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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: D&D Mirror Universe

    The easy option imo is to tie the forces of 'Good' outsiders together by their common trend of being aesthetically pretty compared to the more bestial fiends. Angels and so on are attempting to cultivate mortals on aesthetic grounds rather than ones of virtue or vice, and encourage mortals to hold the same principles and to alter and dominate their surroundings to a more pleasant appearance.

    So an evil soul in this setting goes to a place like Celestia, where it is tortured and degraded by the celestials for being lesser than they hold themselves to be. Their planes are each perfectly maintained visions of aesthetic perfection by the standard of the outsiders maintained by their lower ranks and the enslaved souls of those who perished, with exalted souls and higher angels being served by those considered fair enough that it doesn't repulse their masters.

    The good gods would be much the same, Moradin driving the dwarfs to build ever higher and greater fortresses from the mountains, to delve ever more for treasure and to build vast edifices in his honour, Correllon urging the elves to shape nature according to his aesthetic preferences, culling any plant, beast or humanoid that violates his vision of a perfect forest no matter the suffering caused in the process. Then in the afterlife any of their worshippers who fail to meet standards get punished, dwarves are set as slave labour or chained together to hold up statues and columns, elves who dissatisfy Correllon are turned into beasts to be hunted eternally.

    Stuff like that.

    The fiends and 'evil' gods meanwhile like things the way they are, appreciating the carrion bird as much as the songbird, the hyena as much as the lion, overgrown bramble as much as a cultivated orchard. They see past the surface of things into the deeper merits, and each formed meritocracies to determine leadership.

    The Devils, ingenious ever desiring to encourage cooperation and structure select leaders based on inventiveness and skill at organisation, each ring of hell being ruled by a lord who excels at that layer's function. The first being under the stewardship of the greatest general of all hell, tasked to protect the plane from assault and rally armies to the defence of their allies in other planes and so forth. Mephistopholes for example would be a scientist into the arcane and divine, trying to create new and better magics with which to oppose evil and golems to minimise loss of life rather than a power mad lunatic creating new dark magics, Dispater would be an everwatching sentinel, protecting hell from the more subtle machinations of the angels rather than a paranoid coward.

    The Demons meanwhile take a less organised approach, each demon lord seeing their own path towards enlightenment and the ultimate goal of good and bending their layer of the abyss towards that goal. Dagon would be meditating on the mysteries of the cosmos and protecting knowledge in his dark waters, Baphomet trying to perfect the most bestial of warriors, seeing virtue in the simplicity of predator and prey.


    The blood war would now be an event taking place between the upper planes, with the angels decrying each other's visions as vile perversions of beauty and sending vast hosts of the spirits under their command to try and destroy the others, having long since consigned the fiends as so far beneath them as to never be a real threat.
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  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: D&D Mirror Universe

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    That makes some amount of sense, but if we're flipping the alignment of every major race, I'd rather flip the alignment of the cosmos, too. Makes the setting's flip seem more complete, less patchy.

    I'd probably mix Paradise Lost with some of the horrors from Dante's Inferno, and maybe some stuff from a book we're not supposed to talk about and honestly even talking about Paradise Lost and Inferno has me a bit antsy about that rule since last I asked the official ruling was "No, seriously, it's zero-tolerance we swear". Something to emphasize that the people running the cosmos are jerks, and the "good" races are only Good in the sense that they serve those people.
    I have problems with that one on philosophical grounds. One of the fundamental axioms of my worldview is that good is primary and evil secondary, that evil can only corrupt and not truly create. Trying to imagine a system where the fundamentals of the cosmos are corrupt... just doesn't cohere for me. Of course, it's not as though D&D cosmology makes much sense anyway.

    Now, some ideas:

    Kua-Toa: There are plenty of examples throughout history of those who are driven by zeal for God into absurdity, those who mutilate their flesh to purge their sins or an entire army of children and untrained workers marching out into the desert without plan or logistics to reclaim the holy land. In this setting, Kua-Toa are an entire species of such zealots. In the distant past, possibly due to ithillid experimentation, they received a racial vision of ultimate goodness... and it absolutely shattered their minds. The saner Good races tolerate them because they are genuinely devoted to the good gods, and because their zeal can be an incredible asset if channeled correctly, but their tendency to go off quarter-cocked at best means that they're only slightly less trouble than they are help.

    Their reputation as "god-makers" comes from the fact that they are almost pathologically bad at theology, mangling and recombining the names, legends, and iconographies of all the Good gods they have ever heard of into unrecognizable mish-moshes. Attempting to guess which actual God is answering any given kua-toa's prayers is usually an exercise in futility.

    Myconids: These are one of the great evils of the Underdark, using their spores to befuddle, enslave, or poison mortals, and launching constant assaults on the drow and other good denizens of the Underdark in the quest for fresh corpses to use as fodder, as breeding stock, and as reanimated servants. In the areas most under their sway, they will occasionally keep populations of living mortals in a perpetual haze of hallucinogenic spores, growing them as corpse-stock for future use.

    They often make allies of convenience with dwarves, happy to give up the gold and silver mined by their spore slaves (for which they have no use), in exchange for corpses from the constant stock produced by dwarven cruelty. Their fear of fire and sunlight causes them to steer clear of elves.
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  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: D&D Mirror Universe

    Quote Originally Posted by ReaderAt2046 View Post
    I have problems with that one on philosophical grounds. One of the fundamental axioms of my worldview is that good is primary and evil secondary, that evil can only corrupt and not truly create. Trying to imagine a system where the fundamentals of the cosmos are corrupt... just doesn't cohere for me.
    That's a valid viewpoint of Good and Evil, and a classical one at that, but I've never seen it as being very accurate or useful as a way to view the world. It's hard to explain why without going into real-world groups which were evil and created stuff, and the only real-world groups I can label as "evil" without breaking forum rules (and/or pissing people off) are probably against forum rules to discuss, so...
    I'll start by saying that I find it more useful to describe parts of people as either "good" or "evil," rather than morally labeling entire people (let alone groups). Therefore, to me it doesn't make much sense to ascribe characteristics to good or evil as a whole, unless we're using those labels to describe specific factions in a world (e.g, Good is defined by angels and Evil by demons). In that case, any strengths or weaknesses of Good and Evil are defined more by the qualities of the faction than by their label.
    If I had to assign traits to Good and Evil on their own terms, rather than defining them based on who is Good or Evil, I'd start by asking what makes someone Good or Evil. My default answer would be that Good is helping others at cost to yourself, and Evil is helping yourself at cost to others. Then I can work from there; e.g, Good is better at cooperation, but the top 1% of individual Evils can reach individual heights greater than any hero.

    Also, from a Doylist point of view, having evil fated to decay as Good builds itself up is hell on tension. Antagonists are more threatening if they can build to become something more than they are now.
    From another Doylist point of view, the forces running the Cosmos are obvious stand-ins for forces running a civilization. This parallel (which is both so common and so intuitive that it shows up even when neither author nor audience are consciously aware of it) makes me uncomfortable when they say that they can't imagine the fundamental order of things being bad. It also strikes me as being a little might-makes-right-ey, but getting into why brushes against forum rules I've been (inconsistently) burned for more distant brushes with.


    Their reputation as "god-makers" comes from the fact that they are almost pathologically bad at theology, mangling and recombining the names, legends, and iconographies of all the Good gods they have ever heard of into unrecognizable mish-moshes. Attempting to guess which actual God is answering any given kua-toa's prayers is usually an exercise in futility.
    That's just funny, I like it.
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  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: D&D Mirror Universe

    Quote Originally Posted by ReaderAt2046 View Post
    I have problems with that one on philosophical grounds. One of the fundamental axioms of my worldview is that good is primary and evil secondary, that evil can only corrupt and not truly create. Trying to imagine a system where the fundamentals of the cosmos are corrupt... just doesn't cohere for me. Of course, it's not as though D&D cosmology makes much sense anyway.
    My approach to D&D cosmology is that:
    • Chaos is primary, the creative principle.
    • Law is secondary, bringing permanence.
    • Good is tertiary, arising from cooperation between law and chaos.
    • Evil is also tertiary, arising from conflict between law and chaos.

  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Default Re: D&D Mirror Universe

    So, I had a post underway, but since I've been traveling, I haven't been able to finish it. And of course, three new posts are made while I work... I'll have to post what I have tomorrow.

    Quote Originally Posted by ReaderAt2046 View Post
    I have problems with that one on philosophical grounds. One of the fundamental axioms of my worldview is that good is primary and evil secondary, that evil can only corrupt and not truly create. Trying to imagine a system where the fundamentals of the cosmos are corrupt... just doesn't cohere for me. Of course, it's not as though D&D cosmology makes much sense anyway.
    I... well, my beliefs aren't exactly the opposite of that, but I see evil as being more prevalent than good. The difference, of course, is that good is more unified than evil, which is mostly just people being selfish to some degree, or believing (often incorrectly) that in order to benefit themselves or their group they must do some harmful act. Evil is generally too selfish, too deluded, or too disorganized to pose a true threat, which is why good will win in the long run even if it initially starts out weak and vulnerable. Either way, though, I think neutrality is how most people are in practice. I think I've let some of that perspective work its way into how I view this mirror universe, where good as a whole is weaker than evil, but the evil races would happily screw each other over for their own benefit, while the good races are more or less united towards a common goal.

    That being said, I'm not sure either of our beliefs are relevant in the context of D&D, which as you say, doesn't make much sense. Leaving aside the questionable nature of alignment itself, having people take up the cause of evil for the sake of the cause itself - in the form of blackguards dedicated to spreading evil, clerics of evil gods, etc. - is cartoonishly ridiculous and not how evil actually functions in the real world. It's good if you want a setting with clearly labeled good guys and bad guys, but not so much if you want a plot with intrigue, nuance, or even well-rounded characters. Although, with members of "mostly good" races in D&D being far more likely to be evil than members of "evil races" are to be good (Drizzt was supposed to be a fairly unique exception to the rule, I think), means that, aside from evil actually being more prevalent than good in standard D&D, it's possible to have some level of mystery in a D&D game. So long as nobody uses alignment-detection magic...

    I'm rambling at this point, so to steer back to the topic - I actually like the idea of evil being dominant in this setting, because this Mirror Universe is meant to turn all the classic fantasy tropes on their head. It's actually refreshing to me to have a setting like this, where good is an underdog not just in the mortal but in the immortal worlds as well. But then again, I've always liked the idea of good being an underdog, of having to use wit, courage, and fellowship to survive and not godly might.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I'll start by saying that I find it more useful to describe parts of people as either "good" or "evil," rather than morally labeling entire people (let alone groups). Therefore, to me it doesn't make much sense to ascribe characteristics to good or evil as a whole, unless we're using those labels to describe specific factions in a world (e.g, Good is defined by angels and Evil by demons). In that case, any strengths or weaknesses of Good and Evil are defined more by the qualities of the faction than by their label.
    This is also one big reason why I don't like the alignment system - people are nuanced. Not just because they might believe themselves to be good, but because they can be inconsistently good. This concept of people being multifaceted is also how I view things, though since I'm a results-oriented person, I generally see traits as being positive or negative - that is, effective and ineffective at what they set their minds to, and a person's goodness or evilness is defined by how they use those traits, or what goals they use them to accomplish.

    Related, my favorite antagonists are those who have positive traits, or even good intentions - especially if those traits make them more effective. Grand Admiral Thrawn from the Star Wars Expanded Universe, for instance, is a far more threatening villain on a strategic scale than Darth Vader or the Emperor - in part because, while ruthless, he doesn't do stupid things like kill his own men for failure. He is results-oriented, a very "ends justify the means" type of villain, no more evil than he needs to be, and concerned with effectiveness above all - and in the process he winds up being far more respected than Vader or Palpatine were.

    From another Doylist point of view, the forces running the Cosmos are obvious stand-ins for forces running a civilization. This parallel (which is both so common and so intuitive that it shows up even when neither author nor audience are consciously aware of it) makes me uncomfortable when they say that they can't imagine the fundamental order of things being bad. It also strikes me as being a little might-makes-right-ey, but getting into why brushes against forum rules I've been (inconsistently) burned for more distant brushes with.
    You'll have to elaborate more - I'm not quite wrapping my head around what you mean. Perhaps it's the late hour.

    Also, I notice we've been skirting around forum rules a lot lately, or at least they've been mentioned. Perhaps we should focus on the in-universe and not the out-of-universe narrative?

