The creator of popular drow character Drizzt Do'Urden has spoken about changes to Dungeons & Dragons lore made to move the elf subrace away from racist tropes. Earlier today, Polygon posted an interview with novelist R.A. Salvatore about his upcoming novel Starlight Enclave. As ComicBook.com reported earlier this year, Starlight Enclave will introduce two new cultures of drow that have firmly rejected the teachings and influence of the spider demon goddess Lolth, thus reversing the drow's past depiction of being innately evil. During the interview, Salvatore noted that the drow, who have dark skin, needed to be updated because they inadvertently used racist tropes. "I did it because it's the right thing to do," Salvatore told Polygon. "It's an update that was greatly needed - for things that I didn't even know were a problem when I first wrote the books."
While Salvatore noted that he deliberately wanted to emphasize Drizzt's "otherness" as a member of the drow to build conflict between Drizzt and other characters who perceived him as violent or untrustworthy, he did not comprehend how Drizzt's blackness would contribute to how the audience viewed that trope. And while Salvatore noted that he's received plenty of positive feedback from fans about Drizzt's skin color, he also believed that the wider tropes associated with the drow needed to go away. "I can't tell you how many letters I've gotten over the years from people who have said 'Thank you for Drizzt,'" Salvatore said in the interview. "'I finally have someone who looks like me.' On the one hand, you have that. But on the other hand, if the drow are being portrayed as evil, that's a trop that has to go away, be buried under the deepest pit, and never brought out again. I was unaware of that. I admit it. I was oblivious."
The additions to drow lore were made after a high-level meeting Salvatore had with Wizards of the Coast several years ago, but Salvatore noted to Polygon that he willingly made the changes. "Nothing's being dictated to me," Salvatore said. " I am not retrofitting or retconning the drow. I am expanding the drow."
These changes also won't affect what happened in past Drizzt novels, nor are any changes being made to past books. "These aren't game books, they're novels," Salvatore said. "Novels are supposed to reflect the time period they were written in. There's no reason to [make any changes] because there's nothing in my early books philosophically that's different than who I am today. I'm just more aware of certain things in the books that became problematic. But philosophically, that's who I am. That's who I've always been. I just try to be better."
Be sure to check out Polygon's full interview with Salvatore here. Starlight Enclave will be released on August 3rd.