Dungeons & Dragons, like its sister company Magic: The Gathering, has joined the group of brands and corporations reflecting on their own content and internal practices in light of the Black Lives Matter protests of the last few weeks.
In a statement on their website yesterday, D&D, which is owned by Wizards of the Coast, recognized the racist elements of its past and vowed to improve their record moving forward.
"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. That's just not right, and it's not something we believe in," the statement said. "We want everyone to feel at home around the game table and to see positive reflections of themselves within our products. ‘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."
While D&D's statement highlights the steps they've taken in recent history to ensure their content steer away from racist tropes (The Explorer's Guide to Wildemount and Eberron: Rising from the Last War being the two examples cited), the company also recognizes they have the opportunity to further improve.
In order to address the mistakes of the past and prevent such issues from occurring in the future, D&D has pledged to better address diversity within their staff and talent pool by proactively bringing in "a broad range of new voices to join the chorus of D&D storytelling."
In a similar vein, they've also promised to further incorporate sensitivity readers into their creative process (something they've done on two of their recent publications) to further mitigate any "blind spots" they may have, such as the original depiction of the Vistani in 2016's Curse of Strahd, which used stereotypes associated with the Romani people in its storytelling.
Future editions of Curse of Strahd as well as other D&D publications with racially insensitive content will continue to be updated accordingly. The company hopes that this new review process along with the release of a to-be-announced product that will give players the option to change the historically automatic ability score increases that come with certain "good" races (arguably the definition of white privilege in the D&D world), will emphasize to players that "each person in the game is an individual with capabilities all their own."
D&D also recognized that their efforts are far from over. "This part of our work will never end," the statement reads. "We know that every day someone finds the courage to voice their truth, and we're here to listen. We are eternally grateful for the ongoing dialog with the D&D community, and we look forward to continuing to improve D&D for generations to come."