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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Weird. Thats a lot of extra hoops to feel no guilt over things that don't exist.
    I've never really understood how explicitly bring up the question "are we the baddies" was supposed to reduce feelings of guilt. If you want to just have fun killing monsters, do that. Adding explicit morality into the equation is going to raise more questions than it answers until you've done a great deal of work resolving moral dilemmas.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Samoja1 View Post
    You are describing Stalin's USSR right there. And we all know how that ended. Little known fact, Stalin died because nobody dared disobey his order that he was not to be disturbed. He was dying for two full hours in his bedroom because his guards were too terrified to enter and check on him.

    You can't create a prosperous society trough fear, it just does not work, people will be scared to take any initiative without consulting you first and no man, no matter how brilliant, can keep tabs on everyone and everything.

    So no, i would disagree. Any evil regime, no matter what form it takes, is inherently self destructive. If you do everything logically to get the best out of your kingdom it becomes almost indistinguishable from what we call good. Any undue meddling can only cause damage.
    You're more describing the problems with a dictatorship than an evil regime here. Once the guy with all the power dies there's a bunch of instability. That remains the case if you had a good ruler. Their death can and often will throw their country into chaos.

    Anyways, I disagree that you can't make a prosperous country through evil. All you have to do is set up the conditions for success to be, well evil. Take slavery as an example. Pretty much always evil. But if you are in a society that promotes slavery, it would be difficult, and maybe impossible to get ahead in that society without enslaving people.

    And this being fantasy, you can apply a similar logic to other evil acts. Like summoning demons/devils, or creating undead.
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  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Samoja1 View Post
    You are describing Stalin's USSR right there. And we all know how that ended. Little known fact, Stalin died because nobody dared disobey his order that he was not to be disturbed. He was dying for two full hours in his bedroom because his guards were too terrified to enter and check on him.
    Just an FYI and super-side-point: that's one of the least little-known of facts ever. You can't swing a dead cat in a content-aggregator site without another vapid article about little known facts that doesn't include. it.

    Overall, I think I see the premise, and don't hate it excepting all the absolutes ("can't," "shouldn't," etc.). If you don't like the traditional fantasy setup of mostly good races who can be evil and inherently evil bad races, by all means play something else, but that a game world shouldn't be (or is lesser for it) because it does not fit this alternate model does not flow from the arguments made.

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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Samoja1 View Post
    So if "good" races are complex enough to produce people, and even whole groups, up to and including nations, of every alllignment, then why would the "evil" races have to be so one dimensional?
    One answer is that it depends on the edition. In 5e, a lot of the "evil races" don't actually have the same level of free will that other races do. Their creator deities made them that way. Which doesn't mean "there are no non-evil orcs/goblins/whatever", it means "non-evil orcs/goblins/etc are MUCH less common than deviations from the norm of other races". So while it's an accurate statement to say "dwarves are usually Lawful Good", you're still talking about maybe a little less than half or so of the population. Dwarves have free will, and there are plenty that vary from this, but the largest percentage of aligned dwarves are Lawful Good. Compare to Orcs who, in 5e, LITERALLY have the voice of Gruumsh whispering in their heads. That kind of compulsion from a deity is difficult to resist. Even half-orcs feel it to some extent, although it is diluted. So, among orcs, the percentage of orcs who are NOT Chaotic Evil is much smaller. Even an orc taken at birth and raised among humans may end up succumbing to that. it isn't entirely cultural.

    And some people have issues with this because they can't conceive of a humanoid who isn't able to think for themselves and break free of the constraints of their society like humans can do in the real world. That, or they somehow are mistaking fantasy races for parallels of real-world peoples. Most of which arguments are incorrect. Save the Vistani. The changes WotC made to the Vistani were absolutely overdue as they were absolutely an analogue of a real-world people, and portrayed in an unflattering light that was chock full of bad racial stereotypes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Samoja1 View Post
    Because there are no vegans among us who think that killing cows is wrong? Even among people with completely alien moral code there will be dissenters, especially for races that have some kind of social group.
    Alien code or not, mind flayers, when present in D&D, are subject to the laws of that reality. And in the default worlds of D&D, Good/Evil/Law/Chaos are objective, dispassionate forces that shape the cosmos and to which even gods are beholden. So a mind flayer may not think anything more of killing people than I do of killing a rooster, but murdering a sentient being for selfish or nefarious purposes is defined as "Evil". A mind flayer CAN subsist on animal brains, but their physiology is wired so that sentient, intelligent brains taste better. They're also feeding on the knowledge and sometimes even the fear of their victims. So yes, while in a default D&D cosmology's reality, what mind flayers to -while merely survival for them- is Evil.

    Quote Originally Posted by Samoja1 View Post
    I will give you skeletons and zombies since they are barely alive and are more like automatons made from organic parts, but that's it, even Demons should have the ability, however small, of redeeming themselves. Apart from being logical i think that such a setting is far more interesting from a narrative standpoint too.
    Fiends are a special case. For them, evil isn't about "values, mindset and behavior", so much as it is intrinsic to their nature. in 3.x, fiends are literally made of evil. Their souls and bodies are one unit, not separate, and they are made up of solid evil energies. Energies which return to their home plane and form a new fiend if they are killed.

