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Gender is an attribute of a character or other creature in Dungeons & Dragons.

Gender typically has no mechanical effect in Dungeons & Dragons, although throughout the game's history there have been a few exceptions.

Mechanics[]

Original D&D[]

In the original 1974 version of Dungeons & Dragons, no special rules are deployed for female characters. Male pronouns and terms are used throughout, such as the fighter class referred to as "Fighting-Man".

Dragon #3 (Oct 1976) introduced special rules for female characters, in an article titled Notes on Women & Magic — Bringing the Distaff Gamer into D&D.[1] Women have lower Strength scores (1d8+1d6 instead of 3d6, giving a range of 2-14 instead of 3-18), and a Beauty stat from 2-20 instead of Charisma. Women also have some unique class abilities and level titles.

In 2019, the issue's editor Tim Kask defended Notes on Women & Magic in the context of the time it was published, though admitted that it may appear sexist by modern standards. He describes it as what was then an earnest attempt at introducing female players to what was at that time an almost exclusively male hobby.[2]

AD&D 1st edition[]

In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, female characters have a lower maximum Strength score than their male counterparts.[3]

  Halfling Gnome Elf Dwarf Half-elf Human Half-orc
Male 17 18/50 18/75 18/99 18/90 18/00 18/99
Female 14 15 16 17 17 18/50 18/75

Gary Gygax would later admit that such a rule was unnecessary. In 2004 he stated:[4]

That said, I never enforced the rule in my own game, for the milieu is fantasy, and given that, why have a physical power barrier when there are no others? If any player, male or female, wants to have a female character that is as strong as any male, there is no reason not to allow that.

In 2005, Gygax expounded on the issue:[5]

Why I decided on realism in regards to male/female strength is beyond me. After all in a fantasy game that doesn't make a great deal of sense. I suppose I just wasn't thinking the matter through in regards the genre. I do not have such differentiations in the Lejendary Adventure game."
"As for the actual difference between males and females, I am quite comfortable with the limits I placed in the book...unless steroids are taken into account. Males have some 30% more muscle mass, IIRR, and they are taller and heavier than females. All of that matters in combat.

AD&D 2nd edition[]

From AD&D 2nd edition onward, female player characters have no mechanical advantage or disadvantage. The only significant difference is in the typical range of character weight and height, along with minor descriptive qualities such as the presence or absence of facial hair.

The AD&D 2nd edition rules exclusively use the male pronoun throughout the game rules, such as referring to the Dungeon Master as "he". The Player's Handbook (2e) (1989) defends this decision:[6]

"The male pronoun (he, him, his) is used exclusively throughout the second edition of the AD&D game rules. We hope this won't be construed by anyone to be an attempt to exclude females from the game or imply their exclusion. Centuries of use have neutered the male pronoun. In written material it is clear, concise, and familiar. Nothing else is."

D&D 3rd edition[]

As before, gender confers no mechanical advantage or disadvantage in D&D.

The D&D 3e core rulebooks vary between the male and female pronoun when referring to players and characters. When referring to characters of one of the core classes, the pronoun is chosen based on the iconic sample character. The barbarian, bard, cleric, fighter, ranger, and sorcerer are usually referred to using male pronouns, while the druid, monk, paladin, rogue and wizard are referred to using female pronouns.

D&D 4th edition[]

As before, gender confers no mechanical advantage or disadvantage in D&D. The term "he or she" is frequently used to refer to characters.

D&D 5th edition[]

As before, gender confers no mechanical advantage or disadvantage in D&D. D&D 5th edition's Player's Handbook, p.121 states:

You can play a male or female character without gaining any special benefits or hindrances.

The term "he or she" is often used to refer to characters or players.

The Player's Handbook includes a section inviting players to think about their character's sex, gender and sexual orientation in non-binary terms, as part of an effort towards making the game's culture more inclusive and diverse.

References[]

  1. Notes on Women & Magic, Dragon #3 (Oct 1976), p.7-10.
  2. Curmudgeon in the Cellar #95, 6m 05s.
  3. Players Handbook (1e) (1978), p.9.
  4. Q&A with Gary Gygax, page 106. ENWorld, Mar 28, 2004.
  5. Q&A with Gary Gygax, page 136. ENWorld, Feb 23, 2005.
  6. Player's Handbook (2e) (1989), p.8.
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