D&D 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.
 

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Guest 6801328

Guest
I don't think anyone is using harmful stereotypes. What culture does orc and drow cultures remind you of?

None.

Question for you in return: imagine writing off an entire group of people as being less than you, by which you can justify treating them as bad as, or worse than, animals. Not for anything they as individuals have done, but just because of who they are. What real-life human thought process does that remind you of?

The only problem I see is that crazy ideas like this, takes the focus away from actual real-life racial issues.

I would counter that discussions sort of this one might possibly help some people understand how "racism" can be more subtle and insidious than we previously realized. What better way to to get people talking and thinking than to put a problem into a context in which they have an emotional investment?

The gross misunderstanding of the problem ("I don't think orcs are meant to be black people") suggests to me that these changes are not just symbolic but might achieve a lot of good. If even one of the people currently violently opposed to these changes gets to the point of saying, "Ohhhh....I get it now" then it was all worth it.

If you are one of those people who keeps thinking this is all about any of the following:
  • Orcs are meant to be black people.
  • Killing orcs in D&D leads to racism in real life.
  • Some people are "offended" by this material.
Then I would respectfully suggest you really and truly don't fully understand the point of all this, and would beg of you to read the discussion with an open mind.
 
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Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Again. No. I am just explaining my take on wizards actions to you.
I will do with my game whatever I please. You too. No matter what WotC says, they can't "fire me from D&D" so I am not concerned.

But as I said in another thread, if you look hard enough you can see problems everywhere, so I hope, they will deal with things that are really hurtful for people, and not just gut everything in knee-jerk reaction.

On that we agree.

From my point of view, WotC has been so far, quite moderate and listens to its community, so I dont think we will see sweeping changes: no Lawful good demons, Menzzoberanzan will still stay the same hell hole and we'll be able to butcher a bunch of orcs, just not just because they are orc and ''in the way'', but because these specific ones are Evil Orcs! :p

Now...this may mean we will have adventures with sentient, moral and friendly Gelationous Cube....oh wait...

Where's my playable Gelatinous Cube!?
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
If by 'culture' you mean 'exiled elves who now live in the Underdark and worship a Goddess of spite, femdom and revenge', isn't that already an option without changing the Drow?

No.

Can be from one of the many cities of non-Lolth worshiping drows, from one of the surface enclaves of Waterdeep, from the drow cities in floating motes over the canyons in the south, from the Crinti people of Dambrath etc.

But you are right that the game doest present enough of them to interest new players.
 

Nickolaidas

Explorer
No.

Can be from one of the many cities of non-Lolth worshiping drows, from one of the surface enclaves of Waterdeep, from the drow cities in floating motes over the canyons in the south, from the Crinti people of Dambrath etc.

But you are right that the game doest present enough of them to interest new players.
I dunno ... I think the reason the Drow became so popular was because they were so evil and dark and twisted.
If you take that away from the Drow ... will they still be as relevant ten years from now as they are today?
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Due to game history and nature, Wizards can either make shallow, non-quintessential changes, which in effect won't change much.

Ok, maybe they won't change much. But they might very well change something. And...butterfly effect and all.

And it's asking very, very little from us. Even though (as I keep saying) my gut reaction is that I like having orcs be irredeemably evil, it's a price I'm happy to pay given the magnitude of the real world problem.

Or they can make deep, game-gutting changes which in effect make game less fun to play (as TSR did with 2nd edition).

Nobody (or almost nobody?) is asking for that.

Neither really changes anything in my homegame.

Probably not in mine either. So what's the problem?
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I dunno ... I think the reason the Drow became so popular was because they were so evil and dark and twisted.
If you take that away from the Drow ... will they still be as relevant ten years from now as they are today?

Oh, dont get me wrong, there's still plenty of nasty Drows from their empire in the North, its just important to show players that there's two side to that coin.

For example: the fact that, in Eberron, the drows are not nasty, evil and twisted, doesnt make them irrelevant or less interesting, even after 10 years. They can be evil adversaries, but they can also also be met in-game without going in ''kill on sight'' mode.
 

Nickolaidas

Explorer
What I really loved about 5th edition is that it made every single monster and PC race feel unique, due to abilities and modifiers. I don't want that be taken away.

I UNDERSTAND that it makes little sense to have a dwarf who was raised in a library to have a +2 CON by default and not a +2 in INT. In role-playing terms, I applaud the change they are about to bring.

In GAME terms however, I dread it. I loved the fact that dwarves were a stereotype, as well as orcs, goblins, elves, drow, dragons, etc. Because it made them unique. I hope that WotC will make changes in role-playing terms, and not game terms.

Perhaps, the general idea is that dwarves are hardy and resistant (and have the classic modifiers), but if you intend to have a PC dwarf wizard, you can choose different modifiers.

Here's a good solution, I see.

Ability Score modifiers should be decided by your Class, not your Race/Ancestry. If you pick a Wizard, you should have +2 INT bonus, and choose between say, CHA or WIS for a secondary bonus.

Race / Ancestry should matter on passive abilities like Darkvision or Breath/Claw Attacks.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
IIRC, orcs weren't meant to represent any minority ethnic group. There were to represent Europeans and Tolkien's distaste for the industrial revolution and what it had created (pollution, soot, iron and steel, etc). However, by their appearance, many made the racial correlation. Sort of how the swastika wasn't originally a symbol of hate, but...well...here we are and how we react to it when we see it.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
IIRC, orcs weren't meant to represent any minority ethnic group. There were to represent Europeans and Tolkien's distaste for the industrial revolution and what it had created (pollution, soot, iron and steel, etc). However, by their appearance, many made the correlation. Sort of how the swastika wasn't originally a symbol of hate, but...well...here we are and how we react to it when we see it.

I do think there's something to that. There are some text references (sorry, not going to look them up right now) to that effect. Tolkien associates machinery and explosives and pollution with evil.
 

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