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D&D 5E Latest D&D Errata: Drow, Alignment, & More

Sage Advice is a series of articles in which Jeremy Crawford, one of the D&D Studio’s game design architects, talks about the design of the game’s rules and answers questions about them. https://dnd.wizards.com/dndstudioblog/sage-advice-book-updates D&D books occasionally receive corrections and other updates to their rules and story. This Sage Advice installment presents updates to several...

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Sage Advice is a series of articles in which Jeremy Crawford, one of the D&D Studio’s game design architects, talks about the design of the game’s rules and answers questions about them.


D&D books occasionally receive corrections and other updates to their rules and story. This Sage Advice installment presents updates to several books. I then answer a handful of rules questions, focusing on queries related to Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons and Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos.


Official errata has been published for the following books:
Here's some of the highlights.
  • Alignment is removed from the Racial Traits section of races.
  • Drow have undergone lore changes which reflect the different types of drow. The 'darkness of the drow' sidebar which portrays them as only evil has been removed.
  • Storm King's Thunder alters references to 'Savage Frontier' and 'barbarians'; Curse of Strahd alters references to the Vistani.
  • The controversial Silvery Barbs spell has been clarified.
As a drow, you are infused with the magic of the Underdark, an underground realm of wonders and horrors rarely seen on the surface above. You are at home in shadows and, thanks to your innate magic, learn to con- jure forth both light and darkness. Your kin tend to have stark white hair and grayish skin of many hues.

The cult of the god Lolth, Queen of Spiders, has cor- rupted some of the oldest drow cities, especially in the worlds of Oerth and Toril. Eberron, Krynn, and other realms have escaped the cult’s influence—for now. Wherever the cult lurks, drow heroes stand on the front lines in the war against it, seeking to sunder Lolth’s web.
 

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Eh. Druid, monk and paladin are probably the biggest examples after barbarian of classes/archetypes that are too narrow or culturally specific. Druid gets some blast not necessarily for it's Celtic name but for being too narrow to represent a wide variety of shamanistic or naturist archetypes. Monk ditto for aesthetic or unarmed combatant, and paladin for divine champions. Maybe they're won't be a cry out for druids as being culturally appropriated, but by trying to keep to the thin eurocentric archetype it classically represented it eliminates the ability to emulate other non-European style nature religions.

I wouldn't be surprised to one day see a new more generic "nature priest" class one day that could emulate druids, shamans, witches, clever people, or other similar concepts. The same for barbarian, monk, paladin and maybe warlock and bard.
See I think we'll see movement in the opposite direction re: Druid.

Rather than renaming it, they're likely to be make it broader and more differentiated from the Cleric, on the exact same basis. The issue isn't the name it's that the in-game archetype is narrower than the pop-culture archetype. And it being an arguably "Eurocentric" name doesn't present any real issue, in fact it kind of obviates one. And with the list of roles you present, you seem to be forgetting Warlocks, Sorcerers and Wizards exist, which also emulate many of those.

Cleric changes every edition, often quite drastically. 1E, 2E, 3E, 4E, and 5E all have very different takes on Cleric, and it may also broaden out and/or move away from the mono-god deal. They tried renaming it to Priest in 2E but it didn't stick (you know what I mean).

With Paladin there just isn't another good word that has pop-culture impact. The best attempt I've ever seen was Arcana Unearthed using "Champion", and that might work, but I couldn't see it happening unless D&D went through a period of unpopularity or a 4E-level change.

Bard isn't going anywhere. Every possible alternative name is more culturally-specific and less pop-culture-friendly. The basic concept is extremely common world-wide. You can find people with a Bard-like role in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, all over. I don't think anyone now is particularly upset to see those terms translated to a term for an extinct lore/law-retainer role from an extinct Celtic culture.

Warlock is an ultra-specific D&D thing. I have no idea why anyone would want to rename it, or how it would help matters.

Barbarian will probably go because it's used insultingly and doesn't even fit the class it's applied to. Berserker is the obvious replacement though it's about as culturally-specific as Bard and Druid.

Monk I think will go eventually (not 5.5/6E) because it's too narrow conceptually as I noted. It's like if all Fighters were called "Knights" or something. Martial artists shouldn't be limited to "dudes who went to a monastery". Adept is a reasonable one-word replacement name, though not great.

There is a small possibility D&D 7E or 8E goes nuts and "does a Games Workshop" and decides to give everyone and everything a trademark-able name, in that case pretty much every class is getting renamed.

