Business News

Dungeons & Dragons promises greater diversity and inclusivity

June 21, 2020

The diversity of Dungeons & Dragons makes it a popular game within LGBTQ+ and other minority communities but its creators have acknowledged that some of its ‘legacy’ content has included characters that echo insensitive stereotypes. They are assuring players that this content doesn’t represent where they are today and that they are taking steps to address the issue.

In a recently released statement they said: “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.”

With an aim to make everyone feel “at home around the game table and to see positive reflections of themselves within our products” their goal with 5th edition D&D is to cover the “ beautiful diversity” of humanity “by depicting characters who represent an array of ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, and beliefs”.

“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 characterised 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 recognise 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.”

And they went on to outline how they are working 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 judgement. 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.”

A product is planned for release later this year that will allow players to customise their character’s origin. This will include an 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 emphasises that each person in the game is an individual with capabilities all their own”.

The creators continued: “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.”

As part of the improvement process D&D is looking to boost its staff and freelance contributors with new and diverse talent, saying: “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.”