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  1. - Top - End - #211
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    I'm only minimally disagreeing, and that disagreement is only that a mechanic that lets you swap out your background will likely let you swap out other skills/feats as well because that's the implied fiction.

    Just that in the universe as well as the implied fiction someone would use to justify a "change background" effect, you'd be either messing with their mind or altering time so their past was retroactively different. The former is fridge horror the system has already had for a while, and the latter avoids being a thing only because timey-wimeyness becomes a mess to adjudicate at the table.
    I guess I'll lean into it and try to give it a serious treatment as to how this would manifest in setting without just being mechanical weirdness.

    The implication of a 'culture' line on the sheet with associated bonuses is that there is some kind of subconscious priming provided by upbringing and assumed world view that makes certain things easier to pick up or natural-feeling, without requiring explicit investiture of limited time or effort. So spells that mess with that would be, in-character, spells that edit those things which people have non-critically internalized and do not go back to check or verify anymore.

    The horrific thing about those spells is the idea of changing someone's uncritical assumptions in a way that bypasses their ability to be consciously aware that something has changed. It is basically something like Mindrape, but less 'total personality overwrite' (which you could at least say 'well, this spell basically kills someone and replaces them') and more like changing some of the elements of a person that seem like they're a fundamental integrated part of who they are, while at the same time not changing other elements. The closest fictional example that comes to mind for this right now is how the Goddess' power worked in Ward: it left everything about people's style of thought, knowledge, biases, relationships, personality, etc alone, but it just replaced their moral compass with 'helping this individual succeed at their goals is the most important priority'.

    So thats the past-the-event-horizon subliminal Domination effect styled application of this potential. To really make it disturbing, the in-setting progress towards that line should follow a path of reasonable stages of utility, or even good intentions. The fictional touch-point there is something like the skill upload stuff from the Matrix, the fantasy of effortless 'now I know kung-fu'. People diligently recording cultures from the setting world, transcribing them into magic items or spells, so that others can inject them as in-the-moment buffs or assists. Why learn math the hard way when you can inject the cultural tendencies that led to this one civilization dominating the world's premier mathematicians?

    So yeah, I think there's lots of potential stuff at various levels of grey for PCs to have qualms about, and ways to connect across those levels of grey to have things naturally evolve in darker directions.

  2. - Top - End - #212
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    In reality you're absolutely right. Ditto for any system that was built to accommodate more finely detailed character building.

    In D&D which is often people's first exposure to tabletop RPGs (and as such gets a lot of new players)? I could make an argument for unrealistically broad strokes just to avoid headaches for newbies building both characters and worlds.
    I would be ok (not happy, but ok) with either of the following:

    A) reducing races to just the physiological things and shoving everything else into backgrounds (which are already customizable). Yes, that makes races quite anemic. Meh.
    B) Giving a set of generic cultures not tied to races and using that instead of subraces. You could even have ones that look like "Dwarven Culture", just with the name removed and not tied in with the rest of the racial traits. Then each setting book could have more cultures in it. And guidance about making your own in the DMG.

    So with B, you'd have Race + Culture + Class + Background, each of which is independent of the others.

    I'd prefer B.

    Edit: And as far as polymorph goes, 5e removes most of that. Only True Polymorph can do humanoid -> humanoid (or in fact anything into humanoid), and you explicitly lose any race-bound features you might have had. Yes, including proficiencies. And you only get the generic ones for that race.

    Yes, that's still weird. Another reason why separating out race from culture would be better, even if you didn't have cross-race cultures.

    You could think of it as reshaping your entire soul to what the caster/magic thinks of as the "average member of race X". Still pretty weird.
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2021-01-04 at 07:52 PM.
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  3. - Top - End - #213
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I disagree that "that group" is dominantly along racial lines
    i'm not SAYING Racial lines, i'm saying GROUP lines! it can be a group of people all obligated to wear wide brimmed hats for all i care! Race and Culture and more are all possible reasons to group together.


    But you're still labeling all Dwarves as this one thing. As if the Dwarves over there and the Dwarves over here all had the same influences. Which is a non-starter if you want real worldbuilding.
    No i'm not???????

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    i mean, again. You can have both.

    Mountain Dwarven culture is all about smithing,

    Hill Dwarven culture is all about Ale brewing

    Sea Dwarven culture is all about raiding and conquering



    they're different cultures, but they're all cultures comprised or originated by predominantly Dwarves. All you really need to do is add one minor descriptor in there somewhere and you've got an easy way of describing it. That's kind of how Elves work right? You've got your High Elves, your Grey Elves, your Dark Elves, your Wood Elves, your Elderan, they're all still Elves, and they all still have Elven culture, but that doesn't necessarily mean all of their cultures are the same.

    ?????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????

    Let's use an example from my setting.

    I've got dwarves on two continents. These continents have seen little if no interaction for the last 10k+ years. One continent has a wide panoply of races and cultures and has seen substantial upheaval, including natural disasters that forced the dwarves in some areas to mix in with the other groups for pure survival. Even if they're living in mountain cities, they're still part of the same nations and dependent on the others for food, fuel, and many other things. That was multiple generations ago.

    The other continent has many fewer races. Even so, the dwarves are a subject people (in some areas, in others they're dominant and in yet others they're isolated, and in others they're part of homogenized cooperative groups.). But mostly the dwarves are around other dwarves in most areas.
    Okay, so in this situation "Dwarf culture" would likely refer to the Dwarves of whatever continent you happen to be on, with "Eastern Dwarves" or "Western Dwarves" or whatever other label you want to come up with to refer to the group on the other continent. It wouldn't be exactly 100% accurate in any given situation, but it'd still be functional. You'd likely also say "Dwarf culture" when referring to the similarities of the various dwarves of all species, If all or most groups of dwarves tend to spend more of their lives then your average human would underground, then you could refer to that as a common theme among all Dwarves, and point out how each party portrays it in different ways.



    Continent A has humans and elves, continent B does not. What you're saying is that all dwarves, everywhere, no matter which races they're around, have developed identically except for cosmetic differences. That there is only one Dwarven culture. That's the consequence of tying race and culture together at the hip. There can only be one (per sub-race). And the culture of Dwarf-group A must be entirely Dwarf group A. Single-race nations don't work in any kind of a coherent setting. They get outcompeted by those who can work together.
    Please show me where exactly i said that. Because from what i can tell, i've been saying that you can have many Dwarven cultures, and they are all valid examples of "Dwarven Culture".



