Dungeons & Dragons‘ upcoming release, The Book of Many Things, includes the TTRPG’s first canonically autistic character.
Per Polygon, Wizards of the Coast‘s next book delves into the mysterious nature of D&D’s famed The Deck of Many Things. The box set includes The Book of Many Things and the infamous deck, known for its chaotic nature that has yet to be explained in the official D&D lore. In the new volume, Wizards of the Coast introduces a new character as the apparent author of the book: Asteria, a “princess turned paladin” who happens to be autistic.
Creating D&D’s first autistic character
Makenzie De Armas, a designer on The Book of Many Things, revealed that Asteria’s autism came about organically. Part of the story sees the narrator befriend a Medusa, known for turning people into stone through eye contact. The team agreed a friendship with a Medusa would be difficult, but not if they didn’t make eye contact anyway.
De Armas, who is also autistic, took inspiration from her personal experiences when creating Asteria. The Book of Many Things deviates with side stories from Asteria throughout. These include her anger toward another character for destroying her fidget toy or forgetting to eat while hyper-fixating on a puzzle. As De Armas notes, the team wanted to make sure Asteria’s autism featured through her actions rather than defining her.
“It’s not just a little ribbon that’s put under her character,” De Armas explained. “It permeates all of her actions, but it doesn’t define her. She gets to express her love of other things beyond just I’m autistic, and it’s so rewarding to see her experiences and get to reflect her experiences through the notes and her story.”
The Deck of Many Things box set releases on November 14, 2023. Early access begins on October 31 with a physical and digital bundled purchased on Wizards of the Coast’s website.