Question, GMs: Monster Races

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I'm curious on how GMs are handling player characters that are from the monster races in the more 'civilized' parts of LFG.

Example: Minotaur in Suzail, Cormyr.
It depends on the race, location and behavior of the character. Cities like Waterdeep, Baldur's Gate and Westgate are extremely cosmopolitian. The locals might be a bit suspicious about monstrous races with a bad reputation (mostly drow and gnolls - orcs are known to be civilized in some areas and minotaurs are too much of an unknown), but not more so as for any other heavily armed dangerous looking adventurer. Less cosmopolitian areas (e.g. the Dalelands) or under specific circumstances (e.g. gnolls in DALE1-2) are more suspicious on the brink of hostile, warning the PCs to behave and even keeping a permanent eye on them while they are within the city. The same is true for shadar-kai in Cormyr, Luruar and the Dalelands. Shadar-kai are known as a servant race of the Netherese, who are enemies of those regions. What IMO everybody should remember though is that in a world filled with non-human races and where adventurers are both seen as troubleshooters and troublemakers, race is hardly the first thing locals consider. It is especially true when that gnoll is walking right next to a heavily armed dwarf, human in dented black plate with the symbol of Tempus clearly visibile and the half-elf in black robes who seems to dissapear into shadows while walking ;)

In the end, I make sure that any unscripted distrustful behavior towards any PC mostly remains role-playing, does not detract from the actual adventure and does not irritate the players.

Pieter Sleijpen
RPGA LFR Global Administrator
I posted an example in another thread that ended up locked due to other issues. I feel that some mention should be made in particularly obvous places, like Dale1-2 and Gnolls or Netherese, but that we have to leave it at that. In a world that has Drow, Minotaurs, Shadar Kai, Orcs, Gnolls and even the fierce Gnomes as adventurers that people have heard tales of this sort of thing and are unlikely to over react. In a home campaign it could be handled more 'realistically' with stories featuring the problems, but in LFR we don't have the time or space to derail the adventures unless you are playing in a home group with no time limits. As I said in the other post, I leave it to an 'Ahh I have heard of you, you better be careful around here not everyone likes a (Drow, Minotaurs, Shadar Kai, Orcs, Gnolls or Gnomes) here' and leave it at that.
You know, we keep talking about monster racism, but I never hear examples the other way around. I've read a lot of FR literature over time. Elves and dwarves are both known to be distrustful of most other races, ESPECIALLY humans. Halflings are often considered little more than a race of thieves in a number of "cosmopolitan" locations (actually having better reputations in a place like the Dalelands). And many human societies believe that any elf or dwarf that has left his trees or caves (respectively) is just a pompous elitist trying to steal the profession of an honest hard working human. Oh yeah, and lest we forget, half-elves are mongrels.

The non-"monster" races are the target of nearly as much racism as the "monster" races. Yet, DMs seem to conveniently forget this. In my opinion, the majority of DM in-character hostility comes from DMs who dislike new/monster races or who harbor a belief that anyone playing those races is powergaming (and is trying to "punish" those players for that decision).

-SYB
The non-"monster" races are the target of nearly as much racism as the "monster" races. Yet, DMs seem to conveniently forget this.

Elves and dwarves are impolite to each other. Gnolls attack human settlements and eat the inhabitants.

There's a slight difference there.

There is racism between civilized folks. There is "run away in terror, they're going to kill us all" between civilized races and the "monster" races.

Equating the two is a bit problematic.

How PCs who are members of races with an unsavory repuation fit into a campaign is something that needs to be done on a very basic level. The RPGA has abdicated this responsibility.*

Choices have consequences. Just because something is a legal choice does not mean that it loses any drawbacks it may have. If you are, for example, playing a gnoll, you will find many social encounters with humans difficult (and that goes double if you're playing him as a stereotypical gnoll); social encounters with savage races may be much easier, though unfortunately much rarer.

If the choice is between the DM running a module so that it makes sense (a necessity for any meaningful immersion) and running it to accommodate a player's desire to play a monster race despite the module not taking that into account, I think that's a basic failure on the part of the campaign.

-- Brian Gibbons.
*
There are numerous ways that LFR could have included non-standard races into the campaign.

They could have, for example, declared that there existed a large organization (let's call them the Lutists) that was well-respected and known for doing good, which PCs could join, membership automatically conferring legitimacy and acceptance. (Indeed, the campaign would have benefited from using such an organization as an explanation for why we're wandering around Faerun doing missions for random farmers and merchants.)

They could have declared that, in LFR canon, there existed clans of "insert monster race that WOTC's throwing out this month so that people subscribe to Dragon" that were well-known for going against the norm for their race, and all "monster" race PCs belonged to those clans.

They could have eliminated modules in which members of monster races attack you on sight, and abandoned the notion that, if there's a group of members of certain races around, you're supposed to kill them (unless they have the PC flag up).

