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5E WotC's Jeremy Crawford Talks D&D Alignment Changes

Jeremy Crawford has spoken about changes to the way alignment will be referred to in future D&D books. It starts with a reminder that no rule in D&D dictates your alignment.


(Note that in the transcript below, the questions in quotes were his own words but presumably refer to questions he's seen asked previously).

Friendly reminder: no rule in D&D mandates your character's alignment, and no class is restricted to certain alignments. You determine your character's moral compass. I see discussions that refer to such rules, yet they don't exist in 5th edition D&D.

Your character's alignment in D&D doesn't prescribe their behavior. Alignment describes inclinations. It's a roleplaying tool, like flaws, bonds, and ideals. If any of those tools don't serve your group's bliss, don't use them. The game's system doesn't rely on those tools.

D&D has general rules and exceptions to those rules. For example, you choose whatever alignment you want for your character at creation (general rule). There are a few magic items and other transformative effects that might affect a character's alignment (exceptions).

Want a benevolent green dragon in your D&D campaign or a sweet werewolf candlemaker? Do it. The rule in the Monster Manual is that the DM determines a monster's alignment. The DM plays that monster. The DM decides who that monster is in play.

Regarding a D&D monster's alignment, here's the general rule from the Monster Manual: "The alignment specified in a monster's stat block is the default. Feel free to depart from it and change a monster's alignment to suit the needs of your campaign."

"What about the Oathbreaker? It says you have to be evil." The Oathbreaker is a paladin subclass (not a class) designed for NPCs. If your DM lets you use it, you're already being experimental, so if you want to play a kindhearted Oathbreaker, follow your bliss!

"Why are player characters punished for changing their alignment?" There is no general system in 5th-edition D&D for changing your alignment and there are no punishments or rewards in the core rules for changing it. You can just change it. Older editions had such rules.

Even though the rules of 5th-edition D&D state that players and DMs determine alignment, the suggested alignments in our books have undeniably caused confusion. That's why future books will ditch such suggestions for player characters and reframe such things for the DM.

"What about the werewolf's curse of lycanthropy? It makes you evil like the werewolf." The DM determines the alignment of the werewolf. For example, the werewolf you face might be a sweetheart. The alignment in a stat block is a suggestion to the DM, nothing more.

"What about demons, devils, and angels in D&D? Their alignments can't change." They can change. The default story makes the mythological assumptions we expect, but the Monster Manual tells the DM to change any monster's alignment without hesitation to serve the campaign.

"You've reminded us that alignment is a suggestion. Does that mean you're not changing anything about D&D peoples after all?" We are working to remove racist tropes from D&D. Alignment is only one part of that work, and alignment will be treated differently in the future.

"Why are you telling us to ignore the alignment rules in D&D?" I'm not. I'm sharing what the alignment rules have been in the Player's Handbook & Monster Manual since 2014. We know that those rules are insufficient and have changes coming in future products.
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

dwayne

Adventurer
Is an animal evil or good, no they do what is in their nature's to do, an animal raised around humans and becomes friends with one accepts him as one of them. But will still attack others it is unfamiliar with depending on it's disposition to do so, some may be more naturally aggressive other maybe not so much. This too could be a product of environment and up bringing and being taught to see the world a certain way. As to orc's chaotic evil as to survival of the fittest, much like a natural animal would but smarter. Generations of this can bring then to odds with other cultures that are dynamically opposed to their views and traditions of their culture. But even so the others such as elves would see them as brutish and uncouth a lower life form just one step or two removed from animals at best. elves would feel that they are better than those beasts and would have no troubles killing all of them. Much like a Hunter killing a wild cat for eating his live stock or endangering his family because of it encroaching on to his lands. Humans would more than not share this view in many ways as the elves, but also would view the elves as distant and aloof due to their long view of life and attitude that they are above the younger race and view them as rash and short sighted. So are any of these evil as a whole no not any, it is a cultural aspect and the difference of them that mostly puts them at odds. As there is more than not many of the orcs encountered are the evil ones as they would love the destruction and doing the evil unto others, as to elves it may more subtle and hidden from others of their kind and not as obvious. Where as humans it would be a mix bag as we would war with each other based off minor differences in ideology, and elves would have moved passed this ages ago as a people. I think really we can still keep the raiding culture of the orc's and them not be evil, it being a way of life much like the vikings, who changed over time. But the deal is that some may continue to raid and kill and do other monstrosities of which those close to those groups would have a poor view of them as a race as a whole. Like what is going on now in the world, a cop kills some on and now they want to do away with all cops, well not all cops are the same just like orc's are not all the same. And as to the riots with all the violence and destruction, well not all are like this some in the groups are peaceful, but it is the small part that is causing the rest to look bad.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” Quote - ANAÏS NIN
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
No, I've actually seen a lot of people do their solemn best to explain to me that Drow are only culturally Evil while the various humanoids are intrinsically Evil, and thus the former are free to choose their alignment while the latter are not. They're both still going to be killed on sight by any Good-aligned NPC in their games if I try to play one, though, because only Neutral and Evil people believe that morality is determined by a person's actions.
Not sure who this was directed at, but since I've posted that drow PCs are not allowed in my campaign because they wouldn't survive so I'll take a swing. Assume for a moment that all serial killers suddenly turned blue overnight. If someone blue walks into town, what do you think the reaction would be? Now put that in terms of a world where monsters are real, every drow ever encountered has left behind a trail of bodies. A world more violent and more likely to rely on deadly measures.