Also once more as a general aside, I feel like you're taking a '90s approach here. You're saying "Oh D&D needs to be able to represent all these very specific real-world traditions in game form!", but I don't think that's how pop-culture progressives are operating 2021 nor will be operating in 2025. It was how they were working in say, 1994. I think people now accept D&D is D&D, and it's more "problematic" if a culture "can't have Paladins", than if a culture has things which mechanically are Paladins, are referred to in the rules as Paladins, and perhaps in the text they note that the local word for them is something else.
 


D&D is really not a game where you take a generic setting and adapt it to various different cultures.

Some people may wish it was; I wish it was, but it's not that game. It is a culturally specific game*. I find it hard to imagine it being different without a large degree of backlash.

The Druid may not be a good fit for a shaman of a Turkic or Mongolian steppe tribe, but then a Monk is not a good fit for a medieval Franciscan either.

*Although that culture is a modern pop-culture one rooted in gaming and popular culture rather than anything to do with actual history and with only the barest smatterings of mythology.

The best that could probably be done is to write classes simply enough that they could be swapped out for alternative classes in various settings (which would be more "Powered by D&D than D&D), but that's not going to happen as long as people love their ever inflating assortment of subclasses.
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
The most interesting use of brothels in various recent fantasy has been as places where information can be obtained and then bought-sold-shared. Two quick examples: Littlefinger's brothel in King's Landing (Game of Thrones) and the brothel in Nassau in Black Sails. I'm sure there's others.
Exactly this happened in TV-14 rated Arcane on Netflix.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Barbarian on the other hand, well, I think 5.5/6E is probably the last edition where it's actually called that. It's much rarer as a term in video games, and is frequently used as a term of abuse (usually as "barbaric"), primarily against majority non-white cultures (or, really unfortunately, to imply Western cultures are "just as bad" as those - uhoh, frankly). Not sure what the alternative term is, but honestly you could probably fold it in to Fighter and/or Ranger, like in 2E (where the "Barbarian" class was oh god no awful, introduced in a Complete Handbook, and basically a bad Fighter designed to cover the warriors of various "primitive" (kill me now) societies. It was one of those classic early '90s utterly ham-fisted attempts to "get modern" which end up more racist than if they just didn't, like WoD:Gypsies).
2e might have been the first place you saw Barbarian as a class but it in fact started in 1e's Unearthed Arcana (1985), via an even-earlier Dragon article.
 

Mecheon

Sacabambaspis
While I got no dog in this outside of "Alignment has caused me too many headaches in the past let it burn", I will say I remember a bit of an anecdote relevant on the brothel bit.

Y'know Neverwinter Nights? Well, that goes a bit into FR lore. So in the first campaign, there's a brothel you can visit. No stuff happens (Its just fade to black), but rumour has it that a WotC exec didn't relaise it was in and had a bit of A Thing when their kid played the game and just went in there.

Anywho that's why the Neverwinter Nights re-release is presently rated R 18+ in Australia
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The only way I see this happening is if 7E or whatever decides to go thermonuclear and make the classes basically be Fighter, Wizard, Rogue, Cleric, with everything else as a variant of them. But that'll be the end of D&D, frankly.
That won't be the end. Stripping down to just four classes would just be another reboot, similar to what 2e kinda started as.

Hell, if Spiderman can reboot five or six times, surely D&D can do it once or twice - - - right? :)
 

pukunui

Legend
As I said upthread, I don't think they're trying to get rid of "barbarian" specifically. What they've done is improved the language used to describe the various tribal Illuskan peoples of FR's "Savage Frontier", most likely in an effort to move away from colonial terminology - the whole "noble savage" thing. They haven't just renamed the Regheds as nomads and the Uthgardt as marauders and such. They've also taken away terms like "bloodthirsty" and removed the implication that tribal peoples are uncivilized and so on.

It's about tidying up / improving the way these specific cultural groups are portrayed in the fiction of the Forgotten Realms.

These changes go some way towards making sure the Uthgardt and Reghed tribes aren't just whitewashed versions of the stereotypical/colonial take on indigenous peoples.

I welcome these changes to SKT.

It would have been nice if they'd gotten rid of the "raiding sacred burial mounds" aspect of the adventure as well, but I suppose that would have required more rewriting than mere errata can handle.
 

HammerMan

Legend
And as others have pointed out, are you planning on buying a copy of the book that says "music hall" instead of "brothel"? Or is there a rule that a music hall can't have sex on sale as well?
it is an oddiity.... I never said it was a breaking point... it is an odd prudish thing to do and it helps foster anti sexworker mindsets... but no, it isn't going to stop me from buying 5.5/6/anniversary edition
 

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