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

Levistus's_Leviathan

Autistic DM (he/him)
And as a PoC to a self-identified white person (@AcererakTriple6 ) supporting this work here in this thread: Thank you! (and also love the new avatar)
No problem. I just hate how people are overreacting to this, and I've seen enough just outright dismissive posts about this release and a fair share of absolutely racist ones to make me feel the need to give some positive to help drown out the negative.

(Yes! Someone finally recognized Claggor!)
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Not sure about him, but the US is huge and it is not a monoculture. Depending on how tightly you want to break things down, the US may have 10 or 20 or 50 (for 50 states) different cultures. At the bare minimum, the different regions are different cultures. You try to tell a black person from New Orleans that their culture is the same as the black person in the Bronx or in Compton. Same for white people and Hispanic and Asian.

Also, since this is an international site, to some (many) people outside the US, American may mean all of the Americas and not just the US.
Man this thread is weird.

Like I grew up and live in a town that has a whole suburb (the “stay on your side of the river” kind of poor suburb, not the kind with HOAs and Hummers) where it’s normal to see neo-nazi symbolism on people’s vehicles, front yards, clothes, and skin, and another part of town where you need to speak some Spanish if you want anything other than gas, and significant Black, Sikh, Basque, and South Asian communities (among others), but the largest population demo is Latin American.

There are dramatically different cultures within a few miles of eachother, around here. My own family is mixed, and family gatherings vary wildly from one part of the family to another. My cousins from Goleta CA have lived different lives from mine, both because they grew up in Goleta and I grew up in the Central Valley, and because I have an Anglo face and name and they don’t.

The Black friends I grew up with absolutely see the world from a different perspective from mine, because they grew up differently, had to worry about different things, were told different stories.

It’s truly wild to think that Ajit doesn’t have a different perspective from his partner Wes.
 

I guess the message WotC wants to send is "our product is not only for certain group, but for boys and girls from different origins, everybody is wellcome".

My advice is to teach to defend the respect of the human dignity, the core of our rights as citizens. Saying predjudices are wrong is not enough. Even the towns where everybody is the same race and religion you may suffer intolerance and hate..... because your favorite sport team is different! And that has happened in my land, and as Spanish I dare to say we are maybe the most cosmopolitan and mixed-blood in West Europe at least.

Let's remember Disney's Encanto is set in Colombia, and really Colombians are very happy with the movie because it is a love letter for their country. Madrigal family has become one of the most popular characters among the new ones of the last years. Audience doesn't mind if the story is set in France, China, Pacific Ocean, Agraba(Arabian), India, Africa or other planet. We only should worry about those to be good stories and good characters. Aladin's serie was one of my favorite cartoon shows on TV, and true classic I advice for the children. The stories were fun, and then we didn't mind the color of clothing or other things.

The original D&D drank from different sources, and now the current D&D is also drinking from other influences, and this is not wrong.

There is enough space for everybody, but also to remember the old glories as Greyhawk.
 

Hussar

Legend
Y'know, reading threads like this I have to admire people for lot absolutely losing their poop all the freaking time. Imagine writing for a project like this and knowing, just knowing, that as soon as this hits the public, you're going to get this wonderful one-two punch. First, you shouldn't be praised for being the first all POC writing team in D&D history - think about that for a second- of the several THOUSAND publications going back half a century - because we shouldn't apparently praise milestones like this and should ONLY judge the work based on its own merits WHILE AT THE EXACT SAME TIME being told that you're not ethnic enough to be celebrated because you happen to have grown up in the US.

It's just ... there are just no words.
 

Ixal

Adventurer
Y'know, reading threads like this I have to admire people for lot absolutely losing their poop all the freaking time. Imagine writing for a project like this and knowing, just knowing, that as soon as this hits the public, you're going to get this wonderful one-two punch. First, you shouldn't be praised for being the first all POC writing team in D&D history - think about that for a second- of the several THOUSAND publications going back half a century - because we shouldn't apparently praise milestones like this and should ONLY judge the work based on its own merits WHILE AT THE EXACT SAME TIME being told that you're not ethnic enough to be celebrated because you happen to have grown up in the US.

