Racial stereotypes and Golarion.


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Galtans?

Liberty's Edge

Orcs are bad at math.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mikaze wrote:


I'll have to look into Uldum, though I don't play WoW(speaking of orc cultures that actually got close to what I'm looking for...)

Here are some pics that might prove useful.

Sovereign Court

Orthos wrote:
Galtans?

Are as mad and self-destructive as rabid dogs.

Liberty's Edge

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Galtans are violent brutes with culture.

Riverfolk are bandits who would shank you and leave you in a ditch if they saw a copper's profit in it.

Katapeshi are dissolute drug dealers and slavers, grown fat off the suffering of others and little better than the gnolls they share their country with.

Ustalav-folk are superstitious, ignorant peasants likely to drive you out of town with torches and pitchforks if you so much as look at them funny.

Nirmathi are simple-minded, rustic upstarts who don't know what's good for them.

Molthune...ians... are empty-eyed bureaucrats and grasping petty tyrants who understand nothing beyond servitude and war.

Drumans are hard-hearted misers who dress up their greed with the trappings of philosophy, but who are morally so bankrupt that they'd sell their own children to a Chelaxian slaver, if the price was right.

The people of Brevoy blend the arrogance and petty scheming of their Taldan ancestors with the brutality of the northern folk who surround them.

Man, it's hard to come up with adjectival forms for some of these country names...


those sylphs are as flighty as them varisians, i fear they may be thieves and con artisists

that ifrit there, she is probably short fused, and will likely murder me out of impulse, better not piss her off.

those undines, they always seem to live on beaches, and they always wear next to nothing. do they care about modesty?

those oreads are strict and rigid, in fact, i don't recommend rearranging thier bookshelves, they will freak out and there may be a corpse

those fetchlings, you can't trust them, always sneaking around, always dodging answers, i think they may be thieves

don't kill that samsaran, she will only be reborn tomorrow, and she will be pissed.

those aasimaars, so sweet and so kind, perfect neighbors, in fact, they are too perfect

those tieflings are the spawn of devils, their entire population is as damned as the chelexians that birthed them. i don't wish to stoop low enough to associate with them.

those suli, are just like the keleshites that birth them, spoiled women with a sense of entitlement and a hot temper

those changelings, their beauty may be a lure, but they are just as likely to curse you as their hag mothers, stay away.

those duergar, mad shaven dwarf lunatics who refuse the feelings of pleasure, don't trust them. i fear they may worship lamashtu

those drow, conniving backstabbers, all of them. they scheme, and they place spiders on too high a pedastal.

those catfolk, savages, all of them, they are no better than werewolves

Liberty's Edge

Kitsune? What's a Kitsune?

Tengu are those bird people from the Shackles, right? I've heard that they attract bad luck; as long as you've got one around, you're safe, because the worst stuff will always happen to them. Of course, you do have to put up with having a 90-pound crow on your boat; a little bad luck might be the better option.

Nagaji? I think maybe I've heard of something called a Naga, before. Some kind of big snake, right?

Drow? Oh, dark elves! yeah, I've heard the rumors, too. Don't believe a word of it though; the dark elves are a myth. My elf friend told me so.

Liberty's Edge

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Speaking of which, the one thing that pisses me off about Golarion is that they do so much crowing and hawing about how racially inclusive they are, but they still cling to the "Monster races are always in-the-blood inherently evil and psychopathic" trope, even though it has even more unfortunate implications.

I can think of a few more ways to make the monster races threatening/antagonistic just off the top of my head without resorting to that lazy and ugly trope. And don't give me that nonsense of "They aren't human, so they don't share human morality", as I've never heard anybody arguing that for the other races.

Also, on player-race stereotypes, in my homebrew setting, Elves are relatively humble master chefs and Dwarves take more inspiration from Dwarf Fortress than Tolkien in that they are crazy; have no regard for their or others safety; and love ridiculous and impossible engineering projects.

Senior Editor/Fiction Editor

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tbok1992 wrote:

Speaking of which, the one thing that pisses me off about Golarion is that they do so much crowing and hawing about how racially inclusive they are, but they still cling to the "Monster races are always in-the-blood inherently evil and psychopathic" trope, even though it has even more unfortunate implications.

