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You Got Science in My Fantasy!
By James Wyatt

I don't have specific monsters to talk about today, except maybe in passing. Instead, I want to have a sort of philosophical discussion about what fantasy is, and how D&D reflects that. So as not to be completely irrelevant to the topic of this column, though, I'll focus on monsters.

Orc Babies

What should adventurers do when they fight their way into the orc lair and find where all the orc babies are? In particular, what should the paladin do?

This argument has been around almost as long as D&D has. One side of the argument says that orcs are evil by nature, so killing the babies is not only justifiable but necessary, to prevent them from growing up into more inherently evil orcs. The other side says that it's nurture, not nature, that makes orcs evil, so if you take the orc babies home and foster them with loving families they can grow up into productive and nonevil members of society.

It's rare for anyone to ever step up and say, "Wait a minute. Who says orcs have babies?"

Well, the original Monster Manual says it, and that's been part of the game since then. But Tolkien's orcs don't have babies. His orcs were created by corrupting elves. They're not a "race" in a modern sense. The question of nature versus nurture has a very clear answer in this case: Orcs are evil by nature, not just because it's inherent in their genes somehow but because that's how they were made to be. The process of creating them is evil, they are a corruption of nature, they are evil in every fiber of their being. Their very existence is an affront to all that is good, beautiful, true, and natural.

By contrast, the 3rd Edition Monster Manual listed orcs as "often chaotic evil." Even setting aside the question of the orc babies, that seems to raise a lot of moral questions. How do I know that any particular orc band is evil? I can't just stumble into an orc lair and start killing them. I need to make sure they're evil. I need to observe their actions and verify that they're doing evil things. And even then, maybe I should be more concerned with rehabilitating them than with killing them. Basically, orcs are people, too. Orcs in this view aren't a corruption of nature, evil by virtue of their very existence. They're criminals, or an enemy nation. Their culture is evil, they're raised to be evil, but they don't have to be evil. So slaughtering their babies is evil, too.

That's not fantasy, frankly, at least not in its classic sense. That's the sciences of anthropology and psychology.

Let's look at another example.

Dragons, Dragonborn, and Griffons

Are dragons reptiles? How about dragonborn? They have scales and lay eggs, so they look a lot like reptiles. But in my column on dragons, I said, "to call dragons 'reptilian' is akin to calling an angel 'simian' because it resembles an ape in its general shape."

According to the 2nd Edition Draconomicon, dragons evolved from dinosaurs, around the same time that a different group of reptiles were evolving into mammals. Their ancestral form, called eodraco ("meaning 'dawn dragon' in a language whose origin has long been forgotten," which is to say Latin), survived a mass extinction—which also left dinosaurs alive in some parts of the Forgotten Realms. Again, this is not so much fantasy as it is paleontology and evolutionary biology.

The 3rd and 4th Edition Draconomicon books don't say anything about dragons evolving from dinosaurs, and they actually go on at some length about how dragons are anatomically different from reptiles and, in many ways, more similar to mammals. And 3rd Edition dragons lack the "reptilian" subtype found on many dragon-like creatures. Fourth Edition sources say that Io created dragons in his own shape. This is fantasy, in the classic sense.

Dragonborn have draconic origin, but their bodies look basically human in shape, including the distinctive curves of the female human form. Why? Do they nurse their young? Of course not, one argument goes—they're reptiles. But they're not reptiles, not any more than dragons are. They're creatures made in the image of both dragons and humans. They didn't evolve, they were created—just like Moradin created the dwarves and Corellon created the elves.

Where did griffons come from? Possibly from a magical experiment that "crossed" or combined eagles and lions. Or some nature deity, maybe the same one that created eagles and lions, created them too, as noble hunters of the skies. Are they mammals or birds? No. Owlbears? Same thing.

Please note that this discussion has nothing to do with the validity of evolutionary theory in the real world. Fantasy worlds, including almost every D&D world, have active, present gods who are perfectly capable of creating life in whatever form they desire—often their own image.

Mos Eisley and Waterdeep

The cantina scene in the first Star Wars movie presents an alien port town full of travelers from dozens of planets. The entire Star Wars universe is full of alien species. Most of them have humanoid form combined with some unusual, distinctive feature.

What does a cosmopolitan city in the D&D multiverse look like? Let's set aside a planar metropolis like Sigil for the moment and consider a place like Waterdeep. Obviously, there are lots of people representing the five most common civilized races: dwarf, elf, gnome, halfling, and human. There's a significant number of half-elves and half-orcs.

Then what? How often do you see a githzerai? A minotaur? A goliath? A deva or shifter? A shardmind or wilden? A warforged?

It's easy to equate fantasy races with science-fiction alien species, but I don't think they're the same thing. Dwarves, elves, and halflings—largely by virtue of being part of Tolkien's Middle-Earth—have a solid grounding in fantasy. They're part of the bedrock, so to speak. They're not just alien cultures, they're mythic archetypes. Elves are like a glimpse of immortality in the mortal world. Dwarves are an embodiment of the earth itself. Halflings are a symbol for the love of comfort and security.

We've invented good stories over the years for a lot of other races in D&D, including the evil humanoid races that you don't expect to see in the city streets of Waterdeep (orcs, hobgoblins, gnolls, and so on). But it's rare for them to hit on the same level of mythic resonance as dwarves, elves, and halflings. There's good reason, I think, that the data we have about people actually playing D&D consistently shows most people playing dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans.

Dragonborn and tieflings make a lot of sense in the D&D multiverse, and their strong connections to other, mythically resonant, parts of the world—dragons and fiends—puts them on a standing pretty close to the core four races. But their very nature makes them much less common than the others, and that's OK.

So I think the Yawning Portal tavern in Waterdeep is much less diverse than the cantina in Mos Eisley. You'll see humans of every color from a dozen different cultures, of course. You'll see dwarves and elves and halflings, probably several gnomes. You might spot a dragonborn or tiefling. But anything else would be out of the ordinary and would draw your attention.

Mythic Resonance

Tolkien very consciously framed his world-building and storytelling as creating myths. And myths are not just lies or ordinary stories. They're stories that point to truths beyond mundane experience—stories that tell us who we are and what our place in the universe is. As I am fond of saying, the story of Sam wading into the river as Frodo tried to row away alone didn't actually happen, but it is true—it's a myth that tells us truths about love and loyalty and what it means to be a true friend.

Fantasy isn't always that, and D&D might only rarely hit that level of mythic resonance. But at its core, our game aspires to a mythic grandeur like that of the Lord of the Rings. It presents a multiverse full of creatures that are evil by their very nature, dragons that are so much more than dinosaurs evolved with intelligence and wings, and races that speak to archetypal qualities of mortal existence.

