An Orc, a Drow, and a Bog Witch Walk Into a Tavern...

In 2020, Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast took steps toward building a more inclusive series of fantasy gaming worlds–one that represents a wider array of belief systems, gender identities, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and cultures. One of the major changes they implemented is that there are no longer any inherently evil races. Wizards of the Coast recognized that the monstrous characterization of specific in-game races hit too close to the real world experiences of many of us who belong to minority racial and ethnic groups.

While it may not seem like a huge deal to some, I know how much this meant to me.

Of course, many of us had already been playing goblins and dark elves as PCs, but this statement by WotC officially frees orcs, drow, goblins, and other woefully typecast baddies to explore a broader spectrum of morality during gameplay.

This decision by Wizards of the Coast resulted in much wailing and gnashing from the usual grotesque underbellies of the internet, but if one looked beyond the online theatrics, it was also possible to sense a deep exhale throughout the gaming world.

We want to celebrate this fresh and complex exploration of the range of ethics, virtues, and cultures in fantasy role playing games and literature. What stories could now be told? Where might an orc turn to find inner peace? How might a bugbear give back to their community?

Illustrations by Julie Dillon!