Speaking as one of the designers of Golarion, I don't see most nonhumanoid races that way at all, and I have some significant problems with the concept of absolute alignment in general (which is probably pretty obvious from most of the products I work on). True, there's a tendency to showcase a lot of monsters being evil in adventures--because otherwise a dungeoncrawl is basically a murderous home-invasion, and we're constantly being told that folks want to play good guys. There are also plenty of evil religions and other belief systems that make certain monstrous *cultures* evil. But that's very different from a race being *born* evil, and depending on which products you're looking at, you should be able to find a ton of moral ambiguity in Golarion. As one off-the-cuff example, we strove hard with both Blood of Fiends and Blood of Angels to make the point that neither race should be pigeonholed as being "good" or "bad." People are people, even if they have wings or three heads or whatever. (Granted, there have been books--cough, Orcs of Golarion, cough--that painted certain races in a very one-sided manner, but I view those as mistakes that we've since learned from rather than the rule.)


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Right from the start, when I read Burnt Offerings for the first time, I thought it must have been a typo when I read...

Spoiler for Rise of the Runelords:
...that the Chaotic Evil major villain of the adventure was an aasimar! I thought you must have meant 'tiefling.'

Moral ambiguity and lack of pigeonholing is one of the things I really like about the setting!


tbok1992 wrote:
Speaking of which, the one thing that pisses me off about Golarion is that they do so much crowing and hawing about how racially inclusive they are, but they still cling to the "Monster races are always in-the-blood inherently evil and psychopathic" trope, even though it has even more unfortunate implications.

I never once had that impression from Golarion. Especially since the first city I ever went to as a player was Kaer Maga, where you've got a society of trolls that are one of the most culturally influential groups. And like James said, the Blood of Fiends companion is a very good example because despite the fact that they have fiendish ancestors, the book never says tieflings are born evil or forced into it. In fact, it even gives role playing advice for tiefling paladins.

Silver Crusade

James Sutter wrote:


Speaking as one of the designers of Golarion, I don't see most nonhumanoid races that way at all, and I have some significant problems with the concept of absolute alignment in general (which is probably pretty obvious from most of the products I work on). True, there's a tendency to showcase a lot of monsters being evil in adventures--because otherwise a dungeoncrawl is basically a murderous home-invasion, and we're constantly being told that folks want to play good guys. There are also plenty of evil religions and other belief systems that make certain monstrous *cultures* evil. But that's very different from a race being *born* evil, and depending on which products you're looking at, you should be able to find a ton of moral ambiguity in Golarion. As one off-the-cuff example, we strove hard with both Blood of Fiends and Blood of Angels to make the point that neither race should be pigeonholed as being "good" or "bad." People are people, even if they have wings or three heads or whatever. (Granted, there have been books--cough, Orcs of Golarion, cough--that painted certain races in a very one-sided manner, but I view those as mistakes that we've since learned from rather than the rule.)

This was super-heartening to read. :)

Quote:
People are people, even if they have wings or three heads or whatever.

This part especially. SO MUCH

And yep, Blood of Fiends/Angels rocked for that! (still hoping for an orc revisit!)

Silver Crusade

LazarX wrote:
Mikaze wrote:


I'll have to look into Uldum, though I don't play WoW(speaking of orc cultures that actually got close to what I'm looking for...)

Here are some pics that might prove useful.

Ah, thanks!

While I'm on the lookout more for living cultures, I'm digging some of those visuals. Like the centauroid sphinxes...suddenly leaves me wanting a non-evil spin on the Darksphinx's symmetry, themed to Osirion.

Liberty's Edge

James Sutter wrote:
tbok1992 wrote:

Speaking of which, the one thing that pisses me off about Golarion is that they do so much crowing and hawing about how racially inclusive they are, but they still cling to the "Monster races are always in-the-blood inherently evil and psychopathic" trope, even though it has even more unfortunate implications.

Speaking as one of the designers of Golarion, I don't see most nonhumanoid races that way at all, and I have some significant problems with the concept of absolute alignment in general (which is probably pretty obvious from most of the products I work on). True, there's a tendency to showcase a lot of monsters being evil in adventures--because otherwise a dungeoncrawl is basically a murderous home-invasion, and we're constantly being told that folks want to play good guys. There are also plenty of evil religions and other belief systems that make certain monstrous *cultures* evil. But that's very different from a race being *born* evil, and depending on which products you're looking at, you should be able to find a ton of moral ambiguity in Golarion. As one off-the-cuff example, we strove hard with both Blood of Fiends and Blood of Angels to make the point that neither race should be pigeonholed as being "good" or "bad." People are people, even if they have wings or three heads or whatever. (Granted, there have been books--cough, Orcs of Golarion, cough--that painted certain races in a very one-sided manner, but I view those as mistakes that we've since learned from rather than the rule.)

