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Salbazier
2010-10-01, 11:16 AM
Okay, they are not always described as evil or have evil tendency in every settings, like in the case of Eberron. But, in settings that do portray then as evil, why they are evil in the first place? Is it because they are created by gods to be evil? Deep-rooted values and tradition that hard to change? twisted living environment in the beginning of their history that set up their mindset? Something to do with genetics?

So, thoughts?

tyckspoon
2010-10-01, 11:27 AM
Because it makes it easier to justify killing them.

In a more serious vein, orcs and goblinoids tend to have evil gods driving them on. Gruumsh's dogma is not necessarily Evil, but it is definitely in conflict with the tenets of the good/'civilized' races and it tends to encourage evil interpretations and applications. More monstrously-styled things are usually just predators that are intelligent enough to learn to enjoy killing and cruelty; they don't have to be evil, but the ones adventurers run into usually are because they're the ones who are hunting humans instead of satisfying themselves on wild game.

Mark Hall
2010-10-01, 11:37 AM
Depends on the game and the era.

I tend to assume that they have some naturally evil tendencies (e.g. they naturally tend to be more aggressive, or have a predilection towards cruelty, or a relatively low sense of empathy), but a large portion of it is socialization. Those tendencies become socially reinforced, both because everyone else has them, and because their religion reinforces them further. However, that's a fairly modern view; I want to say it became more prevalent with 2nd edition, and was reinforced by 3e's "Always, Usually, Often" notations on alignments, but I don't think it was unheard of in earlier games.

A lot of older players simply assume that they are evil because they are evil... you don't find good orcs or minotaurs outside of a helm of opposite alignment or such super-rare circumstances that they have to be considered singularly. You'll find this frequently on Dragonsfoot, but it's by no means the only view... a number of people are in my camp, as well.

Dr.Epic
2010-10-01, 11:39 AM
Because they've always been evil in classic mythology. Why are elves always portrayed as good?

Zore
2010-10-01, 11:45 AM
Because they've always been evil in classic mythology. Why are elves always portrayed as good?

Mythologically Elves 'goodness' is owed mainly to Tolkein in respect to D&D. In most mythology they are either fey, and evil bewitching baby stealers, or analogous to what we now think of as dwarves.

RndmNumGen
2010-10-01, 11:49 AM
Yeah, goblinoids are evil because they have always been evil. If you mean actual reasons why they are considered evil, it is usually because they are cruel or sadistic, with aggressive tendencies and they see no problems with killing to accomplish their goals.

Salbazier
2010-10-01, 11:52 AM
Yeah, goblinoids are evil because they have always been evil. If you mean actual reasons why they are considered evil, it is usually because they are cruel or sadistic, with aggressive tendencies and they see no problems with killing to accomplish their goals.

No, I mean reason for those attitude/tendencies

Gerrtt
2010-10-01, 11:55 AM
Another alternative viewpoint is that they are twisted variants of good or benign races. What did the twisting is up for discussion, evil gods, gods who felt like experimentin', or of course "a wizard did it". In this case you get the grounds for usually/sometimes/always in their alignment. Just like you might get an occasional evil surface elf you might get the occasional good-natured goblin who likes to come over for tea.

And wear a monocle and top hat but not shoes. Hey, it happens.

Greenish
2010-10-01, 12:02 PM
Why are elves always portrayed as good?They're pretty and shiny and sparkly. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BeautyEqualsGoodness)

Orcs, goblinoids, trolls and ogres, on the other hand… (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EvilMakesYouUgly)

jguy
2010-10-01, 12:02 PM
Mythologically Elves 'goodness' is owed mainly to Tolkein in respect to D&D. In most mythology they are either fey, and evil bewitching baby stealers, or analogous to what we now think of as dwarves.

I like the Lorwyn Elves (pre-shadowmoore) from Magic: the Gathering. They are the typical aloof, very pretty, long lived version of elves but taken to the logical extreme. Anyone not as pretty as them are considered "Eye-Blights" and are killed on sight for daring sully the elves eyes. A political assassin of the elves simply have a knife to scar the face of the target. Ugly = death.

Edit: Oh, while typical elves are simply green mana, Lorwyn elves are green and BLACK.

Tam_OConnor
2010-10-01, 12:19 PM
They're about as evil as the Gauls were, compared to the Romans, or those babbling northerners to the Greeks. The cultural divide is just too wide to gap. Leastwise, that's my campaign world's explanation. I mean, when the main deity is the god of civilization, and orcs worship their ancestors instead... you can see where the problem lies.

Goblinoids were bred from elves and dwarves to be a warrior race for the Fey Courts, so they're culturally pre-dispositioned to be misanthropic.

Ogres, giants and the like: pretty much the same excuse as orcs, only they've also got the problem of being prime vectors for demonic possession (big, strong, weak-willed).

EDIT: And I just noticed I'm an orc. I'm not an apologist! Don't cleave me!

Ravens_cry
2010-10-01, 12:41 PM
I had an idea where Orcs generally live in forests, kind of like gorillas. For most, they are a quiet folk, living in little hidden way villages. Never big on technology because when you are as strong as an orc, there is less of an incentive or need. Prone to long contemplation and thoughtfulness.
However, multiple births are considered evil, and one, or even both, are taken out of the forests and exposed on mountaintops. However, Orcs are so strong and good at surviving, that a surprising percentage of them survive to adulthood as feral Orcs. These bestial creatures, violent and predatory, are what most people think of when they think 'Orc' because that is what most civilized humanoids encounter.
Of course, this is also a universe where elves are the evolved descendants of what were basically seed-pods for a single species ecology, think Speaker for the Dead but on a larger scale, and Dwarves are Space Aliens explaining their higher technological abilities.

