A new set of official errata removes “racially insensitive” language from a few of WotC’s earlier 5th Edition books. Here’s a look at the changes.
Last week the D&D team at WotC issued a statement on diversity, outlining changes they’d make to existing and upcoming products to make them more inclusive, including eliminating “racially insensitive language” from the Curse of Strahd and Tomb of Annihilation, and as of this past weekend, the two books have been updated on D&D Beyond, Roll20, and Fantasy Grounds. Here’s a look at exactly what’s changed as D&D takes its first steps towards a world where D&D “depicts humanity in all its beautiful diversity by depicting characters who represent an array of ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, and beliefs.”
Curse of Strahd
First things first, in Curse of Strahd the descriptions of the Vistani have been updated removing a few key phrases. For instance where it once read Vistani are wanderers who live outside civilization, it now reads simply wanderers, getting rid of the implication that they are “uncivilized.” Other descriptors like “drink heartily” and “can seem lazy and irresponsible to outsiders” have been cut out as well, making for a much less stereotypical portrayal of the Vistani.
They get their own stat blocks, as do the Dusk Elves, which is the Guard stat block with Fey Ancestry added in. In the Vistani Camp, in chapter 4, Vistani have their own stat blocks with traits like Curse and Evil Eye, and the NPC Luvash, one of the brothers in charge of the camp, is no longer “so drunk that he has disadvantage.” Instead he is just older and more fearful than his younger brother. And the guards that might take up arms if an alarm as sounded are no longer described as “sober” because it doesn’t need a special call out.
Other NPCs have some changes to their description as well: Ezmerelda, an NPC with a lower leg prosthesis (having replaced it after a werewolf bite), no longer “takes care to hide it from view,” and is not implied to be ashamed of it.
And in the Haunted One background, the wording on one of the bonds has been changed to be more gender inclusive: I have a child to protect. I must make the world a safer place for him (or her)” has been changed to “I have a child to protect. I must make the world a safer place for them.”
Tomb of Annihilation
In Tomb of Annihilation, adventurers head out into Port Nyanzaru and Chult, an area inspired by African cultures. Many of the changes made here remove terminology that denigrates these cultures. According to the “patch notes” on Roll20, they have “removed or adjusted terminology such as ‘exotic,’ ‘tribal,’ and ‘savage’ in reference to Chult and its people.”
An example of this can be found in the adventure hooks for Entertainer, where Chult was once described as “a distant and exotic land,” now it is simply “a distant land.” In most places where exotic once appeared, like the “exotic wares” sold by a Chultan trader, or the “tribal” goblins that inhabit the jungle are removed. Port Nyanzaru is a “bastion of civilization and commerce in a terrifying (instead of savage) land.”
Interestingly, in Port Nyanzaru’s description (as of press time), the Laws and Punishment section hadn’t changed–notably this was a place that included “Slavery isn’t illegal in Port Nyanzaru, but it’s frowned upon.” All in all, it seems Tomb of Annihilation has received less substantial changes all in all, but this may only be the first round. We’ll see if WotC implements more changes in the coming weeks.
If you’d like to see the full changes, you can find a breakdown of them here. We’ll be keeping an eye on the story as it develops.
What do you think of the changes? Let us know in the comments!