As part of their announcement yesterday, Wizards of the Coast released the first playtest document for One DnD, Character Origins.
The bulk of the document is about how they are going to handle Character Races and Backgrounds in the next version of DnD. Interestingly they include snippets of other sections of the rules to give some context for the other mechanics they mentioned in the section about Origins.
Rob's Notes: So folks understand where I am coming from I care far more that the mechanics reflect the nuances of a setting or genre than "game balance. I am a strong proponent that having a consistent view of the genre or setting is more important. As opposed to making Option A, B, and C have equal weight in the campaign.
It looks like they want to bind Character Race and Background more tightly in One DnD. Emphasize roleplaying more by giving background equal weight to character weight. In core 5e, background is almost an afterthought. Later Adventures in Middle Earth ditched the idea that the two are separate and combined them into cultures. For example, a dwarf of the Lonely Mountain has some things in common with a Dwarf of the Blue Mountain and some things are different. Each has its own section in the AiME books.
Controversially they shifted some of the benefits around race and background. A character race still grants distinct special abilities but now the attribute bonuses are determined by the background the player chooses. For example, picking the Guard background will get you +2 strength and +1 wisdom in addition to a set of skill proficiencies, tool proficiencies, an additional language, and what they calling a 1st level Feat.
I think this was a poor creative choice. In DnD fantasy it is well established that elves are more dexterous, dwarves are hardier, and so on. This change doesn't feel very DnDish to me. But my choice would have been to split the bonuses between race and background. Just like in AiME a dwarven guard would have of some the same bonuses as a Dwarven Pilgrim and some that were different.
My final analysis is that in comparison to 5e core, characters are going to get a tad bit more with Character Origins. Like AiME there is more emphasis on the roleplaying details. That the difference between the 5e Core and One DnD is small and incremental in this area of the rules.
One DnD Character will know common, a language from their background, and a language from the list of Standard Langauge: Common, Common Sign Language, Dwarvish, Elvish, Giant, Gnomish, Goblin, Halfling, and Orc.
I find the addition of Sign Language interesting and plan to do some research into the historical use of sign language and incorporate that as an option for my Majestic Fantasy RPG. I also watched the movie Prey and the protagonists of the film, Comanches, also used a type of sign language.
In my 5e campaigns, I didn't often use feats having a negative experience with the mechanic as a result of 3.X. But 5e's take on feat is far more laid back overall so sometimes when a player makes a good case that a particular feat fit his character background, I will allow the pick.
However when it came to AiME, they recast the feat mechanic as virtues. And it worked rather well and really enhances the feel of the system as a Middle Earth RPG.
This section includes feats like Alert, Crafter, Lucky, Magic Initiate, Musician, Savage Attacker, Skilled, Tavern Brawler and Tough. I find it to be a varied mix of combat and non-combat options that are somewhat laid back overall like the core 5e feats. Some like skilled may have to be tested in actual play to see if they are too generous or not. Skilled give three proficiencies in skills.
Given the limited of 5e skills that could be overkill or maybe it is just right. I would judge this on the basis of "Does this make sense for the DnD fantasy genre that a character starting out to be proficient in this many skills?" compared to the overall skill list.
Feats also have a level requirement baked in as part of the standard description. Will have to see the full description of feats before making a call on whether this works out or not.
The author explains some of the mechanics they referenced in the preceding sections.
Types of Magic
There are not three instead of two types of magic. Primal joins Arcane and Divine. Could be a good roleplaying flavor.
They list Artisan's Tools, Gaming Set, Musical Instrument, and notes on Tool Proficiencies in general. Some observations.
- If you have proficiency in a relevant tool and skill you gain an advantage on the d20 roll
- It appears One DnD is simplifying the price list and acquisition of equipment.
- Their attempt at terminology to avoid naming editions is to say "see 2014, Player's Handbook".
Like the 2014 rule books, there are creature types and certain ability may work differently for a specific type of creature.
One DnD will introduce D20 Test as a term to describe any use of the 1d20 high mechanics. Ability Checks, Saving Throws, To-Hit Rolls, etc. It appears to be a way of consolidating the die rolling mechanics under a single header.
- Rolling a 1 on anything a D20 Test is a failure
- Rolling a 20 on anything grants inspiration.
- Critical Hits rolling a 20 on a weapon or unarmed attack will double the damage dice.
- spend 1 extra foot of movement for every foot you move using your Speed.
- Attackers have advantage on you
- Disadvantage on Dex Saves