Dungeons and Dragons has recently introduced a groundbreaking character named Asteria, who is now considered the first canonically autistic character in the history of the game. This significant addition is featured as a narrator in “The Book of Many Things,” which is a highly anticipated sourcebook inspired by the notorious Deck of Many Things.
Asteria, the warrior-princess gracing the cover of the book, holds the distinction of being the original creator of the Deck of Many Things. According to an interview with designer Makenzie De Armas, Asteria’s autism led her to rebel against her father’s strict expectations. Eventually, she formed a deep bond with Euryale the medusa, as they shared kindred spirits and Asteria’s inclination to avoid eye contact. This unbreakable connection, along with Asteria’s defiance of fate, played pivotal roles in the creation of the Deck of Many Things.
Asteria emerges as a formidable Paladin, with her Dungeons and Dragons stat block boasting a Challenge Rating of 18. Yet, it’s not just her strength that captivates players; it’s her relatable and grounded story. Despite achieving immortality through her defiance of the god of Fate and the Deck of Many Things, Asteria remains down-to-earth. Her struggles, such as using wax earplugs in battle, forgetting to eat, and experiencing overstimulation in intense situations, resonate deeply, especially with players who are on the autism spectrum.
Designer Makenzie De Armas, who herself is autistic, played a crucial role in shaping Asteria’s character. She was careful to ensure that the portrayal of this new Dungeons and Dragons character would not fall into the trap of being a stereotype. Asteria’s autism is depicted as an integral part of her identity, not as a punchline. De Armas clarified that while the term “autism” might not be explicitly mentioned in the text, it doesn’t diminish its significance.
In regards to editorial decisions, the choice was made not to explicitly label Asteria as autistic in the text. This was done to steer clear of reinforcing roleplaying stereotypes. De Armas expressed satisfaction with this approach, emphasizing that the character’s autism is unequivocally acknowledged, even if not explicitly stated in the text.
While the physical edition of “The Book of Many Things” has been delayed until November 14, the digital version will be available as of October 31. This allows eager players to delve into Asteria’s story and discover more about this remarkable character.