D&D Developers Explain Choices on Gender Diversity in New Edition

D&D Developers Explain Choices on Gender Diversity in New Edition

D&D PHB artwork

"Including the material brings value in two big ways: it looks a segment of our audience in the eyes and tells them that we see them, and it encourages our other players to consider the spectacular array of characters that they can create in D&D," said co-lead Jeremy Crawford.

Perhaps one of the biggest stories to come out of the impending launch of Dungeons & Dragons latest edition was Wizards of the Coast's very direct acknowledgment of gender diversity within the game rules. In the basic rule set for the game, which were released for free on Wizards website earlier this summer, the entry on "Sex" in the "Personality and Background" section tells players that they "don't need to be confined to binary notions of sex and gender," and even states that the game's chief elven god is seen as both androgynous and hermaphroditic. The rules also, for the first time, explicitly state that a character's sexual orientation is completely up to the player to decide.

In a recent interview with The Mary Sue, Dungeons & Dragons lead designers Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls talked at length about their design to encourage that diversity. Said Crawford:

We knew early on that we wanted the new edition to be inclusive: inclusive of beloved material from previous editions, inclusive of different play styles, and inclusive of a varied cast of characters. We also wanted to be welcoming to as many D&D players as possible, to look at the wonderfully diverse group of people who play the game and say, "There's a place for each of you at the game table." ... Including the material brings value in two big ways: it looks a segment of our audience in the eyes and tells them that we see them, and it encourages our other players to consider the spectacular array of characters that they can create in D&D."

The text for the chapter came from Crawford talking with writers and editors at Wizards, who helped tweak the wording, before getting final approval from Mearls, who weighed in with some thoughts of his own:

I think a lot of RPG designers are in the same place that we were, in the sense that they want their games to be inclusive but don't always quite get how to do that ... Any social change takes time. My personal sense is that I've always been much more leery about offending gay and transgender folks by fumbling the issue in an effort to include them. I'm not worried about offending bigots - quite the opposite, in fact. The value lies simply in acknowledgement, and realizing that it's better to put something out there than remain quiet out of a misplaced bout of sensitivity

Mearls also called this flexibility of character design "hugely important" to tabletop RPGs, since they're designed to encourage creativity. The interview focused on a variety of other topics as well, including the art direction for the new edition. Mearls mentioned that the development team - including an art team consisting almost entirely of women - decided early on that they were going "to avoid bare midriffs, cleavage, and other common gaming tropes. We only use those if a specific character would actually dress that way," such as the demonic incubus and his six-pack abs.

For more news on the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons, check out our exclusive look at the table of contents and the Sorcerer class from the upcoming Player's Handbook.

Source: The Mary Sue

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I don't really see the point in this, but then I've never really looked to the rules to aid in the roleplay aspect of my characters (either PC or otherwise). I mean, D&D has been fairly inclusive for a long time as far as the published material goes. IIRC the gender pronoun they used in their 3rd edition books was "she" and "her" as opposed to the previously assumed "he" and "his". Also, Pathfinder has an even split of male and female representation in their class archetypes, including very non-traditional choices like a female Barbarian and Paladin.

Addressing this sort of stuff "officially" within the rules just seems kind of... pointless? The real issue inherent in any kind of sex/gender issue related to this hobby is two-fold:

1. Biased/sexist/etc. notions the community at large has (whose views will not be changed by a paragraph of flavor rules)
2. The art. Yes, we all love Red Sonja and the art on old Robert E. Howard books, but D&D used to be plagued with way too many nonsensically near-naked ladies. This is primarily woman's issue, not really a gender identity/sexual orientation issue, but it's more-or-less related and is thankfully being addressed by the creators (though they are late to that particular party)

I guess I just think it's silly that they're even drawing attention to this. It's really not a big deal and even kind of expected at this point.

Wow. That's just saaaad. Rather than create gods that had multiple aspects both male and female they went for pure bullshit pandering. They must be really desperate to regain market share from the travesty that was 4th ed as well as competition from Pathfinder and the indie scene.

Wait wait wait... the chief elven god is gender fluid?

SLAANESH! What are you doing in DnD? Youre suposed to stay in GW land!

Effing chaos gods and their shenanigans...

Bitches don't know 'bout Vivec's Muatra. Although he lacks the androgynous attributes, but not for long...

