Dungeons & Dragons 2024 - New core books, new evolution

The playtest for the new version has started with character options…


Someone summarized the changes so far:

Race Highlights:

  • Dwarves with limited use tremorsense. There seems to be a push towards giving more active abilities to races.
  • Tieflings decide on their fiendish legacy: Infernal, Abyssal, Chthonic, etc. These may provide you with damage resistances, cantrips, and other abilities.
  • Humans/Tieflings can choose to be medium or small-sized, since humans can be little, and certain fiends can be quite small.
  • Ardlings as a new race from three upper planes, to parallel Tieflings. Each has the face of an animal and will have limited flight via spectral wings. Players are still welcome to decide their own moral compass regardless of racial legacy.
  • Orc race, drawing much inspiration from the MotM Orc.
  • Emphasis that players can now embrace non-standard parent race combinations. Players can choose whatever visual appearance they want, but mechanics pull from one of the two.
  • Reversing the priority for backgrounds, emphasizing custom backgrounds first and then giving players some sample pre-gen backgrounds.
  • +2/+1 ability scores will now live in the character background, rather than the character race. pre-gen backgrounds will have these pre-selected, but with the emphasis on custom backgrounds, you are still welcome to pick your own.
  • Backgrounds still contain skill, tool, and language proficiencies, as well as some starting equipment. Equipment packages will all be the same value, once again emphasizing a reason to build your own.
  • “Culturally-encoded” elements are in general being moved to the backgrounds.
  • Emphasis that this is all designed to play well with Monsters of the Multiverse versions. PHB races are just “archetypal”.
  • Humans gain an inspiration at the end of a long rest.


  • All feats will have a level on it.
  • No first level feats will be “half feats”. They will focus on increasing player versatility. Feats with +1 ability score bonuses will still appear at higher levels.
  • Emphasis that feats should have clear functionality and value, especially when it comes to updating existing feats. For example: magical healers should also find a benefit from the Healer feat.
  • The new Alert feat will not only give you an initiative bonus, but will also let you swap initiatives with someone else in the party.
  • A new Musician feat that gives you musical instrument proficiencies and allows you to inspire PB number of allies per short/long rest. This is advantage-style inspiration, as opposed to Bardic-style inspiration.
  • Magic Initiate, FINALLY lets you use existing spell slots to cast any spells gained by this feat.

Spell Lists:

  • 3 new spell lists/tags: Arcane, Divine, and Primal. None are tied to classes, but instead tied to the source of your magic.
  • Loosely, Divine is drawing from the outer planes, Primal is drawing from the inner planes, and Arcane draws from the multiverse as a whole.
  • Feats or racial abilities may be tied to certain lists. Spells can be on multiple of these lists.
  • Classes will leverage these new lists in some way (but will not be strictly limited to spells on a single list). more to come in future UAs.


  • Updated inspiration rules not based solely on DM discretion. You may be able to get inspiration on a nat20 on any ability check, saving throw, or attack roll.
  • A player is limited to a single inspiration at a time, but you may be able to give this to another player.
  • As previously noted, Humans gain an inspiration at the end of a long rest.

Critical Hits/Fails:

  • Attack roll crits will be limited to attacks with a weapon or unarmed strike. Spells will no longer trigger crits. Emphasis on this being playtest to see if this better carves out a space for weapon-based characters.
  • Crits will be limited to the weapon dice, so any bonus dice may not be doubled.
  • Crits will also be limited to players only. Parallels are drawn to a monster’s recharge mechanic, so we may see a re-emphasis on recharge-based abilities.
  • Nat 1 and Nat 20s will now be an auto success/failure for ability checks and saving throws, since so many groups already homebrew this.

Other Info:

  • Revised conditions, including a dedicated “Slowed” condition.

Looking through the pdf myself, i just dont understand how this will be “backwards compatible” with previous stuff without any hacking.

This D&D One (or One D&D?) branding is interesting. We all remember that 5e was called D&D Next during the extensive playtesting phase. The new rules under construction here are all pretty close to 5e, especially after the last few rule book releases. Maybe you could call it 5.5e, maybe you could call it 6e, maybe you could just keep calling it 5e. (But not “Advanced 5e”, because Level Up Gaming is aiming at that unofficial name.)

Also interesting: the DnD Next playtest material as I remember, was just downloadable from the wizards dot com slash dnd website. Here, in an effort to increase brand synergy, Wizards is putting the playtest material behind their recently purchased D&D Beyond toolkit. So be sure to sign up for that if you want to peek at this new stuff, DeeAnDeers, the first taste is free!

Also also interesting: this look towards the future is released the same week as 5e’s Spelljammer is released to FLGSes and the same day they announce upcoming 5e Dragonlance and Planescape books. Looking towards the future by way of the past.

I love the idea of doing away with editions and ensuring backwards compatibility and the longevity of our purchases.

Between that stated intent and the upcoming shared physical/digital purchases, it should be easier to assist the players with updates.

One thing I loved in this morning’s livestream is the commercial for the Japanese release by WotC. It’s awesome.

Also, the stuff they announced about the Unreal Engine VTT they’re working on?

