Over the past week, the TTRPG community was initially delighted at the return of TSR, the original creators of Dungeons & Dragons (DnD), and was left reeling at their subsequent comments regarding inclusion within the game. This is neither the platform to share those comments, nor do I want them here. And yet, we will continue to play.
As a long term player, I was introduced to the game many years ago by inclusive DMs* (who happened to also be my fellow computer science students… yes, that long ago!) who held no quarter with any form of discrimination and regularly discussed boundaries within storylines with their players. This enabled us to explore relationships and adventures in an environment where we knew without a shadow of doubt that we would never need to feel uncomfortable. After all, it’s just a game.
But it’s a game where you develop a strong bond with your character, particularly after many hours of developing their backstory and bonding with other players (and sometimes long running non player characters). It’s very similar to the bond an author forms when writing a novel over many months.
Having played since the 1990s and more recently voice acted in several DnD podcasts as a regular player character, I made the decision to combine my enjoyment of playing DnD with teaching and start a regular teen DnD club at our tuition centre. This is such a natural combination as the aspects of creative writing & maths are automatically built into every game and the sessions have become a regular social activity for a number of local teens.
So of course, when the comments from TSR came out this week my first reaction was to feel incredibly protective of the fantastic group that we’ve created and ensure that both parents and kids are aware that our table will continue to be fully inclusive. If you want to create a gender fluid tiefling that uses their appearance to increase their charisma, then roll for initiative! Because of all places, a game where a druid could become a fire breathing squirrel is no place to deny someone gender expression. **
A similar argument came about when wheelchair “battlechair” mounts were introduced to DnD in an attempt to make the game more inclusive to players with disabilities. The same response is just as appropriate now as it was then: making your table inclusive to others by allowing them representation doesn’t just benefit individuals.
So for now, our DnD table isn’t going anywhere because the players are what make our games amazing, not the creators who have been AWOL for decades.
If you’d like to join Holly at her weekly DnD group in West Sussex, or one of their online sessions you can book your space here.
*DM = Dungeon Master. The person guiding the story.
** within age & context appropriate boundaries