D&D is replacing the word 'race' in character creation: 'we do not intend to return to that term'

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Dungeons & Dragons is currently going through some changes. A public playtest of new rules called One D&D began in August, and several tonal shifts to its depiction of fantasy have been introduced in recent years. That's included attempts to move away from racial stereotypes by changing things like the depiction of the Romani-esque people called the Vistani in the Ravenloft books. It hasn't all gone smoothly, and after criticism of the way Spelljammer's flying monkey-people called hadozee resembled racist stereotypes, Wizards of the Coast first apologized and then changed its review process to include cultural consultants for all D&D books.

The next step, as explained in a blog post published on D&D Beyond (opens in new tab) today, is to move on from using the word "race" to describe elves, dwarves, and the various other options players can choose from when making their characters. Which has honestly always seemed inappropriate, even ignoring the fact it's been used to describe options as disparate as humanoid dragons, talking plants, and basically robots.

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

The latest set of playtest rules for One D&D (opens in new tab) reflect this, using the word "species" instead. "We have made the decision to move on from using the term 'race' everywhere in One D&D, and we do not intend to return to that term", Wizards of the Coast says. "The term 'species' was chosen in close coordination with multiple outside cultural consultants."

Other popular fantasy RPGs have taken similar steps in recent years. Pathfinder's second edition, released in 2019, used the word "ancestry" instead, while Warhammer switched to "species" beginning with Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play's fourth edition in 2018. 

Each new playtest packet for One D&D is followed by a survey, and the next will begin on December 21, during which "players will be able to give feedback on the term 'species' along with everything else present in the playtest materials." 

The blog post ends by saying, "We welcome your constructive feedback on this evolution and the many more evolutions to One D&D that make this game exciting, open, and accessible to everyone. Dragons and elves belong in our world, and so do you."

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games (opens in new tab). He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun (opens in new tab), The Big Issue, GamesRadar (opens in new tab), Zam (opens in new tab), Glixel (opens in new tab), Five Out of Ten Magazine (opens in new tab), and Playboy.com (opens in new tab), whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.