Unfucking Dungeons & Dragons





The concept of some humanoid or near-humanoid species being
naturally inclined to evil is a racist one, and, unfortunately, a prevalent one
in Dungeons & Dragons, exacerbated by the fact that these “evil species”
are frequently the “ugly” ones. Drow are a particularly glaring example – “made
black because of their ‘evil’”?! Fuck you – but the duergar – “the
slaves … learned only to enslave, really makes you think don’t it” – and
the orcs – “they feel the CALL to evil in their Gruumshy HEARTS” – are also
super not good. (There’s also a fair degree of ableism, with “insane” monsters
– in such cases, I honestly think “unaligned” would be a better description for
“too far gone to understand morality”. Evil implies a choice.)
Honestly, I wouldn’t mind so much if these weren’t supposed
to be naturally-occurring species – always evil demons or fey are fine, because
they’re made of magic and stories, although care should of course
be taken not to make them look like naturally-occurring species – but
elves are really just fragile pointy-eared monkeys, and they have excuses.
However, these evil humanoids are also genre staples and
often quite aesthetically good. To that end, I offer the Unfucking D&D Guide, which provides what I think are solutions to this
problem. (It should be noted that I am whiter than plain yogurt, so my ideas
should be taken with a grain of salt and definitely not take precedence over
the ideas of non-white folks. If I’ve said something fucked-up in this, please
let me know and I’ll fix it.)

  • Duergar. Keep the “enslaved by illithids, made grim
    & psionic” bit, toss the “learnt evil from them” part. The duergar are
    joyless, or can appear so – you can play them either as gloomy and fatalistic
    or as eccentric and unreasonably concerned with “corruption” – but despite
    whatever mood they possess, make sure that they are thoroughly dedicated to
    making sure the horrors of the Underdark stay in the Underdark, and are as
    righteous and honorable as their hill and mountain cousins.
  • Derro. The derro are an “insane” species; I bring
    them up only because I saw them confused with duergar in one post about racism
    in D&D. Their lore has not been constant – the current lore is “dwarves
    enslaved by illithids, tortured into madness, and now they’re eeeeeeeevil”,
    which is ableist, not racist – but their metatextual origin is among the
    detrimental robots, or Deros, of pulp author Richard Sharpe
    Shaver’s stories (or possibly delusions). “Born from the dreams of a mad author” would actually be good lore
    if you can make that author a tragic sufferer of schizophrenia in a time before
    it was understood rather than an ~*~eViL mAdMaN~*~, but in any event, change
    their type to construct, fey, or fiend, and, most importantly, don’t take
    them seriously
    . The derro are pulp villains, and their evil is
    grandiose and nonsensical. They ought not to be seen as realistic; they ought
    to be seen as Snidely Whiplash, Commander Claw, or Heinz Doofenshmirtz. “Reasons”
    are for other genres.
  • Drow. Return drow to their mythical roots as trow,
    nocturnal hunters, tricksters, and magical artisans dwelling in the hollow
    hills. There’s high and wood elves; dark elves can find a niche. Lolthite culture
    is good villain fodder, but make sure that you can handle an “evil religion”,
    and make sure that all types of elves participate.
  • Goblinoids and trolls. Make them fey, and abandon
    Tolkien for Rossetti and folktale. Goblins make cruel bargains; hobgoblins
    attend faerie courts; bugbears hide in closets and create electricity from feed
    on children’s screams; trolls lurk under bridges and love riddles. As fey, they’re
    not evil, simply alien and lacking in empathy towards mortals.
  • Gnolls. If you use the Volo’s lore, change
    their type to fiend and be done with it. If you want to have them be natural
    humanoids, go read Ursula Vernon’s Digger for the best-written
    hyaena-furries in literature and base gnolls off that once you’re done crying.
  • Kobolds. Kobolds are already draconic cleaner wrasses
    in lore; there’s no reason that metallic dragons can’t enjoy them as well and
    influence some populations to good.
  • Illithids. The mind flayers certainly have great
    potential as villains. However, there is nothing about their psychology that
    impels them thither. Their biological requirements could easily be met by
    feeding on those close to death, whom I might imagine would willingly donate
    their brains as food or tadpole incubators in exchange for a painless death and
    the surety that their memories would live on in the illithid. Also, create
    food and water
    spells exist.
  • Ogres. Ogres are wilderness-dwellers who prefer to
    maintain their personal territories through fear instead of actual force of
    arms; the idea of the monstrous, anthropophagous ogre is a deliberate sham.
    They are actually capable of great heroism, even if they aren’t exactly the
    sharpest tools in the shed and okay to be honest I started out trying to build
    up to a Shrek joke but I think I’d take this over canon lore.
  • Orcs. Orcs are an easy fix; all you need to do is
    remove Gruumsh from the equation and they don’t have a bullshit “call to evil”;
    in Eberron, without objective gods, the people of the Shadow Marches believe
    that half-orcs are the proof that orcs and humans are one people, so there’s
    even in-game precedent for orcs as members of society.
  • Yuan-ti. There are two ways to do this. One is to
    dump all the lore and just have sexy snake cults, although don’t dress them
    like Asian or Aztec stereotypes like a lot of the art does. (The 3.5 Monster
    yuan-ti pureblood looks like she’s constantly accompanied by an
    inappropriate bamboo flute riff, I swear to Istus.) A sexy snake cult (and I am
    including malisons, abominations, and anathemas in the term “sexy”, not just
    purebloods) should be fun for everyone.
    • The other way is to keep their personalities and dump
      everything else, because if you keep that, you get truly excellent
      villains. I mean, these fuckers. How dare they drag something as pure as
      snakes into their Ayn Rand bullshit. Villain yuan-ti should be
      something transformed from willing or deluded humanoids (histachii raise
      the sacred snakes and the children of the yuan-ti, who possess their parents’
      original race at birth). Couple that with the fact that since snakes very
      definitely have emotions, yuan-ti logically should as well, which means that
      they only think they’re above emotions. Now you have Objectivists roped
      into a magical pyramid scheme, which should offend no-one who doesn’t deserve
      it. You can mourn for the beings they once were, or just laugh in their dumb
      faces. Also, the sexy ones all look like Ayn Rand.

hey real quick request before i go to bed: reblog this post to spite tumblr user bravestcolour and all their uncritical ilk, who asked me if this post was a joke and who spat back the benefit of the doubt i gave them back in my face

This is right up there with my rant “Tolkien is not your GM.” 

Seriously, stop the concept of “evil Races”. Sure, you can have a race that is mostly evil, but they should be able because of their society, not their “evil heritage”.