They could have set the campaign only in locations where race is less important.

They chose not to make any choices. Instead, we're left with FR canon, in a campaign setting that's been turned into "points of light in the darkness" and they decided to let members of the darkness into the campaign, without any explanation or rationale.
In the Moonshae Islands the Eladrin wiped out the humans who lived on one of the largest islands there. There are a number of elf settlements listed that will attack anyone who enter their realms. Many human kingdoms attack and enslave their neighbors. The world is a bit more savage than, oh if he is race from the player handbook he must be ok here in town. You would never have found a group of armed French, German, Moorish, and Australian armed clerics, knights, and wizards wandering around freely in medieval England and it was in much less danger than the Dalelands are in.

I think the organization you referred to exists, not as a group but as a status, they is called adventurers. In a suspicious and hostile world these extremely powerful and uncontrolled beings are allowed to wander from kingdom to kingdom almost completely without any sort of license and kick up all kinds of trouble. They kill without consequence and are a law unto themselves. All kinds of races, all sorts of powers, many very unsavory powers, and all tax free. This is a heroic fantasy game, it isn't realistic on even some of the most basic principles. I remain unconvinced that any King anywhere would allow adventurers to roam about freely. When I play D&D I put all of that aside and accept that it is a fantasy game. If someone wants to play a minotaur I can find it just as easy to swallow as many of the other genre conventions. Be careful when you push on the door marked realism, you may not be able to get it to open to just where you want it to go.
In the Moonshae Islands the Eladrin wiped out the humans who lived on one of the largest islands there. There are a number of elf settlements listed that will attack anyone who enter their realms. Many human kingdoms attack and enslave their neighbors.

That island is actually brought up in MOON1-2. It is run as a great roleplay espionage encounter. It is made very clear to both the DM and the players that these are not nice elves.
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I'm curious on how GMs are handling player characters that are from the monster races in the more 'civilized' parts of LFG.

Example: Minotaur in Suzail, Cormyr.

I handle them as if they were anyone else, most of the time. A lot of the places we go, "stranger" raises just as many alarm bells as "monster".
As a minotour PC, it has not come up as a problem yet.. but I tend to pick out a PC in the group and agree to "pretend" that I am his slave/bodyguard.

I even carry a chest on my back so that it is instantly aparent that I am NOT a normal "monster".
Then again, the whole "points of light" setting states that adventurers in general are quite often distrusted. They're different and considered to be a little off doing what they do.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
Then again, the whole "points of light" setting states that adventurers in general are quite often distrusted. They're different and considered to be a little off doing what they do.

Yep, and that is built into the difficulty ratings of the skill challenges already.
True, but I shoudl have been more clear that I was speaking of from an RP standpoint, not a mechanical one.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
Which 'monster' races are allowed? Are minotaurs allowed just because they were in that dragon article?
Which 'monster' races are allowed? Are minotaurs allowed just because they were in that dragon article?

Something like that, yes.

Warforged, Gnolls and Minotaurs have had "Playing" articles published in Dragon Magazine, which is, per the CCG, a player resource, so playable race write-ups, which all three were, are open in LFR.

For a full list of races and classes available to play, there is a sticky post in this forum.
I think some of the big things to remember. Like say..the drow.

Most people don't even know what a drow is..they can't make the knowledge check. They just think 'dark skinned elf'. It's a bit silly..but its true.

I know in my area we got one DM who insists all monster races get treated poorly, just because they are monster races. Not even considering the idea these people treating them poorly for being drow..don't realize the person isn't just an odd looking elf. Well not so much..not even considering..more like...they find that idea laughable and ignore even the possibility.

But some other things can be diff...Minotaur apparently are best known as the rogue Minotaur...causing the nice ones problems. Gnolls are..well..Gnolls, nothing to really say about that, yaknow?


But on the side of the attack on sight/don't attack on sight stuff. do remember that all DM's are allowed alot of fiat..you can change things around....let players do stuff..etc, that isn't covered in the mod.

Due to the actions of the party, we had one encounter turn into a skill challenge (actually it was about to turn into a nothing encounter..but the DM wanted to be nice and give us a chance at the goodies the supposed enemies had).

Basically supposed to be some attack on sight Shadar-kai..most of you prob know the mod. But we happened to have someone in the group who had the card..and was playing a Shadar-kai himself. Dm looked it over..we just popped up in their home...the area they are in (in his opinion) didn't indicate any reason they'd be that openly hostile..and when my diplomat type half-elf suggest our Shadar-kai give diplo a chance..he figured why not..it would work...

Then when it comes time to the treasure from them..some of our party started trying to ask in round about ways (got anything good for sale) etc. The DM finally made a skill encounter up, on the fly, that involved us assisting them, and in return we got their treasure (he considered the diplo enough to give us the xp..we defeated the encounter...in a way).

