D&D 5E Ajit George Talks About Radiant Citadel's Creators

Project Lead Ajit George shared a post on social media about the development of and creators of...

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Project Lead Ajit George shared a post on social media about the development of and creators of Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel.

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Hi all,
I'm so unbelievably excited and proud to tell you that I have conceived and co-led the first book written entirely by people of color in Dungeons & Dragons’ 49-year history: Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel!

In June of 2020, I pitched the idea to Jeremy Crawford and Wes Schneider at the D&D Studio for a book written by Black and brown writers. The idea was to create new places and lands based on our cultures, histories, myths, and lived experiences. To my surprise and joy, they agreed and asked me to co-lead it with Wes Schneider!
Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel is an anthology of 13 compelling adventures that introduces 16 new locations, along with characters and monsters. The first location, the titular Radiant Citadel, was created and written by myself. You have never seen anything like it in D&D before.

There is so much we've accomplished with this unbelievable book:
  • I am the first-ever PoC Project Lead for a D&D book.
  • This is the first D&D book conceived, created, and written entirely by PoCs: Sixteen writers in total.
  • This is the first D&D book where the cover art and alt-cover art were both created by women of color: Evyn Fong and Sija Hong.
  • The co-Art Director is a woman of color: Emi Tanji.
  • The Marketing Lead is a woman of color: Sara Chan.
  • Two of the rules developers are PoCs: Makenzie De Armas and Taymoor Rehman.
  • One of the editors is a PoC: Jessica Ross.
  • Three cultural consultants are women of color: Nivair H. Gabriel, Jaymee Goh, and Carmen Maria Marin.
  • Almost two-thirds of the artists were PoCs and they created more than two-thirds of the art for the book.
  • One of our narrative design consultants (and also my wife), is a woman of color: Whitney Strix Beltrán. She was with me from the very first day to the very last. I am eternally grateful for all she's done.
  • Additionally, half of the writers are women and several writers come from the LGBTQIA+ community.
More than 50 Black and brown people came together to work on this book and support its creation. I am overwhelmed by the scope of our accomplishments.

The sixteen writers for the book are: Justice Ramin Arman, Dominique Dickey, Basheer Ghouse, Alastor Guzman, D. Fox Harrell, T.K. Johnson, Felice Tzehuei, Surena Marie, Monidipa Mondal, Mario Ortegón, Miyuki Jane Pinckard, Pam Punzalan, Erin Roberts, Terry Romero, Stephanie Yoon and myself.

I am also grateful to everyone in the D&D Studio who made this book possible including Ray Winninger, Jeremy Crawford, Chris Perkins, Steve Scott, Amanda Hamon, James Wyatt, and of course my partner through it all, Wes Schneider.

And to friends who helped with so many different ways, especially John Stavropoulos (who was the system and narrative design consultant) and Jess Ross (who was one of the editors). Both were there from the start in leadership meetings and helped with so many parts in the first several months.

Finally, I want to thank my talented and capable wife Whitney Beltrán. I juggled my full-time job and leading this project and she supported me every day. She was also my narrative design consultant and weighed in or saw everything I did. This book is brilliant in part because of her.

I genuinely believe Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel is one of the finest books ever to bear the D&D logo. It is a layered book that hits upon complex and powerful themes. You can play it at the surface and have a lot of fun, or you can delve deeper with the questions it asks of you. Either way, it will offer hundreds of hours of incredible gameplay and new stories.

I can’t wait for it to be released on June 21st and to share it with the world!
 

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Scribe

Legend
But if this is your attitude, then there's literally nothing WotC could do that wouldn't be viewed with suspicion. So they might as well do the right thing, and celebrate and amplify creators of color.
You are correct.
I don't know if this is your intention, but it feels like you are using the excuse of WotC being a "corporation" to try and dismiss the cultures of the writers of Radiant Citadel.
No, not at all. I think this is a fine move on their part.

I absolutely view WotC with cynicism, but your first point is correct, in terms of celebrating, leveraging, and thereby amplifying the perspectives of people they have previously not done so for.
 

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Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
A third option.

People recoil from corporate marketing, and view anything coming from such a corporation cynically at best.

