The revised core D&D rulebooks will help develop better players and more Dungeon Masters (2023)

it has become mainstream. Almost 50 years after its invention, more people than ever are rolling dice with their friends. Meanwhile, major media crossovers likeStranger Thingsandthey make sure that even theylong spotsassociated with the game fall by the side. But in many ways, the game development team at Wizards of the Coast has fallen a little behind, and now it's time for an overhaul. A new series of core rulebooks is on the way…just be careful not to call it 6th edition.

After the 5th edition of the game was released in 2014, Wizards spent the better part of a decade testing and iterating on its winning formula. This process culminated in early 2022 withRules Expansion Gift Set: three volumes with the titleXanathar's Guide to Everything,Tasha's cauldron of everything, andMordenkainen presents: Monsters of the Multiverse. Now, say the developers, it's time to go back to the drawing board and officially incorporate what worked in these three new books into a complete update to D&D 5th Edition. This means new versions of the original three core rulebooks, a trio known to fans asPlayer's Handbook(PHB), ItDungeon Master's Guide(DMG), andMonster manual(MM). Along the way, Wizards said they'll also strive to make these books richer and more usable than ever — all while maintaining continuity and compatibility with every 5th edition product that's come before.

"For so many people, these books are their initial gaming experience," game design architect Chris Perkins said at a press conference earlier this month. "These books are denser than some of our later books, the monsters aren't as easy to play or as fun as some of our newer books, and it's not as easy to find things. [...] So making sure that our portal to the game is as strong as possible, as beautiful as possible [and] as accessible as possible, I think is very important for the longevity of the game - and just people's enjoyment."

Here's what to expect in the 2024 updates to the Dungeons & Dragons core rulebooks.

Player's Handbook

The revised core D&D rulebooks will help develop better players and more Dungeon Masters (1) Image: Wizards of the Coast

Player's Handbook(2024) will have many more pages than the original, which is one of the largest D&D books at 320 pages. But the updated version probably won't have as many words.

ThePHBThe designers said they are working hard to streamline the language and offer more art to players than ever before. There will be new visuals for each of the book's 12 core classes - barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, fighter, monk, paladin, ranger, rogue, mage, warlock and warlock - as well as each of the 48 subclasses included in ( four in total for each base class). More importantly, this art will highlight the full spectrum of human diversity in the real world.

Although it is important that potential players can see themselves on their pagesPlayer's Handbook(2024), it is also important that newcomers have the best possible ramp to actually learn how to play the game. For this reason, character creation moves behind the most fundamental rules of the game. This new expression for the 5th editionPHBit will really teach youhowto play the game before it invites you to create your first character.

And when youI dodecide to make that first character, you'll have more options than ever, thanks to over 144 options for your character's background. Whether they started life as a soldier or a scholar will also be more important than it was in 2014. This is because the newPlayer's Handbook(2024) will transfer important features such as ability score enhancements, first-level achievements, and more from your character's biological roots to their cultural and socioeconomic roots - similar to what was proposed as a new, optional rule inTasha's cauldron of everything.

"The 'character origin' chapter will also include guidance on customization [and] language," said game design architect Jeremy Crawford. "But the focus is on species [formerly called tribe] and background. How we hit it – and it's really based on the work we've doneTasha's cauldron of everything— takes those two components of the character [and] combines them to create a flavor of who their character was before they became adventurers."

Player's Handbook(2024) will also include rules for creating your own backgrounds. "We're basically giving people more tools than they've ever had," Crawford said.

Ability scores like Strength, Dexterity, and Wisdom will be unlocked much later in the character creation process. Players will of course be able to use existing methods to generate these scores, such as the "regular table" and "point purchase system" previously. But in the future, the classes themselves will suggest what ability scores they should get. These and other changes inPHB, are all designed to get people playing faster.

"Let's get to the game," said Crawford, "while giving people the customization options they're used to. Now you decide, as a player or as a DM: Do I take the time to do it myself? Or do I use one of the ​​the possibilities for fast-forwarding that the book now provides?"

Dungeon Master's Guide

The revised core D&D rulebooks will help develop better players and more Dungeon Masters (2) Image: Wizards of the Coast

While the Wizards have repeatedly telegraphed their moves with the changes comingPlayer's Handbook(2024), perhaps the most significant changes to the central rulebooks will comeDungeon Master's Guide(2024). This is because, according to Perkins, it was a bit of a mess from the start.

