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D&D will use cultural consultants to prevent racist content in all of its books

‘Every word, illustration, and map’ will be reviewed at multiple points in the process

The back of a Spelljammer book with some Dispel Dice, a rebel helmet, and that guy from Destiny. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon
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 commits to engaging with cultural consultants on every one of its Dungeons & Dragons releases going forward. The announcement was listed as part of the latest batch of errata for Spelljammer: Adventures in Space, a campaign book that sparked public outcry in August for the inclusion of racist material.

The blog post, written by Wizards’ game design architect Christopher Perkins, states in no uncertain terms that the studio’s new review process “mandates that every word, illustration, and map must be reviewed by multiple outside cultural consultants prior to publication.” The so-called “inclusion-review process” will take place at multiple points during the development of a product — including during the final assembly, when art and text will be reviewed side by side.

“The new inclusion-review process applies to not only products in development but also reprints,” Perkins said. “In other words, every reprint is an opportunity to conduct a new inclusion review on previously published content.”

Cultural consultants are experts on certain cultures and peoples, and are commonly utilized in vetting materials all across modern media from film and television, to comics, novels, video games, and board games. Such experts have featured prominently in the credits of past D&D books, including this year’s hit adventure anthology, Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel — which is, ironically enough, the first D&D book conceived of an executed exclusively by writers of color.

No cultural consultants are listed in the credits for Spelljammer, an oversight that Wizards said lead directly to this summer’s incident in which racist text and art were included in that product. Indeed, multiple changes have been made to Spelljammer since its release date. The latest batch, also released today, includes several adjustments to creatures to make them less racially inclined toward avariciousness and greed.

With its next release, Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, Wizards is fully embracing its digital future by selling the physical book in a bundle with its digital equivalent. Those digital materials, it seems, will be much more of a living and evolving document going forward. Case in point: All of the changes mentioned in today’s errata have already been implemented online in D&D Beyond.

Thursday’s announcement was made against the backdrop of a nasty lawsuit being fought between Wizards and the newly resurrected TSR, an entity which Wizards bought in 1997. The Seattle-based publisher recently requested an injunction against TSR citing what it calls “despicable” and “blatantly racist and transphobic” content that, if released, could damage the D&D brand. The case is still in the discovery phase, and is set to go to trial in Oct. 2023.

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