What Do You Think?

Well, all that is my opinion, and I'm not even sure it's shared by everyone in the building who's working on the game right now. What's your opinion?

Previous Poll Results

In your world, do wizards guard their towers with guard dogs, guard drakes, or owlbears? Check as many answers as you like.
Owlbears. Go big or go home. 1084
Guard dogs. Some degree of familiarity supports the suspension of disbelief. 683
Guard drakes. Never let the players forget that they’re in a fantasy world. 1226
None of the above. 225

In your world, what beasts do hobgoblins wrangle and breed? Check as many answers as you like.
Big real-world animals like bears and elephants. 802
Big, angry drakes. 808
Dinosaurs. 411
Guulvorgs. 389
Worgs. 1539
Ankhegs and bulettes. 421
None of the Above. 97

Dragons are a big part of the game. Does it make dragons more or less important and awe-inspiring if the game is full of a lot of dragon-like monsters? Check as many answers as you like.
It’s good to remind even low-level characters that dragons exist by confronting them with mini-dragons like drakes. 958 51%
If you meet too many drakes early on, then meeting a dragon feels much less special. 510 27%
Why send a drake to do a dragon’s job? The world has dragons and doesn’t need drakes. 199 10%
A drake makes a good warning that a dragon might be nearby. 216 12%
Total 1883 100.0%

How do you like the specific drakes that appeared in 4th Edition? Check as many answers as you like.
I like the guard drake (crested felldrake). 692
I like the spitting drake. 542
I like the rage drake. 687
I like the bloodseeker drake. 397
I like the horned drake. 463
I like drakes, but I’d rather see a whole new slate of drakes. 706
None of these. I don’t like drakes at all. 322

Drake? Felldrake?
Felldrake is a cooler name than drake. 462 24%
Felldrake is another tired combination of words. Just call a drake a drake. 1140 60%
Felldrake is silly, and a drake is a male duck. Find a new word. 263 10%
Total 1865 100.0%

What about the dragonspawn? Which of them (if any) do you like? Check as many answers as you like.
I like the blackspawn raider and exterminator. 263
I like the blackspawn gloomweb (also called blackspawn stalker), and I can’t believe you mocked it. 242
I like the bluespawn ambusher. 240
I like the bluespawn burrower. 198
I like the bluespawn godslayer. 340
I like the bluespawn stormlizard. 305
I like the greenspawn leaper. 215
I like the greenspawn razorfiend. 302
I like the greenspawn sneak. 242
I like the redspawn arcaniss. 271
I like the redspawn firebelcher. 323
I like the whitespawn hordeling. 239
I like the whitespawn hunter and berserker. 234
I like the whitespawn iceskidder. 212
I like the spawn of Tiamat concept, but I’d rather see a whole new slate of dragonspawn. 682
None of these. I don’t like dragonspawn at all. 734

James Wyatt
James Wyatt is the Creative Manager for Dungeons & Dragons R&D at Wizards of the Coast. He was one of the lead designers for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons and the primary author of the 4th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. He also contributed to the Eberron Campaign Setting, and is the author of several Dungeons & Dragons novels set in the world of Eberron.
Comments
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At the outset of my 4E campaign, I severely restricted the choice of race to essentially the half-dozen most common races. As the PCs explored the greater world, then the Shadowfell and Feywild, and now the Astral and Elemental Chaos, more and more PC race (and class) opportunities opened up.

So, how many races do we need? All of them and more. Should the be shardminds, minotaurs, devas, etc. in the hamlet of Starting Village? Probably not if you're running a traditional campaign.
  
Posted By: Mortuorum (11/30/2013 9:52:07 AM)
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This is a good discussion. I'm glad to see you give the community time to air out its feelings, James.
  
Posted By: Aavarius (10/16/2013 8:23:19 PM)
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Honest suggestion here: use Magic's approach to races and present only the most vanilla of races in the core book if you must, but then present several wild variations on the same theme so DMs have some inspiration and implicit permission to do things many different ways. Following the printed version of a race might be fun once if you can manage it, but I suspect a minority of DMs want to stick to the generic, safe, non-offensive-to-Tolkien-fans race for very long.

Speaking of Tolkien, let's talk gender normativity. I hear very few arguments for true Tolkien dwarves. Female dwarves. You know, the ones who also have beards? Why not? They're another race after all, why shouldn't they be wildly different from humans?

Dragonborn with breasts? Sure! They're vestigial or maybe nursing young is a good adaptation to keep around, whatever. Reminder: that's what breasts are for -- feeding babies.

Crystal/Rock people with breasts? And a cultural need to cover no... (see all)
  
Posted By: Kwizzy (10/16/2013 2:16:55 PM)
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If you can have Half Orcs, then Orcs breed. If Orcs breed, then they have babies. If so, their babies can be raised by anyone. If they can be raised by anyone, then they can be raised in a fashion where they are never exposed to anything negative. There's no reason to believe that Orcs thus raised would have to be evil and have no choice in the matter.
  
Posted By: zteccc (10/13/2013 1:17:39 AM)
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This whole article makes me uncomfortable with the direction of DnD right now.


Tolkien isn't the end all be all of DnD. "Science" isn't antithetical to fantasy, or even terribly contradictory.


The idea of inherently Evil races...entire species that speak and use tools and can think about complex ideas and make decisions for themselves, but cannot decide to not murder things...for a lot of us, the idea is completely preposterous.
  
Posted By: DoctorBadWolf (10/12/2013 5:50:42 PM)
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Instead of seeing Japanese dwarves, I'd rather see a common Japanese fantasy race, like the henge, be a player race; that would be a preferable multiculturalism to this Indian elf and Tibetan gnome stuff where you're still limiting things to European mythology.
  
Posted By: Dreamstryder (10/12/2013 5:54:56 AM)
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(I'm not saying your character has to be ethnically European to be a dwarf, mind you.)
  
Posted By: Dreamstryder (10/12/2013 5:59:09 AM)
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The moral quandary of orc babies has nothing to do with science. The question of nature vs. nurture is as old as time, and if you take away the science players bring into the game, it is an even BIGGER question. Are orcs evil by nature? Has anyone ever gotten one away from the orc clan? Aren't good half-orcs a pretty strong indicator that they're not THAT evil?

But ultimately, even if they are pure evil by nature, the question arises whether potential evil is evil enough to to kill. The babies haven't done any evil yet. Even if you can claim that killing them is a non-evil act (or even good), can you claim it is a lawful act?

