Dungeons & Dragons introduces the first legally autistic character
The Deck of Many Things co-creator discusses putting a little of herself into the game
Wizards of the Coast concludes the original 10-year Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition rule set with a bang, sending several highly anticipated new books out into the world ahead of their planned revision in 2024. While Vandelver and below: the Shattered Obelisk And Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse Representing traditional splatbooks expanding globally, the company’s October release is something new for Wizards – a unique product based on a storied magical item called the Deck of Many Things.
the deck of many things The group looks more like a prop at first glance. Includes a deck of tarot-sized cards to represent the magical element itself, a fantastically powerful collection of spells and exotic magical items. But the boxed set also includes a book called Book many things. Like many recent releases of Team D&D, it is written from the perspective of a fictional character. Described as a “princess turned paladin,” Asteria, like Xanathar, Mordenkainen, and Tasha, is peppered throughout her book with comments, jokes, and other little embellishments intended to make reading enjoyable on its own. But the creation of this new character was a bit different than the ones that came before. That’s because Asteria is the first autistic character added to D&D.
deck of many things Includes a deluxe deck of tarot-sized cards inside a magnetic presentation box, as well Book many thingswhich can be used to interpret cards – and inspire Dungeon Masters.
Photo: Wizards of the Coast
According to designer Mackenzie de Armas, the choice to make Asteria autistic was the result of serendipity – a happy accident that developed from an organic creative process. The idea of friendship with Medusa is difficult, but, according to de Armas, it can be easy if someone doesn’t want to make eye contact.
De Armas herself is autistic, and has managed to incorporate many of her own experiences into the character. For example, there is text in the book that mentions Asteria’s excessive focus on the puzzle to the point of forgetting to eat, as well as hostility towards a certain character for breaking Asteria’s fidget toy.
Alternative cover art for Book many things It will only be available from your local play store.
Photo: Wizards of the Coast
“It’s not just a little bar that goes under her character,” de Armas told Polygon in an interview at this year’s Gen Con. It permeates all of her actions, but it does not define her identity. She has to express her love for other things, beyond mere I am autisticIt is very helpful to see her experiences and to reflect on her experiences through notes and her story.
An original creation credited to D&D co-creator Gary Gygax himself, Deck of Many Things debuted in 1975 Greyhook, which was not completely reimagined for the fifth edition. But more than just giving new life to an ancient artifact, launch deck of many things It is expected to appeal to many new players who are suddenly taking up this hobby. They represent a very different kind of community than the traditionally white, male, and neurotypical gamer base that, for many people, is the traditional image of a D&D gamer. Today D&D is much more welcoming to everyone – as noted by organizations such as Baltimore’s Child, The School Library Journal, and the Australian advocacy group Autism Indeed, all of which have explored the benefits role-playing at the table can provide for individuals with autism.
In 2021, Polygon published an article titled “How Autism Is Boosting My D&D,” in which author Meg Leach agreed:
Role-playing games such as D&D are valuable to neurologically diverse people because they add structure to a relatively unstructured and chaotic experience – social interaction. While the mission or dungeon crawl may seem somewhat overwhelming to the casual viewer, there is a subtle but solid narrative thread that connects the story. This thread is maintained by a set of rules that govern each scenario. Autistic people don’t have to worry about misunderstanding sarcasm because an insight scan can more or less reveal the intentions of the speaker.
This thinking is directly in line with de Armas’ own experiences with the hobby. She said when she started freelancing, she was told that D&D was in fact bad For people with autism because of the social aspect.
“I decided to be autistic because I wanted people to know that these people were wrong,” de Armas told Polygon. “This seems like a great next step to me, and to make this game truly reflective of all the amazing people who play it.”
De Armas’ significance lies in the way Asteria can find empowerment through, rather than despite, her neurotic diversity. Asteria is as capable as any of the other previous characters to appear in D&D books, and is just as capable of rolling the dice against a god or demon as anyone else.
“It aligns a lot with the idea of (the cards) being something you use to change and change destiny and challenging the perception of what a story should be. And that resonated a lot with my own journey with accepting what my identity meant and how people had perceptions of me and how I wanted to rewrite it.
to update: Shortly after our story was published, Wizards of the Coast reached out to let us know that Jason Tondro was the lead designer on deck of many things. We have modified the article accordingly.