Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

D&D to Introduce Hate-filled Transphobic Drow

Via Daddy Warpig:

Dungeons & Dragons, at least the most recent Fifth Edition, has made it clear that players don’t need to be “confined” by binary notions of gender. The game’s Player’s Handbook notes that some elves are androgynous in nature after Corellon’s image, while noting that players can also choose to present their characters however they wish.

So what does the concept of genderfluidity have to do with the drow, which have long been depicted as the “evil” subrace of elves? The drow come from an extremely matriarchal gendered society and have widely rejected Corellon as their god. A drow that can change their gender is seen as an affront to drow culture, not only because it’s a direct blessing from Corellon, but also because they can choose whether to be part of the ruling female class.

Drow with the ability to change gender usually have to take sanctuary in temples of Corellon because they’re considered dangerous to other drow and are considered outcasts, or even killed.

Sounds like a plan. After all, inimical elves that are an outright manifestation of chaos over and against science, Christianity, the mundane, and humanity are so passé. Why would anyone ever ponder the implications of immortality, timelessness, the nature of the human soul, and why elves might necessarily be barred from heaven? And why would anyone explore the consequences of a union between a human adventurer and an almost completely alien elvish princess given that such a thing is fundamentally unimaginable?

I can’t wrap my head around it myself. Besides what do you do when for decades elves have been pointy eared long-haired woods-hippies that are not inherently different from a glorified subspecies of homo sapiens? That’s easy. You whip up another subspecies of elves that hail from the depths of the underworld– and you make those elves scary and inimical and alien and weird and chaotic.

GENIUS!

Except that… there’s just one problem there. That solution to a problem that real fantasy never had is pretty dull in practice. For one thing, it leads to and endless parade of tedious attempts to reinvent elves by people that don’t know what real elves are actually like. Because none of these “races” can ever truly hit the mark of what fantasy junkies actually crave with this sort of thing.

It gets worse, though. The people that make this stuff today can’t imagine anything that is beyond or outside or that transcends their concept of reality, so they’ve been somehow rendered incapable of conceiving any sort of fantasy at all. The idea of an Oz, a Barsoom, or a Never Never Land is beyond them. They look at such things and can’t make any sense of it. The only way to make fantasy seem real and relatable and relevant is to project the only frame on it that they know: that of their tepid progressive monoculture. So they’ve worked up an an all new alignment spectrum. Instead of law and chaos, they’ll do oppressed transexuals at one extreme and bigoted transphobes at the other.

Instead of the boring, mass market fantasy of the eighties that had the wonder, the weirdness, and the edginess filtered out of it, we can finally go all the way. We can now make fantasy just as boring as the struggle sessions of today’s corporate diversity training seminars.

Congratulations, 5th Edition D&D. You’re plumbing new depths here!

11 responses to “D&D to Introduce Hate-filled Transphobic Drow

  1. The Mixed GM March 16, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Furthermore, why does WotC feel the need to bend over backwards for this kind of progressive stuff.

    There is literally nothing stopping DMs from house-ruling trans-elves or trans-dwarves or what not. WotC should be focusing on making awesome adventures to go on and creepy monsters to fight, not writing rules about gender-swapping elves!

    Does this even make a gameplay impact at all? Why waste ink / page space / time to put this in an official D&D book?

  2. Oakes Spalding March 16, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    Not sure whether you did this already, but check out the difference between the archived version of Warpig’s source, and the present version. In the present version the journalist makes what he obviously thinks is an important correction to the earlier article – Elves have the blessing of changing their biological sex every morning NOT their gender. I assume this correction was made to emphasize the point that anyone (including humans) can already change or assume whatever gender they choose (and no one should imply otherwise). The evolving epicycles of Stalinist correctness are a a wonderment.

    • jeffro March 16, 2018 at 6:24 pm

      That is seriously woke, man.

      • Robert James Eaglestone March 16, 2018 at 7:23 pm

        We need RULES for this sort of nonsense?

        It’s worse than a waste of space. It’s the problem presented by C.S. Lewis about The Green Book in his worthy classic “The Abolition of Man”.

  3. MishaBurnett March 16, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    I think that truly mythic, classically fantastic elves would be nearly impossible to rollplay, honestly. I remember getting into a discussion on this point during a game when I pointed out that one of the PCs was over a thousand years old but was limited to the skills (and hit points) of a first level character.

    Had he spent the prior millennium studiously avoiding learning anything? How do you play a character with more adult life experience than most nations? And why would such a character, after century upon century of living in the same place, doing the same things, suddenly decide to run off after new experiences?

    So, yeah, elves as PCs do tend to be just another type of human. I have seen elves as NPCs that approach the ideal of the ageless and otherworldly creatures in fantasy. (In one scene a friend of my ran the PCs were petitioning an elven king for a favor, and the negotiation wasn’t going well. One of the players said, “We’re not leaving here until we get what we want!” and the elf lord replied, “Then I’ll just wait for you to die of old age.” In context it was a chilling moment.)

    And immortality, as you point out, is just one aspect of the classical elf’s inhuman nature.

    • Planetary Defense Commander March 19, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      I imagine a low-level elf PC as a runaway child, probably not much use in a brawl, but maybe able to shoot or perform some magic.

      • Cirsova March 20, 2018 at 12:07 pm

        What if Elf is a name-level?
        What if the PC class is just general fey, and you’re not like whatever the equivalent of the elf-king’s elf knights are until level 5?
        First, you have to level up as a will-o-wisp, then as a pixie, then as a troll?

  4. MishaBurnett March 16, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    Now, I can remember playing a character who changed sex regularly–I ran a Gethenian (from “The Left Hand Of Darkness”) in a Star Trek RPG. It was a pretty far out campaign, we also had a Pyrian (from Harry Harrison’s “Deathworld”) and one of Niven’s Puppeteers on the bridge crew. Oh, and another PC was a Bene Gesserit from Dune.

  5. Bigby's Pointy Finger March 17, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Honestly, I’d refuse to play with anyone who couldn’t commit to as simple a thing as gender. If they can’t get such a basic thing down, what hope would there be for anything at all to get done? I imagine the entire session would devolve into incredibly uncomfortable interpersonal situations, sidebar innuendos, etc.

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