Dungeons & Dragons Confirms “Sensitivity Readers” and Announces They Will Change The Nature Of Race Mechanics Moving Forward

Wizards of the Coast and their Dungeons & Dragons team confirmed they have used “sensitivity readers” in their latest campaign books and announced they will be changing the nature of race mechanics moving forward.


Principal Rules Designer for Dungeons & Dragons Jeremy Crawford shared Wizards of the Coast and Dungeons & Dragons new vision for the game to Twitter.

Related: Dungeons & Dragons Principal Rules Designer Jeremy Crawford Confirms Game’s Progressive Direction Towards Race Mechanics

In the blog post it explains that “Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is strength, for only a diverse group of adventurers can overcome the many challenges a D&D story presents.”

It continues, “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.”

They then detail some of the changes they will be making in their upcoming 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

Specifically they note they will “depict humanity in all its beautiful diversity by depicting characters who represent an array of ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, and beliefs.”

They add, “‘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.”

Oddly enough in their Basic Rules on their website it already details that players can customize their characters. It specifically states, “You choose your character’s age and the color of his or her hair, eyes, and skin. To add a touch of distinctiveness, you might want to give your character an unusual or memorable physical characteristic, such as a scar, a limp, or a tattoo.”

It’s unclear why they would believe that humans would only refer to northern Europeans when their own rules already state they are customizable.

Related: Progressive ‘Nerd Culture’ Outlets and Table Top Creators Claim Depictions of Orcs are “Problematic” and “Racist”

Their update on the state of the game continues noting they will make significant changes to orcs and drow. It details, “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.”

They then self flog themselves stating, “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 recognize 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.”

Finally, the blog post highlights six major changes that players can expect to see in Dungeons & Dragons moving forward.

First, they state they will rework the orcs and drow.

“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.”

Related: Psychology Professor Chris Ferguson Accused Of Slavery Apologism And White Supremacy For Arguing Orcs Are Not Racist

Second, they will issue reprints “to correct errors” specifically changing text they deem “racially insensitive.”

“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 judgment. 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.”

Third they will introduce a new customization product.

“Later this year, we will release a product (not yet announced) that offers a way for a player to customize their character’s origin, including the 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 emphasizes that each person in the game is an individual with capabilities all their own.”

Fourth they will radically alter the Vistani due to “stereotypes associated with the Romani people in the real world.”

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.”

Fifth they confirm the use of sensitivity readers and indicate they will continue to employ them.

“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.”

Finally they explain they will employ what appear to be diversity quotas when it comes to hiring.

“We’re proactively seeking new, diverse talent to join our staff and our pool of freelance writers and artists. 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.”

Related: Man Who Claimed Dungeon & Dragons’ Depiction Of Orcs Is Racist Admits “D&D Is Overwhelmingly Not My Game of Choice”

Despite these changes, a certain segment of people believe it is not enough and demanded more.

Another person specifically wanted ethnic and race-based hiring.

Related: Man Who Claimed Orcs Are Racist Wants More Racism in The Witcher TRPG

One person advocated for the removal of the word “race” from the game.

Others reacted to the announcement with bewilderment and in some cases disappointment at radical changes to the core game.

What do you think of these changes by Wizards of the Coast as they move forward with the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons? Do you plan on purchasing Dungeons & Dragons following this announcement? Let me know your thoughts!

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