D & D got woke and that's good because you should have all been playing that way (or not if you didn't prefer))

Redcloak’s a goblin. I think the OotS orcs on the tropical island were purple. [Edit: Nope, also green; I shoulda guessed that since both Thog and Therkla were green]

I think this is a little unfair towards Gygax. I didn’t know the man, a lot of people have said he could be an ass, but at the time he and others were writing D&D, there wasn’t a lot of critical examination of fantasy literature as it relates to racism. Nor was there a big push towards diversity or inclusion. If you’re going to make the claim that Gygax was racist, do you have evidence besides D&D?

If this is how you judge the influence of racism in society and on cultural artifacts, then it’s clear you don’t know what racism is.

As I said in my reply to DrD above, this is not how one judges the influence of racism in cultural artifacts. No one is under the obligation to prove that Gygax was a racist, any more than every American was at the time. Nothing in this conversation requires that.

When I say someone is racist, I very rarely mean that they are natives of the elemental plane of white supremacy. Rather, I mean that in a specific instance, they have engaged in a racist act, or expressed a racist belief.

So when I say that Gygax is racist, I’m not saying that you can use that to predict everything about his life. I’m not saying he owned a Klan hood or attended lynchings or told racist jokes around the water cooler or called Barack Obama “articulate.” I’m saying that when he described orcs, he described them in a racist fashion. And I think that racism shows up in various other places in the work I’m familiar with from him.

I also thought “goblin” and “orc” were interchangeable terms for the same critter. In The Hobbit, Bolg, son of Azog was a goblin chieftain (who succeeded his father when Dain slew him, so presumably the same species). And in the appendices for ROTK, Azog was an orc chieftain.

Also, where did Peter Jackson get the idea that orcs sprang fully grown from Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style pods? If that was the case, what were those little guys Gollum used to snack on?

Not in D&D. They’re two different things: orcs being larger and stronger.

I think we have to look beyond the narrow issue of skin color.

Old school D&D created a system in which some races were explicitly described as being inherently evil. If that’s not racism, I don’t know how you can define the term.

Gygax was indeed sexist. Not surprising for a 70s nerd I would think. Probably still mostly true until very recently. But I don’t think he was really racist just unaware.

Racist and sexist are two different things. The game was overwhelmingly male nerds when I started I started near the beginning. And yes, most of us were white or maybe Asian. But we had black players too. Where as a girl playing was practically a Unicorn. Extremely rare back then. Probably got way too much attention from the nerds and from the bigger asshole nerds, probably nasty attention.

Black players were just players. Nothing that out of the ordinary. Orcs weren’t stereotypes, they were for no apparent reason piggish. Maybe later they took on a different vibe? But I stayed 1st Ed until 5e basically.

Metal bikinis was less about appropriate gear and more about teen guys being well pretty much gross. (I was one of them, I admit it).

I realize this isn’t Great Debates, but if you assert someone is a racist it’s on you to prove that they are. There’s no need to prove Gygax was a racist when pointing out that the descriptions for orcs line up with certain racist rhetoric though.

Fair enough. You can understand why a lot of people don’t know what you mean when you say someone is racist though, right?

…sure. English needs ser and estar. I was using the latter, not the former.

OK, now explain ser & estar please.

dusts off Spanish degree

Ser is the verb “to be” and describes the permanent nature of a thing. “John is 12 years old. Eliza is a dancer. Gygax is a racist.”

Estar is the verb “to be” and describes a temporary state of things, or behavior. “Eliza is dancing. Joe was in a state of shock. Gygax was being racist.”

Because they misused “races” in D&D which haunts it to this day. Actual “Racism” applies to humans treating other humans as less than equals based on their ethnicity. Orcs, kobolds, elves, kender, gnomes, ogres, etc are not humans. They are imaginary critters with exactly whatever attributes you want to give them. If I say that [Real Ethnic Group] is a bunch of violent thugs and thieves, I am objectively wrong and unfairly labeling the group. If I say that orcs are violent thugs and kender are thieves, I may very well be objectively correct in that game world because orcs and kender, again, don’t exist outside of however we use them as pretend things in our game.

You can use them in racist ways, mainly by having them as stand-ins for real world groups. You could have a character acting racist by saying All Orcs Are Evil in a game where that is objectively false. But simply having Always Evil Orcs isn’t racist in a game where orcs are, in fact, Always Evil. Maybe you want to decry that it’s lame or boring or lazy or whatever but it ain’t racist.

You don’t understand: it’s not that they’re stand-ins for real-world groups, it’s that the attitudes towards them are stand-ins for real world attitudes. Generalization is never right, even when it’s valid, and saying that every member of a race is evil is a bad attitude to have, even if it’s the truth. We shouldn’t encourage people to think that way.

As you note, it’s all a fictional world. It’s not like the D&D idea that orcs are evil is based on some real world observation of orcs.

So the people that developed D&D chose the idea that there are some “groups” (to avoid the use of the word race) who are inherently bad. They’re born that way. It’s just part of their nature.

In the D&D world, it’s orcs and goblins and knolls. But you are sending a message when you say that some groups are inherently bad and people will take that message they learned in D&D and apply it in real world settings. Obviously old school D&D isn’t solely responsible for racism - but it was part of the message that reinforces racism.

Jophiel was the one who set up the strawman requiring every one to prove that “Gygax hated black people.” No one else made such a claim and no one else is obligated to prove it. The work displays evidence of racist attitudes, racist ideology, and being a product of a racist society. That is evident. Beyond that, no one has to prove anything particular about Gygax.

As an aside: One of the more recent D&D characters I played was racist. He was a gnome, who viewed all of the taller races as inherently inferior, and was condescending about it in a Kipling-esque “Short Man’s Burden” way.

Although, he was technically correct when he pointed out that humans and elves tend to be unintelligent, relative to gnomes.

In Independence Day, the aliens are uniformly evil. They are trying to eradicate a sentient race in order to pillage all the resources from our planet. There are no good aliens depicted, they’re all dedicated the the cause. Was Independence Day a racist depiction? In Gremlins, all the gremlins (i.e. converted mowgli) are both intelligent and evil. There’s no friendly gremlins or gremlins saying “Hey, let’s not be like this”, they are all dedicated to malicious mischief. Heck, they even came as substandard or corrupted versions of Gizmo and even the mowgli versions were “off”. Was Gremlins a racist depiction of the gremlins? Is it a bad attitude to say the ID aliens or gremlins are evil? Is it a stand-in for real world racism?

Or is it that sometimes a monster is just a monster? Even if it’s a smart monster?

Uh, you mean someone else. I never said that Gygax hated (or didn’t hate) Black people.