Crossblade
2010-10-01, 12:48 PM
They are the subject of racism. As Thaco pointed out in Goblin's Comic. I'd reference a few key comics, but I can't link easily from my iPhone; someone else can have the honour.

ericgrau
2010-10-01, 01:31 PM
Societal + inborn tendency. Ya, fantasy tradition too. Ideally you should have a good number that don't follow the norm. For example did you know orcs are merely "often" chaotic evil, which means less than half of them but more than 1/9th of them are chaotic evil?

Ignition
2010-10-01, 01:36 PM
What's that old saying about Winners Write the History Books? I think the ugly races are portrayed as evil because they lost. What they lost, depends; humans have all the best lands, elves have all the best magic, dwarves have all the best beer, etc. Orcs and the like have... brutality, and that's about it, but all the rest of the "nice" races can be pushed to equal acts of brutality.

So yeah, I think monstrous races are mean because they lost; they're probably just as decent and all that, but because we're seeing the game from the "winner" races' eyes, the orcs and their ilk are portrayed as evil. It is all perspective, after all :smallwink:

TheEmerged
2010-10-01, 01:42 PM
Well, in my own case I've grown tired of the "noble savage" cliche where orcs/goblins/trolls/ogres/minotaurs are "misunderstood". So for my current campaign world (4e), I decided that most of the orcs/trolls/ogres are followers of Orcus (who is defined as Chaotic Evil in my campaign).

Goblins now... goblinoids are part of the world's metaplot, and see themselves as being Lawful Good (they're actually closer to Lawful Neutral with Lawful Evil tendencies). They're out to save the world from the lesser races, whether the lesser races see it that way or not :smallbiggrin:

No, the PC's aren't goblins :smallcool: For the record the drow of my world also think they're Lawful Good and are actually Lawful Evil, but that's a long story for another post.

Yora
2010-10-01, 01:46 PM
Why?

Because!

Felhammer
2010-10-01, 01:49 PM
Orc just like violence, its apart of their brutal primitive culture. It is the Human's and Demi-Human's role in the world to civilize such races, be that through forced conversion, destruction of native lifeways or whole sale slaughter. :smalltongue:

More realistically, Orcs, Goblins, Trolls and Ogres don't look like Jimbob the Elf or Joebob the Dwarf or Jimmyjohnbob the Human, so obviously they are evil! :smallbiggrin: At the heart of it, they are evil because people in the real world need an easy identifier as to who is- and is not good. They look different than us is a fairly easy (though morally ambiguous) solution. :smallwink:

:smalltongue::smallbiggrin::smalltongue:

lsfreak
2010-10-01, 01:59 PM
I take the view that D&D alignment is biased towards modern thinking - and thus those races are not modern in their thinking.

Orcs lust for recognition. Thus they have various ways of standing out among the other orcs, the easiest one being extraordinarily violent to outsiders. The best hunters, most brilliant tacticians, and most brutal conquerors are the heroes. Along with living in a harsh environment also comes an extreme pragmatism that is alien to us. The old or crippled are left to die, babies born during drought are killed. They see no problem with this, as to let them live means dooming more to death.

Goblins are socialist. They live out their own lives on their own plots of land and in their own villages, and yet have extremely strong ties to the clan as a whole. Everyone is willing to donate for others, everyone works for their clanmates, even if it's for a goblin they've never met but simply have ties to the clan. Everything is for the good of the tribe. Others view this as a threat. Or, more often, have no idea what they're getting into. A farmer goes to a single goblin family across the river and demands a small plot of ancestral land back, and the farmer doing that views it as a wholly personal matter. The goblins, on the other hand, view it as an attack on the entire 50,000-goblin clan, and are going to respond as such.

Ogres, on the other hand, are actively persecuted, not because they are different or evil, but because they make excellent slaves. Strong, can be 'trained' to build, labor in fields, act as pack animals, and fight, and a sign of prestige. Their nomadic tendencies also lead them to have run-ins with backwater farms and villages, where the ogres intend no harm on the farmers but the farmers still see 20 ogres camping out at the edge of their farm.

Dark_Nohn
2010-10-01, 05:11 PM
Mythologically Elves 'goodness' is owed mainly to Tolkein in respect to D&D. In most mythology they are either fey, and evil bewitching baby stealers, or analogous to what we now think of as dwarves.
I'd heard that the bastardization of elves and fey comes from the victorian era moreso than Tolkien.

Pilum
2010-10-01, 05:32 PM
I read a rather interesting little article once, a part of which touched on the way Tolkien - or rather, his characters - referred to orcs et al. The author felt that there was a direct link between this and the way medieval chroniclers referred to the Mongols. Sweeping out of uncharted lands, laying waste to all they see and taking slaves... yep, I can see where that idea came from. Another intriguing point was that they couldn't be wholly cruel and wicked - given the ease with which they seem to tame wolves and worgs (and boars, wyverns and other assorted beasties for various other portrayals of them) they must have a patient and kind(ish) side - for animals, at least.

