OneDnD What new jargon do you want to replace "Race"?

What new jargon do you want to replace "Race"?

  • Species

    Votes: 59 33.1%
  • Type

    Votes: 10 5.6%
  • Form

    Votes: 3 1.7%
  • Lifeform

    Votes: 2 1.1%
  • Biology

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Taxonomy

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Taxon

    Votes: 2 1.1%
  • Genus

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Geneology

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Family

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Parentage

    Votes: 3 1.7%
  • Ancestry

    Votes: 99 55.6%
  • Bloodline

    Votes: 13 7.3%
  • Line

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • Lineage

    Votes: 49 27.5%
  • Pedigree

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • Folk

    Votes: 34 19.1%
  • Kindred

    Votes: 18 10.1%
  • Kind

    Votes: 16 9.0%
  • Kin

    Votes: 36 20.2%
  • Kinfolk

    Votes: 9 5.1%
  • Filiation

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Extraction

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Descent

    Votes: 5 2.8%
  • Origin

    Votes: 36 20.2%
  • Heredity

    Votes: 3 1.7%
  • Heritage

    Votes: 47 26.4%
  • People

    Votes: 11 6.2%
  • Nature

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • Birth

    Votes: 0 0.0%

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I am unsure what to do about the Dragonborn.

I am comfortable to hypothetically describe Red Dragon and Gold Dragon as separate species of the Genus Dragon (Draco).

Compare the taxonomies of the sheep and the dragon

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata (skeleton)
Class: Mammalia (mammal)
Order: Artiodactyla (hooves)
Family: Bovidae (cattle-like ruminant)
[Subfamily]: Caprinae (goat-like)
Genus: Ovis (sheep)
Species: aries (domestic sheep)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata (skeleton)
Class: Reptilia (reptile)
Order: Squamata (scales)
[Suborder]: Serpentes (snake)
Family: Draconidae (dragon-like)
Genus: Draco (dragon)
[Subgenus]: Chromaticus / Metallicus / Gemmeus
Species: rufus (red), etc. / aureolus (gold), etc. / sapphirus (sapphire), etc.

While these scientific rankings in Modern Latin are modern from 1700s onward, the distinctions between the kingdoms of life (earth, plant, animal), the distinctions between classes of animals (mammal, reptile, etcetera), and even the taxonomical families (cattle-like, viper, cat-like, eagle-like, etcetera) are all ancient.

D&D True Dragons are the variegated species of genus Draco. The creature type, Dragon, is the wider family of Draconidae.



But the Dragonborn? They are like an artifical lifeform that splices together the Humanoid and Dragon creature types. According to lore, the primordial dragons modified dragon embryos to develop into a bipedal humanlike form. They did this for each dragon species. So in some ways, the Dragonborn are a single species who can reproduce offspring with each other, but in other ways, they are separate species of dragons: red, gold, sapphire, etcetera.

Maybe the simplest way to understand this is, the Dragonborn is a species, but each dragonborn transmits a separate bloodline or lineage, that descends from an ancestor who is a specific species of Dragon. An offspring from different bloodlines only expresses the traits of one bloodline, but can still transmit the unexpressed traits to future offspring.



Importantly, the Humanoid creature type is unrelated to genetics. Rather, it describes a convergent evolution. Different kinds of lifeforms can evolve humanlike qualities of consciousness, freewill, sapience, language, and culture. Typically, they exhibit a humanlike bipedal body shape.

The Humanoid lifeforms can be complex and even nonbiological. Dragonborn are Dragon adopting a Humanlike shape. Elf are Celestial thought but some become Fey spirit and some of these materialize as a Human body. Tiefling are Human altered by Fiend. Shifter descends from Human modified by Beast via lycanthropy. Warforged are a Construct that Humans made Humanoid. Warforged belong to a kingdom of life that is neither Plant nor Beast, and probably accurate to classify as Elemental.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
I've just never seen orcs as stand-ins for real races. I just think you can have evil races in an RPG, or orcs, and it isn't going to contribute to dehumanization unless people are looking for. Just my opinion. We never needed orc depictions to commit racial atrocities: plenty of real world dehumanizing language and stereotypes do that already. But I think terms like peoples, ethnicities, heritage and ancestry get us much closer to it because those are ways we can dehumanize actual human groups. I would say if they want to avoid the issues that a term like race can create, they are better off going with type or species, but I don't think we need to completely retool the underlying mechanics of demihumans.
For me a problem with D&D Evil "races" is the way D&D traditions use reallife ethnic features, like "tribe", "chieftain", "shaman", dark skin complexion, or "yellow" or "red" skin complexion, to describe "Evil" "primitive" races, thereby caricaturizing and demonizing the reallife ethnic groups. To refer to these "races" as nonhumans worsens the insult.

