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D&D 5E book Encyclopedia steps away from fantasy tropes to present orc cultures that aren’t “inherently evil”

Along with other tools to create a campaign.

Visit worlds featuring diverse orcish cultures removed from harmful fantasy tropes using the Encyclopedia lore and toolbox book for Dungeons & Dragons 5E, currently on Kickstarter.

A 360-page book containing a variety of pre-made locations, non-player characters, plot hooks and items, the Encyclopedia provides dungeon masters with a collection of content to supplement an existing campaign for D&D 5E or to develop an entirely new one. Inside the roleplaying game book, DMs can find 15 different cities to use as the basis of an adventure, with these locations ranging from a hobgoblin pirate port to a necropolis metropolis, all designed to be used straight off the page.

Populating these cities are several diverse civilisations, with each having their own set of secrets to uncover and protagonists to challenge. Crucially, the Encyclopedia aims to “step away from the tropes of classic fantasy where orcs and other ‘greenskins’ are brutish and inherently evil”. Instead, the book offers DMs a selection of orcish cultures centred around concepts other than violence, such as the pacifistic civilisation of Iruul orcs or a culture of trading mogul hobgoblins.

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Four overall campaign settings are provided in the Encyclopedia, including the cosmopolitan location of Free City, Drakenbergen - a mountainous region containing volcanoes and vampiric strongholds - the frozen northern plains of Septentrion and Kaan, a collection of coastal city states. DMs can fill these places with enchanted items for their players to earn and discover during their adventures, such as gems they can attach to weapons and armour to give them benefits, as well as sheaths to contain particularly powerful swords and the like.

The Encyclopedia for D&D 5E was created by Studio Agate, a French publishing company responsible for releasing fantasy RPG settings such as Fateforge and Esteren, alongside the post-apocalyptic roleplaying game Vermine 2047.

The Kickstarter campaign for Encyclopedia follows a recent series of backlashes against Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast concerning the studio’s lacklustre response to criticisms made regarding the RPG’s depiction of race and the role it plays in the character creation process. Despite releasing a statement last year expressing a commitment to improving the depiction of race in D&D 5E, Wizards of the Coast has disappointed fans who were hoping for the studio to make more dramatic changes than the ones introduced in the Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything sourcebook.

Encyclopaedia D&D 5E orc artwork 2

Earlier this week, author Graeme Barber - a vocal critic of Wizards of the Coast’s previous lacklustre attempts to address racial issues in Dungeons & Dragons - detailed his experiences working with the studio to release his adventure in recent sourcebook Candlekeep Mysteries. Barber claimed that his adventure had been altered by Wizards of the Coast without his knowledge, reducing the story’s Yuan-ti community to “just being evil for evil’s sake” as well as using colonialist language to describe the Grippli people’s “primitive” way of life.

The Kickstarter campaign for Encyclopedia: Lore Book & Toolbox for D&D 5E is live until April 2nd, with a pledge of $40 (£30) getting backers a physical copy of the book set to arrive in July. Alternatively, a PDF version of the book - estimated to release next month - can be backed for $20 (£15).

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