D&D has a race problem.

In @WIRED, @mjgault describes @Wizards_DnD's resistance to changing parts of #DnD lore & rules concerning #race.

They want to retain the game's legacy. Here's why that's a problem:

A core element of #DnD5e is retained from #DnD's earliest days: fantasy races have significant inborn differences that include ability and morality. So, elves are smart, agile, & good, while orcs are strong, dumb, & evil -- they’re biologically savage & menacing.

Why is this a problem, you ask? Because it mirrors real world racism, & lots of folks don't like to play out fantasy racism when they have to deal with it in the real world as well.

Imagine if an RPG required you to role-play being sexual assaulted; it would alienate many.

So why not just get rid of the racism? Well, D&D has rules. Players are encouraged to amend them as they like, but many players don't like to deviate too much.

And the default experience should be the most accessible & inclusive one, yeah? WotC claims that's their goal.

One big reason why the core rules don't get changed, & why lots of folks get angry when you suggest the rules should change, is tradition. They want to retain the legacy D&D experience inherited from its creators. Changing orcs means it's not D&D any more, they say.

But, sadly, that legacy is tainted with racism. For example, Gary Gygax, the co-creator of D&D, argued that a Lawful Good hero is right to kill orc babies.

And when asked to justify that, he approvingly quoted one of the worst racists in American history. It's pretty bad.

In a Q&A, Gygax quoted John Chivington by name, who justified murdering native-american babies, by saying, "Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice." His men murdered hundreds in the Sand Creek Massacre.

Why? Because they thought the babies were inherently evil.

Gygax also said LG heroes can murder their prisoners, & Chaotic Good heroes can enslave them.

Anyone familiar with Chivington, who knows their history, or who experiences racism, should find the comparison jarring.

Gygax’s handle was Col_Pladoh:

This is the legacy that people want to retain. This is why they refuse to make the game more welcoming & inclusive.

Instead of fearing that they might ‘offend’ their legacy players, perhaps Wizards should try teaching them. Wizards could lead. We hope they will in 2021.

Some addenda:
1st, the game functions perfectly if individuals, but not whole races, are evil. You can still have evil people, evil gangs. You don’t need evil babies, or people savage because of race. That makes the game & community less inclusive. & it’s lazy storytelling.

Second, as the Wired essay suggests, we and those who raise these issues do so because we love D&D and want it to grow. We think this is a part of that. The lead designers say more changes are coming to address this; we would welcome them!

Third, yes, we have put our money where our mouth is! We published alternative rules for race in D&D which tries to fix these issues. It gets mentioned in the Wired article, too. But what we say above stands regardless of our book.

But don't take our word on the solution. Go listen to (and support!) the marginalized gamers who have been speaking out on this for years. Folks like @OrionDBlack, @GabeJamesGames, @danielhkwan, @cypheroftyr, @DeeEmSteve, @IsaacMandagie, @LulaVampiro, @TheDovetailor, & more.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Arcanist Press

Arcanist Press Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @ArcanistPress

20 Jul 20
#Race in #DnD:
Racial Essentialism is the view that talents, behaviors, and&personalities can be generalized across groups of people simply in virtue of their 'racial' category. It's the core of real world racism.

So why is it an central part of #DnD5e?
#ttrpg @wizards_DnD
I know, orcs & elves aren’t real. But folks who have suffered racist harm often recognize racial essentialism when they see it, & seeing it when they are trying to make their PCs for #DnD can ruin their fun and alienate them.

#ttrpgs #DnD5e @Wizards_DnD

Imagine including another form of social violence as a necessary part of PC creation in #DnD. Imagine if you had to encounter sexual assault when making your #DnD5e character! Yes, it's pretend. But that still can ruin someone's experience.
#ttrpgs @Wizards_DnD
Read 5 tweets
12 Jul 20
A note on #racism in #DnD:

#Race in #DnD5e is essentialist. That’s what’s wrong with it. That means it ascribes things like ability, alignment, language, & skills to race, when those are clearly cultural/learned.


Now is biological essentialism always bad? No! If you play Pugmire, your PC just is a doggie by birth and that’s the point.

Indeed, it’s not by itself racist or bad to play D&D as written. You aren’t a bad person and those who created it aren’t either. But!!

But the problem is that racial essentialism UNDERLIES RACISM IN THE REAL WORLD. And lots of folks who have experienced real racism recognize that and it makes the game no fun for them.

Real world racists ascribe goodness or evil, innate smarts or violence, to whole races. 3/?
Read 12 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!