Anyway, that ship has sailed. The term race is gone. I want to avoid debates about race. There are other threads that one can necromance if one wants to revisit the debates about the term race.

That said, the problems that occur with the term "race" might also occur with other terms that appear in the poll in the original post. It is ok to mention these concerns in the context of the poll options to replace race.
 


Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I've just never seen orcs as stand-ins for real races.

So because you see things that way (and I don’t know your ethnicity) what is the implication when other people see it differently, and say it makes them feel unwelcome in the hobby, or worse? Do you not believe them? Think they are overreacting? Ignore them?

I’m kind of with you in that I never, in decades of gaming, saw “orcs as stand-ins for real races.” (And, if you’ve at all been paying attention, you would understand that it’s a mischaracterization of the problem.). But more recently I’ve become aware that the language and depictions we use to dehumanize orcs is the same language that has been used to justify dehumanization (read: enslavement) of other people. And apparently people from those ethnicities find that hurtful.

I’m not going to doubt them. Literally the least effort I can make to address terrible societal disparities is to say, “Ok, sure, I will believe you. If this bothers you, I’m ok with making some changes to my game of make believe elves and dragons.”

To refuse to do that, to kick up a fuss and cry and scream and make angry forum posts, or even to simply try to undermine the effort by saying things like “orcs aren’t black people”, is pathetic.
 


Dragons aren't even Chordata, much less Reptiles. They have six limbs for starters.
If we're really playing the phylogeny game, I'd argue they're somewhere in Synapsidia per their walking style being far more mammal like, lack of feathers that'd put them in the various groups of Therapoda, having fur (We figure some Synapsids had fur, even before mammals proper) and the general close-to-reptile appearance, but wouldn't go any further than that, but this begs the question if the Hexapoda 'six-limbs' thing evolved once or twice.

Absolutely Chordata though, they have backbones. Just a Chordata who's somehow managed to get another set of limbs out of it from an ancestor. Per stuff suggesting Linnorms are the ancestor, we can use them as the starting point, which suggests that the ancestral dragon started with just two limbs. Various draconiform lifeforms from there gradually would then pick up additional limbs (or loosing as far as the sea serpent and wyrm lines go)
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Dragons aren't even Chordata, much less Reptiles. They have six limbs for starters.
In reallife medieval bestiaries, the dragon (Latin draco ‹ Greek drakon) is a species of snake, a serpent. The texts describe the Central African rock python, which can grow to lengths over 20 feet. But the stylized illustrations can get wild.

Due to ignorance about Africa and under the influence of mythic traditions about flying serpents, especially in Revelation in the Christian Bible, medieval Europe began to depict the draconic snake with wings, whence often both wings and talons of a bird. Because of locomoting by means of slithering the long serpentine body, there was uncertainty about whether the talons were more like legs (like a bird with a long tail) or more like arms (like the D&D linnorm and salamander). One illustration depicts the draconic snake with eight limbs: one set of wings with the arms and an other set of wings with the legs. Afterward, the snake often appeared with six limbs: arms and legs, plus wings.

Meanwhile, the Roman military standard for cavalry was called a "draco". This serpentine wind-sock banner moved like snake thru the air when holding it aloft while speeding on horseback. Different cavalry units would have different animal heads on their draco as its insignia. Some had lion heads, some wolf heads, and so on. The Roman cavalry introduced the concept of the draco across Europe. The concept the draco even reached Nordic lands. The Norse called it the dreki.

Thus medieval imagination came to visualize the exotic snake as having features that resembled those of other animals. The Norse dragon (dreki) typically exhibits features of adder snake, including actual horns in place of the adders hornlike V-pattern, plus lionlike head and mouth, and eaglelike arms. They are born as normal adder snakes, then while maturing, they shed their skin to reveal horns, then eaglelike arms. Never legs. The Norse dragon typically has two armlike limbs, but at a great age, they can shed their skin to reveal eaglelike wings, totaling four limbs.

