ricosuave
 member, 151 posts
 joined 6/27/2002
Tue 30 Jun 2020
at 23:07
Re: D&D race restructure

I think saying that a gorilla being more different compared to an orc in regards to humans is a ridiculous statement.


The very idea that Orcs, or gnomes, or [insert fantasy race here] are nigh identical to humans as to not have any adjustments to any attributes is mind boggling.


Orcs are no more or less closer genetically to humans as a dolphin or a pig is to a human.

For me is it simple for one to understand that two beings with completely different physiologies are going to have different attributes in their mental acuity or physical ability.


to say otherwise I feel is tantamount to saying that fish can breathe air just as good as the owl.
phoenix9lives
 member, 1010 posts
 GENE POLICE!  YOU!
 GET OUTTA THE POOL!
Tue 30 Jun 2020
at 23:10
Re: D&D race restructure
In reply to Prince of Boredom (msg # 30):

quote:
But, as an example, humans and orcs are different "species". That's one of the biggest problems with D&D, the fact that they used the term "race" vice "species". So yes, a homo sapiens is a homo sapiens, but an orc is NOT a homo sapiens. And given that, they absolutely can have a lower, or higher, natural intelligence than a human. Just as they might be stronger or have a higher constitution, based on having a different physiology.

Except, in Dungeons and Dragons, are they really different a species?  It has been established in D&D canon that humans can produce viable offspring with dwarves (muls in Dark Sun), elves, orcs, and even ogres.  In one setting, there are even trollkin, who seem to be hybrid human-trolls.  That would mean, in real world terms, that their DNA is at least a 98% match to human.  Like chimpanzees in the real world.  If someone chose to, it would be possible to hybridize a human-chimpanzee.  But, how closw genetically are gorillas, chimps, mandrills, and monkeys to each other?  The question becomes:  If a human can breed with them, then how human are they really?

This message was last edited by the user at 00:44, Wed 01 July.

evileeyore
 member, 352 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Tue 30 Jun 2020
at 23:24
Re: D&D race restructure
Bruiser419:
I think it's unnecessary and simply being done to make sure the game stays "relevant" and somewhat free from social attack.

Yup.  It's a whole lot of virtue signaling.

Granted, it won't affect my games*.  If I decide Drow are Evil because they're EVIL (because they're drawn that way†), then they're Evil, ain't no two ways about it.  In fact, i'm willing to bet it affects less than 10% of the games out there being run.  The only negative effect this will have is a chilling on how races are built in the mainstream RPG games and at how races are depicted in con games (but like that's always been on, like how Characters couldn't be homosexual in games run at GENCon in the 80s-90s, this is just the pendulum swinging wildly again).


*  I don't play or run D&D.  And even if I did, someone else's Critical Theory rules have no bearing on how I run my games.

†  Or because they have Australian accents and thus are all criminals‡... https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Eb...t=jpg&name=large

‡  I kid, I kid.
witchdoctor
 member, 184 posts
 ᏣᏔᎩ
Tue 30 Jun 2020
at 23:30
Re: D&D race restructure
I told myself I wouldn't be look at this thread...but here I am.

  There's a lot of moving parts to this issue and so far most of them have had at least one person comment on said parts.  The important part is he going to get post in the conversation, however, and it's the part that actually needs discussion in the gaming community.
  The issue isn't that the differing species get attribute adjustments, it isn't "perceived" racism. The racism is grandfathered in from the start (as Tibio and others mentioned with Tolkein, R.E. Howard, Lovecraft, get al.) and perpetuated by ignorance...and I don't mean that perjoratively.  The ignorance I'm referring to is just not knowing any better.

  RPG games are dominated by the majority straight(ish) white male player and most of the games that we all play and love cater to that mindset unintentionally.  Most of the game and supplement writers are also white and it creates a space that is mostly without a voice for anyone outside that majority mindset.  I don't believe it's out of overt malice that racial insensitivity occurs, but it occurs and occurs A LOT, it's just that it doesn't register with most people because it doesn't affect them.  But it affects me and I see it.  I've seen it all my life in just about every medium enjoyed in the U.S. and abroad.

