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

Following up on recent discussions on social media, WotC has made an official announcement about diversity and the treatment of ‘race’ in 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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G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Dear, what you said was unnecessarily patronising and basically insulting, and for that, I report you and end any further exchange of arguments with you.

Yeah that was poorly phrased and easy to misinterpret. Sorry.

I just meant that I am able to be concerned about the large and the small.
 

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Nickolaidas

Explorer
I agree that the people who created orcs in D&D did not do so in order to be racist.

However, you have agreed that the language that has been used to describe orcs and other monstrous races is the same language used to dehumanize real people of color.

I feel like these two statements support the idea of changing the language used to describe monstrous races in D&D. First off, since having racist depictions is not integral to D&D, it would have no harmful effect on the game. Secondly, since it is similar to harmful language used to dehumanize actual people, it would remove harmful language from the game. These are two good things, right?
Can someone point out to me the language which is being used which makes monstrous races sound like victims of racism? I don't know the PHB by heart.
 

Orcs have a peaceful kingdom in the north since 4e (seems to be retconned in the previews from Frostmaiden. WHY!?).

Presumably not Many-Arrows? Many-Arrows

If they retcon'd that, whilst saying "We'll do better with orcs!", then they need a good damn spanking. And Many Arrows is a formalization of something that was, IIRC, happening earlier, where there were friendly/non-evil orcs in that area (they just didn't have a formalized kingdom), I think as far back as, what later 2E?

I think the only excuse if there's a "restore the rightful orc king" plot, but even that is super-corny, and literally has done before, because that was the plot of the novels that established Many-Arrows.

Can someone point out to me the language which is being used which makes monstrous races sound like victims of racism? I don't know the PHB by heart.

Maybe read the thread? At some point it's just unreasonable to make requests like this, and whilst you're probably making them innocently, it kind starts seeming like people are trying to waste the time of others. Also why are you talking about "the PHB"? There are no races outside the core in the PHB. The language is in other books. The specific stuff has been explained here at least three times, probably more. Just look for Doug's posts.
 

Desrimal

Explorer
It's not about what they remind me of, it's about using the same steriotypes racists use to describe other cultures. It has being said over and over in this discussion, so it feels kind of pointless to keep arguing in circles on this.
If I could challenge you on this, what about the current state of D&D do you think is spurring WotC to take action and make changes?
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?



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.
Oh man. This discussion is taking far too much of my time :) I try guys - I really try to see your points. However, I keep coming back to my initial point of view, which I've presented a few times earlier in this thread. I've read and understood your opinions, but I respectfully disagree. I hope you will do the same.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Can someone point out to me the language which is being used which makes monstrous races sound like victims of racism? I don't know the PHB by heart.

Monstrous races are not being portrayed as the "victims of racism." Instead, the thought processes and language used to dehumanize real people are being employed as signifiers that these monsters are evil.

Orcs are savage humanoids with stooped postures, piggish faces, and prominent teeth that resemble tusks. They gather in tribes that satisfy their bloodlust by slaying any humanoids that stand against them.

Something like this might seem innocent. However, words like "savage" and "tribes" have been used, at least in the US, to dehumanize people of color. Similarly, to say that an entire "race" has a -2 to Intelligence is just in poor taste, and has shades of eugenics and white supremacy.

Once could argue that orcs are monsters, not people. But when D&D uses the word race to describe them, it's conflating a group of monstrous people with modern concepts of ethnicity and culture. This is problematic.

This is an opportunity to look at the language we use in D&D and ask if it is perpetuating the thought processes that lead to racism and discrimination in real life. After all, there are plenty of ways to have evil, antagonistic orcs without using language that mirrors and borrows from racist language in real life.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Oh man. This discussion is taking far too much of my time :) I try guys - I really try to see your points. However, I keep coming back to my initial point of view, which I've presented a few times earlier in this thread. I've read and understood your opinions, but I respectfully disagree. I hope you will do the same.

Fair enough, and thank you for taking the time you did. I do hope you keep reflecting on this!
 

Oofta

Legend
Presumably not Many-Arrows? Many-Arrows

If they retcon'd that, whilst saying "We'll do better with orcs!", then they need a good damn spanking. And Many Arrows is a formalization of something that was, IIRC, happening earlier, where there were friendly/non-evil orcs in that area (they just didn't have a formalized kingdom), I think as far back as, what later 2E?

I think the only excuse if there's a "restore the rightful orc king" plot, but even that is super-corny, and literally has done before, because that was the plot of the novels that established Many-Arrows.



Maybe read the thread? At some point it's just unreasonable to make demands like this. Also why are you talking about "the PHB"? There are no races outside the core in the PHB. The language is in other books. The specific stuff has been explained here at least three times, probably more. Just look for Doug's posts.

While I've pretty much given up on Salvatore, I did read the books that covered reuniting the old gang. There was definitely a feeling of going back to old-school D&D for better or worse.

Specifically Cattie-Brie telling Drizzt that goblins are evil because her goddess told her so. Drizzt just kind of shrugs and says "Huh. Guess I was wrong about [insert name of goblin Drizzt met while escaping the underdark]. He really was evil all along."

It struck me as being quite odd.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Can someone point out to me the language which is being used which makes monstrous races sound like victims of racism? I don't know the PHB by heart.

1) That's the problem: they are, for the moment, Humanoids, not Monstrosities. They have the same basic function as any other human, elf, dwarf etc

2) They are uneducated, primitive, aggressive, overly fecund, fear progress, overly religious, gullible, strong but less genetically less intelligent than other races, including goblinoid, kuo-toa and derros, profiteer and unable to produce or create themself etc

These are all taken from the PHB or Volo's, and those attributes are what makes it ok to slay them.

And they are the same attribute used to describe minorities all over the world in the past.
 


I agree that the people who created orcs in D&D did not do so in order to be racist.

However, you have agreed that the language that has been used to describe orcs and other monstrous races is the same language used to dehumanize real people of color.

I feel like these two statements support the idea of changing the language used to describe monstrous races in D&D. First off, since having racist depictions is not integral to D&D, it would have no harmful effect on the game. Secondly, since it is similar to harmful language used to dehumanize actual people, it would remove harmful language from the game. These are two good things, right?

Change the language sound sinister to me, forgive me but I'm Italian and in our history we've seen another guy who wanted to change our language and we weren't happy at all with him in charge. Better to change some words not to put the dust under the carpet, but to be more precise in our definitions.
I have nothing against characterize some fictional creatures with mental and physical bonus/malus in respect of humans.

I prefer to say "give to the game more moral and social complexity". This could be a real improvement.
We can stop the alignment barriers (or better remove alignment at all).
More, we can try to remove all those stereotypes correlated to a specific etnicity, like Vistani.
We can replace the word races with species cause is more precise.
We can replace the word monsters with creatures cause monster implies moral/esthetic judgment.

Yes there are definitely many thing we can do, without being irrational and sort of 1984-ish.
 

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