It's just ... there are just no words.
Why are those two different point?
When someone has the opinion that just being PoC in the US doesn't automatically make you ethnic and an expert on foreign culture, why would there be a need to celebrate a all PoC writing team? Do you celebrate the first all blonde writing team, too?

But yes, I see it. Americans are obsessed with race both to diminish people and to put them on a pedestal.
For someone who tries to overcome racism many Americans still seem to place a lot of importance on someones race. But that drifts into politics so I will leave it at that and stop replying here.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

Autistic DM (he/him)
Do you celebrate the first all blonde writing team, too?
If blonde people were a marginalize minority oppressed and segregated for centuries that still have major obstacles purposefully placed in their way to purposefully exclude them from having the same priveleges and rights that Brunettes, Redheads, and people with black hair have?

In that alternate universe, absolutely yes. If we lived in that world, an all-blonde writing team for a D&D book would absolutely be a milestone worth celebrating. However, that alternate dimension is not the one we live in. The one we live in is the one where skin color is the main justification for systemic prejudice and oppression, not hair color or eye color (storming lighteyes).

So, would we celebrate that "milestone" in this reality? No. Of course not. Comparing the two is so disingenuous and myopic that I have to question whether you actually understand the history of racial oppression in the western world or are purposefully trolling and trying to compare a genuine achievement to an asinine nonsensical scenario to dismiss this absolutely noteworthy milestone.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Why are those two different point?
When someone has the opinion that just being PoC in the US doesn't automatically make you ethnic and an expert on foreign culture, why would there be a need to celebrate a all PoC writing team? Do you celebrate the first all blonde writing team, too?

But yes, I see it. Americans are obsessed with race both to diminish people and to put them on a pedestal.
For someone who tries to overcome racism many Americans still seem to place a lot of importance on someones race. But that drifts into politics so I will leave it at that and stop replying here.
Mod Note:

This announcement isn’t about “diminishing“ anyone. This writing team’s varied but nonwhite ethnicity is being pointed out to clearly illustrate to gamers of color that there’s a real possibility that they could become professional game DESIGNERS. That hasn’t always been true, especially at the top levels of the RPG sector.

Blondes as a group haven’t really faced real entry barriers in the industry.


Perhaps you missed “if you can see it, you can be it”, mentioned above. Visible representation matters; it changes expectations and aspirations.
 

Really not so much in the USA.

I’m an attorney, the son of an MD. I’m in the upper 6% of the income strata in this country. I live in one of the more affluent suburbs of D/FW, one of the more liberal metropolitan areas in Texas.

I’ve been followed by store security, been accused of stealing my own possessions, been refused test drives and completely ignored in several car dealerships. And in one, a fellow patron handed me his car keys, assuming I was staff. The staff in question had uniforms and badges, and my Hawaiian shirt matched nothing they wore.

I once had the cops called on me in my backyard. One of my cousins lived near me: he was stopped by the police walking from his house to mine. He’d been living in the neighborhood for nearly a decade at the time.

My mother, a retired music teacher and opera buff was at a high-end donor gala when she walked up to a group of people to be friendly. One man was dismissive of her interjecting, thinking she couldn’t possibly know opera. The opera in question was one of her faves, and she let the group know aaaaaaallllll about it.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard professor and TV personality (Finding Your Roots on PBS) was arrested going into his own home.

I was invited to the home of former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk as part of a gathering of the area’s black attorneys and judges. As I was leaving, one of Texas’s first ever high-level black judges was telling tales in the front hallway- he was somewhere between my age and my parents’. One of his earliest criminal trials, the shackled defendant stopped as soon as he saw him, and shouted “G*****n! When did they start letting n*****s be judges?”

Just this week, the first black female Supreme Court nominee- who graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and had years of experience as a trial attorney and judge- was asked about LSAT scores. That’s like asking your doctor what his MCAT or undergraduate GPA was.