By contrast, the Welsh dragon (ddraig) typically exhibits six limbs: an adder, with wolflike head, scaly wolflike body but ravenlike hands and feet, and batlike wings.

In any case, all of these concepts of dragon are explicitly a kind of snake.

Of course, the reallife snake itself evolves from a snakelike slithering animal, whose limbs became vestigial, then losing the forelimbs, then the hindlimbs.

The reappearance of limbs of the dragon resembles both snake atavism and further evolutionary mutation, including "draconid" species with two, four, or six limbs.



In this history, dragons are "serpents": class Reptilia, suborder Serptentes, and genus Draco.
 
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Vaalingrade

Legend
The synapsid argument is better by virtue of there being no way these big, quick, obviously endothermic critters are reptiles in any way, shape or form.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The synapsid argument is better by virtue of there being no way these big, quick, obviously endothermic critters are reptiles in any way, shape or form.
Magic.

Besides warm-blooded birds-dinosaurs evolved from reptiles (now understood as clade Sauropsida). Something similar can happen again from snakes.
 
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Going further into my phylogeny rambling...

Lung/Ryu probably split off first from the Linnorm ancestry, with Naga being a close relation due to historical relation between the two. But the appearance of the rear legs suggest that there's some mechanism in Draconiformes to allow the generation of more limbs. Once you get that first limb generation the other baseline draconiforms in Wyverns and Drakes are easy alterations of bodyform to either adapt to flight, or to go for a bulkier apex predator body. Drake-line leads to dragons proper with the appearance of the rear wings. Hydra and Zmey are close relatives as I doubt the multi-head thing evolved multiple times. There's probably a line who've secondarily lost their arms and became full snake, leading to your wyrms

Behir are the dragon equivilent of weasels or ferrets, a snake-like body and lifestyle but retaining legs. Giant, angry, lighting-spitting ones.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Magic.

Besides warm-blooded birds-dinosaurs evolved from reptiles. Something similar can happen again from snakes.
Once we say magic, we get to ignore everything else.

Plus, there's nothing reptilelike about them except the scales. Might as well call them pangolins.

The medieval idea of them being snakes can just be chalked up as coming from a time before they invented observation or properly classifying animals: see whales and dolphins being fish.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Once we say magic, we get to ignore everything else.

Plus, there's nothing reptilelike about them except the scales. Might as well call them pangolins.

The medieval idea of them being snakes can just be chalked up as coming from a time before they invented observation or properly classifying animals: see whales and dolphins being fish.
Many dragons, especially the earlier illustrations, are clearly snakelike. Those with venom relate to the adder and possibly stories about spitting corbras and similar.

Besides, they are plainly called "snakes".

The Welsh/British dragon gradually became less snakelike, and more lizard like with a bulkier wolflike body while and the serpentine aspect mainly appears a tail and sometimes a long neck. But this is a later development from the snake.

Here are examples from the 1200s. These "snakes" have birdlike wings and feet.

5c2810a4a2535c2fc9af5891565493e8.jpg
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Here is a reasonably clear image of a dragon from a runestone in Sweden (u177x). It is clearly snakelike. It depicts a mother dragon and her young. It is helpfully colorized. Mother is red. The young are shades of green and purple.

u177x_fot.jpg


The runic artwork is stylized. The head of red mother is near the center. She bites her own tail. If you look closely, you can see her large white eye, her fang touching her lower jaw, and behind her eye is her horn that her neck partially hides. Her neck sweeps up and around down to her shoulder. Her arm is eaglelike with the talon functioning as a hand, but here the stylization makes the hand seem more like stiff fingers and a thumb pinching − a bit like a handpuppet. The rest of her is snake, whose red serpentine body sweeps from the shoulders around the runestone then backup thru the center where she bites it.

Look at the newborn snake, yellowish green at the farthest left. It lacks limbs and horns, and resembles a normal snake. It is a stylization of an adder, a venomous snake common in Nordic lands.

Going clockwise, the green snake is an adolescent who bites the mothers tail. Maturing, it has already shed its skin to reveal newly developed forelimbs, like the larger adult mother.

The rest of the young look like normal limbless snakes, like the yellowish green one.