    In most editions, fiends CAN, occasionally redeem themselves. In 3.5e the "always x alignment" tag meant that more than 99% of said creatures were that alignment. Exceptions being very rare. And a Demon who became Lawful Good, for example, would still radiate Evil on a detection spell because the energies that make up their body are LITERALLY Chaos and Evil. The oft-vaunted Succubus Paladin is still an outsider with Chaotic, Evil, and Tanar'ri subtypes. So she would actually take damage from all 4 variations of Holy Smite, for example. And when killed, her energies would return to the Abyss and a new succubus would form (probably a CE one). HOWEVER, if she went through the rituals in Savage Species to remove those subtypes (narratively, purging the evil from her body), she would no longer register as Evil and such. And, presumably, if she also added the templates for Good, then when she died, a new 8-HD celestial would be formed.

    Now that's 3.5e, in 5e, their solution is much simpler. Fiends are Evil because Evil is in the nature of a fiend. If a fiend ceases to be evil, it ceases to be a fiend. So a Redeemed Demon, would actually physically change and become a celestial of some kind. Graz'zt used to be a devil and when he became chaotic became a demon. Zariel used to be an angel. But when she fell and became Evil she became a Devil.


    Do note that NONE of this precludes non-evil orcs or even the uncommon instance of a non-evil fiend. And that's following RAW and core assumptions. it actually makes those exceptions even more compelling, because they, in many instances, are struggling against their very natures.
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  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I've never really understood how explicitly bring up the question "are we the baddies" was supposed to reduce feelings of guilt. If you want to just have fun killing monsters, do that. Adding explicit morality into the equation is going to raise more questions than it answers until you've done a great deal of work resolving moral dilemmas.
    So much this.

    People wanted to make a game where you can go out to defeat the baddies and be a hero, and if that's what you want to play and have fun with, go do that. Don't be bothered by people on the internet crying about moral dilemmas in Dungeons & Dragons.

    I also don't have a problem with accepting that in the world of D&D (and its offshoots like Pathfinder and such) there are actual cosmic forces that decide Good/Evil/Law/Chaos. It's just the way it is, now let me roll some dice and have some fun.


    This isn't to say I don't enjoy games with more complex morality and that kind of stuff too, but sometimes you just want things to be simple and less complicated than the real world is.
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  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I've never really understood how explicitly bring up the question "are we the baddies" was supposed to reduce feelings of guilt. If you want to just have fun killing monsters, do that. Adding explicit morality into the equation is going to raise more questions than it answers until you've done a great deal of work resolving moral dilemmas.
    I know right?

    By including a moral system you kind of invite the question. You make it a focus, you draw attention to it the first place. Sure the discussion can still happen without it. but it happens a lot less with settings that actually show the heroes being moral rather than a system telling us they're moral for doing things that aren't. its a showing vs. telling thing. Alignment is just telling people whats moral. and good storytelling is all about SHOWING your moral fibre through acts that are actually good. thats why DnD heroes aren't considered actually good by many people, but just chaotic neutral murderhobos because none of the morality is shown its just a cosmos that declares what we're actually being shown to be good for no reason. it produces a dissonance. especially since the current alignment system is tacked on to what was before what it is now. It used to just be Order and Chaos, basically, and be about whether your more structured or more about freedom which could lead to a lot of conflicts on its own without any questions about good and evil being brought up and being in a comfortable grey area where you might be bad, but the other side might be bad to, so who really cares y'know? Do what you believe is right.

    me I'm fond of playing monstrous races just because I like them and don't really care for any morality being attached to them. still would like to just go around being a badass hero killing things without guilt or angst. I personally agree that evil races shouldn't exist. dragon attacks a town out of nowhere, roll a 1d10 to determine its color- the scales don't matter, because they're a jerk no matter how shiny they are. a bunch of raiders attack a village go back to their cave base, roll to see what race they are, its human, don't care, they're raiders. you don't like it well go kill them for doing that. screw those guys. I feel like an excluded middle because I don't associate with no evil races with complex morality or anything. morality can still be simple without it, and morality can be even more complex with them. the connection between the two everyone is making is something I don't get.
    Last edited by Lord Raziere; 2021-07-23 at 08:13 AM.
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    my simple reasoning:

    a RACE can't be Evil, but a CULTURE can be.

    If a member of a traditionally "Evil" race like say Drow or Orc were to be raised in an evil Drow or Orc culture, then there is a high likelihood that said Drow/Orc may also grow up to be evil! Does that mean they are GUARANTEED to be evil? Nope! There's still a chance that they could be neutral or even good. Just like how humans can be nutral or evil in even a good-aligned kingdom, circumstance or nature could cause our example Drow/Orc to grow up neutral or good, but still living within the evil culture. and that's okay! There could be entire swathes of the population that are neutral or good and it all still works!

    IF however you were to take that SAME Drow/Orc at birth and bring them to a more good aligned culture, be it human, elven, or even good-aligned Drow or Orc, then there is a high likelihood that said Drow/Orc may also grow up to be good! Does that mean they are GUARANTEED to be good? Nope! There's still a chance that they could be neutral or even evil.



    A Race is just multiple piles of Bones Blood and Brains that all share a genetic and phenotype similarity with one another that desire to reproduce, expand, and keep living. you can say the exact same thing about wolves, turtles, cats, mice, ants, flies, birds, fish, and many other things.

    the only thing that makes intelligent races "Good" or "Evil" is their intelligence and the morals or lack thereof that come with it. Even if there is some genetic bias like Orcs being more violent or Drow being more prone to cutting schemes and poisons, that doesn't inherently make them evil. that just makes them driven by their genetics like any other creature.
    Last edited by Draconi Redfir; 2021-07-21 at 07:14 PM.
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  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    There's something missing from this, at least in some fantasy games and settings. Malign deific influence.

