OneDnD One D&D Permanently Removes The Term 'Race'

In line with many other tabletop roleplaying games, such as Pathfinder or Level Up, One D&D is removing the term 'race'. Where Pathfinder uses 'Ancestry' and Level Up uses 'Heritage', One D&D will be using 'Species'.


In a blog post, WotC announced that "We have made the decision to move on from using the term "race" everywhere in One D&D, and we do not intend to return to that term."
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Michael Linke

Adventurer
One of the most iconic Hybrid species characters of all time is Star Trek's Spock. He's the iconic Vulcan, and doesn't seem to have abilities much different from any other Vulcan, even if he's part Human. So in some ways as a D&D One playtest example, someone just picked "Vulcan" for their character abilities and then wrote how they were Part-Vulcan Part-Human in the characters concept. Roughly the same thing applies for Deana Troi who's Part-Human Part-Betazoid, in that she just used the "Betazoid" abilities.
Hard to say since we see so few non-human Vulcans in classic Star Trek.
 

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Micah Sweet

Legend
One of the most iconic Hybrid species characters of all time is Star Trek's Spock. He's the iconic Vulcan, and doesn't seem to have abilities much different from any other Vulcan, even if he's part Human. So in some ways as a D&D One playtest example, someone just picked "Vulcan" for their character abilities and then wrote how they were Part-Vulcan Part-Human in the characters concept. Roughly the same thing applies for Deana Troi who's Part-Human Part-Betazoid, in that she just used the "Betazoid" abilities.
Full Betazoids are demonstrably stronger telepathically than Deanna Troy, her mother being the prime example.
 


Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
I'm curious which other words were nuked due to what came up during... 'The term "species" was chosen in close coordination with multiple outside cultural consultants.' I assume that many of them were tried out.
Just because they chose it in "close coordination with multiple outside cultural consultants" doesn't mean most of the alternatives are nuked or that they wouldn't accept changing it.

They want a dialogue with us about it, so come 12/21/22, we should be prepared to give our thoughts to them in the OD&D UA #3 survey feedback window. Their outside cultural consultants might even have pushed toward a different option, but WotC decided that Species was "good enough" for their cultural consultants (i.e., NET least-hated option by their panel of 2+ consultants) to go forward with. Maybe each one preferred a different term but the other consultant(s) though that term was awful, and none of them hated Species as much as they hated the other's pick of Ancestry or Heritage or Lineage or Origin or People or Tribe or Thingy or whatever.

Species may have been the Nash Equilibrium of replacements for Race - when considering the limited sample size of however many (but clearly at least 2) cultural consultants that WotC hired.

That sounded more cynical than I meant it, though. I'm optimistic that the cultural consultants are good people who genuinely make the game better. People have different opinions, though, and the player-base sample size could encourage them to go back to said cultural consultants and say, "hey, a lot of survey respondents feel upset by the term species; it suggests their Drow character is somehow lesser than other Elves when we call it a subspecies. The general suggestions were Ancestry, Heritage, and Lineage. Can we review those terms again and why we didn't go that way earlier?"

Maybe the cultural consultants will shoot them down again, or the general response will be something that wasn't even considered previously. Maybe there would be a change of mind. Or maybe they'd bring in new consultants and broaden their cultural consultant sample size. There are a bunch of options and this isn't a closed door that we need to accept Species because they said it was closely coordinated and this is what they came up with.
 

"Species" is the word that to a modern ear means the thing D&D always (primarily) meant by "race". Trying to keep a separate in-game definition of "race" based on quasi-archaic usage in fantasy, when "race" has become so many people's favorite word in the 21st century just isn't viable, even with decades of prior usage in the game. Sometimes the writing is on the wall.
 


Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
@Marandahir got it right already but from my native language, "species" are used to talk about animal species, I wonder how they'll translate that. From my perspective, "species" is a more offensive word than "races" but it might be a matter of translation.
Thanks for your input, Mercador, I was looking forward to hearing your response and am glad I didn't stop you from responding when I jumped in.

This just goes to show how messily-entangled linguistics and biology and anthropology etc are! What is offensive in one language or culture (consideration of humans as a type of animal) is readily accepted in another, or vice versa. That's before we get into the idea of considering some people a species and others just human, which is the slippery slope I spoke to in my tangential concern. Your point raises how it can be offensive to even consider human(oid)s as animals. I get that - it's weird that a huge list of character options are in Monsters of the Multiverse (and Volo's Guide to Monsters had a similar issue, as does of course the Monster Manual by listing off PC-playable non-monsters with monster stat blocks). It's a dangerous sea of otherisms, and that's what racism bubbles out of. We need to be VERY careful.

