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  #61  
Old 08-23-2014, 11:21 PM
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The relationship between Middle Earth and the Undying Lands likely has a lot more to do with the Norman conquest of England than any sort of back porting of American influences.
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  #62  
Old 08-23-2014, 11:25 PM
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Norman?
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  #63  
Old 08-23-2014, 11:27 PM
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William The Conqueror? Nah, William the Ordinary, now that's where it's at.

(yes, Norman)
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  #64  
Old 08-23-2014, 11:46 PM
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Was there ever any specific reason why dragons are/were evil? At least in most traditional Western fantasy, dragons are almost universally evil.

Why is it that humans can be humans in any setting in a fantasy world, but elves/dwarves have to be categorized as different races based on where they live, or their skin color?
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  #65  
Old 08-24-2014, 01:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Bunk Moreland View Post
Was there ever any specific reason why dragons are/were evil? At least in most traditional Western fantasy, dragons are almost universally evil.
In most things, dragons are the embodiment of greed, a deadly sin. I would imagine that any other explanation is just trying to dance around this.

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Why is it that humans can be humans in any setting in a fantasy world, but elves/dwarves have to be categorized as different races based on where they live, or their skin color?
I actually started pondering this exact same thing recently myself, except for reality. If scientists are going out of their way to define even the smallest difference in an animal species as a whole new subspecies, why are all modern humans still just homo sapien?
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  #66  
Old 08-24-2014, 01:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Bunk Moreland View Post
Was there ever any specific reason why dragons are/were evil? At least in most traditional Western fantasy, dragons are almost universally evil.
As far back as the Old Testament, anything reptilian was used as a shorthand for evil. And dragons are nothing but extremely big reptiles whose breath can destroy cities.
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  #67  
Old 08-24-2014, 02:33 AM
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I seem to recall reading at some point that Tolkein created the orcs simply as to be an evil race for the heroes to face, but later in life even he was troubled by the moral ramifications of an entirely evil race with no redeeming qualities.

I might be misremembering though.
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  #68  
Old 08-24-2014, 07:53 AM
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The most famous dragon in western culture is the one slain by St George. Thus the association of them with evil. Also, Octo is correct too.
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  #69  
Old 08-24-2014, 08:16 AM
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According to Wikipedia the association goes back way further than that. It cites myths and representations from ancient Greece. But those are more large serpents than what we think of as the codified "dragon." St. George's certainly wasn't the first though.

It's easy to see how a large and power beast would be depicted as evil. I wonder when Intelligence entered the mix. When did dragons go from dangerous to cunning and malicious? Far after medieval literature, I suspect.
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  #70  
Old 08-24-2014, 11:39 AM
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What?
The elves are created to live idyllic lives in the land of the gods over the seas to the west. Shit happens, some of them become willful and disobedient, and they invade the east, where everything basically turns to shit because they're supposed to be being idyllic not crafting great works and building kingdoms. A thousand years of darkness, Morgoth creates dragons and balrogs, etc. Then the race of men arises and there's a lot of fighting, and things get better, culminating in the great kingdom of Numenor. Then the Numenoreans decide that invading the land to the west is a great idea and get wiped out, except for a handful who were okay actually who go on to found the greatest line of kings.
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  #71  
Old 08-25-2014, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Solitayre View Post
I seem to recall reading at some point that Tolkein created the orcs simply as to be an evil race for the heroes to face, but later in life even he was troubled by the moral ramifications of an entirely evil race with no redeeming qualities.

I might be misremembering though.
That seems in-character enough for him to be believable. I read that when he was writing his conlang porn, he designed the Black Speech to contain as many sounds that sounded grating, ugly, and perhaps difficult to pronounce to his Anglophonic ears. He later realized that there were plenty of natural languages in the world, and got really upset at himself because he was philologist and should have known better.

And that's why the BS is so rare in his writings. A lot of his fans were disappointed by this because they thought it sounded edgy and cool.

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Yes; in addition to being hideously stereotyped, Blizzard gets the details of voodoo wrong.
I'm sort of inclined to think that things would be even more politically charged if they got them right. When presenting a mishmash of occult and shamanistic stereotypes, it's comparatively acceptable to portray it as unsavory or evil. If they depicted real-life religious practices in this light... you get the picture.