I think it would be logical for people to assume that a drow was an imminent threat to life and limb. Would killing them on sight be right or good? No. Would it be realistic? I think it would be.

That, and not everyone wants to play "Morality and Ethics 201", they want to play a TTRPG version of Doom and kill the bad guys without questioning right and wrong. Different people play for different reasons, and with different levels of moral pondering. When I play I usually don't want to worry about the ethical quagmire, nuances and messiness that is the real world.
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
My own experiences with the alignment system have been universally bad. Players argue over their meaning. Players squabble over their application. Players point to them on a character sheet to excuse being jerks to their fellow players as "good role-play". Players slap the label "evil" on their character sheet and think that somehow makes them cool and edgy instead of petty and childish. As far as I'm concerned, alignments have always been useless, meaningless, and destructive. I'd as soon see them dumped entirely.
I am glad I don't have your players. This sounds more like their issue than an issue with the alignment system. And if you removed that system would they be any different or would they just give their characters backstories to justify their behavior?

My players have chosen their alignments with some thought and largely lived within them. I track alignment and changes, over time, have been largely gradual and reasonable. Well, time to thank the gods for my players again :D
 

Remove and replace with...

That's the thing I think gives more than a few people pause: what after you replacing those race trope with? Are orcs no longer raiders but have towns, cities and nations? Do they have merchants and traders coming to local towns? Are there crafters and artisans? More importantly, if we are going to change both their physical and cultural elements to be less problematic, are they going to retain enough identity to still be orcs?

Even if D&D punts and says "orc culture is solely up to the DM to determine", you are just replacing the default with blank space. I kinda want to know WHAT is/will/should fill that gap now that orcs aren't CE raiders and destroyers.
When rethinking the Orc, factions seem a solution.

One faction is aggressive raiders relating to the ideology of Gruumsh, being Evil.
An other faction is ManyArrows, mainly True Neutral, allying Orc communities, to coexist.
There can be other factions too, maybe some are peaceful, gentle giants.

Admittedly, the Orc tends toward tropes of low-Intelligence brutes. With reallife concerns of racist tropes, are some Orc factions to exhibit high Intelligence? A faction originating from Half-Orc might. Perhaps, the Gruumsh faction intentionally killed off Orcs with high Intelligence, so as to intensify animalistic fury.

Eberron has Intelligent Orcs who are part of urban multicultural life.

It seems ok if one faction continues the familiar D&D tropes. The species itself can be more diverse, with different kinds of factions.

Note, Orcs are less central to my campaigns and I dont have a strong feeling about them. I am open to suggestions for how to diversify them in interesting ways. Factions seem to help.
 
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dwayne

Adventurer
When rethinking the Orc, factions seem a solution.

One faction is aggressive raiders relating to the ideology of Gruumsh, being Evil.
An other faction is ManyArrows, mainly True Neutral, allying Orc communities, to coexist.
There can be other factions too, maybe some are peaceful, gentle giants.

Admittedly, the Orc tends toward tropes of low-Intelligence brutes. With reallife concerns of racist tropes, are some Orc factions to exhibit high Intelligence? A faction originating from Half-Orc might. Perhaps, the Gruumsh faction intentionally killed off Orcs with high Intelligence, so as to intensify animalistic fury.