    And it makes absolutely no sense in context of how cultures work. Cultures don't change in lockstep. They split, they fragment, they recombine, they cross-pollinate. The only constant is change, and that change is context specific.
    Right, and every step of that change, regardless of what that change is, would still be the culture of the group it is affecting. Dwarves that cut stones and then get attacked so they craft weapons, and then meet humans who want weapons so they sell the weapons and start learning about profit and business and then the Elves come along and teach them about Alcohol so they start getting into the business of brewing alcohol and then the Goblins invent gunpowder and so the Dwarves refine and perfect it to create guns and then become a militant power and then expand to dominate the planet and then find their empire shattered and then split into multiple separate unions all independently governing themselves and developing their own independent cultures...

    It's all Dwarf culture! The entire history as a whole is collectively Dwarf culture, at no point does it not become Dwarf culture unless some other race brings an end to it by hunting Dwarves to extinction or something.




    Every race should have as much variation as makes sense based on the setting; humans can't be the only race that's allowed to have multiple actually-different cultures. And culture and race are at best mildly correlated.

    This is a hill I will defend to the last.
    i never said you couldn't do exactly that.
    Last edited by Draconi Redfir; 2021-01-05 at 01:53 AM.
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  4. - Top - End - #214
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Strong non-human archetypes are important. They give gamers hooks to play off for something that is essentially an alien. Not a human in a rubber suit. That's why "monoculture" is so common for them, possibly with subcultures in the form of sub races.

    If it doesn't work for your world, change it. But it exists for a good reason.
    But only non-human ones. Because we all know how to play convincing humans, so humans can be anything. Everyone else must be locked into one tiny little niche forever.

    And for all those "strong archetypes" (which are anything but), I've yet to see anyone play any character, human or not, as anything other than a human in a rubber suit. Ok, I've seen bad stereotype-ridden flat "I'm an alien HUR DUR DUR" portrayals that would make a Saturday Morning cartoon turn up its nose in disgust. Those have usually been the people who actually tried to follow the archetypes as written.

    Those "strong archetypes" aren't archetypes at all. They're stereotypes, and flat ones. Ones that don't make any sense in any world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post

    It's all Dwarf culture! The entire history as a whole is collectively Dwarf culture, at no point does it not become Dwarf culture unless some other race brings an end to it by hunting Dwarves to extinction or something.
    Then the phrase Dwarf Culture is tautological. And provides exactly zero information to anyone. If you can have widely varying cultures that are all "Dwarf Culture", then you've diluted that term into meaninglessness.

    Or it's internally contradictory--if dwarf-group A has cultural parameters XYZ and dwarf-group B has cultural parameters ABC =/= XYZ, then Dwarf Culture is simultaneously XYZ and not XYZ. Which yeah. No. That's not useful.

    And mechanically, you lack any way of operationalizing that. By tying culture into race and smooshing it all together (as 5e and all previous editions of D&D do), you're saying that those differences are merely cosmetic. At best. They're informed attributes. You have no hooks to tie them to the culture. And you get weird things like

    I'm a Sea Dwarf. I've never spent a night on land since I was born! Never been in a stone building But I still know lots about the history of stonework, because I'm a dwarf! And I can see real good underground because of my long history underground....wait...what? And my name? It's tied to those clans and the whole mountain aesthetic. Because there's only one, universe-wide naming convention for dwarves. Everywhere.
    That's where race + subrace just doesn't work to make coherent characters. Too much is bundled together.

    And you can't have a Sea Gnome who has been raised by Sea Dwarves--Gnomes don't get sea-flavored sub-races, and they certainly don't match the dwarven one if they did, and the base races are incompatible so you can't just port over the "culture"...

    And if you have a dwarf raised by humans, miles away from any mountains...he still knows all that racial dwarven stuff!

    So all you get is caricatures and flat stereotypes. You end up with all dwarves (of a subrace) being carbon copies. Only humans are allowed to actually vary.
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2021-01-04 at 09:10 PM.
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  5. - Top - End - #215
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Dwarf Culture isn't the culture that defines all Dwarves.

    Dwarf Culture is what culture -any culture- whatever culture or multiple cultures that it may be, that Dwarves have.
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  6. - Top - End - #216
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    Dwarf Culture isn't the culture that defines all Dwarves.

    Dwarf Culture is what culture -any culture- whatever culture or multiple cultures that it may be, that Dwarves have.
    As I said, utterly meaningless because tautological.

    Edit: I should note that while D&D (in general)'s approach to races annoys me as a worldbuilder, it's still playable. It's just...ugly and creaky.
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2021-01-04 at 09:42 PM.
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  7. - Top - End - #217
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    --snip--

    Monocultures and planets-of-hats are lazy writing. We can, and should, do better.
    I don't think you're arguing against what I was arguing for, since I certainly wasn't arguing for single-culture species or planet-of-hats concepts. I was saying something to the tune of "species A has cultures 1, 2, 3, species B has cultures 4, 5, 6, species C has cultures 7 and 8, but is also present in cultures 3 and 4," and so forth, to as great a level of variety and nuance as the time available to the DM and the geography of the setting permit.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Exactly. For my setting, very few of the races grew up independently and then met other cultures. Instead, they were created relatively recently in a context of other racial groups. For example, the date of the first dragonborn is known, and it's about 800 years ago. Halflings are even more recent (by about 100 years). They've never existed outside these multi-racial cultures. Even humans and orcs were created by other races and spent most of their history in multi-racial nations.
    I think that a scenario in which large numbers of the species present appeared from nothing into cultures and populations defined by earlier species can be safely said to be outside the general expectation of most settings. That's fine; there are lots of stories to be told about such situations and fun that can be had by players. It's just of limited relevance to the general cases we're talking about.

