Today at Wizards Presents, Wizards of the Coast announced that the next
generation of Dungeons & Dragons(opens in new tab) is on its way via a
massive public playtest called One D&D. This will include a revision of
the core rulebooks: The Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and
Monster Manual. This update will come alongside an offical digital
toolset and virtual tabletop for D&D.(opens in new tab)
The new rules will be backwards compatible with 5th Edition, or 5E, the
current version of the D&D rules. These have been around since 2014 and
are probably the ones you play, statistically speaking. Don't panic: We
knew this would come. It's not that drastic, and it has happened
Wizards of the Coast isn't calling the new ruleset D&D 6th Edition, but
that's really what it is. If it doesn't pick an official name other
than One D&D, players will call it 6E, or maybe 5.5. Trust me: Wizards
tried to make 5E just "Dungeons & Dragons" for years, but we all called
it 5th Edition anyway... and now Wizards itself calls it that. The "One
D&D" thing won't last.
"One D&D is the codename for the next generation of Dungeons & Dragons
that brings together updated rules, backwards 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 offer
players and Dungeon Masters full immersion and rich 3D creation tools,"
Wizards said in a press release.
"We did a smart thing with 5th edition by listening to the fans," said
D&D designer Chris Perkins, "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."
Wizards tried to be very clear in their presentation that their plans
for changes to D&D weren't about "taking anything away" from D&D
players or "changing that stuff you love." As a D&D veteran who went
from 3rd Edition D&D to its evolution D&D 3.5, then 4th Edition to 4E
Essentials, I can comfortably say that's going to be... partly true,
This 5th edition update has a lot of development time behind it, and a
lot of play experience with D&D 5E. Subtle rules updates have happened
in the last eight years, as has game design philosophy. It'll also
benefit, at least in part, from the knowledge gained in those earlier
But will the thing you like most get changed in the official printing?
Maybe. Fundamental core rules are altered in the first document: A
natural 20 is now always a success, while a natural 1 is always a
failure. That change was made, said D&D's game design architect Jeremy
Crawford, because the vast majority of people were playing the game
that way whether it was the official rules or not.
Which, if you've done this before, is actually kind of refreshing.
The first playtest focuses on Race and Background, giving an evolved
version of previous rules that's still pretty simple and familiar. It
also introduces a new celestial opposite of the Tiefling: The animal-
headed Ardlings. It also collapses spell lists into three simple,
separate Arcane, Divine, and Primal lists.
Then there are much larger changes: Critical hits are seemingly now
only for player characters, not for NPCs. That's huge! Some people will
An image from movie The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Two men are being
hanged. One is weeping. The second looks at him and asks "First time?"
In many ways, this is the natural evolution of things. Having acquired
D&D Beyond, Wizards of the Coast now has, for the first time, a single
common platform on which to distribute digital content for D&D—
including what sounds like living rules updates over the next several
years ahead of those new core rulebooks. (And it's also making an
official 3D virtual tabletop tool.)
That was the plan from the start with 5th Edition, but you can forgive
us for being surprised that it's still true in the corporate
environment of Wizards of the Coast.
If you're interested in the future of Dungeons & Dragons, you can sign
up for the One D&D public playtests at dndbeyond.com
(opens in new tab).
Oh, they've also announced the 2023 D&D release schedule, including
Let's go Brandon!