The issue here is not bringing science into the moral (and ethical) quandary, it's the fact that the quandary is ever in any D&D game. Ever. Or rather, that you can ever bring moral questions (which DM, players, and designers might disagree on) into the game in such a way that it affects the mechanical core of the game. The problem James ... (see all)
  
Posted By: longwinded (10/10/2013 2:19:36 PM)
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Regarding creature origin and a place in the world's ecology, I'd like most creatures that are part of an entire race to have a place in the world's ecology, even if they were originally created by magic or the gods. Dwarves, for example, are part of a society that we know about. If owlbears are an entire race, then I want to see how they figure into the world's ecology regardless of their origins. On the other hand, if they're just something that a high-level wizard creates on a one-off basis to guard his or her grounds, then I see no need for them to have a natural habitat, natural prey and predators, or even be able to breed.

-Andy
  
Posted By: AndyHolman (10/10/2013 11:46:34 AM)
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I think this is less a question of science vs. fantasy than it is a question of different genres of fantasy - "low" or "pulp" fantasy (Conan, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, Dying Earth, etc.) and "high" or "epic" fantasy (Lord of the Rings, Shannara, etc.). Pulp fantasy has grittier feel and a smaller, more human scale, which lends itself to pseudo-scientific explanations for things. Epic fantasy is more focused on mythology, and tends to de-emphasize logical or scientific explanations in favor of thematic ones.

D&D has incorporated elements of both genres almost from the very beginning. Most of the creators' stated influences tended towards the pulp side of things, but most of the people who played the game were more familiar with epic fantasy like Lord of the Rings, and so many elements of epic fantasy found their way into the game, as well.

Over the years, D&D has supported both genres. For instance, Dark Sun is very... (see all)
  
Posted By: goldengod (10/10/2013 6:22:53 AM)
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Orcs are evil by nature. That being said, some are good (just as some halflings are evil). In a fantasy setting, it is perfectly acceptable to apply the absolutist label good or evil. It is also prefectly acceptible to make these labels "relative"; i.e. evil is anything that goes against the "manifest destiny" of the core races.

Are dragons evolved reptiles — No. Absolutly not. They are their own creatures.

Does every creature need to have a biological origin and place in ecology? As said, in a fantasy setting, evolution need not be a major force. That said, any creature needs to find a nitche, or they will fail to thrive and die out. This is why, IMHO, outsiders and abjurations are so rare; the nitches they thrive in are few and isolated. Others (say elves and owlbears) thrive in many niches and are now widespread.

How many humanoid races? I said 15 or so. By this I meant 4 core races (human, halfling, elf, dwarf) and thier sub-ra... (see all)
  
Posted By: Rlyehable (10/9/2013 7:52:12 PM)
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That's not fantasy, frankly, at least not in its classic sense. That's the sciences of anthropology and psychology.

Here's my opinion. Any intelligent creature that has a personality is a person. If the game says, "It's OK to slaughter evil people", it's a little too close to "It's OK to slaughter inferior people". Whether orcs were created evil, or are just culturally evil, doesn't matter. Either way, it's not heroic to seek them out and slaughter them in their homes without provocation.
  
Posted By: Poljack (10/9/2013 7:18:29 PM)
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Saying "a deity did it" is identical to explaining that "a wizard did it". Why are orcs evil? Because they hear the call of Gruumsh! Why are drow evil? Because they revere Lolth! Why are gnolls evil? Because they worship demons! If every single one of your evil races is explained as evil exclusively because they worship an objectively evil deity, you're essentially saying that all of the sentient races (PCs included) are nothing more than pawns in an elaborate game of chess played by that gods. While that may make for an interesting story in itself, it's not so great for a base that is intended to emphasize the heroic acts of the individual.

In my setting, orcs are nomadic hunter/gatherers. They are fiercely suspicious of outsiders (as overhunting could threaten not only their way of life but their very existence), and they tend to exile their criminals (which means that most orcs found away from their homes are outlaws). Certain tribes, however, are very... (see all)
  
Posted By: Shroom-Mage (10/9/2013 3:15:50 PM)
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My opinion? That you're wrong. Pretty simple really.
A. DnD is not LotR. Doesn't really matter what Tolkien did (and to my understanding you're incorrect about his implementation also).
B. DnD has had science in it from the beginning. And that's okay.
C. Something being "created" as evil still doesn't actually give you the right to automatically murder it.
D. Full of One True Wayism. That's never a good thing. If you and others want to run moralistically simple games, go right ahead, but don't dare presume to tell anyone else they are doing it wrong, or that it's not fantasy. That just demonstrates your ignorance of fantasy.
  
Posted By: danzig138 (10/9/2013 12:03:44 PM)
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I understand the desire that some folks have of making D"&"D a diverse and multicultural world. But the reality is that a lot of people want to play a game that is full of real-world issues. Immersion in my campaign and some of those that I play in involves creating a medieval world that is similar to our Earth history with a fantasy twist. That often means that the world and NPCs are segregationist, sexist, and bigoted racists. That often makes their characters more realistic. I am a little tired of hearing/reading the same drone about how D"∧"D needs to make such a PC brand. I am all for the PC party overcoming adversity and being a diverse group of heroes.

Tolkien's good races didn't trust each other.
Weis and Hickman's humanoids didn't trust each other either.
Guild Wars 2's races were all suspicious of each other.

The common theme with all of these though is that the heroes overcame the racial tensions to do heroic thin... (see all)
  
Posted By: Nachofan (10/9/2013 10:02:00 AM)
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"But Tolkien's orcs don't have babies. His orcs were created by corrupting elves."

I think you're misreading Tolkein. That's a non sequitor, and not just because you happen to list the conclusion before the premise. Orcs may have been created by corrupting elves, but it's patently ridiculous to suggest that every orc in existence was once an elf. That would require there to have been way too many elves at one point or another, and probably to make orcs immortal too. I would argue that the race of orcs was spawned by corrupting elves, but since that point the evolutionary branch is self-sustaining, producing its own offspring rather than harvesting elves and torturing them until they turn green (not that Tolkein's orcs are necessarily green).
  
Posted By: powerroleplayer (10/9/2013 9:27:52 AM)
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World-laws are specific to the DM's world; much here depends on the campaign. Any default assumption required for, say, setting-generic adventures, should be based on reality as a basepoint (orcs are a race and hence not inherently evil), or larger popular mythology (vampires were once living people). One can easily change from such base assumptions, and such departures are usually made because they are uncommon.