Fappy:
I don't really see the point in this, but then I've never really looked to the rules to aid in the roleplay aspect of my characters (either PC or otherwise). I mean, D&D has been fairly inclusive for a long time as far as the published material goes. IIRC the gender pronoun they used in their 3rd edition books was "she" and "her" as opposed to the previously assumed "he" and "his". Also, Pathfinder has an even split of male and female representation in their class archetypes, including very non-traditional choices like a female Barbarian and Paladin.

Addressing this sort of stuff "officially" within the rules just seems kind of... pointless? The real issue inherent in any kind of sex/gender issue related to this hobby is two-fold:

1. Biased/sexist/etc. notions the community at large has (whose views will not be changed by a paragraph of flavor rules)
2. The art. Yes, we all love Red Sonja and the art on old Robert E. Howard books, but D&D used to be plagued with way too many nonsensically near-naked ladies. This is primarily woman's issue, not really a gender identity/sexual orientation issue, but it's more-or-less related and is thankfully being addressed by the creators (though they are late to that particular party)

I guess I just think it's silly that they're even drawing attention to this. It's really not a big deal and even kind of expected at this point.

I don't think you quite get why they doing this in context to D&D as a game. This is specifically an update that addresses a lack of acknowledge of Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Characters in D&D. The game does not have a system to specify if you character likes to have sex with a person of the same sex, both sexes, or identifies as a gender they were not born as. This is important because DMs are supposed to tailor the quests based on the character type. ALL of the natural quests given to a DM assumes that the characters are straight-cis people.

Now they are addressing it by putting sexuality on the character sheet and writing the quests to have the DM look at the character sheet and determine whether to make the sex demon a succubus or incubus that wants to attack a particular party member, or what character to have try to seduce a character in the party. Before the DM had to figure out how to handle this themselves and remember the orientation of the character separate from the character sheet. Having it on the character sheet makes it easy to remember, but it also has another element: suggestion. By including sexuality as an aspect of personality, it encourages players to play characters that are gay or transgendered who might not have considered that in the past. By putting sexuality on the card, it makes the player consider an aspect of who they are playing that was not previously asked of them.

I... guess this is good? I don't know, it seems more like needless attention grabbing.

To me it seems like it might be better if they just didn't make any statements about gender or sexuality at all. I've never known anyone who even paid attention to what they might have said about such things in the older editions or at least, if they did, never let it stop them from doing whatever they wanted to anyway.

Istilldontcare:

I don't think you quite get why they doing this in context to D&D as a game.

I understand it just fine.

This is specifically an update that addresses a lack of acknowledge of Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Characters in D&D. The game does not have a system to specify if you character likes to have sex with a person of the same sex, both sexes, or identifies as a gender they were not born as. This is important because DMs are supposed to tailor the quests based on the character type.

If your gender identity/sexual orientation is so core to your character that you need aspects of the campaign custom tailored to it you will have already found a place to write that down.

ALL of the natural quests given to a DM assumes that the characters are straight-cis people.

What does this even mean? Are you talking about adventure paths? One of the first big NPC friendlies you meet in Rise of the Runelords is a bisexual...

Now they are addressing it by putting sexuality on the character sheet and writing the quests to have the DM look at the character sheet and determine whether to make the sex demon a succubus or incubus that wants to attack a particular party member, or what character to have try to seduce a character in the party.

I can't speak for other GM's, but I don't think I'd forget if one of the PC's was trans or gay. That's a pretty distinct character trait in a fantasy setting.

Before the DM had to figure out how to handle this themselves and remember the orientation of the character separate from the character sheet. Having it on the character sheet makes it easy to remember, but it also has another element: suggestion. By including sexuality as an aspect of personality, it encourages players to play characters that are gay or transgendered who might not have considered that in the past. By putting sexuality on the card, it makes the player consider an aspect of who they are playing that was not previously asked of them.

That's the best argument you have going for you here, but it doesn't exactly discredit what I have said. I never said I had a problem with them including any of this. In fact, I am happy they did. My argument is why it had to be focused on like this in the first place. They're acting like it's this big, progressive statement they're making when it really isn't. Maybe they deserve more credit than I am giving them, but knowing that a lot of other game companies are already miles ahead of them in this regard kind of takes the wind out of their sails.

