Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is undergoing a transformation with the upcoming release of One D&D. One D&D is slated for release sometime in 2024. The new “edition” holds the potential to reshape the entire D&D experience, from character creation to combat mechanics. With that said, here’s everything you need to know about One D&D (so far) and how it’s set to change the landscape of the game.
What Exactly is One D&D?
One D&D, while not labeled as a new “edition,” represents the next phase of Dungeons & Dragons. Building on the foundations laid by the 5th Edition (5E), One D&D introduces a fresh set of core rulebooks that will provide both veteran and new players with a renewed guide to the game.
In contrast to previous edition changes that brought extensive modifications, One D&D focuses on refining existing rules and mechanics, as well as introducing new options for players and Dungeon Masters (DMs) to explore.
Why isn’t One D&D called 6th Edition?
As of 2023, Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition (5E) stands as the latest iteration of the iconic game. However, Wizards of the Coast, the publisher behind D&D, has taken an unexpected turn with the announcement of One D&D.
Departing from the traditional numbering scheme, One D&D represents a possible culmination (or unification on both paper and digital platforms) of all previous editions, suggesting a major shift in how D&D will be approached going forward.
One D&D is meant to be backward-compatible
Wizards of the Coast also promises that One D&D will be backward-compatible with previous campaign modules or, at least, 5E. But to what extent that’s actually true during play remains unclear. Dungeon Masters make homebrew tweaks to content all the time, so the real question is whether One D&D’s promised backward compatibility will actually cut down work.
Similar, but not the same: 5th Edition vs. One D&D
One D&D promises a variety of differences compared to its predecessor, 5E. These alterations are currently being tested through a series of playtest versions available on platforms like D&D Beyond.
While specific changes are still in flux, proposed adjustments include immediate successes or failures for rolling natural 20s or 1s on a d20, a rule that has sparked lively debate among players.
Another significant difference lies in the digital integration of the game, likely influenced by Wizards of the Coast’s ownership of D&D Beyond and their plans for a virtual tabletop platform.
The biggest changes from D&D 5th Edition in the new One D&D
Bard’s have access to all spell lists
Bards have undergone substantial revisions in One D&D. The Bardic Inspiration feature is no longer tied to the proficiency bonus as a reaction. The most significant change comes in the form of bard spellcasting. Bards are no longer confined to arcane magic; instead, players can select spells from any of One D&D’s three spell lists. At tenth-level, bards gain the Magical Secrets ability, enabling them to prepare spells from all three lists, offering unprecedented flexibility in their spellcasting repertoire.
Warlocks are now half-casters
The class once known for sacrificing power and flexibility for better sustain has been brought in line with Wizards. Warlocks have experienced one of the most radical transformations in One D&D. Their unique short-rest-based Pact Magic has given way to a long-rest-based spell slot regeneration system.
This adjustment aligns them more closely with traditional spellcasters, granting them spells at half the rate of other Mage classes. Mystic Arcanum has been reimagined as an Eldritch Invocation, allowing warlocks to cast higher-level spells. The Pact Boon and Patron selection now determine the spellcasting modifier, emphasizing customization for different playstyles.
Rogues got stronger with Cunning Strikes
While rogues have remained relatively unchanged, One D&D has expanded the versatility of their iconic Sneak Attack feature. Introducing Cunning Strikes at fifth-level, rogues can now expend Sneak Attack dice to debilitate foes in various ways. Lower-level effects include tripping or disarming opponents, while higher-level rogues can even blind adversaries, enhancing their tactical toolkit.
Barbarians get weapon proficiencies and new Rage features
Barbarians, renowned for their primal fury, have seen subtle yet impactful changes. One D&D introduces Weapon Mastery, bolstering their proficiency with specific weapon types. Barbarian Rage now offers non-combat benefits to checks like Perception and Intimidation, broadening their usefulness beyond combat situations. The Berserker subclass has pivoted towards bonus damage, shifting the focus from extra attacks.
New Bard and Druid subclasses
One D&D introduces fresh content with new subclasses for bards and druids. The Circle of the Sea for druids introduces storm-related abilities and combat spells, while the College of Dance for bards emphasizes unarmed combat, mobility, and ally support.
Druids get a better blend of spellcasting and Wild Shape
The druid class, characterized by its connection to nature, has evolved significantly in One D&D. Greater customization is offered through the choice between spellcasting, Wild Shape, and weaponry, guided by the Primal Order and subclass selections. Higher-level druids can convert Wild Shape uses into spell slots and vice versa, introducing a dynamic interplay between these mechanics.
Speaking of Wild Shape, that mechanic has also changed.
Changes to Wild Shape
In One D&D, druids can transform into a limited range of forms without gaining the beast’s hit points. Moon Druids gain higher-CR shapes and specific enhancements, enhancing the tactical and roleplaying possibilities of the ability.
Only three spell lists: Primal, Arcane, and Divine
One D&D incorporates elements from later D&D 5E sourcebooks, such as subclasses and spells from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. The introduction of three overarching spell lists—Primal, Arcane, and Divine (which is likely for the Paladin and Cleric classes)—reshapes spellcasting dynamics, with each class drawing from these shared sources.
No more learned vs. prepared spells
A departure from the learned and prepared spellcasting distinction, One D&D introduces all classes as “preparing” spells. This shift expands the versatility of spellcasters, allowing for more adaptability in spell choices, but also begs the question: With the changes being made to spellcasting classes, are they being made more indistinct from each other? We’ll see it at the table.
No more races, One D&D has species
One D&D is redefining races as species. This shift promotes inclusivity by referring to species rather than races and providing players the option to hybridize any two species for unique characters. With a little backstory tweaking, you might be able to get a race-based language of choice with the Lucky feat.
Is One D&D secretly the 6th Edition?
While Wizards of the Coast has not officially named One D&D as “6E,” the implications are clear. One D&D is effectively a new edition of the game, incorporating rule changes and fresh content that align with what might be expected in a D&D 6E. Despite the absence of a numerical designation, One D&D marks a turning point for the game, possibly heralding a shift towards more frequent and incremental updates instead of distinct editions.
What’s next for D&D 5th Edition?
With the impending arrival of One D&D, the question arises: Will 5E become obsolete? While One D&D will undoubtedly bring new opportunities and experiences, it doesn’t signal the end of 5E. Just as previous editions continue to have dedicated players, 5E will likely persist as a choice for those who prefer its established ruleset. One D&D’s arrival doesn’t erase the legacy of 5E; rather, it adds a new layer of possibility for the D&D community.
When does One D&D come out?
The exact release date for One D&D remains undisclosed, with 2024 being the target year. The release will comprise three core rulebooks:
- The Player’s Handbook: An essential rulebook for character creation and gameplay understanding.
- The Dungeon Master’s Guide: A resource for DMs to craft their worlds and run sessions
- The Monster Manual: A book featuring a myriad of creatures to populate adventures.
Digital versions are expected to be accessible via D&D Beyond, while the release of the official virtual tabletop for One D&D awaits a confirmed launch date.
Here’s how you can try One D&D now
For eager players and DMs eager to explore the future of D&D, a digital playtest version of One D&D is available for download from D&D Beyond. This version offers an early glimpse of the proposed rules and content, allowing participants to provide valuable feedback. It’s important to note that the playtest version isn’t the final product, and certain rules might be altered or omitted in the official release.
However, Wizards of the Coast plans to release monthly updates for playtesting until at least the end of 2023. The full set of core rulebooks for One D&D is set to release in 2024, with the Player’s Handbook being a starting point for players, while DMs will require both the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Player’s Handbook.