Eberron has Intelligent Orcs who are part of urban multicultural life.

It seems ok if one faction continues the familiar D&D tropes. The species itself can be more diverse, with different kinds of factions.

Note, Orcs are less central to my campaigns and I dont have a strong feeling about them. I am open to suggestions for how to diversify them in interesting ways. Factions seem to help.
I like this idea, much like an allegiance system/Faction is a good one as well also could be used in an up dated planscape as well, if they do it or just toss out another realms what ever for money. slapping some famous persons name from another realm but not the setting and then make many references on how to use in the realms and a foot note of where it was from. Sorry got off topic, any way yes i like this one.
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
When rethinking the Orc, factions seem a solution.

One faction is aggressive raiders relating to the ideology of Gruumsh, being Evil.
An other faction is ManyArrows, mainly True Neutral, allying Orc communities, to coexist.
There can be other factions too, maybe some are peaceful, gentle giants.

Admittedly, the Orc tends toward tropes of low-Intelligence brutes. With reallife concerns of racist tropes, are some Orc factions to exhibit high Intelligence? A faction originating from Half-Orc might. Perhaps, the Gruumsh faction intentionally killed off Orcs with high Intelligence, so as to intensify animalistic fury.

Eberron has Intelligent Orcs who are part of urban multicultural life.

It seems ok if one faction continues the familiar D&D tropes. The species itself can be more diverse, with different kinds of factions.

Note, Orcs are less central to my campaigns and I dont have a strong feeling about them. I am open to suggestions for how to diversify them in interesting ways. Factions seem to help.
Just a few stray thoughts...

One problem with "factionalizing" Orcs... humanoids (to use the old term for Orcs etc.) and demi-humans (another old term for Elves etc.) are already "factionalized". By race (species or whatever you call them). The various non-human races all fall into niches already. it's one of the reasons there are so many of them in D&D. If you split the Orcs into numerous factions filling different niches in the game are you going to do the same thing with Goblins, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, etc? By the time you're done it's going to get a bit complex. One of my degrees is in cultural anthropology, and the concept of different cultures / societies is fine, but it's starting to hit high levels of complexity for a FRPG.

Another thing, one of the reasons "evil races" (Orcs etc.) are so monolithic in behavior is the relatively limited forms of contact PCs have with them. Namely combat :) The friendlier races (Dwarf, Elfs, Gnomes, etc.) exhibit somewhat more diversity because PCs are apt to have more contact with them, not just combat.

Drow and Duergar are under dark opposites of their surface dwelling kin. The trope of what is good above is evil underneath. I suppose if you wanted a "good" (non-hostile) version of an "evil" surface race you could pop them into the under dark...

My campaign setting is fairly complex with a deep history and 45 years of development. The monolithically evil (and good) races help keep the complexity down to manageable levels. I've also spent quite a bit of time explaining / rationalizing the quirks of the various groups. I'm probably not going to change any of that :D
 

But if the morality is subjetive then people from XXI century couldn't complain about horrible things happened hundreds of years ago, for example the exposite of the newborn (abandoning unwanted children)
I'm not complaining, I'm just proving him wrong. And frankly, why you would think that some guy who lived in a time when people still believed the Sun went round the Earth is better qualified to talk about metaphysics than Joe Blogs down the local pub baffles me. He didn't even claim divine revelation - he was just talking out of his arse.
 

Well, no. You don't need to be anything like lawful good to see inaction and apathy in the face of evil as evil. It's hardly an extreme view to watch a video of a man being slowly murdered, see peers of the murderer in the video who could easily stop it with full legal justification, and say, "they may not be as evil as the murderer, but their inaction was also an act of evil, and they share his guilt."

In fact, I'd say Chaotic Good is more likely to see things that way, because Lawful Good can hide behind the Law As Such to not have to think of one's neighbors as evil due to inaction, because they "had no authority to act" or similar excuses, while Chaotic Good cannot hide behind such logical shields.

