About un-eviling evil races

One thought on “About un-eviling evil races

  1. D. Walker says:

    I’m all for having a race created by an evil god have an overwhelmingly -tendency- toward evil, but I’m not okay with them being -intrinsically- evil.

    For example, lets look at Gnolls. They were (arguably? probably? maybe?) created by a fiend lord, and therefor have fiendish blood. But that alone isn’t enough to make a person automatically evil – we know that because Tieflings have fiendish blood, and yet their alignment isn’t intrinsically fixed.

    What makes Gnoll into an evil being is their upbringing. When they are born into a pack of evil Gnolls who worship Yeenoghu, they get indoctrinated into that culture of evil by their family. The evil values they end up embracing are -taught- to them by others, and presented as normal and proper.

    An abandoned infant Gnoll who somehow survives to adulthood on their own wouldn’t know to worship Yeenoghu, because they wouldn’t even know who Yeenoghu was. They wouldn’t have the Gnollish ethos of loyalty to a pack, because they would never have had a pack to be loyal to, and might not even be able to conceive of what a pack even -is- or means.

    If the same infant Gnoll was found and raised by Goliaths, it would absorb Goliath cultural values instead. It would value notions like sporting competition, fair play, and individual strength and independence. If it was instead raised by Dwarves, it would absorb Dwarven cultural values, like wealth, craftsmanship, clannish traditionalism and social heirachy. Et cetera.

    Essentially, whoever raises the child would be the primary influence on what alignment it eventually would adopt and embrace.

    That said, there can still be an underlying influence from a Gnoll’s fiendish and primal natures. Instinct is a real and potent force, and a young Gnoll being raised by Dwarves might find itself in conflict with Dwarven values because of the powerful impulses of its instincts.

    For example, a Gnoll’s hyena heritage might give it an inborn taste for carrion and uncooked flesh which might be directly at odds with Dwarven notions of what is okay to eat or not. If the young Gnoll got a random urge one day to raid a chicken coop and tore apart a few hens, they’d quite surely end up in trouble with their adoptive Dwarven family, who would try to teach them to suppress that instinct and overcome it. And the Gnoll might struggle with that impulse for years to come, or even the rest of their life.

    Of course, instincts can also work to your benefit. Gnolls are social animals who form packs, and so that instinctual pack impulse would mesh easily with the Dwarven clan mentality, and they’d have little trouble adopting that particular aspect of Dwarven culture.

    And in contrast, if the same Gnoll were raised by a solitary race that never bands together in packs, clans, or tribes, they might find that sort of lifestyle inexplicably lonely and unfulfilling.

    If your instincts tell you that you should be sleeping in one big pile with your packmates, casually grooming each other, and generally sharing nearly every personal experience with others, you probably would chafe at being forced to live in society that insists upon regimented living, where privacy is insisted upon and isolation from others is the norm.

    When you have a fundamental, biological -need- that goes unmet, and that can make you profoundly sad, or frustrated, or angry, or even scared. You might grow to resent your adoptive society, because you feel it is stifling you. Or, you might grow to resent your instinctual drives instead, feeling like there’s something wrong with you which is preventing you from fitting in.

    But this instinctual influence should always be precisely that – an influence.

    Being the spawn of a demon lord should make you heavily inclined towards violence and evil, but it shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion. It should still be possible to defy your instincts through willpower and choice. You shouldn’t automatically, fundamentally, intrinsically be evil.

    There absolutely should be packs of Gnolls who are NOT evil, because they managed to resist their demonic instincts and reject their evil upbringings. They should be RARE among Gnolls, for obvious reasons, but they absolutely need to be able to EXIST, and not just have that possibility denied out of hand.

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