log in or register to remove this ad

 

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

Status
Not open for further replies.
WotC spoke to the site Dicebreaker about D&D race and alignment, and their plans for the future.

pa0sjX8Wgx.jpg

  • 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.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


log in or register to remove this ad


Hurin88

Adventurer
I never said “malleable” was in the text. Please don’t put words in my mouth. Interferes with drinking the nice tea my wife just made for me.

I'm not saying you literally said 'malleable' was in the text; I never meant to imply that. I used quotes because you said that word specifically, and I don't see anything in that quote that suggests Orcs are malleable.
Naturally evil does not mean they can’t be anything but evil, but “not irredeemably evil” literally does mean...they aren’t stuck being evil. Like...explicitly.
Yes, actually, that's what it does mean: they are, by nature, evil. Their nature is evil. They are evil.

The supernatural (i.e. Eru/God) can always intervene to change them, but that's just because Eru/God is omnipotent and can do anything he wants. But he allows evil to exist because it is part of his plan for the universe. This is why Eru didn't just vaporize Morgoth when he started playing his own tune during the song of creation. Ordinary mortals might not be able to fathom why -- what exactly the plan is -- but Eru does, and they have to respect it.

This doesn't mean that Morgoth is capable of suddenly becoming a good guy though. He is what he is -- he is evil. This is what Tolkien means by 'naturally evil.' I would not misinterpret what he means by 'irredeemable.' The reason we can't say Morgoth is 'irredeemable', and why Tolkien says here it would be going a step too far to call Orcs 'irreddemable', is not because they are good or even neutral; it is because Eru/God has a plan for the universe and Morgoth and Orcs will play an important role in it, just as Attila the Hun could play the role of Scourge of God. Don't misinterpret that to mean they could be good. The villains of the story don't become good just because they have a role to play. They have to be evil for the plot/divine plan to work. The plot is what is good. The villains are not.
 



Hurin88

Adventurer
I've never seen it so I had to search for it but frankly, no.
Ok, then here is where we will have to agree, respectfully, to disagree.

To me, that cover plays on racist tropes of black people as savage and childlike -- the idea of Africans boiling people in pots. It seems the sort of unwelcome depictions you see in racist movies.

I understand that you might have a different opinion, and that's fine. And of course we still have to deal with your question: what do we do when I see racism there but you don't? In that case, what I would do is point out to you that I see racism there -- it makes me uncomfortable -- and why. I might then ask if we could, as a group, agree not to do those things that are making me uncomfortable, and you'd have to decide if you were willing to do that.

Hopefully, even if you didn't really see the same racism that I do, you'd be willing to accommodate me, or if you were not, I'd say, 'Ok, thanks for the game, but this makes me a bit uncomfortable, so I'm going to find another group.'
 

jayoungr

Legend
My point is, you don't need to do that for the "evil humanoids." I can just use orcs straight from the book and have them be distinct from goblins right out of the box, no extra hoops to jump through. This will result in DMs defaulting to certain races as enemies.
You can use the archmage, bandit, etc., straight from the box too and flavor them as dwarves or whatever--they are explicitly listed in the MM as "humanoid (any race)"--but you didn't like that idea because it wasn't "mechanically distinctive" enough. Which I don't quite get because the distinctiveness is baked into the job of gladiator or bandit or whatever.

If you actually do add the PHB stuff, there is very little difference mechanically between a dwarf gladiator and a human gladiator and a halfling gladiator; maybe a point higher or lower to hit and an extra trait (halfling luck, for example), which might not even come up during combat. To me, that's not enough distinctiveness to make it worth the hassle.

As for DMs defaulting to certain races, I think it's far more likely to be determined by the setting than by the DM making assumptions.
 
Last edited:


TheSword

Legend
Kind of like how alignment is used by many people, and not by others? Or how the optional rules in Tasha’s will be used by many people, and not by others?

If you like your games to be about killing people and taking their stuff, knock yourself out. Nothing WotC can do can stop you from doing that. If you’re worried about that no longer being the focus of published modules, you’re about 20 years behind the times.
Absolutely.

As far as I can see when publishing their products the game is invariable about stopping other people killing everyone.

Rime - stopping everyone freezing to death.
Avernus - rescuing people from hell.
Tomb - stopping everyone dying.
Dragon Heist - stopping the baddies getting rich.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Part of the problem is that, again, some of these situations lead to literally re-using real-world bigotry when discussing fictional-world things. Consider, for example, the way the "fictional" Varisian culture is portrayed in Golarion. It was, pretty much without exception, every harmful stereotype about the Roma peoples. Up to and including deeply concerning stuff like a strong presumption of criminal activity (that the authors poorly retconned, AIUI).

Or, for a more pointed example: real-world genocide has been justified with the idea that there are different, mixable groups of sapient beings, and that only one set of those is acceptable while others are unworthy of life. It is, quite literally, a core tactic of "ethnic cleansing" programs to portray different ethnic groups as though they were a completely different species. So, if literal, actual genocidal rhetoric does this, it's really REALLY not much of a leap to ask, "So...what's different about this thing in D&D? Both of them designate a target group of sapient, humanoid beings for unchecked violence, often specifically with the goal of occupying the land on which they live and taking away the valuables they possess."

