Racial traits in D&D are pretty problematic. "Ancestry & Culture" is a great homebrew solution

It’s not quite that simple

There are also many viable cross species parings, such as Felis Sylvestris and Felis Catus (both are descended from Felis Lybica but diverged over 100,000 years apart).

Sometimes it seems that animals are different species simply because some humans decided they were.


From 2017



Memories! Slight derai. I had that amazon with a lazer gun way back when. As I didn’t play Fantasy Battles which was much closer to a skirmish game I had no idea where it came from just that it was cool. I even painted it in the same punk styling.


There are some aspects where it’s good to say “This creature just will not think or act the same way as a human.” Humans are terrestrial, highly social, and have long childhoods with plenty of adult (usually parental) care. Hobbits and Elves and Dwarves and others will all have this in common. But an aquatic creature that starts off a tiny, free-floating, self-raised beastie will be different on very fundamental levels. It would be poor gaming and poor biology to expect them to be “We’re all basically human.”

I’m currently playing in a campaign under Sandy Petersen’s CoC 5e rules as one of those aquatic critters, so it’s a challenge to remember that the species I’m playing has radically different physical and neurological organization and a very different motivational structure than a neotonous ape. It’s not racist or bigoted or neo-colonial to do so. If there were octopodes with high enough levels of intelligence (however you measure them) it would be humanocentric, vertebrocentric, terrestriocentric to force them into a human mold with human reactions.


They are so far above us that “Good” and “Evil” don’t apply

Speaking of RPGs, I’m considering restarting my online Banestorm game.

Anyone interested in playing? No rules knowledge required, but you do need to be willing to reply to posts within a day or so.


Maybe? It sounds really interesting, but I’m not sure if I can keep up at this point.


D&D it’s a game, that for some reason tends to be overanalysed by some of their players.
Luckily for me I always had DM that were totally relaxed about it and the most important thing was that to have a fresh supply of beer nearby, but is some case there was a lot of rule reading and bureaucracy added and an attitude to split the hair in half.
I don’t like to “play” in that setting. But some people like it.

You’d like to change the rules to character building? Go for it! But don’t feel offended if I prefer the classical version or even a nice game of chess.

There are a lot of RPG with different settings and different game mechanics, and I think everybody is free to play what they like more.

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Honestly, I don’t really see that as a huge sticking point. DnD is obviously based on early mediaeval European societies (as mediated through Tolkien, who was, of course, an Anglo-Saxonist). And in these societies culture would have been pretty monolithic as well. There were class distinctions but if you were born an aristocrat you would have expected to be raised as a warrior whether you were in Mercian England or Merovingian “Gaul”. Similarly, if you were a peasant your life and future would have looked very similar in either region.

DnD campaigns generally stay in a fairly small area of the world, so it would make sense that the elves and dwarves (and humans) of that area would all be culturally similar. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t elves elsewhere that would be more alien to local elves than the local dwarves would be.

This is the real sticking point that needs addressing, really.


Yeah, the old Games Workshop was good for Shaking Things Up, really. Moving fantasy role-playing out of the casual racism and sexism of (for example) Robert E. Howard’s tales into something more thought-provoking. I was saddened when White Dwarf went from being a magazine for all RPG’s to a pure Warhammer support thingy, as they had some really, really good Traveller and Call of Cthulhu articles back in the day.


recent post on twitter:


Well, that’s just Tolkien’s Englishness coming out. The east is the continent and that’s bad…

(seriously, though, it’s probably a reflection of early medieval tropes (and real history) of hunnic invasion more than anything. There is a reason the Huns are a big deal in everything from the Nibelungenlied/Völsunga saga to (indirectly) the Rök stone. As you can probably appreciate (I don’t know how your scholarly education is when it comes to the early middle ages) Tolkien drew on actual stories a lot more than most people realise. Pretty much everything he wrote, from individual names to general storylines and themes, can be traced back to early medieval literature and history from different European cultures. And DnD, of course, is heavily based on Tolkien, no matter how much WotC protest.)

Which of course doesn’t mean I want to diminish the need to find ways of telling stories in DnD and elsewhere that do not have a basis in racism


Not above. Outside. I’m not a big fan of “above” being an excuse; if there’s a god who wants us all to be obey them, they’d better uphold the highest standards for themselves, no matter how powerful they are, otherwise they’re evil. Outer gods are more like the extreme version of the blue and orange morality trope, if they have minds and goals at all.

Plenty of recognized species can interbreed and produce viable offspring. That doesn’t mean they aren’t really different species or are members of a “ring species”. Species (in the animal sense) are defined as populations that tend to only interbreed among themselves. But that says nothing about what they can do. Dogs, wolves, and coyotes are three different species and they really have different gene pools. And yet they can all interbreed.

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If there aren’t cultural traits that distinguish one race/species from another, then all characters will wind up being humans with slightly different facial features.

Luckily nobody is saying there shouldn’t be any cultural traits. Just that the implicit or explicit hierarchies might be a problem.


Dragon #44 (1980) has a an article on dungeons and dragons “genetics”.

It contains much that is indefensible,

One of the articles draws from Gygax’s speculations on the Half-Ogre (1979) "(THE HALF-OGRE, SMITING HIM HIP AND THIGH), p 12-13

I remember they even had an in magazine adventure for Paranoia that found a way to include Daleks and Mexican Cantina bars.


I don’t think anyone still here is, it’s more the “POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD!!!” crowd who are offended about the existence of alternative views.

But let’s not argue about this, we’ve already had the thread closed and cleaned up once.