Ah. Well, I keep hearing how Pathfinder keeps emphasizing the pure evil of the races and how "Good exceptions tend to end up dead" (or is that just for the drow, which I can understand completely), and the Advanced Races Handbook seemed to emphasize the whole "Evil in the blood" thing for said monster races. I could be mistaken on my interpretation though, as I haven't read as much as I would like on the Golarion setting.

I myself prefer to treat the monster races like the other races and make the villainous groups be evil organizations, nations, cults, millitia bands, ect.

Or I prefer to explain the monster races as being evil due to being societally influenced by very real, malevolent gods who want their creations to act a specific way, with the society's leaders and group mentality re-enforcing that; and the hatred of that race from other societies due to the psychotic, paranoid society the former forms keeping most of those who might defect "in the herd" so to speak (Explaining why most defectees tend to be badass adventurer-types). But that's just me


I think Orcs and Drow get especially slanted as evil largely to distinguish them from WOW or Forgotten Realms respectively. But the ARG does mention that some traditionally "evil" races maybe are less "naturally evil" as they are influenced by living in crappy harsh societies. Hobgoblins off the top of my head are described this way.

Dark Archive

MMCJawa wrote:
I think Orcs and Drow get especially slanted as evil largely to distinguish them from WOW or Forgotten Realms respectively.

Somewhat ironic on the orc part, in that WoW orcs are allied with a 'race' of flesh-eating undead, making them, by Golarion standards 'more evil' than Golarion orcs. :)

I'm partial to just smooshing drow and hobgoblins ungently together into a single cold cruelly elegant LE unseelie 'anti-elf' race anyway. D&D Drow depictions have gotten a bit excessive and over the top, IMO, and moving away from the 'huge overcrowded cities full of frail sickly treacherous psychopaths who kill each other at the drop of the hat, and only have a few children every century and are uber-strict lawful disciplinarian religious fanatics who are also wildly chaotic and uncontrollable because... uh, they're crazy?' strangeness can only be a good thing.


I think Phil and Dixie summed up drow better than anyone else.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

If I recall correctly, the drow in Golarion are meant to be almost all evil, with good being few and far in between. Probably to stem the "Drizz't" syndrome *shrug*. I'm personally just sick of drow.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

When it comes to the Goblinoids of Golarion, I kind of picture them kin to gnomes. (No I'm not gnome bashing)

Gnomes connections to the First World require them to seek out new life and new Civiliz- wait that's Starfleet. Gnomes have to seek out new experiences to stay healthy. If the goblinoids are fae descended like gnomes, then it would explain their actions, they have to follow the patterns they do (burning, conquoring, scaring) to stay healthy, like breathing or eating. Now just as a gnome can survive the Bleaching, the goblinoids can change and not be destructive, but just like most gnomes don't face or survive the bleaching, most goblins don't change.

This also makes them "evil by our standards" creatures.

Liberty's Edge

Kajehase wrote:
I think Phil and Dixie summed up drow better than anyone else.

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I do remember that contrary to what this comic infers, somebody on /tg/ said that a famous female SF author was one of the major developers of the Drow (Who were originally supposed to be just paler elves) society. Though, she actually wanted to take it further into sort of a Bizarro Gor. For example, Driders were originally supposed to be the sterile drow males, and they were supposed to actually reproduce with giant spiders.

I can't quite remember which author it was though. Anybody remember her name?

Dark Archive

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I will say I actually like the way Golarion takes familiar cultures and then gives them a twist. It is very easy to describe cultures, NPC's etc if you have a starting point you are familiar with. Same with it is easy to give players a starting point to make characters from. Such as to describe the varies nations and cultures you could say.

Cheliax - Imagine a Roman Empire but more set in a Renaissance Northern Italy with a underlay of Devil Worship.

Now Cheliax is a bit like that but only a bit, but it gives a nice starting point where the player has a idea. Then if they are interested you can dive into things a lot more.

