DnD addresses racism.

Worgen

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So it sounds like DnD is going to stop with the rather simplistic good/evil dynamic for its races which was always kinda weird.
I don't actually play DnD so can anyone who does tell me what you think about this change? From my perspective it seems like they only had the whole good/evil thing mainly to make players feel better about the amount of killing things that were supposed to be thinking that they would be doing.

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Kae

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From what I get from the article it has more to do with the fact that there have been several settings, but mainly Eberron that have been following that Philosophy of morality having nothing to do with race than anything else, as the depiction of Orcs in Eberron for example had to be listed as a separate race (Which was overall superior to the one in Forgotten Realms published originally Volo's Guide to Monsters), so it's partly to avoid confusion regarding multiple printings of different races in different settings, and also to acknowledge that there have been good Orcs, Drow Elves, Duergar and even stuff like Illithid for a really long time in the game so claiming these races are inherently evil isn't particularly useful, especially for the playable version as that leads the player to assume they can't play a hero if they play that race despite the fact that such heroes have existed in the D&D Canon for a really long time.

The other reason listed for the change in that article is that some races in D&D are clearly analogues to real world cultures, in this case they talk about the Vistani which are a very stereotypical depiction of the Romani people, and in that case specifically, I can see why the depiction in the last book they were in (Curse of Strahd) could easily be seen as problematic, with all of them even having the innate ability to curse you through evil black magic, which is a commonly heard thing against them.
They basically said they will be avoiding doing this kind of stuff in the future and if they do continue with these kinds of cultures in D&D they will have consultants, mentioning that they have already hired Romani consultants that are apparently involved in 2 different future projects.

So yeah, overall I don't think of this as a particularly negative change, in the case of the Orc it's good because if we eliminate those assumptions that means there's going to be a bit more variety in the way people play orcs, in the case of the Vistani that means that we'll be getting a much more rich and balanced example of their culture, not to mention they'll stop propagating negative stereotypes of a real-life culture, which I think is good.

BTW

I'd recommend reading the actual blog post by Wizards of the Coast rather than using a second hand source as in both other articles I've read some things are being exaggerated or assumed.

 
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Not a big DnD player. The closets I've ever gotten were the two Capcom arcade rpg-brawlers and Guardian Heroes. If Wizard feels that way, I can understand and support their decision.
 

happyninja42

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So it sounds like DnD is going to stop with the rather simplistic good/evil dynamic for its races which was always kinda weird.
I don't actually play DnD so can anyone who does tell me what you think about this change? From my perspective it seems like they only had the whole good/evil thing mainly to make players feel better about the amount of killing things that were supposed to be thinking that they would be doing.
I'm fine with it frankly, as the fantasy genre is stuffed to the brim with signature characters that break the stereotype for their race/species. Dritzz the Drow Ranger who is a hero is probably the most recognizable, but there are countless examples. Plus, plenty of players like to come up with concepts that basically boil down to "I'm from that race that's traditionally evil, but I'm not because reasons." So it's hardly anything new, it's just now apparently going to be "canon" in the published material.

It's always been a fairly simplistic system yes, to say something like "All Orcs are Evil! Yes but why? Because they're Orcs!" There is a classic moral dilemma about a Paladin and baby orcs/goblins, and what you do with them. The setup for the debate usually boils down to : PC's get hired to attack a goblin/orc camp that is raiding a village of Not-Goblin/Orcs, so they go fight. They kill all the defenders, and go into one of the buildings, to find a collection of female/children orcs, hiding from the combat. The question then is what do you do with them. Because the BOOK says they are Evil, so some will say it's ok to just kill them. Others like "it's not Evil...it's a BABY" and thus the argument begins. And frankly it's incredibly simplistic. Yes, it's basically there to give some very quick information to the GM and players about whether they should kill everyone that moves, or try and negotiate. Personally I find this point moot with many players, as most of them build combat characters, so if they aren't doing combat, they feel like they aren't "playing", so they tend to get itchy for bloodshed.