I've never played the american D&D (outside of old Bioware games), but the Swedish, or just other, tabletop RPG's that I've played have not been that interested in gender differences or sexuality.

I think one had rather extensive rules about pregnancy, and how traits could be inherited and such, but that's about it. From a statistical perspective, there's really no difference between the two.

I mean this has been pretty much the standard representation of women in Swedish RPG's for, at least, a few decades:
image

Yes, some kind of ranger-type, which might be a bit stereotypical. But women are fully clothed and functionally dressed, and look as capable as the male adventurers. They're not wearing some leather corset, deep cleavage dress or metal bikini.

And we're a country known for naked blondes :p

Edit: about sexuality
And if you want to be hated for being gay or transsexual, you'd pretty much have to find and play in a culture where that for some reason wouldn't be accepted. Like some noble campaign where you'd be expected to have children. And from my experience, a transgender character = great at disguises. Making players say: "Join my part, please". Because they don't really care what's in those pants or under that skirt. It's a useful skill either way.

Or, you know, just a fun detail about the character added to make it unique. But I guess that just the outlook you get when art that looks like something out of a Conan cover isn't your norm for characters?

I see this as wholly pointless. There were never restrictions like this in the first place. Why tell the player "By the way, you don't have to adhere to binary gender!" when no one ever had to in the first place? I'm not offended by it, I'm just beyond belief that there are players out there who will think "Wow, I never thought of that! I'd better roll one up right away!"

I like to play all kinds of crazy characters. My last pathfinder character was a 107 year old widow who ran an inn by herself. She had -6 to all physical stats cause of her age.

I guess this depends on what kind of campaign your in too. We've been doing a dungeon crawl for about 8 months and sexuality has never cropped up even once. It's basically about combat and loot.

For all the people who can't see the point in this, who think it's attention grabbing, who are confused about why bothering: from my perspective as a member of the LGBT community, and with lots of geeky friends who are LGBT, I can't understate how important a step this is for many of us. If it doesn't affect you, cool! Run or play whatever game you want to! If I knew you in real life, I might take more time to explain why it's important - but I'd just like to ask people to respect that it is important to other people, even if you don't know why :)

I pointed this out during the bioware's dragon age inquisition/cupcake news article and I think it still stands here. DnD (and most of your typical RPG settings in general) have allowed players to make pretty much whatever they want over the years, gender or sexual identity was never really addressed because it was never important in the mechanical sense. It's not like characters were being restricted on the type of clothes they could wear or activities they could enjoy based on what gender they identified as, they were as free as the GM allowed them to be. They didn't even have to be human (or even humanoid), so even the otherkin could be satisfied.

Establishing named characters of atypical gender or sexual identity is not an unwelcome change, but feels like a wholly unnecessary one. Nothing stopped players before.

This is wonderful. Everyone saying that this is "pointless" is... Uh... Missing the point. But Jeremy Crawford hit the nail right on the head. This isn't about pandering (it's likely to piss more people off than it endears), and it's not that D&D barred those types of characters at any point before. It's looking those minorities in the eyes and saying "we see you, come sit at our table."

If that isn't beautiful I don't know what is.

Ummm WTF?!?! If ever there was a game that really did not have a pressing need for a new take on Gender Issues it has got to be the classic table top Pen and Paper Role Playing Game where you could literally and easily Role Play as anything you and your friends wanted to be. 500 year old Dwarven Vegisexual? Sure go for it! This has been possible in the game since what 1980 or so at a minimum? It's not like anything that this would involve would or should require rolling a D20. (And if it does?... EWWWWW!) This is a game that does and always has existed purely within the players imaginations. I think actually codifying this or putting in any sorts of rules governing this subject is far more limiting (and rather insulting to the playerbase) than simply leaving it for the players to simply be who they want to be.

Heck in my old player group the first thing they would do when faced with any sorts of rules like this would be to try and come up with something so absurd that the rules actually do not cover it. And nobody needs that. (besides the Japanese anime and manga industry all ready went there years ago.)

