‘Dungeons & Dragons’ will no longer use the term ‘race’

'Dungeons & Dragons' will no longer use the term 'race' - Bent Corner
Image: Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast, the company that owns the Dungeons & Dragons franchise, announced it is removing the term “race” from the game.

From the D&D Beyond blog:

Dungeons & Dragons has a history of evolving to meet the needs of our players and foster an inviting space for everyone.

With that in mind, we understand “race” is a problematic term that has had prejudiced links between real world people and the fantasy peoples of D&D worlds. The usage of the term across D&D and other popular IP has evolved over time. Now it’s time for the next evolution.

Since the release of the fifth edition of D&D in 2014, we have made the conscious decision to reduce usage of the term “race” to only apply to the game mechanic. We took this a step further with the release of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything in 2020 when we presented an alternative to character creation that untangled ability score improvements from your choice of playable people. 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.

Race has always been an integral part of Dungeons & Dragons. When creating a player character, the “race” of your character was usually the first thing you selected. For example, a human wizard or a halfling thief. You get the picture.

Instead of the term “race,” Dungeons & Dragons will use the term “species.” 

The Dungeons & Dragons rule book from 1977.

“Species” sounds worse than “race,” but I’m old. I first began playing Dungeons & Dragons in 1977. Context is important. Words are almost meaningless without it. Contextually, Dungeons & Dragons’ use of the word “race” is not offensive. It’s used in relation to a made-up fantasy world populated with Elves, Dwarves, and Gnomes.

For the record, I think it’s perfectly fine that Wizards of the Coast is purging the term “race” from its lexicon. If using the word makes even a single person feel uncomfortable, that’s one person too many. Dungeons & Dragons should be fun. The game should be free of words or terms that invoke unnecessary angst and anxiety.

We should leave the word “race” in the real world.

What Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin DiAngelo

It may be weird for people like me, who’ve played Dungeons & Dragons since Jimmy Carter sat in the Oval Office, to make the mental switch from “race” to “species,” but that’s okay. The term probably should have been changed a long time ago.

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