In short, the Warhammer approach of making them somewhat stereotypically "lower (under?)-class" English may have something to it - drink vast quantities of alcohol, keep (equivalents of) racing pigeons and fighting dogs and being prone to a spot of football hooliganism when they're on their travels! :smallwink:

Saph
2010-10-01, 05:48 PM
Okay, they are not always described as evil or have evil tendency in every settings, like in the case of Eberron. But, in settings that do portray then as evil, why they are evil in the first place? Is it because they are created by gods to be evil? Deep-rooted values and tradition that hard to change? twisted living environment in the beginning of their history that set up their mindset? Something to do with genetics?

I go with "all of the above". Some of it is because they were designed by their deities to match the deity's alignment, some of it is because they have a culture that encourages and reinforces it, some of it is because everybody else has a strong prejudice against them, some of it is because they have a genetic predisposition towards a certain attitude, some of it is because they're seen as being evil even when they aren't, and some of it is because they just decide to be selfish and cruel as a result of their own free will. Real-life societies are complicated, so I like it when these sort of questions in games don't have simple answers, either.

Lord Raziere
2010-10-01, 06:08 PM
those "monstrous" races are not "evil" at all, they are just victims of racism that makes them hate the "good" races with makes them attack them in revenge for it which perpetuates a cycle of hate and vengeance for thousands of years with the "good" races too biased towards themselves to see whats really happening and change something about it :smallmad:

Endarire
2010-10-01, 06:38 PM
The simple and practical answer: "What else are ya gonna kill to level up?"

This is in part why I dislike the alignment system. I find it far too subjective to be worth it.

Jota
2010-10-01, 08:08 PM
To borrow a page from Freakonomics, high birth rates combined with shrinking population densities (encroachment of the so-called 'civilized races') and minimal education tends to make for a impoverished people who squabble over what resources they have and create generations of disillusioned individuals with minimal regard for the law (or morals, if you will, but even that's unfair in the face of cultural relativism) or their fellow man.

Another element that you have to consider that is a drastic departure from racism as we know it in the real world is the fact the some races on whole really are less intelligent, less wise, or weaker than others, not as a matter of perception (as the dichotomy between blacks and whites in real life is), but as a matter of fact (see an orc: +4 Strength, -2 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma). Justifying discrimination is easier when you can on whole, say that they are stupid, ugly (semantics, ignore the Charisma/looks thing for a moment), and lack common sense compared to the average human and be totally justified in that statement. Obviously any individual could defy these conventions, but they are still constrained by these very definitive modifiers (and considering the average array, there isn't much room for deviation in the general population).

To add onto that, it would be racism ("a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others") to place orcs as second class citizens because of their inferior mental attributes, because any individual orc might out-achieve any individual human, but it's much more justifiable than black/white discrimination because orcs do have a -2 modifier to all of their mental attributes, humans are all +0, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma all go some distance toward determining where you get in life.

Slightly off topic, but in a d20 world a -1 modifier (10 Intelligence vs 8) doesn't really mean that much compared to a +0 modifier because the d20 means infinitely more than your modifier at lower levels where over 90% of the population exists, but if you move to a 3d6 system (which in my opinion more accurately depicts reality) than every single point tends to matter a lot more, and racial discrimination is even more justifiable.

Yahzi
2010-10-01, 10:11 PM
Another alternative viewpoint is that they are twisted variants of good or benign races.
This is the correct answer. Tolkien's orcs are the descendants of elves, twisted by Melkor; but in many other mythologies the evil races are spiritually (and therefore physically) degenerate forms of human beings.

IonDragon
2010-10-01, 10:39 PM
All of my goblinoids eat babies.

That is all.

GenericGuy
2010-10-01, 10:43 PM
I prefer in my settings for their “evil” to be born from their stupidity and inability to process their emotions logically. I like the idea of them having strong emotions that they simply cant control like a child throwing a temper tantrum, a very big child. I like them to be similar to earlier hominids rather than modern man, and being unable to construct nations and city-states. Their primitive nature just cant process an advanced civilization and concepts like law & order and cause & effect are just to abstract for them. So they see a group people with things they want and they take it, but not out of malice.

Lord_Gareth
2010-10-02, 10:09 AM
Honestly, they're evil because no one in WotC's D&D division knows how to write. It starts with the whole concept of Racial Societies (extraordinarily lacking in logical sense right there), continues into the Grand and Terrible Alignment Debate, strays a little into Medieval Stasis, and finally ends at Someone's Gotta Die for Those Experience Points. If any given DM wants to justify a culture that's THE EVULZ, then, well, they've got a job of it, and good luck to them.

Orcs come the closest to actually having a justification. Their society is, essentially, a tribal theocracy. Now, theocracy is a bad idea no matter what way you spin it (this isn't a diss on religion so much as it is a statement that absolute secular power backed up by spiritual authority inevitably corrupts), but the god of the orcs emphasizes heroism in battle, rage, conflict, and glory (as well as hating elves) as his primary dogmatic features. I can easily imagine where a society ruled by his priests might have some...problems.

Snake-Aes
2010-10-02, 10:12 AM
authority is inevitably corrupted Fixed that for you. I agree with the rest.

Mark Hall
2010-10-02, 11:46 AM
Honestly, they're evil because no one in WotC's D&D division knows how to write. It starts with the whole concept of Racial Societies (extraordinarily lacking in logical sense right there), continues into the Grand and Terrible Alignment Debate, strays a little into Medieval Stasis, and finally ends at Someone's Gotta Die for Those Experience Points. If any given DM wants to justify a culture that's THE EVULZ, then, well, they've got a job of it, and good luck to them.

