realistic manner. I mean, some object to the inaccurate depiction of Asian cultures, so shouldn't the same logic apply to Rome? There are ways to do so without glorifying certain aspects of Roman culture, and some areas (e.g. pedophilia) probably don't need to be touched at all.

WotC also wants to produce books that have wide appeal, so are simply through economic practicalities, insulated from the more objectionable themes. But if Blood Bath Publishing wants to produce Colonize the Savages: the Tabletop RPG, I see no reason that they shouldn't be able to. We can all vote with our dollar (or, in this case, not).
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
sigh

Right, look. Lore is mutable, changeable, and has no bearing on what I was even talking about. You asked how people could find stuff in the PHB harmful. Well, here it is.

Half-Orcs: Mixed blood children of humans and a "low and brutish race". A race who before this edition, likely raped the women who bore half-orc children. The race that is tribal, violent, savage, along with features such as sloping foreheads. If the children are not raised in the violent orcish tribes, they are in the slums.

Tieflings: Also mixed blood, also of an evil race, also living in "the roughest parts" of towns, where they are swindlers, crime lords and thieves.

Both these races are depicted with a dark purple skin tone.

Half-Elves: Mixed blood, but with a good race. Also, the picture is white. Also wearing gold, red, and white clothes. They, like the tieflings and half-orcs don't have a society of their own so they... grow up between both worlds, sometimes forming small communities and being diplomats between their societies.


Additionally, none of the other phb racial options mention poverty or slums or crime at all. The only people specifically called out as poor and potentially criminal are the darker-skinned children of humans and evil races.

And sure, orcs are evil, so of course the children of orcs and humans are discriminated against, given fewer opportunities, and forced to live with lesser means.... but doesn't that sound an awful lot like some real world problems people might have? Might someone who has these real-world problems see this depiction and wonder why, since it is an option for anyone to be a street urchin or criminal, why these two races specifically get called out as such?
facepalm

Half-elves are the spawn of.. Elves, right? A civilized species from a civilized deity. They are also Gold, Blue, White, Gray, Black, etc. Depending on their environment.

Half-orcs and Tieflings are the spawn of monsters. Demons, devils and a fell race of a dread God of slaughter.
They're MONSTERS, no matter how you or the outrage crowd want to dress it up to be socially acceptable.
If they were half-spiders, they'd be similarly terrifying to civilized races. And likely shunned and likely of a darker skin tone.
That's just fact, not racism.

I'm Native American. When I make a character of a wild background, I enjoy the plains warrior theme, Apache-like. Darker skin due to being in warmer climate in the hot sun constantly.
I can't have that represented in a official book though, because someone who isn't Native American is going to tell me they're offended, and I should pick a side or I'm in the wrong.
That's really ridiculous.
People are just making decisions for others and telling them like it or you're my enemy

It's getting a little too Sith Lord for my tastes.


Instead of changing Half-races, they should add Blooded races, where monstrous features are minimal.
 
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Curmudjinn

Explorer
An example of why things shouldn't just be removed:
One of my offline group members is of Roma descent.
His favorite setting? Ravenloft.
The reason? Vistani

He loves their Romani touch(due to his heritage) and their supernatural atmosphere.

Another Roma thinks they're insensitive and wants them removed.
The issue is, the crowd of judges/juries of that dilemma are not Roma.
Who is right? Who makes the decision of what stays?

Another example.
The elves of my homebrew campaign are a take on my Native American heritage. With a mix of Cherokee and Sioux vibe.
If they were in the PHB, some person who feels their opinion matters more may want it removed. And in this day and age, the company is going to be attacked on social media for not removing them.
 
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Mecheon

Adventurer
Half-orcs and Tieflings are the spawn of monsters. Demons, devils and a fell race of a dread God of slaughter.
They're MONSTERS, no matter how you or the outrage crowd want to dress it up to be socially acceptable.
They're sapient beings capable of their own choices. They're not monsters and have been playable sapient races for years.

Blaming everything on deities is the literal worst counter-argument to this I've ever heard. You'll never complain about how dare someone play an evil elf or a whole bloody civilisation of asshole elves, yet turning that around so orcs have variance and suddenly people tear their hair out at how dare I suggest such.

Monsters are made by their actions, not their race. Choices make you that.

Also, Kill the gods and shatter their thrones.

Speaking of, isn't the only canonical FR purely human-orientated god unquestionably evil (And also linked to Pelor, the Burning Hate)? C'mon. Apply it to everything. If orcs can't be good and have multi-layered things because they have an evil god, apply it to humans. See how far that gets you
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
They're sapient beings capable of their own choices. They're not monsters and have been playable sapient races for years.

Blaming everything on deities is the literal worst counter-argument to this I've ever heard. You'll never complain about how dare someone play an evil elf or a whole bloody civilisation of asshole elves, yet turning that around so orcs have variance and suddenly people tear their hair out at how dare I suggest such.

Monsters are made by their actions, not their race. Choices make you that.