I'd say that Law vs Chaos is, in part, a difference of prioritising either emotional or logical intelligence, especially as it relates to judgement of guilt and just or unjust action.
So I largely agree with your post, though I point out that this particular example is an extreme. While yes it doesn't require a strong lawful slant to object to something as obvious as murder (I would argue the defining trait of Good vs neutral vs evil is how much one values life, i.e. heavily leaning good characters should ideally only kill after all other options are given a chance), things are a bit more complicated when trying to consider law vs chaos. For example, if a society is structured in a way that is heavily unfair towards a particular subgroup, the lawful person would likely seek to fix the system from within, while the chaotic one would seek extra-lawful aids. I seek not to derail this thread, but unfortunately one of the best examples of this would perhaps be the current hot topic of police brutality. The lawful good would protest peacefully and seek to chance the laws from within while the chaotic one would see no issue with deliberately breaking the laws in order to save lives and achieve their cause.

It's actually a big problem I have with those who end up picking Chaotic neutral just to ignore alignment; those who seek to do that should be true neutral. Chaotic people are those who are actively opposed to order on a fundamental level, being either true Anarchists, or be so adverse to strict regimented habits/personal planning. To merely be "going with what feels right at the moment" is not sufficient to be CN, one should hate the very idea of sticking to a strict scheduled lifestyle or feel trapped by systems of authority.

On a whole the concept of alignment is once again quite subject to the DM's interpretation, which is why I tend to have a bit of a chat with my players as part of session 0 to confirm how I interpret things as a DM and let them decide the appropriate alignment as they see fit. I've found that trying to explain possible ways how each different alignment views the world how I hinted at beforehand works wonders for this.

On the general topic of alignment and how WOTC will be making changes going forward, I applaud their efforts and will definitely incorporate at least most of what they do. I do sort of still personally see the value in depicting some beings as being innately leaning towards certain alignments, but I always speak with my players and make it clear to them that this is NOT how every member of different races are, but merely general tendencies. I actively encourage them to come up with non typical alignment choices, and typically only provide information for them to consider figuring out how their characters sort of broke away from the norms.

The big thing I feel a lot of players and DMs forget is that alignment is a fluid concept. One must remember that in most stories characters rarely end up the same alignment they start out as, and it is often a sign of bad writing for them not to shift alignments at least once. A recent (or old pending on what you define) example is Cloud from FF7, whom starts out strongly true Neutral and has a pretty clear shift towards true good as the game progresses and he becomes more focused on saving lifes and less about making money.

The exception is those stories in which a character being stagnate in their beliefs is the point, a great example of this being most depictions of Batman, where the entire point of the story is having his hardcore good stance on not killing questioned. Him undergoing a slip towards neutral or evil means something truly big has gone down, or tends to be a tragic depiction of the character.

Now, that all said, I for one in my games typically depict certain nonmortal creatures like demons, Angel's, gods, etc. as being largely incapable of alignment shifting except in extreme circumstances. Others are more than welcome to interpret them differently but I personally like having this distinction as a deliberate difference between them and mortality. Especially with gods, I personally find it a useful narrative tool that deliberately explains mortal free will. The outsiders/immortals are not truly sentient as they are shackled by their alignment...and that's the point. Anyone is welcome to rule otherwise.

That said, I've done precisely what Crawford has hinted at numerous times (i.e. good chromatic dragons, good demons, etc., evil celestials), and I feel no reason to be 100% ironclad about them being unable to shift, I merely just always from them a reason they aren't the norm. Usually I rule they had some sort of moment where they had a sudden shift that radically altered their beliefs/personality, examples of which include death of another god, loved one, being put in an unwinnable position (looking at you Zariel or the Abbot from Curse of Strahd). I find at the end of the day it's about both trying to retell a good narrative while being open and honest with your players and listening to their input.
 

dwayne

Adventurer
The guy above MostlyHarmless42 makes a valid point, and i think i touched on this a bit, but he put it in better terms i think. If you going to split one your going to have to do it for all, just taking alignment out might sound good, but I think this is just all unnecessary. As i had said before the DM always has final say and if he wants a good race of orcs in his setting them he should go for it. I really don't see it as a necessary thing for everything and setting, I tried to run a normal setting once and no one wanted to play the standard race options. So i let them play monsters and well they quickly got to a point of hating all humans and elves and many others of the more common races. Because they were monsters and started to act like them, and they ended the game after the party got killed by a group of paladins. To be fair the gold in the temple was much and they needed the funds for road beers and beef jerky, also one guy was stoned as well as in turned to stone and the cost to fix him was much. Any way this whole thing is not going to make any difference 20 years or 20 or even 5 or less years from now.
 

Just a few stray thoughts...