  The issue is in racial coding, stereotyping and Othering.  Goblins, trolls, minotaurs and other fantasy (or even alien) species get racially coded to cover a lot of cultures Western Society has clashed with and it's nothing new to the fantasy or sci-fi genre.  That's a thinly-veiled trope that's been around since the beginning and for the reason you think it's for.  It's Othering and Dehumanizing, sometimes unintentional and sometimes very intentional.
  It's very easy to slide a cultural/racial stereotype onto a fictional construct because it's easier than coming up with something new or invented.  (And it's not just new GMs that do it...Hollywood is just as guilty.  I'm looking at you, James Cameron' Avatar.) The issue with comes when there are people from those cultures who see that, who see how you treat them and think less of them, by doing so. It's reducing someone to feeling less than human by copy/pasting them onto a race that's meant to be enemies to the heroes, opposed to everything 'goodness and 'right'.  I've felt that way since I started playing.
  When I was younger I'd try to laugh it off or just push it down and enjoy what I could in those games but in the end it all tasted like ashes when you felt like that.  I never spoke up then because I liked playing and I thought I'd get excluded if I said anything or corrected anyone.  When you're young and weird and the only non-white kid at the table, it's hard to stick up for yourself.  I'm glad the time has come that companies are open to having the conversation about inclusivity and being racially sensitive and making a point to educate their mostly white base that they're not the only people who play these kinds of games.  I'm glad that the entertainment industry as a whole is taking a closer look at the scope of their influence and reach and how it affects everyone in their audience.
Korentin_Black
 member, 556 posts
 I remember when all
 this was just fields...
Tue 30 Jun 2020
at 23:53
Re: D&D race restructure

 I'm left wondering how much of the kerfuffle is about them actually doing this, and how much is about the perception of it as a virtue signal, whether for better or worse.

 Because as others have quite rightly pointed out, this ain't new. Forget Orcs and Drow, they've made a point in editions going back a long way of fleshing out individuals and sub-groups in campaigns, from the Lizardfolk getting screen time in Neverwinter Nights 2 and nuance in assorted FE modules and plot suggestions to Gnolls steadily getting more love edition by edition.
 Hell, going back to Orcs, Obould Many-Arrows set about kicking the legs out from under the 'always savage, rarr' table years ago by creating a kingdom. More nuance, more character, more depth always gives an option for more storytelling if you want to use it and D&D's been doing that for years.

 As for racial modifiers, well... yeah. I mean we stopped giving female humans a strength cap lower than males with what, third edition? (possibly out of fear that someone like Jessica Fithen would turn up, stare at them and just flip their cars over one by one, one-handed without saying a word or breaking eye contact) but different species (let's write off interspecies breeding as 'a side effect of magic' for now) probably should have different traits - even charisma is negotiable, as perhaps that species simply doesn't form as tight a series of social bonds as humans (who are ridiculously prone to forming social bonds with anything, up to and including inanimate objects).

 They've been doing this for years, bit by bit because it makes for better games and better stories and yes, you can always just run the enemy as 'bad because, rarr' if you want.

 So... Perhaps we should be fussing less about the fantasy game waving its little flag and more about real things? I don't know, I just play games here.
Ameena
 member, 211 posts
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 09:41
Re: D&D race restructure
Really, the main thing I take from this thread is "Do away with the Alignment system". I don't bother with it myself, as a player or a GM (I favour Fourth Edition DnD, which has an alignment calld "Unaligned", which is the only one I've ever used :P). There is no such thing as "good" or "evil", really - they are just comparative terms defined only by the opinion of the person making the observation at the time. Something that one person calls "evil" might be perfectly acceptable and understandable to someone else, and vice-versa for "good" things.

It's like any historical or fictional society that says things like "Killing is bad - you murdered a guy so we are going to execute you for it", which basically translates to "We've decided that killing is bad, but only if it's someone else doing it - when we do it, we give it a different name as well and that all makes it fine".