    For example, D&D 5e Orcs and even half-Orcs have an evil god influencing them from birth. Can they somehow turn out good anyway? Yes. Will living in a culture than generally results in good people help? Sure. Are they less likely on average to turn out good even in a culture that results in higher than average good creatures? Yes.
    But Lolth and the like don't influence every single member of the species 24/7. They do a lot of their influencing indirectly, though the culture and leaders of the Orcs/Drow/etc... Removed from that culture, religion, and leadership, the only influence Lolth (or any other) would have would be directly. She would have to know Drow A is no longer in Drow society, and make an overt effort to communicate with them directly.

    Any god can speak to any creature at any time. Corellion can have a word with "Drow A" as much as Lolth can, heck, so can any god! Assuming there is any reason at all for them to do so.

    Jumping to books, in Brandon Sanderson has an entire race of creatures that by nature open themselves to the power of what is effectively a malign god, and in doing so their personality and nature change.
    [Preface: I am not familiar with this guy or his books or this species, so this is an honest question] But do they open themselves to this malign god because their culture tells them to "open yourself to the Dark One" in school, in church, and just around every day, or is it because they are biologically designed to have an innate connection to the Dark One?

    When we start talking about biological design to malign influence, or even simply "built to do evil things" it begs the question of free will, and thus, if they can actually be evil at all. A stick isn't evil, even if you beat someone to death with it. In this comparison, the "evil race" isn't the one beating someone to death, they're the stick. A tool being used by an evil god to do evil things.

    Sure, everyone may say they're evil and their ability to think and function certainly looks like consciousness, but if their only true capacity for decisions is between "Evil Act A" and "Evil Act B", with a complete inability to choose "Good Act C" due to deific design, they're not truly evil, they're sock puppets.


    ---------
    So as not to double post., OT:

    I mostly dislike "All X are Y." because it's lazy writing. Simplifications like these are fine on the small scale. It's fine for shallow stories in small environments where you're not expected to look beyond whatever is right in front of your face. "All members of the evil secret government agency are evil." yeah sure. "All members of the crazy cult are crazy." Yeah sure. "All the orcs on the mountain want to kill all the humans in the valley." Okay, can buy.

    But like all simplifications, these things start to fall apart the more you introduce complexity. "Well the Bad Mountain Orcs. are members of the Bad Orc Nation, which consists of the 17 Bad Orc Tribes, all of which are bad." Uh...okay. "They have a robust bad culture that has existed in badness for thousands of years, developing may bad traditions and following bad gods." Uh...really? "And not one single orc has ever disagreed or separated themselves from this badness." Wait, seriously?

    17 tribes? Millennia of existence? Robust culture? Multiple gods? And they're all identically evil?

    Even if we don't have Orcs IRL, when reading this sort of material, people look at their surroundings to help contextualize things. And they can plainly see that there are lots of "tribes" of people, who've been around for a long time, and if there's anything they have in common, its that they can barely breathe without disagreeing with each other.

    So to present a fictional species as wholly "one thing", but then given them a variety of human-like aspects, is simply jarring. Because a supposedly complex, developed, robust civilization is underpinned by the lazy writing of "all of them are evil".
    Last edited by False God; 2021-07-21 at 08:31 PM.
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  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    A Race is just multiple piles of Bones Blood and Brains that all share a genetic and phenotype similarity with one another that desire to reproduce, expand, and keep living. you can say the exact same thing about wolves, turtles, cats, mice, ants, flies, birds, fish, and many other things.

    the only thing that makes intelligent races "Good" or "Evil" is their intelligence and the morals or lack thereof that come with it. Even if there is some genetic bias like Orcs being more violent or Drow being more prone to cutting schemes and poisons, that doesn't inherently make them evil. that just makes them driven by their genetics like any other creature.
    The thing is that different species will have different psychologies, possibly radically so. For example, you could have a species that is comprised entirely of persons who are - evaluated from the human perspective - psychopaths (and in fact this seems to be the design model for several of the 'evil' humanoid types in D&D). This interacts with the idea of universal morality in funny ways, because the 'normal' species and the species of psychopaths have to operate within the same universal moral framework. Insofar as the traits of psychopathy are associated with the concept of 'evil' in the fictional universe - and this association tends to be extremely strong - you end up with a species that is greatly predisposed to being 'evil' and in fact non-evil representatives of said species might well be considered mentally ill by the standards of said species in the same way that severe psychopathy is considered a mental illness among humans.

    Universal morality generally struggles with variation in psychology (D&D has long been an example of this, placing 'lunatics and madmen' in the chaotic Neutral box for years), because insofar as mindset determines morality it greats a 'good mind' versus 'bad mind' scenario. Since different species will obviously differ in psychology (and if they don't you shouldn't be using them at all because then what's the point?), some of them will be predisposed to certain sections of the morality pie chart more than others.

