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D&D and Racism 4: Arguments

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As noted in previous essays, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) created a stir when they posted an article on diversity and D&D. The company plans a variety of changes but I have been focusing on their plan to  change to “portraying all the peoples of D&D in relatable ways and making it clear that they are as free as humans to decide who they are and what they do.” They also plan to release a product that “offers a way for a player to customize their character’s origin, including the option to change the ability score increases that come from being an elf, a dwarf, or one of D&D’s many other playable folk. This option emphasizes that each person in the game is an individual with capabilities all their own.” Both are significant changes in the world of D&D. While the AD&D Monster Manual  did allow for individual monsters to vary in their alignment and it has long been common for Dungeon Masters to break racial stereotypes in their campaigns, the general practice has been to portray the various races and species in accord with established in-game stereotypes. Drow and orcs are monstrous and evil, elves and dwarves are friendly and good. AD&D also solidly established the idea that the various fantasy races had definite physical and mental traits relative to humans, receiving penalties or bonuses. AD&D also set minimum and maximum scores for the game stats. For example, half-orcs have a maximum Intelligence score of 17, a Wisdom score limit of 14, and their highest possible Charisma is 12. The game also divided characters by sex; females of all the races could not be as strong as the males. A PC’s race also limited what class they could take and how far they could advance. Going back to the half-orcs, they could not be druids, paladins, rangers, magic users, illusionists, or monks. They could be clerics, fighters or thieves—with limits on their maximum level. They were, however, able to level without racial limits as assassins. This is why. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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