I could imagine that if they go forward with Species as their final decision, they might have to change the word usage entirely for some foreign-translated editions lest they run into this sort of offense taken.
 

Removal of race: good.

Species? Meh. Give me ancestry or heritage -- or even "people"; species causes me to ask questions about interbreeding and biology and I really dno't want to deal with that in my fantasy game.

Of course, now we need to deal with specist terms like dwarf or halfling ... why have a people defined by their relation in size to another people?

Alternate solution: It's just class. Dwarf is a class, elf is a class ...
 


Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Relevant to some of the biology stuff here...

View attachment 268453

Is evolving from animals into a humanoid problematic at all? Or am I misremembering other things?
YEAAACH. Missed that. Yeah, this would be Hadozee 2.0…

if it was published as is, and if it included simian forms. Note the lack of simian-suggestions in the various Animal Ancestries (though you could definitely make a Hannuman or Sun Wukong-inspired Monkey King that looks mostly human but with a monkey face and a tail using the Climber Ancestry).

I'm willing to be they didn't include Monkey as a suggestion for Climber for that VERY reason. Expect NO Monkey-headed Ardlings to show up in Ardling art, ever.

And I'd suggest just to be careful that we push bac and tell them to drop the evolution from animals stuff. Maybe you were divinely created by the Beast Lord as a bidepal servant of them. You don't need to have evolved to this point; we're not beholded to Green Mana tropes from Magic: the Gathering.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
They should have gone full circle toward race-as-class and called species "Secondary class".
This is not a terrible idea, and worth investigating further.

I think the biggest issue is that people will get confused and think that all classes could be Gestalt and let you be a Fighter/Cleric with no ancestry features but twice the job features.

You could call them Adventurer Class and Background Class, perhaps, showing how closely tied Ancestry is to Background and origins? I'd almost prefer calling your Class a Job a la FF and your Ancestry a Class… but then we just confuse EVERYONE, especially those who wanted to be using their cook's utensils during downtime for their night job of local chef, which is in their background and not their job class nor their background class…

It does open up some interesting creative spaces though. What if Sorcerer, being origin-focused, was a secondary class that took on the function of the primary class, allowing you to swap roles and get a perfunctory list of secondary class features for one of the other primary classes? What if every class had a primary or secondary role, so that you could be primary wizard and secondary elf, where you cast like an Elf Wizard in 2014 D&D, or you could be primary Elf and secondary Wizard, where you have some generic magey features that are equivalent to 2014 D&D lineages, but your Elfyness is what gives you your primary progress as a character - getting more elfy and elfy over time, until you're a full-on Archfey by the end of the game?

This probably is completely out of bounds for what One D&D is trying to achieve (what with backwards compatibility), but it would be an interesting thought experiment. How can we make the Dwarfiest Dwarf advance as a Dwarf and get Dwarfier? Could a Tiefling over time become an Archduke of Hell?

Perhaps this is better suited with something like 4e's Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies, and thus to be relegated to Feats (and Epic Boon Feats) in One D&D? And if so, could we create a set of Ancestry Feats with various level requirements that can be taken INSTEAD of class features, so that you're more defined by them than by the features of your class? That I could actually see happening in One D&D as an advanced dial or toggle of the game.
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I'm willing to be they didn't include Monkey as a suggestion for Climber for that VERY reason. Expect NO Monkey-headed Ardlings to show up in Ardling art, ever.
Black RPG dude check-in: I’m OK with various takes on simian inspired fantasy & sci-fi playable species as long as they aren’t cribbing notes from RW bigoted stereotypes.

They show up in all kinds of genre fiction, after all.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Removal of race: good.

Species? Meh. Give me ancestry or heritage -- or even "people"; species causes me to ask questions about interbreeding and biology and I really dno't want to deal with that in my fantasy game.

The problem is that some aspects of the character depends on race that is'nt reflected by heritage. I have wings, because I am an Aacrowka (I banned them for so long in my game I don't know how they're spelt) is right. But if I am a human raised by Aacrowka from birth, I'll have an Aacrowka heritage, yet no wing.

And ancestry, at the other hand of the spectrum, has the same problem as race as it exclude cultural elements. "Why should I be able to speak Dwarf because my ancestors are dwarves? I was raised by an elven hermit!!!"

Alternate solution: It's just class. Dwarf is a class, elf is a class ...

Or "freebie". Since every PC can have a cool power from a list. And, instead of dropping the word race, drop the race concept. Everyone is a Unique Butterfly of Equal Opportunity.
 

