Watch this Tolkien expert's master class on every race in Middle Earth

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i’ve listened to his podcasts for many years – highly recommended. i still disagree with him about balrogs and wings, but he is very persuasive in that argument as well.




Please: it’s Tolkien!

As someone whose mother tongue makes a very clear distinction in pronunciation between the ie and ei digraphs this is painful to me.

As it is, I suppose, to @FGD135 for the same reason.

I literally read the title of this post as Tolk-aye-n in my head.


What, you’ve never enjoyed the work of R. R. J. Tolkein? Lord of the Grins is an epic story of dental adventure.


Nearly 40 minutes so long, so not watched it, but is just about humans vs hobbits vs elves vs dwarves etc., or does it delve into the much dodgier racial subdivisions among Tolkien’s humans – i.e. the tall, pale, grey-eyed Dúnedain and the tall, pale, blonde Rohirrim on the side of Good, vs the “swarthy” Dunlendings and the straight-up Black Southrons on the side of Evil?

Oh - interesting, but first a break for second breakfast.

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Tolkien used “race” in several different ways – “Dwarves are a race apart”, etc. which is probably why role-playing games call elves, dwarves, and humans “races” rather than something like “species”, but then he talks about things like “Durin’s race” implying that there are ethnic distinctions within dwarves. Plus, as you mention the various groups of humans – “the race of Numenor”, “the race of Gondor”, etc.


A good rundown of the main events in the mythology, too. Though I don’t agree with his statement that Tom Bombadil is “clearly” one of the Ainur, considering that Tolkien himself referred to Bombadil as an intentional enigma.


One thing I’ve been wondering about for awhile now is how Robert Plant met a girl so fair in the darkest depths of mordor.

What was she doing there? How did she get there?

One does not simply walk into mordor.


Was it here on BB that I read that WotC is considering changing the word “race” in D&D to avoid reinforcing the idea of monsters being stand-ins for racist stereotypes?

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BB may indeed have written about it, but I can’t find an article. But yes, WotC is indeed planning to phase out the use of “race” to mean clearly different beings like humans, orcs, and elves.

[Edit: Or maybe not entirely getting rid of it; it’s unclear]

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I think so. Maybe in the good/encouraging stuff thread?

(Boing Boing is my sole source of information regarding D&D, and I remember reading about this.)

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Um, I had to read that headline several times to be sure it wasn’t referring to Aryans.

Note to headline writers: try to avoid using “master” and “race” in the same headline if at all possible.


Yeah, this article makes me anxious. I hope they’re of a clearer mind than the article lays out, because it looks like a lile of inconsistencies about what problem they’re trying to solve. To be clear something needs to change. What direction the change goes is remains to be seen.

I’m 100% onboard with removing the word “race” and think that’s a no brainer, in order to separate the idea of “humanoid monsters” from the idea of “The social construct of humans grouped by phenotypical categories and/or ancestry.”

Where it gets sticky for me is where they in the same breath talk about “reviving the reputation of Orcs” I mean, you either have to completely demolish the idea that orcs are a stand in for “primitive/ human cultures” or not. If you try to just make orcs nicer, smarter, more fully human, you’re actually reinforcing the idea that they are a subset of humans. I only watched trailers for Bright, but woof, that seemed to be going whole-hog “orcs are Black People but it’s ok, they’re just misunderstood.”

It reminds me of the problem with Zootopia’s mushy line between species and race. The fox gets offended that the bunny calls back to when predators ate prey animals as if it’s a racial stereotype, except in their case it’s actually true. It changes the message from “racism is based on lies perpetuated by the powerful” to “well, yes, the races are different and some were more primitive, but yadda-yadda, white man’s burden, we straightened all that out, so it’s impolite to talk about now.”

Of course, having white elves good/black elves bad is just bullshit, but again, that’s phenotype/cultural groups within a species so does seem capitla R racist. Also I do agree that the writing about Orcs reads like a imperialist explorer describing natives, and that needs to change, but it seems like quite a tightrope to me.

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