FavouredEnemy:
For all the people who can't see the point in this, who think it's attention grabbing, who are confused about why bothering: from my perspective as a member of the LGBT community, and with lots of geeky friends who are LGBT, I can't understate how important a step this is for many of us. If it doesn't affect you, cool! Run or play whatever game you want to! If I knew you in real life, I might take more time to explain why it's important - but I'd just like to ask people to respect that it is important to other people, even if you don't know why :)

I suppose. Being a member of the LGBT community, I don't see how this adds much to my experience of DnD anyway. Though I suppose I never liked or played fourth edition and have completely migrated to Pathfinder at this point. Great system, and a very inclusive setting while still feeling like it's not covered in bubble wrap.

This doesn't seem like pandering. It seems sincere. I realistically believe there doesn't need to be a mechanical reference to gender other than, you can do what you want with the mechanics. It seems much more relevant to the actual settings that DnD uses, than the mechanical rules.

BlameTheWizards:
"Sex" in the "Personality and Background" section tells players that they "don't need to be confined to binary notions of sex and gender," and even states that the game's chief elven god is seen as both androgynous and hermaphroditic. The rules also, for the first time, explicitly state that a character's sexual orientation is completely up to the player to decide.

You mean to tell me that a game where I can be whatever I imagine me to be, allows me to be whatever I imagine me to be?

Who would have thought?

But its DnD. You could do whatever the fuck you wanted to do in the first place. You didn't need the book or rules to say you could be a homo if you wanted.

Seriously, people... how hard is this to grasp. This plays two major roles of importance.

First: Not everyone will have actually CONSIDERED that they could create any kind of character they so pleased. Not -every- potential player is so fortunate as to be surrounded by supportive folks telling them that it's cool to roll however the hell they want, and seeing that the rules pretty much said nothing about them one way or the other wouldn't exactly help someone worried about the game's inclusiveness to make an informed decision. D&D's extant world largely ignored the entire situation... leaving it, as everything else, up to the players to sort out. Since when, however, has IGNORING an entire group of people been the acceptable answer to any situation? I've got plenty of friends who fall under that LGBT moniker, and they've always been very vocal about 'going unseen' being as much a part of the problem as being openly discriminated against. I don't really have a dog in this fight, but I'm certain most everyone has heard that argument before. It's a mainstay of the equality-for-everyone-forever movement. If you somehow managed to miss it, I think you might be failing to internet properly.

Second: D&D is a game of numbers and information, and that information plays a crucial role to the game. While the player is certainly free to modify the game however they please, interpret or break rules on a whim, and evidently even 'fudge the numbers' a little if it suits the situation, it has ALWAYS been the intention of the rules and books to provide as COMPLETE and COMPELLING a framework as possible for the players to build off. How can anyone argue that this was a wasted effort when the MERE EXISTENCE of the rules and books is an equally wasted effort according to those same guidelines?

If you can already play the game however you please, what's the point of any of the information? What value is there in writing all these books, if players are just going to take the data and warp it however they see fit?

To dismiss the fact that the gender and sexuality of a character is clearly stated and accounted for in the character sheet is to ignore that the mere EXISTENCE of a character sheet is utterly unnecessary according to this same logic. It's an acknowledgement. It's there for the same reason that your sheets remind you of your RACE and NAME. Thoroughness.

The value of all data to the core of D&D is in its consistency and thoroughness. This is just another layer of thoroughness, with the added benefit of informing outsiders and reminding seasoned players that there are actual PEOPLE writing these rules and they are acknowledging the diverse body of players in an official capacity.

I don't see the point in pandering nobody stopped you from playing a gay wizard if you wanted or a lesbian bearded transsexual dwarf, it's kind of sad if you need a line on a bit of paper marked gender to play the character you want.

Meanwhile in Exalted has the dominant culture with a social norm that you are supposed to sleep around with your friends, coworkers and superiors in order to not be seen as prude. Gender not relevant. One of the setting's primary deities changes sex at will, the game has rules for getting pregnant in a gender bent state. One of the city states have strict gender norms but simple juridical sex change due to the argument "the gods make mistakes at times".

As a bisexual ladyboy, colour me not impressed. White Wolf is far ahead of this. And Pathfinder manages to do the same thing without proclaiming "Lookie guys! We ALLOW your characters to be gay now!". Seriously, I remember an official male fighter-wizard couple and a transgendered masculine barbarian.

DnD is usually a spring board, for a lot of people it's: "My first RPG" and as a result they may feel restricted to archetypes they are used too. Not out of any sense of malice to the players from the game makers, but because they think that's how roleplaying is meant to be.