What should the MM offer us in terms of draconic origin? Consider we've voted on a default assumed origin for a few monsters (minotaurs, medusa) already, but perhaps some monsters (mimics, ...dragons?) benefit from some ambiguity as to their origins, either by not mentioning it or by listing a few theories. Tho' the MM's duty is toward inspiration, any detailed explanation sounds like it would rather belong in a campaign book or novel.
  
Posted By: Dreamstryder (10/9/2013 8:55:48 AM)
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In response to this line "that the data we have about people actually playing DnD consistently shows most people playing dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans."
have you considered that the reason for this is because DnD doesn't offer options for the other races?
There are tons of feats for dwarves, humans etc but how about race specific feats for a gnoll or shardmind? What about a racial paragon path or epic destiny? While players may want to play these races, there is so little love coming from WotC that we can't play them as effectively as a human or dwarf. This means people aren't selecting them for characters, which means WotC sees them as not wanted.
If there was simply three racial feats for these non standard races, at least 1 paragon path and 1 epic destiny (along with advertisment of this fact) I am convinced that the uptake of these races will surge.
It would be true for all my players and every other player I've spoken with.
  
Posted By: Rartemass (10/8/2013 11:30:53 PM)
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I think that WotC should add Genasi and henkyoukai as core race.. in that way you will have something for everyone internationally around the world...and maybe haveing better success selling the games in other places around the world...

Genasi (for those who love playing genie-like race... like prince of persia or want have assassin flavour in it)
and henkyoukai (for those who want to play nekomata, tengu and kitsube as subrace.. little bit chinise and japanise culture here)


  
Posted By: Votax (10/9/2013 12:48:41 AM)
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WIZARDS, WHY IS THIS COMMENT SYSTEM TERRIBLE.

Why do half the time, the ratings stars not work when you click them?

Why does 95% of the time I click the "reply" button, nothing happens?

Why are there no user icons or space between posts to fix the wall of text?

And why, (for the sake of Pelor and his holy, ever-loving light) does the post system break if you type an AMPERSAND like in the TITLE of your GAME?

You could print out our e-mailed messages, pin them to a cork board, and take a picture to put online and it'd be a better, more-working messaging system than this.
  
Posted By: wetsail (10/8/2013 10:24:30 PM)
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Let the work of Order of the Stick and Goblins have some resonance. That races shouldn't be automatically massacred just because an entry in the monster manual says so. What would be even better is if you included non-hostile interaction suggestions with as many of the Monster Manual entries with suggestions for non-combat encounters (with sentient beings). Like, negotiating with some goblins for some exotic animal mounts (I think goblins should have a Charisma bonus, but they tend to use only use it with animals), challenging an orc tribe to some contest of strength, trying to weasel your way out of a deal with a devil, etc...

Sure, there might be campaign-world specific things, but my preference is that unless it's got some inherent tie to evil, is some sort of constructed being, has strong ties to an evil god, or was subjected to some external corruption en masse, no race should be inherently evil. So no massacring orc babies.

No boobs on dragonborn. It looks w... (see all)
  
Posted By: the_Horc (10/8/2013 8:08:05 PM)
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Again you forgot yours have already made: if the orcs are evil by nature, how could it be that an entire battalion of Zhentarim orcs (in FR history) made the choice to live peacefully in the land of Thesk becoming normal farmers, workers and miners?
And Eberron, a world when moral borders are more thin than others?
NO WAY! Each DM has everytime the powers to change things for his own campaign, but if yours want to give us a common base to use whitout any efforts, more aspect need to be clarified for a common vision.
First of all: unless yours in Wizards have racist and genocide ideas, slaugthering babies (even orcs, goblinoids, gnolls and drow babies) made an EVIL ACT. In every world.
Second: the nature of dragons.
If the 2nd edition tell us dragons evolved from dinosaurs, but 3rd and 4th editions suggest their creation is made by the deity Io. In consideration of their elemental affinities and natural arcane powers, I think this is reasonable that Io has put h... (see all)
  
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (10/8/2013 7:23:17 PM)
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I have never felt that dragons evolved from dinosaurs, and I cringe whenever anyone refers to them as reptiles. Dragons hold their own classification, and it is called "dragon". "But dragons have scales!" you say. Wanna know what else has scales? Fish. Fish have scales, and fish are not reptiles either.

While I am on the topic: dragons and dragonborn do not have breasts. This artistic choice was a bad one. Dragons lay eggs. True dragons have no breasts. Drakes have no breasts. Dragonborn have no need for breasts. Why is it that warforged could be explained with no breasts or even gender, but someone who dreamed up dragonborn said, "You know what would make a dragon even more awesome? Breasts." No. Just no.

Dragons, drakes, and dragonborn exist within their own class/family of animals. I am okay with that. Let's call a duck a duck and a dragon a dragon. Not a reptile, and certainly not a mammal.
  
Posted By: earthwizard (10/8/2013 7:14:20 PM)
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With fantasy/sci-fi stories it is the role of a lot of the characters to struggle with their nature, whatever form that may take. Good vs. evil, the black sheep of the tribe, the moral dilemma - but in the end it is their choices that drive the story along.

So that is what it basically comes down to is choice. The ability to discover what shape your campaign will take rather than be dictated terms and conditions. Yes many creatures have a long history in myth and should still keep that heritage, however in my experience the gamer will change the game to suit their storyline - rules be damned. So it would be advantageous to have a system in place that allows for the evolution of story, rather than being presented a finite resource.

From creature PC's to Orc Paladins of Pelor, the players will decide one way or the other, why make it harder by writing in stone. To use the Star Wars analogy of Mos Eisley, let the end user decide the story for the multitude of creat... (see all)
  
Posted By: lookatmeiamabug (10/8/2013 5:35:31 PM)
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I have never known a version of Fantasy where the enemy humanoids weren't true breeding peoples. They play the role of enemy nations or tribes of less civilized people whose violence is a constant threat-- such as the Germanic tribes on the borders of Rome or the Mongollian tribes on the borders of China.

And you treat them like one should always treat enemies of the state-- you fight those who want to fight until their will to fight is broken and then force your culture onto them while taking anything worthwhile from their culture and incorporating it into your own.

It is a reflection of real world history done in an exaggerated manner with magic and monsters involved. Good fantasy like good Sci-Fi ought to bring up and present moral questions and exploration of human nature amid the excitement and strife.

But-- if one wants to create a totally different version of these monsters who are born entirely out of magical energies, it could be very interesti... (see all)
  
Posted By: Hebitsuikaza (10/8/2013 4:51:38 PM)
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Disagree when you say, "treat them how you should always treat enemies of the state..." that is imperialism/colonialism/cultural appropriation at its worst if not outright trolling.