It's not what race/species someone is, it's what they do that counts :P. Societal differences (be it between individuals in the same society or whole societies separate from each other) have caused issues for a very long time now, and I don't suppose that's about to change any time soon. It just needs more interaction, education, understanding, all that kind of thing, without people just collating all individuals of similar characteristics together and giving them one big label (with all the properties such a label implies, be they accurate or not). Sure, such labelling makes things easier, it makes people easier to categorise, but one size does certainly not fit all in such cases, and far too many people don't seem to want to care about that. Plenty of people don't want to understand how "those people" think or feel, because that would make it harder to be unpleasant to them. Because being unpleasant to them is...well, I don't know...beneficial in some way? Makes them feel superior? I don't really know :P.
praguepride
 member, 1642 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 12:37
Re: D&D race restructure
Korentin_Black:
I'm left wondering how much of the kerfuffle is about them actually doing this, and how much is about the perception of it as a virtue signal, whether for better or worse.


In my experience people use the word "virtue signalling" completely wrong. They are projecting their own views onto the those around them to justify their actions.

D&D for years now has consistently been trying to make itself more accessible to a wider demographic. That isn't virtue signalling, that is consistent directed behavior.

Virtue signalling is effectively another word for hypocrisy. Making some trivial change here to pretend to making a bigger change there. Walmart spending millions of dollars on "Our workes are national heroes" ads while still paying them garbage and not giving them protection is virtue signallng.

Changing both the lore and the mechanics underpinning some of their most iconic races as a way to shed racial stereotyping undertones is not a trivial change. D&D also does not have a strong history of being specifically exclusive but instead WotC have been slowly shedding that kind of baggage they inherited from older lore.

So no, objectively speaking it isn't virtue signalling by the nature of their actions. I cannot believe it is so unfathomable that a business would try to expand their audience base and grow their market. Follow the $$$. It doesn't matter if the changes are for selfish or selfless purposes, if it results in real change then it isn't "virtue signalling".
Low Key
 subscriber, 237 posts
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 12:53
Re: D&D race restructure
I've read this thread.
There are points I agree with, others that I don't.

But, rather than argue any of that, there's something that I think has been lost in the 'should different fantasy races/species have different stats' and 'is this earnest or virtual signalling' and 'is alignment the real problem' talk.
And I totally understand why the talk went there. We're gamers. We see the game, the setting/rules are a tool to that end.

The thing that has been lost is:

D&D, currently, has an intrinsic message built into it that says to some people "this game is not for you"

That, to me, is sad.
If this genuinely changes that, then hooray!

If you disagree that that message exists- then that message isn't for you. The game is for you, whether you want to play or not.

If you've never noticed that message - that's ok. But don't argue it doesn't exist because you didn't see it.
And don't mourn it's removal. The game without that message will be ok too, promise!

If you think the message doesn't need removing - as mentioned previously D&D is the face of roleplaying. That means the way people outside the hobby see D&D is how they see roleplaying. So, for better or for worse, D&D has to act as ambassador for all RPGs. Removing the message that some people aren't welcome will be good for the hobby as a whole.

If you think the message doesn't need removing because any person is welcome at my game - that's a nice sentiment. And it's great you run a diverse table. But there are people who aren't being turned away from specific games, but from the whole hobby. This change means that the people who previously never got to any gaming table because of the message that they weren't welcome in the hobby as a whole can now ask to play at your gaming table, or another, similar one.

Note: I don't know, or need to know, the details of the changes to know that the above is true.
I accept that it's possible that this will be a swing and a miss on WoTC's part. That does not mean that the message does not exist, or that it shouldn't be removed.
Korentin_Black
 member, 557 posts
 I remember when all
 this was just fields...
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 14:32
Re: D&D race restructure
In reply to praguepride (msg # 39):

 That's why I drew the distinction that it's the perception that some people apparently have, without trying to judge their motives.

