Accessibility January 22, 2021
Latest Dungeons & Dragons book to feature its first wheelchair accessible dungeon
Candlekeep Mysteries, the next Dungeons & Dragons book published by Wizards of the Coast, will include the franchise’s first official adventure that is wheelchair accessible. Newz Hook interviewed Jennifer Kretchmer, the designer behind the accessible adventure.
Seventeen adventures from 19 different designers! There’s plenty to look forward to in Candlekeep Mysteries, the next Dungeons & Dragons book published by Wizards of the Coast.
The collection, to be published on 16 March, includes the franchise’s first official adventure that is wheelchair accessible.
Located in Washington, United States, Wizards of the Coast LLC, referred to as WotC, is an American publisher of games, mainly based on fantasy and science fiction. Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is a popular role-playing game. D&D allows every player to create their own character to play and the players can embark upon imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting. The game has won multiple awards and has been translated into many languages.
WotC embraces diversity with new book
Instead of a single campaign that takes characters through different levels, the collection of experiences in Candlekeep Mysteries are shorter and unconnected. Each adventure is designed to serve as a one-shot, which means it is to be completed in one or two sessions by a group of players. The themes of all the adventures are centred on books.
Many of the adventures have been written by adventure writers new to D&D.
“I got my start in D&D 35 years ago writing D&D adventures as a freelancer. The experience was very formative to me, and I’ll always like the short adventure format,” said Chris Perkins, D&D’s Principal Story Designer, at a press briefing over a video call. “So, when an opportunity came up to do a product that would allow me to work with a bunch of other people on doing very much the same thing, I jumped at the opportunity. I reached out to various, enormous talents—great people I’ve been wanting to work with and had done great work—who have been terrific graces in the D&D community—and I brought them together to each contribute.”
Among the designers at the press briefing was actor and producer Jennifer Kretchmer, who has designed the wheelchair accessible dungeon. An ambulatory wheelchair user, Kretchmer said it was important for her to make sure that her adventure was available to everyone.
I believe strongly that the stories we tell inform how we view the world, and the disabled community is vastly underrepresented and maligned in fiction. When the only representations out there cast us as villainous, infantilised, manipulative, or super-powered in a compensatory manner, it makes it difficult for disabled people to find any sort of representation that lets them be complex, nuanced, complete human beings, and lets that be normalised. – Jennifer Kretchmer, Actor & Producer
Accessibility in gaming is nothing new. The most iconic monsters in D&D, as Kretchmer points out, both fly or float and don’t require floors, much less stairs. “Accessibility features have been elements in real-world historical ruins since before Ancient Egypt, and wheelchairs have been in use in Ancient China and Greece since at least the 6th century”.
17 adventures featured
Candlekeep Mysteries, Kretchmer hopes, will help people realise how minor the adjustments to the wheelchair accessible dungeon are, making the point that people imagine accessibility in gaming to be much more complicated than it really is. Much like in the real world.
“I think that one of the most extraordinary things about storytelling is that we can create new worlds”, says Kretchmer , who created the Accessibility in Tabletop Resource Guide last year. This is a compilation of resources for anyone looking to address accessibility in gaming.
Here it is, friends. A massive compilation of resources, documents, tools, and more addressing accessibility in tabletop gaming, streaming, and life. I'm incredibly proud to share my Accessibility in Gaming Resource. https://t.co/uzCODeeYjL (1/)
— Jennifer Kretchmer (@dreamwisp) August 22, 2020
“While often these worlds revolve around monsters and epic battles, they also give us the chance to explore real-world issues and conflicts. We have the opportunity to make our fantasy better than our reality”.
In creating the guide, she hopes to provide a place where people can learn about disability, and find options to make games, events, and streams more inclusive and accessible.
“I hope it results in more and better disabled representation in media, more authentic representation, more accessible content, and more disabled creators making content, getting hired, and telling our stories. Access is a right, and I hope that my work moves the needle towards a more accessible, inclusive world”.
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