Today, Dungeons & Dragons released the next set of playtest materials for its new edition of D&D, called One D&D, alongside an announcement that it would be removing the word “race” from its association alongside playable peoples. Although the game has been attempting to become more conscious of the ways that language is used in D&D, this is a massive step forward for a lot of players and fans who have long wanted Wizards of the Coast to adjust its approach to mechanizing characters.
The statement, put out this morning by Wizards of the Coast, clearly states the thought process behind removing “race” from its books, saying that including the word helped establish “prejudiced links between real world people and the fantasy peoples of D&D worlds.”
The company is clearly trying to move past the racist undertones of many of its previous works, and is re-committing to the statement it made in the summer of 2020: “We have also evolved the lore of the peoples throughout the D&D multiverse to be more diligent in extracting past prejudices, stereotypes, and unconscious biases.”
One D&D is currently in a feedback loop, where Wizards of the Coast releases parts of the rulebook to general audiences for playtesting. This is a relatively common practice across tabletop design, and it’s incredibly heartening that D&D is taking feedback seriously, noting “The immense interest and level of feedback across the first few playtest material releases shows us the value in having an open dialogue with our community about everything related to the game.”
The designers seem to be sticking to their guns here. The release states that D&D has made the decision to move on from the term race and does not intend to use it moving forward. Instead, the word species will be used, which was decided in conjunction with “multiple outside cultural consultants.”
Considering what happened with the Hadozee literally this year, just after the release of the incredibly progressive Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel, this is a necessary step forward. I’m very pleased to see Wizards take criticism seriously enough to make changes and continue to progress, allowing for a more inclusive and, ultimately, more fun and accepting experience. The best part is that when people inevitably protest against this change, it will signal that they might have been part of the reason that this change was necessary to begin with.
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