 They really have been doing this for years, in dribs and drabs, if only for perfectly good narrative reasons. The announcement at this time might seem a little opportunistic but it's the direction the game had been moving in for years.
Carakav
 member, 661 posts
 Sure-footed paragon
 of forthright dude.
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 15:03
Re: D&D race restructure
I think there is an extreme that this can be taken to. Of course, what WotC is doing in this particular case isn't extreme in the slightest, but I would say that making it so that the races/species have few or no mechanical differences does run the risk of killing the very point that diversity is strength.

A persons heritage or physical form doesn't have to define them, but it's also not just casual window-dressing. Great stories are often about those who overcome disabilities or biases that they are born with or raised to believe, and the lesson we should all take to heart is that we should embrace the cards we are dealt in life.

As always, it's up to the DMs to make sure their parties are telling the stories they need to tell, and bringing the range of diverse skills/outlooks to the table that they'll need to overcome obstacles.
Samus Aran
 member, 442 posts
 Author, game designer
 Part-time Metroid fighter
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 15:10
Re: D&D race restructure
Carakav:
I think there is an extreme that this can be taken to. Of course, what WotC is doing in this particular case isn't extreme in the slightest, but I would say that making it so that the races/species have few or no mechanical differences does run the risk of killing the very point that diversity is strength.

A persons heritage or physical form doesn't have to define them, but it's also not just casual window-dressing. Great stories are often about those who overcome disabilities or biases that they are born with or raised to believe, and the lesson we should all take to heart is that we should embrace the cards we are dealt in life.

As always, it's up to the DMs to make sure their parties are telling the stories they need to tell, and bringing the range of diverse skills/outlooks to the table that they'll need to overcome obstacles.


I hope they don't homogenize them mechanically—I like the different ancestries (as PF2E puts it) having different abilities. In fact, I hope they go harder at differentiating them, again like PF2E with lots more feats/abilities to become a better exemplar of the species. However, I think the social and especially mental hindrances are what they're looking at, and what they should look at. Even simple things like taking penalties away goes a long way because of how they work, and how we perceive them psychologically. If High Elves are meant to be the smartest and most arcane of races, them getting a bonus is enough; it has a lot of a different feel than "-2 Intelligence," you know?
Der Rot Konig
 member, 226 posts
 Educated Pirate
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 18:38
Re: D&D race restructure
I will refrain from getting into this issue on a serious level but I will say this much...

I'm an old school player of D&D meaning 1st and 2nd edition.  I've never picked up anything after that as it was no longer Gary's D&D but a new companies.  As many have learned, they were interested in their bottom line more than the game itself (Magic anyone).  It also means I was brought in by people to play it, I didn't randomly discover it on a dusty shelf in a bookstore.  These two things had a huge impact on how I see the game.

The older editions had miles of source material...and all of it was optional.  Even the main core rules could be altered and tailored to whatever you wanted.  If you wanted to create a game where the players were all Drow and worked for the good of all, then nothing stopped you from creating it.

Being exposed to the game via people who already knew the system meant that I got exposed to a whole host of ways to look at the game.  They would come to sessions with outrageous character designs that certainly pushed the boundaries of what the 'rules' stated.  It all came down the DM and how he wanted to play it.

On another but related note, anyone who states a lack of diversity or any similar statement in regards to RP games, both table top and online, has never spent time learning these games or meeting people who play them.
praguepride
 member, 1643 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 20:10
Re: D&D race restructure
Der Rot Konig:
On another but related note, anyone who states a lack of diversity or any similar statement in regards to RP games, both table top and online, has never spent time learning these games or meeting people who play them.


Really? I know games. Lots of them. I am saying there is a lack of diversity. It has gotten a LOT better, especially in the last 10 years or so but that doesn't mean it's time to stop or get complacent about it.

Vampire the Masquerade relaunched their product to 5E and one of the stated goals was to get away from racial stereotypes to define the clans. No more "savage Africans" or "mysterious Asian" vampires. No "classes" that can be classified as "Italian Mafia" or "Shifty Gypsy" or "Middle East Assassin". Those were actual classes in the game as of 2018 or 2019.

