Author Topic: D&D and Race  (Read 4326 times)

altered

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #30 on: June 19, 2020, 10:26:04 pm »
I can see that there is truth in that.
We have created monstrous stereotypes for groups of people throughout history.
So when we portray monsters of various types, it automatically conjures up these associations with the peoples that have been painted in that way.
So now it is being said that we should not have monsters of that type, even if the story explicitly deconstructs that image by simultaneously portraying the actual peoples previously depicted in that way in a more realistic and nuanced way.
I don't think I buy it, but I can understand it.

Here’s the kicker:

These separate species are called races. Races. So there is an implicit assumption that they are analogous to real-world human races. (And in the earliest iterations of the “race” concept of high fantasy, with Tolkien, that was indeed PRECISELY the intent.) Now, when it comes to the human race, tell me the last time you saw an explicitly black human PC in a D&D game. Not in official WotC art, as a character someone played. Or hell, even a step further, as an NPC that the DM created rather than taking from a sourcebook.

Never?

Then the closest your game had to representation for PoC was orcs.
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Cain

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #31 on: June 19, 2020, 10:26:25 pm »
I can see that there is truth in that.
We have created monstrous stereotypes for groups of people throughout history.
So when we portray monsters of various types, it automatically conjures up these associations with the peoples that have been painted in that way.
So now it is being said that we should not have monsters of that type, even if the story explicitly deconstructs that image by simultaneously portraying the actual peoples previously depicted in that way in a more realistic and nuanced way.
I don't think I buy it, but I can understand it.

I may be wrong, but I'm not seeing that at all.

What I'm seeing is the statement that those races will be portrayed in more nuanced and realistic ways. I mean, shit, they managed to do a better job with tieflings - literally people with demonic blood flowing through them - then they have done with orcs.

It's pretty easy, too. Throw some of the blame back onto society, a few historical wars and perhaps some religion into the mix (the "bad" orc gods ate all the "good" ones, so only orc tribes who worshipped the evil ones had access to divine magic) and you've already got a far more nuanced reason why there are historical tensions and bad orc tribal leaders keep rising to the top that don't rely on the inherent evil of your enemies as an explanation.

They do this all the time with most human nation histories, it won't take much work.

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #32 on: June 19, 2020, 10:31:56 pm »
To be clear, I agree with Cain. I just don’t think that getting rid of evil monsters that are racially coded altogether would even be a bad thing, and explained why.

I have no issue with the compromise Cain offers, I don’t even think it’s “first steps” or whatever. I just consider it about equivalent to doing away with the idea of always-evil sentient races altogether and instead presenting every sentient species they same way they do player races and species intended as neutral NPCs. The only difference is what part you prioritize: lore or anti-racism.
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
“The one where everybody dies.”
— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

Remember the fall of Yin Tu.

Elder Iptuous

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #33 on: June 19, 2020, 10:34:03 pm »
I was using monster, I guess, to mean inherently evil.

Elder Iptuous

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #34 on: June 19, 2020, 10:36:15 pm »
Hmm.  So it seems to be tying sentience to inherent evil that is the problem, because all monstrous portrayals of inherent evil have, at some point in history, been applied to a racial group.
Is that accurate assessment?

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #35 on: June 19, 2020, 10:43:31 pm »
Basically, yeah. There are a couple exceptions: if you have a “god of evil”, say, Satan, and his minions are these things, call them demons, those can be always evil because they literally represent the concept itself.

And let’s be clear here, they actually do a good fucking job of this usually. Illithids don’t map closely to any real world group at all, are totally inhuman, and aren’t even pure evil: they’re fleeing something from the far future and doing their best to survive in a world that is hostile to them and cannot understand them. Most aberrant sentient beings (neoga excepted since they’re basically coded as space-spider Arabs... bad look folks) do a pretty good fucking job of being legitimately monstrous without being inherently evil, in fact.

I would go so far as to say that orcs (EDIT: actually most goblinoids in general) are almost entirely unique in how shitty and racist they are. But you can’t fix the problem with orcs without in the process fixing the fact that the system allows natural sentient beings (I.e. not avatars or minions of Evil Itself) to be Always Evil.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2020, 10:48:45 pm by altered »
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
“The one where everybody dies.”
— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

Remember the fall of Yin Tu.

Elder Iptuous

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #36 on: June 19, 2020, 10:54:37 pm »
Huh.
So. I dont think I'm willing to give up that concept.
Is it morally wrong to accept stories that have that?
It seems like a valuable concept to have in literature and culture as a precautionary tail of how shitty it(society or self) is if we let ourselves be evil.

Now, I can understand trying to avoid certain depictions and not wanting to be attached to actual groups of people....
I wonder what features of orcs would have to be changed to be safe from association with black humans? (That is who it is attached to,  I'm assuming)

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #37 on: June 19, 2020, 11:54:27 pm »
Why have a race be genetically predisposed to evil when you can have a fucking cult or something? The latter is far more valuable because it doesn’t treat some people as inherently evil due to the circumstances of their birth; they chose to become a part of something evil and can walk away from it any time they want. There is NO value in genetic evil. What the fuck, dude?