Wealth doesn’t insulate us from the consequences of racism, it just shifts the how, why, where and when. Even today, there’s often an assumption that PoCs don’t belong.
I'm very sad to read this and I must admit that it is extremely easy for us lucky Europeans to underestimate the wideness of racism in US. I'm still skeptic about operations like "made by POC" and very upset of the racist-labelling. As an European I have strong rules about freedom of speech and I strongly believe in listening all the positions. And I'm also sure that those ideas are strong even in the US. But reading your post I must admit that some of this zeal and easyness of labelling it is motivated by a social situation worst than I believed. This doesn't make it acceptable, but ultimately understandable. So for what is worth, I want to let you know that you have my sword, my bow and my axe.
 

briggart

Explorer
🤦‍♂️

There is no single "American culture". There are a ton of different cultures, ethnicities, religions, and locations in the USA. The USA as a whole does not have a single, unified "American culture". The cultures of people from certain backgrounds and ethnicities are very different from others.

"American culture" is not a thing. It is several different things with many different aspects and nuances influenced by your race, ethnicity, religion, location in the USA, how long you and your family have lived in the USA, your occupation and the occupations of your parents (and grandparents), the schools and colleges that you and your family went to, and dozens of other factors.

Your basic premise of them somehow not being able to accurately depict the cultures that they are descended from or are members of is inherently ridiculous. I am descended from Scandinavian immigrants to the USA on my father's side, and so my grandparents taught me a lot about our ancestors in Sweden and Norway, about the Vikings and how they came to visit and inhabit different lands, the mythology of the Norse, and made foods from our cultural background (I still gag whenever I think of lutefisk).

I'm a pasty white boy that grew up in the Pacific Northwest of the USA and has never visited any Scandinavian country, but I know from my heritage enough about the cultures and peoples that I'm descended from that I would be comfortable making a D&D product about it. My father's side of the family has not lived in Scandinavia for over a hundred years, but I still know a ton about the cultures that I'm descended from, and would be capable of accurately representing them in a work of fiction just from memory.

I see absolutely no reason why people from other cultures and heritages, especially ones that emigrated to America more recently than my family did, would be capable of doing the same for their own cultures and backgrounds.

A single, unified "American Monoculture" is a myth, and there is absolutely no reason why people descended from these cultures that grew up in the USA would not be more capable than the average person/game-designer of accurately representing those cultures.
To offer a counterpoint, I'm Italian, but I spent 10 years of my adult life living and working in the US, and the "traditional" (for lack of better words) view of Italian culture based on the traditions of late 19th-early 20th century immigrants has very little to do with actual Italian culture, if such a thing actually exists.

To offer a bit of perspective: Italy did not exist as a country 160 years ago. In the mid 1800's the Kingdom of Piedmont and Sardinia managed to conquer most of modern Italy, which has been divided into separate and basically independent entities for more than a 1000's years. While in some parts of the country there was support for this process, in other parts (especially in the South) this was viewed mostly as just another foreign invasion. The various parts of Italy had vastly different customs, traditions, languages, spirituality (even if not formally religion).

The big wave of Italian immigration to the US came shortly after the unification (and many of them left Italy before WWI-WWII when other territories were annexed to modern day Italy), was made up mainly by people from the poorest part of the South, and had not been significantly exposed to parts of Italy very diverse from what they grew up with. Their understanding of an Italian culture was very limited, and with time has become even more distorted (as is only natural). Unless we are talking about specific detail about the part of Italy they were from, I think that somebody from US who spent some years working and living in Italy would have a better understanding of Italian culture than somebody whose great-grandparents left the country 100 years ago.

As you pointed out, the situation is clearly different for recent immigrant to the US or their 1st generation descendants, and granted Italy could be an outlier compared to other countries due to historical and geographical factors, but I think the situation is not clear cut. Also, I'm speaking here in general sense, I don't know enough about the individual authors or their culture to guess whether they did a good job in Radiant Citadel.

Regarding "American monoculture": there are clearly huge socio-economic disparities in the US which strongly correlate with race and ethnicity, but at the same time there is definitely a set of values, a mindset, that we recognize as typically (or perhaps stereotypically) American. I don't want to go into too much detail, because it will cross the boundary of acceptable subjects here. To be clear, I don't think this is relevant for the book, but I can see why some people outside the US could think that racial/ethnical background would be a minor correction on this American mindset.

