Wizards of the Coast plans to remove half-elves and half-orcs from One DnD, its revised version of the Dungeons and Dragons ruleset, according to reports from the DnD creator summit.
“The ‘half’ construction is inherently racist, so we simply aren’t going to include it in the new Player’s Handbook,” said game designer Jeremy Crawford, according to the account of attendee Daniel Kwan. Crawford added that these options wouldn’t be included in new DnD books, however, because One DnD will be 5e-compatible, players will still be able to use the 2014 versions if they prefer.
The fact that no explanation was provided for the opinion that half-elves and half-orcs are “inherently racist” has led to some very different interpretations of the statement (and a chunk of controversy) on social media.
One DnD’s rules for “children of different humanoid kinds” were outlined months ago. In fact, this was covered early in the very first piece of playtest material released for One DnD. The ‘Character Origins’ Unearthed Arcana explained that all humanoid DnD races can have children with one another. It even referred explicitly to half-orcs and elves, adding that “folk who have a human parent and an orc or an elf parent are particularly common.”
So it seems likely to be the language or existing rules behind half-elves and orcs that the DnD designers find uncomfortable. We’ve reached out to Wizards of the Coast to try and get more clarification on this.
How fantasy biracial characters work in One DnD is fairly straightforward. You can “mix and match visual characteristics” as you like, then choose which race option provides your game traits: size, speed, and special traits (like dwarf’s stonesense and dragonborn’s breath weapons).