    And then there are the nations formed by refugees of many nations fleeing a super-cataclysm, where they all had to band together to survive. Or the nation who was forged when a few tribes of orcs had a vision that they needed to help this band of dragonborn who had allied with some goblin tribes. Note that not all orcs are part of that nation (most aren't, even in that area), neither are most goblins. And then there was a merger of the dragonborn survivors in the refugee nation with the "main" body 150 years later, bringing with them a quite-different culture.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    And I disagree that "that group" is dominantly along racial lines, unless those races are so alien from each other that coexistence/cooperation is impractical (like a race of giant birds who live their entire lives on the wing and a race of tiny aquatic creatures who can't exist outside of the oceans). But we're not talking about those. The differences between D&D races are relatively minimal at the deep level. Their physiological needs are pretty similar, as are their preferred living conditions. Sure, a stock halfling won't be immediately comfortable in the depths of a dwarven city, but they'll adapt pretty fast. So there's nothing stopping blending and hybridization of culture.
    But that stock halfling in that scenario is coming from somewhere, and the dwarves managed to get a whole city up and running that's "dwarven." In your earlier scenario, moreover, you outline not one, but three different earlier cultures divided among racial lines that came together over time. In that, you seem to implicitly accept my argument that the origins of these different societies will likely derive from the social interactions within a monoracial population, even if that population is in a more diverse community (in the ecological sense).

    Every race should have as much variation as makes sense based on the setting; humans can't be the only race that's allowed to have multiple actually-different cultures. And culture and race are at best mildly correlated.

    This is a hill I will defend to the last.
    It's also a hill only tangentially related to the hills other people are "assaulting," if you will. There seems to be a general agreement among the different viewpoints in this thread that there should be cultural variety. Or, to answer with an earlier quote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    ... No one is saying you can't have multiple different cultures for the same race?

    i'm not quite understanding what the problem is...

  8. - Top - End - #218
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    I don't think you're arguing against what I was arguing for, since I certainly wasn't arguing for single-culture species or planet-of-hats concepts. I was saying something to the tune of "species A has cultures 1, 2, 3, species B has cultures 4, 5, 6, species C has cultures 7 and 8, but is also present in cultures 3 and 4," and so forth, to as great a level of variety and nuance as the time available to the DM and the geography of the setting permit.
    No, that's still something I'm arguing against, because you're treating species A as having three cultures, when cultures can be completely distinct from species.

    What I'm talking about is, "Cultures I, II, III, and IV exist. You can find members of species A in cultures I, III, and IV; members of species B in I, II, and III; species C in II, III, and IV; and species D in all four. There's also Culture V, which is ruled by the powerful and somewhat mysterious species E, but otherwise features members of all other sapient species." Under this kind of situation, there isn't any possible way of referring to any of these cultures as being "species A's culture," nor is there any way of referring to any of these species as being "Culture I's core species."

    To give a more nuanced example from my own game. Due to historical reasons, City-folk and the Nomad Tribes are distinct subcultures of the larger Tarrakhunan culture (though both would see it as foolish to refer to the other as a truly "different" culture). Orcs and half-orcs are common in both subcultures, because they ultimately spring from the same source populations. No one bats an eye at a full-blooded orc street vendor selling shawarma. It would be erroneous to say that the Nomad Tribes "are orc culture." It would also be erroneous to say that orcs "belong to the Nomad culture," because there's only very minor differences in demographics between the City-folk and the Nomads; orcs and half-orcs are somewhat more common in the tribes, but quite common in both places. And there are absolutely orcish socities in the Ten Thousand Isles (microcultures), there were orcs living among the now-lost jungle civilization to the north, and orcs are no less common in Yuxia (though they might cluster slightly more there than they do in the Tarrakhuna, as the whole nomad thing is a lot less common there because it's far less arid.)

    I think that a scenario in which large numbers of the species present appeared from nothing into cultures and populations defined by earlier species can be safely said to be outside the general expectation of most settings. That's fine; there are lots of stories to be told about such situations and fun that can be had by players. It's just of limited relevance to the general cases we're talking about.
    Erm....isn't that literally how most D&D settings mythically arise? A deity or deities creates a species from whole cloth, or an ancient progenitor race creates the other races of the setting. Those are literally the two ways nearly all sapient race of FR came about, the main potential exception being humans (because some humans got there from Earth). It's also how the Nentir Vale setting worked, and IIRC how Greyhawk worked.

    It's also a hill only tangentially related to the hills other people are "assaulting," if you will. There seems to be a general agreement among the different viewpoints in this thread that there should be cultural variety. Or, to answer with an earlier quote:
    The statement here--"you can have multiple cultures under the same race"--implies that you can still reasonably order cultures in the following way:
    Race A
    Culture I
    Culture II
    Culture III
    etc.

    Race B
    Culture 1
    Culture 2
    Culture 3
    etc.

    Race C
    Culture i
    Culture ii
    Culture iii
    etc. etc.

    I--and I would assume others--are asserting that, in practice, this will rarely work out like that. You will have cultures that "belong equally" to multiple races, too, such that you get something like

    Race A
    Culture I
    Culture 1
    Culture II
    Culture 3
    etc.

    Race B
    Culture 1
    Culture II
    Culture 2
    Culture III
    etc.

    Race C
    Culture I
    Culture 2
    Culture III
    Culture 3
    etc.

    Meaning, it's not just that you can't say "if you're a dwarf, you're from this specific culture Q" (which we all agree on), it's that you ALSO can't say "if you're from culture Q, you're definitely a dwarf." Neither connection holds more than as a loose trend. E.g. dragonborn are more common in Yuxia than the Tarrakhuna and much more common in either than in Jinnistan, but there are Jinnistani dragonborn, who would have almost nothing in common with Yuxian dragonborn culturally. Being Yuxian doesn't preclude being a genie, it's just uncommon, and a Yuxian djinn (more likely a mizaj, the "mixed-element" and mostly-mortal genie type) would be confused at the notion of "genie culture" somehow separate from being Yuxian. Indeed, Yuxia is a mix of dozens of races, some widespread, some localized, but all sharing a common feeling of one shared culture with different local variations, just like its inspiration, which is a vast land with numerous internal ethnic divisions yet one that repeatedly through history has evinced a common "Chinese culture" concept.

    This doesn't mean that in D&D racial monocultures, or monoracial cultures, CANNOT exist in principle. They're just going to be only one possibility, and not terribly likely in the long run as different cultures collide, merge, and divide. As I've said, my "Sapphire Sea culture" is actually a collection of many, many tiny cultures (which I referred to as "microcultures")--perhaps only a few thousand people in each--which are small enough to make sense as either monoracial cultures or (rarely) monocultural races. There's a loose Polynesian-like connection between many of them, but some of the islands are culturally insular (no pun intended), and I allow for the possibility that a certain species is only native to one island (though no such thing has ever been demonstrated in the fiction).

