New Dungeons and Dragons Rules


So Wizards of the Coast released their first play test material for the next version of Dungeons and Dragons. The first batch of stuff is on character backgrounds and races. I think the new rules are overall good. Not perfect, but pretty good. Based on vitriol on the internet, I might be in the minority, but the angry folks are always loudest. A bunch of things, on first glance:

Making ability scores a) tied to background and b) completely flexible negates the mechanical requirement for a bunch of old-fashioned race-stat combinations. Not all elves are slender braniacs, and not all orcs are big brutish tanks. This change felt pretty obvious after Tasha's came out last year, but it's cool to see it codified.

Half-races just being mechanically one or the other is kind of a bummer. But creating a system to pick and choose aspects from two races to combine (like how the half-elf and half-orc already worked, more-or-less) would be really awkward.

Nowhere in any race description does the document even suggest a predetermined alignment. The lone exception may be with Tieflings, with "for better or worse" having ancestry in nasty things, but they explicitly say it has no effect on moral outlook.

The concept of completely customizable backgrounds (with some pre-generated ones if you don't want to) is very good. I basically did that already and reflavored the official ones to get close to what I wanted for a character.

I'm not sure about the Ardlings. They feel like de-buffed Aasimar, which puts them more in line with a celestial-flavored Tiefling. I guess that's the point. I don't care for the animal head thing.

A flat 50 gp budget for equipment feels fair, but for a brand-new player, a "this or that" choice was way easier. That said, your rogue can now buy studded leather, two daggers, and a bag of ball bearings on day one and be pretty much set for the campaign.

Combining Magic Initiate into three lists (Arcane, Divine, Primal) is very good. Especially for the Primal list – it feels like Rangers got some caster representation. But I imagine an Ancients Paladin or a Scout Rogue with appropriate skills, Thorn Whip, and Hunter's Mark would be a better Ranger than most Rangers.

Getting free Inspiration on a 20/d20 is fine, but the DM's I play with aren't stingy with it. One suggestion I saw was to give Inspiration on a 1/d20 instead to even out the bumps, which feels nice.

I have mixed feelings on the "only player characters crit, and then only on weapon dice" thing. Seeing a full-HP low-level character get massive-damage killed in one hit from a crit feels bad, but also makes for good stories. And you never feel more powerful than when you crit-Smite an undead creature as a Paladin. Bursty damage is hard to design a game around, but it's usually pretty fun in practice.

I do not like "all nat 1's are fails" thing at all. If you finagle a +12 or whatever in a skill, you should basically never fail at that skill check.


I did not intend on writing that much about Dungeons and Dragons. I guess I have a lot of ideas. But I would never want to actually be in charge of this stuff. There are a lot of angry people on the internet this week who are pretty upset about their play-pretend-with-math game. Some people stuck with 3.5e or 4e, I'm sure some will do the same with 5e.