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What Does One D&D Mean for You?

Playtesting has started for One D&D. But what is One D&D? Is it a new edition? Is it a new part of D&D Beyond? Is it something entirely different? What does that mean for you? What does that mean for tabletop gaming as a whole?

One D&D is the codename for the future of D&D and Wizards of the Coast’s upcoming service. Wizards of the Coast has acquired D&D Beyond, and now plan to expand upon D&D Beyond’s all encompassing nature and easy to use interface. 

More than a new edition, One D&D is going to be your one stop shop for all things D&D. If you’ve ever wanted to combine your tools on D&D Beyond with an immersive tabletop environment like Roll20.net or Tabletop Simulator, then One D&D is exactly what you’ve been looking for. No longer will you need to manage a half a dozen apps and maneuver a variety of virtual tabletop programs to play your weekly sessions of D&D.

One D&D takes the best parts of 5th edition to create an experience that is both backwards compatible with 5th edition and will evolve with the ever changing rules of Dungeons and Dragons. That’s right, One D&D is not built upon 5th edition, nor is the introduction of 6th edition. One D&D moves away from hard coded editions in favor of a continually updated rule set that will reflect player feedback. The rules for One D&D are currently in playtesting, with new books slated for release in 2024. 

Over the course of the next year to year and a half, Wizards of the Coast will be releasing playtesting material, known as “Dark Arcana Articles,” via PDF. The materials will feature familiar content, updates, and new elements for players to review and give feedback.

The first of the Dark Arcana Articles, Character Origins, was recently released. Character Origins explores your character’s life before they began adventuring. Character Origins also introduces a new race known as Ardlings. Similar to Tieflings, Ardlings are a race of humanoid creatures who inhabited or descended from denizens of the Upper Planes with heads resembling animals. The feedback window for Character Origins will be open from September 2nd through September 16th, 2022.

You can sign up for the rules playtest today through your D&D Beyond account at the One D&D claim page.

The virtual tabletop currently in development, known by its codename D&D Digital Player Experience, is giving many long term players pause. In recent years, Wizards of the Coast has increased efforts to move some of their properties, such as Magic the Gathering, to a more digital experience for their products. The upcoming native virtual tabletop is a clear step in that direction. 

The early images released show that Wizards have taken great care in designing their virtual tabletop, impressively rendered in Unreal Engine 5. Not wanting to be mistaken for a video game, the team carefully chose to use a “tilt shift” camera angle. The virtually rendered minis look small and reminiscent of painted miniatures available from Wizkids. Developers hinted at premade “playset” companions to adventures that could be taken apart and used in future campaigns.

Will these professionally designed digital environments be the next “Matt Mercer effect,” disappointing new players when they play with dms who prefer theater of the mind, or sit around a kitchen table with unpainted minis and roughly sketched maps for the first time? Will this ruin tabletop RPGs? 

These questions always come up when new technology arises, as far back as the Greek philosopher Plato who feared the widespread use of writing would mean that young minds would no longer memorize information. We have always questioned, will this change ruin the experiences we love?

Probably not.

From prehistoric wargames to Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, tabletop gaming has experienced many changes, and through each change, the love of tabletop gaming has survived and even thrived. The rise of tabletop RPGs didn’t end wargaming, and virtual tabletops won’t erase the thrill of sitting around the table and holding your breath as your friend rolls their final death save. Theater of the mind, miniatures, handmade handouts, and lovingly drawn maps aren’t going anywhere.

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