  9. - Top - End - #219
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Indeed, there's nothing wrong with having a specific species (or people) with a single specific culture, if the conditions of the setting make that the way things work out.

    It's when that's the default, because "species = culture = race" is the assumption, no matter what the conditions of the setting itself might indicate, that it falls apart.
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    I would argue "by not having racial ability modifiers." Regardless of real-world concerns, they're boring. They basically vanish as soon as you're done with character creation, especially if you didn't min-max (ie, if you start with a 20 when the normal max at creation is 18, that's at least sort of noticeable; if you start with a 16, who can even tell?) If you want orcs to be stronger than humans, it's more fun to give them something like Powerful Build than +2 Strength.
    I agree with that. D&D-style racial bonus is a poor way to distinguish different people, especially in a point-buy system like this one. Either it does not matter, or it guides too much creation into specialized builds, and every one of your fighters end up being dwarves and half-orc.
    If you want your dwarf soldier to be sturdier than your pal's elf soldier, then simply assign him better scores in Str and Con. Let the player build the stats as they want. There is no need for a racial +2.
    A unique bonus (night vision, unmovable, etc...) can be hard to balance, but it will feel far more "special" than a bonus hidden in your statblock.

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Strong archetypes?

    More like Planet of Hats.

    Or rather, Planet of Straight-jackets.
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Strong archetypes?

    More like Planet of Hats.

    Or rather, Planet of Straight-jackets.
    Can you (preferably non-vitriolically, as that seems like where this is going) expand on this? Let's say a game or game world uses descriptions of Dwarves that strongly reinforce the Peter Jackson LotR Gimli motif. How do you see that as a straightjacket, and how loose would it have to be not to be one?

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kardwill View Post
    I agree with that. D&D-style racial bonus is a poor way to distinguish different people, especially in a point-buy system like this one. Either it does not matter, or it guides too much creation into specialized builds, and every one of your fighters end up being dwarves and half-orc.
    If you want your dwarf soldier to be sturdier than your pal's elf soldier, then simply assign him better scores in Str and Con. Let the player build the stats as they want. There is no need for a racial +2.
    A unique bonus (night vision, unmovable, etc...) can be hard to balance, but it will feel far more "special" than a bonus hidden in your statblock.
    D&D style attributes flub on multiple fronts. The first is more of a system thing in that most characters get a special button that can only be pressed with one attribute. SAD ruins many possibilities for differing but comparable investments. The rogue wants DEX for attack, for damage (in some systems), for their skills, for their defenses. Wizard mostly starts and stops at INT. Layering multiple attributes into various systems, be they combat or spells, and doing it in a way where you have reasons to want a good spread does reduce the ‘strong dwarf -> every breed of fighter ever’ trend.

    Another stumbling point is that the racial bonuses are merely point buy discounts that many have maligned for disappearing past character creation. Assuming a system that has stat caps, racial bonuses are a great opportunity for pushing or pulling on those caps. Characters will still have to buy those heightened attributes, so it’s an opportunity rather than a free meal.

    The third is the build X, progress Y problem. Point buy tells you that increasingly higher attributes are more and more valuable, yet progression gives you flat pluses to divvy up as you desire. Of course you’re going to push the button that has the most value, which will be your highest stat. If the point buy continued on after level 1 and attribute boosts were implemented via additional point buy allotments I’d have reason to consider tradeoffs like getting 2 more STR on my fighter (lets say 18->19 is 6, and 19->20 is 7), or kicking numerous attributes up to 14, or jumping an 8 to a 16.
    Last edited by Xervous; 2021-01-05 at 10:26 AM.

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Can you (preferably non-vitriolically, as that seems like where this is going) expand on this? Let's say a game or game world uses descriptions of Dwarves that strongly reinforce the Peter Jackson LotR Gimli motif. How do you see that as a straightjacket, and how loose would it have to be not to be one?
    So not just one setting's dwarf, but one particular dwarf among them, and one particular director's portrayal of that one particular dwarf? For all the dwarves in that setting? How is that not a straitjacket? Can't make a bookish dwarf who doesn't like axes, because that's not dwarfish. Can't make...well...just about anything other than PJ's LotR Gimli. A world full of Gimli's misses out on most of what you'd need for a functioning, let alone organic culture.

    Races, as they're actually a part of a setting and are firmly embedded in the fiction layer, can't lean into archetypes nearly as strongly as things like classes that are more game-layer. Because hard lines and pigeonholes just don't work for that sort of thing when building a world.
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    So not just one setting's dwarf, but one particular dwarf among them, and one particular director's portrayal of that one particular dwarf? For all the dwarves in that setting? How is that not a straitjacket? Can't make a bookish dwarf who doesn't like axes, because that's not dwarfish. Can't make...well...just about anything other than PJ's LotR Gimli. A world full of Gimli's misses out on most of what you'd need for a functioning, let alone organic culture.

    Races, as they're actually a part of a setting and are firmly embedded in the fiction layer, can't lean into archetypes nearly as strongly as things like classes that are more game-layer. Because hard lines and pigeonholes just don't work for that sort of thing when building a world.
    What if, and i know im really reaching here, you just say that your adventurer, who is abnormal and exceptional by definition... just doesnt conform perfectly to the stereotypes of their society? You want to play a bookish dwarf? Cool! Play a bookish dwarf. If somebody, in character or out brings it up that its kind of strange, just ask them "so?"

    Heck, im playing a dwarf bard right now. He plays the harp, wears light armor, spies and generally pokes his nose into things. No axes, full plate, and he only drinks a normal amount instead of being actively drunk all the time. This is somewhat unusual among dwarves in this setting, and absolutely nobody even looked at me oddly when i rolled him, let alone protested that i wasnt "dwarfy enough" or anything like that. The fact that he's still a dwarf under the bard is half the point.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    What if, and i know im really reaching here, you just say that your adventurer, who is abnormal and exceptional by definition... just doesnt conform perfectly to the stereotypes of their society? You want to play a bookish dwarf? Cool! Play a bookish dwarf. If somebody, in character or out brings it up that its kind of strange, just ask them "so?"