    This hits D&D really hard because it doesn't just have a handful of different sapient species with variant psychologies (and the various cultures that grow out from such psychologies) it has hundreds, including non-humanoids, beings with bizarre physiologies, immortal beings, and even more. The idea that a sapient 20 ft long tentacle-bearing vaguely piscine creature capable of inflicting a gruesome metamorphosis on other beings it encounters and projecting images into their minds at will (an Aboleth, literally the 1st entry in the monster manual) should operate according to the same moral structure as Homo sapiens is a really hard sell.
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    The thing is that different species will have different psychologies, possibly radically so. For example, you could have a species that is comprised entirely of persons who are - evaluated from the human perspective - psychopaths (and in fact this seems to be the design model for several of the 'evil' humanoid types in D&D). This interacts with the idea of universal morality in funny ways, because the 'normal' species and the species of psychopaths have to operate within the same universal moral framework. Insofar as the traits of psychopathy are associated with the concept of 'evil' in the fictional universe - and this association tends to be extremely strong - you end up with a species that is greatly predisposed to being 'evil' and in fact non-evil representatives of said species might well be considered mentally ill by the standards of said species in the same way that severe psychopathy is considered a mental illness among humans.
    For this i'd point to the various examples of animals living with other animals. If you take in a wolf pup and raise it like a dog around other dogs, then while it will likely be more aggressive and potentually dangerous, it's general personality or attitude would probably be closer to that of Dogs rather then Wolves. There's a cat out there that walks like a horse because it was the only cat raised in a barn full of horses, Cats themselves only Meow because they live with humans, wild cats communicate with noises humans can't hear.

    so yes, you might have a person who is biologically built to be what humans would describe as a psychopath, but if raised in a human society, they would still be fully capable of living normal lives, morso if their particular needs are adjusted for, such as people understanding that this person needs their privacy respected. Likewise, the individual would likely learn from growing up around humans how to at the very least feign social norms and control any violent urges. Psychopaths and Sociopaths are completely capable of living normal lives, someone you know could be one and you might never know it.

    A good example would be to look at people on the Autistic spectrum. Many of them inherently have trouble making eye contact with people, finding it uncomfortable, rude, aggressive, or just unnecessary. As they grow though, many learn that eye contact is expected when communicating with people, and either consciously or subconsciously, end up forcing themselves to make eye contact when speaking to people.



    This hits D&D really hard because it doesn't just have a handful of different sapient species with variant psychologies (and the various cultures that grow out from such psychologies) it has hundreds, including non-humanoids, beings with bizarre physiologies, immortal beings, and even more. The idea that a sapient 20 ft long tentacle-bearing vaguely piscine creature capable of inflicting a gruesome metamorphosis on other beings it encounters and projecting images into their minds at will (an Aboleth, literally the 1st entry in the monster manual) should operate according to the same moral structure as Homo sapiens is a really hard sell.
    okay, TO BE FAIR! i was more talking about spesifically civilized and humanoid races. Your Orcs, Drow, Kobolds, Goblins, Bugbears, Minotaur, etc.


    Elder beings from beyond the stars and entities created from the evil souls of evil people were admittedly, not on my example list, sorry.
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    My object level problem with always evil creatures is that I don't actually understand how they have cultures at all.
    Like, I want you to go back to the very beginning here: We've either got Orkam and Orkeve, or we've got a half-dozen proto-orks. They don't have a society, so they have no societal pressure to maintain families. They don't have to worry about playing complex status games, because they only have like four neighbors.
    Given the complete lack of empathy that an intrinsically Evil being would have, why doesn't this story end with "They had several children and, finding their crying annoying, abandoned them to die of exposure. Eighty years later the orks had gone extinct. The End."
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    best i can guess is "The desire for survival is powerful, and ultimately begets the desire for society"


    Sor Orkam and Orkeve might be the first orcs, but that just means they make up the rules. Biologically they still want their species to survive, so they don't actively kill any of their children. But they might do things like beating the weak out, abandoning those who can't fend for themselves, or encouraging regular competitions of strength. That doesn't mean they're not cooperating to put food on the table, a roof over their head, and water in their bowls.
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Chauncymancer View Post
    My object level problem with always evil creatures is that I don't actually understand how they have cultures at all.
    Like, I want you to go back to the very beginning here: We've either got Orkam and Orkeve, or we've got a half-dozen proto-orks. They don't have a society, so they have no societal pressure to maintain families. They don't have to worry about playing complex status games, because they only have like four neighbors.
    Given the complete lack of empathy that an intrinsically Evil being would have, why doesn't this story end with "They had several children and, finding their crying annoying, abandoned them to die of exposure. Eighty years later the orks had gone extinct. The End."
    your making a common mistake of assuming an evil person must be equally evil to all people. Lets look at cats for a second, a humanoid who did the things a cat does (torture and kill smaller weaker beings for no purpose beyond their own amusement) would be evil, and yet mommy cats love their kittens. Cats love killing things and yet cats rarely kill each.

    A virtue could even be the source of their evil they love their family so much that they will do ANYTHING to protect it. Oh its winter and every one is hungry well then I think we should march over to our neighbors kill them and feed them to our children our child suffer matters more than our neighbors lives. Oh this other community might someday pose a potential threat to ours we should preemptively destroy them because even a small risk to our children is worth more than their entire lives. Think how many parents wouldn't hesitate to kill a snake if they saw it near their child. the mere threat that the snake might harm their child is more important than the snakes life.

    Evil and good do not have equal weight, you eat one baby and then suddenly that's all any one can talk about.

