The creators of Dungeons & Dragons will no longer use the term “race” in rules and materials describing the inhabitants of their fantasy worlds. “Species” is now the operative term, Wizards of the Coast said Thursday.
“We understand that ‘race’ is a problematic term that has had prejudiced connections between people in the real world and the fantasy peoples of D&D worlds,” the studio wrote on D&D Beyond, D&D’s online portal and player showcase. Dungeons & Dragons. “Use of the term in D&D and other popular IPs has evolved over time. Now is the time for the next evolution.
The change comes three months after Wizards of the Coast issued an apology to players from Spelljammer: Adventures in Space for its rulers’ depiction of an alien species that many considered a racist caricature. Then, in November, Wizards announced that it would work with “several outside cultural consultants” to review the new material before it is released.
More broadly, D&D gamers and fans of fantasy films and novels have relied on the problematic history of their favorite franchises by associating certain non-human species – usually evildoers or their minions – with racist stereotypes. Game writer and designer James Mendez Hodes noted, in 2019that “D&D, like [J.R.R.] Tolkien, makes racing literally real in-game by applying immutable modifiers to characters’ ability scores.
The change announced Thursday will go into effect for the next test of “One D&D,” Wizards’ term for the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons, which is still in development. The next phase of playtesting will begin on December 21, and players are invited to provide feedback on the race/species name change as well as any other changes the beta is trying. One D&D materials are distributed through D&D Beyond, which Wizards of the Coast owner Hasbro acquired in the spring.
“We have made the decision to no longer use the term ‘race’ throughout One D&D, and we have no intention of reverting to this term,” the Wizards developers wrote Thursday. “The term ‘species’ was chosen in close coordination with multiple outside cultural consultants.
“Having an open conversation around the term ‘race’ is both important and empowering,” they added. “That’s why it’s vital that we foster a positive, open and understanding dialogue with each other.”