We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

DnD adventure reboot gender-swaps NPCs to be “more inclusive”

Wizards of the Coast’s new DnD book, Phandelver and Below, remasters the original 5e starter set adventure with inclusivity changes and streamlined plot hooks.

DnD book gender swap - Wizards of the Coast art of a blonde, smiling Wizard girl

An upcoming DnD book has swapped the genders and DnD races of several existing NPCs in an effort to be “more inclusive”, Wizards of the Coast has revealed. In an August 18 press event previewing D&D Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk, the DnD book‘s lead designer Amanda Hamon explains: “We made it more inclusive and more welcoming, and part of that was changing the gender of some of the NPCs”. “We also changed up the race of some of the characters in the town”, she adds.

Phandelver and Below is the next title on the DnD release schedule, launching on September 19. The 226-page adventure begins at level one, returning players to the setting and story of Lost Mines of Phandelver.

But after chapter five, the story continues – becoming a more challenging, more adult cosmic horror adventure that takes players all the way to level 12. Dark, mysterious obelisks (that have cropped up in several 5e adventures) are having grim effects on the town of Phandalin, and adventurers must travel to the Underdark to unearth a solution.

From the press event alone, it’s not clear how extensive the changes to NPCs are. Only one example was shown – new art reveals that Phandalin’s DnD Druid, Reidoth, is now a woman.

Other NPCs showcased other changes to Phandelver. For example, the merchant Linene Graywind has been given dedicated art for the first time. New characters to meet in the adventure were also shown – including helpful university student Gwyn Oresong and unlucky archaeologist, Rivibiddel.

Additionally, NPCs aren’t the only part of the adventure that has been tweaked. “We made some of the hooks more streamlined from a mechanical perspective”, Hamon says. Beginner-friendly language has been scaled back, and Hamon promises a version of Lost Mines of Phandelver that’s “more smooth and has more depth”.

Wizards of the Coast art of new DnD book characters Gwyn Oresong (left) and Rivibiddel (right)

Plus, there’s all that brand-new content in the final two-thirds of the book – including new DnD monsters and corruption mechanics that warp the familiar town of Phandalin. Plot hooks setting up the rest of the DnD campaign have also been woven into the original adventure. Hamon says the goal was to channel nostalgia for Phandelver while also offering fresh new 5e encounters.

“I think there was a strong desire from folks in the studio to preserve Lost Mines of Phandelver in a hardcover book – which was just a booklet in the starter set”, she says. “We wanted to preserve and update that adventure to have that longevity and staying power. My hope in doing that is creating an adventure that goes places people don’t expect.”

For more on the latest releases, check out our recent review of Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants – or our Baldur’s Gate 3 review for fans of digital D&D games.