    Heck, im playing a dwarf bard right now. He plays the harp, wears light armor, spies and generally pokes his nose into things. No axes, full plate, and he only drinks a normal amount instead of being actively drunk all the time. This is somewhat unusual among dwarves in this setting, and absolutely nobody even looked at me oddly when i rolled him, let alone protested that i wasnt "dwarfy enough" or anything like that. The fact that he's still a dwarf under the bard is half the point.
    Let's restructure this.

    Imagine "tabletop players" as a group. Now imagine if a CEO at Hasbro is signing off on a movie about a group of TTRPG players. Because the CEO loves South Park, they latch onto a bunch of World of Warcraft player tropes from that show's WoW episode. So every portrayed TTRPG player is also a WoW player, cheeto-dusted, a bit obese, "well akshuallee...", socially avoidant, etc., etc., etc. The main character gets to be different because they have to appeal to a broader audience, but everyone else is forced to conform to this single stereotype of RPG-player-ness.

    I hope you'd feel like the real diversity of just this one small subcultural niche was being unfairly pingeonholed and portrayed in a not-so-great manner. Would you feel like someone saying, "Well the main character was a gamer without being into WoW and having those other traits, so it's not actually a straightjacket" was seriously addressing your concerns? If so, could you explain why?

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    Let's restructure this.

    Imagine "tabletop players" as a group. Now imagine if a CEO at Hasbro is signing off on a movie about a group of TTRPG players. Because the CEO loves South Park, they latch onto a bunch of World of Warcraft player tropes from that show's WoW episode. So every portrayed TTRPG player is also a WoW player, cheeto-dusted, a bit obese, "well akshuallee...", socially avoidant, etc., etc., etc. The main character gets to be different because they have to appeal to a broader audience, but everyone else is forced to conform to this single stereotype of RPG-player-ness.

    I hope you'd feel like the real diversity of just this one small subcultural niche was being unfairly pingeonholed and portrayed in a not-so-great manner. Would you feel like someone saying, "Well the main character was a gamer without being into WoW and having those other traits, so it's not actually a straightjacket" was seriously addressing your concerns? If so, could you explain why?
    Because in this analogy, you the player are the CEO. You can build your character to be however you want. If you choose to be boring and only make drunk dwarves or whatever, thats fine too, but nobody can look at you writing dwarf on your character sheet and say "well, you cant actually play a bard, because the dwarves arent like that." Im a dwarf, im like that, ipso facto. I dont care what other dwarves are "like" when im making mine unless im specifically setting out to make a very "standard" dwarf.

    From where im sitting, its just a bizarre thing to be saying. You cant play either into or against a type without there being a type first.
    Last edited by Keltest; 2021-01-05 at 12:40 PM.
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    So not just one setting's dwarf, but one particular dwarf among them, and one particular director's portrayal of that one particular dwarf? For all the dwarves in that setting? How is that not a straitjacket?
    I was using PJ's LotR's Gimli as a shorthand for a type, but whatever, let's go with it.
    The reason it might not be a straight jacket (and where a case really needs to be made that it is) is because the actual avenue of constraint is missing. Straightjackets keep you from doing things. A stated cultural trend does not, it just states a general societal trend at the demographic, not individual, level. Dwarves like ale, elves like wine, Brits like tea, yanks like coffee -- is it true all the time, much less an enforceable constraint? Not inherently (I guess unless the gamebook actually states that no dwarves deviate from said stereotypes, which would be an interesting, albeit gonzo, twist).

    Can't make a bookish dwarf who doesn't like axes, because that's not dwarfish.
    No. If the dwarf likes books over axes, that is an individual character trait, as opposed to a cultural stereotype or trend. The culture does not prevent the character from doing so.

    Can't make...well...just about anything other than PJ's LotR Gimli.
    Says who, and why? Where was this bizarre constraint stated or implied?

    A world full of Gimli's misses out on most of what you'd need for a functioning, let alone organic culture.
    A world where everyone hews 100% to their cultural stereotypes does not exist, but said stereotypes (and the trends that feed them) exist.

    Races, as they're actually a part of a setting and are firmly embedded in the fiction layer, can't lean into archetypes nearly as strongly as things like classes that are more game-layer. Because hard lines and pigeonholes just don't work for that sort of thing when building a world.
    There we go. On this we agree. You need more dwarves who like archery and magic and elves who like smithing* than you need wizards who like wearing armor or clerics who like stealthing**. Classes are already both an artificial game contrivance and imply a level of presumed choice ahead of time.
    *else where are the elves getting their swords, for example?
    **5e makes each of these possible, but previous versions certainly showed that you don't need them.

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    Worth considering what presenting this information or structure has to actually do in a game setting, which is different than a book or movie.

    The setting material has to be something a player can absorb in minutes to the depth necessary to begin to make meaningful decisions as to what they want to dig more deeply into. Things that show up onscreen and aren't exaggerated like Disney animations of motion will tend to lose bids for players' attention or memory. Excessive caricatures, stereotypes, and stuff that makes use of things familiar to players and twists them in simple but effective ways (I'm a claustrophic dwarf!) are going to be more likely to organically stay in spotlight than complex and realistic characters whose nuances would generally require spending your childhood in that world to understand.

    Secondly, as a roleplaying game, depictions of things in the rules can act as a prompt to give players something outside themselves to explore that they wouldn't think of on their own. The D&D races are old now and so don't serve this purpose so much. But if you have Fogles, who are 'basically as diverse as any other people but have a few stat differences' then that won't serve as well as 'Fogles, who are generally so contrary that their legal system is entirely composed of laws against things they actually want eachother to do' or 'Fogles, who are taught from a young age that everything that happens in their life is a direct consequence of their personal karma' or 'Fogles, whose society is founded on the belief that misunderstandings of emotion are sources of serious harm, and who therefore have exaggerated ways of reporting their emotional state: verbally, in their mode of dress, or even with handheld drama mask props'

    Yes, those are ridiculous overgeneralizations of any sort of realistic people. But as prompts, they're ideas to help players find something that is simultaneously different from themselves but simple enough to grasp quickly to explore.
    Last edited by NichG; 2021-01-05 at 02:44 PM.

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    a thought i had. you might be able to describe our definition of "cliché [insert race here] culture" as basically what a tourist or other outsider would see and notice.

    for example, lets stick with Dwarves as we've seen. What's their cliché? They forge weapons, they drink beer, they mine for treasure, and they fight. At least part of the argument against this seems to be that this can't be the entire culture, or at the very least that "digging, drinking, forging, fighting dwarves" are too narrow a thing to play, and/or that it's all a stereotype.