The Illithids and my own creation, the Tultu do “genetically “evil”” better by not being inherently evil but having such alien biology that their basic survival depends on things other species find abhorrent. Some might have to struggle with what it means to value all life even as they destroy it to live, some will become sociopaths, but there’s no correlation between genetics and morality being made... so it works as a useful fucking sentient monster archetype. There is, by contrast, literally no value in “from birth, these people want to murder because they want to”. Again, what the fuck?
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
“The one where everybody dies.”
— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

Remember the fall of Yin Tu.

altered

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #38 on: June 20, 2020, 12:03:37 am »
And to be clear, my tultu are far more evil than illithids, because for them horrible violence, ESPECIALLY dismemberment, is literally foreplay. It’s like humans undressing for them. Because they reproduce by cutting pieces of themselves off and gluing the parts of different individuals together. They grow in size and power by self harm: a new “mouth” (hard to describe the biology, a mouth for a tultu is like a tentacle with a biological chainsaw and a sphincter to siphon the resultant mush into a digestive gullet) grows from any cuts in their flesh past the cuticle. They have all basic organs (including brains and hearts and such) reproduced at every node where multiple mouths meet, so they get smarter and stronger and more resilient as they regenerate from damage.

So they literally treat violence against all other species as doing them a favor initially, then view them as weak and unworthy when they can’t regrow lost limbs. They are space-nazis in essence, except their world view doesn’t come from “doing evil” but from biological realities that other species don’t share.

They even have a later split in the species where their horrible worldview is recognized and disdained by a subset of their own that force the bulk of their species into another dimension. Because they aren’t biologically incapable of recognizing that they are doing wrong, because that would be the point where it starts to become a bit shitty.
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
“The one where everybody dies.”
— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

Remember the fall of Yin Tu.

Elder Iptuous

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #39 on: June 20, 2020, 12:33:50 am »
Well.... I totally agree with the value of the more nuanced gradations of evil like ilithids.  They're probably the most interesting race in dnd that I am aware of.  It's a fascinating philosophical concept that I savor.

But there's nothing more viscerally fearful than a group that is just evil.  They just choose to be.  All of them. Every single one.  That's the worst possible thing.
And it's what you destroy.  Like you get baby jesus bucks for killing them. There's no moral qualm.
They're a moral absolute that acts as a cautionary point of reference. You don't be a monster.

Now we shouldn't paint people as monsters. That's totally clear.
But there will be portrayals of monstrous archetypes that are evil by choice.  But they will be tied to groups of people by the shitheads of our past. ... so.
I need to think about it more...

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #40 on: June 20, 2020, 12:44:59 am »
Evil by choice is not genetically evil.

Orcs are portrayed as genetically evil, for all intents and purposes.

The groups you are looking for are political parties, cults and “affinity groups” to use a term that is wrong but paints the correct picture (e.g. there is a mundane book so horrid that reading it to completion drives the reader to commit acts of violence).

Being born evil due to what you are beyond your control is a BAD trope. Fuck, I personally know good sociopaths, who have chosen to be good people and correct themselves when they are fucking up. They are neurologically incapable of feeling empathy, they choose to act good because it’s the right thing to do.

There is no such thing as born evil.

And any perpetuation of that idea both gives terrible people a cop out “oh you can’t blame me I was BORN a fascist” AND will be used as an explanation for why their victims deserve bigotry. That last one MAYBE sounds far fetched, until you look at how many people in their late 20s to mid 30s are explaining the ENTIRE FUCKING WORLD in terms of motherfucking Harry Potter.
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
“The one where everybody dies.”
— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

Remember the fall of Yin Tu.

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #41 on: June 20, 2020, 01:04:50 am »
A really good analog to real-life monsters is an evil thought that, once you have it, either drags you into it or forces you to stand against it. No organization is necessary, the thought alone is so terrible that you have to fight it at all costs or join it. If you need organizations in your evil, it can self-organize like ants: a ton of people all have similar ideas and go to similar places and they KNOW each other by that haunted look in the eye, the dumb grin on the face, and they end up just silently working together.

This thought could have many kinds of sources, or you could have it be some kind of demented glitch in reality breaking brains all at once all of the sudden. (Pontypool shows what that might look like in terms of the suddenness and degree.)

This is an analog to fascism. Once you have the pieces of fascism in your head and become aware of it as a complete entity that exists, you either are okay with that being a possible thing or you become on guard against it.
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
“The one where everybody dies.”
— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

Remember the fall of Yin Tu.

Elder Iptuous

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #42 on: June 20, 2020, 04:47:46 am »
So, the argument is:
There is no such thing as born evil in the real world.
And it is wrong to imagine it, because some people will insist it is real.
Edit:  rereading this, my description sounds flip, which is not my intent....