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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    your making a common mistake of assuming an evil person must be equally evil to all people. Lets look at cats for a second, a humanoid who did the things a cat does (torture and kill smaller weaker beings for no purpose beyond their own amusement) would be evil, and yet mommy cats love their kittens. Cats love killing things and yet cats rarely kill each.

    A virtue could even be the source of their evil they love their family so much that they will do ANYTHING to protect it. Oh its winter and every one is hungry well then I think we should march over to our neighbors kill them and feed them to our children our child suffer matters more than our neighbors lives. Oh this other community might someday pose a potential threat to ours we should preemptively destroy them because even a small risk to our children is worth more than their entire lives. Think how many parents wouldn't hesitate to kill a snake if they saw it near their child. the mere threat that the snake might harm their child is more important than the snakes life.

    Evil and good do not have equal weight, you eat one baby and then suddenly that's all any one can talk about.
    Okay, but now we're talking about relative evil, not objective evil. If orcs are kind and loving and socially-oriented, just not towards anything that isn't an orc, then they're not wholly evil. And quite frankly, outsiders could see that too. Said outsider might always be on the receiving end of a pointy stick, but they could still see that orcs love their children, respect their spouses, and create great philosophy...just not with any non-orc.

    These orcs aren't evil, they just have some weird biological rage trigger that happens whenever they smell a non-orc humanoid. Or whatever.
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Team Bad guy being a created or corrupted race is a staple of fantasy. And horror. And a couple of other genres. And it's a useful GM tool. There's nothing wrong with it, and the majority of players immediately get it. There's also nothing wrong with not wanting to use it and making all of your Team Bad Guys and Team Good Guys up from all races equally. Or whatever works for you,
    Agreed. Despite not wanting them myself, I know they are a useful tool. Although you can do it easily by having them choosing to be evil OR not having them be moral agents rather than having them be evil.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Clearly this is a problematic viewpoint, that ignores the feelings and past persecution of left hand folks everywhere.
    This was funny.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    There's something missing from this, at least in some fantasy games and settings. Malign deific influence.
    Most moral systems would blame the moral agent for their actions. So if a malevolent deity chose to do some evil, then the deity is evil. If their mind slave followed the mind control commands of the malevolent deity, then the deity is evil. If the mortal has the moral agency to be responsible for their own moral choices, then they have a choice to do evil or to not do evil.

    So malign deific influence is already accounted for. The Malevolent deity has a bunch of amoral mind slaves. This becomes even more clear if you realize malign deific influence can be sudden or temporary. Maybe the deity mentally enslaves the PCs. Are the PCs evil while they have no moral agency? No, the malevolent deity is evil.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Or possibly a spontaneously arise from spores, with the biggest baddest and most brutal generating the most spores for the next generation.
    Hehe. Need more dakka!
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2021-07-21 at 11:20 PM.

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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Samoja1 View Post
    Ok, let me amend that. There should not be any inherently evil races in any good setting, unless you are intentionally going for the grimdark vibe. In essence if humans, elves and dwarves can be of any allignment then the same should be true of Orcs, Goblinoids, minotaurs and all the rest.
    Why? There is no metatextual reason for this to follow. I can do inherently evil beings without a whole setting being grimdark, in fact I can do inherently good beings in a grimdark setting. Some creatures being morally varied does not necessitate all creatures being morally varied. It does not create any kind of imperative for them to be more varied.

    ---

    Quote Originally Posted by Samoja1
    There is really no reason why some tribe of orcs somewhere could not figure out they are better off trading with a nearby human settlements rather then raiding them unless some outside force is keeping them evil trough magical means, but then why do evil gods get that ability and not good ones?

    No race could survive if they can't cooperate with each other, and once you have that concept extending it to others is not such a huge stretch. While sure, some races may thrend towards one end or the other it should never be all encompassing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chauncymancer View Post
    My object level problem with always evil creatures is that I don't actually understand how they have cultures at all.
    Like, I want you to go back to the very beginning here: We've either got Orkam and Orkeve, or we've got a half-dozen proto-orks. They don't have a society, so they have no societal pressure to maintain families. They don't have to worry about playing complex status games, because they only have like four neighbors.
    Given the complete lack of empathy that an intrinsically Evil being would have, why doesn't this story end with "They had several children and, finding their crying annoying, abandoned them to die of exposure. Eighty years later the orks had gone extinct. The End."
    These are your failure of imagination more than anything. And in case of orcs, failure to read the rules.

    A short history lesson: in 1st Edition AD&D, orcs were Lawful Evil. Lawful is defined as placing groups over individuality. Orcs were extreme xenophobes, hating everyone who were not orcs... but they could co-operate with other orcs just fine. They could also be coerced into co-operating with non-orcs by force, because orcs don't want orcs as a group to die. So if a dark lord could threaten survival of orcs, they would rather run towards a softer target, like poorly defended human farmland.

    In Tolkien's Middle-Earth, orcs were not natural creations at all, they were abducted and corrupted from good creatures by Morgoth. Now, Tolkien himself didn't nail down the exact origin of orcs, precisely because the notion of inherently evil creatures clashed with his own notions of free will and ideas of evil being unable to create - technically, orcs in Arda are redeemable, their redemption is just beyond human means. (Yes, this mean we were an inch away from having good orcs in the codifying work of modern orcs.)

