Since its release in 2014, Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition has received widespread attention from both experienced gamers and new players alike. This edition takes the jumble of rules and complex arithmetic that exists in previous editions and distills them into much simpler, streamlined mechanics. Given Wizard of the Coast’s new marketing model (which involved sending free player materials to game stores), as well as the creation of the Adventurers’ League, plus the growing trend in hobby gaming, D&D is being played by more players than ever before.
However, as the uncle to a certain skinny web-walker once said: “With great power comes great responsibility.” The gaming community has expanded rapidly and encompasses a wider variety of people than ever before, including the LGBTQ+ community.
Wizards has attempted to respond to the community a few times. But the attempts have ranged anywhere between unnoticed to insulting. JosephineMaria delves into this issue in her article: This is not the Gay Future I Imagined.
I played D&D 3rd edition in college, but put it down for many years since then. One day, a good friend told me that he had started playing again in a new edition. I asked if I could come and watch, and he brought me to his group. They were a super nice bunch of people, and after stalking them for three sessions, I purchased my own Player’s Handbook, made a character, and was allowed to join. We were playing the second hardcover book: Princes of the Apocalypse. I played a male paladin who was sworn against demons, but had never actually met one (and didn’t even know what they looked like). It was fun.
After we finished that book, the new Adventurers’ League season was about to begin and the group was going to run the new hardcover book: Out of the Abyss. By this point I had grown to know the group pretty well and we were all friends. I found out that they were very adamant about LGBTQ+ acceptance, and so I conceived to play a new character.
Moloch the wizard was born, but at level four, it was revealed that he was under the effects of a curse. Once the curse was lifted, he literally transformed into the female sorceress, Valerie. Val may have been a female on paper, but she spent so many years as Moloch that he never entirely left her, and she struggled with her identity as well as the demon lords in the Underdark. It seemed like many of the group had been on the same wavelength: another player character had no gender identity whatsoever and soon became Val’s best friend. Another character was trans, only revealing this fact during an intimate conversation after the characters had built much trust between them. It was with the help of these friends that Val was eventually better able to come to terms with both her male and female inclinations.
Even more important, my very good friend confessed to me, while we were hanging out one night, that they had been struggling with their gender. They had been too frightened to approach me with the information until I made Valerie, and told me that their own character, Farrera, was who they felt like inside. D&D gave my friend the outlet she needed to explore her own feelings, and I’m very happy to have helped her.
Queer content is important to a large number of people. It allows us an outlet where we can explore our own fantasies in an air of acceptance. However, it can be, and has been done, incorrectly. Meeting the female partner of a female innkeeper? Yes please. Forcing a party to “swap sexes” as some sort of cross-dressing parody challenge? No.
So, I propose to you: If we want more Queer Content…make it. Make queer characters. Write queer adventures. Share your experience online, in text, audio and video. Players, don’t be afraid to experiment with non-traditional characters. GMs, you are the single, most important person at the table: please be receptive and supportive of the stories your players want to tell.
Maybe, someday, “queer content” will just be “content.” Until then, let’s show them how it’s done.
Artemis V. is a writer, designer, and avid tabletop gamer. Also check out their blog, Gender Games.