Anyway, yeah I'm totally fine with it, as plenty of game settings have branched out into exploring these options as well. One game that I played recently that I loved, was set around a small clan of goblins, who had been converted to worshiping the Goddess of Light and Fire, who has redemption as a key aspect of her code. She's all about giving people, ANY people, a chance to stop being evil shitbags, and let them work for good and light. She doesn't care what species they are, she cares about their actions. And you play as a group of little gobbos who are sent out on a mission from god, to try and find food for your clan, but end up getting involved in much larger events. It's meant to be a fun, lighthearted game, and it definitely was. But damn it was fun playing a goblin without the expectation of evil behavior on my part.

I guess I just read too much Terry Pratchett (that's a lie, there is never too much Pratchett), and fell in love with his depictions of the various races, basically all being relatively decent. The racial conflicts between them aren't based on any one species being evil, it's more framed as simply racism/bigotry, and cultural conditioning to hate "Them." But yeah there is an entire book devoted to how people treat the goblins like slaves and beasts, and you end up loving them a lot. They're frankly one of my favorite species these days in fantasy stories, when they are portrayed as being no more good/evil than any other race. And they end up being tiny little balls of awesome as part of the group of heroes.
 
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Worgen

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I'd recommend reading the actual blog post by Wizards of the Coast rather than using a second hand source as in both other articles I've read some things are being exaggerated or assumed.
Oh, it actually sounds like what they are planning on doing is less interesting then what I gathered from the Kotaku article. Oh well, I guess that would be a lot of work anyway.
 

Worgen

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I'm fine with it frankly, as the fantasy genre is stuffed to the brim with signature characters that break the stereotype for their race/species. Dritzz the Drow Ranger who is a hero is probably the most recognizable, but there are countless examples. Plus, plenty of players like to come up with concepts that basically boil down to "I'm from that race that's traditionally evil, but I'm not because reasons." So it's hardly anything new, it's just now apparently going to be "canon" in the published material.

It's always been a fairly simplistic system yes, to say something like "All Orcs are Evil! Yes but why? Because they're Orcs!" There is a classic moral dilemma about a Paladin and baby orcs/goblins, and what you do with them. The setup for the debate usually boils down to : PC's get hired to attack a goblin/orc camp that is raiding a village of Not-Goblin/Orcs, so they go fight. They kill all the defenders, and go into one of the buildings, to find a collection of female/children orcs, hiding from the combat. The question then is what do you do with them. Because the BOOK says they are Evil, so some will say it's ok to just kill them. Others like "it's not Evil...it's a BABY" and thus the argument begins. And frankly it's incredibly simplistic. Yes, it's basically there to give some very quick information to the GM and players about whether they should kill everyone that moves, or try and negotiate. Personally I find this point moot with many players, as most of them build combat characters, so if they aren't doing combat, they feel like they aren't "playing", so they tend to get itchy for bloodshed.

Anyway, yeah I'm totally fine with it, as plenty of game settings have branched out into exploring these options as well. One game that I played recently that I loved, was set around a small clan of goblins, who had been converted to worshiping the Goddess of Light and Fire, who has redemption as a key aspect of her code. She's all about giving people, ANY people, a chance to stop being evil shitbags, and let them work for good and light. She doesn't care what species they are, she cares about their actions. And you play as a group of little gobbos who are sent out on a mission from god, to try and find food for your clan, but end up getting involved in much larger events. It's meant to be a fun, lighthearted game, and it definitely was. But damn it was fun playing a goblin without the expectation of evil behavior on my part.

I guess I just read too much Terry Pratchett (that's a lie, there is never too much Pratchett), and fell in love with his depictions of the various races, basically all being relatively decent. The racial conflicts between them aren't based on any one species being evil, it's more framed as simply racism/bigotry, and cultural conditioning to hate "Them." But yeah there is an entire book devoted to how people treat the goblins like slaves and beasts, and you end up loving them a lot. They're frankly one of my favorite species these days in fantasy stories, when they are portrayed as being no more good/evil than any other race. And they end up being tiny little balls of awesome as part of the group of heroes.
The way "bad races" were usually depicted in things always bugged me since these were supposedly groups that managed to have some kinda society going, enough to have the tech and economy to be making armor and such. Yet a lot of them were just unthinking cannon fodder, to be killed looted and forgotten. Which is totally at odds with having enough of a society to actually make things. But, having a Venn diagram of race relations with different fantasy races seems complicated and hard, but much more interesting.
 