Several points of disagreement, here. First of all, racial societies are difficult amongst humans because we've had tens of thousands of years of separate development, where communication was difficult and you have no central authority. Even two closely related societies (the US and the UK, for example) have a couple centuries of semi-isolation.
Then comes instant communication. I regularly read a blog by someone living in England, watch Australian artists, and can do this from a restaurant that shows Korean TV... while people in England watch Japanese shows translated into English by Canadians and eat at McDonalds. This does not create a global culture where everyone is the same, but it does round the sharp edges of difference a bit.
Then, we take goblins. Now, they don't have global instant communication, but they have been in constant contact with a very conservative force for both language and culture... the goblin pantheon. This will tend to solidify their language and their culture, with only a few artifacts of language and culture being different between tribes... like the differences between Americans and Canadians. They're noticeable if you're familiar with them, but close enough that one can pass for the other without too much work. Even far-flung tribes aren't going to be too different (think Americans v. Australians)... different, and hard to pass casually, but not impossible. If goblin cultures in games you play aren't terribly different between tribes (while conforming to the broad scope of goblin culture laid out in the MM), then that's not Wizard's fault.

I'm not going to get into the alignment debate, but the "medieval stasis" is something that doesn't necessarily apply, for a couple reasons. First of all, many campaign worlds have both regular upheavals, retarding continuous technological progress, and have a secondary outlet for innovation... magic. Many of the brilliant people of existing game worlds are going to be channeled into magical development rather than mundane development, which means you get a lot of people who might otherwise build a better mousetrap working on a better version of Contingency Slay Vermin. This further retards physical technological progress... when such is even possible by the alternate physics of the world. The 2nd edition book "Forgotten Realms Adventures", for example, was explicit in that gunpowder would not work, but the semi-magical smokepowder would, meaning that physical technology has another hurdle: it doesn't always work.


Orcs come the closest to actually having a justification. Their society is, essentially, a tribal theocracy. Now, theocracy is a bad idea no matter what way you spin it (this isn't a diss on religion so much as it is a statement that absolute secular power backed up by spiritual authority inevitably corrupts), but the god of the orcs emphasizes heroism in battle, rage, conflict, and glory (as well as hating elves) as his primary dogmatic features. I can easily imagine where a society ruled by his priests might have some...problems.

That's the thing, though... most of the humanoid racial deities ARE based on hate. Maglubiyet? Hates dwarves. Kurtulumak? Just Hates. Even if the societies themselves are not theocracies, that their primary deity exists as a manifestation of hatred is pretty warping to a society. Contrast this to the demihuman deities, who tend to be about "protection" of their own people. Even Clangeddin isn't about racial hatred.

hamishspence
2010-10-02, 11:54 AM
The PHB does point out that even for a "Usually X alignment" group, how much of it is culture can vary a lot. Kobolds and beholders are both Usually LE, but for kobolds, culture (as dictated by Kurtulmak, among other things) plays a much bigger part.

Hence, in Races of the Dragon, quite a few kobold cultures are dominated by non-LE power centres- and can develop along more benevolent ways. Such as the priesthood of the Neutral deity Io- one of the most commonly followed, after Kurtulmak.

Lord_Gareth
2010-10-02, 12:02 PM
Y'know, it seems somewhat backwards to me that the writers of WotC expect sapient beings to be held to modern standards, and yet design societies with medieval problems. I dunno about you, but I can't exactly blame a tribe of Whatevers that have a deity at their back cracking the whip.

hamishspence
2010-10-02, 12:51 PM
"It's not their fault they're evil- it's their culture and upbringing"- can certainly be true in D&D- but it doesn't affect the fact that the fit they (very basic) definition of Evil in the PHB- by:

"debasing and destroying people for their own profit or pleasure"

(The actual phrase is "debasing and destroying the innocent"- but I'd say debasing even "not-innocent" people enough, can lead to an evil alignment- the classic example being someone who takes a sadistic delight in torturing the "not innocent" to death.)

Savage Species raises the "Chaotic/Accepting" viewpoint- that says a lot of monster evil is due to these sort of pressures. At the more extreme end "Even the foulest tanar'ri may in truth be the victim of its own psychoses".

(Or, for the matter, the victim of "being born with the Evil subtype")

Cambions, in Expedition to the Demonweb Pits- are demons with some mortal blood- and are only Often Chaotic Evil (Usually Evil) with 10% being Neutral or Good.

Lord_Gareth
2010-10-02, 12:54 PM
But if it's not their fault, then why do they go to the Lower Planes when they die? Why do they take extra damage from Paladins? If they aren't to blame, then the entire cosmic justice system (admittedly already falling apart) completely crumbles.

Mind you, the reason I haven't actually played D&D in ages is because the "cosmic justice system" is grossly unjust, but still.

hamishspence
2010-10-02, 01:02 PM
It can seem unfair- but that may be what happens when you make evil a "cosmic force" with its own afterlives for people who happen to behave consistantly with its tenets (even if they only do so because they were raised that way and know no other way to be.)

Come to think of it, both "evil is inborn", and "evil is often due to cultural upbringing" may lead to the perspective of:

"being condemned when you had very little say in your own life/genetics is hardly fair".