One problem with "factionalizing" Orcs... humanoids (to use the old term for Orcs etc.) and demi-humans (another old term for Elves etc.) are already "factionalized". By race (species or whatever you call them). The various non-human races all fall into niches already. it's one of the reasons there are so many of them in D&D. If you split the Orcs into numerous factions filling different niches in the game are you going to do the same thing with Goblins, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, etc? By the time you're done it's going to get a bit complex. One of my degrees is in cultural anthropology, and the concept of different cultures / societies is fine, but it's starting to hit high levels of complexity for a FRPG.

Another thing, one of the reasons "evil races" (Orcs etc.) are so monolithic in behavior is the relatively limited forms of contact PCs have with them. Namely combat :) The friendlier races (Dwarf, Elfs, Gnomes, etc.) exhibit somewhat more diversity because PCs are apt to have more contact with them, not just combat.

Drow and Duergar are under dark opposites of their surface dwelling kin. The trope of what is good above is evil underneath. I suppose if you wanted a "good" (non-hostile) version of an "evil" surface race you could pop them into the under dark...

My campaign setting is fairly complex with a deep history and 45 years of development. The monolithically evil (and good) races help keep the complexity down to manageable levels. I've also spent quite a bit of time explaining / rationalizing the quirks of the various groups. I'm probably not going to change any of that :D
Turning factions into biological "races" turns D&D into a game for "racists". Literally.
 

Hussar

Legend
Just a few stray thoughts...

One problem with "factionalizing" Orcs... humanoids (to use the old term for Orcs etc.) and demi-humans (another old term for Elves etc.) are already "factionalized". By race (species or whatever you call them). The various non-human races all fall into niches already. it's one of the reasons there are so many of them in D&D. If you split the Orcs into numerous factions filling different niches in the game are you going to do the same thing with Goblins, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, etc? By the time you're done it's going to get a bit complex. One of my degrees is in cultural anthropology, and the concept of different cultures / societies is fine, but it's starting to hit high levels of complexity for a FRPG.

Another thing, one of the reasons "evil races" (Orcs etc.) are so monolithic in behavior is the relatively limited forms of contact PCs have with them. Namely combat :) The friendlier races (Dwarf, Elfs, Gnomes, etc.) exhibit somewhat more diversity because PCs are apt to have more contact with them, not just combat.

Drow and Duergar are under dark opposites of their surface dwelling kin. The trope of what is good above is evil underneath. I suppose if you wanted a "good" (non-hostile) version of an "evil" surface race you could pop them into the under dark...

My campaign setting is fairly complex with a deep history and 45 years of development. The monolithically evil (and good) races help keep the complexity down to manageable levels. I've also spent quite a bit of time explaining / rationalizing the quirks of the various groups. I'm probably not going to change any of that :D
Wouldn't the simpler solution be to have X number of factions, but, the factions are not divided by racial lines? So, you have the "Reaver" faction, which includes members from any species that takes up the sword to go reaving on their neighbors? Or the "Peaceful coexistence faction " (Man I suck at naming stuff) includes anyone who isn't interested in ganking their neighbors. The "Hangs out with demons" factions, again, have members from pretty much any race that might want to summon a demon or three for fun and profit.

In other words, you don't split races into different, exclusive, factions, but, rather, you have a couple of dozen (to start with) factions that cover most of the bigger bases and anyone who fits into that mold for that faction is a member.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
Turning factions into biological "races" turns D&D into a game for "racists". Literally.
Wouldn't the simpler solution be to have X number of factions, but, the factions are not divided by racial lines? So, you have the "Reaver" faction, which includes members from any species that takes up the sword to go reaving on their neighbors? Or the "Peaceful coexistence faction " (Man I suck at naming stuff) includes anyone who isn't interested in ganking their neighbors. The "Hangs out with demons" factions, again, have members from pretty much any race that might want to summon a demon or three for fun and profit.

In other words, you don't split races into different, exclusive, factions, but, rather, you have a couple of dozen (to start with) factions that cover most of the bigger bases and anyone who fits into that mold for that faction is a member.
but but but M O N O L I T H I C E V I L :(

honestly idk if even factions are necessary? orcs can mostly live in tribes and occasionally kingdoms, and if that means living with other races with similar situations that's cool, too. I don't think it's bad if they live alone, but I'd also expect a city to have at least some orcs and gnolls and goblins.

maybe regionalism might be better? it works for the "civilized" races. like orcs might be everywhere, but gnolls can mostly be found in grassy plains, hobgoblins live in hills and mountains, you get the idea.
 