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.

Note, when I mention these things, I am not saying that someone who enjoys a casual game of D&D where you fight Obvious Bad Guys and save Designated Damsel'd Victims (or take over the ransom yourself, or whatever) is in any way morally wrong. I mean, I've played hundreds of hours of Payday 2, a game where you are literally sitting on piles of hundreds of millions of dollars but continue to slaughter hundreds of private security dudes and public LEOs in order to steal valuable goods or commit election fraud--and I enjoyed those hours of play. I am NOT saying that engaging in a fictional demonstration of a thing with moral question marks on it is inherently bad. That would make me a hypocrite, which I'd rather not be if I can avoid it.

What I am saying is that having these things hard-coded into the game's fundamental rules, particularly when it's all implication without nuance, concerns me. With Payday, I go into it knowing that what I am doing in the virtual space is a fantasy about amoral assholes doing immoral things for fun and profit. I know where to draw the line. With D&D, that's not as clear. It is easy to say "these species are fictional," but the bright lines aren't present. Unless we do things with eyes fully open, mindful of our choices, it is easy to accidentally internalize thoughts or patterns that may be harmful--to ourselves or to others.
When it come to depicting races in D&D in any sort of negative light, you really can't do it without it being mirrored or at least being "pretty uncomfortably close to the way numerous real atrocities were conducted in human history." A lot of humans have been really bad for a very long time. Pretty much anything you can think of has been done by some group of humans to another group of humans.

When a designer writes in something negative about a race, it doesn't in any way mean that he consciously or subconsciously is writing it that way due to what happened in the real world. Nor does it mean that the fictional race has even a tenuous connection with the real world race or group. Occam's Razor says that it will most likely just be pure coincidence, since if you look at history hard enough, you will be able to find something similar to whatever negative thing was written.

I'm also goin to disagree with your statement that "it is easy to internalize thoughts or patterns that may be harmful--to ourselves or to others." That's the same sort of talk that people were using to keep kids from watching violence on TV, play video games and even play D&D itself. It will affect them people said. It can make them more prone to violence they said. That has been debunked thoroughly and I see no reason to think it would be any difference for negative racial traits/behaviors in fictional games. Outside of those few insane folks, people don't drag obvious fiction into real life like that.
 

Aldarc

Legend
The definition of humanoid in D&D is basically: "They have language and culture, few if any innate magical abilities (though most humanoids can learn spellcasting), and a bipedal form."

So bipeds that can talk. Doesn't automatically mean they have agency or can be any alignment.
Hmmm...that looks awfully like a serious case of reductio ad absurdum for the purposes of constructing a fallacy. Because, you know, if it turned out that this wasn't really the case, and what separates a humanoid from a fiend is more defined or delineated then that, then you wouldn't have two legs of your own to stand on or talk on, though I suppose that would mean you aren't a humanoid by the definition you provide.
 


Once you start having goblins walking around the town square, a kobold librarian, an orc grocer, the campaign world has gotten a little less mysterious. You've assumed the default experience of the common person is like a student at Hogwarts.
This gets to what I said earlier about some people wanting their fantasy worlds to be like idealized versions of real world. Cosmopolitan and diverse settlement full of tolerant people are a good thing in the real world. But are they a fun environment for action fantasy gaming? If every settlement is full of elves and dwarves and goblins and minotaurs, which are themselves all diverse and morally complex populations, then doesn't every settlement become the same? And how to reconcile those norms with a game where most of the mechanics and most of the encounters involve violence?

With the path we're going down, I wonder if maybe the people clamouring for change don't want something very different from D&D in a whole host of ways. And if WotC caters to that element of the fanbase, don't they risk alienating the (I'd wager much larger) element of the fanbase who enjoy playing fantasy actions games in a light-hearted manner.
 

Once you start having goblins walking around the town square, a kobold librarian, an orc grocer, the campaign world has gotten a little less mysterious. You've assumed the default experience of the common person is like a student at Hogwarts.
I'd argue the opposite. What are all these previous enemies from past campaigns doing walking around and working in this civilized town? What now exists out in the great unknown stretches? The former might provide for some interesting social interaction to learn more about the world. The latter might provide an opportunity to bust out baddies from Tomb of Beast 2 that the players have never ever heard of before. There is no shortage of mystery in any campaign as long as the DM and players are willing to exercise some imagination.
 

DND_Reborn

I don't debate opinions.
Ok, then here is where we will have to agree, respectfully, to disagree.

To me, that cover plays on racist tropes of black people as savage and childlike -- the idea of Africans boiling people in pots. It seems the sort of unwelcome depictions you see in racist movies.

