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D&D 5E WotC On Tasha, Race, Alignment: A Several-Year Plan

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WotC spoke to the site Dicebreaker about D&D race and alignment, and their plans for the future.

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  • On of the motivations of the changes [character customization] in Tasha's Cauldron was to decouple race from class.
  • The 'tightrope' between honouring legacy and freedom of character choice has not been effectively walked.
  • Alignment is turning into a roleplaying tool, and will not be used to describe entire cultures.
  • This work will take several years to fully implement.
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

The issue with the label "evil" is that it is a pre-judgement. Literal prejudice. What is wrong with having the threat actually demonstrate as a threat before putting it to the sword?
In what D&D game does this not happen?
The setting is given, the conflict is stated, and the characters choose what side of the conflict they are on. One side is right, depending on the party's moral code. If it is all gray, for most groups I know, it would just lead to not having fun. A touch of gray - great! But the conflict is almost always stated - upfront.
PC: Look at this poor town, it's crops are withered and its people are starving. What's wrong?
NPC: These mushroom creatures sneak in and blight the crops. They have even begun to dig up our dead. They speak in strange creaks and snaps, and it is almost like they are using magic. The bartender who saw one late at night, said the thing was even glowing.
 

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Sometimes I want a simpler game where we don't debate the complex individualities of some of the actors (specifically minions), though the main villain may have their own motivations. I would also want them to be intelligent enough to use tactics, set traps, etc. That is why I use evil orcs, kobolds, goblins, etc. To me it is a part of the game, like attack rolls, saving throws, etc. I don't depict them as analogues to real world stereotypes.
This is why in action movies we don't care when the Rebels blow up the Death Star, Legolas and Gimli make a game out of killing orcs, or when the Guardians of the Galaxy blow up Ronan's horde. And literally every successful video game franchise works this way.
Forcing the heroes into regular moral quandaries about who they're fighting is a disservice to certain kinds of play. And if you say that's "badwrongfun," you're in the absolute minority when it comes to the expectations of popular culture entertainment, regardless of its platform.
Yes, absolutely have exceptions. Have the Stormtrooper with a conscience (Finn). Have the Fellowship debate about the value of Gollum's life. But you can't have everything be an exception.
I agree wholeheartedly.
 


Some people seem either unwilling or unable to do this though, so how do you handle it then?
I have to take exception to this. I have never seen one person on this thread argue against getting rid of racist language. I think it is difficult to do, as we draw all of our language from culture. And I have seen that argued. But I have never seen someone say, "No, don't change the language. Keep the word "slum," "sloped forehead," and "ghetto."
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The problem with alignment as I see it is many people have (at least slightly) different views on the nuances of the different alignments. shrug It has been a problem identifying alignment and actions since D&D started IMO.

I know it is simple to get an idea "at a glance", though. I'm just saying if alignment is being removed, at least those traits can convey similar information.

I think it's a useful shorthand that, quite frankly, is not difficult to understand for the vast majority of people. I've introduced quite a few people to D&D, they either didn't need an explanation or grasped the basic concept quickly.

On the other hand, I've always disliked the "my alignment made me do it", or characters that require any depth lacking a descriptor other than alignment. For me it's just one descriptor, but a handy abbreviation that does give me a whole lot of information.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Gygax also thought Col. John Milton Chivington had the right of it, so I wouldn't trust his moral judgment.

I haven't spend a lot of time digging up old posts from Gygax about this, but was he actually stating that Chivington "had the right of it" or just explaining how LG alignment (he was discussing Paladins for example) could act in ways that we would find unjust in a modern context? That said, Chivington was a terrible example to make that point. Even at that time, the Sandy Creek massacre was considered unlawful and evil, so much so that it led to popular pressure for changing US policy.
 

I like this. Very cool.
Danke. I've been building to that particular revelation for some time, though the details were partially improvised. Player had long known that great-grandma succubus was alive, living in seclusion in a monastery. Resolving that story, and digging into the cosmology and philosophy it connects to, was very satisfying for me as DM and for multiple players. In particular, I took inspiration from the famous Tales of Wyre, but did things my way--in a world that is brighter, but threatened by darkness, rather than dark and needing light brought into it. Jewel of the Desert is set in a world where hope is alive and well, but its enemies are real and dangerous, and heroes are often what makes the difference.
 