I've heard of other DM's doing odd things to mods..to help spice it up when replaying. do remember..all DM's can do quite a bit to a mod if they feel like it.
Most people don't even know what a drow is..they can't make the knowledge check. They just think 'dark skinned elf'. It's a bit silly..but its true.

Er, 'most people' in the Realms know darn well what a Drow is, even if that knowledge is secondhand or based in stories. Many folks have family or friends that have been killed by Drow.

The Drow of Faerun are not the rare recluses like those of, say, Greyhawk. In the Realms, they've been raiding the surface world all over the lands for tens of thousands of years in their endless war against all things good.

Just skim through the Grand History of the Realms. They're all over the damn place.

The average person in the Realms should at least know that drow are "evil elves that live underground", if nothing else.

Gnolls and minotaur have a generally bad reputation, but more for being violent and savage, not for being evil, really. A person encountering one might react in the same way they would to a wolf or other predator.

Shadar-kai have only really around in the past century in any real numbers. Outside of Netheril-controlled lands most folks might have heard the term but won't know what one looks like or what they can do. Heck, even IN Netheril lands they're not that common.


-karma

LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard | Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard | Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric

AL Character: Talia Ko'bori Silverwane - Tiefling Tome Fiend Warlock

Most people don't even know what a drow is..they can't make the knowledge check. They just think 'dark skinned elf'. It's a bit silly..but its true.

That's just like most people can't make the knowledge check to remember bears have claws, then.

Even aside the fact that people in the Realms would have had horror stories of the drow literally for centuries, the point is that in any (faux-) medieval setting and especially in a Points Of Light theme, if people see some creature they're unfamiliar with they're going to be very wary distrustful, probably to the point of lynch mob hostility.

Now, I'm not saying that DMs should round up lynch mobs against every gnoll or drow or whatnot character, because that would be unfair to the players. But I am saying that this is a huge oversight in the campaign creation, because this is the response that would make the most sense for nearly every city and village around.

Scenario: you're a gate guard in a quaint little city that's not as cosmopolitan as Waterdeep. Four heavily armed strangers approach. The first is a huge hairy monster with big claws, the second is an equally huge lizardman, the third a demonic-looking critter with big horns and a tail, and the three are led by a dark elf. Do you (a) think that's all right then, (b) charge them three coppers trade tax, or (c) immediately drop the portcullis, run screaming to the barracks for reinforcements, and alert the entire town to deal with this apparent menace?
Due to the actions of the party, we had one encounter turn into a skill challenge (actually it was about to turn into a nothing encounter..but the DM wanted to be nice and give us a chance at the goodies the supposed enemies had).

Basically supposed to be some attack on sight Shadar-kai..most of you prob know the mod. But we happened to have someone in the group who had the card..and was playing a Shadar-kai himself. Dm looked it over..we just popped up in their home...the area they are in (in his opinion) didn't indicate any reason they'd be that openly hostile..and when my diplomat type half-elf suggest our Shadar-kai give diplo a chance..he figured why not..it would work...

Then when it comes time to the treasure from them..some of our party started trying to ask in round about ways (got anything good for sale) etc. The DM finally made a skill encounter up, on the fly, that involved us assisting them, and in return we got their treasure (he considered the diplo enough to give us the xp..we defeated the encounter...in a way).

I hope you all thanked your DM for using DME in an appropriate manner that added to the fun of the adventure the way DME is supposed to. This is a great story.
John du Bois Living Forgotten Realms Writing Director, Netheril story area Follow me on The Twitter: @JohnduBois Follow my presence on The Intertubes: johncdubois.wordpress.com
Er, 'most people' in the Realms know darn well what a Drow is, even if that knowledge is secondhand or based in stories. Many folks have family or friends that have been killed by Drow.

The Drow of Faerun are not the rare recluses like those of, say, Greyhawk. In the Realms, they've been raiding the surface world all over the lands for tens of thousands of years in their endless war against all things good.

Just skim through the Grand History of the Realms. They're all over the damn place.

The average person in the Realms should at least know that drow are "evil elves that live underground", if nothing else.

Gnolls and minotaur have a generally bad reputation, but more for being violent and savage, not for being evil, really. A person encountering one might react in the same way they would to a wolf or other predator.

Shadar-kai have only really around in the past century in any real numbers. Outside of Netheril-controlled lands most folks might have heard the term but won't know what one looks like or what they can do. Heck, even IN Netheril lands they're not that common.


-karma

Really? "Most people" know all about the monster races? How? Did they read about them on the internet? Maybe they saw a documentary on TV?

No. Most people live reasonably isolated lives. When they hear about stuff from other areas, it is big stuff (wars, earthquakes, etc.). By the time a non-local story reaches them, it is non-specific ("monsters raided a town" rather than "gnolls raided a town") and often details that are included are not completely accurate due to the nature of third, fourth and fifth hand information.

