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Dungeons & Dragons publisher apologizes for racist content in Spelljammer

The hadozee will be adjusted in all future printings of Astral Adventurer’s Guide

Minsk and Boo ride an astral dragon while a planet explodes in the background. Image: Justin Gerard/Wizards of the Coast
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Wizards of the Coast apologized Friday for racist content included in Spelljammer: Adventures in Space, the most recent release for the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop role-playing game. Wizards made the apology Friday on social media and posted additional details to the company’s website.

“We failed our adventurers,” Wizards said on Twitter, “and we are truly sorry.”

The apology is in reference to a race called the hadozee, which are included in Spelljammer’s Astral Adventurer’s Guide and online in the Dungeons & Dragons Beyond toolset. The primatelike creatures were called out for their association with in-fiction slavery, as well as problematic themes and images that together serve to reinforce racism against Black people.

“We wanted to acknowledge and own the inclusion of offensive material within our recent Spelljammer: Adventures in Space content,” Wizards wrote. “The campaign includes a people called Hadozee which first appeared in 1982. Regrettably, not all portions of the content relating to the Hadozee were properly vetted before appearing in our most recent release. As we continue to learn and grow through every situation, we recognize that to live our values, we have to do better.”

Wizards said that offensive content related to the hadozee has been removed from all digital versions of Spelljammer and will not be included in reprints of the physical book. Wizards also said that it is performing a “thorough internal review” of the processes that lead to its publication.

“We are eternally grateful for the ongoing dialog with the D&D community, and we look forward to introducing new, engaging and inclusive content to D&D for generations to come,” Wizards said in its statement. “D&D teaches that diversity is strength, for only a diverse group of adventurers can overcome the many challenges a D&D story presents. In that spirit, we are committed to making D&D as welcome and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.”

Errata featuring revised content, not only related to the hadozee but the entire Spelljammer product, are available as a free PDF.

This is not the first time that Wizards has had to make a statement regarding insensitive material in its 5th edition D&D products, nor is it the first time it has made changes to previously published material. Cultural consultants are commonly employed by game makers of every stripe to root out this kind of material, and Wizards has used their services in the past. No such outside consultant is listed in the book’s credits.

Ironically, the episode follows a particularly progressive release by Wizards, an anthology of adventures titled Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel, written exclusively by writers of color. The next big release for D&D is a reboot of the Dragonlance setting, which is due out alongside a companion strategy board game starting this November.

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