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Oh, it actually sounds like what they are planning on doing is less interesting then what I gathered from the Kotaku article. Oh well, I guess that would be a lot of work anyway.
Yeah, the problem is that people are talking like it's a dramatic change, when in reality it's a very gradual change that has been happening for a really long time, so it's just a logical conclusion, that being said Wizards does very much acknowledge that the way the races have been portrayed up until now is definitely somewhat problematic and culturally insensitive, they mention the example of Tomb of Annihilation in which the race of the Yuan-Ti (Snake People) which use a lot of imagery from the Mayan culture as well as using their naming conventions, but are portrayed excursively as evil, conniving and cannibals in that book (And Volo's Guide to Monsters), going so far as to say they are incapable of feeling empathy and other such things, which is a bit weird considering they are supposed to represent a real-world culture and are also the only playable race that has ties to a pre-colonial American culture.

Which as you can see could definitely be seen as quite problematic, they do mention they are going to be releasing editions of these books with some of the problematic content removed, which to be fair I'm not particularly fond of as I would prefer they released editions of these books with a more balanced depiction, kinda like what they are doing with the Vistani, but I do understand that would be a ton of work and in this case Eberron did portray a more balanced version of this race but with little detail which is a bit disappointing but understandable as that was an already dense book containing everything from a new class, optional rules,new races, world building, new items and even an adventure.
 

happyninja42

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The way "bad races" were usually depicted in things always bugged me since these were supposedly groups that managed to have some kinda society going, enough to have the tech and economy to be making armor and such. Yet a lot of them were just unthinking cannon fodder, to be killed looted and forgotten. Which is totally at odds with having enough of a society to actually make things. But, having a Venn diagram of race relations with different fantasy races seems complicated and hard, but much more interesting.
Well I think it's mostly just an aspect of an evolving game over decades, as the original basic systems and rules, have been altered and updated and improved with generations of players, and they've become more complex. I do sort of give fantasy settings a bit of a pass on this kind of "all X race is good/evil" particularly if they have gods of those factions established, and magic that is actually based on that faith/belief. I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility, to say that "X race has been mystically and spiritually bound to Big Evil Mistress Mean Face, The 5 Headed Dragon of Grumpiness, and thus they are all Evil with a capital E." Because the idea that they might actually be under some kind of mystical/magical bond/geas to said deity, yeah I don't think that's a far stretch for fantasy. They've done it for decades. Dark pacts that enslave and ensnare an entire race to the service of some dark lord. I mean hell that's basically the story of multiple of the races in World of Warcraft. It's just that the event happened so long ago, it's now just generational understanding that they pop out of the womb Evil.

Is it simplistic and one note? Yes. Is it at all unusual or weird of a premise in fantasy storytelling? Hell no, it's about as tropey as you can get for Fantasy.

So I'm personally of the mind of "I don't really care if they establish some race is Evil/Good, if it's at least explained in-world, as some kind of spiritual pact or whatever. But I also don't care, and frankly personally prefer if they just did away with that on the large scale, and let small factions simply do this." So it's not All Orcs are Evil! It's This One Clan of Orcs that drank the blood of Really Smelly and Bad Evil Grumpy Guy, are Evil, because they literally sold their souls to him for power. So if you run into THEM, yeah it's probably a good idea to expect to have to kill them all.

Because it frankly offers up more opportunities for roleplaying, which I always side with. Perhaps some of the players happen to be playing Orcs this time around, or Half-Orcs, and there is a desire among them to not just kill this clan, but to try and free them from their spiritual enslavement. So now you've got a whole story arc, with player investment, based around trying to find this Grumpy Lord and killing him, or finding a spell that will break the bond. All the while, they are hounded by these Evil Orcs, and have to struggle with the personal moral quandry of of killing them now because they have to until they find a cure, or risking their own lives and their friends, to try and find non-lethal ways to subdue them, to try and minimize casualties. Perhaps one of them literally has family that are part of the Evil Orcs, a lost uncle that they looked up to as a rolemodel, who is now coming at him with a bloody ax, intent to take his head off.