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    My approach to D&D cosmology is that:
    • Chaos is primary, the creative principle.
    • Law is secondary, bringing permanence.
    • Good is tertiary, arising from cooperation between law and chaos.
    • Evil is also tertiary, arising from conflict between law and chaos.
    Interesting. I think that trying to make Law and Chaos - or Good and Evil - into equal and opposed forces is a lost cause, but your setup has an elegant sort of symmetry.
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  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Default Re: D&D Mirror Universe

    Quote Originally Posted by Dusk Raven View Post
    You'll have to elaborate more - I'm not quite wrapping my head around what you mean. Perhaps it's the late hour.
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    Fantasy (and the genres its progenitors took inspiration from, including mythology) often use fantastic concepts as stand-ins for real-world things. Sometimes this is intentional and overt allegory, sometimes it's unconscious coding, sometimes it's just applicability; whatever the intent, it plays off of humanity's deep-set pattern recognition abilities to make a given point resonate, comment on the real world, or just communicate something about the characters or setting to the audience.
    Whether you intend to or not, these parallels influence the themes or "messages" your work conveys, which can influence how people think. One story where people stab each other won't make someone want to stab someone else (though it might be a useful excuse if they already wanted to), but enough stories which convey the assumption that stabbing bad people is an effective and just way to make the world better (probably because the authors copied genre conventions without thinking through the implications) can make someone think of violence as an effective, just way to solve problems...not necessarily their own personal problems, but it affects how they're likely to view vigilante justice, foreign intervention, police brutality, etc.

    If a fantasy world is ruled by active gods who empower their clergy to act in their name, the ape brain inside of us will connect that with leaders in our own world, unless the author takes active effort to distance the gods and how they act from human leaders and how they act. The set of assumptions that the writer has about how the gods should or can act will become part of their story's "worldview," which will be conveyed to the audience. Reading one story where the divine rulers of the world are axiomatically Good won't make someone stop questioning those in power, any more than watching one movie where violence is an unproblematic solution to social ills will make someone cheer on vigilante justice; however, enough authors who write with such unspoken assumptions can influence people in such directions.
    If the way gods work is tied closely enough to their inhuman nature and contrasted with how mortal rulers act, a good author can prevent their unspoken assumptions about divinity from being connected with mortal rulers, which can mitigate the potential problems associated with those tropes. However, if your worldview has incorruptibility as an aspect of whatever reality is founded on, rather than a specific character trait of specific fictional characters, it's going to be much harder to avoid writing that way.

    I know I've emphasized that no one author has that much influence over anyone in their audience, which might make some people wonder why what that one author writes matters. Two reasons:
    1. Just because the cause is culture in the aggregate doesn't absolve anyone influencing culture from trying to make the best impact they can on their culture. Even if you're just a fanfic author read by a thousand random guys on the Internet, you have a duty to make what you write as ethical as possible. To de-purple my prose, it's the authorial equivalent of "don't be a douche".
    2. Talking about authors who accidentally include harmful messages in their work (or tropes which usually do so) makes people more aware of the effect media can have on them and what this looks like. People who are aware of the methods by which media can influence them (intentional or not) and the effects it can have are, to oversimplify it, more resistant to those influences. After all, they all operate via the unconscious mind; being consciously aware of those influences reduces their effects.
    2b. On a related note...for writers, the best way to avoid writing messages you didn't mean to is also to think about these things consciously. What cultural sources am I drawing on? Is there unwanted baggage associated with the tropes I'm using, and which aspects of said tropes are the baggage's source? What
    (presumably positive) messages am I trying to convey, and what aspects of my work detract from those?

    I'd like to recommend these two Extra Credits videos. They're what started my journey to understanding why these aspects of culture matter.


    Also, I notice we've been skirting around forum rules a lot lately, or at least they've been mentioned. Perhaps we should focus on the in-universe and not the out-of-universe narrative?
    This is one of those things where it's hard to explain my reaction to one without discussing the other. (Themes matter, you know?)
    I think I've been staying on the side of discussing culture and away from discussing politics, but the boundary between the two is literally nonexistent, considering that politics are just an unusually influential aspect of culture.

    Interesting. I think that trying to make Law and Chaos - or Good and Evil - into equal and opposed forces is a lost cause, but your setup has an elegant sort of symmetry.
    I personally think it's exactly as fruitful an endeavor as trying to make Fire and Water into equal and opposed forces; it requires some subconscious buy-in by playing on the cultural associations between abstract concepts and then codifying those concepts into concrete ideas you can use in your story, but it works.
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    Ah, thank you very much GreatWyrmGold, you obviously live up to that name with your intelligence and wisdom with that post.
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  7. - Top - End - #97
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    I'll have to address that post of yours later, GWG. I've been working on this for ages and need to post it before more people post things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard_Lizard View Post
    how would undead work?
    Undead are somewhat problematic, and it's going to be difficult to do a complete inversion of them, simply because that would create an entire type of creatures which are nearly all good. However, I believe the official stance (at least, in 3.5) of "undead are always evil under any circumstances and a blight on the universe" to be flawed to begin with, and a symptoom of a bias by the developers towards a Lawful Good perspective, if not Lawful Neutral... but that's a topic for another day. Anyway, my personal approach would be to deal with undead on a case-by-case basis. Some can be switched over to be good-aligned, but the average should be neutral, I think.

    Unintelligent undead are easy enough - not being sapient, they'd be neutral, although in a practical sense their morality depends on that of whoever created them. Even so, there might be many good necromancers - especially if deities such as Nerull are switched to Good. I don't see them as being exclusively good, though, as I doubt the evil races would refrain from making use of the undead if it suited them.

    Speaking of which, it's very likely that undead will become an exception to the alignment flip. What's more, it fundamentally changes the nature of positive and negative energy, which generally are associated with good and evil respectively. If most undead become good, but not all, than both positive and negative energy become more neutral, and, for instance, Clerics can choose to channel either. Granted, the treatment of undead is my biggest complaint with D&D cosmology, so I don't consider this more nuanced approach a bad thing. Although... it would be interesting to consider a world where negative energy is primarily a force for Good, and negative energy a force for Evil...

    Anyway, recurring theme with undead is that they are sometimes people killed by some horrible or unjust means, and have returned from the dead to make others suffer. The difference, perhaps, could be that they are no longer indiscriminate killers - instead, they hunt down the ones responsible for their deaths (for those who were murdered), or, through some method, try to ensure that others do not suffer the same fate. Related, I also like GreatWyrmGold's suggestion of, for example, Morhgs that were once killers, but have been remade as undead assassins in order to hunt down other evildoers. It's a combination of the "unfinished business" undead trope, but I look at it as an example of the enduring nature of Good. Evil may be dominant in this world, but Good will survive, and strike back against Evil. This might be either a trait of the setting itself, or simply the result of gods like Nerull being good - their power is such that they can sometimes raise the dead to serve as agents of Good. They don't even need to be Good-aligned,, per se - but if they only target evildoers, they are functionally a force for Good.

    Now, for specific undead types:

    Bodaks: Bodaks are, in this world, created from people destroyed by powerful Good magic. Specifically, if a powerful evildoer is slain by holy magic, if there is even the slightest amount of remorse, compassion, or some other good in his soul, he becomes reborn as a Bodak - an undead emissary of good. They only remember those moments of their past lives in which they felt or expressed kindness towards others, though they understand that they had a wicked past that they atone for, by utterly destroying sources of evil. They prefer to use their death gaze, which is both painless and instantaneous, as they are unable to feel hatred or anger, even towards the most vile of beings.

    Devourers: Devourers are not only assassins, but jailers. They are likely to go after targets who are likely to be raised or resurrected - or who have already undergone such a process. Once such an evildoer is captured, the Devourer attempts to rehabilitate them over time - though Devourers have no qualms about consuming the life force of the truly unrepentant in order to fuel their own magic.

    Mummy: Mummies are noble souls who chose to guard some sacred location even after death. Some mummies are entombed as a form of redemption, but in general their service is voluntary - a form of self-sacrifice for a higher purpose. Honestly, the concept of mummies as described never seemed particularly evil to me, so there's not much change to describe.

    Nightshades: Nightshades are powerful forces of good, representing both absolute good, and absolute enmity towards evil. They are mysterious beings, and some believe them to be embodiments of some sort of primal goodness. Others believe that they are created in response to great atrocities, as some sort of dark counterbalance. Either way, to good creatures they are aloof allies, but to evil creatures they are implacable foes, who snuff out evil with the cold detachment of a human swatting a mosquito.

    (NB: 5e changed Nightwalkers pretty heavily, but also gave them actual origins. I came up with my own idea before reading up on 5e's Nightwalkers - although I admit I don't feel like trying to flip 5e's concept of them).

    Wights: Sometimes, when a person dies through negative energy, a powerful entity of undead and good takes notice - perhaps Nerull or Orcus. If the individual was good, they are given the opportunity to continue their work even in death - and if the individual was evil, they are given a chance to redeem themselves by acting as an agent of good in the service of their new patron. Those who accept become Wights. Some act alone, as furtive agents or as leaders, while others form elite squads of holy warriors. They can be particularly insidious foes for evil factions to fight, for they can convert those they slay into their allies - and some are adept at getting even the living to join their cause. More than one revolution or coup in an evil kingdom has been spearheaded by wights.

    Will-o'-Wisps: Instead of misleading adventurers, they guide them to safety. Often they are the spirits of those who died in treacherous wilderness, underground caverns, or even artificial labyrinths, lingering near the site of their deaths for a time, hoping to help others avoid the same fate.

    (These became undead in 5e... which I'm fine with, personally)

    Vampires: (First, a note)

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Vampires generally represent some combination of disease and the aristocracy. (Insert joke suggesting the two are equivalent.) It's not going to be easy to keep that thematic baggage while redeeming them, so let's invert the themes, too. They're not representations of decay or the depredations of the upper classes; they're representations of a lower class struggling to improve themselves and their station, feeling like they have no other choice in their oppressive societies. Presumably, they'd go all Robin Hood on the upper classes who held them back for so long.
    Interestingly enough, this probably brings them back to the source - historically, most suspected vampires were peasant, I believe. So the theme of vampires being lower-class fits quite well. In folklore there are often many different potential causes of vampirism - which means a vampire can arise spontaneously without a sire. This can no doubt be quite a source of fear for the upper-classes, who take various measures to the creation of new vampires - never knowing which of them actually work.

    In this model, vampires are those who have been given a second chance at "life" - now with new abilities and powers that let them exist free of the oppression they suffered in life. But in exchange, they must drink the blood of the living to survive. Some use their new powers for good, others sink into depravity. But, as undead, there are forces in the world which try to push them towards doing good. It's just that, as free-willed undead born from oppression, not all vampires heed the call.

    In vampire stories, vampires are horrible monsters, tragic victims, and sometimes both. Traditional D&D has them as mostly monsters. Mirror D&D has them mostly as victims. Many are born from tragic pasts. Many even feel remorse for what they do. But I think they work best as "self-made undead" - who go their own way in the end.



    There are a few I left out, such as Shadows/Specters/Wraiths. Honestly, these are all just variations on a theme: incorporeal undead that hate life. The designers were pretty obviously going for quantity over quantity. I also didn't tackle Allips, as I wasn't quite sure how to turn them good beyond a generic "seeks vengeance for past wrongs." Still, I hope I did well with these ideas, or at least provided ground for discussion.



    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    That makes some amount of sense, but if we're flipping the alignment of every major race, I'd rather flip the alignment of the cosmos, too. Makes the setting's flip seem more complete, less patchy.

    ...Something to emphasize that the people running the cosmos are jerks, and the "good" races are only Good in the sense that they serve those people.
    The implication from all this is that Good is an unnatural force, in the sense that it goes against how the powers-that-be think the universe should be. In this setting, Good is an insidious force, lurking in the shadows and threatening to corrupt all life, and is nothing short of blasphemy against the proper order of the world. It just so happens that the "proper order of the world" is corrupt and morally bankrupt by our standards.

    It also makes being Good a little more meaningful, I think. Society (at least, the society of the dominant races) doesn't expect you to be good, and may even treat you with scorn if you do so. Selfishness, meanwhile, reaps its own rewards and people don't even expect you to do differently. The only reason to be good in this setting... is for the sake of Goodness itself. And for the most noble of heroes, that's all the reason they need.

    Of course, Evil as an ideology isn't particularly appealing other than through promised rewards. Elves, Dwarves, etc. have their own values, but they revolve around things like power, aesthetics, glory, and the like. In some ways this isn't so different from, say, Ancient Greece, where the primary defining trait of heroes were that they were mighty enough to do what they wanted. The idea of "right makes might" - the idea that one's power comes from one's own virtues or perhaps divine providence - is likely in play among evil races, which of course is just a justification for what is actually a "might makes right" culture. In ancient times they also thought beauty was a mark of goodness or divine favor... which leads us to:

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    The easy option imo is to tie the forces of 'Good' outsiders together by their common trend of being aesthetically pretty compared to the more bestial fiends. Angels and so on are attempting to cultivate mortals on aesthetic grounds rather than ones of virtue or vice, and encourage mortals to hold the same principles and to alter and dominate their surroundings to a more pleasant appearance.

    So an evil soul in this setting goes to a place like Celestia, where it is tortured and degraded by the celestials for being lesser than they hold themselves to be. Their planes are each perfectly maintained visions of aesthetic perfection by the standard of the outsiders maintained by their lower ranks and the enslaved souls of those who perished, with exalted souls and higher angels being served by those considered fair enough that it doesn't repulse their masters.