Below is the only runestone (u887) that depicts a winged dragon that I am aware of. This flying dragon is colorized green. The red dragon looks like the red mother in the previous runestone. But note, both the green and red dragons here have tails that end in a prehensile handlike split tail.

detaljer-u887.jpg


Other runestones can be more ornate with many dragons slithering and weaving around each other, and bewildering to look at, or stylized beyond recognizable depiction. But generally, the dragons are either adults with horns and arms, or young that look like normal snakes, or somewhere in between.

Here is an image of a dragon from a stav church in Norway, dating to the 1100s. It depicts Fafnir, the dwarf who shapeshifted into a dragon. The human Sigurðr seeks to kill him. The dragon has the typical snakelike body. The head of the dragon is clearly lionlike. What looks like the tongue of the dragon is probably a stream of venom.

6989069675_749508e677_o.jpg


The neck sweeps upward from the head and off the top edge of the image. But just before it is out of view, see the arm, forearm, and handlike eagle talon.

This the dreki, the Norse dragon. I normally refer to it in English as the Drekar, using the Norse plural form to serve in English as both singular and plural. So, one Drekar and many Drekar. (I dont think English speakers should need to know the grammatical forms of other languages.) Likewise, one Alfar and many Alfar. One Aesir and many Aesir.
 
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So because you see things that way (and I don’t know your ethnicity) what is the implication when other people see it differently, and say it makes them feel unwelcome in the hobby, or worse? Do you not believe them? Think they are overreacting? Ignore them?

I think the question in each case is whether the persons reaction and interpretation is reasonable. I think most cases with stuff like orcs, they haven't been meant as stand-ins, and seeing them as such is a fairly recent phenomenon that has a lot of traction online, because of how online discourse works, but not outside the online sphere.
 

For me a problem with D&D Evil "races" is the way D&D traditions use reallife ethnic features, like "tribe", "chieftain", "shaman", dark skin complexion, or "yellow" or "red" skin complexion, to describe "Evil" "primitive" races, thereby caricaturizing and demonizing the reallife ethnic groups. To refer to these "races" as nonhumans worsens the insult.

Fair enough that debate has been driven into the ground, and there have been lengthy threads on it where we have all had opportunity to express our views.

Anyway, that ship has sailed. The term race is gone. I want to avoid debates about race. There are other threads that one can necromance if one wants to revisit the debates about the term race.

That said, the problems that occur with the term "race" might also occur with other terms that appear in the poll in the original post. It is ok to mention these concerns in the context of the poll options to replace race.

A couple of things. My concern is a lot less to do with the terminology and more to do with what demihumans actually are. I think since they have historically not been ethnicities but types of humanoids different from humans, turning them into ancestries, folk peoples, etc, is going to lead to far worse problems than say going with a term like type or species (for the reasons I gave earlier in the thread). But also, I think the concept of race in D&D, whether it is literally called race or some other term, is crucial to what makes the game work. So the direction it sounds like they are going in (where you pick a trait inherited from your parents (which could be any number of things I assume) misses the simplicity of selecting a Race and getting a standard allotment of modifiers and abilities. For me that is just part of what makes D&D, D&D. There are plenty of other games that take a different approach to this part of character creation, and when I want that, I play those. But I do think switching to more narrow terms for race is going to lead to unforeseen issues for sure, if people are concerned about this somehow connecting to real world racism.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Dragons are totally snakes. The reason modern snakes don’t have legs or wings is they’re descended from the Eden snake who was cursed to crawl on their belly.
 
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To refuse to do that, to kick up a fuss and cry and scream and make angry forum posts, or even to simply try to undermine the effort by saying things like “orcs aren’t black people”, is pathetic.

Just to be clear I don't think one should make angry forum posts over these kinds of disagreements. You can disagree with a person's analysis without attacking them and without getting angry. Also if someone feels a certain way about something, in an emotional way, you can be sensitive to that and still disagree. But I do think it is very important to give our honest opinions about these things. I think because the whole debate hinges on whether orcs are stand-ins for black people or other racial groups, saying you don't think they are so (at least generally, obviously there may be cases where a writer is specifically injecting bad stereotypes into the game) isn't about being dismissive of that person but about being honest about what you really think. If you agree with them, by all means, say so. But if you disagree, I find it a bit patronizing to lie to people about what you think on the matter. And if you think deferring to their opinion on the matter because of their personal experience is sufficient, fair enough.
 


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