Dungeon Master Assistance

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One D&D – Character Origins


I am sure you have seen the announcement by now. If you missed it, here is a link:

WotC Announcement

This is all in preparation for the new version of D&D that is scheduled to be released in 2024. They are calling it “ONE D&D” for now. They are getting away from release or edition numbers. If you are familiar with the software AutoCAD, they did the same thing some years back. After release 14 of AutoCAD came AutoCAD 2000, then AutoCAD 2002, etc. It looks like this is what they will be doing with Dungeons and Dragons. They may also change the official name from “Dungeons and Dragons” to “D&D”. I noticed that they are now referring to the fifth edition Player’s Handbook as the 2014 Player’s Handbook.

Note regarding Editions: Not referring to different releases of D&D as editions is not a new idea for D&D. The current 2014 version of the Player’s Handbook has no mention at all of any edition. We players are the ones that have christened it 5E. Looking at the covers of earlier editions I can only find two that have any mention of an edition or version: the “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Second Edition, Players Handbook” (1989), and the “Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook, Core Rulebook 1, v.3.5” (2003). The others simply refer to it as “Dungeons & Dragons” or “Advanced D&D”.

They seem to be bending over backwards to insist that the new rules will be comparable with the current edition of D&D. There are some very good marketing reasons for this and I hope they make using existing books with the new release as painless as possible, but the new release is looking to me a lot like it should be thought of as D&D 6E. Not that that is a bad thing. I prefer the majority of the proposed new rules to the existing ones – so far.

They have started play testing the new rules, a few rules at a time. If you would like to participate in the play testing, or simply see what the new rules may look like, The first set of rules that have been released is called “Unearthed Arcana 2022 Character Origins”. It is in the form of a PDF file you can download a copy by logging into D&D Beyond. If you aren’t a member of D&D Beyond you can access it HERE.

This 21 page PDF contains new rules for Character Races, Character Backgrounds, Starting Languages, Feats, and in what they call a “Rules Glossary” where they list rules and terms that are new or changed.

Here is a quick overview:

RACES

It takes special note of the fact that each of these races have a “Creature Type” of Humanoid. Obviously, this anticipates the future inclusion of other creature types.
It looks like they will be listing Human first, which makes sense for new players. The new list of available races are Human, Ardling (a new race), Dragonborn, Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Halfling, Orc (another new race), and Tiefling. Notice that Half-Elf and Half-Orc have been removed, but your two parents can be any available huminoid race. You get the size, speed, and special traits of one parent and mix and match visual characteristics you want from your two parents.

Your character’s race no longer gives you any ability score increases.

They are no longer divided into “common” and “uncommon” races.

There are no alignment suggestions for your race.

Subraces are being replaced by Lineages.

The speed for each race is now the same, 30 feet (exception: the wood elf speed is 35 feet).

All races get the Common language. Dragonborn also get Draconic. All other races get a language provided by their background and can choose one additional language. You don’t automatically get Dwarvish, Elvish, Goblin, Halfling, or Orc just because you happen to be that race.

Here is a list of what I see as the biggest change for each race. There are other changes as well.

Human
Humans can be Small or Medium. There is no longer a variant human option. Feats are no longer an optional rule. Everyone gets a 1st-level feat based on his background. Humans also get one additional 1st-level feat.

Ardling (A new Player Race)
Ardlings can be Small or Medium. An Adling is kinda like the opposite of a Tefling. Rather than their heritage tied to the Lower Planes, an Adlings heritage is tied to the Upper Planes. Their head resembles an animal, has some innate spell casting ability, resistance to radiant damage, and can sprout spectral wings and fly a number of times equal to your Proficiency Bonus per long rest [ I will be referring to this as (PB/LR). It looks like this is replacing things that were renewing after a short rest.]

Dragonborn
They now get Darkvision. Their breath weapons have changed a little.

Dwarf
You don’t get any weapon or armor proficiencies. They are moving all of those to your background. The Stonecutting feature has been improved to give you Tremorsense out to 60 ft. for 10 minutes (PB/LR).

Elf
You get a cantrip at first level and a spell at 3rd and 5th level. You can cast each of these once per long rest for free, or you can use any spell slots you may have to cast them.

Gnome
You now have Advantage on all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws (not just against magic). They replaced the Speak with Small Beasts trait with the Speak with Animals Spell and replaced the Tinker trait with the ability to create a Tiny clockwork device that can produce an effect from the Prestidigitation cantrip.

Halfling
No more Lightfoot or Stout. No more hiding behind other creatures – you get Naturally Stealthy but it only gives you Proficiency in the Stealth Skill.

Orc (A new Player Race)
Orcs have darkvision, can Dash as a bonus action (which gives then temporary hit points PB/LR, count as large carrying capacity and push, pull, drag or lift, and drop to 1 point instead of 0 once per long rest.

Tiefling
Tieflings can now be Small or Medium. You get the Thaumaturgy cantrip. Like the Elf, you also get a cantrip at first level and a spell at 3rd and 5th level. You can cast each of these once per long rest for free, or you can use any spell slots you have to cast them.

CHARACTER BACKGROUNDS

This says nothing regarding Alignmant, Ideals, Bonds, or Flaws. It would be okay with me if they dropped Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws but they may show up in a future Unearthed Arcana.
Although the current Player’s Handbook has rules for customizing your background, not many players do that. These new rules makes building your own background the preferred method but also provides some pre-made backgrounds that you can use, or modify using the provided rules.
The rules to create your background are simple.
Abilities: You get 3 points to add to your ability scores, add one to 3 abilities or 2 to one and 1 to another.
Skills: You get proficiency with 2 skills.
Tools: You get proficiency with 1 tool.
Language: You get one language from your background.
Feat: you get 1 first level feat.
Equipment: You buy whatever you want. You get 50 gp to buy it with. You keep any coins that you don’t spend.

