5e Spelljammer: Adventures in Space is raising concerns about insensitivity
By now most Dungeons and Dragons fans have heard about the Spelljammer 5e Hadozee Controversy. After backlash from fans, Wizards of the Coast removed the backstory in question and released a statement. How did we get here and what do we do now?
After Spelljammer: Adventures in Space was released many players pointed out historical racism tropes in the Hadozee race backstory. In the pages of the Astral Adventurer’s Guide, the Hazodee’s origin includes themes of captivity, slavery, and colonization. WotC doesn’t want problematic game statistics or guttural moans when we create characters.
Many Dungeons & Dragons fans found the Hadozee to be immediately problematic. From Twitter to Youtube there have been multiple claims that the Hadozee backstory mirrors real-world historical racism.
Many Dungeon Masters conflicted with The World’s Greatest Roleplaying Game
The Hadozee was introduced in the Second Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Their culture focused mainly on the present and they are described as sailors of space, sea, and beyond. In 2e they gave no mind to ethics and stayed focused on the tasks and chores at hand. The emphasis is on their combat rules and use of magic items NOT their lore or origins.
In Spelljammer for the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the Hadozee backstory expanded further than in past editions. The Hadozee lore in the Astral Adventurer’s Guide states that the Hadozee were formerly animals until Wizards captured and enslaved them. The Wizards conducted experiments on them which altered the Hadozee into an intelligent army. This alteration opened the door for the Wizards to sell the Hadozee to the highest bidder.
Players argued that a race being enslaved, experimented on, and sold to the highest bidder screams racism. Many players pointed out that the 5e Hadozee origins mirror the historical transatlantic slave trade.
Wizards of the Coast LLC has worked hard to build a reputation for encouraging diversity and inclusion in its games. WotC has a track record of acknowledging culturally insensitive material and making changes to accommodate it. This action includes a content warning in older Dungeons & Dragons books that explore ethnic, racial, and gender prejudices.
Spelljammer: Adventures in Space hit shelves on August 16, 2022, and includes the Hadozee player characters.
Addressing change in the Astral Adventurer’s Guide and Beyond
Wizards of the Coast LLC officially addressed the criticism with a statement on September 2, 2022. It reads:
“We wanted to acknowledge and own the inclusion of offensive material within our recent Spelljammer: Adventures in Space content. We failed you, our players, and our fans, and we are truly sorry.
The campaign includes a people called Hadozee which first appeared in 1982. Regrettably, not all portions of the content relating to the Hadozee were properly vetted before appearing in our most recent release. As we continue to learn and grow through every situation, we recognize that to live our values, we have to do better.
Throughout the 50-year history of Dungeons & Dragons, some of the characters in the game have been monstrous and evil, using descriptions that are painfully reminiscent of how real-world groups have been and continue to be denigrated. We understand the urgency of changing how we work to better ensure a more inclusive game.
Effective immediately, we will remove the offensive content about Hadozee in our digital versions – and these will no longer be in future reprints of the book. Our priority is to make things right when we make mistakes. In addition, we’ve initiated a thorough internal review of the situation and will take the necessary actions as a result of that review.
We are eternally grateful for the ongoing dialog with the D&D community, and we look forward to introducing new, engaging, and inclusive content to D&D for generations to come. D&D teaches that diversity is strength, for only a diverse group of adventurers can overcome the many challenges a D&D story presents. In that spirit, we are making D&D as welcome and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.”
WotC and D&D Beyond build both an Adventure Location and a Functional Space Adventure
The Hadozee backstory is now different on D&D Beyond. Wizards of the Coast removed two paragraphs from the digital version of Spelljammer: Adventures in Space to be exact along with a paragraph describing the Hadozee’s “Glide” ability.
This response from Wizards of the Coast is in line with their stated mission of bringing more diversity to Dungeons & Dragons. It also shines a light on the push to avoid tropes that mirror real-world acts that many players find disturbing and unnecessary to the game.
Wizards of the Coast and D&D Beyond commenting on and removing portions of the Hadozee backstory so quickly highlights a shift from previous editions. Historically, Wizards of the Coast addressed such changes before a new print run of a sourcebook or rulebook. With Wizards of the Coast and D&D Beyond merging there is now a swift and clear approach to updating content. This move sets a precedent that the company can now take quick action to make adjustments to the rules, play functions or remove problematic text from their official Dungeons & Dragons products.
D&D After the Spelljammer 5e Hadozee Controversy
This is a misstep for a company that prides itself on being at the forefront of diversity and inclusion.
Spelljammer is an amazing and original adventure. From Boo’s Astral Menagerie to Space combat in the astral plane there is a HUGE world to explore in the Spelljammer setting. There is much more to love than to hate. That’s for sure!
This is a footnote for this fantastic setting and many a Dungeon Master will hit the astral sea unfazed.
Are you playing Spelljammer 5e?
Will you be playing Splejammer in the future? Are you playing it now? Tell us what you think about the recent controversy or your adventures aboard the Spelljammer ships!
Spelljammer 5e expands beyond the Player’s Handbook, the Dungeon Master’s Guide, the Monster Manual, or even Tasha’s Cauldron. It is a unique setting with its own brand of magic, monsters, tools, and campaign worlds.
Don’t judge the Spelljammer campaign setting with its space-based character options and creative player races by THIS controversy. Keep an open mind and an adventurous spirit! Have faith as you power your ships toward the Spelljammer academy and explore the nearest Asteroid City!
What did you think of this article? Let us know in the comments!
While you’re here please check out some of our other Dungeons and Dragons articles!
LIKE THIS ONE – Dragonlance: A New War For Dungeons and Dragons 5e