Dungeons & Dragons changes policy to fight racism

Dungeons and dragons fights racism
Drizzt Do'Urden, probably the only non-evil dark elf in the Forgotten Realms (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Wizards of the Coast, makers of Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons, are going out of their way to change their books and present their fantasy characters in a different light in an effort to increase inclusivity and diversity in the Forgotten Realms.

The move is undoubtedly inspired by the growing wave of anti-racism protests going on worldwide and the increase of popularity of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The changes

Wizards published a special article on the D&D website detailing their decision to amend the game in hopes of decreasing racial stereotyping and increasing inclusivity. The step-by-step list goes as follows:

  • Orcs and drows (dark elves) are presented in a new light in D&D's latest book releases - Eberron: Rising from the Last War and Explorer's Guide to Wildemount.

The new faces of these iconic enemy races will now be “morally and culturally complex as other peoples.” In the close to five-decade-long history of the game, these two races have been traditionally depicted as stereotypical bad guys, little more than monsters. The current version of the Monster Manual describes the drow as “the wickedest of elves” and “cruel and selfish” and gives them a Neutral Evil status. Orcs are depicted as “savage raiders and pillagers with stooped postures, low foreheads, and piggish faces”, who are Chaotic Evil.

  • With every reprint of an already published D&D book, there will be amendments to mistakes, including “errors of judgment” - namely, texts that Wizards deems “racially insensitive”. Reportedly, this will be an ongoing process.
  • One such change will be the classic and massively successful book Curse of Strahd - a gothic horror vampire-slaying adventure featuring the Vistani, a fantasy race built upon the folklore stereotype of the Romani culture.

Wizards will be hiring a Romani consultant to change the Vistani into a state that’s viewed as inoffensive.

  • Wizards will be actively seeking insights from sensitivity readers, as well as hiring more diverse talent to join their staff and team of freelance writers and artists.

The reaction

As could be expected from a massive politically-charged move by a gaming company and especially the retroactive amendment of already published work, the community has been expressing mixed reactions.

There seems to be a large portion of the D&D player base who’s appreciative of the new direction and welcomes Wizards' efforts to increase representation in their favorite roleplaying game.

On the other hand, there are those who disagree with the decision for multiple reasons. Some players have expressed the opinion that real-world racial politics have no place in a game of dwarves and elves, that they simply don’t like their game changed or even those who claim that comparing real-world people of color to made-up monsters is condescending and degrading, and that Wizards is sending the wrong message.

For better or worse, the makers of D&D seem to have their priorities set and the ship is already steered towards a social justice direction. We’re curious to see if this policy will be extended to their video game offerings, including the upcoming action RPG Dark Alliance.

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