    Other works since then have mucked about with thr concept of orcs, to the point that there is no true unified concept of an orc anymore - and the same can be said of pretty much every other popular fantasy creature. They are empty symbols, shapes people instill with whatever meaning they want. The map is the territory; what matters for plausibility of any such creature is how they are portrayed in a specific work, not how they are portrayed in other works. Sure, some D&D settings have poorly thought-out always-chaotic-evil orcs, or other such thing that makes no damn sense - so what? An author used a trope poorly. Maybe you can't understand or imagine how it could be used well. Doesn't matter - it creates no imperative on how that trope should be used.
    Last edited by Vahnavoi; 2021-07-21 at 11:39 PM.

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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    For this i'd point to the various examples of animals living with other animals. If you take in a wolf pup and raise it like a dog around other dogs, then while it will likely be more aggressive and potentually dangerous, it's general personality or attitude would probably be closer to that of Dogs rather then Wolves. There's a cat out there that walks like a horse because it was the only cat raised in a barn full of horses, Cats themselves only Meow because they live with humans, wild cats communicate with noises humans can't hear.

    so yes, you might have a person who is biologically built to be what humans would describe as a psychopath, but if raised in a human society, they would still be fully capable of living normal lives, morso if their particular needs are adjusted for, such as people understanding that this person needs their privacy respected. Likewise, the individual would likely learn from growing up around humans how to at the very least feign social norms and control any violent urges. Psychopaths and Sociopaths are completely capable of living normal lives, someone you know could be one and you might never know it.

    A good example would be to look at people on the Autistic spectrum. Many of them inherently have trouble making eye contact with people, finding it uncomfortable, rude, aggressive, or just unnecessary. As they grow though, many learn that eye contact is expected when communicating with people, and either consciously or subconsciously, end up forcing themselves to make eye contact when speaking to people.
    Well, yes, there's clearly a nurture component too, but that doesn't in any way invalidate the existence of a nature component. If we have Species A with a standard predisposition for dark triad psychological traits and Species B with a 10x higher predisposition for the same traits (a bit extreme, but by no means impossible) and we have 1000 children from each species raised by members of Species C and then score them accordingly to a culturally blind morality scale when they hit middle age there will be two different distributions. Both will probably range from saintly to abominable, but the distribution curve of Species B will probably be heavily 'evil-shifted' compared to that of species A.

    So really it's a question of just how far you have to push the psychological variation to produce an 'evil-aligned' species in terms of a universal moral system, which really depends more on how you define evil than anything else. Depending on how you do this an 'evil' species may need to be cartoonishly over-the-top to the point of verisimilitude breaking self-destructiveness (fantasy authors tend to be bad at math and I've seen many fantasy species and cultures that are violent to a degree far beyond sustainability). However, it's certainly possible to create a species that is considerably more 'evil' than Homo sapiens, and at the same time one that is less 'evil' due to being less aggressive, more cooperative, etc. Such species have a long history of getting brutally abused by humans in science fiction, to the point that there's a whole set of theories about how the meanest shall inherit the galaxy (and a corollary that humans should avoid trying to find alien civilizations for precisely this reason).
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Or, to paraphrase, there's a long and honorable tradition of works where humans are inherently evil.

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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    The problem isn't with evil races, it's with the fact that the books generally tell rather than show, and when they do show they often show something that looks more cultural than like an intrinsic leaning. The problem is also with the fact that the cutoff for evil doesn't seem consistent; lizardfolk are consistently depicted as maneating killers yet somehow are neutral.

    A bigger problem is with people not reading the alignment entries properly. More often than not the entries people take exception with say "often evil" or "usually evil", NOT "always evil". Unlike "always evil", "often evil" and "usually evil" are consistent with it being a cultural thing and don't really require the further explanation a lot of people demand.

    The biggest problem however is the game's incorrect usage of the word "race" to mean "species". None of this would be an issue if they didn't use a politically charged word incorrectly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    Well, yes, there's clearly a nurture component too, but that doesn't in any way invalidate the existence of a nature component. If we have Species A with a standard predisposition for dark triad psychological traits and Species B with a 10x higher predisposition for the same traits (a bit extreme, but by no means impossible) and we have 1000 children from each species raised by members of Species C and then score them accordingly to a culturally blind morality scale when they hit middle age there will be two different distributions. Both will probably range from saintly to abominable, but the distribution curve of Species B will probably be heavily 'evil-shifted' compared to that of species A.
    I really like this explanation and I like that you've covered some angles that I didn't get to
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2021-07-22 at 12:00 AM.

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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    The problem isn't with evil races, it's with the fact that the books generally tell rather than show, and when they do show they often show something that looks more cultural than like an intrinsic leaning.
    This is basically it, right here.

    The 'evil' races in D&D never act like they're actual beings of inherent racial good or evil. Even the fiends and celestials. You seriously cannot turn a corner in the lore without bumping into a gaggle of redeemed devils or fallen angels. It's not even just a "once or twice" thing. They're bloody all over the place.