Unless the average person lives in an area where gnolls raid regularly, the odds are they have never heard of a gnoll. And, if they have heard of a gnoll, it is more likely they heard of the adventuring gnoll that saved Dame Bodoinka's (who lives one town over) cattle from the giant rats last summer than that they heard of the gnolls who raid villages 200 miles away.

In reality, imagine a mining village in the north, mostly populated by humans. A gnoll, a drow, a minotaur, and a dwarf (adventurers!) walk into the village. The gnoll is just some dog-man and the minotaur is just a cow-man. Weird, but they don't seem hostile and their weapons are sheathed (it is a mining village in the north, so every man and woman over 12 has a weapon). Sure, the elf has dark skin. Must be a southern elf. Southerners are strange anyway. But, look, a dwarf! Dwarves have been stealing our livelihood by mining our tunnels at night and they were responsible for the tunnel that collapsed on Old Jones (or so the rumors say). Dwarves are greedy and vicious. Get a lynch mob to kick him out of town.

-SYB
In a point of lights campaign, which FR is not (or at least some of the points of light are really large), it is also incredibly dangerous for the average villager to lynch any stranger that walks into their village. Even at the upper heroic levels a typical PC can slaughter a whole village with ease and that includes the local guards. I suspect the average guard would go for A and pray the four monsters are going to behave since there is really not much an average guard can do about it.

Note that your example works equally well when a dwarf in spike full plate with a huge axe, a moon elf (eladrin) in red robes who dissapears into shadows, a wild elf (elf) in forester clothes and a human in scale with the symbol of Tempus clearly visible on his shield walks towards the gate. In a point of light campaign, the world is overrun with evil and that evil takes on countless of different shapes including that of the common PHB races (who might very well not be all that common). Any stranger could be a threat, and the monster that openly approaches a city is probably the least of the town's worries.

Of course, in the end this discussion is interesting and fun, but we should never forget that this is a game. We make the world and we decide what is going on. If a lynching mob is not fun (and it rarely is), we decide there is not going to be any. FR is not real life, so why would those people think the same way as we *might* do in RL (and I say might since there is no comparable situation in RL to base any such expectations on)?

Pieter Sleijpen
RPGA LFR Global Administrator
In a point of lights campaign, which FR is not (or at least some of the points of light are really large), it is also incredibly dangerous for the average villager to lynch any stranger that walks into their village. Even at the upper heroic levels a typical PC can slaughter a whole village with ease and that includes the local guards.

If a village were that weak, it would have long since been overrun by the forces of darkness.

In a point of light campaign, the world is overrun with evil and that evil takes on countless of different shapes including that of the common PHB races (who might very well not be all that common).

True, but if there's at least some amount of trading going on, then some races are going to be more trusted than others.

If a lynching mob is not fun (and it rarely is), we decide there is not going to be any.

That's what I said.

FR is not real life, so why would those people think the same way as we *might* do in RL (and I say might since there is no comparable situation in RL to base any such expectations on)?

But that's an obvious cop-out, not at all an argument. If you're going to assume that inhabitants in LFR are varelse because hey, it's not real life, then you've just made the "roleplaying" part of the game unplayable.
Part of the points of light theory is that many of these little villages and hamlets ARE surviving on barely a thread.

One might even be able to argue that it's sometimes the local that keeps the town safe. Not out of any benevolence, mind, but because their foodstores are easy to raid and because their territorial nature means they might be picking fights with slightly tougher monsters. (Who don't wipe them out because they're not worth it).

It's basically a "big fish eat little fish" scenario. The humanoid town may be at the relative bottom of the food chain, but they don't go extinct because the fill a role in the ecological chain, and because they aren't quite worth it. (Not to mention, there's always a hero somewhere looking to prove himself, and a raided village is a great chance to do just that).

That said - who know what about monsters is going to be concentrated to what the "local" threats are, and what local folklore/bedtime stories/fireside spooky tales are told.

If we're discussing a human village and there was a drow raid, say, 200 years ago - there are probably still scary stories told to children - (mostly as a folk tale nobody really believes) about the event.

This could cause any strange noise heard in the night to be attributed to dark elves. Drizzt Do'Urden's name is (fairly) well known across the Realms now - but if he came visiting this theoretical village, most people would lock their doors and hide. The few who'd deal with him directly (especially given the scimitars on his belt) would likely do so from fear.

Now, add a fairly major trade-route to this village. It becomes less insular. They've met a variety of humanoid races, maybe even seen a caravan that had a gnoll as part of its guard once. They know about "monster PCs" but are still largely distrustful.

They may not know a gnoll from a werewolf in the darkness, however. Which could make for an interesting plothook. During the day, walking into their village peacfully (or attacking as a pack in the dusk - especially if gnolls are a common threat in the area) and they could probably clearly pick them out.