Finally, regarding racism and White Privilege. After WWII, there was an economic boom in Italy, which impacted mainly the North, so a lot of people moved from the South to the North which created a lot of racial tension. People from the South were marked as lazy, aggressive, criminals, unrefined, etc. and in general subjected to treatment similar to what some people of color in the US have to bear. To us Italians it's immediately clear what part of Italy other Italians come from as soon as they open their mouth, so despite we all being "white", some people were whiter than other. So, and here I can speak only for myself, when reading about racism and White privilege in the US, I used to think: "Well, it's basically the same thing as we have here, the division there being along skin color, here about geographical origin. It's made more problematic by specific aspects of US mindset, while here we have specific systemic infrastructure that prevents it to get that bad, but it can't really be that much worse than here." And I still, to some extent, think so, but after seeing it first hand it's definitely on a whole other level, especially toward African Americans. So I can definitely understand both sides of the discussion: to people of color born and raised in the US this is in front of your eyes every day, and it's unbelievable that somebody could not see it. But at the same time, I can guarantee that for somebody from outside the US it's difficult to fully grasp the magnitude of what goes on if you don't see it first hand.

PS @AcererakTriple6 I know your post I replied to wasn't about White Privilege, but I started from there and ended up addressing other points that I saw around the thread. Apologies for that.
 


Some times to fight the racism we have to face the fear, one of the roots, and this needs more diplomacy, empathy and social skills. We need to create a good felling, good vibes, and here everybody has to make an effort for a mutual trust. This can't be demanded, but we have to get it.

Apologies for the past may be necessary but also we have to ask to learn to forgive, to say no against the resentment.

Do you remember Robin Hood's stories about the conflicts between saxons and normands, and who minds about this now? After the fall of the Roman empire Visigoths arrived to the Iberian peninsule and became the rulers. The relations between Hispanolatins and Hispanogoths weren't too good. Both had got different legal codes, and mixed marriaged was forbidden. Step to step this started to be allowed, and in the end both communities became one, the Spanish people. Two thousands years ago the Latins were the supreme power, and the blond people with blue eyes from the North Europe were the barbarians, the "third world".

If D&D should have taught us is about to cooperate as team, accept the difference, and be open-minded. If WotC wants to publish titles based in no-Western cultures, they are wellcome, I only ask to be a good product. And also we should understand some offenses are accidental and unintentional, more when they are by teenagers who haven't learnt yet enough social skills.

I don't ask about the revival of Kara-Tur+alQadim or if Greyhawk will add a new continent inspirated in jidaigeki+xuanhuan fiction, but if the lore of those lands will allow space for new type of classes (psionic, martial adepts and a reboot of incarnum soulmelding).

When people went to the cinema to watch "Kung-fu Panda", they only asked a fun movie, they didn't mind by who or where was produced.
 


Alzrius

The EN World kitten
If you walked into public building this January in Atlanta, in the midst of the Omicron surge, you were required to wear a mask.
But not a hat and sunglasses, let alone pass out handwritten notes saying you wanted large sums of money.
Saying it out loud, so that everyone in earshot knows that you are about to have $12K in cash on your person, sounds like a recipe for getting mugged.
If only there was some way of talking quietly, so the people around were less likely to overhear you. Or better yet, speaking with someone ahead of time, perhaps from home, using some sort of telephonic device. Maybe one day such things will be invented, preventing this sort of thing from ever happening again. Though I suppose I can see being worried about being mugged between leaving the bank and getting into the car where two of his friends were waiting with the engine running.
Apparently, in order to avoid "misunderstanding", he's supposed to put himself in danger of covid and robbery. And by "misunderstanding" we really mean, "calling the cops on an African American man," which isn't notoriously safe, either.
Clearly, the safer option was to enter a bank with his face completely covered (darn that hat and sunglasses mandate), and hand over a note saying he wanted a large sum, and for the teller to do it quietly. Because there's nothing notorious about that, no sir! And to think they thought the people waiting for him in the vehicle outside looked like a getaway car, tsk!

EDIT: Or maybe you could listen to the actual person of color telling everyone that the situation isn't as clear-cut as you seem to think it is.
 
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