Wizards of the Coast is taking steps towards purging Dungeons & Dragons of racist content. In a statement published earlier this month, the game developer addressed “legacy D&D content that does not reflect who we are today,” including “monstrous and evil” races and characters based on reductive stereotypes against Romani people, while pledging to implement changes like more sensitivity readers and a more diverse staff.
“‘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,” Wizards of the Coast said in the statement, adding that “one of the explicit design goals” of the game’s 5th edition is to showcase 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 characterized as monstrous and evil, using descriptions that are painfully reminiscent of how real-world ethnic groups have been and continue to be denigrated,” the statement continued. “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.”
Going forward, the game developer promised to make six specific changes. First, orcs and drow will now be portrayed “as morally and culturally complex” as other D&D races, “making it clear that they are as free as humans to decide who they are and what they do.” Second, books with “racially insensitive” and other problematic content will be changed before reprints. Third, an as-yet-unannounced new product will give players the option to “customize their character’s origin,” including ability scores, a change the developer says will “emphasize that each person in the game is an individual with capabilities all their own.” Fourth, Wizards of the Coast will be working with a Romani consultant to change how the game depicts the fictional Vistani people, starting with changes to Curse of Strahd. Fifth, the game will be working with sensitivity readers, and sixth, Wizards of the Coast will “proactively” seek “new, diverse” talent in both its in-house staff and freelance pool.
You can read the full statement here.