There’s this refrain I’ve seen pop up a few times over the past few weeks that, while the first time seemed amusing, by the third there was clearly some gross misunderstanding going on at best or, at the other end of the spectrum, some downright purposeful falsehood being peddled to promote hostility and prejudice.
So here’s the thing:
NO, D&D did not remove all distinction between ‘races’ in the game.
NO, all ‘races’ are not now the same.
NO, the publisher was not forced/pressured/browbeat into doing this by some sort of morality warrior mob.
NO, the game hasn’t been ruined.
What has occurred is that the recent sourcebook (Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything) notes that the standard attribute score bonuses of the various races (species) speak to archetypes and gives the option for you to switch them around on your character, if you choose. Also, you can swap out languages and proficiencies for another.
Now, I’ve made the argument before that attribute bonuses are the most boring way to differentiate between different species, while also being sorely restricting to RP and flavour. So I’m quite happy that this change has been made, opening things up.
But for those who are making the argument that without these attribute bonuses all races within the game are now the same, what they’re saying is that for them, a +2 to Dex is a greater differentiator than being resistant to poison. Or being a construct that doesn’t breathe or sleep. Or innate magic. Or, you know, breathing fire.
Which, to editorialize for a moment, I find absolutely and hilariously ridiculous.
Besides providing a more prominent distinction between the different heritages, these kind of abilities are also far more exciting and meaningful in their use and how they shape the feel of the character’s lineage. Best of all, in sidelining attribute bonuses it also sidelines the potential for them to invoke or reinforce limiting and/or negative stereotypes, connotations, and contexts that can bleed beyond the game.
So I would invite those who are worried to set that aside and see that far from being a diminishment this is a flourishment instead.
And to those who say the game itself is under attack by a bunch of hysterical agitators, I would like to say that we all can see that it is, in actuality, you who has got your knickers all up in a twist.