Last edited by Madmachine; 08-25-2014 at 11:02 AM.
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  #72  
Old 08-26-2014, 04:52 AM
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To be slightly fair towards Blizzard with how they treat religion in Warcraft:
There is like zero Christian concept. Not even the Holy Light stuff that powers Priests and Paladins is like that. It's more or less an ascetic "good works" atheistic (as in, no god, not anti-religious) faith system.
Shamanism is viewed as noble even if it's represented in a horribly misunderstood way. It's basically communing with the elements, in a more primitive sense of fire/earth/air/water, and commanding them to do the shaman's bidding.
Druidism isn't far removed from D&D, though it does feature a lot of sun/moon worship as well.

The only really evil guys are the warlocks and shadow priests, but the troll "voodoo" is represented as horribly misunderstood as I detailed before.

Has there ever been any kind of coded racism with gods/religions in other RPGs? Like, for example, "most Dwarves worship <x>," and then any kind of implication that <x> is an inferior or unsuitable god for anything but stereotypical Dwarf interests?
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  #73  
Old 08-26-2014, 06:42 AM
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As you've probably already gathered, I know very little of the Warcraft lore. What do we mean by "horribly misunderstood" in the context of their depiction of shamanism?

I don't know much about RL shamanism either, but I don't believe the term refers to any one particular religion or religious family in the sense that "Christianity" or "Islam" does. Isn't it supposed to be a blanket term referring to specific types of religious practices? If that's the case, then Blizzard probably wouldn't have wanted to depict any particular RL shamanist belief systems or rituals, because A) they'd either have to commit to one in particular or create a kitchen sink soup of various shamanist stuff, and B) they wouldn't have been able to use shamanism in the high fantasy magicky way they wanted to, since RL shamans can't throw fireballs.

Again, I don't know much about Warcraft lore, but maybe they could have fixed this problem if they just changed the name Elementalism or something.
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  #74  
Old 08-26-2014, 07:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solitayre View Post
I seem to recall reading at some point that Tolkein created the orcs simply as to be an evil race for the heroes to face, but later in life even he was troubled by the moral ramifications of an entirely evil race with no redeeming qualities.

I might be misremembering though.
You're totally right. While there are some really troubling racist themes in LOTR, Tolkien was very much a Product of His Time and actually somewhat enlightened, relatively speaking. There's the one scene with the dead Haradrim where Frodo wonders about his family life and comes to the conclusion that the guy was basically an Average Joe who was forced to come and fight. And the older that Tolkien got, the more sophisticated his thinking got, and the more the concept of a race created to be Eeeeevil really, really bothered him.

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The elves are created to live idyllic lives in the land of the gods over the seas to the west. Shit happens, some of them become willful and disobedient, and they invade the east, where everything basically turns to shit because they're supposed to be being idyllic not crafting great works and building kingdoms. A thousand years of darkness, Morgoth creates dragons and balrogs, etc. Then the race of men arises and there's a lot of fighting, and things get better, culminating in the great kingdom of Numenor. Then the Numenoreans decide that invading the land to the west is a great idea and get wiped out, except for a handful who were okay actually who go on to found the greatest line of kings.
yeah, if you read the Silmarillion and then read Tolkien's letters, the Elves seem a lot less "perfect," considering that their mistakes massively fucked over Middle-Earth for a good portion of its history. the Noldor that chose to remain in Middle-Earth after the defeat of Morgoth, especially those that lived in communities guarded by one of the Three Rings, essentially wanted to have their cake and eat it too: the Three Rings were basically able to create oases that felt like the bliss of Aman/the Undying Lands but with the additional bonus of the Noldor not having to bend knee as much to the Valar or feeling like small fish in a big pond.