    Lets look at it from the perspective of someone on the outside looking in. Lets say a human visits a Dwarven city for a few days. What are they going to notice?

    Well, a human visiting is probably going to go looking for the big things, the sight-seeing the experiencing of events. So they'll probably visit the greatest landmarks, the greatest parties, the greatest souvenirs, what'll they find? Probably big forges, deep mines, and dug up treasures. If that human sees the Dwarves fight off a raid of monsters, what will they see? Highly trained warriors. If they visit a bar to relax? They'll see a lot of heavy drinkers, partiers, and singers.


    now what are they not seeing? Well, a tourist probably won't have too much interest in the Dwarven justice system, their laws, their taxes, they probably won't have any interest in sitting down in a church and listening to the sermons, or the ritual meditations to the sound of stone grinding against stone. They won't see the stay-at home mothers who sing to their children, the work-all-day fathers filling tax reports and keeping track of who borrowed what, and they probably won't see the various small children's games and nursery rhymes that the young dwarves practice in school. Or if they did see any of it, the Tourist is much less likely to notice or talk about it with their friends. Who's interested in learning about Dwarven tax-law when there's a giant freaking forge full of molten steel in the middle of town?

    Stereotypes usually exist for a reason. The stereotype of mining, drinking, forging fighting Dwarves exist because at one point or another, there were Dwarven fighters, Dwarven drinkers, Dwarven miners, and Dwarven smiths. They might have been a handful of Dwarves who dabbled in all of those, or many Dwarves who only knew two or three. That doesn't mean that's all there is, it just means that's what the people saw at the moment and embellished over the years. Maybe Dwarven smiths are no grander or more skilled then the average Human smith. Maybe one guy was just really into how large the human-sized forge was in comparison to the Dwarf, and over the centuries the story got embellished so the forge was even bigger and bigger, eventually getting to the point where it towered over the city. Heck, maybe Dwarves liked the story so much they actually made it true, even though such a thing would be completely impractical and mostly function as a decoration more then anything else.

    Basically, the generic definition of "Dwarven culture" we know could just be nothing but a story told by outsiders, with a whole slew of different passions and professions deeper within. The mining and smithing may be popular with people, but the Dwarves will still need scholars, teachers, entertainers, musicians, performers, peacemakers, medics, and so much more. They do exist, they're just not the ones people usually tell stories about.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    a thought i had. you might be able to describe our definition of "cliché [insert race here] culture" as basically what a tourist or other outsider would see and notice.

    for example, lets stick with Dwarves as we've seen. What's their cliché? They forge weapons, they drink beer, they mine for treasure, and they fight. At least part of the argument against this seems to be that this can't be the entire culture, or at the very least that "digging, drinking, forging, fighting dwarves" are too narrow a thing to play, and/or that it's all a stereotype.

    Lets look at it from the perspective of someone on the outside looking in. Lets say a human visits a Dwarven city for a few days. What are they going to notice?

    Well, a human visiting is probably going to go looking for the big things, the sight-seeing the experiencing of events. So they'll probably visit the greatest landmarks, the greatest parties, the greatest souvenirs, what'll they find? Probably big forges, deep mines, and dug up treasures. If that human sees the Dwarves fight off a raid of monsters, what will they see? Highly trained warriors. If they visit a bar to relax? They'll see a lot of heavy drinkers, partiers, and singers.


    now what are they not seeing? Well, a tourist probably won't have too much interest in the Dwarven justice system, their laws, their taxes, they probably won't have any interest in sitting down in a church and listening to the sermons, or the ritual meditations to the sound of stone grinding against stone. They won't see the stay-at home mothers who sing to their children, the work-all-day fathers filling tax reports and keeping track of who borrowed what, and they probably won't see the various small children's games and nursery rhymes that the young dwarves practice in school. Or if they did see any of it, the Tourist is much less likely to notice or talk about it with their friends. Who's interested in learning about Dwarven tax-law when there's a giant freaking forge full of molten steel in the middle of town?

    Stereotypes usually exist for a reason. The stereotype of mining, drinking, forging fighting Dwarves exist because at one point or another, there were Dwarven fighters, Dwarven drinkers, Dwarven miners, and Dwarven smiths. They might have been a handful of Dwarves who dabbled in all of those, or many Dwarves who only knew two or three. That doesn't mean that's all there is, it just means that's what the people saw at the moment and embellished over the years. Maybe Dwarven smiths are no grander or more skilled then the average Human smith. Maybe one guy was just really into how large the human-sized forge was in comparison to the Dwarf, and over the centuries the story got embellished so the forge was even bigger and bigger, eventually getting to the point where it towered over the city. Heck, maybe Dwarves liked the story so much they actually made it true, even though such a thing would be completely impractical and mostly function as a decoration more then anything else.

    Basically, the generic definition of "Dwarven culture" we know could just be nothing but a story told by outsiders, with a whole slew of different passions and professions deeper within. The mining and smithing may be popular with people, but the Dwarves will still need scholars, teachers, entertainers, musicians, performers, peacemakers, medics, and so much more. They do exist, they're just not the ones people usually tell stories about.
    If dwarves only live in one place, this is quite reasonable. That's what I've been calling a "racial monoculture": even if Culture X has various races, you know if you meet a dwarf, they come from Culture X, and Culture X has stereotypes from an outsider's perspective.

    But what happens if Culture X simply has, say, 50% of all dwarves living in it, while ~25% of dwarves live in each of Culture Y and Culture Z? You couldn't call Cluture X "dwarf culture," because dwarves exist in large quantities in multiple distinct cultures. Perhaps mining, drinking, forging, and fighting are big deals to Culture X dwarves...and have no special association with those from Culture Y. Maybe Culture Y looks like the pastoral nomads of Mongolia, who have no time for sitting down and mining a single cave for three hundred years, who don't often drink because fermentables aren't a big part of their diet/lifestyle. Sure, they're warriors, but on horseback with bow and arrow, making it a completely different world from the Culture X warfare style of immovable legions of axe-and-hammer-wielding, iron-clad soldiers. And then in Culture Z, drinking intoxicants is frowned upon but coffee is celebrated, and dwarves are known for being caravaneers because of their keen eye for detail and their hardy constitution which allows them to travel overland on far less...potable rations than humans can tolerate, where warriors are people you hire from somewhere else, and it's less "smithing" and more "jewelers" or "tailors" or "spice merchants."