“In 2013, our team was a lot smaller,” Perkins said. “We promoted all the basic rulebooks at the same time, as well asStarter set, and to say that Jeremy and I were overwhelmed and had a lot on our plate was an understatement at the time.

"Now that we've come full circle, eight years into discussions," continued Perkins, "we have a lot of things we want to do inDMGwhich we wish we had done years ago.”

At its coreDungeon Master's Guide(2024) will be a newly revised section on creating your own homebrew campaign, which will include an example campaign setup. The book will then show budding DMs how to build it with their players' needs and wants in mind.

"I don't want to use the word 'stripped down,' but let's just say it's very condensed," Perkins said. "But it's a complete setting, and you can take that campaign skeleton and add some meat to it. Decide where you want to place your campaign in that setting, and then make it your own. [We] give you a poster card that you can use for this campaign setting, and we give you hooks in the campaign setting to help inform your decision about what parts of the campaign you want to use, [so you can decide] what matchups you think will be important in this fight.”

While the order and format of the information insideDungeon Master's Guide(2024) is still a work in progress, Perkins said it will contain a lot of important information that was overlooked in 2014. What is the purpose of a Dungeon Masters screen, for example, and how do you use it? What do you do with a player who is annoying at the table? How do you plan your play sessions around other people's lives? And how much do you really need to know about the rules before you start playing as a DM?

"Where do I start? How do I get up to speed? How do I become like [Matt Mercer and other now famous DMs]?" Perkins asked. "How do I make sure that my game really lives up to the players' expectations? [...] We can preload all this information so that by the time we get to the middle of the book, DMs are ready, let's talk about some other conversations, not dealing with starting the game and dealing with problems at the game table, but now we can talk about the creative part of DMing.”

Monster manual

The revised core D&D rulebooks will help develop better players and more Dungeon Masters (3) Image: Wizards of the Coast

FinallyMonster manual, a book rarely seen by the average D&D player, will likely have the most new content of all three books. This is due toMonster manual(2024) will feature more than 500 monsters in total, and for the first time in franchise history, each of them will have their own unique artwork.

But perhaps the biggest surprise is how many high-level monsters will be included, each fully capable of giving a group of level 20 heroes a run for their money.

"When we were looking to fill out the monstrous roster in this book," said Crawford, "we wanted to make sure we had more high-rated monsters. So you're going to see a whole bunch of new big bads in this book, with emphasis on creature types that haven't had really high CR reps."

As an example, Crawford noted thatMonster manual(2014) ships with many dragons and high level demons.Monster manual(2024) will also include some, but will also include rumors, constructs, elementals, and high-level breaths.

"Imagine a drizzle that could wipe out an entire city just by rolling over it," Crawford said. "And it's also important for us to point out that none of the existing monsters will change their challenge ratings. Because we're maintaining the stability of the current version, and because many existing adventures assume that monsters have a certain CR, provide we for monsters will continue from 2014Monster manualthey have the same CR they had when they were written.'

An end to the "version wars"

Throughout the multi-day press event, the developers at Wizards of the Coast kept coming back to the fact that D&D 5th Edition isn't going away. The fourth edition of D&D, they said, was a kind of slow disaster that almost brought the end of the franchise as we know it. The current 5th edition ruleset was created with input from hundreds of thousands of players during a multi-year playtest that preceded its release in 2014. There is no reason to discard this work in favor of a "new version" of the game, and 2024 -the three core rulebook updates have been created with this in mind.

"We also recognize that what we do is special," Crawford said. "It's never been done before for Dungeons & Dragons. This is the first time the game has ever done a major overhaul of a version and then continued that version - and made it so you could continue to use the items you already own ."

According to Wizards, you don't have to stop whatever you're doing at the table right now or change anything about your home game to accommodate these new, updated rules in your party. Everything written inside the original 5th edition books is still valid, still legal to reproduce. They just hope that these new updates can better set the table for D&D's continued growth in the future – creating more player characters and mentoring more Dungeon Masters than ever before.

We'll know for sure if they succeeded when all three books hit the press sometime next year.


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