Representation has proven to be one of the most important things that media can do. Whether it’s a TV series, a film, or even a video game, having a diverse cast not only normalizes different people, but also inspires and brightens the day of the consumer.
Once such game that has made a huge step in the right direction is Wizards of the Coast’s tabletop fantasy game. Dungeons & Dragons represents autism with new character, Asteria in their upcoming release of The Deck of Many Things.
Showing different ethnicities, religions, genders, sexualities and more is something that has taken a while to see in media. While some have done their best to be progressive, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to truly have the representation that we need.
What is Dungeons & Dragons?
Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy tabletop game where players are role-playing as various fictional characters as a team. One player typically takes on the role of Dungeon Master, or DM, while the other characters control their own fictional character. They work together in a group, or party, while the DM creates a story that the party has to navigate through.
D&D was first published in 1974 and is commonly known as the beginning of modern role-playing games. It has an exceptionally large fan-base and has recently been featured on the big screen with its own movie.
With each turn, the party must do various actions to move through the DM’s story. The action is verbally impersonated through the characters by the players while rolling die to see how well they succeed certain skills.
What is The Deck of Many Things?
There are several magical items in D&D, and the Deck of Many Things is one of them. This legendary item contains a number of cards with various effects. The deck can be found in a box or pouch that is made of ivory or vellum.
Most of the decks, about 75% of them have only thirteen cards, but the rest have twenty-two. Each card has its own effect, whether it’s obtaining jewelry or gems, gaining experience, receiving a rare magical weapon, or having a creature become your enemy.
While there are several perks to the deck, there are also some risks when pulling cards, so players have to be smart and prepared if they want to take that risk.
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Who is Asteria?
Even after decades, the game is still going strong. As Wizards of the Coast is closing out their 10-year run of the original 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons ruleset, they’re working on sending out several new books into the world soon.
And one of these books is coming in November known as The Book of Many Things. This product is accompanied with The Deck of Many Things and much more.
Like many of the modern releases from the team, it’s written from the perspective of a fictional character. Described as a “princess turned paladin”, Asteria is the first canonically autistic character added to the tabletop game, created by Makenzie De Armas.
According to Makenzie De Armas, the choice to make Asteria autistic was just a happy accident that evolved from an organic creative process. De Armas herself is autistic and was able to incorporate some of her own experiences into the character, for instance, how often Asteria hyper-focuses on some puzzles to the point of forgetting to eat.
In an interview with Polygon at Gen Con, De Armas states that it’s not “just a little ribbon that’s put under her character. It permeates all of her actions but doesn’t define her”.
Everything you Need to Know About The Book of Many Things
The Book of Many Things will be a 192-page hardcover book for players and Dungeon Masters that is inspired by the Deck.
There will also be an 80-page hardcover guidebook that showcases each card in the expanded deck to help integrate it into your campaign.
There will also be a sturdy custom box to store both the guidebook and the cards to make sure everything is pristine for each meeting. And lastly, you will have access to a digital copy for those that would rather keep the cards in a safe place, but still want to use them.
For those that have the option to preorder it and have Early Access beginning October 21, 2023, you will have an exclusive perk that includes a digital dice set, 10 frames and 4 backdrops.