D&D 5E Ray Winninger Clarifies the Reasons Behind the Recent Errata

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Autistic DM (he/him)
In recent D&D 5e news, there have been a vast swathe of changes to several of the D&D 5e books, including removing alignment recommendations for individual races in the PHB, lore from many different monsters and races covered in Volo's Guide to Monsters, minor rule clarifications in the PHB and Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, as well as quite a few other changes from a few other books. Given the controversy that followed (the thread covering this errata was closed after 48 pages, there are several posts on the r/dndnext subreddit, as well as similar discussions on other D&D forums), Ray Winninger (who has been the Executive Producer of D&D at Wizards of the Coast since early 2020) clarified the reasonings behind some of the more controversial decisions in this errata through an edit to the original post on the official Wizards of the Coast D&D Website that announced the changes to future printing of the addressed books.

Here's what Ray has to say:


Updated 12/16/21 by Ray Winninger

We recently released a set of errata documents cataloging the corrections and changes we’ve made in recent reprints of various titles. I thought I’d provide some additional context on some of these changes and why we made them.

First, I urge all of you to read the errata documents for yourselves. A lot of assertions about the errata we’ve noticed in various online discussions aren’t accurate. (For example, we haven’t decided that beholders and mind flayers are no longer evil.)

We make text corrections for many reasons, but there are a few themes running through this latest batch of corrections worth highlighting.

1) The Multiverse: I’ve previously noted that new setting products are a major area of focus for the Studio going forward. As part of that effort, our reminders that D&D supports not just The Forgotten Realms but a multitude of worlds are getting more explicit. Since the nature of creatures and cultures vary from world to world, we’re being extra careful about making authoritative statements about such things without providing appropriate context. If we’re discussing orcs, for instance, it’s important to note which orcs we’re talking about. The orcs of Greyhawk are quite different from the orcs you’ll find in Eberron, for instance, just as an orc settlement on the Sword Coast may exhibit a very different culture than another orc settlement located on the other side of Faerûn. This addresses corrections like the blanket disclaimer added to p.5 of VOLO’S GUIDE.

2) Alignment: The only real changes related to alignment were removing the suggested alignments previously assigned to playable races in the PHB and elsewhere (“most dwarves are lawful;” “most halflings are lawful good”). We stopped providing such suggestions for new playable races some time ago. Since every player character is a unique individual, we no longer feel that such guidance is useful or appropriate. Whether or not most halflings are lawful good has no bearing on your halfling and who you want to be. After all, the most memorable and interesting characters often explicitly subvert expectations and stereotypes. And again, it’s impossible to say something like “most halflings are lawful good” without clarifying which halflings we’re talking about. (It’s probably not true that most Athasian halflings are lawful good.) These changes were foreshadowed in an earlier blog post and impact only the guidance provided during character creation; they are not reflective of any changes to our settings or the associated lore.

3) Creature Personalities: We also removed a couple paragraphs suggesting that all mind flayers or all beholders (for instance) share a single, stock personality. We’ve long advised DMs that one way to make adventures and campaigns more memorable is to populate them with unique and interesting characters. These paragraphs stood in conflict with that advice. We didn’t alter the essential natures of these creatures or how they fit into our settings at all. (Mind flayers still devour the brains of humanoids, and yes, that means they tend to be evil.)

The through-line that connects these three themes is our renewed commitment to encouraging DMs and players to create whatever worlds and characters they can imagine.

Happy holidays and happy gaming.

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