Solomoriah wrote:You state that there are "fine examples of heroic versions" of these races. Where have you seen these examples? Is there a literary or mythic source for them? Because I might find reading such works entertaining.
But the fact is, within the limitations of the existing game, Smoot has attempted to provide a way for races normally considered monstrous to be played as PCs. I can attest that this is successful, as there is a goblin character in a group I'm playing in now. Though he is finding the discrimination against him by various townspeople rather harsh, I think the player is enjoying the opportunity.
Orcs are mostly in video game form.
WarCraft series gives plenty of examples of Orcs and has some inclusion of Goblins. Both Orcs and Goblins are playable races in the game, although their Goblins are a fair bit different from D&D ones.
WarHammer games have Orcs & Goblins as a faction in the game, the Orcs are actually better in battle although Goblins in this game are intentionally weak. Still, they have them displaying some interesting traits.
Of Orcs and Men has a great story, though the game play is a bit limited, staring an Orc and a Goblin.
There is a Jig the Goblin series by Jim C. Hines, a trilogy of books starring Goblins.
There is certainly a lot more beyond that. Hobgoblins are nearly impossible to find since they are sort of a D&D exclusive concept. WarHammer and WarCraft Hobgoblins are massively different from D&D ones, though some of the concepts of the former (being far more "human" than their cousins) kind of ring true.
D&D 3E and 4E developed these races out to a far greater degree than 1E and 2E D&D and began actually delving into what they were uniquely good at. In 4E, both races can be taken as PC races and are pretty much precisely on par with every other race.
Just because an ability doesn't appear directly on them when written as opponents doesn't mean they need to be worse than every other race. There are plenty of things about them that are in fact assumed but affect combat not-at-all.
They manage to live in places PCs other than Ranger or Druids would be able to get on for more than maybe a month. They can hide and require PCs to take spot checks to find them. They can partner with things PCs cannot. And their ability to overcome various non-combat obstacles has a big question mark over it because they were not written to be present in any such situations.
It is a relatively simple process to take the things that everyone just assumed about them and didn't need any distinctly written rules when controlled by DMs, look for inspiration to where they were more fully developed then bring those ideas back in order to give them what is needed to stand in as perfectly serviceable alternatives to PC races rather than making the choice "would you like to excel or would you like to suck" which is not what the choice should be about at all.
If I say "I want to play as a Hobgoblin", I am not saying "I want to utterly stink at absolutely everything next to the Dwarf and be pretty useless to the party in general.", I am saying "I want to be tall, have odd-colored skin, big ears, glowy eyes, sharp teeth and be an angry, mean mercenary from a lawful but evil culture that is totally cool with slavery and war for profit, and have to overcome his own prejudices and others to become a hero."
To make the later equate to the former feels a lot like "how dare you want to be something that wasn't a hero in the Lord of the Rings series!" rather than a natural extension of the concept.