Just because those of us with a decade plus of roleplaying experience have already taken this and just assumed it as a part of the game. Doesn't mean new players will and that's what this is targeting, new players, it's stating that it doesn't matter who you are or what you want to be, you can be anything... and by anything we don't just mean: GYGAX! the level 32 warrior mage with a +5 mace of killing folks with fire... you can be GYGAX! the level 32 warrior mage with a +5 mace of killing folks with fire and you can play him as gay/bi/whatever you want, that as a character, they can be an extension of you and not just what you think the setting dictates they should be.

It's easy to be flippant about it and say other systems already do this, but when it comes down to brass tacks, this change isn't for us... it's for that new player who might be awkward, fumbling, may have only glanced at the core books and not realised; their barbarian doesn't always have to Conan, not all Dwarves are Gimli, every Elf isn't a pointy eared bow twanger and their Mage doesn't always have to be Raistlin.

And for those saying: "I don't see the point in pandering" well... is there a point in not pandering? Pandering opens the books up to new markets and demographics, at the end of the day (I like to think) most roleplayers are a progressive lot and this... hell it's not even a mechanical change... just this piece of information, helps bring people who may not have otherwise played into the fold. So yes, whilst you could say it's pandering and pointless, there is also no real reason not to include it, it's not like FATAL it isn't some grand mechanical feature... it's a roleplaying tip and oft times, new players need all the help they can get with those.

PhantomEcho:
First: Not everyone will have actually CONSIDERED that they could create any kind of character they so pleased.

That just makes it sound like it's their fault. This isn't even a matter of Wizards adding LGBT labels to an existing sheet, there was no spot on the sheet for these qualities - cisgendered or heterosexual. DnD sheets didn't bother including them because it didn't discriminate on a character's ability to be an adventurer based on these qualities. How such a non-discriminatory attitude that's persisted for decades be seen as the opposite is to ignore the definition and intent completely. Asking to be especially acknowledged when other groups aren't isn't a move for equality, it's pushing for special treatment.

PhantomEcho:
Second: D&D is a game of numbers and information, and that information plays a crucial role to the game.

The game doesn't care about player eye or hair color either, partially because some races all have the same eye color, and/or no hair, but also because it doesn't matter. It's not important to the mechanics so it isn't normally recorded - players are free to write in their own description, or hell, just show up with art of their own character, but it didn't change the game, just like it isn't now. Also, names are recorded in case a GM forgets and race actually does have important abilities/bonuses/penalties, you can't argue they're as superfluous as gender/sexual identity.

UberPubert:

PhantomEcho:
Second: D&D is a game of numbers and information, and that information plays a crucial role to the game.

The game doesn't care about player eye or hair color either, partially because some races all have the same eye color, and/or no hair, but also because it doesn't matter. It's not important to the mechanics so it isn't normally recorded - players are free to write in their own description, or hell, just show up with art of their own character, but it didn't change the game, just like it isn't now. Also, names are recorded in case a GM forgets and race actually does have important abilities/bonuses/penalties, you can't argue they're as superfluous as gender/sexual identity.

I don't mean to be rude to your GM, but if your characters appearence weren't taken into context in certain situations, then he was a pretty lousy GM. Often my GM's would have appearance play a factor "Oh, so you want to be an Elf ranger with glowing silver eyes and shimmering white hair... good luck tracking shit at night, fool." Oft times it's of no importance other times it can greatly effect the outcome of something: "Oh, this Dwarf is wanted," can become "This dwarf with a specific scar that looks like yours is wanted," little details that can seemingly have no effect on a game can often have more results than you'd think.

Including things like gender and sexual identity can be just as important as any distinguishing physical traits you give your character and if you don't believe me on that, just ask anyone who's Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay GM threw them up against a Slaaneshi cult.

Rellik San:
I don't mean to be rude to your GM, but if your characters appearence weren't taken into context in certain situations, then he was a pretty lousy GM. Often my GM's would have appearance play a factor "Oh, so you want to be an Elf ranger with glowing silver eyes and shimmering white hair... good luck tracking shit at night, fool."

Can normal elves even have that? It sounds like he's some kind of planar half-breed like an Aasimar. And what does it matter if his eyes glow? Are you implying he blinds himself with his own ocular radiance?