A lot of bad racial coding in fantasy just comes from LAZINESS. Bad fantasy writers are generally bad at coming up with interesting, dynamic, and varied cultures, so they reach for stereotypes. And there's the whole Planet of Hats phenomenon.
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  #75  
Old 08-26-2014, 07:53 AM
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There's no Christianity in warcraft? Go back to warcraft 2 and click on the paladin tower again and listen to the sound clip =)
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  #76  
Old 08-26-2014, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Bunk Moreland View Post
Has there ever been any kind of coded racism with gods/religions in other RPGs? Like, for example, "most Dwarves worship <x>," and then any kind of implication that <x> is an inferior or unsuitable god for anything but stereotypical Dwarf interests?
D&D doesn't write racial gods this way in the core rules, but most adventure writers and DMs stick with it. Corellon is the god of magic and art, but gets reduced to "elf god". Moradin is the forge-god, but most games just go "Moradin = dwarves". You never see a human artist or smith following them.

I can't think of any racial gods that get much representation outside the context of their own race. Even with villains, a non-Drow who specializes in darkness, poison, and subterfuge probably worships Vecna rather than Lolth, and you never see Tiamat have a plot regarding greed and tyranny that doesn't also involve dragons.

(4e eased on this somewhat with more generic god portfolios, but from what I've seen 5e is right back to stereotype gods.)
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  #77  
Old 08-26-2014, 09:25 AM
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5e's god selection is kind of different. The racial gods still exist (as mentioned in my post on half-orcs), but they also go into older D&D settings like Forgotten Realms etc. and describe the different gods these settings have, letting players select from them. They also list out a bunch of real-world pantheons and describe what kinds of domains they might have.

The takeaway is that the DM can and should choose whichever pantheons feel like they fit, which is how I feel D&D should be played: keep the core bits you like, indiscriminately axe the rest for your own cool stuff.
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  #78  
Old 08-26-2014, 02:08 PM
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the only way any TTRPG ever should be played
FTFY.
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  #79  
Old 08-27-2014, 06:35 AM
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As you've probably already gathered, I know very little of the Warcraft lore. What do we mean by "horribly misunderstood" in the context of their depiction of shamanism?

I don't know much about RL shamanism either, but I don't believe the term refers to any one particular religion or religious family in the sense that "Christianity" or "Islam" does. Isn't it supposed to be a blanket term referring to specific types of religious practices? If that's the case, then Blizzard probably wouldn't have wanted to depict any particular RL shamanist belief systems or rituals, because A) they'd either have to commit to one in particular or create a kitchen sink soup of various shamanist stuff, and B) they wouldn't have been able to use shamanism in the high fantasy magicky way they wanted to, since RL shamans can't throw fireballs.

Again, I don't know much about Warcraft lore, but maybe they could have fixed this problem if they just changed the name Elementalism or something.
What I mean is, between the races associated with "natural" shamanism (as in they are naturally inclined to it) and the basic "primitive nature-rituals and binding/commanding the elements to do your bidding" it comes off as pretty racist. The three races associated with natural shamanism (as in they practiced it on their own without being taught/introduced) are the Orcs, Trolls and Tauren. And I posted way earlier how those races are stereotypically portrayed, at least in their backgrounds/general identities.

It is misunderstood in a few ways: 1) Shamanism can't be summarized in a blanket religion like that
2) Actual real life shamanistic religions are, while associated with nature, usually tied more into animism and things like animal aspects.

Warcraft shamanism is just "I command the earth/fire/air/water to do my bidding." About the only thing it has in common with one type of shamanism is its use of totems. And I mean, that's OK considering it's a fantasy religion and more of an excuse for gameplay than anything else, but I'm just saying it's kinda like how their concept of "voodoo" is a vague association of some stereotypical views.

And shivam, they've recently done a lot of retconning with WOW to distance themselves from anything too Christian related to their Priest/Paladin "Holy Light" faith. Just 3 or 4 years ago, even in WOW, they gave a sense that there was a guiding voice/power behind the light that those classes draw on for their powers. But within the past couple years it's changed to be more of a self-sacrifice/personal goodness kind of thing.
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  #80  
Old 08-27-2014, 09:39 AM
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And shivam, they've recently done a lot of retconning with WOW to distance themselves from anything too Christian related to their Priest/Paladin "Holy Light" faith. Just 3 or 4 years ago, even in WOW, they gave a sense that there was a guiding voice/power behind the light that those classes draw on for their powers. But within the past couple years it's changed to be more of a self-sacrifice/personal goodness kind of thing.
World of Warcraft has done a lot of retcons to strip out clear Warhammer Fantasy Battles and real-world historical references.
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  #81  
Old 08-27-2014, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Bunk Moreland View Post
And shivam, they've recently done a lot of retconning with WOW to distance themselves from anything too Christian related to their Priest/Paladin "Holy Light" faith. Just 3 or 4 years ago, even in WOW, they gave a sense that there was a guiding voice/power behind the light that those classes draw on for their powers. But within the past couple years it's changed to be more of a self-sacrifice/personal goodness kind of thing.
i'm sure. my experience with warcraft stopped around 1999 or so.
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  #82  
Old 09-01-2014, 11:01 PM
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What's the point of D&D goblins? For when you need something your players won't feel guilty about killing but full-size orcs are just too scary?

