On Tuesday, March 14th, Wizards of the Coast released another in their weekly vlog series about their co-flagship product, Dungeons & Dragons. This week, lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford talked about the beloved lords of the Underdark, the Drow. What was highlighted in the video for some, however, had to do more with comments made about the genderfluidity of the Elves and the Drow’s own view of gender and power.
According to the upcoming book, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, some Elves have the special ability to, once a day, change biological sexes, choosing male, female or “neither.” The Drow are traditionally a matriarchal society in the world of D&D, and the concept of genderfluidity, plus the blessings of the androgynous creator of the Elves, Corellon Larethian, is anthema to them. Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition has players choose the biological sex of their characters, but specifically states, that players should not feel required to conform to traditional binary roles. In fact, Elves are specifically allowed to be “androgynous” as a tribute to their creator.
Now, here’s a trigger warning for anyone who might be offended by the concept of a genderfluid or nonbinary character in Dungeons & Dragons. If you find the very concept that characters in a fantasy roleplaying game that has existed for over 40 years and just wrapped up its best-selling year ever can be as genderfluid or nonbinary as people in the real world troubling, well, better retreat to whatever creepy, dank, cheese-puff filled, citrus soda-stained hole you call a Safe Space.
In a game where half the character races (by the way, Pathfinder is going to get rid of that term in favor of “ancestry” so hold onto your butts) have “dark vision” and most of the character classes can conjure literal magic spells that tear the fabric of reality, not to mention the entire concept of dungeons and ruins littering the landscape, filled with impossible monsters and treasure just sitting there, waiting for some enterprising adventurer to sidle up and take a shot at them, this is the hill you choose to die on? This is the thing that you believe will “kill” D&D? I lived through the D&D Satanic scare of the 1980s and it survived Congressional inquiries and a shitty Tom Hanks movie. Genderfluid Elves are what destroys D&D?
How deluded must some neck-bearded grognards be to think that opening up this beloved fantasy game to more people is in any way a bad thing? The ghost of Gary Gygax isn’t going to swing down into your mom’s basement and force you to play a genderfluid Elf! No one is telling you that you have to change anything about your sad, isolated, pathetic, cave-dwelling life. What is being said is, “Hey, here’s a way that some more people can see themselves in the game we all love.” That’s it. If that is somehow an affront, I just don’t know what to say anymore. Dungeons & Dragons should be for everyone, but maybe the game has just left these people behind.
And, hey, before you get to it in the comments section, I’ll beat you to it. I’m a Social Justice Rogue, bitches.