I am not arguing that those things can't have their place in a narrative, but I simply won't play, buy, or otherwise support a game, which, by default, tries to spin these things, all of which find their clearest expression in the social nationalism of nazi-germany (but likewise, abound throughout the historical milieu of kyriarchy and its phenomenological tendency to Other that which it cannot appropriate), into something positive. In fact, I would actively campaign against such a game/institution/product/what-have-you.

There has to be room for a story to be told from many points of view, I completely disagree with your value judgements on history, but if you want to create a campaign wherein systems of domination, oppression, and authority are lauded and conflated with the ... (see all)
  
Posted By: OskarOisinson (10/8/2013 7:07:35 PM)
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Awwww... that's SO adorable!! You learned the word "imperialism"! Oh, yes you did! Yes, you did! Whose a big boy?!

Of course, it is a pity that your extreme hippy social studies teacher told you it is always bad and you never spent the two minutes necessary to think it through and come up with a more reasonable balanced opinion.

You want to know why Europe has cities, trade, similar enough languages that people can easily learn the others, and became vastly technologically, artistically and scientifically far more advanced than the rest of the world after China wavered? Answer: Roman Imperialism.

Without it, it would have remained a bunch of small pagan tribes constantly at war with one another. And, if you'd ever been born, you'd probably be a product of rape and would have a life expectancy of less than 30.

Do you know why America and Australia are actual functioning first-world nations and why the Middle East and South America is... (see all)
  
Posted By: Hebitsuikaza (10/9/2013 2:07:12 AM)
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While I don't necessarily agree with all the conclusions in the article, it's marvelously written. I like this approach to discussing what lore is.

The question of orc babies is not a new one. I think that having a paladin that refuses to commit genocide is what makes the difference between a holy warrior and a jaded crusader. It is the kind of challenge that makes mature roleplaying worthwhile. While I agree that anthropology and psychology are recent scientific traditions, morality, philosophy and theology certainly have enough traction within the DnD world to address the problem in the right hands.

That being said I think it's for good reason that the monster manual has avoided the discussion of the hitpoints of children. Fantasy as a genre often involves more leaps of faith in than those of science. Most DM's setting up a dungeon complex don't include a nursery. Dungeons and Dragons is a game for both young and old. It's better fro the material to err on the s... (see all)
  
Posted By: Johannes_Bancroft (10/8/2013 4:50:54 PM)
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Please stop forcing polytheistic gods onto every DDN setting.

False: 'They didnt evolve, they were created - just like Moradin created the dwarves and Corellon created the elves.'

Moradin and Corellon dont exist in my DDN campaign settings. They dont exist in Eberron, dont exist in Modern, dont exist in homebrew.

Please stop describing monster flavors that require polytheistic gods in every setting.
  
Posted By: Haldrik (10/8/2013 4:12:31 PM)
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Shouldn't question #3 have an "it depends upon the campaign" option? Question 4, too, while you're at it. It would make those questions less push-polly.
  
Posted By: RadioKen (10/8/2013 3:57:34 PM)
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A note: Tolkien's Orcs were true-breeding. While their genesis, it's true, was by 'breaking' and 'profaning' elves (being as they were, the First Children of Eru Illuvatar), that was done in the pits of Utumno during the Ages of the Trees (which preceded the ages of the Sun, wherein the Hobbit and LotR take place, specifically, in the 3rd age of the Sun). Since then, Orcs were presumably true-breeding, though the specific mechanism is left to the imagination. There is no mention of female orcs, but there is mention of orc progeny/lineage as other on here have noted. Likewise, Saruman was able to cross-breed them with humans to create Uruk-Hai, which I always took to imply some sort of rape, but perhaps I'm being overly cynical? Additional evidence to support true-breeding was that there were independent Orc nations and divergent evolutionary paths which begat the Orc nations of the Misty mountains (which existed even without Sauron or Morgoth for at least an Age) and goblins/hobgoblins... (see all)
  
Posted By: OskarOisinson (10/8/2013 3:13:03 PM)
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My response here is not so much about fantasy or science, but the false choice between them.

I suspect that the 2e evolutionary tale of the eodraco was motivated by a similar impulse to when 4e tried hard to tie the Isle of Dread to the Feywild and the Demiplane of Dread to the Shadowfell. Both try to tie up the world in a nice, comprehensible package.

In comics (or at least Marvel comics), this was called "a No-Prize". A minor error is explained away by an industrious, clever, and probably a bit compulsive reader. That reader's (unsolicited) explanation was then shared in letter columns with his equally observant, letter-writing peers, and he was a awarded "No Prize". Spider-Man's spider symbols wasn't upside down because the guest artist made a mistake: it was a new costume that was worn for the first time that issue, then destroyed in the fight. That bomb didn't destroy _real_ indestructible adamantium: it was really an impure "proto-... (see all)
  
Posted By: longwinded (10/8/2013 2:44:38 PM)
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Easily the best response on this thread, I'm glad you said it so I did not have to.
  
Posted By: OskarOisinson (10/8/2013 3:33:12 PM)
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Tolkien's orcs do have children, such as Bolg, the son of Azog.
  
Posted By: lord_zack (10/8/2013 2:20:46 PM)
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I'm sorry but 'race, in a modern sense.'
What sense would that be, exactly?
  
Posted By: serendipity (10/8/2013 1:53:00 PM)
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There is room for absolutely evil creatures in DnD but they should generally be limited to fiends, undead, and similar creatures. Alien races such as orc, goblins, and kobolds definately aren't irredeemably evil. Most orcs are evil because they are born with a short fuse, poor self-control, and a short fused--and then raised in a society of similar people. That's enough to turn most people evil, but they always have the option to be good, though it may be a struggle. Orcs are more evil than bandits, but they aren't fiends. Otherwise, what about elves? Can PC elves only be chaotic good? Are PCs magical beings who are exceptions to the rule, while NPCs must always be of the listed alignments? Even dragons ought to occasionally differ from their listed alignment, but since it is more woven into their being, it would be pretty rare. There is a reason DnD has done things the way they have been done before, and we have become used to it. DnD orcs are people. Orc babies are babies. If a campa... (see all)
  
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (10/8/2013 1:39:13 PM)
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Well, not that I have anything against evolutionary theories, but for a fantasy RPG, I prefer the more fantastic way. I have nothing against making some more in detail physiology or ecology of monsters, like the ecological niche or role or something like that. And the creatures can be evolutionary if the setting wants it. I just think that some things like more in detail physiology or ecology of monsters are not strictly necessary, and about the evolution, as I said, I prefer the more fantastic way.
However, that does not mean that things like more in detail physiology or ecology of monsters cannot be produced, but I think that, to something like that, I would like to be fantastic if the creature is fantastic. These things, in the case where they are written, should be fantastic and outside of what we could have in the real world to remind us that this is fantasy. Of course, in the case of more realistic creatures, like real-world animals and creatures that are not far enough from... (see all)
  
Posted By: cassi_brazuca (10/8/2013 1:02:46 PM)
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Owlbears were created when Woodsy the Owl and Smoky Bear had a drunken encounter at their high school reunion.
  