    The good gods would be much the same, Moradin driving the dwarfs to build ever higher and greater fortresses from the mountains, to delve ever more for treasure and to build vast edifices in his honour, Correllon urging the elves to shape nature according to his aesthetic preferences, culling any plant, beast or humanoid that violates his vision of a perfect forest no matter the suffering caused in the process. Then in the afterlife any of their worshippers who fail to meet standards get punished, dwarves are set as slave labour or chained together to hold up statues and columns, elves who dissatisfy Correllon are turned into beasts to be hunted eternally.
    Evil societies in this setting subscribe hardcore to the idea that Beauty = Goodness" (or, since they're evil, "worthiness." Elves no doubt play this the most heavily, but even dwarves are obsessed with magnificent monuments, halls, and even ornamented wargear. Halflings like their villages to have a picturesque feel that belies the vile nature of their inhabitants. Their cultures favor the imagery of animals that are considered regal and noble, like eagles and lions, even moreso than we do. Meanwhile, they look down on orcs, kobolds, gnolls, and other races for being "beastlike," viewing them as barbarians. In general, each of the now-evil races views everyone else as "barbarians" no matter how civilized they may be, much as ancient Greece and Rome did.
    Quote Originally Posted by Potato_Priest View Post
    Honestly, most players would get super excited about Zenob the god of crabs because it's eccentric. I know I would.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusk Raven View Post
    I'll have to address that post of yours later, GWG. I've been working on this for ages and need to post it before more people post things.
    That's fair; I've been there. And I kind of went full bore with dense lit-class material I barely understand well enough to explain.

    However, I believe the official stance (at least, in 3.5) of "undead are always evil under any circumstances and a blight on the universe" to be flawed to begin with, and a symptoom of a bias by the developers towards a Lawful Good perspective, if not Lawful Neutral...
    I'd call it less of a LG/LN bias and more of a "let's include standard fantasy biases without considering how well they apply to the broad gamut of potential settings we're trying to enable" thing.
    But yeah, entire creature types being one alignment is kinda dumb. It's the kind of problem that you run into if you're going for a straight reflection of D&D morality, warts and all.

    Bodaks: [I]f a powerful evildoer is slain by holy magic, if there is even the slightest amount of remorse, compassion, or some other good in his soul, he becomes reborn as a Bodak - an undead emissary of good.
    I like this idea; it gives the good-bodak a specific identity. Which makes it the opposite of the vanilla bodak as far as I'm concerned, because they're the undead I remember the least lore about.

    Devourers: Devourers are not only assassins, but jailers. They are likely to go after targets who are likely to be raised or resurrected - or who have already undergone such a process. Once such an evildoer is captured, the Devourer attempts to rehabilitate them over time - though Devourers have no qualms about consuming the life force of the truly unrepentant in order to fuel their own magic.
    This sounds more "edgy hero" than "Good," especially that last part. Then again, capturing creatures and draining their HD is sort of an Evil thing no matter how you spin it. (And as a nitpick, it seems like those sorts of creatures would be pretty rare.)
    Hm...maybe have them be nearly-empty husks who watch over souls of the penitent fallen within them? The "devourers" would basically just be artificial vessels for postmortem redemption of those who committed such great evil that they believed themselves unable to be truly redeemed. Their time spent piloting/powering the Devourer, even spending their own essence to achieve its goals, is a combination of redemption quest and self-flagellation. Certainly a darker corner of what could be considered good, but it's about the best you can get without dropping their "consume bits of soul to power magic" mechanics.

    Nightshades: Nightshades are powerful forces of good, representing both absolute good, and absolute enmity towards evil. They are mysterious beings, and some believe them to be embodiments of some sort of primal goodness. Others believe that they are created in response to great atrocities, as some sort of dark counterbalance.
    This makes them sound too much like outsiders. To distinguish them, maybe they're creatures made of "the dark side of good"? You know, things like "righteous anger on the edge of cruelty".

    There are a few I left out, such as Shadows/Specters/Wraiths. Honestly, these are all just variations on a theme: incorporeal undead that hate life. The designers were pretty obviously going for quantity over quantity. I also didn't tackle Allips, as I wasn't quite sure how to turn them good beyond a generic "seeks vengeance for past wrongs." Still, I hope I did well with these ideas, or at least provided ground for discussion.
    No idea about the various "ghosts what hate people and drain energy in what used to be mechanically distinct manners" undead, but...allips are strongly associated with madness, so maybe make them tragic people whose minds were broken by great evil? They know they have unfinished business but have no idea what that business might be, because of the madness thrust upon them, so they just do what good they can until they stumble upon whatever business they have.

    The implication from all this is that Good is an unnatural force, in the sense that it goes against how the powers-that-be think the universe should be. In this setting, Good is an insidious force, lurking in the shadows and threatening to corrupt all life, and is nothing short of blasphemy against the proper order of the world. It just so happens that the "proper order of the world" is corrupt and morally bankrupt by our standards.

    It also makes being Good a little more meaningful, I think. Society (at least, the society of the dominant races) doesn't expect you to be good, and may even treat you with scorn if you do so. Selfishness, meanwhile, reaps its own rewards and people don't even expect you to do differently. The only reason to be good in this setting... is for the sake of Goodness itself. And for the most noble of heroes, that's all the reason they need.
    I like this idea, though it brings to the surface a fundamental terminology confusion.

    Proposal
    How about we use "Light" when referring to things that used to be Good but are mirrored to Evil, and "Darkness" when referring to things that used to be Evil but are mirrored to Good? (Things which are "good" or "evil" in both worlds, e.g. charity and hatred, can be referred to as just "good" or "evil".) That should sufficiently detach things from the moral terminology to remove ambiguity and confusion, while also establishing recognizable aesthetics. An example, quoting a paragraph I'm about to respond to:

    Of course, Light as an ideology isn't particularly appealing other than through promised rewards. Elves, Dwarves, etc. have their own values, but they revolve around things like power, aesthetics, glory, and the like. In some ways this isn't so different from, say, Ancient Greece, where the primary defining trait of heroes were that they were mighty enough to do what they wanted. The idea of "right makes might" - the idea that one's power comes from one's own virtues or perhaps divine providence - is likely in play among Light races, which of course is just a justification for what is actually a "might makes right" culture. In ancient times they also thought beauty was a mark of goodness or divine favor... which leads us to:

    Light societies in this setting subscribe hardcore to the idea that Beauty = Goodness" (or, since they're evil, "worthiness." -snip- Meanwhile, they look down on orcs, kobolds, gnolls, and other races of darkness for being "beastlike," viewing them as barbarians. In general, each of the now-evil races views everyone else as "barbarians" no matter how civilized they may be, much as ancient Greece and Rome did.
    I like this idea, especially with the intentional parallels to Classical culture. Which gives us another starting point for the aesthetics of this proposed world, one not completely distinct from standard European fantasy but distinct enough to serve as a starting point.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Proposal
    How about we use "Light" when referring to things that used to be Good but are mirrored to Evil, and "Darkness" when referring to things that used to be Evil but are mirrored to Good? (Things which are "good" or "evil" in both worlds, e.g. charity and hatred, can be referred to as just "good" or "evil".) That should sufficiently detach things from the moral terminology to remove ambiguity and confusion, while also establishing recognizable aesthetics.
    I agree wholeheartedly with this. I've been dancing around terms like "now-evil" or "previously-evil," but this is more elegant, I think. Besides, ascribing darkness to good and light to evil is something I've enjoyed doing for a long time. In itself, good races being either nocturnal or native to the Underdark has its own worldbuilding implications...

    Quote Originally Posted by ReaderAt2046 View Post
    Kuo-Toa: ...Their reputation as "god-makers" comes from the fact that they are almost pathologically bad at theology, mangling and recombining the names, legends, and iconographies of all the Good gods they have ever heard of into unrecognizable mish-moshes. Attempting to guess which actual God is answering any given kua-toa's prayers is usually an exercise in futility.
    I had to look them up in the 5e Monster Manual to see how this was a "dark" flip, as their entry in 3.5 is... pretty basic. I'm starting to notice a difference between the two editions - in 5e the devs tried a lot harder to give interesting lore to each race, to distinguish them from other, similar races (I mean, the Kuo-Toa have Locathah and Sahaugin as competitors in the "fish people" category), where 3.5 just gave them fairly generic descriptions. I like 5e's approach more, as the background info, while often weird, can stand on its own merit, and can also be ignored if the DM wants their setting to be different.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    spoiler=Attempted Elaboration
    Ah, I see. That's especially relevant to me, as a writer. In context, regarding the post you were responding to at the time, the concept of "the fundamental nature of a setting is always good" - or repeatedly using said concept - can translate to believing that the basic structure of power in society, or even society itself, is always good regardless of what it may actually be?

    This is one of those things where it's hard to explain my reaction to one without discussing the other. (Themes matter, you know?)
    I think I've been staying on the side of discussing culture and away from discussing politics, but the boundary between the two is literally nonexistent, considering that politics are just an unusually influential aspect of culture.
    I can appreciate that. I myself believe in the interconnectedness of all things, and I suppose it's hard to avoid certain topics. We'll just have to treat carefully.

    I personally think it's exactly as fruitful an endeavor as trying to make Fire and Water into equal and opposed forces; it requires some subconscious buy-in by playing on the cultural associations between abstract concepts and then codifying those concepts into concrete ideas you can use in your story, but it works.
    The Classical elements, by the way, are another set of four that frustrate me due to their inherent asymmetry. Some schools of thought regarding them make more sense than others, however - I particularly like the Japanese interpretation of those four elements, plus the "source." In part, because the four elements are treated as elements of a whole, and are not necessarily meant to stand on their own... like how an entire type of creatures and planes of existence do in D&D.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I'd call it less of a LG/LN bias and more of a "let's include standard fantasy biases without considering how well they apply to the broad gamut of potential settings we're trying to enable" thing. But yeah, entire creature types being one alignment is kinda dumb. It's the kind of problem that you run into if you're going for a straight reflection of D&D morality, warts and all.
    Well, it does make sense that they were just repeating pre-existing tropes, but I think it's also a symptom of an underlying bias. That bias - which becomes apparent when looking at the Book of Vile Darkness and what it defines as "evil" - is that they are more likely to believe in categorical morality, where an action is determined to be good or evil by what it is rather than its result. It's a valid viewpoint to have even if I personally don't believe in it. There's some nuance - an admission that killing is not evil if it's killing an inherently evil creature, for instance - but it devotes a lot of time to describing particular acts as evil - and in some cases, such as with undead - regardless of results. I might be wrong on this, but I see this mindset as being slanted towards lawful, whereas those with a Chaotic values system are more likely to take things on a case-by-case basis or look at the results. "The means justify the ends" versus "the ends justify the means."


    [Regarding Bodaks]I like this idea; it gives the good-bodak a specific identity. Which makes it the opposite of the vanilla bodak as far as I'm concerned, because they're the undead I remember the least lore about.
    I've only rarely seen them used, but they've stuck out to me. But then again, creatures with instant-death effects are pretty remarkable to me. Still, it was interesting to come up with something for them.

    [Regarding Devourers] This sounds more "edgy hero" than "Good," especially that last part. Then again, capturing creatures and draining their HD is sort of an Evil thing no matter how you spin it. (And as a nitpick, it seems like those sorts of creatures would be pretty rare.)
    Hm...maybe have them be nearly-empty husks who watch over souls of the penitent fallen within them? The "devourers" would basically just be artificial vessels for postmortem redemption of those who committed such great evil that they believed themselves unable to be truly redeemed. Their time spent piloting/powering the Devourer, even spending their own essence to achieve its goals, is a combination of redemption quest and self-flagellation. Certainly a darker corner of what could be considered good, but it's about the best you can get without dropping their "consume bits of soul to power magic" mechanics.
    I admit I'm not quite as content with my own creation for this one, and I like your idea a lot more. Perhaps the idea of "Devourers trap people's souls and use them to power their magic" is actually just misinformation by those who oppose the forces of light.

    [Regarding Nightshades] This makes them sound too much like outsiders. To distinguish them, maybe they're creatures made of "the dark side of good"? You know, things like "righteous anger on the edge of cruelty".
    Nightshades are, like Shadows, an odd sort of undead in that they aren't actually made from anyone's corpse. In 3.5 they are described as being made of "equal parts darkness and absolute evil," but also come from the Negative Energy Plane, so if anything they're almost like elementals. What I wrote was the closest I could come to flipping that to Chaotic Good. I think the "dark side of good" angle is a good one to go for, though. They are, perhaps, undead that are defined by their complete opposition to evil, and while they are agents of good, they have no mercy or compassion for evil. They do not negotiate, they do not compromise. They only rest when the forces of light are utterly destroyed.

    No idea about the various "ghosts what hate people and drain energy in what used to be mechanically distinct manners" undead, but...allips are strongly associated with madness, so maybe make them tragic people whose minds were broken by great evil? They know they have unfinished business but have no idea what that business might be, because of the madness thrust upon them, so they just do what good they can until they stumble upon whatever business they have.
    Depending on how indiscriminate their madness makes them, they could become quite tragic, wanting to do good but so out-of-touch with reality that what they actually do can be quite harmful.

    You know, I just realized, I forgot a very important type of undead - Liches! In 3.5, the Monster Manual doesn't describe the actual process of becoming a Lich or creating a phylactery, only that it's "unspeakably evil." Literally unspeakable, apparently. 5e goes into more detail, saying that it requires learning the secret from a powerful evil entity of undeath, like Orcus, as well as killing another person as a sacrifice. Since morality is flipped, the forces of darkness have a number of undead lords and entities on their side, so perhaps the process of becoming a Lich instead requires the supplicant to go on a quest to accomplish some noble deed, after which they are granted Lichdom and eternal life. They are, of course, expected to use their powers for good purposes.

