Dungeons & Dragons will be making some tweaks to the playable orc race in its upcoming Eberron book. Later this year, Dungeons & Dragons will release Eberron: Rising From the Last War, a new campaign setting sourcebook for Eberron, a steampunk/noir inspired world featuring a bounty of low level magic, sentient constructs, and trains that stretch across continents. In a recent episode of Dragon+, a podcast/video stream produced by the D&D team, Jeremy Crawford confirmed that the book will feature a variant version of playable orcs that reflects how orcs are depicted within Eberron.
While orcs are typically depicted as brutish and primitive creatures in most Dungeons & Dragons settings, Eberron treats orcs differently. Orcs are one of Eberron's oldest races and helped repel an invasion of aberrations that led to the collapse of an ancient goblinoid kingdom that ruled the continent of Khorvaire thousands of years in the past. Those orcs, known as the Gatekeepers, are powerful druids that still exist in the modern age, protecting Eberron from outside forces.
The biggest change to orcs in Eberron: Rising From the Last War is the lack of an Intelligence penalty. While players creating an orc character previously took a -2 penalty to their Intelligence score, orcs will no longer be saddled with this penalty. What's more - the Eberron: Rising From the Last War orc can be used in other campaign settings as well, so players don't have to conform their character to the negative stereotypes often used to portray orcs in typical fantasy settings.
Not only does the new variant orc race acknowledge the orc's place in Eberron's history, it also addresses one of the more uncomfortable aspects of D&D lore - namely, the real life inspiration for orcs. Although orcs are a fantasy race, their depiction was heavily influenced by negative stereotypes of the Mongol ethnic group, which often was used to stoke fears of aggression from countries in Asia. You can still see signs of these stereotypes in how orcs and other goblinoid races are depicted in Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy media, particularly in terms of their clothing, facial features, and even settlements. Even if many people don't consciously make the connection between orcs and various ethnic groups, the use of orcs has long been a sore point with many D&D enthusiasts, particularly as they're depicted as lustful and stupid creatures.
Other playable races in Eberron: Rising From the Last War include Changlings, Shifters, and Warforged. Eberron: Rising From the Last War will be released on November 15th. Pre-orders are live now (40% off).
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