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

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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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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
You are right, because you use quality with a different meaning. But this do not imply that your interlocutor was wrong. He simply was using quality with another meaning.

With respect, the original statement carried an implication (perhaps unintentional) that the color of the creator's skin does not matter. Since the life experience and perspective of creators impacts the work, that implication is simply incorrect.

And it is entirely reasonable to market a work on that basis - "this comes from people with perspectives you haven't seen much" is a valid selling point. Now, if you don't want different perspectives, that's about you, not about the authors.
 

ehren37

Legend
A pet peeve of mine is the free use of PUNK as a suffix. Are they fighting the establishment with Hope? Cyberpunk as a genre meant something. Punk has now just come to be a suffix used to say "Type of genre".

I wish punk wasnt used so liberally but wishing does not make things so.
I like to think it's just to irritate punk purists, who are some of the biggest gatekeepers since Zuul kept Gozer's gate.

The book looks fun, and I'm glad we have a variety of tones for adventures. I run for games for adults and sometimes for the kids of the parents in our group, so lighthearted faire is great!
 
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You are right, because you use quality with a different meaning. But this do not imply that your interlocutor was wrong. He simply was using quality with another meaning.
With all respect, I'm genuinely wondering if you're creating implications in your statements that you don't intend, by virtue of English (I assume) not being your first language.
 

Ixal

Adventurer
With respect, the original statement carried an implication (perhaps unintentional) that the color of the creator's skin does not matter. Since the life experience and perspective of creators impacts the work, that implication is simply incorrect.

And it is entirely reasonable to market a work on that basis - "this comes from people with perspectives you haven't seen much" is a valid selling point. Now, if you don't want different perspectives, that's about you, not about the authors.
You assume that being PoC automatically gives someone a perspective different enough to use for marketing and as a selling point. But that is not the case imo.
Several of the authors I looked up now that I am on a PC have a rather similar bio. Grown up in the US, college, university with a social science degree (I hope that is the right word. Writing, history, psychology, etc.) and then entry into the RPG industry.
That bio is not very different from many white RPG authors which also means the perspective are similar.
The perspective of a, for example, European of Middle Eastern author, no matter their skin color, would add a much more different perspective and more diversity than when you hire PoC American university educated writers instead of white American university educated writers.
But WoTC did not make and advertise a adventure collection created from authors from all across the world but a collection created from non-white authors with a similar bio then the "overrepresented" ones.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
You assume that bein PoC automatically gives someone a perspective different enough to use for marketing and as a selling point. But that is not the case imo.
Several of the authors I looked up now that I am on a PC have a rather similar bio. Grown up in the US, college, university with a social science degree (I hope that is the right word. Writing, history, psychology, etc.) and then entry into the RPG industry.
That bio is not very different from many white RPG authors which also means the perspective are similar.

Are you an American? The life experiences of a black or Asian American are very different from white Americans. The idea that because they all grew up in the US they all have the same perspective is almost laughable - all you need to do is read works by creators from those backgrounds to see that their experience of life is very different from, say, mine, despite the fact that we grew up in the same country at roughly the same time. The attitude of cops towards my black American colleagues alone makes their experiences growing up very different from mine, for example.

If you're not an American I can see how you might believe it, but I can't see how anyone who actually lives in this country could make a statement like that without choking as they do so.
 


Ixal

Adventurer
Are you an American? The life experiences of a black or Asian American are very different from white Americans. The idea that because they all grew up in the US they all have the same perspective is almost laughable - all you need to do is read works by creators from those backgrounds to see that their experience of life is very different from, say, mine, despite the fact that we grew up in the same country at roughly the same time. The attitude of cops towards my black American colleagues alone makes their experiences growing up very different from mine, for example.

If you're not an American I can see how you might believe it, but I can't see how anyone who actually lives in this country could make a statement like that without choking as they do so.
No, I am not an American as you correctly assume.
And from my position as an outsider it looks like while the US has a high level of racism, what is affecting perspective is, like nearly everywhere in the world, primarily economic in nature, only that in the US ones economic station at race is closely intertwined, at least for some ethnicities.
But still the perspective of a rich PoC will have more in common with a rich white person than with a poor PoC, especially when growing up in a very liberal state.
Which goes back to the authors I looked up all having a similar bio.
I stand by my opinion that just being PoC, even in the US, does not give a person automatically a much differ perspective.