If Wizards had not mentioned the authors, I continue to believe, most wouldnt even be aware of who authored these adventures.
But that doesn't explain it. This book has gotten such a negative huge knee-jerk response that multiple designers of the book and members of the WotC D&D team have had to step in and clarify stuff that should have been apparent in the first place ("no, this isn't replacing Sigil," and "yes, I understand new things are scary, get over it" for example).

Candlekeep didn't get this kind of response, even though it also touted how it had a diverse swathe of writers. Netherdeep didn't, even though people love to crap on Critical Role books and Matt Mercer. The Magic: the Gathering settings didn't get anything this bad, even when their mere existence is a controversial topic in this community.

So, "people hate corporate marketing" isn't an explanation of this, because WotC has engaged in this same sort of corporate marketing for literally all of their recent products, and none of them have gotten this amount of backlash.

Literally the only main difference here is that the whole book is being written by POC. The art doesn't matter, because lots of people have hated the art for other 5e books, and none of them gained this amount of a reaction.

The only reason why so many people would be complaining about this book is as some kind of a knee-jerk response to seeing that it was written entirely by non-white people. That's it. That milestone is the only thing that explains this kind of a response. Go read people's comments on this article on Reddit, or on the articles announcing this book, or various moderated comments in that other thread. The only thing that would provoke this much of a response is the fact that they announced that the book was the first official D&D book written entirely by People of Color.

It's really not hard to hear the dogwhistle. This always happens with an announcement as momentous as this one. It's always the same people, and it's always the same BS.
 

Scribe

Legend
So, "people hate corporate marketing" isn't an explanation of this, because WotC has engaged in this same sort of corporate marketing for literally all of their recent products, and none of them have gotten this amount of backlash.
I'll take your word for it about the backlash, I dont look at twitter unless its linked here, and this is the only place I visit for D&D. To me, the outcry is certainly not any worse than the Feywild, or Strixhaven books. The Stixhaven one is even worse to me, and its not even close...but anyway.

I maintain, if not for the marketing push, most people wouldnt even be aware of the authors, and it wouldnt have been nearly the issue it seems to be.

Hell, this whole thread wouldnt exist.
 

Ixal

Hero
But if this is your attitude, then there's literally nothing WotC could do that wouldn't be viewed with suspicion. So they might as well do the right thing, and celebrate and amplify creators of color.

I mean, would it really be better if you didn't know that these creators all used their family histories, cultural connections, and personal stories to create the adventures?

I don't know if this is your intention, but it feels like you are using the excuse of WotC being a "corporation" to try and dismiss the cultures of the writers of Radiant Citadel. The fact that the writers got to use their cultures as inspiration obviously means a lot to them (based on their Tweets). Purposefully dismissing that is erasure.
Their cultural connection being Californian, ect.?
Not even WotC claims, as far as I saw, that people of varied cultures worked on the book. That claim only started a few posts above as apparently there are people who think that someone who is not white surly must come from or know something about a foreign culture.

As for why am I arguing, because I see this "written entirely by PoC" as a marketing stunt and that it is not something which affects the quality of the book at all. And then the discussion drifted as people brought culture into it and that of course PoC must know about foreign cultures...
It seems to me that "PoC" is still code for foreign and different and that some people can't fathom the idea one can be a non white average American without any special and foreign knowledge.
 
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Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
I'll take your word for it about the backlash, I dont look at twitter unless its linked here, and this is the only place I visit for D&D. To me, the outcry is certainly not any worse than the Feywild, or Strixhaven books. The Stixhaven one is even worse to me, and its not even close...but anyway.
I also dislike the Strixhaven book. Not because of its theme, or it being a M:tG setting, or the "harry potter ripoff" nonsense, but because it's just genuinely a poorly made book. The book is a mess and barely functions as either a setting book or an adventure book.
I maintain, if not for the marketing push, most people wouldnt even be aware of the authors, and it wouldnt have been nearly the issue it seems to be.
Again, we knew about the authors for Candlekeep Mysteries. They even did the same marketing release where they touted how diverse the writers were. The "marketing" does not explain the backlash.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Their cultural connection being Californian, ect.?
Not even WotC claims, as far as I saw, that people of varied cultures worked on the book. That claim only started a few posts above as apparently there are people who think that someone who is not white surly must come from or know something about a foreign culture.

