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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  1. To think there will not be a new edition after this...folly. It may take 20 years and they may double down on bad ideas a few times along the way but it will happen.

  2. There are lots of this sort of opinion, but what I want to read it more nuanced. Like how WotC has changed the nature of the game to be less rules focused and put all the onus on the DM to make huge rulings. How this has created an unsaid adversarial relationship between DM and player. How these rules are only serving to push people away from DMing, making that relationship even worse.


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