That's just WAY more fun to play through than "Yeah all Orcs are Evil, so just kill them if you see them, it's fine, nobody cares."

Basically, just look at World of Warcraft, for an example of why not using the all encompassing Evil/Good brush is preferable to one note races. The amount of nuanced storytelling and character drama that can be obtained when you have the different races of Azeroth, working against/with each other, is FAR more compelling than the original games, which were just mindless Hordes that hurled themselves at your base defenses.

**Edit**

For an even better example of why opening up the option for varied races alignments, just go read the Discworld series of novels. Especially the ones centered around the Guards of the Nightwatch. Each book usually centers around a race or 2, and their historical conflicts, and how it is impacting the city. And how the nightwatch try and deal with it. Towards the end of the run of novels, the Nightwatch ends up being a ridiculously diverse cast of representatives from every race. In fact that eventually becomes a mark of "making it" to the various races. They eventually start to view the Watch as where they can all make it on their own merits. One character even mentions how most races fell they've become "official" and on par with the other races, if they have people in the Watch.
 
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Worgen

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For an even better example of why opening up the option for varied races alignments, just go read the Discworld series of novels. Especially the ones centered around the Guards of the Nightwatch. Each book usually centers around a race or 2, and their historical conflicts, and how it is impacting the city. And how the nightwatch try and deal with it. Towards the end of the run of novels, the Nightwatch ends up being a ridiculously diverse cast of representatives from every race. In fact that eventually becomes a mark of "making it" to the various races. They eventually start to view the Watch as where they can all make it on their own merits. One character even mentions how most races fell they've become "official" and on par with the other races, if they have people in the Watch.
Believe me I know, Pratchett is my favorite author and I have almost all his books.

Yeah, the problem is that people are talking like it's a dramatic change, when in reality it's a very gradual change that has been happening for a really long time, so it's just a logical conclusion, that being said Wizards does very much acknowledge that the way the races have been portrayed up until now is definitely somewhat problematic and culturally insensitive, they mention the example of Tomb of Annihilation in which the race of the Yuan-Ti (Snake People) which use a lot of imagery from the Mayan culture as well as using their naming conventions, but are portrayed excursively as evil, conniving and cannibals in that book (And Volo's Guide to Monsters), going so far as to say they are incapable of feeling empathy and other such things, which is a bit weird considering they are supposed to represent a real-world culture and are also the only playable race that has ties to a pre-colonial American culture.
That's kind of a problem with pretty much all fantasy things since all of them tend to use things from other cultures and tend to butcher what they originally were. You can see that with the portrayal of Hades who was one of the chillest of the greek gods but in modern media he is almost just a satan analog. Its not uncommon for us to do the same thing with Anubis, despite the fact that if you wanted a parallel for Anubis it would be st peter at the pearly gates. Someone who is there to judge you and welcome the good and cast out the bad.
 

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Yeah, D&D started in 1974, some 45 years ago, it's older than a lot of people here, and, well, the way people looked at race were different back then. There's all sorts of really massive problems that haven't really been addressed, in part cause having lots of people coming up with stuff mostly independantly has been a very popular idea for RPGs, and makes a consistent approach to things impossible.
 

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Basically, just look at World of Warcraft, for an example of why not using the all encompassing Evil/Good brush is preferable to one note races. The amount of nuanced storytelling and character drama that can be obtained when you have the different races of Azeroth, working against/with each other, is FAR more compelling than the original games, which were just mindless Hordes that hurled themselves at your base defenses.
Since WC2 is hard as fuck, they're hardly "mindless."

Anyway, Warcraft is a case of point of making the orcs more interesting, but even Warcraft maintains the existence of races that are still pure evil - the Burning Legion, the Scourge, the spawn of the Old Gods, etc.

I don't know what the situation is with DnD. Don't particuarly care. If there were human groups that were described as being pure evil, sure, but a fantasy species can operate under whatever rules a creator wants them to. If WotC wants to change their races, sure, that's their prerogative, but at least from a gameplay perspective, it's sometimes fun to be able to slaughter things without having to feel bad about it. It doesn't even have to be fantasy - take zombies for instance. All the joys of human anatomy, none of the moral ramifications.
 
