D&D General New WOTC racism allegations regarding Hadozee and Spelljammer

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Im all for them being removed entirely....the furrification of D&D ancestries is getting old fast, a bit like me!

Plus I dont see the cause to remove slavery from the game. Having slavers is good. They are without reservation truly truly terrible and 100% should be fought against in game and brought down . They are going to be one of the few remaining truly evil vile things for PCs to destroy.
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I understand that people have very strong feelings about this. Rightfully so.

The trick though is to be able to step back and at least try to come to some sort of resolution here. WotC is trying to be better. At least give them credit for that. I totally get that it's really hard not to get really frustrated with this sort of thing. Particularly THIS sort of thing where it's just mind bogglingly stupid. As in, "Really? You REALLY thought that a slave race of uplifted monkeys bred for sale was a good idea for a race source in 2022? Seriously?"

It's just so bloody stupid and for me, that's the most infuriating thing about this. We had a really good run for the last while, some great products, even the responses to Spelljammer have been largely positive. We just don't need this kind of crap.
It speaks to the trope blindness and bias on themes prevalent in the design team. It's like their tables and groups are so different from the masses. So you'd think by now that they'd realize their viewpoints are a bit tilted and they should do heavy scrutiny of their work by people outside their demos. Spelljammer kinda feels like the common corporate backsliding big companies do after they worked so hard on their rep.
 

Horwath

Hero
Im all for them being removed entirely....the furrification of D&D ancestries is getting old fast, a bit like me!
this!
i'm really tired of monkey people, rabbit people, turtle people, goat people, cat people, etc...



on topic,

yes the 2005. description is bad, and bad as in horrible.
from willing servitude(current day it reminds me more of those poor SOBs in North Korea than slavery in the past), degradation from elves,
and having a black gorilla for 3E picture description didn't help at all.
If they just took silverback gorilla with all silver hair it might be just slightly less horrible.

But, this new description is not that bad. Sure it could be better, it might be without slavery all together, but slavery in this description was very short and it was ended before it really started, as it was seen as one of the perpetrators that they are now sentient beings and they cannot be sold like livestock.

as for new art, biggest problem from minstrels is the "blackface" not some vaguely familiar pose or having guitar/lute/whatever playing.

Could WotC done this better? Yes!
Is it comparable to 2005 b.s.? Not even close, and it would be bad to call that out as racism when we have still REAL racism to get rid off in the world.
 

Deadstop

Explorer
I personally don’t have a problem with a slavery/liberation storyline…if it’s handled well.

The “joy” at serving “masters” though? Using a metaphor less colorful than I want to, that’s shooting yourselves in the foot. That’s right out of RW southern slavery apologist mythology.

Ditto the whole thing about their simple desires for happiness and work.

The tweet combines lore from three different editions, written by different creatives over decades. It may be helpful to show that problematic elements have long been present in this species’ description, but people are responding as though it’s all from the new Spelljammer.

The “uplifted slave race rescued by their creator’s apprentices” thing is new lore. The minstrel pose is new art. Those are bad. But the new stuff stops there.

The “happy, optimistic, love chores” bit is from Stormwrack, a 3e book about sea travel.

The “awed by the elves, who don’t return their respect” bit is from 2e Spelljammer. These are the same “Royal Navy” elves whose 5e equivalent are explicitly evil, and there’s no indication that current hadozee serve or adore the astral elven empire in any way.

Each of these is icky, and it’s bad that WotC managed to create brand-new lore that plays into racist ideas — but they did not bring forward the 2e and 3e lore. That was taken from wiki entries, not from the new books.
 

Could WotC done this better? Yes!
Is it comparable to 2005 b.s.? Not even close, and it would be bad to call that out as racism when we have still REAL racism to get rid off in the world.
I disagree re: "not even close". Yeah, the 2005 is just like straight up horrifying, but this is a great example of carelessness causing a company to "do a racism" because they just didn't bother to think about it. Is that different in the "type" of racism? Sure, but it's not at all good.

Re: the minstrel pose, it's a circular thing. Minstrel imagery using actual Black people became gradually unacceptable or less acceptable, and the same imagery just transferred, thanks to the magic of racism, to monkeys. Then this artist came along, and presumably unconsciously inspired by the minstrel-based "jolly monkey" images they'd seen, created this. Which effectively closes the circle. But it's really obvious to anyone who has seen minstrel imagery. At best, it looks like an accidental racist "dogwhistle". Importantly, a lot of Black people seeing it are instantly going to see the (hopefully unintentional) reference.

Combine that with the text re: slavery, which is another example of carelessness on multiple levels. Yes, it's a Planet of the Apes reference (though even as an Apes fan I didn't initially clock that), but that is a text allegorically about slavery/racism (Planet of the Apes that is), and man's inhumanity to man. So you can't just sling that around, especially in the context of an ape race. It's thoughtless as hell and failing to understand the issue. It doesn't matter if the slavery was "brief", it's still messed-up to so casually invoke it in this particular context. On top of that, the writing makes it so the Hadozee were the beneficiaries of "liberators", when it could easily be spun that they liberated themselves (which again, is what actually happened in Planet of the Apes, essentially!), further just unnecessarily being careless.

