28 August 2022

One D&D Will Be Huge for D&D

By the end of 2024, the Dungeons & Dragons community should have a set of three new rulebooks: the One D&D core set. It's likely the Player's Handbook shall hit first, followed by an updated Monster Manual similar to Monsters of the Multiverse, with the set concluding in the release of a new-DM focused Dungeon Master's Guide, headed up by Christopher Perkins.

Finally, Wizards of the Coast claim to be satisfied with the state of D&D. One D&D shall be the "last" iteration of the game system, at least for a substantial amount of time, completely compatible with all the fifth edition D&D rule set.

In-depth, though, what is One D&D and what does it mean for our favorite hobby and pastime?

Well, this is what you'll find here: another take on what this new-but-not-new iteration on Dungeons & Dragons means for the future of the world's greatest roleplaying game, from someone who has loved playing the game for the last fifteen years.

What One D&D Strives to Accomplish

Essentially, Wizards of the Coast is attempting to accomplish three things with One D&D. All of them are positive overall but some can be troublesome if analyzed carefully.

Let's look at the facts first.

  1. Establish a Wizards of the Coast virtual tabletop.
  2. Cement One D&D at the D&D edition of the future.
  3. Welcome as many new players into the hobby as possible.

One D&D will arrive with a virtual tabletop (abbreviated VTT) created by Wizards of the Coast. Developed inside of an actual game engine, the tabletop will allow players the full real tabletop experience online and augmented. Miniatures and terrain will be highly customizable. Tools inside the VTT will allow Dungeon Masters to curate a truly immersive environment for their players, mimicking the greatest tilesets of Dwarven Forge and the like. This will be the first official Wizards of the Coast VTT for D&D and with most D&D players meeting via the internet, it's likely they'll constantly iterate and push this new product.

Wizards of the Coast are pleased with the current state of D&D. After about nine years of fifth edition D&D / D&D Next, they've settled on a system the majority of the population are enjoying and constantly brings in new players. One D&D is a new edition of D&D even if they aren't pitching it as that. Essentially, it's a new edition of D&D built with all the updates and iterations to 5E D&D over the years, in the same vein as Tasha's Cauldron of Everything and Monsters of the Multiverse. Where it's different is its end goal: WOTC would like One D&D to the ultimate version of D&D. There will be no sixth edition or seventh or eighth edition D&D, just One D&D. One D&D's core rules will be out by the end of 2024, with an endless stream of products to follow.

The past few years were a plight for most the world and a boon for D&D. With the rise of streaming, online play, and the perceived simplicity of fifth edition D&D, more people are playing the game now than ever before. WOTC, and all of us, really, seek to greaten these numbers. One D&D will streamline the core rules, eliminate unneeded complexity, add in highly requested rules alterations, and cater at least some of its base material, like the Dungeon Master's Guide, to new players. Hopefully, this will assist in welcoming even more new people to D&D, especially new Dungeon Masters.

Luckily, Wizards of the Coast are not doing this alone. One D&D will be extensively play-tested and built with community feedback in mind. You can even participate in its current iteration, as of August 28, 2022, right here! All feedback is valuable, I encourage you to read through the rule changes, try some out, and give WOTC all the critiques and kudos you can think up.

Microtransactions in D&D

The biggest piece to fear about One D&D is the virtual tabletop. More and more D&D players are hosting their games on the web, using webcams, mics, and pure imagination to tell fantastical stories in the worlds of swords and sorcery. Wizards of the Coast obviously sees the desire for an official virtual tabletop and with that, the possibility to heavily monetize their own VTT with microtransactions (also called MTX).

More and more game developers, usually video game developers, are moving away from the buy-to-play model and transforming their games into live services. In some cases, this is welcome and not too predatory. In others, it seeps into the fabric of the game and changes it for the worse, irreparably. I'm not too worried about the monetization for those who play in-person on a physical tabletop, but for those who take it online, there might be some problems.

Imagine this scenario: One D&D releases. You buy the core rule books, you have them. If you're a physical player, you're good. However, if you're playing online and would like to use the virtual tabletop, you also need access to the virtual tabletop. This might be a one-time purchase or a subscription model (monthly or annually). So you either buy the VTT access or subscribe to it, all good there. Then, you realize there's an arsenal of extra pieces you can purchase: the 20 unique orc models cost $5.99. The red dragon set (wyrmling through ancient) costs $1.99. The crypt dungeon tileset looks amazing and the ambience rocks, it costs another $2.99, but the complete dungeon collection which includes the crypt, temple, cavern, sewer, Underdark, ruin, and castle tilesets is only $9.99!

Be mindful, this is all speculation, but it's my greatest fear about One D&D.

I do not fault WOTC for desiring a slice of the MTX-pie, it's a huge area where they can make money. However, it brings tabletop D&D quite close to the video game realm, when I hoped it would stay on the outskirts for the foreseeable future.

Other than that, One D&D looks great. I'm sure there might be a few rules I don't agree with or don't want to implement at my table, but that's why D&D as a whole is great: it's malleable.

A United System and Novel Mechanics

The idea of all future books being compatible with each other is a splendid one, albeit quite optimistic. Even D&D 5e's own books are difficult to compare and piece together on their own; they require a bit of tinkering and game knowledge to work alongside each other well. While this idea has always existed, if WOTC are actively trying to ensure every book can stand beside the last, I'm excited and hopeful.