Posted By: Luke-Lightning (10/8/2013 12:44:46 PM)
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Ok, this is really off track but I really wish we would stop referencing Tolkien as if his stories are somehow the core of what DnD strives to be.

DnD in play feels more like pulp Sword and Sorcery tales or sometimes ancient Greek epics(or tragedies) than anything Tolkien ever put down on paper. Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock anyone?

And weren't those Tolkien races added to the original DnD for no other reason than to hopefully attract a broader range of customers from the Lord of the Rings crowd, with Gygax pretty much saying Tolkien's worlds never really factored into the inception of DnD?

The most memorable DnD stories and characters came from writers imagining or expanding non-Tolkien races - Kender, Minotaurs, Warforged, Drow, Tieflings(all of Planescape really), nearly Everything Dark Sun did... Even Dragonborn are more original and evocative than yet another Dwarf, Elf or Hobbit. Even the Forgotten Realms is more focuse... (see all)
  
Posted By: TwystedSpyder (10/8/2013 12:20:35 PM)
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I agree. "Low fantasy" (as swords and sorcery is often called these days) is my favorite kind, and the world that I find works best when you absolutely want the sort of "fantasy milieu" that they originally pictured when they started throwing together parties consisting of not-Cugel, not-Conan, not-Merlin, not-Van Helsing.

By the same token, I find the world of "epic myth" to be beyond boring. A world under supposedly high risk that almost never materializes. A world where the protagonists can't refuse any quest because, hey, the world is where they keep all their stuff. A world where the protagonists are almost guaranteed to win, either because they are the heroes of prophecy or just because the DM has a "second season" already drafted up. A world where you are pretty much guaranteed a fair swing at not-Hitler with a possibility of taking down not-Satan. It gets old very, very fast.
  
Posted By: longwinded (10/8/2013 2:55:29 PM)
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James, I love everything you said today.
  
Posted By: TheCrankyMage (10/8/2013 10:09:14 AM)
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I am a huge nerd and would love a scientifically-valid story on the origin of how all naturally-occurring stuff came to be. In a fantasy world, magic is, of course, a perfectly natural PART of science, but it shouldn't be used as a blanket excuse.

Also, I WILL NOT play 5th edition if there aren't a ton of player races. I'm sorry, but I actively dislike playing Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings, and one can only play so many Dragonborn and Warforged before they get boring.
Do what Pathfinder did in the Advanced Race Guide and give a system for building new races.
  
Posted By: sournote103 (10/8/2013 10:04:45 AM)
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For dragons, I more or less go with a standard evolutionary concept. They evolved from something, just like humans. Was there any sort of Devine intervention guiding that evolution - certainly... but the process was just basic selective breeding. Drakes and Wyverns are to Dragons as Monkeys and Apes are to Humans. Evolutionary branches on the family tree.

Dragonborn are simple - they are the result of Humans and Dragons mating... either a Dragon takes Human(or thereabouts) form or a very powerful Mage or Druid takes Dragon Form and... well when a mommy dragon and a daddy dragon love each other verrrryyy much (and often)... you know the story.
  
Posted By: Kazadvorn (10/8/2013 9:58:09 AM)
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Our parties are usually made of Lawful Good characters and when last we came upon a kobold nest, we figured most of the warrior-types had poured out of the hole in the ground to attack us... when the flood of baddies stopped, we decided to leave the babies and baby-sitters alive, thinking "I think we've killed them enough."
  
Posted By: SirCorin (10/8/2013 9:09:31 AM)
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Thoughtful article! Here's another thought: Sauron did capture, torture and corrupt elves into orcs, but that was- what?_ like a thousand years or more (?) in Middle Earth's history by the time of the events of LoTR. It wasn't an ongoing process, they had formed their own race by then, and were no longer elves, at all.
  
Posted By: SirCorin (10/8/2013 9:06:58 AM)
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I actually used the scenario of orc babies in a game once. It made for a wonderfully morally challenging role playing moment. Eventually, one of the "less conflicted" characters rid the world of their "potential threat". Ranger, I believe. We still reminisce about that game over a decade later.

Anhoo, let's not get too specific as to how many races and what flavors there should be. At least not in absolute terms. Let a fantasy game be what it wants to be: tailored by the collaborative efforts of the group. Beyond that, a future module can include ways to flavor differing races any way you like. Aquatic dwarves anyone? Flying goblins (like the squirrels)? Civilized ogres? Let's just have fun.
  
Posted By: Timmee (10/8/2013 9:00:23 AM)
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My point with all of this is that for every setting, the approach is different, and DnD needs to reflect creative differences, even while establishing a core grab-and-go concept so DMs don't have to always do all the tailoring work.



  
Posted By: Marandahir (10/8/2013 8:48:56 AM)
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Goblinoids, on the other hand, are genetically-modified super-primates – Goblins are former monkeys, Hobgoblins are former chimpanzees, and Bugbears are former gorillas – created on a spacestation, but who took over a whole planet and made it theirs, enslaving the surviving humans on that planet. They don't appear in mass in my core setting, but are a common appearance in Astral Sea spelljamming journeys, such as visiting the space-colony of Sigil or the Swordwing-dominated astrobelt. Very Planet of the Apes-ish, but again, the race isn't BAD persay. The Hobgoblins have an evil empire controlling the planet, but that doesn't make all the individuals bad, and those who travel beyond their world tend to be more cosmopolitan, in the truest sense of the word.
  
Posted By: Marandahir (10/8/2013 8:48:35 AM)
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In my setting, Halflings, Orcs, and Minotaurs are all of the same stock - highly evolved rodents, taking on rat, pig, and bison-like humanoid forms. All three are core playable races on both of my core worlds - I have two twin planets. The Orcs are more fierce raiders, like Turkish or Mongolian steppe people, herding their hogs, but they're not BAD people.
  