And what about kobolds? They seem little draconic bunny rabbits. I've never had to fight them in a game and I'm not sure I could feel good about it, no matter what alignment they're assigned in the monster manual.

Was there ever really a mechanical or narrative niche that could only be filled by toddler-sized irredeemable evil?
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  #83  
Old 09-01-2014, 11:11 PM
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What's the point of D&D goblins? For when you need something your players won't feel guilty about killing but full-size orcs are just too scary?

And what about kobolds? They seem little draconic bunny rabbits. I've never had to fight them in a game and I'm not sure I could feel good about it, no matter what alignment they're assigned in the monster manual.

Was there ever really a mechanical or narrative niche that could only be filled by toddler-sized irredeemable evil?
I'm pretty sure the whole problem with Fantasy is that people ask these kinds of questions. What's the point of mosquitos? Do they help anyone? What's the point of dung beetles? They are just there.

Ask yourself, what ...ISN'T, erm, the point of... kobolds... ?

Nevermind, that fell apart at the end. I have no idea what I"m saying.
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  #84  
Old 09-02-2014, 12:28 AM
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Was there ever really a mechanical or narrative niche that could only be filled by toddler-sized irredeemable evil?
The last time I ran a game where I actually tossed in goblins, it was one of them there adventure path type deals (Rise of the Runelords, specifically) and the way it makes use of goblins, it's basically impossible not to fire up this to play in the background:


Kobolds though I don't so much get. Historically there's been a whole lot of confusion of what they're even supposed to be (little gnomey rat-like lizard-puppy-people?) and their traditional alignment has always been Lawful Evil, so they don't really get up to wacky shenanigans... I guess they're just there so there's something to live in creepy little caves just outside of town? Honestly though I don't think I know anyone who doesn't just declare them too cute and pathetic to treat as monsters and just kinda tries to adopt them when they show up instead of fight.
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  #85  
Old 09-02-2014, 06:42 AM
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I play 'em thus: Goblins are demons on a smaller scale. They're not organized and may lack individual power, but there are a nigh-infinite number of them. Cleaning out a goblin warrens is a job for Great Cleave, otherwise you'll be chopping for weeks.

Kobolds in 2e didn't have much going on, unless your DM was the sort of dick who had one kobold operating a dungeonful of nasty traps that gave virtually no EXP or treasure for the jaunt because, at the end of the day, you only killed the one kobold. They don't even get full hit dice!

In 3e, they play up the draconic bloodline. They're small and puny and pathetic, and they know it, so they walk the earth with their eyes turned skyward, ever dreaming of becoming something so noble as the dragons from which they are descended.
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  #86  
Old 09-02-2014, 07:01 AM
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4th edition traps are worth XP and treasure. *shoves glasses half a mile up his nose bridge with a cheeto-stained finger and winks awkwardly*
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  #87  
Old 09-02-2014, 10:55 AM
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I think this thread is probably the best place for this:

Vice has a great article on inclusiveness, diversity and D&D
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  #88  
Old 09-03-2014, 06:47 AM
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I think this thread is probably the best place for this:

Vice has a great article on inclusiveness, diversity and D&D
Man, this even makes me even more want to head down to 20-Sided Store.
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  #89  
Old 09-03-2014, 07:54 AM
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Does 5e still have a race of purely evil black-skinned people run by a matriarchy or
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  #90  
Old 09-03-2014, 08:01 AM
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Actually given 5e's openness about nonbinary genders my next character is gonna be a genderfluid Drow who got excommunicated and left the Underdark for not fitting neatly into the sex-based caste system.
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