I understand that you might have a different opinion, and that's fine. And of course we still have to deal with your question: what do we do when I see racism there but you don't? In that case, what I would do is point out to you that I see racism there -- it makes me uncomfortable -- and why. I might then ask if we could, as a group, agree not to do those things that are making me uncomfortable, and you'd have to decide if you were willing to do that.

Hopefully, even if you didn't really see the same racism that I do, you'd be willing to accommodate me, or if you were not, I'd say, 'Ok, thanks for the game, but this makes me a bit uncomfortable, so I'm going to find another group.'
No problem, I am very happy to agree to disagree on things. I don't believe everyone needs to see things my way and I know I won't see things as many others do.

To me, they are green-skinned aliens (not human, that is). They are not savage necessarily, but posturing because they live in a culture or climate that might be violent and respect strength? Their weapons and armor represent a region where metal is scarce or difficult to use due to lack of resources perhaps?

Anyway, if you want to continue the discussion I would prefer to PM. It can be a touchy subject for people and I don't feel this is the place to continue it. If not, I appreciate your explanation and the discussion. Thanks. :)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I don't think anyone here is saying that can't be done. But your words seem to indicate that you had one character that did it. The others?

I agree with your logic. But, I think in most games, DM's do not put baby orcs running around because of the moral dilemma. Most don't have a woman nursing (although I once had an old lady with lycanthropy doing it to a wolf pup to show her caring side) because it would cause a moral problem. But the ones that do, most players I know would lock them in a room and still try to reach the root of the problem. Whether that is the creature stealing babies, eating guards, or getting ready to attack the town.
Some groups enjoy those sorts of moral dilemmas. They add to the tension and drama of the game and allow the players to better learn about their PCs. My players create complex personalities for their PCs and enjoy that sort of dilemma. Over the years the "baby orc" kind of scenario has come up more than once for my group and they've killed them, saved them and left them to chance, depending on what kind of PC they were playing.

If you don't enjoy that sort of game, then you shouldn't play it. However, it's incorrect to portray that sort of game as any sort of problem. Like roleplay vs. rollplay, it's not right or wrong. It's just a different style of play that's not for everyone.
 

SkidAce

Legend
"What possible moral ambiguity is there in fighting bandits/raiders, slavers, murder-cultists, etc?"

But what if they're bandits because they're hungry?

What if they are slavers to avenge themselves on the creatures that enslaved them?

Murder-cultists are just paladins who don't worship YOUR god.

Previously, if the party kicks in the door in a dungeon and there are 4 drow and a Drider inside and they know Drow are evil, they can lead with a fireball.

Now, they can only lead with a "Hey guy's, sup? How do you feel about evil and stu OH GOD I'M POISONED AND STABBED!!"
Regardless of any position on this discussion....

That was funny!
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I'm not saying you literally said 'malleable' was in the text; I never meant to imply that. I used quotes because you said that word specifically, and I don't see anything in that quote that suggests Orcs are malleable.

Yes, actually, that's what it does mean: they are, by nature, evil. Their nature is evil. They are evil.

The supernatural (i.e. Eru/God) can always intervene to change them, but that's just because Eru/God is omnipotent and can do anything he wants. But he allows evil to exist because it is part of his plan for the universe. This is why Eru didn't just vaporize Morgoth when he started playing his own tune during the song of creation. Ordinary mortals might not be able to fathom why -- what exactly the plan is -- but Eru does, and they have to respect it.

This doesn't mean that Morgoth is capable of suddenly becoming a good guy though. He is what he is -- he is evil. This is what Tolkien means by 'naturally evil.' I would not misinterpret what he means by 'irredeemable.' The reason we can't say Morgoth is 'irredeemable', and why Tolkien says here it would be going a step too far to call Orcs 'irreddemable', is not because they are good or even neutral; it is because Eru/God has a plan for the universe and Morgoth and Orcs will play an important role in it, just as Attila the Hun could play the role of Scourge of God. Don't misinterpret that to mean they could be good. The villains of the story don't become good just because they have a role to play. They have to be evil for the plot/divine plan to work. The plot is what is good. The villains are not.
Yeah, no. You’re adding a bunch of stuff in because it suits your preferred interpretation, but it’s not actually there.
 

By killing other people though, right?
I don't have the Rime campaign myself, but how many monsters are there in the book? I'd guess 600 or 800 individually statted monsters. I'd also guess that in most campaigns, the great majority of those monsters are killed dead. Chopped up, gutted, blown to pieces, burned to cinders. Again, many of these are intelligent, sentient creatures.

Or let's look at the big picture. Let's say 5,000 groups play D&D this weekend. What would we guess the death toll in monsters will be? I'd put the over-under at 40,000. So 40,000 kills in a weekend.

I'm at a loss as to why people who aren't comfortable with routine lethal violence, played out in a light-hearted manner, choose D&D as their game of choice. D&D, a game where 70 per cent of the rules content is monsters, weapons, abilities to help in combat, and spells that kill monsters. There comes a point at which you're trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
 

Status
Not open for further replies.

Visit Our Sponsor

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top