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General WotC’s Official Announcement About Diversity, Races, and D&D

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Following up on recent discussions on social media, WotC has made an official announcement about diversity and the treatment of ‘race’ in D&D. Notably, the word ‘race’ is not used; in its place are the words ‘people’ and 'folk'.

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 PRESS RELEASE


Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is strength, for only a diverse group of adventurers can overcome the many challenges a D&D story presents. In that spirit, making D&D as welcoming and inclusive as possible has moved to the forefront of our priorities over the last six years. We’d like to share with you what we’ve been doing, and what we plan to do in the future to address legacy D&D content that does not reflect who we are today. We recognize that doing this isn’t about getting to a place where we can rest on our laurels but continuing to head in the right direction. We feel that being transparent about it is the best way to let our community help us to continue to calibrate our efforts.

One of the explicit design goals of 5th edition D&D is to depict humanity in all its beautiful diversity by depicting characters who represent an array of ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, and beliefs. We want everyone to feel at home around the game table and to see positive reflections of themselves within our products. “Human” in D&D means everyone, not just fantasy versions of northern Europeans, and the D&D community is now more diverse than it’s ever been.

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. Despite our conscious efforts to the contrary, we have allowed some of those old descriptions to reappear in the game. We recognize that to live our values, we have to do an even better job in handling these issues. If we make mistakes, our priority is to make things right.

Here’s what we’re doing to improve:
  • We present orcs and drow in a new light in two of our most recent books, Eberron: Rising from the Last War and Explorer's Guide to Wildemount. In those books, orcs and drow are just as morally and culturally complex as other peoples. We will continue that approach in future books, portraying all the peoples of D&D in relatable ways and making it clear that they are as free as humans to decide who they are and what they do.
  • When every D&D book is reprinted, we have an opportunity to correct errors that we or the broader D&D community discovered in that book. Each year, we use those opportunities to fix a variety of things, including errors in judgment. In recent reprintings of Tomb of Annihilation and Curse of Strahd, for example, we changed text that was racially insensitive. Those reprints have already been printed and will be available in the months ahead. We will continue this process, reviewing each book as it comes up for a reprint and fixing such errors where they are present.
  • Later this year, we will release a product (not yet announced) that offers a way for a player to customize their character’s origin, including the option to change the ability score increases that come from being an elf, a dwarf, or one of D&D's many other playable folk. This option emphasizes that each person in the game is an individual with capabilities all their own.
  • Curse of Strahd included a people known as the Vistani and featured the Vistani heroine Ezmerelda. Regrettably, their depiction echoes some stereotypes associated with the Romani people in the real world. To rectify that, we’ve not only made changes to Curse of Strahd, but in two upcoming books, we will also show—working with a Romani consultant—the Vistani in a way that doesn’t rely on reductive tropes.
  • We've received valuable insights from sensitivity readers on two of our recent books. We are incorporating sensitivity readers into our creative process, and we will continue to reach out to experts in various fields to help us identify our blind spots.
  • We're proactively seeking new, diverse talent to join our staff and our pool of freelance writers and artists. We’ve brought in contributors who reflect the beautiful diversity of the D&D community to work on books coming out in 2021. We're going to invest even more in this approach and add a broad range of new voices to join the chorus of D&D storytelling.
And we will continue to listen to you all. We created 5th edition in conversation with the D&D community. It's a conversation that continues to this day. That's at the heart of our work—listening to the community, learning what brings you joy, and doing everything we can to provide it in every one of our books.

This part of our work will never end. We know that every day someone finds the courage to voice their truth, and we’re here to listen. We are eternally grateful for the ongoing dialog with the D&D community, and we look forward to continuing to improve D&D for generations to come.
 
Russ Morrissey

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pukunui

Hero
I'm quite keen to know what all they've changed in both Tomb of Annihilation and Curse of Strahd. That said, I'm most intrigued to know that they're going to be including customisable origins in an upcoming 2020 product. I'm guessing that'll be the November release, and it'll also include the stuff from the variant class features UA, among other things.
 

Sounds like the Class Feature Variants UA will be going in a book with this "Race Feature Variants" thing that they mention.
Yeah, it certainly looks that way.

I am surprised that we're getting two books with Vistani content in them, beyond the revised Curse of Strahd. (And a preview of what the revisions are would be great, since the Vistani have always been cringeworthy at best.) Maybe a Theros-style book on Ravenloft the plane? Maybe the Vistani are in the new book that features the racial variants?

We'll find out soon.
 



I am surprised that we're getting two books with Vistani content in them, beyond the revised Curse of Strahd. (And a preview of what the revisions are would be great, since the Vistani have always been cringeworthy at best.) Maybe a Theros-style book on Ravenloft the plane? Maybe the Vistani are in the new book that features the racial variants?
I could see it be a Ravenloft campaign setting, but they could appear in a Planescape book by being mentioned in the Shadowfell section of the book, as Ravenloft is in the Shadowfell.
 




MGibster

Hero
D&D has changed in a lot of ways over the last 40 years and I expect it will continue to evolve in order to remain relevant. I'm indifferent to some of the changes and positive about some of the others, but D&D has been a fun game for the last four decades and it's going to continue being a fun game for many more people in years to come.
 

I could see it be a Ravenloft campaign setting, but they could appear in a Planescape book by being mentioned in the Shadowfell section of the book, as Ravenloft is in the Shadowfell.
I'm not sure I really want Ravenloft to appear in a general planar book, other than a passing mention, as it feels like it would inevitably give such a small snapshot as to be basically useless. But maybe they've got something surprising up their collective sleeve.
 



vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I'm sorry if trying to fix racial un-inclusiveness in the game is too much for you. Good bye, and if you're seriously leaving, I don't think you'll be missed if this is what you're leaving over.
That's another great side effect of the recent discussions: the toxic members who drape themselves in their old-school illusions and chose to stick to their regressive ideologies as the hill to die on are all rage quiting in a tantrum. Good riddance, I say, communities need less negativity and hate!
 


That's another great side effect of the recent discussions: the toxic members who drape themselves in their old-school illusions and chose to stick to their regressive ideologies as the hill to die on are all rage quiting in a tantrum. Good riddance, I say, communities need less negativity and hate!
On the other hand, they've really crapped in the OSR pool, somewhat ruining that scene.

"Is this guy into old school games or old school ... oh, dear."
 


I wonder if one of these books that will include the Vistani will be a setting book that just happens to be for their original home world, from before they wandered into the Mists and into Barovia. I have also always assumed that the original Vistani were not the stereotype and cringe that the Barovian Vistani became over the years.
 

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