Hussar

Legend
Well, there's no reason you couldn't have territorial factions. Pomarj orcs, for example, from Greyhawk, probably have different goals and whatnot from, say, Iuz orcs or Amedio Jungle orcs.

Humanoids in the Pomarj might be extremely territorial and xenophobic - constantly fighting with pretty much anything to try to carve out a Pomarj state. Whereas Iuz humanoids live under the thumb of Iuz and may have different strata (from slave forces to those who serve willingly) where the notion of Gruumsh isn't even a thing. OTOH, Amedio humanoids would likely be somewhat technologically backward, preyed upon by Scarlet Brotherhood and Sea Prince slavers.

For example, the lizardfolk, locathah, and possibly goblins and orcs around Saltmarsh, and that area, could easily belong to a faction of "Fairly peaceable, not terribly xenophobic, isolationist".

Sorry, been playing a LOT of Stellaris of late, and that's generally how they describe various species in the game. It works rather well.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Turning factions into biological "races" turns D&D into a game for "racists". Literally.
No it doesn't. To be "racist" requires a belief in inferiority/superiority of race, which isn't inherently present in race as faction. It's probably "bigoted," but it's not automatically "racist." Hating imaginary race X because of different factions is "bigotry", not "racism", but since individuals don't have to hate another faction, it's not inherently "bigoted", either.

I used "" around those words since you can't actually be racist, bigoted or anything else against a piece of game imagination. The issue here is what to do about people who find some in game things offensive based on similarities with out of game things.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Factions seems to be a solution.

One faction is aggressive raiders relating to the cult of Gruumsh. The ideology of this Faction is Evil.
An other faction is ManyArrows, allying many Orc communities, even former members of the Gruumsh faction. Neutral.
There can be other factions too, that are peaceful, gentle giants.

Admittedly, the Orc tends toward tropes of low-Intelligence brutes. Are some Orc factions high Intelligence? A faction originating from Half-Orcs might be. Perhaps, the Gruumsh faction intentionally killed off Orcs with high Intelligence, to intensify animalistic fury.

Eberron has Intelligent Orcs that are part of urban multicultural life.

It seems ok for one faction to continue the familiar D&D tropes. At the same time, it is unnecessary to predetermine the entire human species to only this.

Orcs are less central to my campaigns and I dont have a strong feeling about them, and am open to suggestions for how to diversify them in interesting ways. Factions seem to help.
The only concern I see with this approach is space. Orcs eat up in their current form four pages of the MM (including art and four stat blocks. Orcs broken into, let's say three, different factions eat up a lot of real estate, unless you're going to be extremely superficial with them. Times that by every humanoid in the Monster Manual (aarakroca, duergar, drow, snirvneblin, orc, goblin, hobgoblin, merfolk, bugbear, gnoll, sahuagin, etc) and you're filling up a large chunk of the MM with repetitive info on the same scant selection of stat blocks. And if you want to at-all expand the notion to non-humanoids like ogres or minotaurs, or vampires, you're filling a HUGE chunk of the book with half-as-many monsters.
 

The only concern I see with this approach is space. Orcs eat up in their current form four pages of the MM (including art and four stat blocks. Orcs broken into, let's say three, different factions eat up a lot of real estate, unless you're going to be extremely superficial with them. Times that by every humanoid in the Monster Manual (aarakroca, duergar, drow, snirvneblin, orc, goblin, hobgoblin, merfolk, bugbear, gnoll, sahuagin, etc) and you're filling up a large chunk of the MM with repetitive info on the same scant selection of stat blocks. And if you want to at-all expand the notion to non-humanoids like ogres or minotaurs, or vampires, you're filling a HUGE chunk of the book with half-as-many monsters.
Maybe the Monster Manuals be brief with a light touch, when describing possible factions that a DM might find interesting.

But then, each Setting Guide would go into more detail about any factions that are salient within the setting.

Factions can be territorial, regional, neighborhood, business association, criminal network, political alliance, addiction recovery, gaming activity, arcane society, bardic college, sex club, dating service, exclusive night club, religious community, ethnic cultural organization, social activist party, secret society, or almost any kind of reallife grouping. The Lolth faction is an example of a "racist supremacist" faction.