    I like this idea, especially with the intentional parallels to Classical culture. Which gives us another starting point for the aesthetics of this proposed world, one not completely distinct from standard European fantasy but distinct enough to serve as a starting point.
    It's interesting and scary how much the forces of Light are resembling those ancient cultures - and how different the morality of Classical times could be from our own. On the other hand, having the morality of some cultures of Light line up with ancient real-world belief systems gives it some versimilitude, even if the Light cultures vary or take those beliefs to extremes.
    Last edited by Dusk Raven; 2019-08-21 at 12:00 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Potato_Priest View Post
    Honestly, most players would get super excited about Zenob the god of crabs because it's eccentric. I know I would.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusk Raven View Post
    I had to look them up in the 5e Monster Manual to see how this was a "dark" flip, as their entry in 3.5 is... pretty basic. I'm starting to notice a difference between the two editions - in 5e the devs tried a lot harder to give interesting lore to each race, to distinguish them from other, similar races (I mean, the Kuo-Toa have Locathah and Sahaugin as competitors in the "fish people" category), where 3.5 just gave them fairly generic descriptions. I like 5e's approach more, as the background info, while often weird, can stand on its own merit, and can also be ignored if the DM wants their setting to be different.
    I don't like all of the lore 5e made, but I do like that they tried to give the various evil races more distinct lore than "This is a evul person what raids and worships dark gods an' stuff."

    Ah, I see. That's especially relevant to me, as a writer. In context, regarding the post you were responding to at the time, the concept of "the fundamental nature of a setting is always good" - or repeatedly using said concept - can translate to believing that the basic structure of power in society, or even society itself, is always good regardless of what it may actually be?
    More or less.

    Well, it does make sense that they were just repeating pre-existing tropes, but I think it's also a symptom of an underlying bias. That bias - which becomes apparent when looking at the Book of Vile Darkness and what it defines as "evil" - is that they are more likely to believe in categorical morality, where an action is determined to be good or evil by what it is rather than its result.
    Fair, though I'd like to point out that this is hardly unique to WotC without violating forum rules.

    ...I might be wrong on this, but I see this mindset as being slanted towards lawful, whereas those with a Chaotic values system are more likely to take things on a case-by-case basis or look at the results. "The means justify the ends" versus "the ends justify the means."
    That depends entirely on how you define "lawful" and "chaotic," and while that's nowhere near as heated as debates about "good" and "evil" can always get, it's at least as vague.

    I admit I'm not quite as content with my own creation for this one, and I like your idea a lot more. Perhaps the idea of "Devourers trap people's souls and use them to power their magic" is actually just misinformation by those who oppose the forces of light.
    Maybe, but you'd have to either come up with an alternate interpretation that fits the mechanics of its signature ability or change it altogether. Which is the problem with radically altering lore like this.

    Nightshades are, like Shadows, an odd sort of undead in that they aren't actually made from anyone's corpse. In 3.5 they are described as being made of "equal parts darkness and absolute evil," but also come from the Negative Energy Plane, so if anything they're almost like elementals.
    Fair point.

    Depending on how indiscriminate their madness makes them, they could become quite tragic, wanting to do good but so out-of-touch with reality that what they actually do can be quite harmful.
    That's a story idea that I wouldn't want to forbid, but I also wouldn't want to make it the default for mirror allips.

    It's interesting and scary how much the forces of Light are resembling those ancient cultures...
    I think it has more to do with human pattern-recognition, and the way that human nature doesn't change as much as we'd like it to. Even millennia after Heracles and Achilles stopped being treated as ideals to live up to, we still have the same flaws and try to justify them in the same ways. When designing a setting like this, it's easy to slip into those classic ruts...and not necessarily a bad thing, since it means we don't need to spend as much time explaining basic stuff and can focus on what's important to the story.


    So...do we want to try taking some of these ideas and assembling them into a proper setting? Probably in another thread, since that would be moving away from "What if we flipped D&D morality?" and towards making an independent world which happens to flip many aspects of D&D morality.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I don't like all of the lore 5e made, but I do like that they tried to give the various evil races more distinct lore than "This is a evul person what raids and worships dark gods an' stuff."
    Likewise. Case in point, I don't care for the new Nightwalker lore (or its reduced mental scores), but they're at least making an effort and I respect that. At the very least, I tend to find the new lore more interesting.

    Fair, though I'd like to point out that this is hardly unique to WotC without violating forum rules.
    Yeah, I'm aware. I was trying to avoid mentioning certain groups, myself.

    That depends entirely on how you define "lawful" and "chaotic," and while that's nowhere near as heated as debates about "good" and "evil" can always get, it's at least as vague.
    Indeed, that's why it's an assumption on my part. All the same, the trend of categorical good/evil does leave people like me in a bit of an odd position sometimes...

    Maybe, but you'd have to either come up with an alternate interpretation that fits the mechanics of its signature ability or change it altogether. Which is the problem with radically altering lore like this.
    Fair enough.
    I think it has more to do with human pattern-recognition, and the way that human nature doesn't change as much as we'd like it to. Even millennia after Heracles and Achilles stopped being treated as ideals to live up to, we still have the same flaws and try to justify them in the same ways. When designing a setting like this, it's easy to slip into those classic ruts...and not necessarily a bad thing, since it means we don't need to spend as much time explaining basic stuff and can focus on what's important to the story.

    So...do we want to try taking some of these ideas and assembling them into a proper setting? Probably in another thread, since that would be moving away from "What if we flipped D&D morality?" and towards making an independent world which happens to flip many aspects of D&D morality.
    I actually made a thread once, for brainstorming specific ideas in a D&D Mirror setting, and I provided an example in the form of a city. It received no replies, and I never tried to submit another example.
    Quote Originally Posted by Potato_Priest View Post
    Honestly, most players would get super excited about Zenob the god of crabs because it's eccentric. I know I would.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    The easy option imo is to tie the forces of 'Good' outsiders together by their common trend of being aesthetically pretty compared to the more bestial fiends. Angels and so on are attempting to cultivate mortals on aesthetic grounds rather than ones of virtue or vice, and encourage mortals to hold the same principles and to alter and dominate their surroundings to a more pleasant appearance.

    So an evil soul in this setting goes to a place like Celestia, where it is tortured and degraded by the celestials for being lesser than they hold themselves to be. Their planes are each perfectly maintained visions of aesthetic perfection by the standard of the outsiders maintained by their lower ranks and the enslaved souls of those who perished, with exalted souls and higher angels being served by those considered fair enough that it doesn't repulse their masters.

    The good gods would be much the same, Moradin driving the dwarfs to build ever higher and greater fortresses from the mountains, to delve ever more for treasure and to build vast edifices in his honour, Correllon urging the elves to shape nature according to his aesthetic preferences, culling any plant, beast or humanoid that violates his vision of a perfect forest no matter the suffering caused in the process. Then in the afterlife any of their worshippers who fail to meet standards get punished, dwarves are set as slave labour or chained together to hold up statues and columns, elves who dissatisfy Correllon are turned into beasts to be hunted eternally.

    Stuff like that.

    The fiends and 'evil' gods meanwhile like things the way they are, appreciating the carrion bird as much as the songbird, the hyena as much as the lion, overgrown bramble as much as a cultivated orchard. They see past the surface of things into the deeper merits, and each formed meritocracies to determine leadership.
    Which suggests to me an alternate approach to elves from the "scourge of the earth" elves Thunderfist proposed way back near the beginning of the thread. These elves would be something similar to the elves of MTG's Lorwyn, psychotic aesthetes whose moral code is entirely dominated by their own standards of beauty and attractiveness. Any sufficiently deformed or permanently scarred elf, and everything (living, inanimate, or sapient) that is not an elf become "eyeblights", things to be either used as materials and canvas for the artistry of the high-caste elves or destroyed if no elf cares to reshape it. Those elves which are only moderately attractive, and those things and creatures which a high-caste elf has worked upon and is satisfied with his work, become a sort of middle rank, preserved from destruction and treated with a modicum of respect, but with few rights and little power. And the most beautiful and immaculate elves become the elite, the rulers who reshape the flawed to their vision, working out more complex and subtle artistries with the lives of the lesser elves and their reshaped creations and using them as pawns in elaborate games with their equals, the rules of which change according to the subtle complexities of tone and theme and the stakes of which can be death - or worse, disgrace.

    I imagine cosmetic magic would be very advanced and ubiquitous in this culture, not only for the obvious use of improving your own beauty, but also as a weapon (if you can scar a rival's visage and they cannot repair it, they will lose rank and possibly fall all the way to eyeblight). I'm also imagining that, especially at the higher levels, social grace is as important as physical beauty. If you can trick or goad a rival into committing a faux pas, they will lose rank and have to rebuild their reputation. This also probably means that there would not be open war among these elves, since nobody would be so gauche as to publically attack another of their own or a higher caste. Of course, eyeblights are owed no courtesy whatsoever...

    Maybe these aesthete elves could be the High Elves of this world, and the "scourge of the earth" elves Thunderfist proposed would be the Wood Elves.

    On a similar note, it occurs to me that Dark humans would be in an interesting position in this world, since they're one of the few Dark races (other than the drow), who fit Light standards of beauty. I imagine tattoos and even ritual scarification would become commonplace in Dark-aligned human cultures, a way of symbolically defacing the image of the Light and declaring your brotherhood with other Dark races.

    And finally:

    Unicorns: While unicorns are often summoned as guardians by priests of Light gods (especially elves), their natural function is as a kind of area denial mechanism. If the Light races are not at present making use of a certain forest or field or stream, the Light gods may send a unicorn to patrol it, just to make sure that the Dark races can't have it.

    Succubi/Incubi These spirits serve two complementary functions in the hierarchies of Darkness. In the first place, they are the Darkness's missionaries. Able to disguise themselves all but faultlessly as creatures of Light, they infiltrate the cities and strongholds of the Light-aligned races, blending in until they find those few among the Light-aligned races in which there is some vestige of a conscience. They quietly seek these rare souls out, whisper to them of goodness and hope, guide them to escape their chains or renounce their sinful luxuries and flee to safety among the Dark races.

    Secondly, they offer counseling and consolation to the creatures of Darkness. When you are on the verge of despair, or when you are horrified at the things you have done, a stranger may appear, offering a friendly ear, a bit of advice perfectly suited to your situation, a good meal, or even a night of relaxation and pleasure. And only later do you realize that you have never seen that person before and probably never will again.

    Occasionally, a succubus or incubus will instead join up long-term with a dark-aligned mortal, offering wise counsel (and possibly a warm bed) to a king or warlord, lending her services to an adventuring party, or simply living out a lifetime as the love of some mortal whom she feels a particular bond with.
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    We have to include those few edgy drow pc's who defy their good origins, and the worhip f the benevolent lolth, and escape the underdark to go join the other elves in h pursuit of evil!
    Current characters:
    Drakirr (Blue Dragonborn Warlock)
    Alyfyldyr Hyalythki (Rock Gnome Wizard)
    Harilidir (Half-elf Bard)
    Kazaharad Akaztkl (Goliath Barbarian)
    Luft (air-genasi druid)
    And of course Lizard Wizard (Lizardfolk Sorcerer)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard_Lizard View Post
    We have to include those few edgy drow pc's who defy their good origins, and the worhip f the benevolent lolth, and escape the underdark to go join the other elves in h pursuit of evil!
    Surely the equivalent is surface elves fleeing their evil brethren to join the drow as anti-heroes. I imagine they'd wear a lot of black and eye shadow to 'fit in.'
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    Surely the equivalent is surface elves fleeing their evil brethren to join the drow as anti-heroes. I imagine they'd wear a lot of black and eye shadow to 'fit in.'
    The Devkarin elves live in the vast sewer system that replaced Ravnica's underdark. Their skin isn't much different from that of surface elves, but many wear paint that "is dabbed on the face in spots or markings that often resemble the eyes of insects or spiders" (D&D 5e GGtR p180).
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    In mirror-D&D, elves who recently moved to the underdark might declare their fealty to Lolth in this way.

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    I don't have much to say about the "Lorwyn eyeblight" concept for elves, except to say why I like it.
    It would be easy to just make every light race the opposite of their canon counterpart. Every virtue possessed by the elves could simply be replaced by an equal and opposite vice. But that's boring, and honestly you'd probably just end up with a pyromaniacal drow variant. Instead, the "eyeblight" elves take one of the core virtues of elves—their love for natural beauty (defined such that it doesn't contradict their tendency to shape trees &c into unnatural shapes that they can live in)—and let it engulf their empathy. It also extends their love for individuality to evil extents by letting talented, beloved individuals do whatever they want to amass power or pursue pleasure, so long as they don't violate their first "virtue".
    I'd like to do the opposite for all the dark races—take their sins and dial them back until they can be virtues—but too many of them don't develop those sins enough for that to work out. It's easy to see how a love for beauty could be taken far enough that it becomes a hatred of ugliness, but it's harder to figure out how a penchant for banditry or slavery or brain-eating could be "dialed back" to be reasonable without just making something thematically related.