Then you get to metropolitan areas like Waterdeep or Baldur's Gate and your prejudices are going to run more person-to-person based on experience.

The point being a village/town/hamlet/city and what the locals "know" is going to vary. This variance comes from what their folklore is, what their local threats are, how well-connected the city is to news, and more.

Put simply - it's up to the module author, and failing that, the DM to figure out.

I think to toss a blanket "they know lots!" or "they know nothing!" is a foolhardy endeavor. If you really wanted to get a "baseline" feel for what "Ye Olde Generic Village" might think, however - you'd do well to chat it up with the good people in the RealmsLore forum. Their collective encyclopedic knowledge of the Realms would surely have some great insights.
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Thank you Wolfstar..you said much better than I...the point I was trying to get across heh .

And yes I do agree with you whole heartedly heh.


Otherwise...for those who mentioned the Bear bit...if nobody ever told them of a bears claws and if they had never seen a bear. How would they know a bear had claws in the first place?

Basically..when it comes to these 'everybody should know what a drow/gnoll/minotaur/shadar-kai/'. Answer this question for me. Off the top of your head, no searching, no books, just answer right now.

What does a garter snake look like?
In a point of lights campaign, which FR is not (or at least some of the points of light are really large), it is also incredibly dangerous for the average villager to lynch any stranger that walks into their village.

Sure, there are some significant points of light, but a number of the changes made to post-3e Faerun had the effect of making FR more compatible with the "points of light" idea.
The continent of Faerûn in 1479 DR is not the cosmopolitan grid of trade routes it was of old. Disasters, rampaging monsters, and the rise of evil empires have changed the landscape. Many roads have fallen into disrepair, several ports are high and dry, and numerous once-vital cities are now empty shells or drowned ruins.
But to the bold, venturing into the darkness between points of light remains an exciting and rewarding enterprise.

And, yes, a villager might be well aware that an adventurer could kill them without much effort and perhaps with impunity. That might help an Intimidate check; it doesn't make the villagers more friendly to the PCs. Considering how many modules have the "Intimidate = fail" mindset, that doesn't help much.
If a lynching mob is not fun (and it rarely is), we decide there is not going to be any.

Straw man. The issue isn't whether the town is going to rise up and attack the PCs, it is (in many modules) how friendly and trusting the town will be of the PCs.

If I am running a module in an area that has had gnoll tribes sweep down, destroy villages and eat the inhabitants anytime within the last generation, gnoll PCs are going to get a nice bonus to Intimidate checks and a penalty to Diplomacy checks.

Some behavior and some situations will be practically automatic failures (a gnoll PC trying to convince the town that they shouldn't hire mercenaries to protect themselves against marauding gnolls), and may even penalize the group as a whole (the gnoll PC sitting there gnawing on a human legbone might not be talking, but just being part of the group makes the PCs seem less trustworthy).

Basically, in any situation where the module wants the PCs to play nice and attempts at intimidation mean the PCs fail, monster race PCs are at a serious disadvantage. In situations where playing nice is futile, and intimidation, fright and threats are useful, monster race PCs can shine. It's a pity that the campaign is largely based on the former.

Beyond that, my general philosophy is that if you're going to play something outside of the norm in a campaign that assumes the norm, it is the player's responsibility to come up with a way that it fits together.

If you sit down with a shadar-kai PC from Netheril, and the module starts off with Cormyr making you an emissary with significant authority to go investigate whether Netherese agents are causing trouble in a rural area, I'm going to be asking you how this makes sense for your PC. Off-hand, I can think of half-a-dozen possible explanations, but if you're not willing to play along, then you might find yourself spending the module sitting in the tavern, wondering where the rest of the group went.

Some of those playing monster race PCs are doing it because they like the shock value and aren't interested in making their PC mesh with the campaign. They didn't pick the gnoll race to play a furry human-at-heart who's an exile from his tribe and just wants to find someone who can overlook his shaggy exterior; they picked the gnoll race in order to play an aggressive feral savage who likes the taste of halfling.

If a player picks a monster race because they want to play a monster, I'm fine with treating them like a monster. Treating them other way destroys any sense of immersion.
FR is not real life, so why would those people think the same way as we *might* do in RL (and I say might since there is no comparable situation in RL to base any such expectations on)?

Whether or not they behave exactly like we would, Faerunian NPCs have to behave logically, or I'm not really seeing the point of playing this as a roleplaying game rather than a tactical miniatures game.

-- Brian Gibbons.
Really? "Most people" know all about the monster races? How? Did they read about them on the internet? Maybe they saw a documentary on TV?

No, I said 'most people' will know what a Drow is. Please don't put words in my virtual mouth.

