clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Dungeons & Dragons telegraphs 5th edition changes in major release

The latest Unearthed Arcana proposes some massive alterations to bards, clerics, and other core classes

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

A box, two pamphlets, some dice, and a few slips of paper included in the Dungeons & Dragons: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle set. Image: Wizards of the Coast
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

A glut of Dungeons & Dragons playtest materials launched on Thursday, representing the biggest batch of proposed changes so far to the game’s popular 5th edition ruleset. The Unearthed Arcana document runs 77 pages, and includes substantive changes to seven core classes from the Player’s Handbook (2014) — bard, cleric, druid, monk, paladin, ranger, and rogue. Feedback on the playtest opens with a survey on July 11.

D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast is in the middle of a realignment of the iconic role-playing game’s core rules. Initially dubbed “One D&D,” the Seattle-based Hasbro subsidiary is now referring to these updates as the revised 2024 Core Rulebooks. Three such revised rulebooks will roll out throughout next year, and will be referred to by their original names with the year of their revision appended to the title — thus Player’s Handbook (2024), Dungeon Master’s Guide (2024), and Monster Manual (2024). While these books will be wholly compatible with the 2014 versions that came before — as well as every 5th edition book yet published for the TTRPG — they also represent a new starting point for future content.

In May, game design architect Chris Perkins elaborated on why, nearly a decade into a wildly successful new edition of the game, these new books were so necessary.

“For so many people, those books are their introductory experience to the game,” said game design architect Chris Perkins in a group interview with press in May. “Those books are denser than some of our later books, the monsters aren’t as easy or as fun to play as some of our more recent books, and finding things is not as easy. [...] So making sure that our gateway to the game is as strong, as beautiful, [and] as accessible as possible I think is very important for the longevity of the game — and just for people’s enjoyment.”

Accompanying today’s release is a nearly hourlong video with game design architect Jeremy Crawford, as well as shorter class-specific videos. It’s important to note that none of these changes are final, and that the team at Wizards depends on feedback from its players before design decisions get finalized. You can download the playtest materials for free at the D&D Beyond website.

The next D&D book on the docket to be published is Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants, a treasury of new and revised giant foes as well as other goodies, such as new spells and character backgrounds. Pre-orders made through the Wizards of the Coast website will receive a digital version of the book for free. You can read more in our round-up of Wizards’ 2023 and 2024 publishing calendar.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon