'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

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No such thing is present in the new UA.

This is a conclusion you are jumping to, not something present in the actual playtest document.

This isn’t a thing. ASI’s are chosen as the first step of making your background. Your character will have the same ability scores unless you choose otherwise.

Because some feats might be rewritten?

But you…can.

Literally the only difference that actually has any effect on a group is that one PC will have a level 1 feat. That’s it. So just, add level 1 feats to characters using older options. 🤷‍♂️

No. That isn’t what is happening.


Why are you “sorry”? Do you think people are upset about it?

I assure you, absolutely no one is bothered.

Shouldn't all businesses be worried about losing a customer? If I owned a business, I sure would.


I'm just going to throw out that my young nephews/nieces do a lot of socializing with each other and kids their age over VR. A lot of this digital stuff isn't aimed at us necessarily. I'd be surprised if whatever they're doing for the VTT isn't eventually worked to allow for some sort of interaction in VR in the future.

I don't see anything about any of this that prohibits playing this "the traditional way". It's just expanding options and future proofing for how younger folks may want to get into playing the game.

SIDE-NOTE: I'm loving a lot of what they're proposing for the new not-new edition, especially the background and feat changes.

As someone who runs game groups for children, the biggest appeal to the game IMO is NOT having them using technology for something in their lives. I realize that they are just looking to expand their monetary footprint, as is there right as a business, but I think we are losing something greater. My games have no phones, no digital character sheets, no virtual tabletops....just a bunch of kids sitting around the table talking to each other. I realize that the game will still be able to played this way, but with more and more access to digital content, I think that is where most young people will lean, which will be a shame.


Staff member
And like fools, many will suckle at this new teat, and claim it's the best thing since sliced bread, and they don't know how they ever lived without it. We call them "suck ups" or "consumer zombies."
Mod Note:

It’s perfectly fine to criticize the possible changes to the game, as well as the company & designers who may make those changes real. But when you start slinging insults around like this, you move from “Old Man Yelling at Clouds” into “Problematic Poster” territory.

Dial it back a bit. Thanks.

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

Honestly they should just make this the Aasimar, with Ardlings a side bar as a flavour variant for Planestouched races like Tieflings, Aasimar, and Genasi.

It's not the community you're not aligned with, it's WoTC's desire to make more money on an older product.
One thing I heard mentioned was that "you can still use adventures from X years ago."

Before long, adventures will be treated like card sets in Magic: The Money Pit. If the adventure you want to play uses out-moded rules or cannot be adapted to the modern setup, you'll have to play it on a table, not their virtual scam setup.

I also took great offense at being labeled a "lazy DM" as they seem to believe most DM's are.
Having been a retailer back during the 4th Ed push, I sat and listened to WOTC roll out blather after blather about
stuff 'they' were doing to promote and build up the new edition. It mainly involved them doing things in Seattle, and there was NOTHING to help the retailers themselves. I sat there and wasted 6 minutes of my life listening to today's pablum pukers spew out the same type of garbage that I heard others spew with 4th Ed.

It's all part of the current mindset when someone takes over an established product. We see it in TV shows, movie franchises, books, and yes, even RPGs. The current team wants to make the product THEIR product. This isn't Gary and Dave's DnD, this is whomever the current generation of, as William Gaines once put it, "the usual gang of idiots."

Don't like it? Don't use it.

But don't be surprised in a year or two when none of this product will be available in a dead tree format.
Don't use electronics at the table? Learn to use it now, or else you'll be left behind, sucker!

I pity the generation that will be suckled on this new teat, for when the power is off or the Internet is down, they won't have two d6 to rub together and even know how to play on a tabletop.

And like fools, many will suckle at this new teat, and claim it's the best thing since sliced bread, and they don't know how they ever lived without it. We call them "suck ups" or "consumer zombies."
3rd Ed was the greatest thing since sliced bread until 4th came along, then that was the hot sh!t. Then 4th Ed was 'too simple' when 5th Ed was released, and now "One DnD" is going to be the ham-fisted hot buttered bob until they can't make any cash from it, and 6th ed will be introduced.

There is too much money selling paper books to go exclusive digital. People said MtG was just going to digital, but MtG still makes most of it's money for paper products. Digital's maybe 20% of MtG's income.

Much more likely is a greater focus on collectable versions of books, like limited editions all blinged out, gold edge pages, new art, etc..., new slipcases, etc...


Yay. Called it. WotC bringing out a dedicated DnD vtt. Yayyyy. Gonna ride that train as soon as I can.
You would think that with enough time, enough people would have been replaced and there might actually be a shot at getting such a thing to market.

But the ghost of Gleemax might never fully rest.


Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
It's just a code name, like D&D Next was.

And Level Up was.

I hope monsters at least do "something" on a 20, maybe each entry has one or two minor extra cool things.
It's a d20 game! Give the GM some joy at rolling one!

Too scary! Really???

Especially when non-lethal damage is so easy to impart in 5e that killing people is a conscious action by not just wanting to inflict non-lethal damage. If GM rolls a 20, make big damages and decides he wanted to do lethal with his wolf bite, instead of declaring "you're knocked out", its his choice.

And Level Up was.

Especially when non-lethal damage is so easy to impart in 5e that killing people is a conscious action by not just wanting to inflict non-lethal damage. If GM rolls a 20, make big damages and decides he wanted to do lethal with his wolf bite, instead of declaring "you're knocked out", its his choice.
Was thinking an a 20 the monster can do normal damage plus for example:
-Recharge a power.
-Add extra damage based on its Str mod.
-Get an extra attack.
-Cast a cantrip

That sort of thing.

It's all about volume. If they gain more customers than they lose, the ones they lose don't matter.
For businesses with small numbers of customers, or for businesses where the volume of business varies absolutely vastly between customers, losing a single customer can be significantly more of a concern.

However, the way WotC are operating you are definitely correct - it's primarily about volume, rather than whether you're losing customers. I do think WotC is increasingly trying to target customers who do more business even if they don't actually play the game more though, which is I think somewhat novel, because whilst it happened in previous eras of RPGs, I believe it was largely accidental, and there was no sacrificing of playability in order to push collectability, whereas I think the "three volume" format of Spelljammer and the upcoming Planescape shows a very clear and intentional decision to make a product that's significantly more attractive to collectors and lifestylers, but that is undeniably less usable as a result (c.f. even the more positive SJ reviews which have noted that it feels incomplete). For the same amount of costs to WotC, they could probably have dropped a 256+ page hardback (maybe even 320+ page) as 3x 64-page hardbacks + slip + tchotchkes. And to DMs and players that book would inevitably have had more utility. But could they have charged as much for it, i.e. had the same profit margin? Perhaps not. And would non-playing collectors/lifestylers been so keen on it? Nope.

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 Ardling is just a variant Aasimar, I suggest just making this the Aasimar and making animal headed options for Tieflings, Aasimar, and Genasi. I mean a Vulture headed (Vrock) Abyssal Tieflings, Insectiod headed Infernal Tieflings (Ice Devil, Cat Headed Infernal Tieflings (Hell Cats & Rakshasa), Jackal headed Cthonthic Tieflings (Arcanoloths), Salamander Headed Fire Genasi (Salamanders), Serpent headed Air Genasi (Thunder Serpent Primordial), etc...

There is no reason Ardlings fit Celestials more then Fiends and Elementals.

I mean how cool would a Goat headed Abyssal Tiefling looking like Occult Bahumet (not D&D Bahumet) be?

Will anyone support me on this issue come survey time?

halfling rogue

You would think that with enough time, enough people would have been replaced and there might actually be a shot at getting such a thing to market.

But the ghost of Gleemax might never fully rest.
I remember when the concept of Gleemax was first introduced and me and my buddies were so excited and talked through all the new possibilities...

Now whenever I think of online D&D I instantly think of Gleemax and don't get very excited about it...

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