At today’s Wizards Presents event, Wizards of the Coast announced that a major public playtest of Dungeons & Dragons, titled One D&D, would be held in the near future. The Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual will all be updated as part of this process. The official D&D digital toolset and virtual tabletop will also be released alongside this upgrade. The link opens in a new window.
The upcoming ruleset will be compatible with the existing D&D ruleset, 5th Edition (5E). These have been around since 2014 and are, statistically speaking, the ones you use. Don’t freak out; we saw this coming. This is not an extremely rare occurrence.
The new set of rules is not being referred to as D&D 6th Edition by Wizards of the Coast, but that is what it is. Players will refer to it as 6E or 5.5 if it doesn’t settle on a new name other than “One D&D.” I know that Wizards pushed for a long time to have 5E be referred to simply as “Dungeons & Dragons,” but that the community has always referred to it as “5th Edition” and that Wizards itself has just started using that name. The “One D&D” fad will eventually die out.
According to a press release from Dungeon Masters, “One D&D” is the working title for the next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons, which will feature “updated rules” that are “backward compatible with 5th Edition,” “D&D Beyond” as the platform for your D&D experience,” and “an early-in-development D&D digital play experience” that will provide “full immersion” and “rich 3D creation tools” for players and Dungeon Masters.
“D&D designer Chris Perkins said, “We did the right thing with 5th edition by listening to the fans, and what emerged from that process was a system that is stable, that is well-loved, that incorporates the best parts of past editions.” Now that we know that, we can stop thinking of D&D in terms of an edition. All this is is a game of Dungeons & Dragons.”
In their presentation, Wizards made it plain that they had no intention of “taking anything away from D&D gamers” or “altering that stuff you love.” As someone who has played Dungeons & Dragons since 3rd Edition, see its progress in D&D 3.5, then seen 4th Edition, and now 4E Essentials, I can confidently state that is going to be… half accurate, maybe.
This revision for the D&D 5th edition is the result of extensive testing and extensive development time. Over the past eight years, both the rules and the underlying idea of game design have undergone subtle changes. In addition, it will get some insight from the previous game patches.
However, will the thing you like best be altered in the final printing? Maybe. The first document introduces a significant change to the underlying rules, making a natural 20 always successful and a natural 1 always unsuccessful. According to Jeremy Crawford, D&D’s lead game designer, that adjustment was made because players generally followed that interpretation regardless of the canon.
Which is a welcome change if you’ve been here previously.
The first playtest focuses on Race and Background and presents a refined yet easily digestible version of the established principles. A new heavenly race with animal heads, the Ardlings, is also introduced as a counterpoint to the Tiefling. Additionally, it streamlines spellbooks into just three categories: Arcane, Divine, and Primal.
In addition, there are radical shifts: It would appear that critical hits are now reserved for player characters and not for NPCs. What a major deal! Of course, there will be those who dislike it.
One may say that this is the next logical step in the development of things. With the purchase of D&D Beyond, Wizards of the Coast has a unified system for distributing D&D digital content for the first time, including what appear to be “living rules updates” in the years leading up to the release of the next set of core rulebooks. (It’s also creating a legitimate 3D digital tabletop.)
You can’t blame us for being shocked to learn that this is still the case within Wizards of the Coast’s corporate culture, but it was always the intention with the 5th Edition.
Sign up for the One D&D public playtests at dndbeyond.com if you’re curious about the future of Dungeons & Dragons (opens in a new tab). The release dates for all of D&D’s upcoming products in 2023 have been confirmed as well, and yes, that does include Planescape.