One D&D - the upcoming D&D edition

I know we have a number of D&D-related threads right now, but nothing specifically for One D&D. I would like to suggest a couple of ground rules.

  • No ‘edition wars.’ Discussing new stuff in the context of old stuff is fine but let’s avoid torches and pitchforks just because change is bad.
  • No arguments over ‘woke’ material. There’s a thread for that already.

The playtest material is here. You need a dndbeyond account to access it, but it’s free and is presumably elsewhere on the internet as well.

There are two entries so far.

Character Origins
Expert Classes

The classes documentation is really interesting. It looks like they’re returning to both roles and power sources similar to 4e - an innovation I really enjoyed.

It looks like they’re getting rid of class-specific spell lists in favor of chunks of power sources. So instead of “bard spells,” bards now have access to specific schools within the arcane spell group. I also noticed that healing spells have been moved from evocation to abjuration, no doubt to separate them from damage-dealing spells for classes or subclasses meant to be support roles.

I also note that bards are prepared casters now instead of spontaneous casters, but they’ll have a much broader selection of spells to access. I like the change.

Another example of the way they’re using these roles is in the feats further down the document. Fighting styles are now feats, but they have “warrior group” as a prerequisite. That means warrior-types will be able to spend feat slots to get extra fighting styles beyond the ones they get from class features.

It’s easier to drill down and create niche requirements for magic items or feats using this system. You could say “warrior group” or “access to primal spells” or even “access to evocation spells” and know that you’re hitting specific groupings of classes or subclasses.

These playtest documents are all very wibbly wobbly rough drafts, and they don’t give a great impression of where the new edition will end up when it’s all said and done. But it’s interesting to see where they’re going and what their design philosophies are. Overall, I like what I’ve seen. It looks like they’re opting for more opportunities to customize characters and fewer mechanics straitjacketing players into narrow avenues of play.

I’m intrigued by it, for sure. There’s so much good in 5e, but there are also some issues that have come up over the years, and I hope to see the new edition fix them.

Specifically, I want to see some clarity and reason on visiblity and hiding and the effects on advantage/disadvantage. And I love the idea of regularizing magic into energy source/school.

I do think the old schools of magic aren’t great, and would rather see them reworked from the ground up rather than retained. Something like:
ABJURATION: Anything that’s protective or that creates barriers, including web and wall of stone.
CONJURATION: Anything that summons a creature or creates an object. Not acid arrows.
DIVINATION: Pretty good as is.
ENCHANTMENT: This one is pretty good, but it should include fear effects.
EVOCATION: Anything that creates direct damage, like acid arrows or fireballs.
ILLUSION: This one is pretty good, except that the rules should have additional clarity. My suggestion would be that there’s no “see through them” for passing a save, and that it takes some sort of action to gain a save against them. I might add an active disbelief element, where certrain illusions can be dispelled for everyone if someone deliberately spends an action to disbelieve it and makes an intelligence save. Whatever happens with them, the rules should be clarified, with guidance for DMs on NPC response (e.g., “Creatures responding to this illusion are likely to spend at least one action interacting with it”) to avoid the common event of an illusionist wasting a spell and a turn b/c the DM makes a ruling against them.
NECROMANCY: Death magic and the undead. I’d like this school to be narrower.
TRANSMUTATION: Pretty good as is.

Illusion has always been such a clusterfuck. I know there are massive amounts of inertia keeping classic stuff in the game, but magic would be so much easier to deal with, GM-side, if illusion magic simply didn’t exist.

My kids and their friends are checking it out for me and reporting back. Overall I like the sound of the changes for Rangers at least. That is all I know so far.

I feel like the designers of 4th had some affinity for going with a classless, derived power and feat system but were too constrained by tradition to push the game system beyond what they eventually did. I wasn’t overly impressed with 5th and felt that Mike Mearls especially had discovered some enchantment for his interpretation flavor of old school 1st ed. At least that’s the feeling I got reading his blog.

It will be interesting to see if this new edition will be brave enough to shed the shackles of the past and create a robust, general fantasy game that has the familiar as templates. The page also says One D&D, do they propose to fold ‘basic’ D&D into the mix?