    Under these notions, it doesn't really make any sense to speak of "dwarf culture," not because dwarves don't have culture, but because there are so few distinctly shared values across major dwarf populations. It would be sort of like trying to talk about "religious culture," as though Zen Buddhists, Wiccans, Catholics, and traditional Aztec adherents could be all treated as essentially identical with several clear, common behaviors and values among them. About the most you could say for "religious culture" is that it includes ritual and reverence of the sacred, but those are so broad and squishy as to be nearly meaningless. A Zen Buddhist is likely to have much more in common with an atheist who shares her nationality than she is to have with a Wiccan from a different continent. A neopagan Englishman will have far more in common with an agnostic Scotsman than he will with a Mexican Catholic.

    We have four possible situations for any given intersection of "species" and "culture":
    1. Species and culture are equivalent; every dwarf is from culture X, and every person in culture X is a dwarf. This is full, complete "planet of hats." I doubt I need to give an example of this sort of thing; Star Trek and Star Wars both resort to it a bunch.
    2. Species implies culture, but culture doesn't imply species: Being a dwarf means you belong to culture X, but there are also non-dwarves in culture X. This is "planet of hats," but allowing immigration. Humanity in Star Trek is treated like this 90% of the time (exceptions for rare small enclave populations, like those protected by the Preservers.)
    3. Species does not imply culture, but culture does imply species: Dwarves come from multiple cultures, but each of those cultures is exclusively made of dwarves. This is "planet of hats" with races allowed to have two or more distinct hats. This is Romulans and Vulcans, who are essentially the same species, but having two starkly different cultures.
    4. There is no hard connection between species and culture: dwarves come from multiple cultures, and those cultures have members of multiple species not just dwarves. This enables (but does not guarantee) avoiding "planet of hats" writing, because stereotypes about "dwarf culture" don't make sense when no culture is exclusively dwarven and dwarves don't only belong to one culture.

    Note that it is still entirely possible to have "planet of hats" even in situation 4. It's just that the hats won't be racial hats, simply cultural ones. And that's the sort of thing where "what do other cultures see as the stereotype(s) of this culture" can make a big difference. You just have to actually do the work so that the underlying culture IS thought-out, even if we don't get to SEE that in practice. But any writing that relies on any of the first 3 situations is, fundamentally, still "planet of hats" writing.

    (Edit: I suppose there is a fifth situation, where somehow you retain one culture that remains purely dwarf-only but dwarves do emigrate to other cultures, but I don't see how this could ever be stable without draconian internal structures or extreme isolation to keep it dwarf-only. There's just too much advantage to permitting interested immigrants to settle down.)
    Last edited by ezekielraiden; 2021-01-05 at 05:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    But what happens if Culture X simply has, say, 50% of all dwarves living in it, while ~25% of dwarves live in each of Culture Y and Culture Z? You couldn't call Cluture X "dwarf culture," because dwarves exist in large quantities in multiple distinct cultures. Perhaps mining, drinking, forging, and fighting are big deals to Culture X dwarves...and have no special association with those from Culture Y.

    Maybe Culture Y looks like the pastoral nomads of Mongolia, who have no time for sitting down and mining a single cave for three hundred years, who don't often drink because fermentables aren't a big part of their diet/lifestyle. Sure, they're warriors, but on horseback with bow and arrow, making it a completely different world from the Culture X warfare style of immovable legions of axe-and-hammer-wielding, iron-clad soldiers.

    And then in Culture Z, drinking intoxicants is frowned upon but coffee is celebrated, and dwarves are known for being caravaneers because of their keen eye for detail and their hardy constitution which allows them to travel overland on far less...potable rations than humans can tolerate, where warriors are people you hire from somewhere else, and it's less "smithing" and more "jewelers" or "tailors" or "spice merchants."

    Under these notions, it doesn't really make any sense to speak of "dwarf culture,"
    I'd argue they're all Dwarf culture. Each and every one of them. They may not be the same culture, but they're all the cultures of Dwarves. Ergo, Dwarf culture.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    I'd argue they're all Dwarf culture. Each and every one of them. They may not be the same culture, but they're all the cultures of Dwarves. Ergo, Dwarf culture.
    And how do the non-Dwarves in Y and Z feel about having their cultures called "Dwarf culture"?

    (To me it reads like the other two cultures aren't majority dwarven, but maybe I'm misreading it.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    I'd argue they're all Dwarf culture. Each and every one of them. They may not be the same culture, but they're all the cultures of Dwarves. Ergo, Dwarf culture.
    Okay, but they're so radically different that you can't say anything meaningful about belonging to "dwarf culture." Because belonging to these cultures:
    - could mean either valuing or not valuing mining and smithing
    - could mean either embracing, shrugging about, or actively opposing intoxicants
    - could mean soldiery values, archer-cavalry values, or no martial values at all
    - could mean prioritizing survivability for its exploration and trade benefits, or for making liminal spaces livable, or for simplifying the nomad lifestyle

    Just about the only things you can say are stereotypical of these "Dwarf Cultures" is...that they feature people shorter than humans. Hence my example of talking about "faith culture" as though it were meaningful to lump Zen Buddhists, Neopagans, and Catholics all into a single mass. "Dwarf culture" becomes a tautology, simply meaning "any culture with dwarves in it." Saying, "I come from a Dwarven culture" communicates literally nothing you didn't already know by knowing the speaker was a dwarf.

    Edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    And how do the non-Dwarves in Y and Z feel about having their cultures called "Dwarf culture"?
    That, too. These are cultures made up of many races, not just dwarves.
    Last edited by ezekielraiden; 2021-01-05 at 05:22 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    And how do the non-Dwarves in Y and Z feel about having their cultures called "Dwarf culture"?
    Well it didn't say there were non-dwarves in Y and Z. it just said that 25% of the total population of Dwarves were in Y and Z.

    if Y and Z are an equal mishmash of multiple different races, then they'd probably just be Y-culture and Z-culture without any race description on it. Unless say 90% of Z culture is Human or something, in which case you might call it human culture due to being predominantly human. really depends.