The lament of each might be
"I didn't ask to be born a blue dragon"
"I didn't ask to be Raised By Villains"

Only when "Evil is a choice" does it seem less unfair- and while that can happen, it doesn't seem all that common compared to the other two.

Maybe that's why Good is active in trying to redeem people- because they believe that nobody, no matter how bad, deserves the Lower Planes- and the only way to get evil people to escape them, is to redeem them.

Mark Hall
2010-10-02, 01:11 PM
But if it's not their fault, then why do they go to the Lower Planes when they die? Why do they take extra damage from Paladins? If they aren't to blame, then the entire cosmic justice system (admittedly already falling apart) completely crumbles.

Mind you, the reason I haven't actually played D&D in ages is because the "cosmic justice system" is grossly unjust, but still.

It is their fault. They've got social pressures on them (i.e. society, culture, religion), but they're still independent moral actors with the ability to choose to be good or evil.

Lord_Gareth
2010-10-02, 01:16 PM
It is their fault. They've got social pressures on them (i.e. society, culture, religion), but they're still independent moral actors with the ability to choose to be good or evil.

How can you make a choice that is never offered to you? That you don't even know exists?

hamishspence
2010-10-02, 01:16 PM
but they're still independent moral actors with the ability to choose to be good or evil.

Except when they're born with that alignment, and can only change it by wanting to be a different alignment, and acting accordingly.

There may be a few redeemed chromatic dragons (sometimes raised from birth by good people) but it's hard to define a chromatic dragon as a "truly indepentant moral actor" when it has such strong inborn tendencies.

In PHB "For most people, though good or evil is an attitude that one recognizes but does not choose"

Does this mean that they are good (or evil) but did not choose to be?

Morph Bark
2010-10-02, 01:24 PM
It is their fault. They've got social pressures on them (i.e. society, culture, religion), but they're still independent moral actors with the ability to choose to be good or evil.

Just like in the same way a person can be pressured by their parents to go to a certain school. They can still choose to go to a different one, but the pressure will undoubtedly influence their decision in which school to go to.

Mark Hall
2010-10-02, 01:29 PM
How can you make a choice that is never offered to you? That you don't even know exists?

I'm not sure of what sort of humanoid would live independent of such concepts, actually. Even if they do not see it in their own society, they're part of the horror stories their race tells about the other races. "You know humans don't eat their malformed young? They just let them stick around, and even take care to feed them!"

He's a bit cliche, but the classic example of this is Drizz't (or, by my preference, Kaz, from Dragonlance). They were raised in evil societies, but chose good for their own reasons and, more importantly, had those choices reinforced.


There may be a few redeemed chromatic dragons (sometimes raised from birth by good people) but it's hard to define a chromatic dragon as a "truly indepentant moral actor" when it has such strong inborn tendencies.

Dragons are a different kettle of fish, IMO, than most standard humanoids. Dragons are not what I would call independent moral actors, since their alignment is "always". In their case, someone who is not the stated alignment is not just odd, but downright crazy... as crazy as a serial killer (CE) is to humans (N).

hamishspence
2010-10-02, 01:30 PM
The school parallel works well- in Fiendish Codex 2, the upbringing of youngsters of LE societies is a bit like particularly nasty schools- they are raised together, and the older ones are strongly encouraged to bully the younger.

Saph
2010-10-02, 05:38 PM
If any given DM wants to justify a culture that's THE EVULZ, then, well, they've got a job of it, and good luck to them.

The flaw in your reasoning is that you're judging everything by modern, human standards. D&D is a world where you actually do have different sapient species that are completely distinct from each other, and moreover, were created by actual gods for whatever weird purpose that god wanted them for. In these circumstances it's completely logical that you'd have massive alignment variation between species.

Lord_Gareth
2010-10-02, 05:49 PM
The flaw in your reasoning is that you're judging everything by modern, human standards. D&D is a world where you actually do have different sapient species that are completely distinct from each other, and moreover, were created by actual gods for whatever weird purpose that god wanted them for. In these circumstances it's completely logical that you'd have massive alignment variation between species.

That reasoning is great and I fully approve. WotC, on the other hand, doesn't. Check out the BoED - the writers hold their creations up to modern standards despite having distinctly NOT written a modern world.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-10-02, 05:50 PM
Mythologically Elves 'goodness' is owed mainly to Tolkein in respect to D&D. In most mythology they are either fey, and evil bewitching baby stealers, or analogous to what we now think of as dwarves.
But Tolkein's elves aren't based on either of those. They come from the Alfar, beautiful beings who were basically minor neighbors to the Aesir and Vanir in Norse myth.

Shademan
2010-10-02, 05:54 PM
and you know...alf being...danish i think. Alv being norwegian... and if we translate either...it becomes elf.
make of it what you will

Saph
2010-10-02, 06:01 PM
That reasoning is great and I fully approve. WotC, on the other hand, doesn't. Check out the BoED - the writers hold their creations up to modern standards despite having distinctly NOT written a modern world.

Well, I've read the BoED and don't find any difficulty integrating it into my D&D games, so I think you're exaggerating the incompatibility somewhat.

true_shinken
2010-10-02, 06:07 PM
Honestly, they're evil because no one in WotC's D&D division knows how to write.
Sure. They got their jobs writing material for the world's most played RPG because they suck. :smallsigh:
It also seems specially rude to say something like this on a board hosted on the website of a WotC D&D writer.


