'One D&D' Takes 5E to New & Digital Places

The biggest news coming out of today's Wizards Presents is the announcement of One D&D, which includes the development of a new digital playspace, along with more information on the evolution of D&D.


One D&D Logo.png



Throughout 5th Edition the D&D team has talked about “the three pillars of D&D” being combat, role-play, and exploration. The One D&D initiative is borrowing that three pillar structure, only for One D&D the three pillars are:
  • An updated rule set that is still 5th edition but reorganized and with new character options
  • D&D Beyond as the base of its digital tools
  • A fully integrated playspace, which is currently in early development.

Fans have been speculating for awhile that WotC/Habro would buy Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, etc. so they could offer online play. That speculation increased after the purchase of D&D Beyond. Instead WotC is using Unreal Engine to create a fully integrated digital playspace so players and DMs don't have to cobble together solutions from multiple apps an digital tools.


Wizards Presents Key Art.jpg



The preview of the digital space utilizes a tile-shift camera to purposely make things look small, like miniatures on a table. This way it's a digital version of the view players have at a game table and can't be confused with a video game.

When an “evolution of D&D” was mentioned at D&D Celebration last year lots of people jumped to the assumption that they meant a 6th edition. Once again, the D&D team is refuting that idea and examples presented by Jeremy Crawford, Game Design Architect for D&D, at a press preview on August 16 make it clear that 5th edition is here to stay, just reorganized and with new options, and that the anniversary editions will be fully compatible with 5th Edition as we currently know it.

“We did a smart thing with 5th edition, by listening to fans,” said Chris Perkins, Game Design Architect for D&D, “and what came out of that process was a system that is stable, that is well loved, that incorporates the best elements of earlier editions. Now that we have that we are no longer in the position where we think of D&D as an edition.' It's just D&D.”

One example presented by Crawford involves the alternate method for character creation presented in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything where players assign the ability score bonuses as it fits their character concept instead of being stuck with how they were assigned in their character's race. In the first playtest package on character options, Crawford showed that it had been moved from character race to character background. They're testing giving character backgrounds a more significant component of character creation and one that can grow as the character does.

At they same time, they want players to create their own backgrounds, using the examples provided as a frame work. And as I predicted in my Spelljammer: Adventures in Space, review, it appears that getting a feat at first level as part of a background could become standard.

They're also considering feat levels and viewing them as class features that aren't tied to a class. To avoid the confusion of “wading through a forest of feats” as Crawford said, there will be a list of first level feats that are appropriate for beginning adventurers and still useful as they grow up in level.

The Alert feat has been re-imagined to be more useful to the group. It will still boost the character's initiative but additionally it will allow the character, at the start of combat, to swap initiative with one other player. The rationale is that the first person was so alert they were able to warn the other person so they could act quickly. The new Healer feat has a Battle Medic option to provide healing and the ability to reroll Healing rolls.

In addition to the existing Backgrounds, some new ones are also coming, like Guard. However, they really want players to make their own Backgrounds, with DM approval.


Guard background.PNG


Another example of changes they're considering that don't fundamentally change 5th is tweaks to the Tiefling. In addition to the infernal legacy already in the Player's Handbook, the playtest adds abyssal and chthonic.

Similarly, they're testing an expansion of the “choose your size” option fairies have in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse. Humans would also be able to choose between being small and medium to reflect the fact that some humans in the real world are small.

Another option being tested would be adding the Ardling, an upper plane equivalent to Tieflings. These would represent people with ancestors from the upper planes who are anthropomorphic animals. One thing Crawford said they've learned over the past several years is that players love animal-inspired humanoids like Tabaxi, Giff, and Tortles.


Ardling Slide 1.PNG



Ardling Slide 2.PNG



“The sort of change you're going to see isn't about taking anything away. It's much more about giving you more, giving you more options, more choices, more character types you can play, more spells you can cast. We're basically very happy with the game as it is today. We just want to build on that,” said Ray Winninger, Executive Producer of Dungeons & Dragons.

Speaking of spells, Crawford talked about how spell lists will be reorganized. Instead of picking a spell from the cleric list, you would be able to pick a spell from a divine magic list. , Spells would be categorized into lists for arcane, divine and primal magic. These categories have previously existed in story terms, but now, Crawford said, they're giving them more teeth.

Another focus is reorganizing material and integrating methods to help new players and DMs.

“One of my focuses, specifically, is the Dungeon Master's Guide. I'm going to make some structural changes to make it more friendly to new DMs,” said Perkins.

Playtesting starts today. Go to D&D Beyond to download the first playtest packet.
 
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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

However, they really want players to make their own Backgrounds, with DM approval.
They've been trying to get people to do this since the launch of 5E, and we still have a situation where even half the DMs on this board, who are some of the most expert/experienced DMs, still profoundly do not get that the DEFAULT is "Custom", that "Custom" should be normal, and the fixed backgrounds are merely examples. Sheesh even with the DMs I play with, one of them was like "Wait you're using a custom background, is that allowed?!" and I'm like "Sigh...".
 






