July 22, 2020

Dark Matter Orcs and Errata

Comments from the Finger: I made a full apology on Twitter about how we've handled orcs in Dark Matter, and why we're trying to change them. I won't reiterate all of it here, but suffice it to say, we're trying to do better, and this is something we can meaningfully change. 


First and foremost, we're changing some bits within Dark Matter, which will be reflected in all subsequent reprints. In the following PDF, significant sections of the "Orcs and Goblinoids" section have been rewritten. It attempts to cast the orcs in the universe in a different light, separating them from goblinoids as a whole. Furthermore, the following terms throughout the book are changed: the “Orc Warzone” and “Orc Warhorde” are changed to the “Warzone” and “Warhorde” respectively, and are cast almost exclusively with hobgoblins, bugbears, and gnolls.


We've also included an orc race which is compatible with Dark Matter. Besides just providing more context to orcs in this setting, it now lets you play orc characters in your campaigns!


On a far less considered note, the Dark Matter Starter Kit Kickstarter launches in just seven days! If you want the breakdown of what we're launching, head to darkamtter.magehandpress.com and get the free demo!

We'll show off more of what we're planning here over the next few days, so watch this space!


  1. Gnolls aren't goblinoids...

    Typo: "other goblinoids+" in The Warhorde.

    The orc description is about Dame're, by Dame're, in third person?

    I personally think that the whole "let's not be racist against orcs" thing is kinda silly, but it's definitely done for the right reasons, so it's nice to see Dark Matter taking the same forward route as the rest of D&D.

    I hope any orcs who read your apology will be satisfied ;)

    1. My opinions on the matter are complex, but it's ultimately a chance for us to improve the setting, so we took it.

  2. I'm not sure how I feel about the Follow Through feature. It feels kind of restrictive. If you're *not* using a heavy weapon, you're missing out. I'd probably prefer the critical damage bonus, even if that slightly encourages certain kinds of weapons too through damage dice.
    Maybe weapon tags work differently in Dark Matter. I don't know.

    1. Heavy is the same as it ever was. But we have introduced a number of new heavy weapons in Dark Matter, including heavy blasters. I suspect that a heavy weapon was already the 'optimal' choice for an orc 95% of the time, even without this feature.

      But ultimately, it's only a racial feature. A marginal benefit that you shouldn't lose any sleep over if you're not using it all the time.

  3. It's kinda meh, doesn't really feel "orky".

    Won't be using it.

  4. The dragging racist parallels to fantasy races seems...arbitrary to me. Specially with orcs and goblinoids. We all know the world is not black and white, but in fantasy casting such deep divisions as right and wrong, good and evil are part of the simplicity that draws people in. Mind you I love good orc characters, damn i even enjoy people playing Gnoll characters even though Wizards straight up said they wouldn't make them playable.
    Orcs and drow are not human racial minorities. Dragging "white guilt" into tabletop if a poor and misguided approach to make a difference. Let the base lore lie were it lies, in the end players will build their own tales with their characters, and having a negative bias attached to them can lead to wonderful tales.

    1. Keeping the above post for the sake of honesty, but yea, take it as a general vent regarding the general wave of forced change going about, not something inherently targeted at you guys.

    2. Tbh, with Drow there is somewhat of an issue- a dark-skinned, female-ruled version of a good race is evil? Come on, there's plenty reason to change that.

      Otherwise, I agree.

    3. Is there really? 5e has already been more lax with morality, with racial alignments being optional guidelines more than anything. Besides as I said, pulling pc culture into fantasy is just silly.

    4. I'd suggest you do some deeper reading into what people have written on this subject. The stories we tell are an extension of the world we live in, and provide a very real feedback loop, so it's important we be mindful of the real-life detritus that seeps into our "disconnected" fantasy worlds.

      But don't listen to me on this -- I'm a white guy, with no native understanding of the real issues at hand. There's plenty of good writers out there who have forwarded this issue clearly and persuasively. Try to be open to this, and do some bonus reading.

    5. The fact that you need to point out you are white as if that invalidates your opinion is part of the issue...The White guy has no say in culture thing is...a deeply American school of thought. I actually do have an academic background in literature and culture and how one can affect the other, so trust me, when I say the best way to solve this issue is to not drag it into every cultural dimension you will have to take my word for it. Also, I'm actually Portuguese, thus have a "valid" opinion on this at least by that skewed view where skin colours can have any say in knowledge. I understand why you are jumping on this bandwagon and I know you are trying to do a good thing...but it is a deeply misguided effort.

    6. As a rule academics don't generally claim "you have to take my word for it". Doesn't really work with academia in general. That said, I don't even necessarily think how this was handled is particularly great (just changing the blame from one generally demonized and race coded species to another isn't particularly great progress) I can at least appreciate a sincere desire to fix the issue. No one is forcing you to use this change, it's a tabletop game you can take what you want. Just like plenty of people have been actively changing their personal portrayals of orcs or goblinkin for years. If you want to keep using generic savage orcs, no one is stopping you. If you have some problem making the active choice to ignore lore to characterize a race the way you want, maybe you can understand why all the people who have been uncomfortable with these races for literal decades have felt, at least a little bit.

    7. "No-one is forcing you to use the change"
      Yeah, but of course you can't buy the unupdated version so you'd have to pirate it.

      The whole idea is completely stupid. Orcs are not, and have never, represented black people. Being white does not invalidate your views or opinions. Flagellating yourselves over the altar of social justice is a moronic move - just like saying you won't support or redo the Shugenja because "D&D has a harmful history of asian stereotypes" (as if it doesn't for European? What rubbish.)

      @The FingeR:

      "I'd suggest you do some deeper reading into what people have written on this subject. "

      Nobody has ever presented anything that holds any water when scrutenised on this. Most of the time it's people trying to get clout by latching on to something popular and trying to get clicks or better, a job under the guise of "THIS THING IS EVIL! NOW HIRE ME TO FIX IT!" (See: Daniel Kwan, the scumbag who complains about Oriental Adventures, which has not been relevant in decades)

      "The stories we tell are an extension of the world we live in, and provide a very real feedback loop,"
      This is the same bullshit the Christian Right would yell during the Satanic Panic. How do you not see that?

      "But don't listen to me on this -- I'm a white guy, with no native understanding of the real issues at hand. "
      The greatest thing anyone can do when trying to "correct" made-up racism: be racist towards white people, including themselves, by dismissing any idea that they can have an understanding of racism.

      "There's plenty of good writers out there who have forwarded this issue clearly and persuasively. "
      There really aren't.

      " Try to be open to this, and do some bonus reading."

      This reeks of "EDUCATE YOURSELF", the go-to tagline for brainwashed muppets.

  5. This is a disappointing change as I rather liked that the orcs were the driving force behind the Warzone. Your change has removed their responsibility for the area's violent past by claiming that modern orcs don't remember or acknowledge it. You have made the orcs into a group with no culture of their own, they are either adopting dwarvish or human cultures or subsumed into goblinoid ones. At least before this change the Warzone was an evolution of orcish culture and a continuation of their history of conflict.

    Additionally, you have merely shifted the problem of racial savage over to the goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, and gnolls (who are not goblinoids).

    1. With the above said, I do like the racial traits presented for playing orc characters. A vast improvement over the pre-Eberron official WotC treatment for playing orcs.

      You might consider adding a section on playing the various goblinoids or gnolls. Keith Baker's new book "Exploring Eberron" provides excellent examples for all those races as well as presenting traditionally monstrous races as interesting and unique cultures.

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