That reasoning is great and I fully approve. WotC, on the other hand, doesn't. Check out the BoED - the writers hold their creations up to modern standards despite having distinctly NOT written a modern world.
Maybe you should read the Book of Exalted Deeds carefully. It is rooted on real world morality, but conforms it to D&D rules.



Mind you, the reason I haven't actually played D&D in ages is because the "cosmic justice system" is grossly unjust, but still.
I believe you don't play any videogames where you get to *gasp* kill something as well.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-10-02, 06:09 PM
and you know...alf being...danish i think. Alv being norwegian... and if we translate either...it becomes elf.
make of it what you will
That's true, and Tolkien was big on the Danes, since he worked extensively with Beowulf (his critical essay on it was what made him famous before he ever wrote The Hobbit).

I have to say that there's something that bugs me about the morality of the "evil" races. More often than not, these races do have evil gods driving them. Orcs are the most egregious example I think, largely due to Tolkein's influence (while orcs did divide themselves via "nationalities" like Isengard, Minas Morgul or the Misty Mountains, they were still largely being driven by Sauron). The problem I have is why these gods are evil in the first place. Gruumsh just seems so...childish to me. He picks fights with everything around him. While he hates Corellon for the loss of his eye, the two were enemies long before that and have both driven their people to hatred of each other. What's his problem? What's Lolth's problem that led her to drag the drow down with her? What's Maglubiyet's problem that he goads the goblin folk to raid and generally by a-holes to people? Just what the heck IS Blibdoolpoolp's dogma anyway?!

Lev
2010-10-02, 06:12 PM
If anyone's read the book Geomancer it takes place in a fantasy world where rifts are opening up from another world, that world has dozens of sentient species and to survive the alpha-species had to evolve to be more of a threat than the competition, in a world where morality has evolved like that it's no wonder.

Goblins, ect. simply do not have the same material instincts that humans do, and it's a combination of righteousness and instinct which carves morality.

Goblins look at you the same way a tiger looks at you, you are a bag of meat, another animal, you are a dangerous dangerous species that has never tried to make peace with you.

There are good goblins and such because there's always a choice. Just because humans are omnivores doesn't mean they all like eating meat.

Agrippa
2010-10-02, 06:27 PM
That's true, and Tolkien was big on the Danes, since he worked extensively with Beowulf (his critical essay on it was what made him famous before he ever wrote The Hobbit).

I have to say that there's something that bugs me about the morality of the "evil" races. More often than not, these races do have evil gods driving them. Orcs are the most egregious example I think, largely due to Tolkein's influence (while orcs did divide themselves via "nationalities" like Isengard, Minas Morgul or the Misty Mountains, they were still largely being driven by Sauron). The problem I have is why these gods are evil in the first place. Gruumsh just seems so...childish to me. He picks fights with everything around him. While he hates Corellon for the loss of his eye, the two were enemies long before that and have both driven their people to hatred of each other. What's his problem? What's Lolth's problem that led her to drag the drow down with her? What's Maglubiyet's problem that he goads the goblin folk to raid and generally by a-holes to people? Just what the heck IS Blibdoolpoolp's dogma anyway?!

Well she was a demon long before she seduced Corellion, according to first edition. Maybe she's just the kind to want to watch the whole world burn. Or that she felt that the surface elves were a bunch of namby pamby little weaklings and that they needed to toughen up.

Zhalath
2010-10-02, 11:17 PM
Because when you have +4 Str and -2 Int and Wis, the solution of "beat problems until dead" is much easier to stomach.

I think it's just to have something that it's ok to kill, but you can still arm with weapons and armor to loot. However, it's not like adventurers will stop killing everything that steps in front of them and says "No you may not steal my things" just because they're not ok to kill. So really, there's not a lot of point.

It's stereotyping, is what it is!

Lord Raziere
2010-10-02, 11:36 PM
or all the gods are brainwashing indoctrinating evil overlords. look at this way: the good gods could just be using their power to brainwash, convince and lie to the power that they are good and that the other races and gods are evil.

now consider this: what if all the orcs, ogres, goblins and trolls ALSO consider their gods good because they were brainwashed by them and that those gods use lies, propaganda and all that to convince them that the humans and their allies are the evil ones so they attack them for same justification the "good" races do: because they think the "good" races are the evil ones.

in short, the entire DnD world could just be a bunch of brainwashed mortals controlled by the gods they worship. All that about not interfering in the mortal world? you are getting that information from the gods; how can you trust them?
wizards proving it with their magic? they're gods, anything they can do can out power whatever Mr. Prepared-my-fireball-this-morning. There could be no freedom or goodness at all: Just godly Orwellian dictatorship.

edit: I mean think about, a bunch of gods who each created their races, magic, racism and never-ending conflict between them and the gods all saying they're the good guys and all the others bad? medieval version of 1984.

Lord Vukodlak
2010-10-03, 02:56 AM
My current campaign contains an Orc PC, in his backstory he was once little different then any other orc. Though his tribe roamed the sea as pirates. An encounter with a Kraken left him stranded on a desert isle for a few months where finally separated from the pillage/rape/murder of his society he drifted away from chaotic evil.

His background is meaningless and without flavor if his society wasn't one of evil pirates to begin with.


edit: I mean think about, a bunch of gods
who each created their races, magic, racism and never-ending conflict between them and the gods all saying they're the good guys and all the others bad? medieval version of 1984.

