In their latest step forward on their long march to lost profits, Wizards of the Coast has revealed that they will be removing the concept of ‘Half-‘ species from the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook on the grounds that they are “not comfortable” including an “inherently racist” concept in the game.
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This forthcoming update was first announced publicly at the recent D&D Creator Summit, an event wherein Wizards of the Coast gathered a number of notable personalities ranging from game developers to content creators and provided them with a sneak peek at Dungeons & Dragons’ upcoming releases.
Following a rocky start to the Summit marred with various technical difficulty issues, the publisher eventually hosted a demo of their upcoming D&D Virtual Tabletop, after which D&D lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford, senior story designer Chris Perkins, and studio art director Josh Herman appeared for a Q&A session with the attendees.
Eventually, the post-demo Q&A turned to the topic of WotC’s ongoing efforts to sanitize D&D, beginning with a question about how exactly the publisher makes use of their sensitivity readers.
“We don’t send everything to the same people all the time,” Crawford explained of their content review process (per a summary of the event posted to the EN World forum by user brimmels and a recap provided by content creator Daniel Kwan). “Different reviewers have different areas of expertise and experience. Everything gets sent to at least 2 people, sometimes more. The old inclusion review process had holes in it because they would only send out what they thought would be a problem. Now EVERYTHING is sent out so we aren’t guessing what might be a problem.”
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“Our team are game designers and storytellers, we’re not experts in culture and inclusion,” he added. “So we’re focused on what damage should this creature do. That’s why everything goes through inclusion review now so everything in our game brings out delight. Even reprints are going through inclusion review. That’s why some older books are changing, too.”
Further elaborating on WotC’s process, the designer detailed, “We get a full report. We then address the issues identified. We have a conversation. Then it goes back to the reviewers so they can see what we did and comment as to whether it addressed the issue. We also now send the art, even the sketches, through the review process. Jeremy thinks of it as ‘inclusion collaboration’ because it’s a conversation going on.”
To this end, Crawford then confirmed that due to the game now having four elf variants for players to choose from when creating a character – standard Elves, high Elves, Wolf Elves, and the Drow – the Player’s Handbook would soon be revised to do away with ‘half-‘ species.
“Frankly, we are not comfortable, and haven’t been for years with any of the options that start with ‘half’,” he explained of this decision. “The half construction is inherently racist so we simply aren’t going to include it in the new Player’s Handbook.”
Unsurprisingly, Crawford did not expand on his accusation, and thus his reasoning behind this claim remains unknown.
However, despite their removal from the Player’s Handbook, Crawford assured players that “If someone wants to play those character options, they’ll still be in D&D Beyond [and] they’ll still be in the 2014 Player’s Handbook”
It should be noted that though players may still be allowed to create Half- characters, thanks to their removal from the core materials, such characters can not be used in an officially-sanctioned event.)
As of writing, it is unclear when the Player’s Handbook will officially be revised, nor when it will hit shelves.
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