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D&D General RA Salvatore Wants To Correct Drizzt’s Racist Tropes

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In an interview with Polygon, the author talks about how the drow are currently being redefined in D&D, and how he wants to be part of that process.
”But on the other hand, if the drow are being portrayed as evil, that’s a trope that has to go away, be buried under the deepest pit, and never brought out again. I was unaware of that. I admit it. I was oblivious.

Drow are now split into (at least) three types — the familiar Udadrow of Menzoberranzan, the arctic-themed Aevendrow, and the jungle-themed Lorendrow. Salvatore's new novel, Starlight Enclave, helps to expand the drows' role in the narrative.
In 2020 WotC made a public statement about how they would be treating drow and orcs going forward -- "Throughout the 50-year history of D&D, some of the peoples in the game—orcs and drow being two of the prime examples—have been characterized as monstrous and evil, using descriptions that are painfully reminiscent of how real-world ethnic groups have been and continue to be denigrated. That’s just not right, and it’s not something we believe in. "

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


I don't think that Salvatore needs to spend all his time face-down in D&D forums -- in fact, I think that would be a bad idea for multiple reasons -- but being unaware that his portrayals of the drow have led to them all being collectively* described as psychopaths is pretty shocking.

* Minus the scrappy rebels in play at seemingly every other D&D table for decades.
 


Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Okay... I'm glad he thinks it should be buried in the deepest pit and never shown again.

But he WROTE about Menzoberranzan. About the Drow. For DECADES. And he was "Oblivious" to the fact that they were presented as an evil race?

Oblivious to the allegorical dark skin=evil and women in power=evil I -might- accept he didn't really think too hard on. But not knowing they were "Portrayed as Evil"?

Don't buy that for a heartbeat.
 





Laurefindel

Legend
Okay... I'm glad he thinks it should be buried in the deepest pit and never shown again.

But he WROTE about Menzoberranzan. About the Drow. For DECADES. And he was "Oblivious" to the fact that they were presented as an evil race?

Oblivious to the allegorical dark skin=evil and women in power=evil I -might- accept he didn't really think too hard on. But not knowing they were "Portrayed as Evil"?

Don't buy that for a heartbeat.
I don't think he was ignorant and oblivious to drows being depicted (by him amongst others) as irrevocably evil, but rather that he was oblivious to the fact that this was damageable.

I've got to admit that I was the same. Drows had black skin. Drows were evil. This was fully assumed but for me, they were two different and unrelated statements that just happened to be both true for the drows. What never occurred to me is that people with black skin would see a correlation and be hurt by it (not to mention the ethical implications of an always-evil society, regardless of their appearance).
 







Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Okay... I'm glad he thinks it should be buried in the deepest pit and never shown again.

But he WROTE about Menzoberranzan. About the Drow. For DECADES. And he was "Oblivious" to the fact that they were presented as an evil race?

Oblivious to the allegorical dark skin=evil and women in power=evil I -might- accept he didn't really think too hard on. But not knowing they were "Portrayed as Evil"?

Don't buy that for a heartbeat.
I suggest reading the article. That's not what he's saying when you read the entire context of his answers. Of course he knew drow are evil. He's saying he was oblivious to connection between drow/dark skinned and black people. And in fairness, many people were until recently. His other quote:

“This is something I hope more younger people can understand,” Salvatore, who is 62 years old and white, continued. “You’re seeing all this stuff and it’s obvious to you. If you grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, it wouldn’t have been obvious. Some things are obvious, but it’s the subtle things that you learn about as you continue to grow and learn. And now, finally, we’re seeing it being played out there in the correct way with people saying, ‘This is naughty word.’ And I love it, and I feel like I’m growing.”

Meaning when people started making connections between drow and black people, and the problems with how D&D has portrayed them in that context, he learned and is growing.
 

eyeheartawk

Works 60% of the time, every time
It's ironic to pair that with the latest news from the DnD team, that says nothing Salvatore does in canon
He can't fix the tropes because his Drizzt is less official than the one in the RPG books
The whole having two other "good" Drow civilizations (that nobody knew about until just now) is a dictat that came down from WotC themselves I believe. So in this case, it's the other way around.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It's ironic to pair that with the latest news from the DnD team, that says nothing Salvatore does in canon
He can't fix the tropes because his Drizzt is less official than the one in the RPG books

Now, now, let us not pout about canon.

The new Drizzt books are going to include things that will be present in game books. And whether he can fix the tropes in game books or not, he can improve his own work with better ideas he has come by through his own growth as a human being.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I suggest reading the article. That's not what he's saying when you read the entire context of his answers. Of course he knew drow are evil. He's saying he was oblivious to connection between drow/dark skinned and black people. And in fairness, many people were until recently. His other quote:

“This is something I hope more younger people can understand,” Salvatore, who is 62 years old and white, continued. “You’re seeing all this stuff and it’s obvious to you. If you grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, it wouldn’t have been obvious. Some things are obvious, but it’s the subtle things that you learn about as you continue to grow and learn. And now, finally, we’re seeing it being played out there in the correct way with people saying, ‘This is naughty word.’ And I love it, and I feel like I’m growing.”

Meaning when people started making connections between drow and black people, and the problems with how D&D has portrayed them in that context, he learned and is growing.
Ehhhhhh...

"If you'd been a -white- man who grew up in the 60s it -might- not have been obvious to you" would be a better thing to write, there.

Black people have -long- known about the connection. And women have long known that Women in Power = Evil is really rough, too. And he's been confronted about it, many times, over the years. On and offline. This isn't new. This isn't "We realized this in 2020".

I'm also shocked by the number of people who are like "He's gonna change it to be less racist? I'm out!" that's... I mean go for it, friends, but that's tellin' all on yourselves.
 

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