D&D 5E Yes to factionalism. No to racism.

Hussar

Legend
I went hunting for a couple of days, and it looks like during my absence something weird happened. At least I have a wild duck.

I certainly can get behind getting rid of fictional races being coded as real-world oppressed minorities, but just removing all the stereotypes about all the fictional groups is, honestly, real weird.


Maybe I'm missing something, but are drow based on stereotypes about dark-skinned people, or are they just evil bastards who happen to have a dark skin?
Both.

See the biggest issue with these discussions is that people try to insist that there is one, and only one, interpretation to something.

That's not true.

So drow are certainly both based on stereotypes AND are just evil bastards who happen to have dark skin.

That's how interpretation works. There is no single right answer. If you can support the interpretation, then it is true, for a given value of truth. Things would go a lot easier if people would remember that.
 

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loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
Both.

See the biggest issue with these discussions is that people try to insist that there is one, and only one, interpretation to something.

That's not true.

So drow are certainly both based on stereotypes AND are just evil bastards who happen to have dark skin.

That's how interpretation works. There is no single right answer. If you can support the interpretation, then it is true, for a given value of truth. Things would go a lot easier if people would remember that.
Having read stuff upthread about one of the canonical characters being dressed as f###ing pimp, yeah, I see. I wasn't asking a rhetorical question — I haven't read Salvatore, and our stereotypes here in the East are different.
 

Hussar

Legend
Having read stuff upthread about one of the canonical characters being dressed as f###ing pimp, yeah, I see. I wasn't asking a rhetorical question — I haven't read Salvatore, and our stereotypes here in the East are different.
I wasn't being flippant.

Both is very much the answer. There is no such thing as a "right" interpretation. If an interpretation of a work can be supported by the text, then it's right. So, yes, drow are both just evil bastards who happen to have black skin - you can certainly find evidence to support that interpretation, AND, yes, drow are racist stereotypes and pretty misogynistic ones too.

Personally, I find the rabid anti-feminism of drow far more off putting than the color thing. The color thing at least has some basis in mythology. The rabid anti-feminism though just reeks of neckbeard comic book guy. Hrm, a matriachy that hates men to the point of keeping them as slaves, dressed in femdom leathers and worshipping a black widow spider. :erm: Bit on the nose, even for the 70's.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
It might just be me being European and therefore with different sensibilities but:
  • Even in the earliest publications, the drows were not inherently evil, they lived in a degenerate society due to Lolth / Demon worship, but there were still non-evil drows even in Erelhei-Cinlu (the only proper drow city as far as I'm concerned), haters of that society and local rebels, and I remember having a blast with these are they were almost the only allies that PCs could get in the city, seeing that EVERYONE else was evil, and the only non-evil ones (apart from captured slaves) were actually drows or half-drows...
  • It was cool to have a matriarcal society where females were in power and way more powerful than the males, and the first publications were not that extreme, all females at the time had chainmail bikinis anyway, why would the drow be any different ?
  • I have looked again at all the illustrations in the original modules and honestly, they are not bad, they look nothing like any earth ethnicity, completely black (as described with different skin reflection for males and females) with bluish or purplish highlights (or even white on the first illustration of Vault of the Drow).
After that, I absolutely hated the fact that the FR and in particular the Driz'zt thing stole the drow and the Salvatore books are absolutely terrible from any perspective that you consider. Here, in France, we never understood how they could have had such a success in the US.

So no-one, I mean absolutely no-one in France and in the UK that I played with for decades even found them racist or anti-feminist or even particularly sexist. They were extremely cool, amongst the best villains that you could fight, and the non-white friends and players among us actually loved them, in particular a guy that I've been playing with for 35+ years now and who still plays them, evil or not, male or female, as soon as he can.
 
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Faolyn

(she/her)
It was cool to have a matriarcal society where females were in power and way more powerful than the males, and the first publications were not that extreme, all females at the time had chainmail bikinis anyway, why would the drow be any different ?
It may be worth noting that, to the best of my knowledge, only evil races had matriarchies in D&D. Good races were either patriarchal or egalitarian. The only exceptions were for all-female races, like swanmays.
 

TheCultMachine

Explorer
People still think Drow as they were created are somehow racist? Obsidian skinned elves with straight white hair who worship an evil spider god mirror what real world group of people again?

I don’t hear anyone crying about Frost Giants. Nor do you hear anyone complain about big, fat, stupid, primarily white skinned Hill Giants. Is this what people like to do while playing fantasy games nowadays? Get a life.
 


I don't know of any direct influence, but there are many aspects of the drow that strike me as concordant with the "lost civilizations" trope in pulp literature. One of those is the fascination of the "she-who-must-be-obeyed" evil matriarch figures.
 



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