There have been great strides made and especially greater awareness about how the themes and subtext in a game are being perceived by mainstream audiences but there is still a ways to go.
Samus Aran
 member, 443 posts
 Author, game designer
 Part-time Metroid fighter
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 20:18
Re: D&D race restructure
praguepride:
Really? I know games. Lots of them. I am saying there is a lack of diversity. It has gotten a LOT better, especially in the last 10 years or so but that doesn't mean it's time to stop or get complacent about it.


Yep. I know games, too. Played and written for a wide variety of games, genres, and companies over the last almost 30 years. I'm saying there's a lack of diversity. That there are problematic elements within nerddom that are still going strong in the RPG community. We have made strides, but there's still a long way to go, and there are still way too many people who remains invested in those things not changing.

Fortunately, they always lose in the end.
Hunter
 member, 1604 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
 Lurker
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 20:37
Re: D&D race restructure
Der Rot Konig:
On another but related note, anyone who states a lack of diversity or any similar statement in regards to RP games, both table top and online, has never spent time learning these games or meeting people who play them.


If I had a nickel for every Human Fighter, I'd probably be able to retire wealthy.   Truly unique ideas are a rarity, as the saying goes: Good ideas are borrowed, great ideas are stolen.   And many, many games discourage....let's call it creative thinking in regards to character building.

Like praguepride, I've been playing for a long time.  I often see Pathfinder games that either are restricted to Core Races and/or a low point build.   Not much you can do creatively there, especially in the latter case.

IMO.
evileeyore
 member, 354 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Wed 1 Jul 2020
at 23:58
Re: D&D race restructure
Low Key:
D&D, currently, has an intrinsic message built into it that says to some people "this game is not for you"

People keep saying that, but they refuse to explain "how" that "message" excludes people.

What about Orcs being an intrinsically Evil race, created for Evil, that do evil, is telling someone "this game is not for you?"




praguepride:
I am saying there is a lack of diversity.

I think you're using the term "diversity" where it's not appropriate, especially as you immediately describe a product that was very diverse, but also very stereotyping* in it's presentation.

* I hesitate to say racist†, as many of the sub-clans were meant to literally be a small insular monotype group, for instance the Giovanni sub-clan that was a mafia family that was embraced, so describing them as "old world Sicilian mafia" isn't 'racist' it's accurate.

† Because in some case they were attempting to be earnest, in other strongly stereotyping.  But also keep in mind, a lot of that came about 30 years ago, so some authors were likely sloppier and lazier in their write-ups than they'd be today (despite being very progressive for the times).
witchdoctor
 member, 185 posts
 ᏣᏔᎩ
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 00:40
Re: D&D race restructure
evileeyore:
Low Key:
D&D, currently, has an intrinsic message built into it that says to some people "this game is not for you"

People keep saying that, but they refuse to explain "how" that "message" excludes people.

What about Orcs being an intrinsically Evil race, created for Evil, that do evil, is telling someone "this game is not for you?"


  Okay then, I'll spell it out for you.

  When approach a game and you notice that the Evil Races are coded to represent YOU and your culture it's VERY off-putting.  When the others who you play the game with make jokes about slaughtering said coded race not realizing the implications of their genocidal jokes.  That tells me exactly that I am not a welcome part of said game.  It's not (usually) explicit but it's an implicit message and it rings loud and clear.

