Wizards of the Coast apologizes and removes racist elements from Spelljammer
In August, Wizards of the Coast released Spelljammer: Adventures in Space, an updated version of a Dungeons & Dragons setting released in the 1980s that mixes sci-fi and fantasy. This week, his description of flying monkeys called hadozee was criticized online (opens in a new tab) to look like various racist stereotypes. Representations of black people as apes or apes have a long story (opens in a new tab) and are the source of things like the monkey song (opens in a new tab) regularly directed at black players in football and cricket matches around the world, so the similarities between hadozee and aspects of real-world bigotry had to be closely examined.
Wizards of the Coast, which previously announced plans to steer D&D away from racial stereotypes by removing biological essentialism, removing text that echoes real-world stereotypes, and working with sensitive readers, has now apologized (opens in a new tab). The full text of his statement is below:
We wanted to acknowledge and own the inclusion of offensive material in our recent Spelljammer: Adventures in Space content. We have failed you, our players and our fans, and we are truly sorry.
The campaign includes a people called Hadozee who first appeared in 1982. Unfortunately, all parts of the content relating to Hadozee were not properly vetted before appearing in our latest version. As we continue to learn and grow through each situation, we recognize that to live our values, we must do better.
Throughout Dungeons & Dragons’ 50-year history, some of the game’s characters have been monstrous and evil, using descriptions that are painfully reminiscent of how real-world groups have been and continue to be denigrated. We understand the urgency of changing the way we work to better ensure a more inclusive game.
Effective immediately, we will be removing offensive content about Hadozee from our digital versions – and these will no longer be included in future reprints of the book. Our priority is to get it right when we make mistakes. In addition, we have launched a thorough internal review of the situation and will take the necessary actions following this review.
We are eternally grateful for the continued dialogue with the D&D community, and look forward to bringing engaging and inclusive new content to D&D for generations to come. D&D teaches that diversity is strength, because only a diverse group of adventurers can overcome the many challenges presented by a D&D story. With this in mind, we are committed to making D&D as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.
Spelljammer’s revised text removes a description of the ancestors of hadozees as “shy” mammals. It also removes their origin as enhanced experiments created by a wizard to create enhanced warriors, which were later released by the wizard’s apprentices. The deleted backstory’s unfortunate similarity to the white savior myths of missionaries lifting black people out of the “savagery” and slaves dependent on outsiders to free them, appears to be a consequence of the inspiration from the rebooted Planet of the Dark films. Appes. (Spelljammer also includes analogues of other sci-fi media like the Vulcans of Star Trek and the Energy Vampires of Lifeforce.)
So wait. You mean Wizards of the Coasts took a race of apes called the Hazodee who were originally free-roaming and nomadic in 3.5, and turned them into ex-slaves, bred specifically for slavery, with a tolerance for the pain higher than the others? Whore ?August 31, 2022
Some hadozee review on twitter (opens in a new tab) confused their new incarnation with information from a fan wiki summarizing their treatment in previous editions of D&D, in which they were described as “crooked and snarling” as well as happily working for elves, although elves do not don’t respect them. This depiction was already absent from Spelljammer’s recent book, however, having been replaced by the story of their origin as liberated experiences. The new Spelljammer also ignores problematic parts of the original background like the aperusa (a race of travelers inspired by the Roma people) and a series of racially motivated conflicts called the Inhuman Wars.
An updated version of the D&D core rules is currently being tested. Changes so far include allowing players to choose which ability scores to add bonuses to during character creation rather than tying them to their race choice, and replacing entries for demi -elves and half-orcs by rules that allow you to play. the child of two kinds of humanoids.