    So when in those same settings where those things are well-established canon people suddenly start saying "hey that entire species is inherently evil and you should kill their babies on sight" it tends to raise some eyebrows, because people know that members of that species include characters like, say, Falls-From-Grace.
    Last edited by LudicSavant; 2021-07-22 at 12:19 AM.
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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    The terms used aren't politically charged by themselves, they've become politically charged due to relentless equivocation. The use of word "race" in D&D comes from old-timey saying such as "the race of men", codified for modern fantasy by Tolkien. Taking issue with it is equivalent to complaining about using "men" to refer to all humans. That is, the complaint is based on not even using the same language - the characters may be the same and the vocalization may be the same, but the meaning was and is different. It's thinking like a censor bot, which won't let you call Richard **** or rooster a ****, or which pointlessly censors transliterations of many common Japenese words and phrases which happen to have "****-" as part of them.

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    Default Re: There should be no evil alligned races

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    The terms used aren't politically charged by themselves, they've become politically charged due to relentless equivocation. The use of word "race" in D&D comes from old-timey saying such as "the race of men", codified for modern fantasy by Tolkien. Taking issue with it is equivalent to complaining about using "men" to refer to all humans. That is, the complaint is based on not even using the same language - the characters may be the same and the vocalization may be the same, but the meaning was and is different. It's thinking like a censor bot, which won't let you call Richard **** or rooster a ****, or which pointlessly censors transliterations of many common Japenese words and phrases which happen to have "****-" as part of them.
    Thing is, using "race" in the way Tolkien did was old-timey even in the mid-1970s and it's incredibly outdated now. D&D should have changed the labeling to species long ago, at least as early as 3e. It's not like they aren't capable of doing so in other properties, characters in WotC licensed Star Wars have Species and Class rather than Race and Class.

    The 'evil' races in D&D never act like they're actual beings of inherent racial good or evil. Even the fiends and celestials. You seriously cannot turn a corner in the lore without bumping into a gaggle of redeemed devils or fallen angels. It's not even just a "once or twice" thing. They're bloody all over the place.

    So when in those same settings where those things are well-established canon people suddenly start saying "hey that entire species is inherently evil and you should kill their babies on sight" it tends to raise some eyebrows, because people know that members of that species include characters like, say, Falls-From-Grace.
    Writing interesting stories in homogenous environments skewed to moral extremes is extremely difficult to do well. Stories in which absolutely everyone is evil degenerate into endless backstabbing between a group of totally unsympathetic monsters while stories in which everyone is a moral paragon are bland and boring. This is why every evil society story has at least one decent character to serve as an audience proxy and why every team of world-saving heroes includes at least one jerkface antihero or edgy rival (and this character is often far more compelling than the protagonist).

    Consequently most 'always evil' groups are actually rather uninteresting and mostly serve as cannon fodder antagonists. The Trollocs from Wheel of Time, for example, which are just reskinned Orcs anyway, are living bioweapons and inherently tainted by the Dark One's touch. There aren't any redeemed Trollocs in the story, but at the same time there are barely any speaking Trollocs, they're just something for the good guys to smash. The minute some evil group becomes interesting enough to write a story about it, it almost inevitably acquires some measure of nuance. A well-known example is Boba Fett: he appears in the original Star Wars films entirely as a heartless mercenary thug, and yet because he had one of the coolest character designs in the history of cinema he became the progenitor of countless stories and spawned an entire fictional culture based on explaining who he was and where he came from.
    Last edited by Mechalich; 2021-07-22 at 12:40 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Weird. Thats a lot of extra hoops to feel no guilt over things that don't exist.
    Ah, but they do - in a person's mind. That's at the core of this whole discussion, really. The activity of roleplaying asks you to imagine a human-like creature. Humans - real humans, the players engaged in the activity - tend to be averse to killing other humans. So if they accurately imagine another human, they will feel guilty of imaginary violence - just like they might feel guilty of imaginary violence towards a real person. So to avert that, the image has to be inaccurate or distorted in some way: you must imagine an enemy, not a human.

    It's not an extra hoop - it's part of the process.

    You can reach the same end result of dehumanizing your imagined human, by actively reminding yourself that it's not real. But that's not a hoop less. You still need to imagine the creature and the reason why killing it is okay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    Thing is, using "race" in the way Tolkien did was old-timey even in the mid-1970s and it's incredibly outdated now. D&D should have changed the labeling to species long ago, at least as early as 3e. It's not like they aren't capable of doing so in other properties, characters in WotC licensed Star Wars have Species and Class rather than Race and Class.
    Tolkien was a linguist, he was using old-fashioned language quite deliberately to invoke the feel of an ancient era of myth, and the same justification can be extended to fantasy at large. The iconic setting ideas of D&D are pre-modern, hence it has both intentional and unintentional elements of a period piece, including archaic use of language.

    That WotC is perfectly capable of using different language for sci-fi games is part of the same deal. They use species, because it fits in the temporal framework of the setting being modeled.

    Can there be legitimate reasons to adjust terminology for clarity? Yes. Appealing to people who think like censor bots isn't. Semantic confusion isn't a force of nature that is immune to human action, you can just tell people engaged in equivocation that they're doing just that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    Ah, but they do - in a person's mind. That's at the core of this whole discussion, really. The activity of roleplaying asks you to imagine a human-like creature. Humans - real humans, the players engaged in the activity - tend to be averse to killing other humans. So if they accurately imagine another human, they will feel guilty of imaginary violence - just like they might feel guilty of imaginary violence towards a real person. So to avert that, the image has to be inaccurate or distorted in some way: you must imagine an enemy, not a human.

    It's not an extra hoop - it's part of the process.

