Image Credit: Facebook.com/TheEdVerse
Ed Greenwood, the designer of the Dungeons & Dragons setting the Forgotten Realms, has weighed in on the controversy surrounding Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear‘s trans character.
The new expansion has infuriated many for its inclusion of the trans character Mizhena, whose inclusion led to the game’s writer Amber Scott being vilified online. Mizhena, an NPC who briefly mentions that she is transgender in an optional conversation the player can have with her, was held up as an example of the game’s publisher Beamdog “forcing their politics” into the series. Though many argued that they were not angered by the inclusion of the trans character, but rather the writing in this particular dialogue exchange, the sea of negative user reviews that flooded Steam, GOG and Metacritic contained heaps of thinly-veiled transphobia.
Now Greenwood, who is responsible for creating one of the most popular campaign settings in the entire D&D universe which the Baldur’s Gate series is set within, has revealed his thoughts on the ongoing controversy, saying: “Surely, if you can handle the basic notion of cross-species sex, having a full variety of gender roles should be something that doesn’t blow your mind.”
In a post on Facebook, Greenwood wrote:
“I am saddened by what I hear of the current kerfluffle raging about Siege of Dragonspear and the trans character Amber Scott designed and included in it.
Folks, the Realms have ALWAYS had characters (mortals and deities) who crossdressed, changed gender (and not just to sneak past guards in an adventure, by way of shapeshifting magic or illusions), were actively bisexual, and openly gay. How underscored this was by TSR and later Wizards varied over time, and was always softpedaled, because D&D wasn’t a sex game, and we generally don’t rub the reader’s nose in sex unless there’s a good in-story reason for it.
But even deities have changed gender, sometimes for good, and the servants of deities (Elminster, in ELMINSTER: THE MAKING OF A MAGE) have sometimes been forced by the deity to “spend time as the other” to learn what life is like.
So it has always been there, and is an integral part of the Realms. With that said, I’ve never met a gamer yet who doesn’t tinker with every adventure to “make it their own” at their own gaming table, so if trans, LGBT, or sexual matters at all don’t suit your tastes and needs in your gaming sessions, leave it out or change it.
But D&D has half-orcs, and half-dragons, and half-elves, and has magic items that specifically change gender, right there in the rules. Surely, if you can handle the basic notion of cross-SPECIES sex, having a full variety of gender roles should be something that doesn’t blow your mind. If it’s not for you, that’s fine. I hate wearing certain shades of yellow. But I don’t scream and yell at someone I see wearing those shades of yellow, and call them names, and threaten things. My right to dislike yellow applies to me; it doesn’t extend to others. Because somehow, through an incredible oversight on the part of the universe that still hasn’t been rectified, no one made me a god. (I’m still crushed.)”
The line of dialogue that caused the controversy.
In another post, he continued:
“And another thing: I have always felt HONOURED to have met, worked with, and enjoyed the work of so many talented women in all of my professional fields (library work has traditionally been dominated by females, gaming hasn’t, and fiction-writing was male-dominated when I was young, but has steadily shifted throughout my lifetime). Does Paul Jaquays becoming Jennell Jaquays rob his, now her, artwork or game design or prose of one iota of its richness and the enjoyment it gives me? NO! And how by the Nine flaming Hells does one human being made happier by being the gender they prefer to be lessen my own security, or happiness, or make my life the less?
The world has REAL problems, people. Telling someone else how to behave in bed (or dress, or what jobs they can hold down) isn’t one of them. Or shouldn’t be.”
So there you have it. The creator of the Forgotten Realms, the D&D universe which provides the basis of the lore for the entire Baldur’s Gate series, has now spoken out and said that the dialogue exchange between Mizhena and the player is not an odd anomaly for the series, and that he welcomes it. You can’t get much more cut and dried than that.