Especially as all of the authors of this book are PoC and thus would all have experienced similar levels of racism.
If WotC really wanted different perspectives they should have looked for authors from different countries instead of authors with a similar kind of bio than their white authors but a different skin color.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
No, I am not an American as you correctly assume.
And from my position as an outsider it looks like while the US has a high level of racism, what is affecting perspective is, like nearly everywhere in the world, primarily economic in nature, only that in the US ones economic station at race is closely intertwined, at least for some ethnicities.
But still the perspective of a rich PoC will have more in common with a rich white person than with a poor PoC, especially when growing up in a very liberal state.
Which goes back to the authors I looked up all having a similar bio.
I stand by my opinion that just being PoC, even in the US, does not give a person automatically a much differ perspective.
Have you read much work by American writers of color? It may be worth exploring their perspectives.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
I stand by my opinion that just being PoC, even in the US, does not give a person automatically a much differ perspective.
You may stand by that opinion if you want, but it's not backed up by facts. Just reading works by American POC and comparing them to the works in the same genre as American white authors shows a distinct differences in perspective.

But your complaint basically boils down to "that's not the right kind of diversity therefore it's invalid" and frankly I can't stomach that kind of argument anymore. It's been an excuse in the US for not doing anything at all to address the lack of diversity in various environments and it's a terrible argument. It may not go far enough but it's still moving the football and that is in fact better than just sitting back and doing nothing at all. Maybe in a future book they'll pull in an international perspective, but as Wizards is an American company writing for primarily an American market it's actually a big deal that they're bringing in more diverse perspectives to their writing pool even if those perspectives are all still flavors of the American experience.
 

AnotherGuy

Adventurer
You may stand by that opinion if you want, but it's not backed up by facts. Just reading works by American POC and comparing them to the works in the same genre as American white authors shows a distinct differences in perspective.

But your complaint basically boils down to "that's not the right kind of diversity therefore it's invalid" and frankly I can't stomach that kind of argument anymore. It's been an excuse in the US for not doing anything at all to address the lack of diversity in various environments and it's a terrible argument. It may not go far enough but it's still moving the football and that is in fact better than just sitting back and doing nothing at all. Maybe in a future book they'll pull in an international perspective, but as Wizards is an American company writing for primarily an American market it's actually a big deal that they're bringing in more diverse perspectives to their writing pool even if those perspectives are all still flavors of the American experience.
I think the thrust of his argument is the word automatically.
Although technically I agree with him, and I haven't looked into the bio's of the authors, I find it highly unlikely that if not all, then surely some of them will have a different perspective than their white counterparts. How those different perspectives will translate into a roleplaying game we shall see.
 

With respect, the original statement carried an implication (perhaps unintentional) that the color of the creator's skin does not matter. Since the life experience and perspective of creators impacts the work, that implication is simply incorrect.
But is not a guarantee of "quality". If you want to twist the words I leave you there.

And it is entirely reasonable to market a work on that basis - "this comes from people with perspectives you haven't seen much" is a valid selling point. Now, if you don't want different perspectives, that's about you, not about the authors.
Why do you say this when I've written the exact opposite at least 2 times in this thread?
 

With all respect, I'm genuinely wondering if you're creating implications in your statements that you don't intend, by virtue of English (I assume) not being your first language.
Possible. It seem to me that Umbran use quality without positive meaning while the other guy use quality implying a positive meaning. Don't know how to say better, I do not master the nuances of english.
 

No, I am not an American as you correctly assume.
And from my position as an outsider it looks like while the US has a high level of racism, what is affecting perspective is, like nearly everywhere in the world, primarily economic in nature, only that in the US ones economic station at race is closely intertwined, at least for some ethnicities.
But still the perspective of a rich PoC will have more in common with a rich white person than with a poor PoC, especially when growing up in a very liberal state.
Which goes back to the authors I looked up all having a similar bio.
I stand by my opinion that just being PoC, even in the US, does not give a person automatically a much differ perspective.

Especially as all of the authors of this book are PoC and thus would all have experienced similar levels of racism.
If WotC really wanted different perspectives they should have looked for authors from different countries instead of authors with a similar kind of bio than their white authors but a different skin color.
1. What you are talking about here, somewhat unwittingly, is intersectionality: class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nationality, geography are all interrelated in forming identity. But your analysis here is reductive in that it prioritizes certain vectors, like middle class identity, over others in a way that is simply inaccurate. Seattle, for example, is both a conventionally "liberal" city and one that, like most American cities, is very white and very segregated.