Posted By: Marandahir (10/8/2013 8:48:07 AM)
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For the record, if you take the evil by nature stance that makes Drizzt evil... and I say FINALLY. Let's kill him off the way I do (usually in a humiliating fashion... most recently she slipped, broke his neck and was sold to a discount meat vendor) any time I bother paying in the FR.
  
Posted By: Osgood (10/8/2013 8:38:34 AM)
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You know, earlier editions that were trying to bring more realism into the rules mechanically were also those that expanded realistic views of races and monsters. Heck, the "Ecology of..." articles ran for years. Having sentient races like orcs that made sense instead of "random bizarre dungeon spawn that would have died out because it has no food source" was a step forward in editions.

There's definitely a place for these re-imaginings. But please don't take a step back to "things don't have to make sense, it's faaaaantasy".
  
Posted By: Blue23 (10/8/2013 8:31:28 AM)
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This is a lame answer, but some of each! Alien stuff, god created races, and evolved ones. Mostly evolved ones. Orc babies!
  
Posted By: CommanderCrud (10/8/2013 8:22:37 AM)
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I don't think that's a lame answer. Nothing is more Dungeons and Dragons than a kitchen-sink approach to worldbuilding.
  
Posted By: RadioKen (10/8/2013 4:02:35 PM)
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The "the real world taboo of killing infants" is a fairly recent invention in human history. For the vast majority of human existence, infanticide has been a very common practice.
  
Posted By: eberg (10/8/2013 7:20:23 AM)
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That's not what I am arguing against. I am not even necessarily arguing against depictig infantcide in the game. What I AM arguing against is depicting infanticide as 'not only justifiable but necessary'. Your PC has the liberty to kill any and all orc babies he/she comes across, just don't pretend that's anything but an Evil act.
  
Posted By: SillySymphonies (10/8/2013 9:55:48 AM)
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In any campaign I design I differ from accepted DnD cannon by folding Orcs into the 'Goblinoid' genus. It just makes things easier for me, and makes more sense from a Tolkienesque point of view. Uruk-Hai aside, the Goblins and Orcs seemed to be more or less the same race.

I approach the Goblinoids as being sort of a more savage 'indigenous' race. Sort of like the Native Americans. Hopefully that doesn't offend anyone - no offense intended. They are like any indigenous race in that there are good and bad among them and the real problem is that they are 'different'. This has led to an historical conflict between them and the so-called civilized races. There are places where the Goblinoids and Humanoids live in relative harmony or at least in some form of uneasy truce. I could go on about the relative technology level of Goblins, Orcs, Hobgoblins and Bugbears, but that's beyond the scope of the original poster's article.
Suffice it to say that raiding an Orc camp and slau... (see all)
  
Posted By: Kazadvorn (10/8/2013 7:00:51 AM)
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Regarding orc babies:
This has nothing to do with science: this is a matter of MORALITY.
Either DnD is played as a tactical wargame, similar to (but more complex than) say chess or Stratego. In such a game there is no place for infants among the enemy combatants.
OR it is played as a storytelling game in which the real world taboo of killing infants should remain just that (a taboo). If you leave the possibility open for infant killing being anything other than an Evil, nay, VILE action, you contribute to the erosion of that real world taboo. You cannot wash your hands of this: remember that this game is also played by children and young adults who are still developing a moral outlook of their own.
The solution is simple, really: if a fantasy species has an infant form (be it orc babies or dragon eggs), its moral outlook (i.e. good/evil dichotomy) should be determined by nurture. If a fantasy species is evil by nature, it should not have an infant form in the first ... (see all)
  
Posted By: SillySymphonies (10/8/2013 6:18:15 AM)
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Can someone explain to me what an approved tag is, and how to properly close it.....?
  
Posted By: SillySymphonies (10/8/2013 6:07:42 AM)
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You probably used an ampersand (probably between two "D"s), I did and got the approved tags message, and it went away when I used the "DnD" abbreviation instead.
  
Posted By: LawfulNifty (10/8/2013 7:34:39 AM)
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Dragonborn keeping their mammalian female characteristics is important for distinguishing them from often similar-lookin' lizardfolk. All is well.

Killing orc babies hopefully shouldn't be a problem after the first time a party has to confront a tearful orc mother begging for their lives. Unless the PCs actually are monsters.
  
Posted By: Khilkhameth (10/8/2013 3:58:45 AM)
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We didn't need breasts to tell us the difference between hobgoblins and bugbears, or lizardfolk and trogs...

I do like your orc mother scenario, tho'!
  
Posted By: Dreamstryder (10/9/2013 9:16:43 AM)
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Mr. Wyatt, why have you betrayed Eberron, the world you worked on? If something puts me off dndnext is how everything is explained in connection with the Forgotten Realms. Eberron has interesting examples on how individuals from intelligent races can be either good or evil and on how some extraplanar creatures have a more set alignment.
  
Posted By: PaladinNicolas (10/8/2013 3:56:14 AM)
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Speaking of sentient races, there are a few that I'd love to see come back from 3e:

Slyths- Because slime-people is a clever idea that needs to get a comeback, and goo-girls are an established (though often NSFW) thing thanks to the internet!

Human Subraces- Stuff like the Asherati, Neanderthals, Underfolk, and Aventi. Because, I love the idea of specific sub-species of human evolved for specific environments and they seem like they could become really iconic and cool if pushed hard enough. My favorites are the Underfolk, due th their culture and camoflauge-y powers.

Half-Daelkyr- I think this should become the default "part human/part Far-Realm-thingy" PC race. It's got a great hook with its symbiote gimmick, both gameplay-wise and fluff wise, and there's a lot f room to build o considering that they ony appeared in "Magic of Eberron"

And I really hope there are some folkswho agree with me. Because I don't want to see the... (see all)
  
Posted By: tbok1992 (10/8/2013 3:08:22 AM)
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ehummm Mos Eisley of waterdeep.... if i remember it correctly you forgot to mention Genasi-race... the genie-kin races is somewhat common in forgotten realms.. especially when Waterdeep is somewhat so close to one of their countries Calimshan. Now back to the main event.... the core classes of DnD next should have something that appeals to everyone around the world.
for instance :

Gensasi: appeals most of the time to players that have etnicity of central asia to north africa.

while player races as Kitsune, Nekomata and Tengu (this 3 races of henkyoukai race that is) would appeal to most of the time someone from far asia or players that are manga fanatics and want to play such a character.

anyway races that i would want to see in core book are

Elves (and it's 3 subraces, Gold,silver and dark elves)
Dwarfs ( and it's 3 subraces shield, Duergar and Azers)
Gnomes ( and it's 2 subraces Forest gnomes and svirfneblin)
Halfing(see all)
  
Posted By: Votax (10/8/2013 2:44:48 AM)
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Can someone explain to me what an approved tag is, and how to properly close it.....?
  
