The familiar black and red Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition books are going to look very different in 2024! Wizards of the Coast is currently working on updating the core books of the roleplaying game: the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual. These wide-ranging changes are not part of a new “sixth” edition of the game. This means the rule updates will be 100% compatible with all the 5e content you already own.
Popularly called “One D&D,” although that’s not the official name, the 2024 rules update has an easy-to-remember guiding principle: your table, your way. One of the initiative’s overall goals is updating the quality of play for both players and Dungeons Masters so that Dungeons & Dragons is more accessible than ever.
At a recent press event, the D&D team talked about what’s in the works for the 2024 update, their goals for the most significant changes since 2014, and what you can expect when you have the new books in your hands.
D&D Game Design Architects Jeremy Crawford and Christopher Perkins were on hand to give Nerdist a sneak peek at the current state of the rules. They revealed that the 2024 Player’s Handbook (PHB) features 12 classes, 48 subclasses, and over 144 origin options, as well as new feat, spell, and weapon options.
Class will be the first decision a player makes during character creation in the 2024 Player’s Handbook. Next is origin, the heart of character creation. “Race,” like human, half-orc, or elf, is now known as “species” and players will pick this after the character class. Then players choose a background with ability score bonuses and a first level feat, their alignment, and their languages. All together these characteristics craft a character’s origin.
“We’re giving people more tools than they ever had before to flesh out who their character was before becoming an adventurer, and who they will be going forward,” said Crawford.
The handbook redistributes subclasses so that each main class has four subclasses. The wizard and cleric will have fewer subclasses to make room for those of other classes, noted Crawford, but anything removed from the 2014 PHB is still officially playable in Fifth Edition.
Not only is the team going over the text on every page of the original core books with a fine-toothed comb, but the art inside the books has also been a big focus.
“We want it to be a dazzling visual experience,” Crawford said. The updated artwork will include some aspects of the game that haven’t been illustrated in the PHB before, like certain locations, named characters, all classes and subclasses, and the equipment characters can buy.
The D&D team is working to ensure the PHB and the other core books feel like they’re inviting everyone to the table. “[We want to] represent as broad a range of humanity as possible,” said Crawford, “[and] go even further than we did the 2014 rule book in showing the glorious richness of humanity.”
Dungeon Master’s Guide
As for the 2024 Dungeons Master’s Guide, Perkins said, “[The goal is to be] a useful, practical guide for all Dungeon Masters and an indispensable part of their game.” They reorganized the entire book with a different layout from the 2014 Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG), with an emphasis on making it as easy as possible to find what you’re looking for.
The 2024 DMG will address common questions that Dungeon Masters previously had to scour the internet to find answers for. Some of them include, “How do I start finding players? How do I compete with Dungeon Masters I’ve seen online? How do I avoid discomfort at the table? How do I deal with a TPK or character death? How do I build a campaign or adventure? How much of the rules do I actually need to know?”
More magic items than the 2014 DMG, a glossary, an expanded appendix of maps, player handouts, and more will make the 2024 Dungeon Master’s Guide an invaluable source of guidelines and inspiration for any D&D game.
The 2024 Monster Manual will be a treasure trove of baddies, about 500 in total, estimated Crawford and Perkins. All 2014 monsters are back along with new foes, including monsters with high Challenge Ratings like a CR 20 ooze and an Arch-Hag. (Not even dragons want to mess with an Arch-Hag!)
The 2024 Manual won’t have any CR changes to existing monsters. Any adventures using them are unaffected, added the D&D team. However, some may receive mechanical adjustments to make sure their CR is correct. All stat blocks will be updated to make them easier to use and to add some “spice.”
The core Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition rulebooks will have a staggered release in 2024. Want to make sure your voice is heard about the upcoming D&D rules update? Find out more about Unearthed Arcana and the power of playtesting.
Kelly Knox (she/her) is a Seattle-area author and entertainment writer who also contributes to StarWars.com, DCComics.com, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk about just about everything pop culture.