“Race” vs “Species” in One D&D.

I mean, how dare WotC try to change a game term for an edition most of the OSFartz are never going to play? How dare they try to enforce their notions of cultural ethics and morality on D&D? OMJeez why would WotC want to make money by appealing to the younger generations that actually buy the game? WotC is only the biggest company in the industry and D&D is their cash cow along with Magic:the Gathering.


The hits just keep coming from Wizards of the Coast.

This is the latest from the One D&D playtest. It’s sure to make the bitter Old Grognards Revival go bonkers with internet comments. It’s like Edition Wars all over again. Wait til WotC announces what they’re going to do to alignment. 😉

Race is a very delicate and fiery topic out in the real world. Let’s leave D&D behind for a moment. Yes, Black Lives Matter. So many BIPOC have been marginalized, tormented, and worse for far, far too long in the United States and elsewhere. If we’re ever going to come together as a human race, then tolerance, trust, and understanding need to become paramount. We don’t all have to hold hands, but can we at least be kind and patient with one another?

Back to the gaming front.

Here’s a link to the article from WotC on D&D Beyond: HERE

This is a quote from that article on D&D Beyond.

I’m not going to tell anyone what to put down on their survey. I suspect the reason they are so insistent on saying “there’s no such thing as edition any more” in other comments is because they’re trying to downplay the old races-as-classes from earlier editions.

Heck, back in ye olden days of D&D, they were referred to as “demihumans.” So, not quite human enough?

From D&D Rules Cyclopedia circa 1991
Humans were considered more capable than beings that live hundreds of years?

So, being a human character in old D&D was kind of messed up. Literally all of the character classes were basically considered humans-first. If someone walked up to me on the street and referred to me as a “demihuman,” I would ask a lot of questions starting with, “Who, me?” and possibly ending with, “WTF is your major malfunction?” But I’m no elf, dwarf, halfling, or lizardfolk, either.

My point here is that I can definitely see why WotC wants the game terminology to advance. Of course, they can’t just give in and use the term “Ancestry” as they do in Pathfinder these days. I think “people” makes it seem like they’re humans. I think WotC wanted a term that set other types of human-like beings apart without trying to marginalize anyone. It’s a noble concept, especially after that disaster with the Hadozee in 2022.

My take on #hadozee is here. They really dropped the ball on that one. It’s good to see they’re trying slightly harder later in the year with their profits plummeting.

I’m also glad WotC has worked hard to distance themselves from trying to define relations between the various species. The Unearthed Arcana of AD&D 1E fame had the most dreadful “Racial Preferences Table.” The Rules Cyclopedia reference above was just a rough start to what eventually became a codified table of Race A automatically hates or despises Race B type of stuff. Nowadays WotC certainly doesn’t want that image floating around.

The “Old Grognard” crowd has already been extremely outraged and vocal about this new concept.

Not all of us Older Gamers are upset about it. But hey, the ones who steadfastly play Old School Renaissance/Revival/Rendition/Re-whatever? Oh they’re taking this one on the chin (for no really good reason whatsoever.)

I mean, how dare WotC try to change a game term for an edition most of the OSFartz are never going to play? How dare they try to enforce their notions of cultural ethics and morality on D&D? OMJeez why would WotC want to make money by appealing to the younger generations that actually buy the game? WotC is only the biggest company in the industry and D&D is their cash cow along with Magic:the Gathering.

I’m mostly being facetious here, but this echoes a lot of the outrage I’m hearing online right now. The old (mostly white, hetero) guys are losing their everloving minds all over social media and YouTube regarding a product they will never touch, anyway. Many of them stopped buying WotC products after they tried 3rd Ed D&D once. Most of them aren’t going to buy One D&D or even try it. So why do they even care it’s changed from “demihumans,” “races,” or even “species?”

I know change is scary, especially as real world humans get older.

“WotC can’t tell us how to run things at our tables.” the Old Grognards cry bitterly from the battlements of minis wargaming.

Great, because nobody in the 18-35 age demographic cares what you’re doing, anyway. You want to say, “races” at your table with your group, that’s great. As long as the group are all cool with it, you go right ahead. Chances are you’re not using any kind of Safety Tools, either. If it’s the weekly group in the basement, that’s just lovely.

No one is trying to force their morality on your gaming table! Not now, not ever. People are very capable of discernment at home and abroad. If I show up to a convention game and hear people talking trash about 5E or One D&D, all it does is tell me to steer clear of that game. I don’t invite bigots to participate in my home game and I don’t try to join theirs.

The same thing goes for online debates. Please, advertise being bigoted, anti LGTBQIA++, or hateful. That’s great. Unfollow and Block work on lots of social media. See, that way you don’t have to listen to me go off, and still keep your narrow, somewhat unenlightened nastiness confined to your own like-minded friends group. You stay on your side of the proverbial fence, and I’ll stay on mine. See how easy it is?

WotC wants to wipe the edition slate clean and start over.

Their game, their rules. Who are we to argue? Unless you’re part of their targeted audience, they really don’t care what anyone thinks. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t ask for the participant’s age on the survey forms. They are actually seeking out the 18-30 crowd with disposable income.

I think WotC wants the crowd that came around during the pandemic of 2020 in record numbers. They want the Virtual TableTop crowd, as evidenced by their Unreal Engine powered approach to One D&D coming up. They want tech-savvy folx who use web apps and aren’t afraid of microtransactions. (Don’t believe me? Look at Fortnite’s audience.)

WotC wants the crowd that started their roleplaying journey with Critical Role and other Actual Play podcasts. Friendly Local Game Stores? Pfft! No. This may actually be the death of print D&D books as we know it. WotC wants their audience on their app, VTT, and website and little else. At that point, what they call species is such a trivial thing, family.

That’s my rant for now. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. My #ttrpgfamily keeps me going whether online or at home. You are all great.

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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