19 August 2022

One Dungeons and Dragons: the 2024 version (edition 5.5)

I guess it was inevitable. A new “version” (the word “edition” seems to be verboten at Wizards of the Coast these days) of Dungeons and Dragons is coming in 2024. It’s currently being called “One D&D,” I suppose to emphasize the compatibility of the 2024 version with the 2014 5th edition rules.


WotC is at pains to stress that everything that has been published for fifth edition will be usable/compatible with the 2024 rules. Of course, this doesn’t prevent it from being a new “edition” in any sense—1st edition AD&D modules can be used easily with 2nd edition and vice versa. But given the ways that the 3rd, 4th, and 5th editions were all incompatible with each other (and with earlier editions)—they were essentially different games altogether—and the divisions that these shifts caused among players, I can understand why WotC would want to do what they can to highlight that no equally dramatic change is coming up in two years.


Anyhow, I think that 5th edition is … fine. I enjoyed using the Adventures in Middle-earth version of the rules for my Mirkwood campaign, and I am enjoying using the core rules for my current Greyhawk campaign. As I’ve mentioned before here, I'm using Gygax's version of the setting (1983 box set) as my base, modifying a few things, and filling in some details here and there. I’m only permitting character options that make sense for the setting (so no tieflings, dragonborn, warlocks, etc.). I don't use the “inspiration” rules or “feats.” Does it feel exactly like 1e AD&D? No, certainly not. But it's not that far off in terms of the actual player experience, I think. We’re having fun with it in any case.


After taking a quick look at the current play test document for One D&D, I already have a couple of concerns. 


I don't like feats at all and (as I just mentioned) I don't use them in my campaign. Making them optional was one of the best things about 5th edition. So I'm disappointed that they now seem to be no longer optional in the play test document. Likewise, I don't like inspiration and don't use it in my game. Not using inspiration keeps the game a bit more “gritty” and dangerous. But inspiration now seems to be required (for humans at least).

My current take is this: I use some modest tweaks to maintain a somewhat “old school” feel to my 5e game. This has been easy to do, and I'm a little concerned that this may be harder to do in 5.5e. But perhaps my worries will prove unfounded. Or perhaps I’ll just stick with “my version” of 5th edition (I certainly will do so for my current campaign). And after I finish the Greyhawk campaign—which very well may not be for a couple of years—I expect I’ll be in the mood to run something different in any case. (Perhaps Against the Darkmaster or Lyonesse...)

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).