    Since we're taking a second pass on how the main light races could be made evil, I'd like to take on the dwarves. The only substantial contribution I could find is this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Thunderfist12 View Post
    Dwarves: As a Lawful Evil race, dwarven culture becomes oppressive and warlike. Droves of slave miners churn out iron and coal, labor in the forges and foundries becomes no more than glorified slave work, not providing nearly enough earnings to escape the lash. The only way out of servitude for the common folk is by enlisting into their armies, which is in most cases certain death, as they slaughter deserters and never surrender. Decimation keeps them in line not only in militant groups, but in labor as well. The weakest of every ten is executed each month, a way to instill fear into the inefficient. Meanwhile, their lords hoard the wealth of the many in vast chambers and vaults, hiding away in their halls for fear of being overthrown. Assassination and coup d'etat is a common practice, creating a system similar to Byzantine politics.

    The dwarven distrust of magic transforms into sheer hatred, with witch burnings being common among them. Stronger still is their hate of elves, who make up the vast majority of their slaves.

    Dwarves and dragons go hand in hand in this scenario, and at least one dwarven kingdom finds itself under one's rule.
    It's basically just standard Lawful Evil stuff with a bit of dwarven flavor thrown in. (In my humble opinion, it makes the dwarves sound more like expansionist kleptomaniac drow than anything innately dwarven. Also, monthly decimation doesn't work at all from a purely mathematical standpoint.) Let's change that.

    If I had to pick two virtues I'd consider core to the dwarven identity, I'd pick honor and industriousness. Dwarves always follow the rules, which if not always perfectly just are at worst inconvenient, because they are Lawful Good; this is balanced by at least some dwarves being willing to bend the letter of the law to follow its spirit, and in more optimistically cerebral stories by the institutions being willing to change the letter of the law when a flaw is identified. Dwarves are also famous for their infrastructural masonry (equalling if not exceeding the work of even the Inca Empire), advanced metalworking (e.g. making the best if not only steel in the setting), and sometimes their gunpowder/steam engines/etc.
    It doesn't take a genius to see how to turn honor into a straightjacket forcing you to commit atrocities; it's happened often, in both fiction and reality, past and present. Similarly, turning industry into a vice requires nothing more than valuing it over the public good and individuals' well-being, much like the Gilded Age of our own history. But here's the thing: Those two eras of historical inspiration don't mesh well. The Gilded Age was built (in part) on the same kind of destructive, lawless individualism which I mentioned liking about the eyeblight elves, caused by progress moving faster than traditional laws or ethics could understand or adapt; on the other hand, honor is the very embodiment of ancient, traditional laws meant to promote public welfare.
    But these two points do have one thing in common—their cruelties are not driven by malice, but by apathy. These institutions do not drive people to selfishly use others for their own ends; they simply encourage people to go along with big ideas and systems too grand to easily comprehend from their lowly point of view, which results in some people being crushed between cogs of the machine. That's a kind of evil you don't see much of in D&D, one which fits perfectly with both dwarves' Lawful alignment and their standard characterization.


    Dwarven society is not overtly cruel or hateful. It is a mesh of three grand institutions—the Church, the Clans, and the Guilds. The dwarves empower the Church of Light more than any other race, which is why they make such good clerics; look to the Middle Ages for inspiration on their roles and powers, which I'm not going to focus on for fear of mod activity. The Clans are a bunch of traditional noble families holding power over various mountains, caverns, etc by traditional rights and claims. The Guilds are smaller, usually-local groups of tradesmen, bound by purpose and task. No dwarf lives outside the codes and regulations of at least one of these institutions, and most are bound by two or all three.

    There is a sort of central government in the Great Mountainhome, formed of a Great Council of guildmasters, clan heads, and bishops, each given certain debate and voting rights in accordance with their station and the importance of whatever group they represent. This Council does not exist to pass new laws or change anything; its function is merely to ensure everyone (especially those too powerful to be bound by anyone else) obeys the restrictions they are meant to obey. It appoints judges and magistrates to keep the peace across dwarvenkind, resolves (technically "disproves") contradictions between codes of honor for various sectors, serves as the final arbiter of whether or not someone fulfilled their duty, etc.
    Dwarven justice is harsh. They have no use for anyone who will not serve their place in society; this leads to a focus on rehabilitation when possible, but as crimes increase in severity the rehabilitation quickly turns to "re-education" before being abandoned in favor of execution or exile (depending on customary penalties for the capital crime in question, of course).

    Upward mobility is not unheard of; a truly exceptional dwarf can ascend beyond the station of their birth, and stories of such are passed around the hearth as part of a great "Dwarven Dream". But this dream is, for most, just that; it is an arduous road, where your rise will be opposed by those who have walked it before you, and where you will receive no aid from the machines you seek to climb.
    Dwarven relations with other races, particularly the dark races, are as harsh as you would expect. They gladly abide by any treaties signed with their allies and truces made with enemies, but they have little use for the outside world beyond this. If some clan, guild, or parish wants to make a trade compact or what-have-you with neighboring races, they are allowed to (and often do, for the dwarves are not as self-sufficient as they'd like to believe); anyone seeking to interact with dwarvenkind beyond that, let alone meddle with dwarven institutions or codes, will receive a response ranging from cold apathy to equally-cold retribution.

    ...Also, there's industry, mostly under the domain of the Guilds. It's more a flavor of oppressive institution in the mix than an independent thing in its own right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReaderAt2046 View Post
    Which suggests to me an alternate approach to elves from the "scourge of the earth" elves Thunderfist proposed way back near the beginning of the thread. These elves would be something similar to the elves of MTG's Lorwyn, psychotic aesthetes whose moral code is entirely dominated by their own standards of beauty and attractiveness. Any sufficiently deformed or permanently scarred elf, and everything (living, inanimate, or sapient) that is not an elf become "eyeblights", things to be either used as materials and canvas for the artistry of the high-caste elves or destroyed if no elf cares to reshape it. Those elves which are only moderately attractive, and those things and creatures which a high-caste elf has worked upon and is satisfied with his work, become a sort of middle rank, preserved from destruction and treated with a modicum of respect, but with few rights and little power. And the most beautiful and immaculate elves become the elite, the rulers who reshape the flawed to their vision, working out more complex and subtle artistries with the lives of the lesser elves and their reshaped creations and using them as pawns in elaborate games with their equals, the rules of which change according to the subtle complexities of tone and theme and the stakes of which can be death - or worse, disgrace.

    I imagine cosmetic magic would be very advanced and ubiquitous in this culture, not only for the obvious use of improving your own beauty, but also as a weapon (if you can scar a rival's visage and they cannot repair it, they will lose rank and possibly fall all the way to eyeblight). I'm also imagining that, especially at the higher levels, social grace is as important as physical beauty. If you can trick or goad a rival into committing a faux pas, they will lose rank and have to rebuild their reputation. This also probably means that there would not be open war among these elves, since nobody would be so gauche as to publically attack another of their own or a higher caste. Of course, eyeblights are owed no courtesy whatsoever...

    Maybe these aesthete elves could be the High Elves of this world, and the "scourge of the earth" elves Thunderfist proposed would be the Wood Elves.
    Wood Elves or Wild Elves, perhaps.

    Anyway, I like it. A culture ruled, in a way, by the concept of beauty and perfection. As a bonus, one could say that their affinity with nature isn't based on any real respect for nature - it's just that verdant forests are the type of environment they find beautiful. Any other kind of natural environs - swamps, deserts, mountains - they have no respect for.

    On a similar note, it occurs to me that Dark humans would be in an interesting position in this world, since they're one of the few Dark races (other than the drow), who fit Light standards of beauty. I imagine tattoos and even ritual scarification would become commonplace in Dark-aligned human cultures, a way of symbolically defacing the image of the Light and declaring your brotherhood with other Dark races.
    And thus, the mirror version of the Red Wizards of Thay were formed... that aside, it would be an interesting thing for humans to do - they themselves might like the tattoos, but Elves would be confused as to why someone would deface their own appearance. Their idea of humanoid beauty involves a "natural" look, and thus they try to remove imperfections rather than try and add onto their appearance with markings.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I don't have much to say about the "Lorwyn eyeblight" concept for elves, except to say why I like it.
    It would be easy to just make every light race the opposite of their canon counterpart. Every virtue possessed by the elves could simply be replaced by an equal and opposite vice. But that's boring, and honestly you'd probably just end up with a pyromaniacal drow variant. Instead, the "eyeblight" elves take one of the core virtues of elves—their love for natural beauty (defined such that it doesn't contradict their tendency to shape trees &c into unnatural shapes that they can live in)—and let it engulf their empathy. It also extends their love for individuality to evil extents by letting talented, beloved individuals do whatever they want to amass power or pursue pleasure, so long as they don't violate their first "virtue".
    I'd like to do the opposite for all the dark races—take their sins and dial them back until they can be virtues—but too many of them don't develop those sins enough for that to work out. It's easy to see how a love for beauty could be taken far enough that it becomes a hatred of ugliness, but it's harder to figure out how a penchant for banditry or slavery or brain-eating could be "dialed back" to be reasonable without just making something thematically related.
    It is interesting how it's easier to turn a virtue into a vice than the reverse. Then again, that might just say something about how generic a lot of evil race vices are in D&D.

    Since we're taking a second pass on how the main light races could be made evil, I'd like to take on the dwarves. The only substantial contribution I could find is...

    It's basically just standard Lawful Evil stuff with a bit of dwarven flavor thrown in. (In my humble opinion, it makes the dwarves sound more like expansionist kleptomaniac drow than anything innately dwarven. Also, monthly decimation doesn't work at all from a purely mathematical standpoint.) Let's change that.
    I was thinking that about the decimation issue, myself, but it could potentially work. Monthly is too often, of course, but consider this - if Dwarves get regular replacements of slaves, then their numbers can be maintained. On top of that, if the slaves are human or especially elven, then they're likely to be less... suited to Dwarf work than the Dwarves themselves, thus meaning the actual Dwarven workers are much less likely to fall into the bottom 10%. This may in turn create some social stratification among the slaves themselves, where the Dwarf slaves have it bad, but have the satisfaction of knowing they're not on the bottom. Indeed, the more non-Dwarf slaves their hold has, the better chance the Dwarf slaves have of survival. Pitting the lower-classes against each other - especially one group near the bottom another group at the bottom to lord over - is a method of control seen in history.

    If I had to pick two virtues I'd consider core to the dwarven identity, I'd pick honor and industriousness. Dwarves always follow the rules, which if not always perfectly just are at worst inconvenient, because they are Lawful Good; this is balanced by at least some dwarves being willing to bend the letter of the law to follow its spirit, and in more optimistically cerebral stories by the institutions being willing to change the letter of the law when a flaw is identified. Dwarves are also famous for their infrastructural masonry (equalling if not exceeding the work of even the Inca Empire), advanced metalworking (e.g. making the best if not only steel in the setting), and sometimes their gunpowder/steam engines/etc.
    It doesn't take a genius to see how to turn honor into a straightjacket forcing you to commit atrocities; it's happened often, in both fiction and reality, past and present. Similarly, turning industry into a vice requires nothing more than valuing it over the public good and individuals' well-being, much like the Gilded Age of our own history. But here's the thing: Those two eras of historical inspiration don't mesh well. The Gilded Age was built (in part) on the same kind of destructive, lawless individualism which I mentioned liking about the eyeblight elves, caused by progress moving faster than traditional laws or ethics could understand or adapt; on the other hand, honor is the very embodiment of ancient, traditional laws meant to promote public welfare.
    But these two points do have one thing in common—their cruelties are not driven by malice, but by apathy. These institutions do not drive people to selfishly use others for their own ends; they simply encourage people to go along with big ideas and systems too grand to easily comprehend from their lowly point of view, which results in some people being crushed between cogs of the machine. That's a kind of evil you don't see much of in D&D, one which fits perfectly with both dwarves' Lawful alignment and their standard characterization.

    Dwarven society is not overtly cruel or hateful. It is a mesh of three grand institutions—the Church, the Clans, and the Guilds. The dwarves empower the Church of Light more than any other race, which is why they make such good clerics; look to the Middle Ages for inspiration on their roles and powers, which I'm not going to focus on for fear of mod activity. The Clans are a bunch of traditional noble families holding power over various mountains, caverns, etc by traditional rights and claims. The Guilds are smaller, usually-local groups of tradesmen, bound by purpose and task. No dwarf lives outside the codes and regulations of at least one of these institutions, and most are bound by two or all three.

    There is a sort of central government in the Great Mountainhome, formed of a Great Council of guildmasters, clan heads, and bishops, each given certain debate and voting rights in accordance with their station and the importance of whatever group they represent. This Council does not exist to pass new laws or change anything; its function is merely to ensure everyone (especially those too powerful to be bound by anyone else) obeys the restrictions they are meant to obey. It appoints judges and magistrates to keep the peace across dwarvenkind, resolves (technically "disproves") contradictions between codes of honor for various sectors, serves as the final arbiter of whether or not someone fulfilled their duty, etc.
    Dwarven justice is harsh. They have no use for anyone who will not serve their place in society; this leads to a focus on rehabilitation when possible, but as crimes increase in severity the rehabilitation quickly turns to "re-education" before being abandoned in favor of execution or exile (depending on customary penalties for the capital crime in question, of course).

