Monday, June 29, 2020

Front End Alignment

My car is pulling to the right. Tires have weird wear patterns. My front end is waaaay out of alignment.

Oh... wait. This is about gaming. So it's not that kind of alignment. Sorry.

(Come to think of it, I haven't even thought about front end alignments since I bought my first new car in the 90s. What was it about older cars? My old AMC Spirit was constantly out of alignment.)

Alignment sucks. I said so in this post, and I still mean it. You don't need alignment in D&D games. You might think you do, but actually in fact you absolutely do not. So ditch that shit right now. Of course, as I said in that other post, alignment is actually useful in other iterations of the game, such as DCC RPG. In that game alignment is both fun and useful, unlike in D&D where it is constraining and pointless.

Here's a newsflash: orcs are a racist trope. Indeed, it's true. The arguments for this are pretty solid and I'm certainly convinced. But also... who cares? It's really not a big deal. Orcs are dumb and boring anyway, so fuck 'em. Make your orcs more monstrous, less like Mongol hordes, and maybe that will fix it. I don't know. And I kinda don't care. But yeah... the racist trope allegation does hold water so stop bitching about it.

More importantly is the drow thing. It's quite god damn clear that having your prominent black skinned race of people be inherently evil is kind of a problem. This has been known for decades. Hell's bells, I remember joking about this shit in high school. And that was the 80s, when racism was just How Things Were™. I'm happy that WotC is addressing this problem, and the orc thing as well. It's a net good.

Stop bitching about it. They're trying to sell the game to young people, not our old asses.

TL;DR version:

Alignment in D&D is stupid and boring. Get rid of it. Or use it like DCC uses it.

The orc and drow tropes are kinda racist. Deal with that. You can still use orcs and drow if you want and if anyone tells you that you're being a racist you can say "Fuck off". It's fine. But honestly... orcs are boring so fuck 'em. Let's come up with new stuff.

EDIT: I just learned that Netflix removed the AD&D episode of Community. One of the best episodes! Fuck the bastards. What a dumb, stupid, cynical move.


  1. I never even think about alignment. Rather, my holy characters get tossed out of their order (lose abilities, like turn dead) if they break the code of conduct. Killing, stealing, lying, torturing, etc...I'm putting together a 'wrath of god' table and maybe I'll use that instead of the loss of abilities. Or both. Of course there are redemption quests to be written, so as to regain favor. Then there's the possibility of continuing to play as a fallen priest.

    This is way more fun than Alignment. Bleh.

  2. I always assumed the RACES of D&D, and all fantasy, were racist stereotypes. I mean we have gnomes and dwarven stereotypes all over, that's insensitive at the minimum. The Goblins and Orcs and even Barbarians are 'outsider' stereotypes. I didn't even know the Drow were black, I actually laughed that. What were they thinking? Ha!

    Robert E. Howard tales can be a little...iffy, when it comes to race, but at least we can say it was written by a Texan in the 20's, and lacks real malice, so leeway is given. D&D doesn't really get to have that. Jim Crow era confederate statues don't get a pass either. Jefferson does. I have my limits.

    I guess I always thought of it like wrestling. No Iron Sheik is neither Iron, nor a Sheik. This is all make believe. Is the gimmick racist though, yeah probably, it relies on and perpetuates negative stereotypes. I guess I never saw it as mega hurtful, or maybe I just got used to it. WWE is still doing that shit too, check out Jinder Mahal and Rusev for the 'vile foreigner' gimmick still in play. And The Street Profits for the 'hip hop black guy' gimmick, plus New Day for a toned down version.

    You know what though? Jinder is one of my favorite acts, and The New Day are awesome. So I guess I'm a hypocrite? When I get it all figured out I'll be sure to let everyone know.

    1. Drow are described as having inky black skin or skin the color of the night sky. Which is absolutely fine, of course. But when you couple that with them also being the most prominent evil sentient race in the mythos... that's where the problem comes in. It's all fantasy, and none of it is real. But that's a cop out against engaging with the actual argument. Because To Kill a Mockingbird isn't real either, you know? But it means something. In the end... probably just better to avoid linking dark skin with evil. You lose nothing and gain something. Net win.

    2. Agreed.

      Also, if they change it to orange skin I'm going to laugh.

  3. While I don't agree with you with regards alignment, I definitely agree with you about orcs. They've been done to death. Plus, you won't ever find them in dungeons (in a game called *dungeons* and dragons. or something something dungeon something something). They're always in a warcamp or raiding or something. Not really a ton of versatility.
    I think drow can stay. "Advanced and maybe decadent, maybe underground or associated with night" is something that a lot of dungeons, questlines, and encounters can be based around without feeling boring or out of character. They don't even have to be evil, just decadent and/or underground. But orcs are defined by violence and raiding, so anything that isn't that feels kinda out of character. Plus drow could be colored blue or purple or pale.

    1. The drow problem is solved by simply removing the alignment factor. Either ditch alignment, or don't give races a default alignment. Maybe all races are just neutral. Old School Essentials has a drow race-class in their Advanced Fantasy Genre Rules book. It's very drow, it's very good, and it has no mention of drow being evil. They're just "sky black" elves that live in underground cities.