2. You are correct that rpg publishers and consumers should look also to creators in the Global South, whose voices often go unheard due to a combination of lack of resources, access, and prejudice. There are thriving rpg scenes in parts of Latin America and South East Asia for example. I would welcome Wotc publishing a book of adventures solely by writers not based in the US. But that's not in competition with this book, even if many of the creators here are US-based.* There's no reason to dismiss or criticize the efforts of this group of marginalized creators simply because there are other and differently-marginalized creators still out there. In fact, I would argue that pitting groups against each other in this way is at least reminiscent of colonial tactics.

* (and I say US-based, as these creators will invariably have international relationships; prime example being Agit George, who runs a non-profit boarding school in South India for lower caste children as his day job, and impressively curates dnd adventure books in his "spare time" apparently).
 


1. What you are talking about here, somewhat unwittingly, is intersectionality: class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nationality, geography are all interrelated in forming identity. But your analysis here is reductive in that it prioritizes certain vectors, like middle class identity, over others in a way that is simply inaccurate. Seattle, for example, is both a conventionally "liberal" city and one that, like most American cities, is very white and very segregated.

2. You are correct that rpg publishers and consumers should look also to creators in the Global South, whose voices often go unheard due to a combination of lack of resources, access, and prejudice. There are thriving rpg scenes in parts of Latin America and South East Asia for example. I would welcome Wotc publishing a book of adventures solely by writers not based in the US. But that's not in competition with this book, even if many of the creators here are US-based.* There's no reason to dismiss or criticize the efforts of this group of marginalized creators simply because there are other and differently-marginalized creators still out there. In fact, I would argue that pitting groups against each other in this way is at least reminiscent of colonial tactics.

* (and I say US-based, as these creators will invariably have international relationships; prime example being Agit George, who runs a non-profit boarding school in South India for lower caste children as his day job, and impressively curates dnd adventure books in his "spare time" apparently).
It seem to me that we are circling around the problem. Recap: someone say that skin color is not guarantee of quality (means good quality). Somebody else say that is guarantee of qualities (means different point of view). For me both of you are right.
 

I was hoping this topic would discuss things besides the race of the authors.

You know, things like their past work, their personal brands, how they were recuited for the project, or ANY INFORMATION at all about them.

Instead, I get a bunch of posts talking about if POCs should write for WOTC...
do we have much to go on as I have heard nothing?
 

It seem to me that we are circling around the problem. Recap: someone say that skin color is not guarantee of quality (means good quality). Somebody else say that is guarantee of qualities (means different point of view). For me both of you are right.
It's important to note that, depending on the field, women, people of color, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds have fewer employment opportunities for a number of reasons. What people have been saying to wotc for some time now, is, beyond your rhetoric of inclusion, why don't you actually make a conscious decision to hire qualified people who might not come from the normative background for an rpg dev. Put your money where your mouth is, in essence.
 


Levistus's_Leviathan

Autistic DM (he/him)
The two main reasons that this book is being marketed as being written completely by BIPOC are:
  1. This is the first official D&D book to ever do this in its almost 50-year history. This is a milestone worth noting and it helps market the product to people of similar heritages that would like to see content more connected to their cultures and backgrounds.
  2. This is one of the first official D&D products about other cultures written entirely by people that belong to/are descended from those cultures. It's not like Oriental Adventures or Al-Qadim where the people writing it do not belong to and are not descended from the cultures they're writing about and being inspired by for their works.
#1 matters because BIPOC have historically been underrepresented from the TTRPG publishing industry, especially for major products like this. It not only helps market to people that might not have been interested in D&D before, but also helps show that Wizards of the Coast is making a change to how they handle topics like this to allow for both a more diverse audience to be able to connect with one of their products as well as give representation to the historically underrepresented groups of people in the industry.

#2 matters because one of the major rules of writing is "Write what you know" and someone that is descended from/a member of a certain culture will almost definitely know the content they're writing about better than an outside observer. A person with better connections to that culture from their own history is almost guaranteed to be able to represent the culture more accurately and inoffensively than a pasty white guy like me would be able to.

It is not about "tokenism," or "filling a quota," it is about accurately and respectfully representing a more diverse array of cultures while actually doing the work this time to get people who actually know what they're writing about to make the book's content. Anyone complaining about the quality of the book (which hasn't even been released yet) because of this is either judging the book extremely harshly due to its cover or just dog-whistling their racism to try and avoid punishment by this site's moderation team.
 
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