    Upward mobility is not unheard of; a truly exceptional dwarf can ascend beyond the station of their birth, and stories of such are passed around the hearth as part of a great "Dwarven Dream". But this dream is, for most, just that; it is an arduous road, where your rise will be opposed by those who have walked it before you, and where you will receive no aid from the machines you seek to climb.
    Dwarven relations with other races, particularly the dark races, are as harsh as you would expect. They gladly abide by any treaties signed with their allies and truces made with enemies, but they have little use for the outside world beyond this. If some clan, guild, or parish wants to make a trade compact or what-have-you with neighboring races, they are allowed to (and often do, for the dwarves are not as self-sufficient as they'd like to believe); anyone seeking to interact with dwarvenkind beyond that, let alone meddle with dwarven institutions or codes, will receive a response ranging from cold apathy to equally-cold retribution.

    ...Also, there's industry, mostly under the domain of the Guilds. It's more a flavor of oppressive institution in the mix than an independent thing in its own right.
    I like the level of detail here, though I do have to ask what makes this a Lawful Evil society rather than a strict and inflexible Lawful Neutral society, albeit one apathetic to suffering and misery. Granted, that might be enough to make it an Evil society - it doesn't matter how rare those with actual malice are, as long as the great majority turn a blind eye to the evil in their midst. I will say it's a kind of evil much more often found in real life than, say, inherant cruelty, at least on a societal level.



    ...Speaking of the Church of Light, if we are to make this into a distinct setting with specific details, might we make our own gods instead of simply flipping around existing D&D deities? Granted, it's possibly we might end up with gods that may as well be mirror-flipped versions of existing gods, but it would spare us from having to pick a pantheon, much less a copyrighted one.
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    Honestly, most players would get super excited about Zenob the god of crabs because it's eccentric. I know I would.

  18. - Top - End - #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusk Raven View Post
    It is interesting how it's easier to turn a virtue into a vice than the reverse. Then again, that might just say something about how generic a lot of evil race vices are in D&D.
    Oh, it's definitely the latter. The Seven Deadly Sins are simple to tweak into virtues by changing motivation and/or magnitude (Lust to Love, Greed/Envy to Self-Improvement, Pride to Confidence, Wrath to Justice, Sloth to Self-Care, Gluttony to...whatever the physical equivalent of self-care is? Is that just self-care?)

    I was thinking that about the decimation issue, myself, but it could potentially work...
    I'd argue against adding actively Evil traits to their system. Obviously a system which slaughters slaves (or allows slavery, for that matter) is going to be evil; you can tack such an element onto any race and call them "evil whatevers".

    I like the level of detail here, though I do have to ask what makes this a Lawful Evil society rather than a strict and inflexible Lawful Neutral society, albeit one apathetic to suffering and misery.
    Its apathy towards suffering and misery.

    Neutrality does not mean total apathy towards ethical concerns; it just means you aren't as devoted to Good as the Good are. Without going into any details, too many crimes against humanity in our world have been committed out of apathy (at least on an individual level) for me to think you need Something More to be evil.
    You don't need to be Emperor Palpatine to be evil. The Vogons are, if not quite as evil as the Dark Lord who commits atrocities for the sake of Evil, at least as "evil" as your typical helpful neighbor is "good". When was the last time Ned Flanders actively searched for suffering so he could spread "goodness"?

    ...Speaking of the Church of Light, if we are to make this into a distinct setting with specific details, might we make our own gods instead of simply flipping around existing D&D deities? Granted, it's possibly we might end up with gods that may as well be mirror-flipped versions of existing gods, but it would spare us from having to pick a pantheon, much less a copyrighted one.
    That's definitely a good idea. I'd personally want to design the pantheon by picking a good number of standard Good God archetypes (the justice guy, the healing goddess, the stern-yet-loving god-father on top) and extend their virtues the way I did for the dwarves (the justice guy is a Knight Templar, the healing goddess condemns those who would do harm in the first place, the god-father is more or a Thanos than a Mufasa, and yes I realize those are strange fathers to compare). I'm not sure if I'd want Dark Gods, since the Light side is supposed to hold basically all the power, but if I did I'd do basically the same in reverse, hampered by the fact that most standard Evil Gods don't have much default personality beyond "egotistical jerks".


    I'd flip gnomes or halflings, but I don't have a good enough understanding of their fluff to go much beyond "like dwarves but with more mad science" and "kender we aren't supposed to like". So I should probably do some research.


    There are a few races whose fluff centers around how people react to their heritage; half-orcs, half-elves, and tieflings.
    Two of those heritages are from Dark cultures, but if it makes sense to talk about what e.g. heroic half-orcs are like in standard D&D it makes sense to talk about what our Light half-orcs are like. Both half-orcs and tieflings face discrimination from other Light races, as is standard, and some of them seek to improve themselves and prove others wrong by being Good. The differences are simple; those pressures are generally stronger than in a standard setting, and the ideal aspired to is worse. If we want to apply a more unique twist, we could say that they feel pressure to transform themselves and abandon their Dark heritage entirely, rather than seeking to use it. Tieflings under such pressure would seek to transform themselves into something more angelic, letting the Light burn away their "taint" and replace it with holiness; I'm not sure about half-orcs, but it could be as simple as embracing human culture to the exclusion of orc culture and avoiding anything remotely "orky" (physical violence, whatever positive traits orcs are given, etc).
    Standard half-elves are defined by being torn between two worlds, and by being friendly/open to others. Given the "eyeblight elves" we've discussed, there's one obvious way to take this; they are ashamed of their ugliness, and seek to correct this both by rejecting their ugly human side (as with half-orcs and tieflings) and by acting as "ambassadors to Darkness" who try to force ugly or Dark people to conform to elvish standards. Maybe they tend to be pioneers of fantasy colonialism, which is how the Light and Dark worlds came into contact? Or would that be too overtly political and not standard-fantasy enough?
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    I think I've put together something for halflings.

    Dwarves are undeniably the epitome of Lawful Good player races, at least in the core rules. They're honorable, stubborn, loyal, etc, but ultimately still Good. Since Elves are the traditional dwarven nemesis, you'd expect them to be the epitome of Chaotic Good, but they're too tied up in an identity independent of alignment, one of magic and nature. Halflings, on the other hand? They're wanderers, pranksters, and thieves. They have no real society of their own, instead slipping into the cracks of whatever societies they find themselves near. They are as Chaotic as dwarves are Lawful, yet still undeniably Good.
    Or at least Light.

    I made an evil dwarven identity based on the idea of taking Law to such extremes, unburdened by empathy, that they became evil. Similarly, I'd like to make an evil halfling identity based on the idea of taking Chaos to such extremes that they become evil. My specific vision has two main inspirations—Galt's Gulch from Atlas Shrugged and the drow from A Practical Guide to Evil. The core of their society is based on Randian principles, with drow culture providing some much-needed plausibility and humanity.[sup]1[sup]
    So, before we start, I'd like to mention that many fantasy author's first instinct—usually not a conscious one—is to code the nomadic minority with a tendency towards petty crime as Romani, simply because of how many fantasy authors have done so in the past. I hope this should go without saying, but when we are designing that minority's culture with the express purpose of being evil, we should avoid making them similar to a real-world culture which has historically faced prejudice for exaggerated claims of their own criminal evils. Just something to be conscious of.

    Halfling culture is founded on a disdain for anything that could tie a mortal soul to a life they do not want. From laws to traditional roles, they hate it all. They believe that all of this keeps the true greatness each Light soul possesses slumbering within. The only way to awaken it, and to determine whose greatness is awakened, is to let everyone pursue their desires and see who succeeds and who fails, and to let those who succeed empower themselves so they can drag everyone else up in their rising tide.
    The most peculiar aspect of halfling culture is their aversion to gifts, both giving and receiving. When they wish to show favor, they need to frame it as either a trade or the favored party "stealing" the not-a-gift. When people from other cultures try to give gifts, they are often puzzled by how the gifts are rebuffed but later vanish. They believe that such unearned grace is against the natural order, that it only serves as an excuse for the unworthy to take what they want from those who earned it. (They consistently frame dark races' raids on light races in this way, though not the other way around.)
    Halflings come together in groups, bands or caravans or teams or workshops or whatever, in hopes of using each other to achieve something none could achieve on their own. They generally bind themselves to some kind of contract, one which nominally forces them to work for the mutual benefit of them all, and start looking for ways to subvert it as soon as they think the coast is clear. There exist "judges" in halfling cultures, but they're mostly just mediators-for-hire and the only consistent way to enforce their rulings is to threaten to hire the mercenaries most judges keep on retainer. If nobody wants to pay a judge, or if they expect the other party to bribe the judge, or if one party is murdered by the other before a judge can be hired, then nothing comes of breaking a contract.
    Once a halfling achieves some kind of prominence—whether in business, magic, or sheer personal magnetism—they start making offers to anyone else who will follow them, starting with some judges and mercenaries to handle internal contract disputes. They often settle down and create halfling villages around them, shaping the world around them with their ambition, talent, and general "greatness". Some halflings make deals with these Great Halflings just to support one who raised themselves above the rabble, but others come so they can claim power for themselves—bargaining for some delegated power in exchange for duty, setting themselves up as a successor, just taking control by force, or some combination of the three. The hierarchy of halfling villages is in constant flux as halflings take or forge positions of authority and immediately start fighting with both those who would take theirs and those whose positions they covet. Only those on the bottom are safe from this, and even then only if they don't try to rise.
    Other races of light don't see these internal politics. They just see a race of traders and businessfolk who constantly fight to prove who's the best at what they do. Halflings are seen as merely competitive, seeking to raise whoever does the best at their competitions. (Which isn't wrong, from the right perspective.) On the other hand, halflings tend to see other races (especially dwarves) as being crushed by the institutions that claim to protect them. Many halflings seek personal glory by trying to take over other races' thieves guilds and using them to undermine the tyrants they see everywhere.


    1: That joke is hilarious if you've read APGtE and have as little respect for Ayn Rand's philosophy as I do.
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    Once again, I'm too slow to post. My own fault this time.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Oh, it's definitely the latter. The Seven Deadly Sins are simple to tweak into virtues by changing motivation and/or magnitude (Lust to Love, Greed/Envy to Self-Improvement, Pride to Confidence, Wrath to Justice, Sloth to Self-Care, Gluttony to...whatever the physical equivalent of self-care is? Is that just self-care?)
    According to some sources, among the Seven Virtues (the far-less-famous counterpart to the Seven Deadly Sins), the opposite of Gluttony is Temperance. So... a bit of self-care, but in particular stability, not falling victim to self-destructive impulses.

    I'd argue against adding actively Evil traits to their system. Obviously a system which slaughters slaves (or allows slavery, for that matter) is going to be evil; you can tack such an element onto any race and call them "evil whatevers".
    Well, that's true. I would be in favor of it if it makes sense - if it fits with the theme of "changing their morality but keeping the basic culture the same." ...You know, in a way, it's almost a "what could have been" story for the normal D&D cosmology. If, on a fundamental level, the only thing that really changes is their moral alignment, than any Dark or Light culture we create here is not unlike what their canon counterparts could have become, if they'd taken a different path...

    Its apathy towards suffering and misery.

    Neutrality does not mean total apathy towards ethical concerns; it just means you aren't as devoted to Good as the Good are. Without going into any details, too many crimes against humanity in our world have been committed out of apathy (at least on an individual level) for me to think you need Something More to be evil.
    You don't need to be Emperor Palpatine to be evil. The Vogons are, if not quite as evil as the Dark Lord who commits atrocities for the sake of Evil, at least as "evil" as your typical helpful neighbor is "good". When was the last time Ned Flanders actively searched for suffering so he could spread "goodness"?
    Indeed... I've been cognizant of that ever since reading the essay "The Banality of Evil." All in all, it's a much more realistic take on evil... and maybe that's for the best. Besides, a lot of evil societies in canon D&D seem downright dysfunctional because of their evilness - the drow spring to mind. Evil societies are better when you can actually imagine people living this way. And, on a personal note, I like it because it means that dwarves, elves, and the like aren't irredeemably evil - which is one of the things I dislike about D&D to begin with (though that was mostly true of older editions). I certainly like it when you have evil cultures that still have redeeming traits. For instance, many Lawful Evil beings will abuse the law for their own ends, or use half-truths to avoid being completely dishonest, but a dwarf's word is his bond, even with non-dwarves. They may look down on other peoples and might even like the chance to crush them, but so long as the other party is holding up their end of the deal in good faith, than the dwarves will do the same. At least, that's the impression I get. ...Better hope those contracts are favorable to both parties to begin with, though.

    In any even, perhaps the defining evilness of the Light races in this setting isn't daily or systemic attrocities, though those may be in place. It's the fact that evil is accepted, that someone can use evil means to gain power and not be condemned. Indeed, they may even be praised for their accomplishments, assuming they didn't violate any of the culture's ethical rules in the process.