I can see many folks not really knowing what a gnoll or minotaur is, or at least not any more than what myth and superstition might have taught them. Wild stories told by the local bard or crazy old man. Probably not anything more than "it's a monster".

But Drow? Tens of thousands of years of attacks, raids, and outright wars. Tens of thousands of years. Through world shattering cataclysms, gods walking the earth, and the rise and fall of entire civilizations. Drow have always been known as the boogeymen evil elves that live under the earth, dark as night with hearts to match.

And now, merely a hundred years pass and all knowledge of them suddenly vanishes from most of the world?

That makes no damn sense.

And please note, I did not say folks would know "all" about them. But in any given community there will almost certainly be a few people that at least know that Drow are an evil marauding race from the Underdark, even if they don't know the details.


-karma

LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard | Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard | Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric

AL Character: Talia Ko'bori Silverwane - Tiefling Tome Fiend Warlock

If a player picks a monster race because they want to play a monster, I'm fine with treating them like a monster. Treating them other way destroys any sense of immersion.

Whether or not they behave exactly like we would, Faerunian NPCs have to behave logically, or I'm not really seeing the point of playing this as a roleplaying game rather than a tactical miniatures game.

-- Brian Gibbons.

Brian I agreed with a surprising amount of your post, but we still disagree on some fundamentals. You seem to be looking for player motives more than I do. I try to look at their actions. If the player is playing a thinly veiled evil character I will certainly apply penalties appropriate checks and keep an eye on them to make sure they don't cross the line into openly antisocial play, but this is as true for the Gnolls as it is for the human paladin's of Tempus*. I haven't seen any more bad play from characters of any particular class or race in my DMing so far.

I also disagree with your blanket calls for penalties based off of player race and scenario villains. In the much beloved Drizzt Do'Urden** we see many times his use of his background as a positive in diplomatic situations. "No one knows how evil these folk can be as I do!" A Gnoll using a similar argument would take no penalty from me. He has a diplomacy number and if he can make a semi convincing statement about how he intends to convince people I will let him use it straight up. Likewise I give him no extra bonus on his intimidate, maybe he is pretty runty looking or just bad at looking threatening, like a mall goth. The characters have stats that are often at odds with the players themselves. Characters with massive diplomacys that can't argue there way out of a wet sack. I will try to get a good basis from them on what the character is saying, but normally I will let their dice tell me how well they make their case***.

I get very nervous when DMs start trying to overthink character motivations, as I said upstream, adventurers are not natural or logical at their base and trying to push only the 'realism' that reflects that DMs prejudice of the day seems to me to be inherently unfair. The game has baked in numbers that reflect how well characters do in certain situations, there are times to modify them and page 42 gives us ideas on filling in where the rules don't cover the ground well. Who is to say that a Gnoll's +4 diplomacy isn't actually a +7 if they were human, his +4 has the world's mistrust of monsters baked into it?

Now if the player is trying roll his diplomacy while snacking on the body the last guy he killed, penalize him all you want. He is putting antisocial mods into play, fair play to ding him on it. Likewise a vicious Gnome threatening townsfolk with his badgers, a Shadar Kai wearing his Netherise Militia gear in Coromyr etc.

Incidentally, in my home game I have banned**** warlocks, tieflings, gnolls etc for player characters. At home it is my world, non-Realms, and I get to say how the world's bias works. In the Living Forgotten Realms WOTC gets to say how all that works so I put my feelings aside and judge it to their framework. I don't think my home game is really anymore 'realistic', my adventurers have some extra restrictions, but they are still something no sane King would let wander in his lands. I enjoy the Realms, but it doesn't take much poking to find all kinds of holes in the world, I resist poking and try to have as much fun playing and DMing in the world as I can. It is sometimes big stupid fantasy, but it is fun big stupid fantasy and it works pretty well.

As I said, I was pleased and surprised at how much I agreed with you, I suspect if we were talking about this in a bar we would walk away happy, but I don't feel it is fair to try to judge player motivations for their characters before a game or to auto penalize based on race in a mod. This is still much closer than I felt to your position farther up thread.


* Are there any non-Tempus Paladins any more? Just asking....

** I enjoy the Drizzt Do'Urden books, but they are mind popcorn at best, "realism" has little home in the books.

*** My exception here is for particularly good arguments, which I will bonus if they are exceptional. It encourages the other players to give it go to give better reasons than "I have a +9, let me roll". I don't normally penalize really poor arguments as the Character may give it a better go than the player does.

**** I could of course be talked out of this by clever players with a good hook.
* Are there any non-Tempus Paladins any more? Just asking....

I've seen an awful lot of dragonborn paladins, and almost without exception, they follow Bahamut.
"Of course [Richard] has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183, and we're barbarians!" - Eleanor of Aquitaine, "The Lion in Winter"
I've seen an awful lot of dragonborn paladins, and almost without exception, they follow Bahamut.

