No, I’m not talking about black vs. white… I’m talking about Orc vs. Elf and Human vs. Demi-Human. (Not a word used a lot anymore)
In our modern society if you wish to discriminate against somebody for their race, you can expect: lawsuits, packs of activists slapping together cardboard signs, a multi-media blitz pointing out your judgmental immoral ways, coverage on a plethora 24hr news stations showing what a hated jerk you are, inside of 24hrs you will be one of the most hated people in the country.
In a medieval society, if Frank’s dad was killed by an elf, and Frank goes around telling the whole society about the evil dangerous hated elves, chances are when that rare elf walks into the human village (even years after frank’s death) he’s likely going to get lynched. People simply didn’t move around so much, the wilderness was a dangerous place, news from other villages, cities and nations might take years to reach most settlements, not to mention the isolated ones.
Humans in the D&D realm live in a precarious position, they don’t really have a place to call their own and live under constant assault by things not human. Elves have their sacred woods and the magical high elf cities, Dwarves live in mountains or hill keeps, Halflings make their homes near settlements of other powerful races… keeping a low profile (pun intended) but these good races have banded together for their common benefit, they may not like each other but they learn to get along… maybe even going so far as to allow a few individuals from other races live in their cities…
But what about those evil and weird races… Orks live for battle, setting up war camps anywhere raiding everywhere, the true scourge of the fantasy realm. Drow live in the underdark and raid the sunlit lands in the dead of night committing assassinations and kidnappings for slaves and sacrifice. I won’t even go into all the other races; warforged, dragonkin, lizardmen or whatever else may walk, slither, roll, or fly.
That’s why I can’t understand how three Drow, and a few Orks might just walk up to the gates of a human settlement and say “Hi, were here to trade” and receive a “Come right in kind sirs” as a reply.
In our games, if you wanted to run a Minotaur or any other monster race you expected to hide in the forest when the rest of the party went to town, because otherwise at best you would be followed around by guards, baited, possibly imprisoned… At worst, mobs of angry townsfolk with torches and pitchforks… you want to play a monster, fine, your going to be treated like a monster.
How does it work in other people’s worlds and can somebody explain to me how a woman raising a child in this setting would explain to her daughter “Yes, Mr. Gorestomp is an Ork bred for battle and war, the enemy of all good beings, one of the races of beings that have been attacking this kingdom and slaughtering or enslaving its people for generations untold, but he’s also really nice and bakes wonderful pies”