I'm someone who owns many books of editions past. Oftentimes, I lift ideas and even material from those books and adapt them to my D&D fifth edition games. It works, but sometimes it's janky. If WOTC is dedicated to harmonizing their future content, it'll be great for DMs and players of the far-flung future, giving them a wealth of easy-to-access and adjust content for their games.

In addition to this, the revamp of the core rules looks quite promising. Creating a character seems to be more involved, with a larger focus on the background of the character rather than their race. Counter, though, some of the new racial ideas look amazing, such as the dwarf tremor sense feature. What a novel idea! I'm looking forward to most of these changes to the mechanics, and I'll be excited to playtest them for the next year or so in anticipation of their real release.

One D&D Will Change the Game

One D&D will be huge for D&D. Wizards of the Coast are not selling it as a new edition of D&D, but the fact is it's even bigger than that: it's an attempt to forever unite D&D into a single game system. Sure, it will be patched and updated with new books and ideas, but it'll "forever" remain One D&D.

We're about to enter a new era of Dungeons & Dragons. 

Are you ready?

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23 August 2022

How to Return to Your D&D Game After a Break

Extended breaks are commonplace in many Dungeons & Dragons groups. Mine are no exception. But what should you prepare for as a Dungeon Master or a Player after a long absence from the game and world of your D&D campaign? Well, as I'm about to return to my homebrew world of Eldar after a lengthy hiatus due to the birth of my daughter, this topic constantly bounces around my mind.

It's a tricky topic, really, and is unique for every group out there. However, after a few musings during my morning runs, I think I've nailed down exactly what every Dungeon Master and Player needs to think about.

If you're about to return to a D&D game after a long hiatus or are about to take one, this is the article for you.

Read on for some vital advice about how to keep your D&D game alive after or before a long break.

Gather Your Party

Wrangling everyone together is usually the most difficult part of planning a D&D session or campaign, and that's true when returning to the latter as well! Fortunately, you should have a firm relationship established with each of the players and, with a bit of communication on your part about why a break occurred in the first place, gathering everyone shouldn't be too difficult.

Start with a message. Let everyone know that you're ready to return to the D&D table. If you'd like to be transparent, give a bit more information on why the break happened and why you're good to go and play again. Most people, especially your fellow friends and players, shall appreciate it.

Connect with people, Talk back and forth. Get back into the swing of D&D-esque communication: little quips back and forth, reminiscing about past adventures, and battling the all too powerful calendar beast.

Once you're all in communication again, schedule your first game back. Let everyone know how excited you are to begin again and move to the new section...unless you'd like to commit to a bit of extra work/fun.

A Short Piece of Fantastical Fiction

Writers among you Dungeon Masters out there, take this reintroduction to your campaign and world as an opportunity to grab the attention of your players. Take a few hours to write a succinct piece of fiction about the campaign. Grant the players a snapshot of the villain. Briefly recap the story as it currently stands. Don't impose on their characters or play the characters, elevate them and show your players why they're important to the current story and the state of the world.

If you're interested, here are two examples I've written: The Great Unraveling Begins and New Blood.

Don't go overboard. Keep it concise. Keep it interesting. Keep it optional. Write it for fun and as an optional reintroduction to the campaign.

Start Broad, Then Zoom In

With a date set to begin your campaign again, it's time to begin prepping. This first session should focus on a few core goals: snapshotting the current arc of the campaign, highlighting each of the characters, and hyper focusing on a singular force of malice.

Let's explore the first two ideas and save the villain for last.

Prepare a complete recap, but don't spend the first ten minutes of the session recapping the game as it stands. Instead, integrate it into the actual story.

Begin with a brief reintroduction the world and story. Outline its tenets in 30 seconds or less and then leap right into the narrative, asking yourself a set of three specific questions to prepare:

  • Where are the characters?
  • What are they doing?
  • Why are they doing it?

Armed with those three questions, you should be able to set the scene and immediately leap into the action. Carve out this opening sequence for your players. In general, do they all enjoy wild combat encounters or flamboyant social interactions? Discovering new locations or sparring with a massive monster? Whatever they enjoy most, open the return session with it.

Ideally, with this clean, clear opening, you'll also unite them against someone old or someone new, an aspect to channel their rage against and help bolster their victories...

Give the Players Someone to Hate

Now everyone's altogether again, unite them against a common enemy quickly, whether they're a new villain, current foe, or recurring baddie. Ideally, you should include this individual in your clear and concise opening sequence.

In your prep, define this character. 

Who are they? Why do they care about the characters? Why should the characters care about them?

Additionally, tie some intrigue or mystery to the character, something the characters and players can latch onto for the session or the next few sessions to come. This baddie will be your conduit to drive the story forward and unite the party again.

It's a great way to ensure everyone is ready to return to the table consistently, all in the name of adventure and eliminating their new favorite villain.

Breaks Aren't an Issue

Breaks are common in D&D campaigns. When you return, you should have a clear plan to go about this return.

Give your return to the table some time to think about. Ensure you and your players have an excellent return session. Succinctly, break down your plan into three parts:

  1. Gather your party once again. Ensure everyone is able to attend and that you and them are prepared.
  2. Start with a broad shot, then zoom in. Keep your recap of the world and story brief. Instead, focus on the characters, what they're doing, and what drives them forward. Begin with what your players love most about D&D.
  3. Give the players and characters someone to hate. Tie this villain to the characters, flesh them out fully, and plop a mystery atop them. Use this baddie as a conduit to unite the party entirely.

Hopefully, each of these ideas will help your group and campaign flourish in the many moments to come.

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