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17 Dec, 2021 11:52

‘Problematic’ fantasy race lore purged from Dungeons & Dragons

‘Problematic’ fantasy race lore purged from Dungeons & Dragons

A plethora of descriptions regarding various races in the Dungeons & Dragons universe have been scrapped from the guidebooks in an effort to make the tabletop RPG more “welcoming and inclusive.”

The push for representation and inclusivity in Western culture has not ignored the tabletop gaming scene, where publishers of some of the most-played games have been updating their releases to appeal to progressive social justice activists.

In a recent blog post, Jeremy Crawford, the principal rule designer for the legendary RPG Dungeons & Dragons, revealed that there had been a mass removal of “problematic lore” from several D&D books throughout the year, and these changes will be reflected in both the newly printed editions and the online PDF versions.

The designer himself did not go into detail about what exactly had been removed and why, however, and his post only mentioned the sections where the changes had been made, such as ‘Roleplaying a Beholder’, ‘Roleplaying a Kobold’, and ‘Roleplaying as an Orc’.

However, one Reddit user took it upon himself to find everything that had been removed from one of the books (‘Volo’s Guide to Monsters’) and published it on the DnD subreddit.

As it turned out, most of the text that had been removed from the descriptions of races had to do with either slavery or their power dynamics in relations with other races.

For example, one of the removed paragraphs provided an explanation of Orcs' societal hierarchies, which included subjugation and enslavement.

“With their culturally ingrained tendency to bow before superior strength, orcs can be subjugated by a powerful and charismatic individual. Evil human spellcasters and rulers in particular have a penchant for enslaving or deceiving orcs into service. A leader backed by a great military force could swoop down upon a tribe, kill its leaders, and cow the rest of the orcs into submission.”

Other now-purged ‘problematic’ elements included negative qualities inherent to the monster races, like the Orcs’ bloodlust or the Beholders’ ‘Beholder supremacy’ mindset. Similar changes have affected other species like Giants, Gnolls, Kobolds and Yuan Ti.

Wizards of the Coast, the publishers behind D&D, have said that these changes are intended to allow people more freedom in creating ‘memorable characters’ within their worlds, and that the removed descriptions were limiting the choices players could make in the creation of a monster. 

And while some people have sided with WotC, the overwhelming response on social media seems to be rather negative, with many saying the lore gave a better understanding of the creatures and world, and that its removal does nothing but take away lore from the universe. If people wanted to ignore aspects of the lore and go their own way there was nothing stopping them from doing so.

D&D is a tabletop RPG and players are completely free to play however they like, and follow or ignore whichever lore they prefer, but the official guidebooks have generally served as a starting point for players looking to create their own characters and campaigns. These books provided a sort of ready-to-go universe, with different creatures, lore, and history already baked in.

But now, it seems players will just have to use their imagination a little bit more, as publishers are seemingly more worried about progressive optics than providing their players with vibrant lore for their fantasy adventures.

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