Also, Kill the gods and shatter their thrones.

Speaking of, isn't the only canonical FR purely human-orientated god unquestionably evil (And also linked to Pelor, the Burning Hate)? C'mon. Apply it to everything. If orcs can't be good and have multi-layered things because they have an evil god, apply it to humans. See how far that gets you
Unless, if course, those monsters are friends, aberrations, dragons, giants ... well the list goes on.
 


Curmudjinn

Explorer
They're sapient beings capable of their own choices. They're not monsters and have been playable sapient races for years.

Blaming everything on deities is the literal worst counter-argument to this I've ever heard. You'll never complain about how dare someone play an evil elf or a whole bloody civilisation of asshole elves, yet turning that around so orcs have variance and suddenly people tear their hair out at how dare I suggest such.

Monsters are made by their actions, not their race. Choices make you that.

Also, Kill the gods and shatter their thrones.

Speaking of, isn't the only canonical FR purely human-orientated god unquestionably evil (And also linked to Pelor, the Burning Hate)? C'mon. Apply it to everything. If orcs can't be good and have multi-layered things because they have an evil god, apply it to humans. See how far that gets you
The background of many D&D races, and their origins in other fantasy depictions, is heavily-steeped in the gods and their offspring/creations.

Casting it aside to be removed completely is very close-minded. It's just a different take on the original complaint.
 

Mecheon

Adventurer
Unless, if course, those monsters are friends, aberrations, dragons, giants ... well the list goes on.
I'm a firm believer in Eberron and 4E's interpretation of dragons in that they're whatever they want to be. Gold dragons who get too uppity and become tyrannical despots because they're convinced in their own righteousness? Sure! Green dragons who, through accidental politicking and subterfuge, have made a forest haven where all sorts of beings flock to their protection? Sure! Philosopher ropers holding long questions as to the merits of other non-roper species and engaging in philosophy? Sure! Ol' Shamatork, Fire Giant blacksmith who's honestly chill as hell with a nearby town of humans because they helped him out of a rough spot? Sure! Fallen angels, uplifted devils, sure!

The thing is, orcs are human adjacent.

The background of many D&D races, and their origins in other fantasy depictions, is heavily-steeped in the gods and their offspring/creations.

Casting it aside to be removed completely is very close-minded. It's just a different take on the original complaint.
And you know what? I call it out for what it is: Lazy writing. If you want something to be a race, give me a believable reason. Generations of tensions between orcs and elves in an area leading to all out war? That's believable. That's room to explore stuff. That's room to explore all sorts of things. That's room to explore elven villains who wouldn't respect no blasted greenskins anywhere near them and just want to wipe them out in their perceived sanctity. That's room to explore elven heroes who sought peace and cooperation. But "oh no they just all hate each other because the gods said so" is just lazy.

How is casting it aside close minded? Don't you believe in the ability of people to rise above what they are, to throw off shackles and be the best they can be?
 

Hussar

Legend
Oofta said:
Unless, if course, those monsters are friends, aberrations, dragons, giants ... well the list goes on.
Again, for the umpteenth time EVIL is not the problem. How many times does that need to be repeated?

When racist language is used to describe aberrations, fiends, giants and whatever, THEN you get to make them a problem.

Until that time, all you’re doing is constructing straw man arguments that no one is making.
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
My half-mind flayer is a person, and his name is Anakin.

Citizens of Waterdeep will be welcoming this good-natured character with open arms.
You may want to read this thread about a misunderstood Mind Flayer with an identity crisis.

He manages to break the generational cycle of abuse and leave home but he can't quite fit in with the humans. He's enlightened and no longer sees them as food but as people who share a common interest in reading. Starving, he must fight animal rights activists in order to be allowed to eat the genetically -er, magically- modified cows. Nobody can empathize with his dietary needs but when the city tries to hire him to help the local guard to solve their goblin problems, the local goblin tribe who have been forced to live in the sewers, rebel, demanding to the right to better, more affordable housing.

It's got pretty much everything.

 

Hussar

Legend
But I don't see anything wrong with depicting a certain culture--such as ancient Rome--in a realistic manner.
Can I drill down on this a bit more? What do you mean "realistic" manner? To me, the realistic view of ancient Rome is pretty evil - slavery, genocide, mass murder, civil wars, pedophilia, and I'm sure I'm missing stuff.

Would a "realistic" portrayal of Ancient Rome present it as a "good" empire?
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
How is casting it aside close minded? Don't you believe in the ability of people to rise above what they are, to throw off shackles and be the best they can be?
You cut out some important language of my quote.
Casting it aside by completely removing it.

I'm 100% for the racial entries adding more options of each race's heritage beyond the norm. But don't just delete the original. Add more.
Some of the loudest voices when stuff removed. Deleted from D&D. Some people enjoy those tropes. Many people.

Don't remove them. Create more alongside it.
 

facepalm

Half-elves are the spawn of.. Elves, right? A civilized species from a civilized deity. They are also Gold, Blue, White, Gray, Black, etc. Depending on their environment.