Looks good, but I’m sure it will be buggy and jank as shit at first.

And expensive.

Good summary video of the One D&D changes:

The new race is just straight-up furries:

Ardlings are supernal beings who are either
born on the Upper Planes or have one or more
ancestors who originated there. Their bright
souls shine with the light of immortal beings
who call the Upper Planes home.
An ardling has a head resembling that of an
animal, typically one with virtuous associations.
Depending on the animal, the ardling might also
have soft fur, downy feathers, or supple bare
skin. The ardling’s celestial legacy determines
the animal it resembles.
An ardling gains a measure of magical power
from their celestial legacy, as well as the ability
to manifest spectral wings. An ardling’s moral
and ethical outlook is self-determined, however,
not fixed by ancestry.

‘supple bare skin’

yeah. They just had to slide that in there.

Dean Pelton slides into the library, dressed in a dalmatian costume and carrying a two-handed sword. He addresses the study group:

“Hi gang! I’m the Pala-Dean!”

I’d probably stick to a character that was a Tolkien ripoff, but maybe it would be fun to play a Looney Tunes character every once in a while.

It’s always been cool to me how D&D is known, but not really played in Japan, while Call of Cthulhu is crazy popular.

Nice. That was a useful summary. Thanks!

All of this stuff arose from a larger WotC presentation on Magic and D&D today. I summarized the video itself for my friends.

ArmandoPenblade wrote on a Discord server earlier today. . .

WotC are naming their combined initiative going forward One D&D. Their focus is on doing even more to make it a welcoming space that invites all lovers of fantasy to play, while building on the successful 5E engine. As they describe it, it’s not taking things away: just adding more. Revisions of all three core books are forthcoming in 2024. All currently released supplements/adventures from the last decade will be playable with the new “evolution.”

With the D&DB purchase, digital/physical sourcebook bundles are now possible and planned on. The forthcoming Shadow of the Dragon Queen hardcover+digital bundle is $60, for reference. For now, they’re capping preorders on this, but you get immediate digital access via Beyond. Unclear if the bundles will continue to be sold after the physical release date. They’ve basically called this initial release a test of the bundling process. These aren’t compatible with existing bundle discounts directly on D&D Beyond; these are sold through the WotC store separately, with an access code for the Beyond digital content.

They’re working toward what they’re calling D&D Digital, an Unreal Engine-based 3D VTT. It’s using some funky camera controls to really amplify the “fiddling with minis” feel of the virtual space. Campaigns will include pre-made 3D maps and NPC tokens, but there will be robust mapmaking tools available, as well.

Much like the D&D Next process, there will be staged playtests of One D&D starting, well, today, of different elements of the game with lots of feedback-gathering and iteration. Initial playtest goes up at 3PM EST on dndbeyond.com. They plan at least a year of playtesting.

Some deets on the new Dragonlance adventure, Shadow of the Dragon Queen. Set during the War of the Lance, somehow in an as-of-yet unexplored corner of that that Weiss/Hickman never mined for #content before :slight_smile:. Kender playable ancestry. Lots of Feats and Backgrounds tied to the setting, like Knights of Solamnia. There’s also a tie-in boardgame, Warriors of Krynn, which can serve as an optional mass battle system.

Random extra D&D bits and bobs: Some big 35th anniversary stuff for Drizzt including new cover releases and a new comic, so, there’s that. Cute promo for the new Spelljammer stuff. Amazing j-rock-backed Japanese D&D trailer; very yes please.

2023 release calendar: Keys from the Golden Vault, heist-themed adventure anthology. Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants, “the definitive tome of giant gameplay in D&D.” “Phandelver Campaign” to expand the original Starter Box adventure to a full campaign. The Book of Many Things, an options-centric book themed around the Deck. Late 2023: Planescape campaign collection (probably similar to the recent Spelljammer release: small sourcebook, campaign, and maybe a monster compendium or similar)

Overall my initial glance at the first chunk of playtest material focused on origins is mixed. Moving more and more stuff off of heritage/ancestry and into character background strikes me as fabs insofar as bioessentialism easily trends into ick territory and I’ve appreciated the thought WotC’s put into the topic so far, as delayed as their doing so might have been. Their video opening with a not-too-subtle call out of regressives who are pissed at them for making D&D “too woke” was also nice.

That said, some of the crit stuff feels mistargeted. Peeling off abilities from crits is a massive nerf to rogues and paladins, peeling off crit dice from spells just feels meanspirited (it doesn’t do much to alter late-game spellcaster power but takes away a rare but fun moment). Theoretically this makes martials better by comparison, but overall, things just feel brought down to their level, in exactly the way I hate to see balancing done.