So the 'evil' deities who demand the sacrifice of innocent intelligent beings be they men, women, and children are no worse then the 'good deities' who demand those people be protected?
One just needs to read the gods dogma to tell if its good or evil.
Slaughter all who are not of our kind does not equal protect the innocent.

Gruumsh teaches that all races are inferior to Orcs and encourages Orcs to make war on them all. Orcish society dominated by males treating females as property. They are a race that survives by stealing from others rather then building it up themselves. The Goblin and Ogre gods are similar, in short their societies are dominated by evil

The gnomish god doesn't teach his people to make war on halflings, elves or humans. The good gods for the most part get along with one another. The evil gods fight each other as often as they do the good ones.

Lord_Gareth
2010-10-03, 09:03 AM
And that's my point here - if it isn't their fault, why are they the ones being punished?

Point the first: the D&D cosmos incorporates infinite punishments for inherently finite transgressions.

Point the second: the D&D cosmos punishes beings who are often totally unaware that other options exist for following the dictates of their culture.

Point the third: the D&D cosmos punishes beings for following the dictates of the deity which created them when there is, in theory, little other option.

And, finally, point the fourth: in the D&D cosmos, the gods of 'good' fully support opposing and harassing (if not necessarily destroying) "evil" races rather than attempting to, say, trade, or show them a better way.

Saph
2010-10-03, 10:05 AM
Point the second: the D&D cosmos punishes beings who are often totally unaware that other options exist for following the dictates of their culture.

And, finally, point the fourth: in the D&D cosmos, the gods of 'good' fully support opposing and harassing (if not necessarily destroying) "evil" races rather than attempting to, say, trade, or show them a better way.

So according to you, if the evil races attack the good races, then this isn't their fault, because they've just had a bad upbringing. But if the good races fight back and attack the evil races, then this is their fault, because they should be trying to live in peace. I can't say I'm all that impressed with your reasoning so far.

Lord Raziere
2010-10-03, 10:09 AM
So the 'evil' deities who demand the sacrifice of innocent intelligent beings be they men, women, and children are no worse then the 'good deities' who demand those people be protected?
One just needs to read the gods dogma to tell if its good or evil.
Slaughter all who are not of our kind does not equal protect the innocent.

Gruumsh teaches that all races are inferior to Orcs and encourages Orcs to make war on them all. Orcish society dominated by males treating females as property. They are a race that survives by stealing from others rather then building it up themselves. The Goblin and Ogre gods are similar, in short their societies are dominated by evil

The gnomish god doesn't teach his people to make war on halflings, elves or humans. The good gods for the most part get along with one another. The evil gods fight each other as often as they do the good ones.

No, you see all the books tell it from the good races point of view and the good gods all TELL them that is what the bad races believe but that is all propaganda when the stuff that Gruumsh, Lolth and all the others teach are actually the same stuff as the good gods, but all the gods are actually evil propagandizing the other gods are evil, the "good" gods are just "working together" in a plan to combine their resources who will then turn on each other when they get rid of the "evil" gods. Why else do dwarves and elves hate each other? their two gods are impatient to kill each other and are trying to keep their self-control.

the reason why the "evil" gods don't team up is because their races are in bigger numbers and they know that the "good" gods only teamed up to balance the numerical advantage.

Lord Raziere
2010-10-03, 10:17 AM
So according to you, if the evil races attack the good races, then this isn't their fault, because they've just had a bad upbringing. But if the good races fight back and attack the evil races, then this is their fault, because they should be trying to live in peace. I can't say I'm all that impressed with your reasoning so far.

no I think its all the good races fault: since the bad races had a bad upbringing and the good races don't intend to change any of that, its all the good races fault for not trying to convert them away from the bad gods.

basically he is saying that the good races are screwing up because they aren't going on zealous religious crusades and forcefully converting people but then again that would be evil as well.....or at least a very evil act......

hmmmm......this gives me an idea.....

Lord_Gareth
2010-10-03, 11:01 AM
The 'oppose and harass' point applies only when the 'good' race is the aggressor; self-defense is always justified. The problem is when, instead of attempting to trade or open diplomacy, the 'good' race instead sends a smite to the face, which only further perpetuates the cycle of violence.

Lord Vukodlak
2010-10-03, 01:35 PM
And the basis for all the books being written on the "good" point of view on what evidence? The dogma written in Grumish's/Lolth/etc deity passage is from that deities point of view unless you have evidence to the contrary.

The biggest problem with this argument is most deities aren't racial linked,
Are you going to say that Bhaal Lord of Murder was really a good guy. Or that the god of tyranny is just as nice as the good of justice?

Why would Grumish's dogma be written from the good races point of view and not Hextor god of tyranny?

Lord Garth, they still have free will their still intelligent enough to know their inflicting pain and suffering on other beings because they've likely suffered the same in their own upbringing. Being raised badly is never considered an acceptable excuse. And depending on cosmology the dead go to the realm of their deity. So a good devout follower of Grumish goes to Grumish when he dies.



You have no basis that the good races don't try diplomacy or trade.

dragonfan6490
2010-10-03, 02:58 PM
In my setting, all of the Orc/Goblinoid/Troll/Ogre-type races are descended from a being called Neznanich, who was the youngest of four Faerie Brothers who was cursed with unluckiness and brutality, but was originally a more neutral being. When he was tempted with great power by a being called the Deceiver, he took it happily to get back at his older brothers, who had their mother's favor.