    That's definitely a good idea. I'd personally want to design the pantheon by picking a good number of standard Good God archetypes (the justice guy, the healing goddess, the stern-yet-loving god-father on top) and extend their virtues the way I did for the dwarves (the justice guy is a Knight Templar, the healing goddess condemns those who would do harm in the first place, the god-father is more or a Thanos than a Mufasa, and yes I realize those are strange fathers to compare). I'm not sure if I'd want Dark Gods, since the Light side is supposed to hold basically all the power, but if I did I'd do basically the same in reverse, hampered by the fact that most standard Evil Gods don't have much default personality beyond "egotistical jerks".
    I'd flip gnomes or halflings, but I don't have a good enough understanding of their fluff to go much beyond "like dwarves but with more mad science" and "kender we aren't supposed to like". So I should probably do some research.
    Personally, I really liked ThunderFist12's takes on them, especially the gnomes. For the halflings... well, I've just read through the prologue of The Lord of the Rings, which basically describes Hobbit culture in detail, and how they're essentially an idealized idea of rural life. Halflings in D&D seem to follow that, and in the normal cosmology are mostly Lawful Good (which is why I regret not posting this sooner). If you were to turn that to evil... well, there are plenty of American horror stories about decadent rural communities, perhaps halflings draw from that. From the outside their communities seem idylic, but they are xenophobic and resist to change in the extreme, and there's no telling what sort of things they'll do to unwary guests... admittedly, D&D halflings can be quite different from Hobbits - namely, being nomadic.

    There are a few races whose fluff centers around how people react to their heritage; half-orcs, half-elves, and tieflings.
    Two of those heritages are from Dark cultures, but if it makes sense to talk about what e.g. heroic half-orcs are like in standard D&D it makes sense to talk about what our Light half-orcs are like. Both half-orcs and tieflings face discrimination from other Light races, as is standard, and some of them seek to improve themselves and prove others wrong by being Good. The differences are simple; those pressures are generally stronger than in a standard setting, and the ideal aspired to is worse. If we want to apply a more unique twist, we could say that they feel pressure to transform themselves and abandon their Dark heritage entirely, rather than seeking to use it. Tieflings under such pressure would seek to transform themselves into something more angelic, letting the Light burn away their "taint" and replace it with holiness; I'm not sure about half-orcs, but it could be as simple as embracing human culture to the exclusion of orc culture and avoiding anything remotely "orky" (physical violence, whatever positive traits orcs are given, etc).
    Standard half-elves are defined by being torn between two worlds, and by being friendly/open to others. Given the "eyeblight elves" we've discussed, there's one obvious way to take this; they are ashamed of their ugliness, and seek to correct this both by rejecting their ugly human side (as with half-orcs and tieflings) and by acting as "ambassadors to Darkness" who try to force ugly or Dark people to conform to elvish standards. Maybe they tend to be pioneers of fantasy colonialism, which is how the Light and Dark worlds came into contact? Or would that be too overtly political and not standard-fantasy enough?
    In both cases, I really think it depends on what culture they're born into, and I think it's difficult even in canon D&D to paint half-elves and half-orcs with the same brush. While I think your interpretations are valid, they are but one facet of beings with many possible origins. A speculation: it's taken for granted that half-orcs in canon D&D are raised in human societies, but what about half-orcs, half-elves, tieflings, and aasimar raised in Dark societies?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I think I've put together something for halflings.

    Dwarves are undeniably the epitome of Lawful Good player races, at least in the core rules. They're honorable, stubborn, loyal, etc, but ultimately still Good. Since Elves are the traditional dwarven nemesis, you'd expect them to be the epitome of Chaotic Good, but they're too tied up in an identity independent of alignment, one of magic and nature. Halflings, on the other hand? They're wanderers, pranksters, and thieves. They have no real society of their own, instead slipping into the cracks of whatever societies they find themselves near. They are as Chaotic as dwarves are Lawful, yet still undeniably Good.
    Or at least Light.
    Main issue I have is that, according to 5e, they lean towards Law. In 3.5 they're merely neutral. I will say that your ideas do have the virtue (pun unintended) of making sense, though I feel that the "traditional" halfling sense of community gets left out in the process.

    I made an evil dwarven identity based on the idea of taking Law to such extremes, unburdened by empathy, that they became evil. Similarly, I'd like to make an evil halfling identity based on the idea of taking Chaos to such extremes that they become evil. My specific vision has two main inspirations—Galt's Gulch from Atlas Shrugged and the drow from A Practical Guide to Evil. The core of their society is based on Randian principles, with drow culture providing some much-needed plausibility and humanity.[sup]1[sup]
    1: That joke is hilarious if you've read APGtE and have as little respect for Ayn Rand's philosophy as I do.
    Don't worry, I hold both Ayn Rand and her philosophy in contempt. I have not read APGtE, however.
    Last edited by Dusk Raven; 2019-08-30 at 08:48 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Potato_Priest View Post
    Honestly, most players would get super excited about Zenob the god of crabs because it's eccentric. I know I would.

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    I recently learned about a really cool piece of Eberron lore. The shulassakar are feathered yuan-ti who guard ancient couatl sites. They believe in reincarnation, from bloodsworn (pureblood) to flametouched (malison) to transcendent (abomination).

    Once again, my preferred approach to mirror D&D would be to keep outsiders the same while, on some worlds, mortal races took a different turn. So the inhabitants of H'treo would know the yuan-ti almost exclusively in their feathered version, much like they would see the typical dwarf as a worshipper of Abbathor.

    Now, in a fully mirrored Great Wheel, couatls and shulassakar would be the evil ones. But then, I guess feathered and non-feathered yuan-ti would just trade who bets on reincarnation and who bets on humanoid sacrifices and cannibalistic rituals.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    The Seven Deadly Sins are simple to tweak into virtues by changing motivation and/or magnitude (Lust to Love, Greed/Envy to Self-Improvement, Pride to Confidence, Wrath to Justice, Sloth to Self-Care, Gluttony to...whatever the physical equivalent of self-care is? Is that just self-care?)
    Quote Originally Posted by Dusk Raven View Post
    According to some sources, among the the Seven Virtues (the far-less-famous counterpart to the Seven Deadly Sins), the opposite of Gluttony is Temperance. So... a bit of self-care, but in particular stability, not falling victim to self-destructive impulses.
    The classic Seven Heavenly Virtues are indeed the opposite of the Seven Deadly Sins, while GreatWyrmGold seems to be looking for a positive spin on the latter.

    Here is my attempt:
    Sin Opposite Positive
    Envy Kindness Contempt
    Gluttony Temperance Relish
    Greed Charity Aspiration
    Lust Chastity Sensuality
    Pride Humility Confidence
    Sloth Diligence Serenity
    Wrath Patience Indignation

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    What about shadowfell and feywild?
    and the races within...
    Shadowfell could be a place that was once prosperous and now has been destroyed by the forces of light. The raven queen and the shadar kai fled there to avoid persecution, and are trying to revitalize the land.

    Feywild could be at constant war between the seelie and the unseelie.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusk Raven View Post
    Well, that's true. I would be in favor of it if it makes sense - if it fits with the theme of "changing their morality but keeping the basic culture the same." ...You know, in a way, it's almost a "what could have been" story for the normal D&D cosmology. If, on a fundamental level, the only thing that really changes is their moral alignment, than any Dark or Light culture we create here is not unlike what their canon counterparts could have become, if they'd taken a different path...
    The way I see it, that's exactly why we shouldn't tack on extraneous Evil elements to our Light cultures.

    In any even, perhaps the defining evilness of the Light races in this setting isn't daily or systemic attrocities, though those may be in place. It's the fact that evil is accepted, that someone can use evil means to gain power and not be condemned. Indeed, they may even be praised for their accomplishments, assuming they didn't violate any of the culture's ethnical rules in the process.
    Yeah, that's what I'm going for. The Light races aren't evil because their members are almost all individually Evil; they're evil because almost none of them question whether their culture's values are worth all that they're expected to sacrifice for them.

    Personally, I really liked ThunderFist12's takes on them, especially the gnomes.
    I should probably reread that, since he's the only person in the thread who seriously tried to redefine the core Light races until this week.

    For the halflings... well, I've just read through the prologue of The Lord of the Rings, which basically describes Hobbit culture in detail, and how they're essentially an idealized idea of rural life. Halflings in D&D seem to follow that, and in the normal cosmology are mostly Lawful Good (which is why I regret not posting this sooner). If you were to turn that to evil... well, there are plenty of American horror stories about decadent rural communities, perhaps halflings draw from that. From the outside their communities seem idylic, but they are xenophobic and resist to change in the extreme, and there's no telling what sort of things they'll do to unwary guests... admittedly, D&D halflings can be quite different from Hobbits - namely, being nomadic.
    Alright, I like that idea better. Simple, comprehensible, directly related to their core identity in a way that's much less abstract. Maybe I can take some of my "individual empowerment to the extreme" ideas over to the gnomes?

    In both cases, I really think it depends on what culture they're born into, and I think it's difficult even in canon D&D to paint half-elves and half-orcs with the same brush.
    There's a reason I added the "If it makes sense to talk about what heroic half-orcs are like" clause. Those liminal races are, or at least should, always be hard to pin down precisely.

    Don't worry, I hold both Ayn Rand and her philosophy in contempt. I have not read APGtE, however.
    It's good. With regards to the drow...their modern society is isolated, with individual drow murdering and backstabbing each other for power, individual groups of drow held together only by the strength of the drow at the top. It's basically D&D drow society taken to deconstructive extremes.


    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard_Lizard View Post
    What about shadowfell and feywild?
    and the races within...
    Shadowfell could be a place that was once prosperous and now has been destroyed by the forces of light. The raven queen and the shadar kai fled there to avoid persecution, and are trying to revitalize the land.

    Feywild could be at constant war between the seelie and the unseelie.
    I've always felt that the non-Outer Planes should be kept morally neutral, and am constantly irritated by the inconsistency over whether the Shadowfell/Plane of Shadows and the Negative Energy Plane (and associated metaphysical forces) are Evil or just spooky and unpleasant.


    I'd also like to discuss thoughts I had on the gods.
    Spoiler: The Big Gods
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    The first of the gods is known as the Highfather. He's a detached, almost deist sort of god, who killed the titan-like creators of the world, reshaped it for his children, and then left, only re-emerging when his children's squabbling angers him too much or the world order is truly in danger. I could see fantasy plots built around making sure things don't get so bad that Highfather comes in to solve things, because his solutions tend to be apocalyptic. Think...wait, crap, the clearest reference point for Highfather's behavior is off-limits.

    Allfather's three most prominent children are loosely based on three prominent "top gods" in pop culture, and will be referred to by their primary inspiration:
    • Zeus is a god of thunderstorms, rulership, war, and fertility. (Mixing in some related gods, but I feel justified in saying the rulership/war combination works well in a setting where the followers of Light tend to crusade against the Dark.) Zeus is Highfather's favored child, since he slew a great chaos serpent who protected the titans; thus, he was granted dominion over the earth. Zeus is the celestial embodiment of the legal excesses of nobility, sort of like a more focused version of Ovid's take on the Greek pantheon; he takes every legally-sanctioned opportunity to indulge in his passions or take petty vengeance on his enemies, regardless of the harm this causes. Nobody questions it, because hey, king of the gods.
    • Quetzalcoatl (Quetzal for short and easy-to-spell) is a god of the sun, winds, creativity, and trade. (He's also one of the few gods worshipped by the Aztec without blood sacrifice, so let's leave that Mayincatec trope at the door.) Quetzal is the embodiment of Light, both because sun and because all of those things sound unambiguously nice. This is a universe where the Light is nice things being taken too far and causing great harm, so Quetzal's nice things make him an ideal source of Light's distortion. I feel like neo-colonialism is a good inspiration for his brand of evil; trade and innovation, bringing prosperity and power for the prosperous on the exploitation of those who desperately need or desire the great things Quetzal has to offer.
    • Odin is a god of knowledge and magic, as well as a trickster figure. Since the other divine patriarchs on this list are associated with meteorological phenomena, let's give Odin fog or snow, too. Play up the trickster angle, both for alignment completeness (Zeus as Lawful, Quetzalcoatl as Neutral, and Odin as Chaotic) and to distinguish him from the others. A bundle of related fun facts: Odin's name has etymological links to Yule, he lead the Wild Hunt in some Germanic myths (which took place around the Solstice), and he's one of the figures who inspired Santa Claus. So...let's use that fun trivia somehow. Trickster god (definitely still pals with this universe's Loki), associated with fae, need I say more on where this Light's evil comes from?


    There would be many other gods, based on either specific prominent mythological/fantasy gods or pastiches thereof. Each would be associated with one of the three patriarchs, forming three factions in the heavens who only hold back from their own Blood War because of a common enemy and the threat of Highfather. I hope other people propose gods, because otherwise the pantheon is going to be filled with a few obvious choices and lots of bit characters from my favorite myths. (I wonder if I could work in my favorite bits about Amaterasu and the Cave...Zeus and Quetzelcoatl getting into a tiff seems plausible, but Ame-no-Uzume's contribution doesn't have quite the same ring if the part of Amaterasu is played by an enormous eff-you dragon.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard_Lizard View Post
    Feywild could be at constant war between the seelie and the unseelie.
    Why should that be any more the case than in the standard universe?