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Thaluikhain

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D&D runs into problems because players tend to want to play as good version of evil races. So more or less none of them are all evil. So killing them all, especially kids that could be brought up right is a problem.

Then you get stuff like the Dark Elves being simultaneously the type of elves with dark skin, the type of elves that are ruled by women, and the type of elves that are really evil. Which could have been done a bit better.
 

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Then you get stuff like the Dark Elves being simultaneously the type of elves with dark skin, the type of elves that are ruled by women, and the type of elves that are really evil. Which could have been done a bit better.
WFB did it better - Dark Elves are really pale, ruled by a man, and still evil. 0_0
 

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I'm perfectly ok with this. As a DM I've always found the whole "always insert alignment" thing rather limiting, so I usually kind of ignore it anyway for the vast majority of races excepting those creatures intended as (sometimes literally) living embodiments of an alignment, like Fiends and Celestials. Anything else is fair game. Play a good Orc or Drow all you want, but do try to give me a fun and interesting framing for it, so I can provide suitable roleplaying opportunities.
 

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As far as roleplaying games go, I feel like D&D is one of the few that is doing a really good job of updating itself to modern sensibilities. I feel like that's a necessary disclaimer to start with, because I don't want to sound like I'm shitting on D&D. They're doing really well compared to certain other properties.

But honestly, while I know this isn't for me, I can't help but worry that they're focusing more on "Tolkien racism", rather than on the often reductive and stereotypical way culture is portrayed in D&D, which to me seems like a far bigger problem.

I mean, these little dudes..

1593002424559.png

Come on. They're cute and cool looking and all, but come on..

These are Chultan goblins. Chult is a mysterious continent (you might say a dark continent) covered in thick dangerous jungles. There are outposts and colonies on the coasts established by civilized nations like Amn and Baldur's Gate, but the interior is only inhabited by savage tribes. Even the humans of Chult (who are often depicted as black people) are tribal primitives who don't have access to things like metalwork.

To me, this seems like a far bigger problem than the whole Tolkienesque idea of races being inherently evil, which I'm not even sure is a huge thing in D&D. I think it's been pretty well established that "evil" races like drow and orcs are not inherently evil, they just live in societies where people worship evil gods and thus evil behaviour is the norm. I'm all for toning down the inherent racism of the whole concept of fantasy "races", but I feel like maybe there are bigger problems here.

I get that fixing Chult/Kara-Tur,/Zakhara would maybe be a bigger job than fixing Drow, but I totally think it can be done without losing the unique flavour or imagery. I think it's important to remember that a lot of the stuff we see as awful stereotypes is basically the only representation some people have of their ancestral culture. It doesn't need to go away, just maybe make it a bit less othering and overly-exoticised.
 
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As far as roleplaying games go, I feel like D&D is one of the few that is doing a really good job of updating itself to modern sensibilities. I feel like that's a necessary disclaimer to start with, because I don't want to sound like I'm shitting on D&D. They're doing really well compared to certain other properties.

But honestly, while I know this isn't for me, I can't help but worry that they're focusing more on "Tolkien racism", rather than on the often reductive and stereotypical way culture is portrayed in D&D, which to me seems like a far bigger problem.

I mean, these little dudes..

View attachment 328

Come on. They're cute and cool looking and all, but come on..

These are Chultan goblins. Chult is a mysterious continent (you might say a dark continent) covered in thick dangerous jungles. There are outposts and colonies on the coasts established by civilized nations like Amn and Baldur's Gate, but the interior is only inhabited by savage tribes. Even the humans of Chult (who are often depicted as black people) are tribal primitives who don't have access to things like metalwork.