    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    Okay, but they're so radically different that you can't say anything meaningful about belonging to "dwarf culture." Because belonging to these cultures:
    - could mean either valuing or not valuing mining and smithing
    - could mean either embracing, shrugging about, or actively opposing intoxicants
    - could mean soldiery values, archer-cavalry values, or no martial values at all
    - could mean prioritizing survivability for its exploration and trade benefits, or for making liminal spaces livable, or for simplifying the nomad lifestyle
    it's the "Culture" of "Dwarves", therefore it's "Dwarf culture". They're not the Same culture, and they're not the same dwarves, but they're still cultures and they're still Dwarves. You have multiple possessions in you room, Toys, books, games, computers, desks. They're not "The toys" "the books" "the games" "the computers" and "the desks", they're just "Your possessions".



    That, too. These are cultures made up of many races, not just dwarves.
    well you didn't say that, you just said that Y and Z each had 25% of the total population of Dwarves.
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    My ultimate counter-argument to the "issue" of over-homogenizing is that real people still do so incessantly. We still have general cultural stereotypes of countries, which at this point comprise larger populations than are realistic for many medievalesque settings. China has over a billion people and yet there's the rather often reinforced stereotype of them being selfish egotistical racists thanks to the trends among their tourists, expats, businesses, and government (...basically everything but people on the streets and farms in China, really).

    There's absolutely nothing that guarantees a particular Chinese person, or even a particular government official, is a jingoistic self-centered ethnonationalist, but that's the "type" that sticks in the minds of many who pay attention because of how so much of visible, and much more importantly memorable, Chinese presence fits it. And people tend to be better at remembering what they see as outright bad rather than simply weird, so... Yeah, stereotypes tend to reflect what a given culture finds worst in another.

    Nobody notices the businesses that go on like usual under COVID, they notice the signs banning Africans from various locations. They don't notice well-behaved Chinese tourists, they notice the misbehavior. People didn't notice much of the nuances of Irish holidays, they noticed the staggering amount of alcohol consumption. If you expand the differences from minor facial features to at most a large difference in skin color? Well, just ask the Pigmies about where their neighbor's dining habits concerned them, simply being much smaller lead to being widely seen as literally not human for an extremely long time.

    As for Orcs, the reason they so closely match racist caricatures is because their starting point was "Always Chaotic Evil monsters to be slain", and it just so happens that racists largely use the same rhetoric in their bid to dehumanize others. If you're connecting them with black people, that's between you and the Klukkers, not on Gygax and friends. Them being conventional sapients in the first place was actually a later addition, the Tolkein basis was that they were fundamentally broken on a spiritual level and the initial D&D form's predilections were an absolute imperative rather than divinely reinforced cultural norm. They, alongside the Goblins, Kobolds, Drow, and so many others, were made to be antagonists, and nothing more. The nuance was added in over time because that doesn't particularly work once you're building up a coherent setting.

  27. - Top - End - #237
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    Daemon

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morphic tide View Post
    My ultimate counter-argument to the "issue" of over-homogenizing is that real people still do so incessantly. We still have general cultural stereotypes of countries, which at this point comprise larger populations than are realistic for many medievalesque settings. China has over a billion people and yet there's the rather often reinforced stereotype of them being selfish egotistical racists thanks to the trends among their tourists, expats, businesses, and government (...basically everything but people on the streets and farms in China, really).

    There's absolutely nothing that guarantees a particular Chinese person, or even a particular government official, is a jingoistic self-centered ethnonationalist, but that's the "type" that sticks in the minds of many who pay attention because of how so much of visible, and much more importantly memorable, Chinese presence fits it. And people tend to be better at remembering what they see as outright bad rather than simply weird, so... Yeah, stereotypes tend to reflect what a given culture finds worst in another.

    Nobody notices the businesses that go on like usual under COVID, they notice the signs banning Africans from various locations. They don't notice well-behaved Chinese tourists, they notice the misbehavior. People didn't notice much of the nuances of Irish holidays, they noticed the staggering amount of alcohol consumption. If you expand the differences from minor facial features to at most a large difference in skin color? Well, just ask the Pigmies about where their neighbor's dining habits concerned them, simply being much smaller lead to being widely seen as literally not human for an extremely long time.

    As for Orcs, the reason they so closely match racist caricatures is because their starting point was "Always Chaotic Evil monsters to be slain", and it just so happens that racists largely use the same rhetoric in their bid to dehumanize others. If you're connecting them with black people, that's between you and the Klukkers, not on Gygax and friends. Them being conventional sapients in the first place was actually a later addition, the Tolkein basis was that they were fundamentally broken on a spiritual level and the initial D&D form's predilections were an absolute imperative rather than divinely reinforced cultural norm. They, alongside the Goblins, Kobolds, Drow, and so many others, were made to be antagonists, and nothing more. The nuance was added in over time because that doesn't particularly work once you're building up a coherent setting.
    And I'd say that that's a reason to avoid intentionally homogenizing fictional cultures. Real cultures are complex and heterogenous down to very small scales (national-level culture is not homogeneous except (and not even then) in the smallest of nations, let alone regions). So fictional cultures should aspire to be just as complex, so that when people are done homogenizing them (like they will), there will be something other than just flat stereotypes that make painted cardboard look dynamic and 3D.

    We should do our best to provide enough depth that something can survive the inevitable "simplification".
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  28. - Top - End - #238
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    well you didn't say that, you just said that Y and Z each had 25% of the total population of Dwarves.
    Except...I did.

    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    4. There is no hard connection between species and culture: dwarves come from multiple cultures, and those cultures have members of multiple species not just dwarves.
    Bold added for emphasis.

  29. - Top - End - #239
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    But what happens if Culture X simply has, say, 50% of all dwarves living in it, while ~25% of dwarves live in each of Culture Y and Culture Z?
    bolded for emphasis. Looks like you only mentioned additional races much later into the post, i must have missed that bit when double-checking, and this line was all i saw. Sorry about the misunderstanding.

    Also those four points don't seem to mention directly referencing specifically cultures X Y and Z. i must have figured you were talking in a much broader sense and no longer talking about those three specific examples.
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  30. - Top - End - #240
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    So.... since this seems to have wondered into culture, who wants to do the writting? Aka who is willing to make a bunch of races, multi cultures for all of them, ect? :)

    Presumptions and mono cultures and the like are easy, hence why used. Now i think its a good game to do all the work, but in all honesty it can take some effort.

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