There has been a lot of controversy on these here Internets as of late about a Legends & Lore article that talked about things people wanted included in D&D Next. Specifically, a significant ruckus occurred in the direction of stat modifiers for gender and race. Wizards quickly quelled the hellstorm, and wisely revising their poll so as not to include silly things like THAC0 and sexism. Though the results of that first poll are now gone due to “technical issues”, there were still 330 or so people recorded as of yesterday afternoon that wanted gender and race stat modifiers included in D&D Next.
I’ve seen plenty of arguments as to why these rules are included.
These rules are more realistic, some would say. Women aren’t as strong as men. EVER. The prospect of a woman having 18 — much less 18(00)! — strength is just patently absurd. Plus, it’s a proven fact that women burst into flames when they don Gauntlets of Ogre Power. They’re not called Gauntlets of Woman Power, obviously. Dwarves never get sick. Elves are clearly more dextrous, because TREES. (Except for those new elves that jump in and out of the prime material plane when they’re not dreaming. They just get like, extra rewards points on their Visa cards.)
I hate to break it to these 330 people, but they are all wrong. Every last one of them. Not for some tree-hugging moral reason. Oh, no.
Because it’s simply not true.
Public Records Don’t Lie
There’s a factor in play here unknown to most: the Forgotten Realms keeps detailed census data on all humanoid creatures (and several adjacent planes of existence, otherwise the Visa Elves wouldn’t get counted).
To be completely fair, the stat-modifier apologists are right — if this was 1972. This data was accurate at the time of the first publication of Dungeons & Dragons. However, this was forty years ago — which, as any scientist will tell you, is long enough for evolution to muck about with pretty much everything. Just look at the ancient peoples of our own 1970’s. Primitives.
Humans are now the least populous race in the Forgotten Realms, comprising only 6% of the population. However, their curious nature combined with their propensity to attempt to mate with anything that appears to be alive, has caused a massive upsurge in the number of Half-Orcs and Half-Halflings in the Realms, clocking in at 14% and 18% respectively. Census data shows that the average STR score for Half-Orcs is 17, and their CHA has raised significantly due to better government-funded access to charm school education.
Half-Halflings, sometimes known as Tall Short Hairy-Men, have an enormous average INT score of 31 and are known for their use of powerful magics. However, they are also known for making their homes in large barrels filled with brine and pickles, leaving their bodies as they astrally project for their entire lifespan. To date, nobody has figured out how they mate, but both the barrel and pickle industries in the Realms have enjoyed constant growth for the last several decades.
Pure-blooded Elves and Dwarves in the Realms are much more scarce than they used to be. This is primarily because, in 1987, a genetic predisposition toward epic-level hay fever spread through the elven populations of the world. The elves fled en masse underground, where there was war until the mid 90’s with the dwarves. Nobody knows for sure what happened, but in 2001, colonies of lanky, bulbous, aloof, cantankerous, rebellious teenage Elf-Dwarves started to emerge from the Underdark. Census data at the time reported an average CHA score of 5. It was thought that this number might rise as the teens grew out of their awkward phase, but the most current census data reports that sadly, CHA seems to be the dump-stat of the Elf-Dwarf.
On the topic of gender, The census data on males is largely unchanged. The average male STR score is still 18, as it has been for decades, but 60% of the male population now has a seduce ability. However, the average modern woman in the Forgotten Realms, according to current census data, has a 24 STR score, 4.8 children, and can breathe acid.