Half-orcs and Tieflings are the spawn of monsters. Demons, devils and a fell race of a dread God of slaughter.
They're MONSTERS, no matter how you or the outrage crowd want to dress it up to be socially acceptable.
If they were half-spiders, they'd be similarly terrifying to civilized races. And likely shunned and likely of a darker skin tone.
That's just fact, not racism.

I'm Native American. When I make a character of a wild background, I enjoy the plains warrior theme, Apache-like. Darker skin due to being in warmer climate in the hot sun constantly.
I can't have that represented in a official book though, because someone who isn't Native American is going to tell me they're offended, and I should pick a side or I'm in the wrong.
That's really ridiculous.
People are just making decisions for others and telling them like it or you're my enemy

It's getting a little too Sith Lord for my tastes.


Instead of changing Half-races, they should add Blooded races, where monstrous features are minimal.
@Mecheon makes a valid and good point, but I want to address your other point for a second before I get back to that.

I'm sorry if you feel like your heritage can't be represented because someone who is not a part of it will tell you that representation is wrong. But, I also do not feel sorry that if that were represented and someone who is part of that heritage takes offense and they get the company to back off.

That is a complicated matter, and it is a treacherous slope, but I think your point about enemies and sides... well, I don't want there to be sides. I don't want to have enemies. I don't want to have to decide "is it more offensive to speak up and support minority opinions or more offensive to stay silent and let them stand alone." All of this is ugly, stressful and I wish the world would just stop being a flaming shit pile and sort itself out so we can just sit down and have fun playing games.

But it isn't, and if it is going to be wrong of me to act in either direction, I'm going to act in the direction I can sleep with at night.



To the point of MONSTERS!!!

Well, if orcs are monsters then half-orcs should not exist. Period, end of discussion. Because if they do exist, then it means that they are the children of rape. I don't know about anyone else's table, but at my table? Not a single one of my player's wants to answer the question "So, did your father rape your mother, or your mother rape your father?"

So, if half-orcs exist, then Orcs have to be people. And if they are people, then your defense of MONSTERS!!! doesn't hold.


But, what about Tieflings? Devils are definitely monsters. So, the defense works right?

Except, what is the lore about Tielfings? In both 5e and 4e it is the same story "Their appearance and their nature is not their fault, but the result of an ancient sin, for which they, and their children and their children's children will always be held accountable."

So, Tieflings are literally the "The sins of the Father." Their ancestors committed a crime, so now they must be discriminated and punished for it, thousands of years later. And, most people agree that is bullshit reasoning for discrimination. And yet, the standard lore tells me that I must engage with it. If I am to take the story of Tieflings as presented, I must have my NPCS shun and discriminate a group of people for their ancestor's crimes.

And again, I don't want that. And other people don't want that.


And, well half-elves are the children of "civilized" races, the only black elves are Drow. And a half-drow would be, how have other posters put it "shot on sight". So, again, not exactly a great look for the game world.

The background of many D&D races, and their origins in other fantasy depictions, is heavily-steeped in the gods and their offspring/creations.

Casting it aside to be removed completely is very close-minded. It's just a different take on the original complaint.

Moradin is Lawful Good. Corellan is Chaotic Good. Garl Glittergold is Chaotic Good.

Can you have a clan of evil dwarves?
An Elven Lich out to destroy the world?
Gnome crime cartel?

Those races were made by the gods, very closely steeped in their traditions. Yet, I do not believe that anyone would really blink thrice at a villainous version of them.

But good orcs are impossible because Gruumsh made them evil?
 

Mercurius

Legend
Can I drill down on this a bit more? What do you mean "realistic" manner? To me, the realistic view of ancient Rome is pretty evil - slavery, genocide, mass murder, civil wars, pedophilia, and I'm sure I'm missing stuff.

Would a "realistic" portrayal of Ancient Rome present it as a "good" empire?
I don't think so, and I agree that Rome was pretty bad, especially viewed from a contemporary perspective - but I think that can be said about most (all?) empires.

It comes down to how simulationist you want to be. I tend to take the approach of "<insert real world culture>-inspired," which is one of the reasons I'm not bothered by D&D analogs or get in a tiff with how realistic they are. If I'm writing a novel set in ancient Rome, that's one thing, but a "Rome-inspired" fantasy society is quite another.

But if WotC were to publish a series of books covering different real-world societies with the intent of being historically accurate, I would include most of those things and leave it to individual groups as to how to create a campaign.
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
Can you have a clan of evil dwarves?
An Elven Lich out to destroy the world?
Gnome crime cartel?

Those races were made by the gods, very closely steeped in their traditions. Yet, I do not believe that anyone would really blink thrice at a villainous version of them.

But good orcs are impossible because Gruumsh made them evil?
The issue isn't so much about it being impossible, but of some wanting it to be the only possibility in the book. Having played the game for decades now, I've sampled/played iterations of every race and varying origins from the PHB norm.
They are all valid. Add more, remove none.
 

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