I wouldn’t read too much into the name. My understanding is that it’s supposed to represent that this the “final” edition with changes coming as revisions to this framework rather than a complete overhaul. Sort of like how Win10 was supposed to work.

I’ve been increasingly unimpressed by the books since Xanather’s so I’m not incredibly optimistic about this design team and what they’re going to put together. To their credit, I did like the idea of incorporating a feat (or similar power) into the backgrounds which is something I did with a homebrewed game some time ago. On the other hand, I dislike what they’re doing with Inspiration and the idea of critical successes/failures with Skill checks makes my skin crawl. Overall, the impression I get is one of continued simplification and homogenization of races & classes which isn’t what I’m looking for so I don’t see me being interested in this (as of right now and what I’ve seen).

I disagree. Backgrounds were one of the best new ideas they came up with in 5th edition, but what makes them so good relies on them not having things like feats attached to them. A lot of players want to be able to say “I was a _____ before I became an adventurer”, and they want something on their character sheet that says that. Back in the day, this often meant multiclassing, in a way that was decidedly sub-optimal power-wise, which meant that there was a tradeoff between power and role-playing.

With 5e backgrounds, there’s not much power to be gained from one, and everyone gets one anyway, so you’re free to pick an atypical background without significantly nerfing yourself. There’s a little bit of power: Sometimes there really will be some situation where having proficiency in Artisan’s Tools, or whatever, really will be useful. But those are mostly going to be situations that the player actively creates, and they’re mostly orthogonal to other sources of power (they don’t make you more likely to hit with a sword, or improve your spellcasting, or whatever).

Once you attach something big and mechanical like a feat to a background, though, suddenly there’s a “best background” for every class, whichever one gives the most useful feat. And it’s just like the old system of dipping for your background, except that now the first level of wizard is called “Strixhaven student”, or whatever.

You can still make your own background with whatever combination of traits (stat bonuses, skill and tool proficincies, feat, language, equipment) you want. There will be no “best” background.

There will always be players who always take a particular feat because it has a 22% expected damage boost over blah blah blah or a particular couple of skills because they are 15% more useful in published yada yada yada, but that’s inevitable no matter what kind of system you have.

It’s also worth pointing out that more feats are gated behind various prerequisites, including higher levels, so “free feat at first level” isn’t quite as impactful as it is in the current edition.

One thing I’ve seen come up as controversial is the idea that, if you can roll for something, there must be at least a 5% chance of complete failure and a 5% chance of complete success. According to what they’ve said, there’s no room for the maximum to be partial success or the minimum to be partial failure, let alone the situation where you have your players roll because you don’t want them to know the outcome is fixed. Or because you don’t want it to be obvious when you roll that something is happening.

Personally, it seemed to me like they were overparsing the rules to interpret it that way.

In my game, I was fortunate enough to not have people terribly interested in being “the best” so they chose more based on what sounded appropriate to their character and saw the extra feat as a little stat boost and fun extras (I used the half-feats mainly). Also, since I tend to get bored with higher level 5e, it was a way to give some extra oomph and toys to the players that they wouldn’t be getting by waiting until higher levels to pick stuff. Also, of course, no “custom make your own” backgrounds.

I’m not advocating for 5.5e’s approach but I don’t think the idea is a bad one, especially for how I usually handle the game personally.

If you can mix and match every aspect of the background, then the feat isn’t really “part of the background”: It’s just “everyone gets one feat at first level”, which isn’t all that remarkable (in 3rd edition, everyone got a feat a first level, and depending on race and class, some got two or three).

I think it’s often overlooked that “make whatever background you want” is right there in the baseline rules for 5e. It’s not a variant option in the DMG or anything.

So if the feat isn’t “part of your background” because it’s mix and match, then neither are any elements of backgrounds in the current edition.

No, just Marketing, like with “D&D Next” which everyone calls 5th ed. This will be 6th ed.

This has been the standard sales technique since AD&D- put out a tonne of stuff for an edition, then sales decline, so put out a new edition.

Right. Sure a lot of Fighters pick Sailor as it adds Perception (the most used skill in the game) but that kinda makes sense anyway.


Yeah, bad idea. Immature players love playing a “Nat one” on a skill roll as some sort of fumble, usually funny. But master craftsworkers don’t blow it 5% of the time.