Mercador

Adventurer
I could imagine that if they go forward with Species as their final decision, they might have to change the word usage entirely for some foreign-translated editions lest they run into this sort of offense taken.
From what I understand so far, WotC is trying to go by consensus so I would suggest that they vote for this concept as well. I totally get they want to drop the term "race" as it can be seen as offensive (it can in French too) but if I was the author, I would go for Ancestries like Paizo.

But time change as the meaning of words. Species is history charged, I'm a bit surprised they go with that one to be honest.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Race gone great

Species better than many.

I am curious to see if they provide ways to build out cultures (in an appropriate way) in the OD&D DMG
 

Michael Linke

Adventurer
T'Pol and Tuvok who are both full-on Vulcans and regular characters in their respective series don't seem to be that much different, from what Spock can do. And one can argue in the character creation of B'elanna Torres the player picked "Human" over "Klingon".
Your suggestion that Voyager and Enterprise are "classic" Trek has made me feel old.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Black RPG dude check-in: I’m OK with various takes on simian inspired fantasy & sci-fi playable species as long as they aren’t cribbing notes from RW bigoted stereotypes.

They show up in all kinds of genre fiction, after all.
Thanks for the check-in, sincerely!!

That's close to my feelings on it. Though as a white cisdude I prefer to stay as far away from writing anything that could be possibly seen as an analogue to RW bigotry, even if it can be done respectfully within genre fiction. I'm not saying black people need to be the ones writing all the Simian-inspired fantasy characters (that in and of itself would be an awful suggestion) and the burden and labour of being anti-racist falls on all of us anyway; I just have limited capacity to write NPCs for this hobby which is not my job, so I've prioritized writing stories I'm in safer grounds treading.

I'm actually a big fan of Vanara and Hadozee and other Simian lineages as they can be a lot of fun - IF WRITTEN AND DRAWN CORRECTLY. Sun Wukong/Son Goku is a great source of inspiration, as is Hannuman and his Monkey Army. I love Spider Monkeys and Squirrel Monkeys and Howler Monkeys etc in general and find them beautiful and amazing creatures, and I love the idea of them as a playable character. I just don't want to be the one homebrewing the option, and I don't want to support options that were not playtested with cultural consultants either and somehow missed glaringly racist images and flavour text.

I don't think a lot of people would consider Son Goku from Dragonball a racist caricature. I don't think a lot of people would consider M'Baku in the MCU a racist caricature. I DO think a lot of people would have issues with M'Baku as he was depicted in Marvel Comics, as well as with certain takes on Planet of the Apes. But those are my guesses and I'd welcome hearing you or others say differently if you disagree.

I mostly meant above that I'd like them to stay away from the bipedal = "more sapiently evolved" trope, since that also leans on real world bigotted attitudes towards other cultures' norms and ways of living (sitting on the floor vs sitting in chairs, types of toilets used, types of clothing worn, etc). Those could be proxies for racist ideas, and I think WotC should tread VERY carefully.

Honestly don't think it's even needed. Just say that these are divine furries, and can look more like Shifters or more like Egyptian Gods or more like Full-on Animal People a la Tabaxi or Loxodon, and leave it at that. Maybe mention that they're related to Guardianals and tied to the Beast Lands too, but no need to say they were once like a Natural Squirrel but now What? Natural Squirrel is evolving!? Natural Squirrel evolved into Squirrel Girl!!! Don't touch her stash of nuts!
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
YEAAACH. Missed that. Yeah, this would be Hadozee 2.0…

if it was published as is, and if it included simian forms. Note the lack of simian-suggestions in the various Animal Ancestries (though you could definitely make a Hannuman or Sun Wukong-inspired Monkey King that looks mostly human but with a monkey face and a tail using the Climber Ancestry).

I'm willing to be they didn't include Monkey as a suggestion for Climber for that VERY reason. Expect NO Monkey-headed Ardlings to show up in Ardling art, ever.

And I'd suggest just to be careful that we push bac and tell them to drop the evolution from animals stuff. Maybe you were divinely created by the Beast Lord as a bidepal servant of them. You don't need to have evolved to this point; we're not beholded to Green Mana tropes from Magic: the Gathering.

I'm wondering why they didn't just have them be something like "Rumoured to be descended from a humanoid and one of the Beast Lords (or perhaps Archon or Werecreature)." to parallel the Aasimar, Genasi, Tieflings. Or do the Beast Lords not also appear in humanoid form
sometimes anymore?
 
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