Rellik San:
Oft times it's of no importance other times it can greatly effect the outcome of something: "Oh, this Dwarf is wanted," can become "This dwarf with a specific scar that looks like yours is wanted," little details that can seemingly have no effect on a game can often have more results than you'd think.

Of course a character's appearance can mean something when you're trying to describe it, but seeing as how the mechanical effects on appearance is limited it tends not to come up. I once made a half-orc barbarian (stereotype of stereotypes, eh?) but I figured I'd have a difficult time getting work if he looked like a savage and made it clear he'd gone to great lengths to clean himself up to look like a more reliable mercenary. It was acknowledged and that was pretty much the end of it, barring a few side comments about "the dressed-up orc".

Rellik San:
Including things like gender and sexual identity can be just as important as any distinguishing physical traits you give your character and if you don't believe me on that, just ask anyone who's Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay GM threw them up against a Slaaneshi cult.

Are Slaaneshi cult encounters really that common, though? I'll make it more general: Are characters regularly expected to be having sex or being sexually attracted to others, or having others sexually attracted to them? In my experience, no. Typical RPGs are about adventure, and action - not sex or romantic relationships (running contrary to video game RPGs in that sector, I suppose). Most people I've encountered weren't fond of the idea of bringing the game to a halt for sexual encounters, part out of disinterest and also making members of the group a little uncomfortable if they're not really close friends.

Which isn't for me to say that other groups aren't supposed to do that, but if they do, would it be such a great stretch to assume they'd feel comfortable making note of their character's gender/sex identity beforehand? Or at the very least, not be made to feel uncomfortable by the game not specifically including it?

UberPubert:
Can normal elves even have that? It sounds like he's some kind of planar half-breed like an Aasimar. And what does it matter if his eyes glow? Are you implying he blinds himself with his own ocular radiance?

Well anything theoretically could make his or her eyes glow (magic items, spell buff, etc.), I'm implying that as a ranger, it would make their stealth abilities somewhat inoperable.

UberPubert:
Of course a character's appearance can mean something when you're trying to describe it, but seeing as how the mechanical effects on appearance is limited it tends not to come up. I once made a half-orc barbarian (stereotype of stereotypes, eh?) but I figured I'd have a difficult time getting work if he looked like a savage and made it clear he'd gone to great lengths to clean himself up to look like a more reliable mercenary. It was acknowledged and that was pretty much the end of it, barring a few side comments about "the dressed-up orc".

Which is fair enough, mechanically it can serve little point... then again "I'm an 8' tall warrior built like a barn," probably would have negative effects on your ability to tunnel fight, description can be as effective or passive as the DM chooses.

UberPubert:
Are Slaaneshi cult encounters really that common, though? I'll make it more general: Are characters regularly expected to be having sex or being sexually attracted to others, or having others sexually attracted to them? In my experience, no. Typical RPGs are about adventure, and action - not sex or romantic relationships (running contrary to video game RPGs in that sector, I suppose). Most people I've encountered weren't fond of the idea of bringing the game to a halt for sexual encounters, part out of disinterest and also making members of the group a little uncomfortable if they're not really close friends.

Slaaneshi cults are as likely as cults of the other 3 chaos gods, each god represents something so you have Tzeentch (corruption and change), Khorne (War and Bloodlust), Nurgle (Pestilence and bile) and Slaanesh (Temptations and perversion). All of whom in the Warhammer universe are quite likely to be ran into. Slaanesh is of particular importance if you have elves or an elf heavy campaign, of course that's not say Slaanesh will always play on sexual desire, there are other temptations for sure, but sexual deviancy is ever so a favourite of that perverted he/she (Gender ambiguity doesn't even begin to cover Slaanesh, all things and none of them at all times) and the followers there of. I mean of course a good GM won't dwell on the stickier details, but trying to tempt someone through roleplay is a possibility and having information about such things is an important factor when trying to set up whatever fate will befall them, knowing if it's the bar wench succubus, or a stable hand incubus that's needed makes the difference.

UberPubert:
Which isn't for me to say that other groups aren't supposed to do that, but if they do, would it be such a great stretch to assume they'd feel comfortable making note of their character's gender/sex identity beforehand? Or at the very least, not be made to feel uncomfortable by the game not specifically including it?