To me, this seems like a far bigger problem than the whole Tolkienesque idea of races being inherently evil, which I'm not even sure is a huge thing in D&D. I think it's been pretty well established that "evil" races like drow and orcs are not inherently evil, they just live in societies where people worship evil gods and thus evil behaviour is the norm. I'm all for toning down the inherent racism of the whole concept of fantasy "races", but I feel like maybe there are bigger problems here.
Well, in the article that Wizards posted they actually acknowledged that was a problem, that they'll start by removing some culturally insensitive material from the next printings of Tomb of Annihilation (Likely because of the Yuan-Ti, though the article doesn't say) & from Curse of Strahd (Because of the Vistani), they said moving forward they'll do more research and that in the meantime they are currently working in 2 different projects that involve the Vistani and that they hired a Romani consultant to make sure they treat the subject with a lot more care and accuracy than they have done in the past, because you know in curse of Strahd the Vistani were not only obvious stereotypes of the Romani but also had very insensitive abilities like giving people the "Evil Eye" and cursing them.

So actually yes, the announcement was very much about that, I mean not that particular race, but definitely about that issue, it's in reality about both the issue of the tolkien-esque racism and the cultural insensitivity in which D&D has engaged in the past, and while obviously they aren't going to delete what already exists, they're promising to do better in the future.

I linked the Wizards blog post above if you want to give it a read, if you want to give it a look, since it's the official statement I feel it's a better source than the Kotaku article.
 

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Okay, I really can't be bothered to debate a lot of this, and since I know next to nothing about DnD lore (unless you include the cartoon), I'm not in a position to anyway, but:

I'm all for toning down the inherent racism of the whole concept of fantasy "races", but I feel like maybe there are bigger problems here.
How is the concept of fantasy races "inherently racist," considering that in most cases, "race" is synonomous with "species?"

Yes, I know exceptions exist (e.g. the definition of "race" in Warcraft is different from the definition in Shannara for instance, and neither of them match how species are actually distinguished in reality), but saying elves, dwarfs, humans, orcs, etc. are separate races shouldn't be a controversial statement.

Edit: I should also point out that "race" is also used in sci-fi, though not as much. Probably because "species" is easier to slide into a sci-fi setting than a fantasy one, assuming that the fantasy one has a lower level of technology (similar to how sci-fi will reference genes and DNA, while fantasy will usually use "bloodline" or "linneage").
 
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happyninja42

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Okay, I really can't be bothered to debate a lot of this, and since I know next to nothing about DnD lore (unless you include the cartoon), I'm not in a position to anyway, but:



How is the concept of fantasy races "inherently racist," considering that in most cases, "race" is synonomous with "species?"

Yes, I know exceptions exist (e.g. the definition of "race" in Warcraft is different from the definition in Shannara for instance, and neither of them match how species are actually distinguished in reality), but saying elves, dwarfs, humans, orcs, etc. are separate races shouldn't be a controversial statement.
I think it's mostly just a case of different definitions in some cases, like your mention of the synonymous nature of race/species when talking about fictional beings. Personally I think that's a semantic difference, and it really shouldn't be something gets in a twist over, but that's me.

No the point that is usually actually at issue, is the common trope of things like "Orcs look distinctly like X real world race" or "Trolls are culturally designed to be X real world culture. They even sound like they are all Jamaicans" and THAT is usually the point that people take issue with. And it's a fair criticism, when you distill down a fictional race, to one overwhelmingly distinctive trait, and that trait is clearly inspired by a real world culture, it's hard to say they aren't being a stereotype of that culture. And considering that the developers often are doing exactly that, taking real world traits to provide some variety and distinction to the various species they create, it's hardly wild speculation. I do think that they often aren't trying to be insensitive, and very likely chose particular cultures because they LIKED them, thought they were cool/interesting, and wanted to include them in their creative works, as a form of homage at the very least.

And personally I have to say that it often works. To continue to use WoW as an example, I LOVE the trolls. I love their clothing design, their culture (as it's designed in WoW), their voice patterns and speech, being so distinctive to everyone else talking normal. I love how vibrant their colors often are, how they had this massive, ancient, powerful culture, and they are the remnants of that culture, but also different, in that they have different goals and ideals than their previous cultural ancestors. I think they are GREAT, and the majority of my Horde characters, were trolls as a result of this.

I also appreciate the fact, that some people might not take so nice of a view of the trolls, especially if it's THEIR culture that is being borrowed from, in a way that they feel isn't respectful. And that's fair in my opinion. I can't deny that I get annoyed when I see various entertainment mediums out there, misrepresent things that are important to ME, like how they stereotype atheists in such an insulting and damaging way, or your generic nerds. It pisses me off, so I can't really fault others for being upset when they see their heritage being used in a way that isn't accurate, and paints the wrong picture. If I can feel justified in my personal anger at being misrepresented, they should be too.