    What I would see change the most is the Feywild's underdark, and for the better, since its fomorian rulers would now be the good guys. Though ugly and not too smart, because of the curse put on them by jealous fey, they would still be gentle giants, and help make these tunnels an haven for other outcasts.

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    The Light races (in my conception) run on singular moral laws that sound good, but so isolated and extreme that they inspire great evil. The moral laws for the core Light races that I and others have come up with so far are:
    • Dwarves: The traditional laws of our people are good; order brings prosperity and safety.
    • Elves: Beauty1 is good; encouraging people to make art and whatnot makes the world a better place.
    • Gnomes: Self-determination is good; liberty to pursue happiness brings happiness for all.
    • Halflings: The traditions of our people are good; our way of life brings prosperity and safety.

    So in case you couldn't guess from how I phrased these, I'm going to try to figure out how to make dwarves and halflings more distinct. As-is, they're both variants on "These rules are good, breaking them is bad," differentiated by aesthetics more than anything else.

    I like the society I described for the dwarves; it meshes their traditional aesthetics, skills, and cultural traits well with a type of evil that is underexplored. So how can we make the halflings different? At the heart of the rural way of life is self-sufficiency. This value is what drives many (though obviously not all) rural stereotypes and clichés, and is at the heart of many rural subcultures. So maybe the halfling moral law is not "Tradition is good," but something like "Self-sufficiency is good; don't put a burden on anyone else".
    There are a few ways this moral law could turn sour. The obvious is basically "They're different from us, which means they must be evil," but that's applicable to literally any moral law you could devise. They might have the exaggerated practicality often (and inaccurately) assumed to have been common among primitive societies in the past, where people who can't provide for themselves and do put a burden on the rest of the community are treated, at best, disrespectfully.
    The biggest way I can think of to turn this moral law is to have it manifest as xenophobia. Halflings have no need for the outside world, and the outside world should have no need for them; if they're trying to make deals with the halflings, they're either irresponsible, incapable, or seeking to exploit the halflings instead of putting in an honest day's work. I don't think I need to explain the kinds of evil that result from assuming foreigners are lazy and/or criminals to people who pay attention to the news.
    I don't like what I've written for the halflings as much as I like what I wrote for the dwarves, but I think it's a decent core to work with.


    While I'm thinking about it, let's tie this back in with the Gods write-up I did a post ago...
    • Dwarves worship Zeus, both because his identity as a god of rulership resonates with their social structure and because of course they do.
    • Elves worship Quetzalcoatl, seeing him as the god who inspires artists to create beauty.
    • Gnomes worship Odin, seeing him as the greatest proponent of self-determination in the pantheon.
    • Halflings worship whatever god their village has always worshiped. They're more likely to worship Highfather than other races.



    The values espoused by the core Light races are beauty, liberty, self-sufficiency, and tradition. For thematic coherence, the core Dark races (goblinoids, orcs, kobolds, and...gnolls?) and especially the fallen Light races (drow, svirfneblin, ???, and duergar) should relate to those values in some way. My thought is that the fallen Light races each embody rejection of their Light counterparts' morality, while the Dark races embody unorthodox but more ethical ways to embrace those values. Or maybe we define six core Dark races and have each embody a healthy fusion of two of those Light virtues, that's something to figure out later. First, the fallen:
    • Drow reject the idolization of beauty, favoring boring utilitarian solutions to their problems. They also reject the high status put on those who create great singular works, instead venerating those who can consistently produce useful results.
    • Duergar reject the idolization of law, replacing it with local councils of respected elders who direct (but do not command) their villages/city districts and handle disputes/punish crimes on a case-by-case basis.
    • Svirfneblin embrace unpronouncable names, but they reject self-determination in favor of a system of communes. I'm imagining something more like kibbutzim than what comes to mind when someone says "Communism," and I hope that my attempt to use the real world to comment on fantasy isn't treated like an attempt to start an argument about the real world.
    • I'm pretty sure the BoVD had evil halflings? They'd reject self-sufficiency in favor of xenophilia, probably ending up as wandering caravans considered exactly as trustworthy as medieval societies considered the Romani to be.

    None of these are intended as ideal societies. The drow devalue beauty and pleasure, the duergar devalue stability and consisteny, the svirfneblin devalue freedom and flexibility, and the other guys devalue independence and common sense. (The world is crawling with warriors or Light looking for Dark creatures to kill for wealth, glory, and XP. That's not a good environment for Dark creatures to wander around in, waiting to be "mistaken" for bandits.) This emphasizes that the Light races' morals aren't inherently flawed, they're just taken in unhealthy directions.


    Which leaves us with the core Dark races, but we need to figure out how many and which they are before I can go anywhere with them.

    1: I assume that knowledge is considered inherently beautiful to the elves, since we don't seem interested in removing their traditional affinity for magic.
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    Default Re: D&D Mirror Universe

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I like the society I described for the dwarves; it meshes their traditional aesthetics, skills, and cultural traits well with a type of evil that is underexplored. So how can we make the halflings different? At the heart of the rural way of life is self-sufficiency. This value is what drives many (though obviously not all) rural stereotypes and clichés, and is at the heart of many rural subcultures. So maybe the halfling moral law is not "Tradition is good," but something like "Self-sufficiency is good; don't put a burden on anyone else".
    There are a few ways this moral law could turn sour. The obvious is basically "They're different from us, which means they must be evil," but that's applicable to literally any moral law you could devise. They might have the exaggerated practicality often (and inaccurately) assumed to have been common among primitive societies in the past, where people who can't provide for themselves and do put a burden on the rest of the community are treated, at best, disrespectfully.
    The biggest way I can think of to turn this moral law is to have it manifest as xenophobia. Halflings have no need for the outside world, and the outside world should have no need for them; if they're trying to make deals with the halflings, they're either irresponsible, incapable, or seeking to exploit the halflings instead of putting in an honest day's work. I don't think I need to explain the kinds of evil that result from assuming foreigners are lazy and/or criminals to people who pay attention to the news.
    I don't like what I've written for the halflings as much as I like what I wrote for the dwarves, but I think it's a decent core to work with.
    It works, I think. It's a less dramatic form of evil than, say, the dwarves or elves, but it's easy to imagine.
    While I'm thinking about it, let's tie this back in with the Gods write-up I did a post ago...
    • Dwarves worship Zeus, both because his identity as a god of rulership resonates with their social structure and because of course they do.
    • Elves worship Quetzalcoatl, seeing him as the god who inspires artists to create beauty.
    • Gnomes worship Odin, seeing him as the greatest proponent of self-determination in the pantheon.
    • Halflings worship whatever god their village has always worshiped. They're more likely to worship Highfather than other races.
    Given the origin of our own usage of dwarves and elves in fiction and legend, it's amusing that neither primarily worship Odin (though some Elves might lean that way).

    By the way, I like the idea of using real-world gods, as least to some extent. It calls to mind an image without needing to describe one. You know, I want to see if some of the Egyptian gods can be turned to evil...



    The values espoused by the core Light races are beauty, liberty, self-sufficiency, and tradition. For thematic coherence, the core Dark races (goblinoids, orcs, kobolds, and...gnolls?) and especially the fallen Light races (drow, svirfneblin, ???, and duergar) should relate to those values in some way. My thought is that the fallen Light races each embody rejection of their Light counterparts' morality, while the Dark races embody unorthodox but more ethical ways to embrace those values. Or maybe we define six core Dark races and have each embody a healthy fusion of two of those Light virtues, that's something to figure out later.
    I like the theme here, with there being a Light race, Dark race, and a race that's turned from Light to Dark. It would be cool to have a sort of symmetry, with four in each category, but I think there might be too many Dark races for that. Thing is, when you come down to it, there's no shortage of Dark races, it's just a matter of which ones are the important ones.

    Orcs, kobolds, and goblinoids are a given, though in the latter case, Goblins, Hobgoblins, and Bugbears might be counted as three distinct races. Gnolls definitely, they need more attention. Could possibly have Yuan-Ti, Sahaugin, and Kuo-Toa, though the former have some interesting biology that sets them apart a little, and the latter two are somewhat limited in habitat. Other than that, there's just... Derro, Skum, and Grimlocks, I think, and depending on version the latter two are more defined by their associations with Aboleths and Mind Flayers, respectively. Speaking of Mind Flayers, the Githyanki's relation with the Mind Flayers may have to be reexamined since they're both mostly Good-aligned now. Other than that, there's just a lot of things from various sourcebooks whom no one remembers.

    However, there are a number of monstrous humanoids (minotaurs, hags, medusas, gargoyles), giants (which Thunderfist took a stab at), and Aberrations (the aforementioned Aboleths and Mind Flayers) to work on...

    First, the fallen:
    • Drow reject the idolization of beauty, favoring boring utilitarian solutions to their problems. They also reject the high status put on those who create great singular works, instead venerating those who can consistently produce useful results.
    • Duergar reject the idolization of law, replacing it with local councils of respected elders who direct (but do not command) their villages/city districts and handle disputes/punish crimes on a case-by-case basis.
    • Svirfneblin embrace unpronouncable names, but they reject self-determination in favor of a system of communes. I'm imagining something more like kibbutzim than what comes to mind when someone says "Communism," and I hope that my attempt to use the real world to comment on fantasy isn't treated like an attempt to start an argument about the real world.
    • I'm pretty sure the BoVD had evil halflings? They'd reject self-sufficiency in favor of xenophilia, probably ending up as wandering caravans considered exactly as trustworthy as medieval societies considered the Romani to be.
    Svirfneblin are interesting in that, in 3.5 they were neutral and in 5e they're Good-aligned (or at least their MM entry is), making them an exception to the "Underdark versions of surface races are evil" trope. Beyond that, though I have no qualms with making them Good-aligned or "on the Good side of Neutral."

    As for the Halflings, BoVD did indeed have the Jerren, halflings who went too far in fighting against Goblins and who became corrupted. In this world, perhaps the reverse happened - they lost that war and were forced to wander, but in the process picked up an appreciation for foreign cultures, and somehow became re-aligned to Good.

    None of these are intended as ideal societies. The drow devalue beauty and pleasure, the duergar devalue stability and consisteny, the svirfneblin devalue freedom and flexibility, and the other guys devalue independence and common sense. (The world is crawling with warriors or Light looking for Dark creatures to kill for wealth, glory, and XP. That's not a good environment for Dark creatures to wander around in, waiting to be "mistaken" for bandits.) This emphasizes that the Light races' morals aren't inherently flawed, they're just taken in unhealthy directions.
    Essentially, in turning away from the evil that their "parent" Light race embraces, they went a little too far in the opposite direction? Not enough to be considered evil, but they've definitely sacrificed something in the process.

    All in all, all the races are a bit more nuanced in this setting. You can't really look at an orc and say, "Okay, he's probably good" and look at a Dwarf and say "Okay, he's probably evil," like you can do in standard D&D (or at least, you can tell that some races are evil enough to be killed for gold and XP). That's a bit of a departure from standard D&D, but not necessarily a bad one.
    Last edited by Dusk Raven; 2019-09-08 at 02:02 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Potato_Priest View Post
    Honestly, most players would get super excited about Zenob the god of crabs because it's eccentric. I know I would.

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    Default Re: D&D Mirror Universe

    Why are we talking about halflings as though they are embodiements of chaos? I always imagine them as NG.
    Even if the MM says otherwise.
    Gnomes are probably a more valid candidate for embodiements of chaos!
    Current characters:
    Drakirr (Blue Dragonborn Warlock)
    Alyfyldyr Hyalythki (Rock Gnome Wizard)
    Harilidir (Half-elf Bard)
    Kazaharad Akaztkl (Goliath Barbarian)
    Luft (air-genasi druid)
    And of course Lizard Wizard (Lizardfolk Sorcerer)

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    Default Re: D&D Mirror Universe

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard_Lizard View Post
    Why are we talking about halflings as though they are embodiements of chaos? I always imagine them as NG.
    Even if the MM says otherwise.
    Gnomes are probably a more valid candidate for embodiements of chaos!
    Talked, past tense. I already brought that issue up, and GWG already adapted to it, and suggested that Gnomes value individuality. Keep up with the times. :P
    Quote Originally Posted by Potato_Priest View Post
    Honestly, most players would get super excited about Zenob the god of crabs because it's eccentric. I know I would.

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    Default Re: D&D Mirror Universe

    Quote Originally Posted by Dusk Raven View Post
    Talked, past tense. I already brought that issue up, and GWG already adapted to it, and suggested that Gnomes value individuality. Keep up with the times. :P
    inwardly groans and kicks self.
    Current characters:
    Drakirr (Blue Dragonborn Warlock)
    Alyfyldyr Hyalythki (Rock Gnome Wizard)
    Harilidir (Half-elf Bard)
    Kazaharad Akaztkl (Goliath Barbarian)
    Luft (air-genasi druid)
    And of course Lizard Wizard (Lizardfolk Sorcerer)

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