At the end of the day, it's upto the players and GM's to play however they want and use and throw away whatever rules don't make sense to them. As a result I wouldn't even like to guess what players in a wide ranging hobby like this would feel about it, but if you and your group don't like it, fine, no one's forcing you to use it, just do what you think is best for your group. But with that in mind, just because broaching the (or any subject, i.e. the holocaust) subject is something you're uncomfortable with doesn't mean other groups are too, so why there is the resistance to a tiny paragraph in the book or people basically telling others: "Well if you include that, you're playing it wrong" (before we go there, I know you're not saying that in the least), I'll never know, it's a fantastical game with fantastical adventures and if some like those to get sexy, if some use it to adjust reaction bonuses (oh look a mechanical effect it COULD have on the game) then so be it.

Rellik San:
Well anything theoretically could make his or her eyes glow (magic items, spell buff, etc.), I'm implying that as a ranger, it would make their stealth abilities somewhat inoperable.

There's certain spells that can alter a character's appearance for sure, but their use is limited to the point where I'd hesitate to call their effects a feature of a character's regular appearance.

Rellik San:
Which is fair enough, mechanically it can serve little point... then again "I'm an 8' tall warrior built like a barn," probably would have negative effects on your ability to tunnel fight, description can be as effective or passive as the DM chooses.

Mechanically speaking size categories and their various bonuses and penalties are supposed to cover abnormally large creatures, and as far as core races go even half-orcs only get as big as 6'10".

My only point here being that - working within the regular restrictions placed on races during character creation - appearances and similar character features are only worth what players and GMs agree on. I'll concede exceptions may occur based on setting (Since you appear familiar with the subject, compare a dnd dwarf without a beard, who would be nothing special, to a warhammer dwarf without a beard, who would be someone typically disgraced or outcast in dwarven society) but these rarely reflect the views of the people creating the game, and I doubt they mean to discourage anyone from creating characters who are atypical of what's depicted in the books.

Rellik San:
Slaaneshi cults are as likely as cults of the other 3 chaos gods, each god represents something so you have Tzeentch (corruption and change), Khorne (War and Bloodlust), Nurgle (Pestilence and bile) and Slaanesh (Temptations and perversion). All of whom in the Warhammer universe are quite likely to be ran into. Slaanesh is of particular importance if you have elves or an elf heavy campaign, of course that's not say Slaanesh will always play on sexual desire, there are other temptations for sure, but sexual deviancy is ever so a favourite of that perverted he/she (Gender ambiguity doesn't even begin to cover Slaanesh, all things and none of them at all times) and the followers there of. I mean of course a good GM won't dwell on the stickier details, but trying to tempt someone through roleplay is a possibility and having information about such things is an important factor when trying to set up whatever fate will befall them, knowing if it's the bar wench succubus, or a stable hand incubus that's needed makes the difference.

But a Warhammer party is just as likely to run into many other kinds of enemies (skaven, tomb kings, ogres, greenskins, lizardmen, chaos dwarfs, etc.) that make sexual (or even just social) encounters almost impossible. Slaanesh and their cultists make up a very small part of the universe and interacting with them through sexual temptations directed at the player is a very specific kind of encounter, and the same goes for the succubi of dnd. The GM has a plethora of substitutes at any given time, and while situations that can call for the player character's sexuality aren't implausible, I'd wager you could get along just fine without them.

Rellik San:
At the end of the day, it's upto the players and GM's to play however they want and use and throw away whatever rules don't make sense to them. As a result I wouldn't even like to guess what players in a wide ranging hobby like this would feel about it, but if you and your group don't like it, fine, no one's forcing you to use it, just do what you think is best for your group. But with that in mind, just because broaching the (or any subject, i.e. the holocaust) subject is something you're uncomfortable with doesn't mean other groups are too, so why there is the resistance to a tiny paragraph in the book or people basically telling others: "Well if you include that, you're playing it wrong" (before we go there, I know you're not saying that in the least), I'll never know, it's a fantastical game with fantastical adventures and if some like those to get sexy, if some use it to adjust reaction bonuses (oh look a mechanical effect it COULD have on the game) then so be it.

I think you've misunderstood me completely at this point so I'll just make a few clarifications.