Posted By: Schmieth (10/8/2013 2:34:54 AM)
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You may notice a lot of people using 'DnD' in the comments section. That's because you'll get that 'open tag' error if you use an ampersand anywhere in your comment.
  
Posted By: Tony_Vargas (10/8/2013 4:41:38 AM)
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I can help on this:
The validation code doesn't allow anything that looks like HTML markup.
For example, <script$gt; Do_Evil_Javascript_Things() <\script$gt; is right out.

But, just like normal HTML, sometimes you just want those characters to mean the character itself, not to act as HTML code. (Sometimes a less than sign is just a less than sign.) The escape code that HTML uses is &entityName;. Anything between an ampersand and a semicolon is supposed to be a descriptive name for the sort of character you want to drop in. Use "lt for "less than symbol" (<), "gt" for "greater than symbol" (>), and "amp" for "ampersand symbol" (&).

So, for example, if you type in "&amp;", you'll get your ampersand, and you can write D&D.
  
Posted By: longwinded (10/8/2013 2:11:37 PM)
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It's nice to see someone remembering that DnD is nominally an heroic fantasy game.
  
Posted By: Tony_Vargas (10/8/2013 2:27:59 AM)
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I think it almost always depends on the campaign, which is why I'd prefer if official sources steered clear of definitive answers. For example, the origin for dragonborn given in the last playtest packet is an interesting story, but it doesn't fit with my idea of dragons as ancient and terrible entities whose power can rival a god. They aren't beholden to Bahamut or Tiamat even if they honor them as ancestor-heroes. Also, regarding orcs, I find the idea of intelligent, free-willed creatures being "inherently" anything to be repellent. DnD already has plenty of morally unambiguous enemies. Unintelligent undead, outsiders, and golems can all be slaughtered without a second thought, the game can afford a little subtlety with regard to humanoids.
  
Posted By: LawfulNifty (10/8/2013 1:11:26 AM)
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Oh, and unless I'm horribly mistaken, Tolkien himself later regretted making orcs "wholly evil", saying that it was profoundly un-Christian of him to portray a whole race as being "beyond the mercy of God".
Personally, I think any "mortal" race should be, more or less, either either "evolved" (like humans) or "mutated" (like tieflings). Truly supernatural, mythical, extraplanar beings like demons or the deva-aasimar, have more "creationist" origin stories. But like I said before, if it's more creative than just the tired old line of "Created in So-and-So's Image", I might be able to roll with it.
And it's because of these reasons that I wish WoW allowed for Orc Paladins.
  
Posted By: DramoxTheIronLord (10/8/2013 1:06:37 AM)
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Also, include goblins and kobolds already. Mostly kobolds. I mean, c'mon.

You could even use the existing racial variant system for standard goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears, as well as for dragon kobolds, dog kobolds, or even urd.

5e's a (mostly) great system so far, you just have to put all the bits I want in it.
  
Posted By: wetsail (10/8/2013 1:03:26 AM)
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Very well. As I've said, it depends on the game. By all means, it's possible gonzo epic fantasy monster races can exist in some part of the world or they might not exist at all. Perhaps they're literally an alien from outer space (or wildspace) Personally, I limit the amount of sentient races to keep it simple and run something a little lower fantasy (but still a bit on the higher spectrum.) And as long as I don't get guilt for rejecting content at the table, whatever they put into books is fine with me.
  
Posted By: DoctorNecrotic (10/8/2013 1:03:19 AM)
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Orc babies are hard - I typically have my orcs in a "raidcamp" and "homecamp" structure, where the players cut their teeth fighting the raid camps early game, and then only get to fight the homecamp where the children are near the end of an established game. Should such a game get so far, Orc babies would represent a large moral choice for the party that, being at the end of the campaign, is entirely acceptable for them to take all the time in the world to debate and come up with a proper answer that dictates the direction of the ending.

Ultimately, the party and DM play the game they want to play. That involves handing the players tough but realistic choices occasionally - the real trick to making them resonate and not frustrate is to time them right.
  
Posted By: wetsail (10/8/2013 12:59:43 AM)
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First post with the new comment system...wow, this DOES stink...
@seti: Totally agree with you, African elves and Native-Hawaiian dwarves are one of my favorite things about Shadowrun and Order of the Stick. The non-humans in my games tend to be a little "monochromatic", but only rarely are they "White"--earth-gray dwarves, green orcs, goblionoids of various oranges, etc. And ditto the chainmail bikini.
Personally, I lean towards what TVtropes calls "Lots and Lots of Races" (though I don't like Wilden or Shardmind, and Warforged outside of Eberron), and I like them to have almost-Vancian amounts of ethnography attached to them. That man was FAR more than just a theretofore-original magic system.
Mos Eisley is still one of my favorite scenes in Star Wars, because I'm such a huge fan of diversity and a strong believer in multiculturalism. That said, I can still deal with a "civilized versus uncivilized peoples" concept. This allows f... (see all)
  
Posted By: DramoxTheIronLord (10/8/2013 12:57:55 AM)
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I'm fine with the explanations for some monsters being "Wizards, amirite?" so long as you give us a little more to go on.

For example, we know Owlbears were potentially made by wizards as guard beasts. Why? Why owls? Why bears? Which crazy wizard thought he'd mash the two of them together and get something to guard a tower?

Give us largely-generic but specific details that could fit many settings, or give us multiple explanations that we can choose from as to their origins. In fact, that last bit could answer your question on biology, too - claim that some wizened elders claim they are descended from diverse creatures like them, while some historians claim an insane wizard did it.

It's fantasy. Everyone can easily be right.
  
Posted By: wetsail (10/8/2013 12:54:43 AM)
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I am all right with a number of sentient races in the campaign world. Leave it up to individual DMs to decide what does or does not fit in their home campaigns. Premade campaign settings (FR, Greyhawk, Dark Sun, etc) can have assumptions already in place, but options should exist for non-standard races.
  
Posted By: Clansmansix (10/8/2013 12:27:55 AM)
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"You'll see humans of every color from a dozen different cultures, of course."

I thought middle earth/toril only had white folks. And Drizzt.

Joking aside, does anyone else think it's odd that there are no Japanese Dwarfs, or Indian elves, or Iraqi gnomes? I hope 5e's art goes more multicultural, as well as totally avoids the chainmail bra.
  
Posted By: seti (10/8/2013 12:16:59 AM)
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