  Moving away from cultural coding is a step in the right direction.  D&D has been moving in that direction quietly for a while, and so have most other games, but in the current climate I'm personally glad to hear companies like WotC acknowledge that they're making efforts to put exclusivity and insensitivity behind them.
PCO.Spvnky
 member, 445 posts
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 00:52
Re: D&D race restructure
So how exactly are orcs "coded" to be humans that aren't white when there are actually humans in the game that aren't white?  I think that is stretching things a bit.  Literally the 5e PHB has 9 different human ethnic choices in it.  The forgotten realms has always had humans of every color in it and none of them are considered "evil" in general.  I understand that many games do not include such diversity in them but I am specifically talking about D&D.
phoenix9lives
 member, 1011 posts
 GENE POLICE!  YOU!
 GET OUTTA THE POOL!
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 01:00
Re: D&D race restructure
In reply to PCO.Spvnky (msg # 50):

Well, there are the Thayans, who are apparently predominantly white in appearance.  But their evil is more national than racial.
Carakav
 member, 662 posts
 Sure-footed paragon
 of forthright dude.
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 01:13
Re: D&D race restructure
In reply to Hunter (msg # 47):

What's wrong with human fighters? Isn't it how you play them that matters, not what they play specifically?
evileeyore
 member, 355 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 02:37
Re: D&D race restructure
witchdoctor:
  When approach a game and you notice that the Evil Races are coded to represent YOU and your culture it's VERY off-putting.

How are Orcs "coded" to represent you and your culture?  (If you meant another race, then please swap out 'Orc' for that other fantasy race)
Hunter
 member, 1605 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
 Lurker
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 02:51
Re: D&D race restructure
In reply to Carakav (msg # 52):

Nothing, but they're probably one of the top five character builds....again IMO.   As for how races behave, there's always the phenomena where we project our own prejudices onto them.  Which is why I'm always glad to have things better defined by a game designer and/or studio.
Kagekiri
 member, 191 posts
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 02:57
Re: D&D race restructure
Carakav:
What's wrong with human fighters?


...they're dirty humans. (joking)

Seriously though. This is how I feel. Pathfinder characters with three archetypes stacked on each other (not sure if this is actually possibly, just hyperpolizing) don't really strike me as inherently more creative or interesting than a vanilla fighter. I'm much more interested in what a character thinks, wants, is hurt by, etc.
CaptainHellrazor
 member, 44 posts
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 03:07
Re: D&D race restructure
It's amazing the lengths some people will take to get noticed.  D&D is a game, played mostly in the privacy of people's homes and the people who criticize the loudest are often those who know the least about a subject.  D&D will always have it's detractors, that will never change, nor will the attitude of the critics, most of whom have so little imagination they would not know how to paint one of our miniatures.  If someone wants to buy Oriental Adventures who cares?  If someone is so offended by Oriental Adventures they want it banned, well good luck with that.  It's a game!  It's a Fantasy Game, it's a Fantasy Role Playing GAME.  IT'S NOT REAL!!!!!  People do all sorts of things in games they would never do in real life, including being a racist.  I don't know about the rest of you, but given the choice I would rather see people be racist in a game instead of real life (and no I am not condoning racism).

It seems to me the problem is not and never has been, the game.  The problem is a small percentage of people who play the game and a big percentage of people who DON'T play the game.

If you want to change the real world then doing something constructive in the real world is probably a better place to start than in a fantasy, make believe, made up world.

So now I have to tell my asian girlfriend we can't play oriental adventures any more, I might start a game where we enslave santa clause and hunt easter bunnies and tooth fairies.  That should offend sufficient numbers of Christians and Dentists to start a whole new movement!
Low Key
 subscriber, 238 posts
Thu 2 Jul 2020
at 08:40
Re: D&D race restructure
evileeyore:
witchdoctor:
  When approach a game and you notice that the Evil Races are coded to represent YOU and your culture it's VERY off-putting.

How are Orcs "coded" to represent you and your culture?  (If you meant another race, then please swap out 'Orc' for that other fantasy race)


I know the reason I didn't get into the how of the message being given is that it's a large, complex subject not well suited to explaining via an internet forum and especially not suited to RPoL with it's restrictions on politics in public forums (which I understand).

If you genuinely want to understand, go do the research.
There's a wealth of material out there.

If that's too much of an ask, ok. But don't put your responsibility to learn on someone else by expecting them to teach you. If you want to know, find out. Asking is one tool available to you, but from your earlier comment (that no one is explaining the how to you) asking hasn't worked. So try a different tool.