Oofta

Legend
Not surprised that they're just doing some reorganization along with minor tweaks and not a major rewrite. There are some things [spin the wheel of random options, spin again when I get "index" because it's too obvious] they could give better examples and advice when it comes to CR and building encounters. There is no way to have a one size fits all, so they should talk about how to adjust for group and campaign style. It will never be perfect, but advice on how to adjust would be useful.

Maybe we'll see something slightly more drastic in play tests.
 


I like the expanded role of backgrounds and starting feat. It's a little bit of classic Traveller chargen (with the chance of death removed).

It's actually like, straight-up just Pathfinder 2E backgrounds: Add a Skill, ASI, and a Feat. Good system, but with how 5E feats work it'll be interesting to see how they balance it. Definitely means you could start making more marginal feats to have them be taken at the beginning, but there are some feats that are just absolutely better than others. It'll be interesting to see how they balance it.
 

We did a smart thing with 5th edition, by listening to fans,” said Chris Perkins, Game Design Architect for D&D, “and what came out of that process was a system that is stable, that is well loved, that incorporates the best elements of earlier editions. Now that we have that we are no longer in the position where we think of D&D as an edition.' It's just D&D.”

This bit of marketing hype-speak made my eyes roll. Microsoft once told me that Windows 10 would be the last edition of Windows, too.

Anyway, 5E is huge, popular, and old. It needs a revision badly and I’m glad WotC is moving that way. However, I must shoutout to EN Publishing’s Level Up: Advanced 5E, my preferred revision of 5E. WotC’s recent products have left me pessimistic about their future ones, but I look forward to seeing if maybe they can win me back.
 

beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
It's been my experience that backgrounds are forgotten by the third or fourth session unless it's specifically intertwined with the adventure. And even when it is, it's usually just one character, and the rest of the players pretty much forget about theirs.

A feat at level 1 is power creep IMHO.
 

It's been my experience that backgrounds are forgotten by the third or fourth session unless it's specifically intertwined with the adventure. And even when it is, it's usually just one character, and the rest of the players pretty much forget about theirs.

A feat at level 1 is power creep IMHO.

I mean, having a bit of power creep for level 1 characters is probably a good thing. More than that, it seems like they are going to do leveled feats, so having lower-level feats be automatically granted by backgrounds is a good way of assuring unique (initially) mechanical bonuses at the start of things. Their original idea of doing non-mechanical stuff was definitely an attempt at something, but I'm not sure it ever quite hit right.

Now we just have to hope that they balance feats in a good way. The example used above is Alert, which I'm guessing might change given that it's a fairly good feat in the current rules. But maybe the current feat is the sort of one they want to have available at first level. My interest is definitely piqued.
 

beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
I mean, having a bit of power creep for level 1 characters is probably a good thing. More than that, it seems like they are going to do leveled feats, so having lower-level feats be automatically granted by backgrounds is a good way of assuring unique (initially) mechanical bonuses at the start of things. Their original idea of doing non-mechanical stuff was definitely an attempt at something, but I'm not sure it ever quite hit right.

Now we just have to hope that they balance feats in a good way. The example used above is Alert, which I'm guessing might change given that it's a fairly good feat in the current rules. But maybe the current feat is the sort of one they want to have available at first level. My interest is definitely piqued.

If they are buffing PCs, they should buff the monsters to level the playing field.
 


Retreater

Legend
"Buy an already assembled adventure from us, get the components to break apart and make your own adventures."
So if you want a zombie in a homebrew adventure, you buy "Curse of Strahd" and get access to the zombie digital token. Then you can run Curse of Strahd or use the zombie in your own adventure.

"Customize your adventurer."
So you will get access to a character designer (kind of like HeroForge) and make a digital token (for I'm guessing like $20) so you can play D&D.
Will each character require you to buy your own token? Can you use a stand-in generic token? Are you going to have to pay per character sheet you use?

This hits me like the subscription and "microtransaction"-ing of D&D.

And those of you who complained that 4E was too much like an MMO - geez, it's literally a video game now.
 


If they are buffing PCs, they should buff the monsters to level the playing field.

It looks like they might well. They are taking away critical hits from monsters, but that could mean they will be buffing their damage more generally since they are going to have more consistent rolls. They said something along the lines of "Rechargeable attacks are criticals for monsters", so that probably gives you a good idea of what they are going for. I'd expect a lot more rechargable attacks and such.

And those of you who complained that 4E was too much like an MMO - geez, it's literally a video game now.

Had a really, really good belly-laugh at this.
 

Corinnguard

Adventurer
So, the Ardling is basically the celestial version of the Tiefling? Strange, the Assimar was pretty much supposed to be that technically. Then again, I know there are beast celestials and what not so the Ardling could represent those with the Assimar still being the Assimar.
The Aasimars have been the celestial counterpart of the Tieflings since 2e D&D came out with the Planescape setting. So I am not sure what this article is getting at by saying the Ardlings are being designed to fit that very role. However, considering that WoTC is also developing Abyssal and Cthonic variants of the Tieflings, maybe the Aasimars are getting the same treatment? If so, the Ardlings could be Aasimars of Guardinal origin. :)

Btw, WoTC is late to the table with regards to creating variants of the Tieflings and the Aasimars. Pathfinder 1st edition has 6 Aasimar heritages and 10 Tiefling heritages. :p
 


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