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D&D Creators Are Rethinking Race In Dungeons And Dragons

2 Minute Read
Jun 16 2020
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Orcs, Drow, Vistani and others are due for some big changes as D&D’s creative team rethinks races going forward with new books.

It seems that there are changes in the works for humanoids of all shapes, sizes, and colors in D&D after recent discussion reveals a new perspective on certain peoples always being “evil.” We’ve talked before about certain folks in D&D always being evil–looking at you Orcs–and how depictng them as savage, tribal brutes that utilizes the same racist language that was historically used to demean people of color kind of undercuts the atmosphere of inclusion and diversity that WotC seems to be advocating for. Add to that portrayals of people like the Vistani in Curse of Strahd as straight up harmful stereotypes of the Roma, or the dark-skinned Elves being the only ones that are always evil (with one notable exception that nobody likes anyway), and you have a bunch of rules that seem to go against your stated values.

And this is an issue that the D&D team are aware of, as Jeremy Crawford explained in a discussion of the various humanoid peoples in D&D.

For reference, orcs in Eberron and Wildemount have dropped the intelligence penalty as well as the “always evil” bit from their alignments. In Eberron, for instance, Orcs have many cultural leanings, from their depiction in Sharn to the Lhazaar principalities, to their role as Gatekeeper druids. So where is D&D heading? Well Crawford has said that moving forward, they will be keeping humanoids in line with the intentions of the Monster Manual–that any creature with the Humanoid type should have the full capacity to be any alignment.

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Here’s crawford weighing in that Gnolls might be mistyped–in vanilla D&D they are more like fiends than a humanoid species, contrasted to their portrayal in Eberron, where many actively struggle against a demonic pact.

But change does seem to be in the works. As Crawford puts it, the rest of their stat blocks are changing going forward:

One other thing worth noting is the language Crawford uses. When talking about orcs or Vistani or Eberron’s gnolls, the word “race” is gone, instead there are peoples, folks, and cultures–whatever change is in the works, D&D seems to be getting that much more inclusive.

Happy (and inclusive) adventuring!

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