It's absolutely right to call this out as racism. We can't only call out people spraying swastikas on walls or screaming the n-word in the street, but you seem to be saying that, until that's done, we aren't allowed to address this kind of thoughtless but still creepy racism. Just think what it's like to experience this - I don't get how people don't see this - like imagine you were reading a D&D book, and you saw an image that looked exactly like some imagery used by awful people to demean people like you. Would it being "unintentional" as you eventually work out reduce the initial horror and so on? No. Only later it might make it seem less bad, but it's still pretty awful!
It's like their tables and groups are so different from the masses.
This seems like it's been a pretty consistent theme in 5E too. To the point where I'm thinking maybe 5E leadership needs to change. Like, how many times does WotC need to show it's "out of touch" here before they consider changing senior D&D staff? Like, D&D's playerbase is mostly 20-somethings now (with a lot younger), maybe get some people nearer that age in charge? It's not exactly a wild thought - Ed Greenwood wasn't even 30 when TSR published the FR Grey Box! Maybe Perkins and Crawford need to be part of a slightly larger team, rather than seemingly jointly running the show?
 
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Raduin711

Adventurer
So SOME of the population of an ANIMAL SPECIES was captured to be used as beasts of burden. An attempt to enlarge them made them unintentionally intelligent and sentient, after which they were released. With this in mind why aren't all you heroes complaining about the horse and Ox entries in the Monster Manual? Throughout history people have captured populations of beasts and bred them to be more suited for labor. Once they became sentient it would of been slavery but they were released after an unspecified period of time I will admit but the writing implied right after transformation. One could make a fair statement that the few that they were captured were not slaves.

You need to reread the text again, because clearly you missed some things.
 

The trick though is to be able to step back and at least try to come to some sort of resolution here. WotC is trying to be better. At least give them credit for that. I totally get that it's really hard not to get really frustrated with this sort of thing. Particularly THIS sort of thing where it's just mind bogglingly stupid. As in, "Really? You REALLY thought that a slave race of uplifted monkeys bred for sale was a good idea for a race source in 2022? Seriously?"
I mean, the issue is with "trying to be better", when you're a big corporation like Hasbro, with serious assets and making hundreds of millions like WotC are (significantly driven by D&D), you can absolutely afford to invest in a way that makes you do a better job. But that requires you to actually do it, and not just take the classic "I want to do better, therefore I am doing better, I don't need to have someone check my work!" approach.

This leads to a question - did this even have a sensitivity reader? They should be in the credits if so (especially after WotC screwed up by failing to include the sensitivity reader for Strixhaven in the credits and had to apologise). I don't have access to SJ so I can't say.
 

Catolias

Explorer
Clearly lot mixed up info here, being stirred up out of proportion because that's what happens in 2022.
Genetically engineered creatures meant to serve are very prevalent in sci-fi, which SJ sort of is, nearly. And if this GM creature was to be used to crew a ship with rigging etc then an ape makes a good starter template
WTF?!

If calling out racism in ttrpg is what happens in 2022, well I’m all for it. And fwiw, it’s not out of proportion.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
This leads to a question - did this even have a sensitivity reader? They should be in the credits if so (especially after WotC screwed up by failing to include the sensitivity reader for Strixhaven in the credits and had to apologise). I don't have access to SJ so I can't say.
I can't find any listed in the credits.
 

I can't find any listed in the credits.
Which leaves us in a situation where either they didn't use one, which makes this whole thing 100% "on WotC" and undermines their whole "we want to do better!" deal, or they once more managed to leave them out of the credits, which would be pretty awful.

On Twitter someone claiming inside WotC knowledge said that after Strixhaven, they got a noted sensitivity writer to give seminars to WotC staff on how to do sensitivity reading, and went with that instead of using sensitivity readers. If true, this is certainly a result of that policy. You can't expect people who got a seminar/workshop, however good, to do the job of an actual person who works on something day-to-day.
 

WTF?!

If calling out racism in ttrpg is what happens in 2022, well I’m all for it. And fwiw, it’s not out of proportion.
Too easy dropped is the R bomb

Seems a mix of sources and timelines, and therefore someone has scoured things looking for it. If the bad bit 17 years old then that's not 2022, and things have got better.
Maybe it's because I'm not in the USA but I'm struggling to see the problem with the bard image. It is not a great pieces of artwork, I really don't like furry DND, and if everyone you see an humanised ape on the internet you drop an R-Bomb then I don't know what the answer is.
The art should go IMO
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Closing this as we are being completely deluged with post reports and I'm not somewhere I can look at them. We'll review them later.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
A very old picture someone has trawled to find, because that's what they do.
WOTC and gamers have generally moved on and developed.
Classic bit of befending.

Mod Note:
So, now we are reviewing...

There was a warning in the OP against dismissing the topic. You chose to ignore that. I hope it was worth it. Since the thread is now closed, booting you from it isn't relevant. So, I'll have to give you a few days off the site to drive home that warning was in earnest.
 

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