So as part of a group project codenamed U.M.N., I started writing about a meeting between four playable monster races from D&D and the Elves. For notes, the races were kobolds, goblins, orcs, and lizardfolk.
As I thought through the initial concept, I considered them going to the elves to ask for knowledge on magic from the schools of abjuration and divination, but it didn’t sit well with me to write the story in this way. These races surely have some access to magic that did not require them to submit themselves to another race for enlightenment or access. It hit too much like a white savior trope.
So a few edits in, I start looking up the pantheons of these races and if there were pockets among them that chose a path of peace rather than war and destruction as is so common in lore and in games themselves. I started with the goblins.
It took me two hours and the aid of another person to find one good-aligned goblin goddess. Just one. The questions started pouring forth and the answers were just as disappointing.
Where do they go in the afterlife? Where are they represented on the positive planes? Do they learn agriculture? Why do they have minuses to intelligence or minuses at all? Why do any of the monster races do? Why are they all evil and why does a player have to keep in mind that they have a tendency toward evil unless someone out of their race rehabilitates them?
I keep searching for answers and running into even more maddening questions all coming to a head: is this it?
After so many years of dealing with all of the races over so much time, has there been no growth? No evolution? What of their gods? Is every single one of them evil? All of othem?A confused me.
Not even tieflings have to deal with this tendency toward evil as they have representation across all of the alignments in spite of having demonic ancestry in the most direct way possible.
I’m now looking at the orcs. One orc is even remotely peaceful and the only thing said about this orc leader is that he doesn’t war with his neighbors, the elves. We have had forty years with this lore now. Forty. Have we not considered that maybe we could have more nuance by now?
But you can homebrew!Someone who clearly doesn’t know better than to try my patience.
The best we have to offer in terms of the growth and evolution of a race that has existed since the inception of the game – where other races have a full pantheon covering alignments and the ability to choose what futures they might have and what gods they might serve without having to consult external races or cultures – is to tell me that you have to alter and extend the rules of the game and/or subvert the world setting.
That’s the only option.
That’s like saying, “If you don’t like these stock tires that come with your car, build your own car” or “Oh, you want a house to have a large sunroom. Cool. Build your own house with that room in it.”
Like… we don’t have houses that exist with sunrooms? We don’t have the ability to swap out these standard tires for ones that are more to my liking without me having to build it all from scratch?
In the same way… like… do monster races not have a concept of “glory” or “heaven” that would be akin to what Valhalla is for Nordic culture? Is their only hope for the afterlife a god that murders his children? Destroys? Enslaves? Lives in fear and paranoia?
Is there nothing better for these playable races? Nothing? At all?