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D&D 6th Edition Coming in 2024, Set to be ‘5.Woke’ Edition

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By Nelson Schneider - 07/24/22 at 06:05 PM CT

The MeltedJoystick Crew have been playing tabletop RPGs together on a very regular basis for decades, not including the unfortunate break we had to take when that annoying and useless activity known as “going to college” got in the way. Since August 2019, though, we’ve taken a break from our usual Dungeons & Dragons activities and went back to the simpler times of Milton Bradley’s HeroQuest board/role-playing game hybrid. As we draw close to the end of available, published HeroQuest content, most of us are greatly looking forward to going back to D&D 5th Edition, which we thoroughly enjoyed via a long, multi-part campaign in which we took a single party of player characters through the “Hoard of the Dragon Queen,” “Rise of Tiamat,” and “Out of the Abyss” official adventure modules.

As much as I love tabletop RPGs and consider them to be one of the core facets of my life, I don’t generally follow the news surrounding the industry all that closely, and haven’t spent much – if any – time on dedicated tabletop Internet communities since the now-defunct WebRPG’s DragonLance community was overrun with 5th Age fanbois in the early 2000s. Thus, when new information about DragonLance or D&D in general crosses my field of view, it tends to come as a complete surprise.

At the beginning of this month of July, 2022, Wizards of the Coast, the subsidiary of Hasbro which owns D&D and all of its related IPs after buying out the failing TSR via stock shenanigans in 1997, announced that the ‘Next Evolution’ of D&D was coming in 2024. While that’s still 2 years away, it’s interesting to take note that D&D 5th Edition was released in 2014, and thus with the upcoming 6th Edition, will have had a decade-long lifespan. Also interesting are the two key points Wizards of the Coast has highlighted about 6th Edition: First, that all of the changes in the new edition will be driven by community feedback, and second, that it will remain completely compatible with 5th Edition rules.

On one hand, the promise of ‘complete compatibility’ with the prior edition reminds me fondly of the revised printings of the 2nd Edition Black Cover manuals, which remained fully compatible with all previous 2nd Edition content, but were both expanded and clarified.

On the other hand, the basis of changes on ‘community’ feedback is worrying, because, as a part of the American corporate landscape and a dangling participle of Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast has been listening to some questionable feedback over the last few years.

In response to the Black Lives Matter riots of 2020, Wizards of the Coast released a Diversity Statement filled with all manner of Woke pandering and virtue signaling, including promises to retcon orcs, drow, and other ‘historically evil’ D&D races to be ‘less offensive,’ and to bring in diversity hires and sensitivity readers to ensure that no Zoomer snowflakes have to deal with microaggressions from Fantasy lore. This press release spawned nearly 100 pages of nauseating ‘conversation’ on the fringe-Left RPG community, RPG.net, in which craven Critical Theorists and Social Justice Warriors demanded that Wizards of the Coast go even further, likening dungeon delving – the core activity in many story-light D&D campaigns – to colonialism, noting that both Fantasy adventurers and European colonists ‘extract wealth’ from an ‘other group.’ Naturally, any and all voices of reason and diverse opinions outside of the One True Groupthink were moderated or banned.

Indeed, Wizards of the Coast has already gone further than makes me comfortable, editing and retconning all future printings of 9 different 5th Edition books, with these edits already in-place for the digital PDF equivalents. These changes include intrinsic racial traits for non-human people, with a huge number of changes regarding orcs specifically, since, apparently, Leftists can’t see an orc without immediately thinking, ‘Negro!’ which is, itself far more racist and ‘problematic’ than anything actually in D&D lore across the board. Of course, D&D isn’t the only victim, here, as Wizards of the Coast’s own Magic: the Gathering has been accused of racism and is losing a number of classic cards to the censor’s axe.

I actually first heard of these censorious shenanigans while listening to an episode of the Super Arrogant Brothers’ podcast, which came out with a more reasonable response to Wizards of the Coast’s 2020 Diversity Statement, demolishing the concept of orcs as ‘racist,’ and instead evoking the origin of the now-stock Fantasy race in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth setting, in which they represent the destructive forces of industrialization. Of course, orcs and drow aren’t alone in being considered ‘problematic,’ as the Woke aren’t content to push anti-racism (which is just racism with the polarity reversed) and Fourth Wave Feminism (the real-world incarnation of drow society’s totalitarian matriarchy, where men are treated as slaves at best, unnecessary at worst), but are violently opposed to other –isms, including ableism – specifically as it pertains to stigmas against people with mental health issues. Thus a number of bizarre, alien species of monster-people, who have always been characterized by mental quirks like paranoia or feelings of racial supremacy, now can’t be that way. Because it’s ableist to call-out a beholder for being paranoid?

Alas, it appears that Wizards of the Coast may be backsliding, again, as they did during the dark era of D&D 4th Edition, in which nearly everyone in the D&D community switched over to the Store Brand version of the game, Pathfinder, by Paizo Publishing. Unfortunately, this time around, Paizo has fallen into the same Woke trap, removing ‘race’ as a concept altogether from the 2nd Edition of their rules, and adding gender identity and pronouns to boot.

Bear in mind that, according to a truly progressive political figure, Andrew Yang, who has cited such statistics in his podcast, only 15% of people are on-board with Wokeness (and less than 5% like the weasel-word non-term ‘Latinx’). It’s not like these kinds of big, unnecessary changes are only upsetting the average Breitbart reader or Fox News watcher: The culture wars affect EVERYONE, and attacking the pop culture that most people use as a form of escapism to get away from such bull-Shiite truly hits below the belt.

Naturally, with the big corporations discovering that they can get away with murder if they virtue signal hard enough, they are creating the illusion that these kinds of changes are desirable and valuable. It seems that the only tabletop gaming voice out there willing to push back against Woke becoming the new status quo is the son of D&D’s original co-creator, Ernie Gygax Jr., who has re-acquired the TSR brand name and is vainly attempting to do CPR on its corpse, with a new campaign setting and rules set called GiantLands.

Honestly, the only ray of sunshine in this entire mess is that the Thought Police on the Left can’t erase ‘problematic’ lore from already-printed D&D manuals, nor can they erase it from the memories of long-time players, any more than the Right-Wing Thought Police could erase demons and devils from the game during the Satanic Panic of the ‘80s and ‘90s. More than ever, D&D is going to become something that lives primarily in the hearts and minds of the community, rather than in malleable books printed by spineless corporate overlords.

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