The “nat 1s/20s crit fail/succeed on skill checks” stuff definitely fits with how a lot of silly/zany tables run things, but I think it exacerbates a minor problem in the D&D community of people thinking a skill check is a magic spell they cast to make the world behave the way they want it to. Those copypastas about a dwarf flying rather than falling off a cliff because he nat-20’ed an Athletics check are good for a laugh, and in the right campaign, are tonally consistent, but that “anything goes” attitude can create some real GM headaches. “I nat-20 my Persuasion check to make the King bequeath his throne to me!” isn’t a roll that should have happened in the first place, but I think the D&D rules do a less-great job of discouraging pointless/impossible rolls than other systems. Used to be, you could at least set the DC at a literally impossible level, explain they failed to make it, and move on; now you need to do more work to establish which skill checks are valid way upfront before folks start fishing for crits to stealth their way out of existence entirely :)

That said, giving players more opportunities to earn Inspiration (nat-20s produce it, and Humans get it after every Long Rest) is nice, insofar as I think the mechanic is underutilized because the game’s tools around it are very weak and rudimentary, and easy for D&D GMs to forget because it’s so at-odds with the rest of the tools at their disposal. Letting players have a little bit more of a hand of achieving Inspiration is a nice way to reinforce the mechanic and perhaps highlight the RP-centric ways to earn it more, too.

I’m not as worried about backwards compatibility as some folks. They’ve already got alternative character creation and class options available via books like Tasha’s, and Monsters of the Multiverse already tweaked a bunch of Ancestry abilities as it is. My extremely cursory glance is that the new methods aren’t especially more powerful (even the new, free Level 1 feat is capped to a very particular set of Feats) than the old Ancestry+Class combos, and it’s not too hard to just toss legacy characters a freebie Feat if people are really worried about it.

Beyond that, right now, at least, the core math feels pretty well settled in terms of DCs, ACs, to-hit, etc. (though enemies losing crits is going to inflate player survivability, especially at late levels, even more). They might rewrite some old monsters to make them more interesting, but the new versions are easy enough to drop into an old campaign module since the absolute core stats aren’t much different. I think this is a very 3>3.5 moment, personally. Or 4E>Essentials (but even that one tweaked the core math a little more than this seems like it’s going to).

The current digital bundling solution isn’t great, but it’s the best we’ve had on offer from WotC yet, so, it’s at least a step in the right direction.

And that Lord Soth special ed cover of the Dragonlance module looks fuckin’ SICK.

I saw that, and while I applaud bundling the physical with the digital goods, the pricing is still way higher than others. I guess that’s the brand name tax.

I can get digital versions of many TTRPGs with the physical book at no additional cost.

For sure, though, IIRC, this is still the “enhanced” D&D Beyond digital version, not a straight PDF dump. So, a bunch of interconnected navigable webpages that rely on D&D Beyond existing into perpetuity that you can’t download and keep forever, so. . . probably worse overall than a PDF. . . but they would include immediate accessibility in the D&D Beyond character builder. It’s a little more akin to getting a Hero Lab data package, online SRD, and physical book all in one. Which might still be a dubious value proposition, but, I think it’s fair to take it for what it is.

If D&D Digital does indeed grow out from D&DB, theoretically in the future, your bundled digital books might also unlock a bunch of assets in there, too. . . ?

But then again, I bought the absolutefuckinglutely gorgeous special edition of Heart: The City Beneath at Gen Con, got it autographed by the creators, and then got emailed a Bits & Mortar PDF download link within a week.

My feelings exactly. I get that people love the online tools and the way Beyond melds into the character creator, etc, but I like my physical TTRPG books and I like when the electronic version actually matches the physical one. Also, I frankly like the relative permanence of pdfs compared to a live database. If I need to consult a rule, there it is on page X. It doesn’t shift around or change without my say so.

Alas, I know I’m in the minority on that.

Edit: I guess my gold standard for pdf versions of TTPG books is Ironsworn: Starforged where the indexes are hyperlinked and there are links all throughout the text, so if I need to jump around on a tablet I can do that. Tales of Xadia/Cortex Prime are pretty great too in that you get the physical book, a pdf, and access to the web tool/database for the book purchase.

My favorite house rule is nat 20 means succeed with disadvantage (you accomplish your objective too well usually), and nat 1 means you fail with advantage. In the Edge of the Empire (Genesys) RPG meaning, if you’ve played that.

I wonder if it’s really a minority, or how big it is if so. I like online resources, but they’re always a secondary thing (or tertiary, after a physical and/or pdf copy of something). I suspect a lot of people are like this.

Personally, I rarely use physical books anymore - I buy them, but I mainly use the accompanying PDF’s on my IPAD/Tablet instead, and then leave the rulebooks on the table for the players. Well, I guess I use both, then!

D&D has definitely left me behind. Oh well.

They are clearly expecting to print money with that digital tabletop. Find a holy avenger? Equip it to your character for only 1200 gold pieces! Want wings on your helmet? Purchase the 5000 GP head bling pack!

Purchase gold pieces in our online shop! 1000 GP for $7.99. 2000 GP for $14.99 (Most popular~!) 5000 GP for $29.99!

Same here. I will usually not start playing a TTRPG unless I have my physical books at hand. I do use digital for quick look ups at the table. But I learn the rules from books, put post-its on interesting pages and generally run or play from physical books.

In fact, my daughter and I went shopping yesterday. :)

Did you watch the stream? What brought you to that conclusion? Or is it just the usual Qt3 everything is going to be shit?