Personally, I don't think the answer is to just remove the cultural flavoring entirely, but basically just open it up. Like I said above, I personally don't see an issue with something like an Aztec race/species in D&D, but if they are ALL one note, and it's a negative note (like them all being cannibals or something), then yeah it's a problem. But if you just say "This culture developed like this, yes it's inspired by the Aztecs for the cultural and aesthetics, but they are as diverse and varied in their behavior as any other culture" well, then I don't see how that's any worse, or different from saying "Human culture is roughly based on european/norse culture, and they are just as likely to be assholes as good guys, just like everyone else." I don't think using cultural touchstones to denote different nations/societies is inherently bad, but I do think that making them all homogeneous is where we run into problems.

But if you simply show that SOME of any nation can be bad...well that's just historically accurate in my opinion. We've all come from cultures/races that have examples of Major League Deuchebags, so saying that they existed isn't a problem to me. Saying that EVERYONE of this culture/species is like that, that's where we run into issues.

So I still think the best solution is to just allow any and all species/races to have a varied representation. Have Orcs that are just as civilized and chill as any human culture, but also show there are some savage Orcs that are a menace to society. But also show the same with the humans. Show that yeah sure, they've got their cities and their decent people, but they've also got this one faction of necromancer assholes, who have the sole purpose of turning the entire planet into an undead playground.
 

Terminal Blue

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How is the concept of fantasy races "inherently racist," considering that in most cases, "race" is synonomous with "species?"
In D&D both elves and orcs can reproduce with humans, and in both cases the offpsring (half orcs and half elves) are fertile and can produce children of their own, meaning they are technically not distinct species. D&D's idea of different races very clearly works on magic/folk wisdom rules rather than real genetics, so the concept of a species doesn't really exist at all or have any meaning. What we essentially have in D&D is a variety of near-human creatures who have their own racial character, some of which is defined by their culture but much of which is defined by their inherent nature.

Tolkien lived in a time when scientific racism was just accepted truth, and it manifests in his fiction through this weird obsession with heredity and degeneration. Certain inherent qualities can be passed down through a bloodline or ethnic group. Noble races can become degenerate. Certain races are just corrupt and irredeemable. Retrospectively, there's a lot of very dodgy assumptions in Tolkien (intentional or otherwise), which is why it keeps making white supremacist reading lists.

D&D is a huge step up from the problematic elements of Tolkien. In D&D, most races are created by Gods. Their inherent racial character isn't the result of a noble or corrupted ancestry, it just mirrors that of the Gods who created them, and because Gods are real and very powerful it kind of makes sense why things are the way they are. Sure, orcs and drow aren't inherently evil, but their gods are evil and powerful. A major goal of orc and drow society is keeping their gods happy, so it makes sense that their culture can't really change. In this sense, it definately has more anthropological realism but.. there are still has issues.

Drow aren't inherently evil, for example, but they are inherently corrupted by a racial curse, which is signified by their skin colour. Orcs aren't inherently evil, but they are portrayed as brutish savages with subhuman intelligence and who look like apes. There's still some shit which could be improved here.
 

Worgen

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Whatever, just wash your hands.
D&D is a huge step up from the problematic elements of Tolkien. In D&D, most races are created by Gods. Their inherent racial character isn't the result of a noble or corrupted ancestry, it just mirrors that of the Gods who created them, and because Gods are real and very powerful it kind of makes sense why things are the way they are. Sure, orcs and drow aren't inherently evil, but their gods are evil and powerful. A major goal of orc and drow society is keeping their gods happy, so it makes sense that their culture can't really change. In this sense, it definately has more anthropological realism but.. there are still has issues.
Does D&D take place in a specific time frame, like are the events in it supposed to be roughly around a certain in universe number of years? Like if they wanted could they just bump the timeline ahead like 100 years and say that the gods were killed off so now people that are assholes are just assholes but no one is just inherently evil or not?