Many fans of Dungeons & Dragons have been talking for a while now about how they don’t like the current way race is treated in the game. Well, Wizards of the Coast recently released a statement addressing this and outlining some of the areas that they plan to improve at this time.
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.
So, what are they doing? Well, they talked about how in recent reprintings of Tomb of Annihilation and Curse of Strahd they’ve changed racially insensitive text and promise to review every D&D book as it gets ready for any reprints. In addition, they teased an upcoming product that will allow characters to more fully customize the origins of their characters. This will include ability score modifiers based on race.
Other changes include two upcoming books that will show the Vistani, often depicted with some problematic stereotypes, in a new light. To help with this, they’ve been working with a Romani consultant. This leads into another change which includes more and more sensitivity readers to help identify any cultural blind spots.
The final point they made was a desire to continue looking for diverse talent to join their staff, writers, and artists. You can find the statement in its entirety on the official site. What do you think of this? I know many are happy with this step, but are hoping it means the company will continue taking positive steps to correct wrongs.