In reward for their loyalty, Neznanich granted a portion of the power that the Deceiver gave to him to the races that he fathered, increasing their aggression against the races that were fathered by Neznanich's brothers, the Gnomes, Dwarves, and Elves. The Curse of Neznanich gave all races descended from him a natural predisposition towards evil because of the deal that Neznanich made with the Deceiver.

Is it a good explanation? Maybe, but instead of following a deities dogma, the "evil" races were cursed because of their progenitor's decisions. Sure, they are being punished for something they did not have control of, but it's something that happens in real life, the French have a natural prejudice against the English for a number of reasons, one of which being the 100 years war.

Ragitsu
2010-10-03, 03:00 PM
Essentially, they were made evil so roleplayers didn't have to go through many, if any, moral conundrums about killing them.

Thankfully, there are paladins!

Lord Raziere
2010-10-03, 03:30 PM
And the basis for all the books being written on the "good" point of view on what evidence? The dogma written in Grumish's/Lolth/etc deity passage is from that deities point of view unless you have evidence to the contrary.

The biggest problem with this argument is most deities aren't racial linked,
Are you going to say that Bhaal Lord of Murder was really a good guy. Or that the god of tyranny is just as nice as the good of justice?

Why would Grumish's dogma be written from the good races point of view and not Hextor god of tyranny?



that is my interpretation of the books, and no I do not mean that. I mean to say all the gods are liars and are evil, the good gods depicted just lie to you to make you believe they are good. in truth all gods are bad and they all tell the same lies: they are the good guys and the others aren't.

eataTREE
2010-10-03, 07:59 PM
Heh. For my current campaign, the answer is quite simple: they aren't. In fact, Orcs are the designated Tragically Misunderstood Persecuted Indigenous People, and one of the campaign goals is to maintain and extend peace between Orc and Human. How's that for some trope subversion? :D


(edit: cos I kan tipe)

JonestheSpy
2010-10-03, 10:49 PM
One way to cut through this Gordian knot is to ditch the idea of a permanent afterlife and say souls in the game cosmos are reincarnated after a certain period of reward/punishment/tedium in the appropriate plane. That way there's no moral conundrum about a soul being predestined to damnation because of the accident of whether its parents were orcs or elves.

Lord_Gareth
2010-10-03, 10:52 PM
One way to cut through this Gordian knot is to ditch the idea of a permanent afterlife and say souls in the game cosmos are reincarnated after a certain period of reward/punishment/tedium in the appropriate plane. That way there's no moral conundrum about a soul being predestined to damnation because of the accident of whether its parents were orcs or elves.

This, while still unjust, is not MASSIVELY CRUEL AND UNUSUAL. I approve.

Another idea is to re-adjust things so that all souls go through periods in the Great Wheel seeking forms of perfection; y'know, everyone ends up in Baator for at least a while, and then moves to another plane, then another, et cetera until they find enlightenment or get eaten by an Alienist or whatever.

true_shinken
2010-10-03, 10:56 PM
How's that for some trope subversion? :D


This was done so many times it's a trope itself, really.

Lord Raziere
2010-10-03, 11:30 PM
another solution is to remove the alignment system- the gods are still there, they are just modified to be morally ambiguous and not morally aligned to anything, though that probably means more of a god revamp as many of the evil gods are designed to be blatantly evil no matter how they're interpreted.

the result would just be cultural differences and you can design campaign settings based on more justified grounds and can add an element of mystery- the orcs didn't just attack because they are Gruumsh worshippers, instead you can't find any reason FOR them to attack so half the adventure is figuring out WHY a group of normal reasoning orcs would attack at all.

it also leaves room for actual evil villains to take the spotlight- what if those orcs are attacking because they've been magically mind-controlled by an evil sorcerer? what if you meet up with a bunch of orcs who weren't mind controlled who explained what happened and now you have to figure out how to kill the evil sorcerer without killing the orcs? :smallbiggrin:

so maybe you could still have DnD campaign with without the racism. just focus less on the evil race thing and more on evil organizations who could be equal opportunity recruiters, maybe add in some evil organizations who center around BEING racist to spice things up......I think I have an idea for a DnD world.

Ragitsu
2010-10-03, 11:36 PM
so maybe you could still have DnD campaign with without the racism.

If the entire race in question really *is* evil, then it's not so much racism.

Lord Raziere
2010-10-03, 11:38 PM
If the entire race in question really *is* evil, then it's not so much racism.

Ok, let me rephrase that: DnD without genetic/inherent racial evilness.

Ragitsu
2010-10-03, 11:56 PM
Ok, let me rephrase that: DnD without genetic/inherent racial evilness.

I can live with a degree of this: part of the reason I play pencil & paper roleplaying games is to have clearly defined bad guys. If this is a result of inheriting the spark of evil, so be it.

JonestheSpy
2010-10-04, 01:23 AM
This, while still unjust, is not MASSIVELY CRUEL AND UNUSUAL. I approve.


It's not really unjust at all if you figure a soul ends up born as a member of a particular race because of their actions in their previous incarnation. An elf who acts like an elf or an orc who acts like an orc would be reborn in the same race, whereas an evil elf or good orc might be reborn as a human. A particularly good elf might be reborn as a unicorn, and a particularly nasty orc might be a troll in their next life. And then the extraordinarily good or evil souls would eventually become fiends or celestials.