Wizards of the Coast revises D&D race lore containing harmful tropes following backlash

Spelljammer: Adventures in Space
(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Following a controversial new backstory for the Hadozee, one of its revised player races from Spelljammer: Adventures in Space, D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast has removed the offending content from digital versions of the book. It will also use the updated text for future print editions.

As explained in an official post on the D&D website, Wizards has apologized for the incident and promised a "thorough internal review of the situation" leading to "necessary actions" resulting from the Spelljammer Hadozee backlash. 

The lore in question was criticized online for featuring harmful tropes revolving around slavery and, as pointed out by @okkatiemae via Twitter, for artwork with parallels to racist minstrel shows. The Hadozee, which are depicted as a cross between primates and flying squirrels, were originally described as small, "timid mammals" that were captured and given sentience through a wizard's magical experiments. They would then be sold as an army to the highest bidder. However, the wizard's apprentices are said to have grown fond of and subsequently "liberated" the Hadozee. These passages have now been removed entirely (with a replacement paragraph simply calling them "sapient, bipedal beings eager to leave behind the fearsome predators of their homeworld"). Meanwhile, the Hadozee artwork accompanying it has vanished on the D&D Beyond version of Spelljammer: Adventures in Space.

Wizard's statement says that the company "failed you, our players and our fans, and we are truly sorry". It goes on to admit that, "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. Throughout the 50-year history of Dungeons & Dragons, some of the characters in the game 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 how we work to better ensure a more inclusive game… In that spirit, we are committed to making D&D as welcome and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end". 

It's a notable step backwards for the company after it heavily emphasized inclusivity throughout its most recent Dungeons and Dragons books (including July's Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel, a set of one-shot adventures featuring an all-POC writing team). Spelljammer doesn't feature cultural consultants on its credits list like Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel either, so this could be what Wizards means by the content not being "properly vetted" before publishing.

This will presumably directly impact Wizard's upcoming projects, Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen and One D&D.

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Benjamin Abbott
Tabletop & Merch Editor

As the site's Tabletop & Merch Editor, you'll find my grubby paws on everything from board game reviews to the latest Lego news. I've been writing about games in one form or another since 2012, and can normally be found cackling over some evil plan I've cooked up for my group's next Dungeons & Dragons campaign.