That's pretty uncomfortably close to the way numerous real atrocities were conducted in human history. There's a pretty clear pattern: demonize the natives (sometimes literally equating them with demons!), claim their territory, treat all opposition purely as violent raiding rather than armed responses, trivialize or dismiss all social structures/monuments/environmental management as fake or induced or stolen from someone else, specifically categorize their native religions as horrible and brutal and evil-loving, etc. And wouldn't you know it: the deities of gnolls, orcs, and kobolds are all treated that way (Yeenoghu is a demon lord, Gruumsh is evil, Tiamat is evil); they're almost always native to whatever territory they occupy and driving them out of territory they've occupied for centuries or millennia is portrayed as an unalloyed win for good and justice; they have "barbaric" practices and all their activities tend to be summarized as "raiding" or "recovering from previous raiding," and they never build any temples or cities or roads or monuments, but do occasionally steal such works left behind by long-absent advanced precursor civilizations. And as a result of this list of things, they are acceptable to kill on sight without a second thought.
I agree with your whole sentiment. But would like to play devil's advocate on this one:
There are many examples of organized, road building, intelligent "creatures" in D&D that invade and do the same thing that colonizers did in history. Drow, Mind Flayers, Githyanki are all great examples. The things they do are eerily similar to England, Germany, Japan, etc. If we choose to only look at through a racist lens, then the examples we find will be what we see.
Note: I am not saying it is right. I am just pointing out that examples in D&D can go so many ways, that taking a step back can be difficult. (At least for me.)
 


Personally I like alignment as a starting point or when all I really need is a 30 second cameo version of a creature and what their motivations are. For in depth PCs or NPCs, alignment is just one optional descriptor of many.
An NPC's motives are definitely needed. Although constantly exploring them can lead to the constant moral quandary. I mean, the drug dealer ruining lives of the children they sell to, but then sees one about to get run over by a carriage, so leaps to save them - because the kid is their best customer is always a thing. ;) Still, gotta stop that dealer from selling these kids a drug made from troll poop and hemlock. (Or go out and collect troll poop and hemlock to sell to the dealer?)
 

(Emphasis mine)

Who the hell said ANYTHING about selling them as slaves? That is quite the leap you made there and shows me something about the assumptions you make. The reason they were being paid to bring them in alive was so the castle lord could get information from them (if any) about the upcoming invasion those races were part of. Jeez...

And if you read all of my posts on this issue you would know the player in question reflected on his choices, felt badly about them, and removed that PC from the game.
Hmmh...
... my point stands...

but probably not appropriate here.
I am sorry. I did not update the site and a lot of posts were missed.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
An NPC's motives are definitely needed. Although constantly exploring them can lead to the constant moral quandary. I mean, the drug dealer ruining lives of the children they sell to, but then sees one about to get run over by a carriage, so leaps to save them - because the kid is their best customer is always a thing. ;) Still, gotta stop that dealer from selling these kids a drug made from troll poop and hemlock. (Or go out and collect troll poop and hemlock to sell to the dealer?)

Drugs in your campaign come from troll poop? Kind of gives new meaning to someone saying they have some of the really good naughty word.;)
 

Drugs in your campaign come from troll poop? Kind of gives new meaning to someone saying they have some of the really good naughty word.;)
I don't know. I just made that up off the top of my head. I did have a drug that was made from distilled brass dragon urine. Made the imbiber giddy and see the world as though they were in the feywild. The dragon learned this and started selling it for a premium. ;) One of our character was a brewmaster, so he had fun playing with the ingredient. 🍺
 

6ENow!

I don't debate opinions.
Hmmh...
... my point stands...

but probably not appropriate here.
I am sorry. I did not update the site and a lot of posts were missed.
Definitely not.

And no problem, this thread exploded and there is a lot to read.

And if you had been correct, your point would definitely stand! :)
 

chaoshead87

Explorer
I can't help but think this is like tanar'ri in 2nd edition: a change to placate people who don't play the game or know anything about it.
D&D won't work without evil humanoids to fight. Moreover, popular culture depends on it. Look at Stormtroopers. Look at any of the faceless Marvel villain grunts. Evil creatures in evil hats have to exist in our media. You can't be a hero against shades of gray.
Wish I could upvote this more.
 

Retreater

Legend
And for me this is the crux of the argument, the default positioning of DnD, in people's homebrew whatever you want goes, however how does the vanilla DnD present itself?
What's done in Adventurer's League or Tasha's doesn't really concern me. But does it mean the 5.5 or 6e Monster Manual doesn't have stats for kobolds, orcs, or goblins? Does it mean that they stop producing adventures like Red Hand of Doom, Sunless Citadel, or others with evil humanoid opponents?
I guess this is ok with me. I am already moving more to the OSR side and use 3PP products.
 




Hurin88

Adventurer
Sorry if I was unclear but you misunderstand.

I meant about the people who see the racist tropes in a game where the races are fantasy. It goes back to how some people see themselves in races that are alien to humans. While you might identify with another race, you aren't them and they aren't you--it is fantasy--they don't exist. It is why I explained how I've never seen racist tropes in D&D because I don't identify with an alien race like elf, dwarf, half-orc, etc.

I don't know if that makes any more sense or not, but that's the distinction I'm talking about.
Ok, I think I understand what you are asking now. But let me ask: Do you see any racism in the cover of Drums on Fire Mountain?
 

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