Anyway, I prefer the core rules to be flavor free, with only a light touch of possible compartmentalized suggestive options, that a DM can opt into or easily ignore. By contrast, the purpose of a setting guide is to weave elaborate narratives together to show how to flesh out these minimalist core rules, to build a functioning world.

Different settings would have different factions and different narratives. The factions that are true for Orcs in one setting would be untrue in an other setting. So there is no point for a Monster Manual to be too elaborate about each faction anyway. A Setting Guide on the other hand would emphasize and elaborate details about each faction as a valuable source for narrative conflicts that make the adventure stories meaningful and exciting.
 
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Remathilis

Legend
Maybe the Monster Manuals be brief with a light touch, if describing possible factions that a DM might find interesting.

But then, each Setting Guide would go into more detail about any factions that are salient within the setting.

Factions can be territorial, regional, neighborhood, business association, criminal network, political alliance, addiction recovery, gaming activity, arcane society, bardic college, sex club, exclusive night club, religious community, ethnic cultural organization, or almost any kind of reallife grouping. The Lolth faction is an example of a "racist supremacist" faction.

Anyway, I prefer the core rules to be flavor free, with only a light touch of possible compartmentalized suggestive options, that a DM can opt into or easily ignore. By contrast, the purpose of a setting guide is too offer an elaborate narratives weaving together to show how to flesh out these minimalist core rules, to build a functioning world.
We had something similar in 4e, the PHB and MM were very fluff-lite (often less than a half a page for some monsters) and it was criticized for being uninspiring and in some cases didn't give enough info to use the monster beyond "this is a foe to defeat". By the time Essentials came out, the MM was far more fluffy and hook oriented in reaction to that.

I don't relish the return to monsters with some assembly required.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
We had something similar in 4e, the PHB and MM were very fluff-lite (often less than a half a page for some monsters) and it was criticized for being uninspiring and in some cases didn't give enough info to use the monster beyond "this is a foe to defeat". By the time Essentials came out, the MM was far more fluffy and hook oriented in reaction to that.

I don't relish the return to monsters with some assembly required.
Not to mention that many people simply don't have time to create fluff for everything. It's far easier for someone to ignore pre-written monster fluff than it is to just come up with it on your own.
 

No it doesn't. To be "racist" requires a belief in inferiority/superiority of race, which isn't inherently present in race as faction. It's probably "bigoted," but it's not automatically "racist." Hating imaginary race X because of different factions is "bigotry", not "racism", but since individuals don't have to hate another faction, it's not inherently "bigoted", either.

I used "" around those words since you can't actually be racist, bigoted or anything else against a piece of game imagination. The issue here is what to do about people who find some in game things offensive based on similarities with out of game things.
D&D is "fantasy racism". But the tropes are reallife racist tropes.

The problem with D&D racism is, the racist supremacism is objectively true and correct. The elf race really does have superior Dexterity. The gnome race really does have superior Intelligence. The orc race really is a savage brute. The reallife tropes about racist supremacism are now on steroids in D&D.

The only thing that can solve this problem is an official ability for each player to customize and personal any humanoid race. Customizing ability score improvements, makes racist supremacism less objectively true.
 
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We had something similar in 4e, the PHB and MM were very fluff-lite (often less than a half a page for some monsters) and it was criticized for being uninspiring and in some cases didn't give enough info to use the monster beyond "this is a foe to defeat". By the time Essentials came out, the MM was far more fluffy and hook oriented in reaction to that.

I don't relish the return to monsters with some assembly required.
I feel the current 5e Monster Manual should have been the "Forgotten Realms Monster Manual", specifically for the Forgotten Realms Setting. Each setting can have its own Monster Manual(s).

The moment a stat block adds elaborate flavor it is, by definition, one specific setting only, and becomes less useful in a different setting.

The core rules work better as an SRD without flavor, for DMs who want to do worldbuilding or want to tweak a specific component of a specific setting. The SRD might suggest flavor boxes, but the DM should be able to easily use a proverbial black marker to blot out any unwanted flavor, and never see the unwanted flavor mentioned anywhere else. For the core rules. Setting rules are a different kind of design space. For DMs who are worldbuilders who want to assemble a new setting more conveniently, and for players who love to customize their characters, access to flavorless core rules is valuable.

If the core rules avoided the racist assumptions of the Forgotten Realms setting, and instead modeled the agnosticism and factionalism of the Eberron setting, the core rules would have less problems now.
 
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