LANGUAGES

After creating your characters background you can add one aditional language. Common Sign Language has been added as a standard language and Thieve’s Cant has been added as a rare language.

FEATS

The document defines several first level feats. Each feat has a level, some have prerequisites, and some can be taken more than once (repeatable).
None of the first level feats add to your ability scores.

RULES GLOSSARY

I may give my thoughts on the new and revised rules and game terms in a future post.

One last comment:

Don’t forget that everything in “Unearthed Arcana 2022 Character Origins” is for playtesting. These are proposed new rules that they are requesting we users try out and report back to them. Based on your feedback any or all of these may change before the new Player’s Handbook, Dungeon MAster’s Guide and Monster Manual are published in 2024. There will be many more of these, possibly several different versions.

Tell me (or, more importantly, tell Wizards of the Cost) what you like or don’t like about any of this and why.

10 responses to “One D&D – Character Origins

  1. Gordon Johansen August 23, 2022 at 5:58 pm

    It may be a little old school of me but I think adding all this complexity in character creation will make it more difficult and confusing for new players to get started. Even the current character creation system can take a long time. Pregens can make it faster of course but I find most people don’t identify as much with them if they are advancing levels.

    Like

    • Ronny August 24, 2022 at 10:27 am

      I am also a big fan of making character creation fast and easy, especially for new players, but I am not sure I understand your comment.
      Generate ability scores and add 3 points, select a race, select a (sample) background, select another language and you are ready to play.
      There are a couple of decisions to make with most races. For new players, as the DM I might provide them with a default option they could choose for each race.
      Selecting a sample background from the list is about as easy as it could get. If you prefer them to create their own so they will identify more with it as they advance in levels, how can that get much easier than selecting 2 skills, a tool, a language and a feat? You could easily provide a selection of equipment packs to choose from (the DM will need to revise the costs to reflect the actual cost of the items in the packs)? Or they could select a sample background and make changes to it.

      Could you give me an example of how you envision a simpler character creation process? I am actually interested in perusing this idea.

      By the way; Old School character creation wasn’t as simple as you may remember. Here is how you created your character using the basic rules boxed set published in 1983:
      1. Generate Ability Scores – Roll three 6-sided dice six times in order.
      2. Choose a Class – Fighter, Cleric, Magic-user, Thief, Dwarf, Elf, or Halfling. (Dwarf, Elf and Halfling were character classes).
      3. Exchange Ability Score Points – Each Class had a minimum ability score requirement for it’s “Prime Requisite”. You could raise your Prime Requisite ability score by 1 at the cost of 2 points taken from other ability scores.
      4. Roll for Hit Points – Roll 1d8, 1d6, or 1d4 for hit points (depending on your class). Note that you can easily start with only 1 hit point.
      5. Roll for Money – Roll 3d6 for number of gold pieces.
      6. Buy Equipment – You are restricted as to which armor and weapons you are allowed to buy depending on your class, but otherwise you buy what you want with the money you have.
      7. Figure out your Armor Class, Hit Roll Chart, and Saving Throws – This involved several tables and adjustments.
      8. Note Adjustments for Ability Scores – As explained in the book “Your Strength, Wisdom, Dexterity, and Constitution bonuses or penalties have been explained in the steps taken so far. You should double-check to be sure they are correct, using the Bonuses and Penalties Table. All of these adjustments (if any) should be written on your Character Sheet in the spaces provided for them, next to the Ability Scores. Using the chart, fill in the bonus or penalty for your Intelligence Score. The Charisma Score uses a different chart.”
      9. Give your Character a Name and Alignment – The three alignments were Law, Chaos, and Neutrality. Each alignment had a language.
      10. Get ready to play – “If your character can cast magic spells, you will need to select spells before starting your adventure. Magic-Users get 1 spell to start. Clerics do not get spells until they reach 2nd Level.”

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      • Gordon Johansen August 26, 2022 at 4:27 pm

        I guess I am still living more in the past than you Ronny. I’m thinking of the original small brown box edition from 1973/74 that I started with. Close but it felt even simpler than what you show above. I don’t remember the adjustment of abilities, but it could be that we never took it as a rule. The basic creation is easy enough now but adding the skills, tools, languages, feats, trinkets, etc. just seems to take longer as there is such a wide selection to choose from. I was trying to help some kids the other day and they were a little overwhelmed as they were underprepared. Starting with the hardcovers is not the best idea for beginners and I always recommend the first starter set to get them going. Phandelver is an awesome module in my opinion for beginners.

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      • gordonjjohansen August 26, 2022 at 5:05 pm

        Those sheets look terrific for new players. Would you like me to put a link to your post on our Sentry Box Facebook page and perhaps even the Google business page? I never want to assume permission. I’m sure people would like them.

        Like

      • Ronny August 27, 2022 at 10:42 am

        I would be honored! Feel free to put links to anything I have. Everything here is free for players and DMs to use and share as they like, as long as they don’t charge for them.

        Like

    • gordonjjohansen August 26, 2022 at 4:34 pm

      I’m not sure if it is appropriate here but I thought you might like to see a documentary on my store that shows what happens when that 1974 game player pursues a dream for 42 years. The cold Canadian north is a good beeding ground for gamers if they don’t like winter sports. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seREqdX75lk It was shown at Gencon recently. I should warn you that it’s an hour long.

      Just delete this post if you don’t think it should be here. I don’t want to be spamming anyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: One D&D – Character Origins — Dungeon Master Assistance – Home of the Nerdy Viking

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