Glad to hear that, I was losing hope. :D
Beyond that, my general philosophy is that if you're going to play something outside of the norm in a campaign that assumes the norm, it is the player's responsibility to come up with a way that it fits together.

-- Brian Gibbons.

The only problem I have with this statement is that the only classes considered "beyond the norm" at this point in LFR campaign are Shadar-Kai, Gnomes, Orcs, and Bladelings. Gnolls, Minotaur's, Warforged, Drow etc are all no restriction races to play. They ARE part of the Norm now.

Just my 2 cents.
Blah blah blah
In a point of lights campaign, which FR is not (or at least some of the points of light are really large), it is also incredibly dangerous for the average villager to lynch any stranger that walks into their village. Even at the upper heroic levels a typical PC can slaughter a whole village with ease and that includes the local guards.

I think you have forgotten that FR is a handful of lower level PCs and the rest of the world is populated by epic level NPCs. 90% of which are retired adventurers. Even the villagers. The farmers harvest entire fields with one stroke of their scythe.

Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
Strawman: I was referring to posters talking about lynch mobs and guards running away, closing gates and getting the army out. So why does that make a strawman just because I react to other posts then you seem to think?

Recognition: Do you have any idea how many different monsters run around in the FR that look even remotely the same? Is it a gnoll? Werewolf? Hound archon (3rd edition, I know)? Demon? Drow are black skinned elves. There are dark elves, who are generally good aligned, and who are black skinned (sometime around the Spellplague all good aligned drow were transformed by the sacrifice of their patron god).

4E: It is a good idea to remember that the FR changed drastically between 3E and 4E. Many things that were true before the Spellplague are not longer so. The presence of dozens of epic level characters is one of them ;) The fact that the FR is a cosmopilitan setting filled with adventurers has not changed.

Pieter Sleijpen
RPGA LFR Global Administrator
Ultimately the PC's actions and IC statements should be primarily what NPCs react to. Depending upon the situation, you might have an opportunity or a fearful moment, but in this type of setting, strangers might be a risk but they also might be too dangerous to challenge without need. Don't derail the adventure because of the races of the character. If the players derail the adventure because of their PC actions and choices, so be it.

I could see a lot of isolated villages where the townsfolk have heard tales of drow raids elsewhere, but they never had a good description of what a drow looks like. So they may well not connect that dark skinned pointy ear creature to the name, drow. Maybe somewhere in that village is someone who 20 years ago did encounter drow so a role playing moment could be extracted from that.

Keith
Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep
I've seen an awful lot of dragonborn paladins, and almost without exception, they follow Bahamut.

Which is unfortunately out of character for the FR dragonborn...

Gomez,
who picked Tempus paladin from the get go, and now wonders if he should have made one from Sune...
There are dark elves, who are generally good aligned, and who are black skinned (sometime around the Spellplague all good aligned drow were transformed by the sacrifice of their patron god).

IIRC, dark elves ar not black skinned (but coppery), and they do not have white hair (but black). They are also virtually unmentioned in any FR product.
At any rate, I expect most people will consider drow to not to be trusted, unless you have a real backwater town in ana rea that didnt have to do with drow in ages. I expect that anyone in the Dalelands will know what a drow is. Most people in the most western Dalelands will now what a gnoll or hobgoblin is. A reasonable amount of people will know of fire gaints.
Then again, some people may know there are good drow, and even know a few (especially in the eastern dales).
All of this is based on some basic knowledge of the Dalelands, the monsters that have plagues the area, and various heroes that have lived there.
However, it is not something every DM has available. So while I have a fair idae on how a particular type of PC race might get treated (distrustful or not, etc), I don't think you can count one every DM to have that knowlegde ready.
In the end though, I think it is fair to assume that the average commoner looks with some reservations upon adventurers, and triple so on 'monster' races. In general, I think it should be enough to roleplay that out in social encounters, though some exceptions may exist.

Gomez
IIRC, dark elves ar not black skinned (but coppery), and they do not have white hair (but black). They are also virtually unmentioned in any FR product.
At any rate, I expect most people will consider drow to not to be trusted, unless you have a real backwater town in ana rea that didnt have to do with drow in ages. I expect that anyone in the Dalelands will know what a drow is. Most people in the most western Dalelands will now what a gnoll or hobgoblin is. A reasonable amount of people will know of fire gaints.
Then again, some people may know there are good drow, and even know a few (especially in the eastern dales).
All of this is based on some basic knowledge of the Dalelands, the monsters that have plagues the area, and various heroes that have lived there.
However, it is not something every DM has available. So while I have a fair idae on how a particular type of PC race might get treated (distrustful or not, etc), I don't think you can count one every DM to have that knowlegde ready.
In the end though, I think it is fair to assume that the average commoner looks with some reservations upon adventurers, and triple so on 'monster' races. In general, I think it should be enough to roleplay that out in social encounters, though some exceptions may exist.