« Last Edit: June 20, 2020, 04:53:22 am by Elder Iptuous »

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #43 on: June 20, 2020, 05:35:46 am »
A really good analog to real-life monsters is an evil thought that, once you have it, either drags you into it or forces you to stand against it. No organization is necessary, the thought alone is so terrible that you have to fight it at all costs or join it. If you need organizations in your evil, it can self-organize like ants: a ton of people all have similar ideas and go to similar places and they KNOW each other by that haunted look in the eye, the dumb grin on the face, and they end up just silently working together.

This thought could have many kinds of sources, or you could have it be some kind of demented glitch in reality breaking brains all at once all of the sudden. (Pontypool shows what that might look like in terms of the suddenness and degree.)

This is an analog to fascism. Once you have the pieces of fascism in your head and become aware of it as a complete entity that exists, you either are okay with that being a possible thing or you become on guard against it.

Chaotic Evil:  A motorcycle gang.  They ride into town and burn your house down and fuck your dog and slap your auntie.  But then they leave, because they HAVE TO.  Or they kill each other once they've been into the sterno.

Lawful Evil:  The insurance company that says you aren't covered for motorcycle gangs.  Also the bank that forecloses on the ruins, and the developer that puts up a fleabag tenement on the spot and rents a bit back to you at reasonable rates.

Neutral Evil:  The guy who smiles at all of the above, agrees that the policy didn't have that coverage for his house, and then puts 20 pounds of arsenic down the well.


Evil is as evil does.  Nobody wants to think about that.  So, orcs.  You can pretend that all the townsfolk are cheerful idiots and the bad guys are nice and two dimensional, if that's what makes your Saturday game better.

If you think that orcs are a racist stereotype, then I kind of have to question which human race has pig's noses and tusks. 

When we sit down to game, it typically involves a million screaming bad guys and maybe the elephant of despair.  It doesn't matter WHO those bad guys are, because the point is they're BAD GUYS and you are a GOOD GUY and you can tell the difference because the good guys have the improved critical feat shiny armor.

ON THE OTHER HAND AND IT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED:  Undead are just differently mortal.  This is obviously a stereotype of Charlton Heston, and you should all be ashamed of yourself.

Molon Lube

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Re: D&D and Race
« Reply #44 on: June 20, 2020, 05:59:15 am »
And those people who will insist it is real have the influence and power to kill people.

It’s not just your response reading as flippant, it’s the dismissiveness of the extent and magnitude of those real world effects. I’m fucking dying out here in real fucking life. I had to beg and plead with total strangers for no more than two hundred dollars earlier today, which will keep me fed and housed for two more nights. I can’t get a job because I have no permanent address, I can’t get a permanent address without money, I can’t get money without work, the circle goes.

Do you know why?

My disability is fake. Because it’s half trauma and half mental illness, with enough room for a sleep disorder besides.

I can just get a job if I want to. Which is lies and deceit if you assume I’m NOT disabled.

Shelters can help me. Except I’m trans, and they aren’t required to do so anymore (and rarely fucking did in the past, and when they did, they gave me new fucking trauma in the process).

I can just apply for govt assistance. Except it barely exists, does fuck all almost everywhere it does, and requires a permanent address and healthcare history to receive the one kind that isn’t useless (disability).

If people are telling these lies about a white disabled lesbian trans woman who can suck it up and go boy mode for a month or so at a time — stop for a second, and imagine if I was black. Imagine if I was black and there were people saying I was naturally violent (whoops there are hello transphobia), naturally stupid, born a criminal, unable to feel pain (look into healthcare racism, there’s literally a statistical modifier you can apply to fix racism in healthcare because of how universal it is), looking for handouts, and generally unworthy of being considered human.

That reality you just imagined, reading all of that? That is real. It just isn’t real for /me/.



Do not dismiss the real world effects of fiction. There are more examples of fiction doing terrible things to our world than there are of the opposite.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion has been known to be fictitious for almost as long as it’s existed and here we are, with people insisting it’s real.

Varg Vikernes, the neo-Nazi black metal musician who stabbed his band mate 24 times for being gay and burned down double digit numbers of churches and has been since caught stockpiling firearms for a race war in France? Yeah, he was partially inspired by Lord of the Rings.

Ask how many white supremacists were radicalized in part because of Fight Club and Catcher in the Rye, you’ll get a surprisingly high number of “oh, me” answers.

Lord of the Flies is the example given against anarchism by the Fox News crowd when it was an explicit, said-by-the-author indictment of spoiled private schooled British boys and the society that created them.

The Punisher and cops. If you aren’t aware of how insane this one is, go look it up: this is a case where even a clear message AFTER people are radicalizing on an ambiguous fictional piece isn’t enough.

The fact that QAnon even fucking exists. Look up the “mole kids”. I’m not fucking joking. If you don’t agree with the next paragraph before you google, go look that shit up and read it again.



Fiction shouldn’t affect real life, in an ideal world we could tell any story and know it is just a story. In the real world, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that fiction that reaches a certain number of people has a duty to speak a clear message.


EDIT: I’m going to give Howl a separate response.
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
“The one where everybody dies.”
— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

Remember the fall of Yin Tu.