Sunday, July 21, 2024

First Look At Dungeons & Dragons New Core Rulebooks Reveals Changes Big & Small For Players

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The biggest news for Dungeons & Dragons dropped this week with new information releasing the highly anticipated “5.5” rulebooks which are set to release this fall. The new books are a shift in strategy for D&D, who are aiming to merely tweak and improve the now-ten year old Fifth Edition rather than radically revamp the game into a Sixth Edition.

Core Rulebook Player's Handbook art
The team at Wizards wrote the updated game to emphasize the social aspects of play as much as the strategic

“Several years ago, we felt that the best way to celebrate 50 years of D&D was to return to the core books themselves, really the foundation of the entire game, and lovingly go through every piece of these books and incorporate all the lessons we’ve learned over the past decade and really make the best versions of these books that we could make,” Jeremy Crawford, game director for Dungeons & Dragons said during a recent press conference. “This is also the 10th anniversary of 5th Edition itself. So we have this amazing confluence of these two anniversaries.” 

Both Crawford and Chris Perkins emphasized that this is not a new edition, but a way to incorporate ten years of feedback into the game to make it more accessible and fun for old and new players.

Focus On New Players

    Core Rulebook Player's Handbook art spread

    The new version of the Player’s Handbook begins with the usual explanation for how to play the game. Unlike previous titles, this section aims at front loading enough information that you can start playing immediately. The more advanced or detailed rules that might come up are instead in the back of the book, in the Rules Glossary, which is intended to act as an evergreen resource for both players and DM’s. The theory being that once you get through the main part of the PHB, from the start through character creation, etc, you’ll then be able to play and learn the more complex rules as needed. It was also announced that a brand new Starter Set using the new rules will be announced, with details coming soon.

    Rolling With Class

    Core Rulebook Player's Handbook art spread

    Each class will have four subclasses in the new Player’s Handbook, for a total of 48 subclasses. Almost all of the subclasses from the 2014 Player’s Handbook are coming back in the new rulebook, along with 15 subclasses from either other books or are new to the game. There’s four for each subclass, and it’s the largest number of classes to be included in a core rulebook to date.

    Here are the 48 subclasses to appear in the 2024 Player’s Handbook.

    Barbarian:

    • Path of the Berserker
    • Path of the Wild Heart (Previously Path of the Totem Warrior)
    • Path of the World Tree (new to Dungeons & Dragons)
    • Path of the Zealot

    Bard

    • College of Dance (new to Dungeons & Dragons)
    • College of Glamour
    • College of Lore
    • College of Valor
    Dungeons & Dragons Sorcerer

    Cleric

    • Life Domain
    • Light Domain
    • Trickery Domain
    • War Domain

    Druid

    • Circle of the Land
    • Circle of the Moon
    • Circle of the Sea (new to Dungeons & Dragons)
    • Circle of the Stars

    Fighter

    • Battle Master
    • Champion
    • Eldritch Knight
    • Psi Warrior

    These new classes will replace existing classes from original 5E, but will still be usable with older adventures as well. The books will also contain information on how to use older races in the new rules.

    “We have designed the new Player’s Handbook so that characters built with it can be played with characters created with the 2014 Player’s Handbook,” D&D lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford said in a recent video. “If you are playing a 2014 character with 2024 characters, we have designed things so that 2024 rules should be used in that situation. Those rules can handle a 2014 character being present, but the 2014 version of the rules will grind in a few places with a 2024 characters.” 

    Core Rulebook Player's Handbook art spread
    New combat tweaks allow for martial classes to control the battlefield like their magic companions

    Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook 2024 Core Rulebook releases on September 17th, 2024. Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide 2024 Core Rulebook releases on November 2024. Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual 2024 Core Rulebook releases on February 18th, 2025.

    The books will be available directly from D&D Beyond, through online sellers like Amazon and Friendly Local Gaming Stores.

    Images via Wizards of the Coast

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