As for why am I arguing, because I see this "written entirely by PoC" as a marketing stunt and that it is not something which affects the quality of the book at all. And then the discussion drifted as people brought culture into it and that of course PoC must know about foreign cultures...
It seems to me that "PoC" is still code for foreign and different and that some people can't fathom the idea one can be a non white average American without any special and foreign knowledge.

Here's a quote from one of the authors who wrote the first adventure in this book;

“My mom is from Thailand, and that’s where largely this adventure is inspired from,” Marie said during a presentation for the press. “With being first-generation, there is this strange duality that you have to navigate where you want to live the big American dream; you want to live the life that your parents had come from a different country to give you. But at the same time, there’s a large part of us as being first-generation that worries about losing our culture, or we aren’t even granted full access to it because of the pressure to be more Americanized.”

Marie says her adventure uses those two ideas as a fulcrum, while at the same time setting the story against larger thematic idea of “the push and pull between industry and tradition.”

“I think it was important to also focus on more intimate adventure,” Marie said. “It’s not about saving the world necessarily. The stakes aren’t as high as some other amazing, incredible adventures in the [book], but I believe that everyone can empathize and understand what it’s like to care about your family, or [identify with] the idea of a rival family, [where] they’re part of this vibrant community. [...] To me, it’s just more personal.”


I mean, that's some good proof that your line of thinking on American POC is nonsense.
 

Scribe

Legend
I also dislike the Strixhaven book. Not because of its theme, or it being a M:tG setting, or the "harry potter ripoff" nonsense, but because it's just genuinely a poorly made book. The book is a mess and barely functions as either a setting book or an adventure book.
May I select "All of the Above."

They even did the same marketing release where they touted how diverse the writers were. The "marketing" does not explain the backlash.

I mean, there was though? Wasnt that the one with the ramps or something? lol
 

Ixal

Hero
Here's a quote from one of the authors who wrote the first adventure in this book;

“My mom is from Thailand, and that’s where largely this adventure is inspired from,” Marie said during a presentation for the press. “With being first-generation, there is this strange duality that you have to navigate where you want to live the big American dream; you want to live the life that your parents had come from a different country to give you. But at the same time, there’s a large part of us as being first-generation that worries about losing our culture, or we aren’t even granted full access to it because of the pressure to be more Americanized.”

Marie says her adventure uses those two ideas as a fulcrum, while at the same time setting the story against larger thematic idea of “the push and pull between industry and tradition.”

“I think it was important to also focus on more intimate adventure,” Marie said. “It’s not about saving the world necessarily. The stakes aren’t as high as some other amazing, incredible adventures in the [book], but I believe that everyone can empathize and understand what it’s like to care about your family, or [identify with] the idea of a rival family, [where] they’re part of this vibrant community. [...] To me, it’s just more personal.”


I mean, that's some good proof that your line of thinking on American POC is nonsense.
I was unaware that there is only one American PoC out there. Do you know that the other 15 writers have a similar bio or do you just assume?
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Their cultural connection being Californian, ect.?
Not even WotC claims, as far as I saw, that people of varied cultures worked on the book. That claim only started a few posts above as apparently there are people who think that someone who is not white surly must come from or know something about a foreign culture.

As for why am I arguing, because I see this "written entirely by PoC" as a marketing stunt and that it is not something which affects the quality of the book at all. And then the discussion drifted as people brought culture into it and that of course PoC must know about foreign cultures...
It seems to me that "PoC" is still code for foreign and different and that some people can't fathom the idea one can be a non white average American without any special and foreign knowledge.
Before I respond to this, I'm curious: what is your intention in this discussion? Are you actually interested in learning more, or are you firmly set in your perspective?
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
I was unaware that there is only one American PoC out there. Do you know that the other 15 writers have a similar bio or do you just assume?

I think they all have very different bios, and that this book will therefore have a diverse range of cultural inspirations.

What are you assuming about them?
 

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