This is one of the big reasons I really like the campaign setting. Gives me a familiar starting point then I can go in and tweak and change things as I see fit if I want to.

As for the humans of the world I won't get into that as it has been pretty well covered already.

Liberty's Edge

tbok1992 wrote:
Kajehase wrote:
I think Phil and Dixie summed up drow better than anyone else.

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I do remember that contrary to what this comic infers, somebody on /tg/ said that a famous female SF author was one of the major developers of the Drow (Who were originally supposed to be just paler elves) society. Though, she actually wanted to take it further into sort of a Bizarro Gor. For example, Driders were originally supposed to be the sterile drow males, and they were supposed to actually reproduce with giant spiders.

I can't quite remember which author it was though. Anybody remember her name?

I doubt that. The drow first appeared in the Against the giants series of modules by Gygax, I don't think any SF writers has an hand in their creation.

Sovereign Court

Kajehase wrote:
I think Phil and Dixie summed up drow better than anyone else.

That's FR drow.

Golarion drow are a little different.


While we're on the topic of in-universe prejudices and old cliches like the haughty, aloof elves, I'd like to say that modern-day social justice warriors in both their positive and negative extremes (read: tumblr) informed my depiction of elves in recent games, and it was a result that my players liked so much that I'm going to be hard-pressed to play the "elves are haughty" trope in the traditional, overt manner ever again.

Essentially, I've been having elves not check their privilege. I don't mean that in the sort of all-purpose social bludgeoning weapon sense that "check your privilege" has come to mean on the internet, but rather in the original intent of little fallacies in cultural and racial upbringing that can lead to some pretty serious disconnects when not consciously acknowledged.

For instance, I had the Lawful Good elven paladin of Erastil NPC tell the half-elf player character to give up her elven duel, because it wasn't as important to her as it was to the elf on the other end. This was an absolutely well-meaning intent, because he just didn't want the half-elf to get hurt, but the subtext was that the elven duel was more the "purview" of her fullblooded adversary, that she was somehow less deserving of either the rewards or consequences of her actions.

Similarly, both the Paladin and the villainous elf at the other end of the duel apologized to the party for the collateral damage of the duel--by addressing the elf in the party. The intent was to apologize to everyone, but in both cases they chose to communicate this sentiment to the most racially/culturally familiar of the group.

Another frequent topic of contention involving the duel was the friendly sentiment by multiple elves that "you can work this out over time rather than doing anything rash, you have your whole life to fix things;" an option that, in the time scale that they were referring to, would have only been feasible to the elf or the gnome (depending on whether or not she gets bored) in the party, not the half-elf or the dwarf, and certainly not the half-orc, who will likely die in his sixties or seventies. None of the elves in question consciously thought about this.

Outside of the duel, I had the elven priestess of Calistria openly refer to the half-orc sorcerer as "exotic," without any consideration of the racial commentary she was making, despite the fact that the half-orc identifies not as an orc but as ethnically Chelaxian, the closest thing the Inner Sea has to a "white-bread" setting.

One angle that the party played up on a villainous social encounter with an elf was that the villain was an adulterer, and the villain's father was a disapproving social conservative. However, I left it extremely unclear whether the father disapproved of extramarital dalliances, or of extramarital dalliances with humans, as was the case with this particular NPC. Certainly what the villain was doing was wrong, regardless, but I tantalized the players just a little bit with the prospect that the values were just slightly...off.

The final keystroke that had my players wincing was when a powerful elven patron gave everyone lavish rewards for a quest. All of them were wondrous items with additional art value, but it was only when the players looked at the item entries that the discrepancy became obvious: the half-elf, half-orc, dwarf, and gnome had all received gifts worth 6,000 gp, while the elf was holding a gift worth 8,000. They were all magnificent, personalized rewards, which left no real room to complain, but despite the beautiful gifts, the whole exchange left a bitter aftertaste.

Whereas I've always been a little bit bored with the comparatively traditional portrayals of elves, dwarves, and halflings in Golarion (especially compared to those wacky gnomes), I felt that this approach really drove in to my players the cultural and racial disconnect between themselves and the elves, and allowed them to acknowledge that even the most well-intentioned can be racist without realizing it. Watching the players alternately call out or forgive elven NPCs depending on their transgressions has been very interesting for me.

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