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

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Does the use of species imply that half-orcs and half-elves are now the sterile offspring of their parents species?
Not automatically, because:

1) not all cross-species pairings result in sterile offspring

2) in past products, TSR (at least) explicitly pointed out that a particular cross-species pairing was sterile (DarkSun’s Muls).

3) other historical aspects of D&D strongly imply in-game “genetics” are a lot more complex and fluid than in the RW.
 

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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Does the use of species imply that half-orcs and half-elves are now the sterile offspring of their parents species?
It doesn’t have to. Organisms might be classified into different species not because they can’t produce fertile offspring in a physical sense. Rather, their separate environments or behavior may generally prevent them from doing so.
 

It doesn’t have to. Organisms might be classified into different species not because they can’t produce fertile offspring in a physical sense. Rather, their separate environments or behavior may generally prevent them from doing so.
Ah. Either way it’s such a loaded scientific term it raises more questions than it answers.
 




Dire Bare

Legend
Does the use of species imply that half-orcs and half-elves are now the sterile offspring of their parents species?
No. Why would it? Doesn't always work that way in the real world, why should it in the fantasy world?

In Dark Sun, muls (half-human, half-dwarf) were considered sterile. In Mystara, half-elves were considered impossible . . . until they started showing up in the setting. But usually in D&D, those of mixed ancestry are not sterile. The only reason to change it is if you want to for your home game. The word "species" doesn't impact that either way.

Ah. Either way it’s such a loaded scientific term it raises more questions than it answers.
Nah, not really.

EDIT: Removed some of my initially testy response.
 


MGibster

Legend
Ah. Either way it’s such a loaded scientific term it raises more questions than it answers.
I don't know about everyone else, but back when it was called race in the ancient less enlightened era, and by ancient I mean 2014, I don't remember it raising too many questions at the game table as we were too preoccupied with adventuring. I don't believe a significant number of people are going to be confused or have questions because WotC started using species instead of race.
 


I think the community as a whole was pretty alright. I mean, most of the designers we love today came from it after all.
I meeeaaaaan, there are plenty of designers with some deeply problematic ideas and behaviours, so that doesn't really prove the point you think it does. I can immediately off the top of my head think of five designers who were once very well-regarded (at least in certain areas) who turned out to be not-great. And two of them were major D&D designers. Oh god seven if you count a recent example, which I think you should because it's so spot-on in showing that just because people are "alternative" or whatever, that doesn't mean they aren't incomprehensibly awful.
I was in high school in the US, so it was mostly the trench coat wearing Drama department crowd that played. Didn't know it was popular outside that crowd. I owned all the core books I never could get anyone to play with me...
It definitely sucks that you couldn't find anyone to play with, but I dunno, I know a quite a few Americans IRL who play, and none of them are from the real "outcast/loser" end of things when they were at school. Sure, they might not be the prom king/queen, but like, that's two people out of what, dozens, hundreds?

I'm from the UK, note, and my main experience is that yeah, it's usually more imaginative people who play it (so there is some cross-over with drama), but even then there are plenty of people who don't fit that.
Go to Gen Con. If you think that represents a cross section of popular high school kids and jocks, you must not be attending the same convention as me or went to a very different high school then I did (graduated 1994, USA).
I know he's gone but I just wanted to note that the idea that GenCon is remotely representative of D&D players as a whole is pretty wildly hilarious. It's like thinking Star Trek conventions are representative of the Star Trek viewers as a whole.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
I meeeaaaaan, there are plenty of designers with some deeply problematic ideas and behaviours, so that doesn't really prove the point you think it does.

1. Leonardo da Vinci (his work ethic was problematic, often accepting works and not delivering, like a kickstarter not fulfilled, not to mention having a romantic involvement with his apprentice he became in charge of when he was 10... talk about creepy)
2. Caravaggio (several count of agression, and a real problem with alcohol)
3. Roald Dahl (obviously a racist and anti-Jews)
4. Handel (staunch supporter of monarchy, rabid character)
5. Berlioz (abandonned his fiancé, engaged with another woman, and when he received a break letter from his former betrothed, he planned to murder her).

I don't know what conclusion we can draw from this list of horrible people about classical art lover community.
 
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Jahydin

Adventurer
I meeeaaaaan, there are plenty of designers with some deeply problematic ideas and behaviours, so that doesn't really prove the point you think it does.
Right.

Remember, I only took offensive to you implying most of the older, unpopular gamers (i.e., most gamers) were racist/misogynistic. The current hobby's inclusive zeitgeist didn't come about by "new blood" pouring in recently, but from the older views of "millennial and up" designers who were all deeply involved in the TTRPG community in the early days, so I'd argue that most were not.

I think we agree on that though, so kind of a non issue. (y)
 

Jahydin

Adventurer
So a question for those that are smarter than me on these matters...

Does this change of words fix the "bioessentialism" problem some where having? Make it worse?
 

Scribe

Legend
So a question for those that are smarter than me on these matters...

Does this change of words fix the "bioessentialism" problem some where having? Make it worse?

The 'fix' for that 'problem' was the removal of ASI on a racial level, and anything that could be deemed cultural as well.

Though you then have the Giff issue, where they love guns cuz of their God...but well anything further said on this will just lead to another tangent.

And yes, the air quotes are implied.
 


Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
So a question for those that are smarter than me on these matters...

Does this change of words fix the "bioessentialism" problem some where having? Make it worse?

I don't think it changes anything. The bioessentialism problem was linked to some settings only. If your species is created so it has a genetic memory of the language of the lower planes, it's neither "better" nor "worse" than have a race created as such. It's just strange that, when no setting element link the species to some knowledge a dwarf raised in elven land would speak dwarf. Why would a dwarf be better with the forging tools even if he was never taught anything, if no setting elements explain it, while he could very well be naturally blessed by Moradin so that the metal obey him a little more than the metal would obey any other species trying to work it...

What remains to be seen is instincts impacting behaviour. Since race was connoted as a "real life human thing", you couldn't have a "savage race", because that referred to lexicon used to describe Africans in colonial times. Now you can have a territorial species, driven to agression of any competitor entering its territory, and it will be much more acceptable. Some will say the new word doesn't change anything, some will say it removes the bad associations.
 
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Dire Bare

Legend
So a question for those that are smarter than me on these matters...

Does this change of words fix the "bioessentialism" problem some where having? Make it worse?
It helps, but doesn't itself solve the problem It's just a change of wording . . . although words do matter.

"Race" is a problematic term, species isn't. As long as designers separate cultural traits (learned) from biological traits (inherent), we should be fine. They could have done that without the wording change, and in fact have started to do just that with Tasha's, but the word "race" remains problematic on it's own. So, it's gone. A good change, but not enough on it's own.

The term "bioessentialism" is one I don't like in these types of discussions . . . because different species SHOULD have biological differences. The problem is that all of these fantasy races are stand-ins for real-world ethnic differences between people. So when we describe a fantasy race with the same loaded stereotypes we pejoratively describe real world peoples, it is a problem.

But goliaths can still tend towards being huge and brawny, even if some specific members of the species might not be. Gnomes can still tend to be small and adorable, even if some individuals don't fit that mold. There's significant diversity in humanity, there can be in the various fantasy races as well. Technically, could a race be less mentally adept than other races? Sure, but . . . again considering that fantasy races are stand-ins for real people, it's a bad design idea.
 

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