First, I'm not uncomfortable with exploring sex or sexuality in RPGs (PnP or otherwise) but I do tend to fall into the former category of disinterest I mentioned earlier. It's just not why I play, I don't mean to criticize anyone who does, and it's not as if my group avoids it like the plague we just don't delve into it often.

Second, I have no issues approaching hard subjects like the holocaust (though, I wouldn't compare transgender/homosexuality in DnD to it) and I don't have a problem with anyone who does, I think anything should be able to be discussed or explored, even in the context of a game, or a joke - even if it's tasteless.

Finally, I'm not saying transgender/homosexuality doesn't belong, what I'm trying to explain is I don't think it was ever meant to not be there.

To me, the implication that this is a great big change from the norm of the freedom allowed in DnD also seems to imply that they are, or were at some point, transphopic/homophic, and didn't welcome those kinds of players. That they felt the need to address it, and that others are responding to it as if it's relevant, seems practically regressive.

To put it into perspective: Imagine if they came out with a new press release to confirm that their players could choose to have different skin colors other than white. Wouldn't that seem a little dated and out of place (especially in a game where you can play as a different species, let alone race)?

Harry Mason:
This is wonderful. Everyone saying that this is "pointless" is... Uh... Missing the point. But Jeremy Crawford hit the nail right on the head. This isn't about pandering (it's likely to piss more people off than it endears), and it's not that D&D barred those types of characters at any point before. It's looking those minorities in the eyes and saying "we see you, come sit at our table."

If that isn't beautiful I don't know what is.

Horseshit on a stick this isn't about pandering. This is a blatant panic move on the part of WotC to regain their massive amount of lost marketshare with the abortion that was 4th Ed. Rather than do something substantive they toss out a throwaway gesture as an attempt to lock in the LBGT market and gain SJW cred.

Seems like a big kerfuffle over nothing.
Whatever they said, the best reason for adding these is "This is an RPG about role playing. More options are better than less options."

All I know is that I could have picked "Motorcycle" for my gender in all my games so far, and nobody told me I couldn't. Point is, these options weren't restricted to begin with.

JSoup:
Seems like a big kerfuffle over nothing.
Whatever they said, the best reason for adding these is "This is an RPG about role playing. More options are better than less options."

That's the thing. It's not like any option was added. It's just "Oh by the way, you can do this too, and we'll pretend you couldn't so far, even if you could."

ravenshrike:

Harry Mason:
This is wonderful. Everyone saying that this is "pointless" is... Uh... Missing the point. But Jeremy Crawford hit the nail right on the head. This isn't about pandering (it's likely to piss more people off than it endears), and it's not that D&D barred those types of characters at any point before. It's looking those minorities in the eyes and saying "we see you, come sit at our table."

Horseshit on a stick this isn't about pandering. This is a blatant panic move on the part of WotC to regain their massive amount of lost marketshare with the abortion that was 4th Ed. Rather than do something substantive they toss out a throwaway gesture as an attempt to lock in the LBGT market and gain SJW cred.

Man, if you think that there is a financially substantial amount of geeks sitting around going, "I'm not sure about this new edition of D&D, but I think I'd be swayed by a marked acknowledgement of transgendered people," you probably love D&D because you're well equipped at living in a fantasy world (did you see the perfect set-up/execution of that joke? *high five*)

Attempting to make the game play like 2nd edition might reasonably be viewed as pandering. Having the Tiefling included as a base character race is pandering. Having the Warlock grandfathered in as a PHB class is pandering. Including a socially progressive sentiment in a game marketed at a culture that struggles with said sentiment... Well, if they're pandering, they're not doing a very good job.

If this good will gesture bothers you, I'd suggest taking a deeper look at why you feel that way. If you think that being welcoming towards more diverse players is somehow botched recompense for the failure of 4th edition, you may harbor some fundamental misunderstandings about the realities of both marketing and your feelings towards GLBTQ people. Also, Wizards is in no way panicked. They are making enough money to develop their own nation and private military off of this game either way. Throwing a bone to us queers is more likely to lose them money than earn fictional SJW (Single Japanese Women?) cash.

On the other hand, if you're just determined to hate 5th at all costs, I can't begrudge you that. 4th was bad enough to act at least a little unreasonable over. Because... I mean... Damn...

 

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