Frosthaven Is Rethinking Its Fantasy ‘Races’

Frosthaven Is Rethinking Its Fantasy ‘Races’

Gloomhaven sequel Frosthaven isn’t even out yet and it’s already tracking to be one of the biggest board games of the last decade, so it’s very cool seeing the way the game is going to taking a different approach to the way its “races” are depicted compared to more traditional fantasy storylines.

In a major update posted to the game’s Kickstarter page last week, creator Isaac Childres says the development team recently “brought James Mendez Hodes onto the Frosthaven team to do cultural consultant work”, which will involve “looking through all the narrative of Frosthaven and at all of the different cultures depicted within, and…making sure everything is internally consistent and that it isn’t co-opting any real-world terms or ideas that may be harmful to players or any real-world cultures.”

Dungeons & Dragons has been doing something similar recently, with the welcome changes basically revolving around the idea that some of the ideas and terms fantasy literature are based around are, in 2021, looking a little cooked. Stuff like using the word “race” at all, when it’s generally an inaccurate term to differentiate entirely different species, but then also doing stuff like applying generalised traits to every member of that “race”, which borders on mirroring the prejudices of real-world racism.

And it doesn’t even have to be overt, intentional racism. As Childres writes, some of his creations for Gloomhaven “hew dangerously close to very harmful stereotypes of real-world cultures, because of…my own unconscious biases.”

Childres stresses that none of this changes a single thing about how games like Frosthaven will play, they’re simply tweaks to the narrative of the game world and the way different characters and species are portrayed. Here’s another example of some of the types of changes they’ll be making (though these aren’t really changes, since the game isn’t out yet!):

If you look at the history of Frosthaven I wrote during the Kickstarter, you may notice the religiously fuelled colonialism vibes running rampant through it. This itself isn’t an issue. This is how the main human nation behaves in this fantasy reality. But I’ve since become uncomfortable with how the story written in that update forces the player to opt in and become complicit in this behaviour without choice. Some people may not be comfortable with that.

So we’ve shifted the story around so that Frosthaven is a separate entity that doesn’t want to, by default, take over by force a territory inhabited by other peoples. The story is still just as rich or richer than before, and certain individuals will still come in, recruiting you to advance the colonialist agendas of the capital, but now the player has agency in how the story plays out, which is always a good thing.

Everybody wins. Except for the select few pissbabies upset at this broadening of the game’s horizons, for whom Childres — like he did with anyone “who didn’t think black lives matter” after previous updates — is more than happy to offer a full refund to.


  • if you think fantasy races are allegories for real-life races that makes you the racist. Not the product.

    You are the one linking them with black people. You are the racist.

      • haha yeah i remember a year or 2 ago whenever there were articles coming out calling people racist for associating orcs with black people and i was like hol’ up… you just showing your own racism.

    • You really are the saddest, and stupidest, of bigots in our nation. And, as the article states, a goddamn pissbaby. It’s really hard to tell if you were once of average intelligence but demented yourself into being an utter moron due to your multitude of mental health problems, or whether you were just born this stupid and your rage at a world you don’t understand turned you into a frothing bigot.

      Anyway, time for you to rage into the void with your usual impotent GOTCHA response which you think I will read but I won’t – while I know you shit the bed when you read this, despite your brave denials 😉

        • Id also like to point out that worritos frothing at the mouth abusive comments rarely if ever get deleted.

          Worrito is one of the most abusive commentors on kotaku AU yet seems to be allowed to continue. One could draw the conclusion his abusive comments like above are endorsed by staff given they are rarely deleted or removed.

          • i would agree. but worrito posts infrequently enough to get away with it. its people like angora and mogwai that are the actual hateful people that need to be removed.

    • Fantasy is rife with lazy stereotypes and borrowed culture. It’s not a big secret. In this case, they are making an effort to try to disconnect the fantasy from that. Could be interesting.

      But you don’t like that because it implies racism exists in our non fantasy world, so you have leapt to this emotionally charged accusatory argument. You’re not really here for the debate, are you?

      • Again,

        If you are making links between fantasy races and real-world races you are the racist. Not the product.

        No one thought orcs represented black people until the wokies.

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