Gomez

Actually, any DM who has read the 4e Campaign setting should be able to deal with local customs and racial prejudices. If the DM hasn't read the Campaign setting, then they should treat all races equally. There is no excuse to treat specific races differently without canon reason to do so (either from the FRCS or information in the adventure).

And, be honest, most of the DMs who are treating monster races differently are doing it because they, as players, are "punishing" the players for playing what they believe to be optimized or cheesy races.

-SYB
Sure there is an excuse.
It is called 'common sense'.
Of course a creature with the head of a hyena or a demonic visage will be looked upon differently than a human in a human town. How you deal with that in game is up to the individual DM, but if a PC is treated with some reservation because he looks like a slavering beast, that is perfectly within a DM's right to do, especially as long as it is mostly flavor. When it turns into penalties, you have to be more wary, but even then a situation might have it make sense.
Since most adventures can't list all the possible (future) PC races and penalties, it is up to the DM to decide on whether a race will be easily accepted or not.
I.e. in one adventure, my half-drow (who is technically a half-elf and therefor a Core race) scared the children they were to rescue. Not by anything she did - they just believed she was 'bad' (the rest of the party managed to win their trust by 'protecting' them from me). That was fun and a lot more believable than some places where everyone seems to welcome my PC and treat her like royalty (even though I can find and IC reason for them to do so).

And as a note: only bad DMs base their reactions on prejudice.
Sure there is an excuse.
It is called 'common sense'.
Of course a creature with the head of a hyena or a demonic visage will be looked upon differently than a human in a human town. How you deal with that in game is up to the individual DM, but if a PC is treated with some reservation because he looks like a slavering beast, that is perfectly within a DM's right to do, especially as long as it is mostly flavor. When it turns into penalties, you have to be more wary, but even then a situation might have it make sense.
Since most adventures can't list all the possible (future) PC races and penalties, it is up to the DM to decide on whether a race will be easily accepted or not.
I.e. in one adventure, my half-drow (who is technically a half-elf and therefor a Core race) scared the children they were to rescue. Not by anything she did - they just believed she was 'bad' (the rest of the party managed to win their trust by 'protecting' them from me). That was fun and a lot more believable than some places where everyone seems to welcome my PC and treat her like royalty (even though I can find and IC reason for them to do so).

And as a note: only bad DMs base their reactions on prejudice.

Except "common sense" isn't actually something you can really have about intercultural relations in a well-documented fantasy setting. Either you are firmly versed in the canon or you are not. If you are firmly versed in the canon (and it isn't difficult, just read 2-4 pages of the FRCS after you choose what adventure to run), then you are following canon. If you aren't, then you have no clue what the cultural beliefs of the area are.

The problem is, these so-called "common sense" assumptions are wrong as often as they are right. It is pretty easy to imagine a situation where a DM knows nothing about an area (and didn't do his homework or read the blurb in the adventure) and has all of the inhabitants of the area being antagonistic to the Orc PC, not realizing that Orcs and Humans get along in that area. Heck, there is an adventure where that is true. Being unfairly biased against specific PCs and being in violation of canon (something likely to make the game less fun for the player) is much worse than treating each PC equally and being in violation of canon.

If you want to apply local racism as a DM, do your research (there are these books that WotC sells to make this easy). If you aren't willing to do the research, then you aren't applying local racism, you are making it up, based on your personal beliefs. And that makes players feel like they are being unfairly targeted (especially when they are well versed on the local canon).

-SYB
Except "common sense" isn't actually something you can really have about intercultural relations in a well-documented fantasy setting.

Sure you can. You can be wrong, but aht doesn't mean common sense doesn't exist. In genral, ie xpect an adventure to point out where common sense doesn't apply, rather than the other way around.
And sure, I do encourage people - players and DMs - to invest in the setting and learn what they can.
But I disagree that you have to let common sense go just because you haven't read through all the 2nd ed sourcebooks. In that case, you could as well switch to playing miniatures battle.
There is common sense in the game, but it is good to keep in mind that it is still a game ;) Common sense has been let go on purpose on more then a few spots becuase it is a game and we make up the world. One of those spots happens to be the reactions of the inhabitants of the world towards all kinds of monstrous races and adventurers. Spending too much time on hostilities between the locals and the PCs distracts from the game in the already limited time you have. Not to mention that racism has some very negative connections with RL for some people. It is really best to err on the side of caution and rule in the favor of the PCs.

Come to think of it, common sense dictates you should not pay too much attention to racial tension in a convention setting. It might not be common sense of the world, but it is common sense of the game ;)
So essentially, we stop playing a roleplaying game and interacting with NPCs, and instead revert to miniature battles.
Now you're getting the 4e paradigm Gomeztoo...
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