    You can reach the same end result of dehumanizing your imagined human, by actively reminding yourself that it's not real. But that's not a hoop less. You still need to imagine the creature and the reason why killing it is okay.
    If that's a necessary process, what about all the games where players kill dozens of humans (or close enough copies)? Are they inherently less immersive because players have to keep reminding themselves that they aren't killing real people?

    Now, I'm not saying (literally) dehumanizing an enemy can't make it easier to kill them, it's certainly happened enough in real life. But I've never met a player who seems more troubled about killing a group of human bandits than a group of orc bandits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Make one of them 16 years old who begs for their life and that'll probably change.

    Of course, they might do the same for a 12 year old Orc that did the same.
    Sure, I agree that humanizing (or dehumanizing) through behavior is probably more efficient than doing it through species. Overhearing a pair of guards planning their weekend or bitching about their boss probably makes it at least a little harder to kill them, whether orc or human.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    Sure, I agree that humanizing (or dehumanizing) through behavior is probably more efficient than doing it through species. Overhearing a pair of guards planning their weekend or bitching about their boss probably makes it at least a little harder to kill them, whether orc or human.
    Conversely, if those same guards are known bandits who target the weak and innocent, it will be easier for the players to kill them. Not so much because it dehumanizes them, but because it provides the players with a position of moral security and superiority from which their (fictional) actions feel justified.

    I think that this is a distinction that is worth making there, between the dehumanization of imagined enemies and the providing of moral backing. They each ease the less enjoyable parts of the fantasy of heroic violence, albeit in subtly different ways. The former targets a more visceral opposition to killing other humans, while the latter obviously revolves around the moral concerns.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    You don't win people over by beating them with facts until they surrender; at best all you've got is a conversion under duress, and at worst you've actively made an enemy of your position.

    You don't convince by proving someone wrong. You convince by showing them a better way to be right. The difference may seem subtle or semantic, but I assure you it matters a lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theoboldi View Post
    Conversely, if those same guards are known bandits who target the weak and innocent, it will be easier for the players to kill them. Not so much because it dehumanizes them, but because it provides the players with a position of moral security and superiority from which their (fictional) actions feel justified.

    I think that this is a distinction that is worth making there, between the dehumanization of imagined enemies and the providing of moral backing. They each ease the less enjoyable parts of the fantasy of heroic violence, albeit in subtly different ways. The former targets a more visceral opposition to killing other humans, while the latter obviously revolves around the moral concerns.
    Or just have the conversation happen to be about how they beat their wife/slaves/kids at home and their preferred methods of doing so. just because they're guards doesn't mean they have a functional home life.

    if the players start questioning why they keep running into these kind of people, maybe ask them back why a GM has to do this constantly so they don't feel guilty.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Or just have the conversation happen to be about how they beat their wife/slaves/kids at home and their preferred methods of doing so. just because they're guards doesn't mean they have a functional home life.

    if the players start questioning why they keep running into these kind of people, maybe ask them back why a GM has to do this constantly so they don't feel guilty.
    I don't know what you are trying to say here, Raziere. That people who have a harder time dissociating the negative aspects of their fantasy of personal power and violence should not be allowed to explore that fantasy at all in a safe context?

    Besides, you are not at all engaging with the split I just pointed out as important. The bandits beating their wives does nothing to dehumanize them. In fact, it just brings to mind actual human suffering, which may be just as painful for some people as the idea of creating a dehumanized group of villains.
    Last edited by Theoboldi; 2021-07-22 at 02:55 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    You don't win people over by beating them with facts until they surrender; at best all you've got is a conversion under duress, and at worst you've actively made an enemy of your position.

    You don't convince by proving someone wrong. You convince by showing them a better way to be right. The difference may seem subtle or semantic, but I assure you it matters a lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theoboldi View Post
    I don't know what you are trying to say here, Raziere. That people who have a harder time dissociating the negative aspects of their fantasy of personal power and violence should not be allowed to explore that fantasy at all in a safe context?

    Besides, you are not at all engaging with the split I just pointed out as important. The bandits beating their wives does nothing to dehumanize them. In fact, it just brings to mind actual human suffering, which may be just as painful for some people as the idea of creating a dehumanized group of villains.
    I was simply demonstrating how human guards can be portrayed in a way that makes them villains without dehumanizing them to make a player be fine with killing them. If thats the case your making, this isn't a problem that can be solved, what your talking about is picking your poison:

    DnD Always Evil Races: themes of colonialism, tribal stereotypes, imperialism, and dehumanizing entire cultures

    Always grey Morality: someone you kill will inevitably be innocent, a good person or not deserve it just because they're on the other side.

    Star Wars morality: "but the Stormtroopers might have families at home!"

    Cyberpunk: "But all those people at the corporations are just office workers trying to feed their families"

    and so on and so forth. there is no objective "safe context" just preferences and disagreements. what is safe for one isn't for someone else, so your attempt at safety for all is doomed to failure. Me, I know what I want. I want to play monstrous races. I don't want to deal with your "struggling against inner nature" nonsense that is nonsense to me. and what I want is what I value over what you claim always evil races does. I'm not going to change my preferences for someone else's personal problems from some out of game reasons. Roleplaying is not by itself, therapy. There is no reason to change them. Furthermore every time a "safe space" is mentioned it involves more discussion about this stuff than not. More invitation for the questions to come in by trying to stop them, just like alignment.
    Last edited by Lord Raziere; 2021-07-22 at 03:32 AM.
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