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Why use D&D races in our stories?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Dreamhand, May 19, 2012.

  1. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    Nope. Middle school is firmly within girl vs. boy, "us vs. them" territory. Or at least it used to be. Kids these days.
  2. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    I use mythical beings(humanoids/animals/monsters) that D&D also used.
    I do not use D&D stats or characturistics except for those that are common to the myths.

    I agree, if you use a Monster manual, fiend folio, MM2, and don't change anything about them, then it is fan-fic.

    IMO beginning writers use established creations because they don't understand they can create anything from the original. But eventually they will figure out they are the god of their world.
  3. dangit

    dangit Scribe

    I agree with this portion. Not so much the rest
  4. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    Why use D&D races in our stories?
    Because NASCAR races just don't fit...and they are copyritghted.
  5. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

    I'm one of the people who thinks that using D&D races is a dumpster dive for any author or aspiring author. I don't get why people would really take something from D&D and try to fit it into their own stories. Inspiration is perfectly ok, but taking things, like drow, as a massive block and just move it between settings is something that eludes me.
  6. Sparkie

    Sparkie Auror

    I'm not sure how much 'race' matters in fantasy. Regardless of what kind of racial variety you choose for your world, remember to write stories about people, not races.
    MAndreas, Svrtnsse and Weaver like this.
  7. Zireael

    Zireael Troubadour

    I'm not sure why it eludes you. After all, D&D has no generic setting in its newer iterations, and you can use D&D in any setting (i.e. world) you wish.
  8. Phietadix

    Phietadix Archmage

    A good book I've read the Burnfield Prohiesies (I'm not sure if I spelled that right) by Wayne Thomas Batson. Has elves as the main characters, but he added some new things to them, sure they still like trees and elagent buildings, but they are the children of light. A new thing he added, if they don't have sunlight hit their skin for a few days they die. He also had gnomes and changed them a little and added a new race of his own, the Gwar.
  9. gethinmorgan

    gethinmorgan Scribe

    What an unutterably delightful thread ... (all IMO, in an non-argumentative, peace-loving way!)

    I think this question goes part-way to explain why gritty-realist fantasy is making so much headway now. The awe-factor involved with alternative, alien races (as they would have been in Tolkien's time) has been washed away by overuse. And even Tollkien went too far sometimes (Tom Bombadil, anyone?)

    Thus fantasy has to seek new awe-inspiring things to wow the crowds. Enter Martin with his The History of the Borgias, Erikkson with his paleontology/sociology background, Bakker with his philosophy/psychology.

    The danger of using old tropes is that is doesn't move the genre forward, but only walks on pathways already cut back by others. While I love these to wile away an afternoon of hack-and-slash, they are, as already said, entertainment, for the same reason I love reading Star Trek novels, for using a known universe and rearranging some of the pieces for a new interesting plot. Which I forget once I've put the book down.

    That is my readerly opinion.

    My writerly opinion is gathered from years of being derided for reading 'that kind of crap' by people who didn't understand the genre; what freedoms Fantasy offers a writer, and how wide, or deep, or honest, or true a fantasy story can be. Case in point, Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock. To put it nicely, that book blew the top of my head off ... with such imagination, such scope. A little part of me wished it was true, believed in magic again, wondered where my nearest Mythago would be ...

    That book is ART. That book inspired me

    Compare this to another Orc Chieftain, looking down at a quiet little valley, thinking about the good eating to come, or another elf stringing his bow, looking up and saying "two riders approach" in a spooky voice. From this, I can imagine the 'Making of' extras on the DVD, I can imagine the action figures, the versions of monopoly, or the fact that it gets mentioned on Big Bang Theory, and that it's part of geekdom and cosplay, and is a product rather than a work of art.

    Which makes me sound like a real snob. Which I'm not. I like both, but I definitely prefer one more than the other.
  10. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

    GWAR? Outf**kinstanding! Any story with them in it is my kinda story.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
  11. Phietadix

    Phietadix Archmage

    I can't see videos on my computer . . . but something tells me you don't know what these gwar are.
  12. kilost

    kilost Scribe

    Actually, quite relevant, in my WIP I'm using a bunch of standard fantasy races. However, I'm trying to give at least some cultures of each a unique spin. For example, only one culture among the humans is based on feudal Western Europe, with many others being based on West African, East African, Arabian and purely imaginary cultures. Among the dwarves, I've got more Inca-like groups, but also Plain Dwarves, living in warrens under the plains, emerging to hunt bison. I'm basing my merfolk cultures on different sea mammals. I've also got Tundra Orcs, an island-hopping Elven culture, etc.

    I am of the opinion that the old-fashioned races are fun, but if you really wanna grab some attention, give them a unique twist.
  13. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

    Hey, the band GWAR was my first thought, too. Some guy tried to convince me they are the best band ever. They come to Albuquerque on their tours, but I haven't gone to see them.

    I think you'll have to get used to the association if you're not changing the name. It's going to come up, especially from fans of metal.
  14. Phietadix

    Phietadix Archmage

    If I'm not changing the name? I didn't write that book, I said the some of the things the author did with the classic D&D races. My races (Except humans) aren't D&D.
  15. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

    Ah, I misread it. Sorry!

    So Batson and Hopper have elves, gnomes, spiders, and gwar? (Along with drefids, which reminds me of triffids, but I'm probably the only one who'd think that.)

    GWAR's been around since the eighties and the first Berinfell Prophesies book came out in 2009, but it's a MG series. I doubt many GWAR fans are in middle school. :p
  16. I agree with the original post. I LOVE Tolkien, and I'm constantly in search of good, new fantasy writing, and though there are many reasons why this is such a difficult task for me, a big one is that if I'm in a bookstore and see a fantasy book that features orcs, I instantly think "Tolkien ripoff" and move on. Same thing when I see halflings. Heck, I even usually move on quickly when I see dwarves and elves, because even though Tolkien didn't invent those two, there is no doubt in my mind that he is the one most responsible for their popularity, so by and large I see others' use of these races as expressing a decided lack of originality. The world knows pretty much all there is to know about dwarves, elves, orcs, and halflings ... come up with something else.
  17. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    I guess I'm weird, I played D&D before reading some of LOTR.
    I don't routinely find many books with elves, if I do I give it a good look unless they talk of Christmas elves.

    As with any cliche, avoid it. If you write of Tolkien elves, dwarves, and orcs, you will always be a shadow of the great. Break out and make them yours.
    As I have said many times,
    WHo wants to read about humans, 95% or more has been written about humans, humans have to be cliche by now. But people still write about humans, they aren't cliche, worn out. No race of story being is worn out more then humans, but people still read about them.
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    A good writer can make any subject matter fresh. Doesn't matter whether it is elves, orcs, vampires, halfings, or whatever.
  19. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

    By now, haven't we all come to the conclusion that some people will hate it* no matter what so write what you want to write?

    * — Re-using races or coming up with your own.
    Steerpike likes this.
  20. Fakefaux

    Fakefaux Dreamer

    One of the reasons I respect Tolkien so much (also Bram Stoker, for similar reasons) is because he went through the folklore and mythologies that interested him, doing extensive research. He picked and chose, kept some elements and not others, and slowly formed something that was his, something unique, out of the rich traditions of human belief and history. Our world is filled with incredible mythologies and folk traditions, a vast source of inspiration and material that anyone can tap into. Fantasy fiction has, for the most part, barely scratched its surface.

    Which is why when I see a writer using a carbon copy of Tolkien's elves, or Bram Stoker's vampires, or some variant of another author's creations, I tune out. It's derivative and unimaginative, and I have no patience for it.

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