Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Dungeons & Dragons Previews 2024 Player’s Handbook & More

With the 2024 release of the new Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook on the way, Wizards of the Coast dropped a new look at everything the book will hold. Alongside the new PHB, they also provided new information about the updated Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual, due out later this year and early 2025.

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What’s in the 2024 D&D Player’s Handbook?

The 2024 Player’s Handbook (PHB) is an update to the 2014 PHB, updating many old player options and adding new ones. Several game mechanics have been reworked, such as revised backgrounds and changes to classes, while others have been added anew, like new crafting rules and the mechanics like Weapon Mastery.

Major changes to the new Player’s Handbook include:

Reworked Classes

Some of the biggest changes tested in the recent Unearthed Arcana playtests were changes to the classes. Players provided feedback for these proposed changes, resulting in them being tweaked and adjusted over time before being finalized for the 2024 PHB.

Among these new changes are:

  • Three new subclasses: the Circle of the Sea Druid, College of Dance Bard, and Path of the World Tree Barbarian
  • Subclasses like the Archfey Warlock, Beast Master Ranger, and Four Elements Monk are completely reworked
  • Psionic subclasses such as the Soul Knife and Psi Warrior have been imported from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
  • The addition of Weapon Mastery to many classes, such as Fighters and Rogues

Additional and Updated Species

The 2024 PHB has also reworked several races (now referred to as “species”) and added ones from later source books into the core Player’s Handbook. Not only are species like Dragonborn receiving a major update, the book is also adding Goliaths, Orcs, and Aasimar (originally added in Volo’s Guide to Monsters) which also receive upgrades from their previous versions.

However, the lack of Half-Elf and Half-Orc options remains a point of contention among fans, and WotC has not yet addressed how that is going to be handled.

Aardlings, a celestial species tested in an earlier Unearthed Arcana, remain absent due to player feedback, which frequently cited them as redundant when Aasimar are already an option.

Revised Backgrounds

Backgrounds in D&D 5th edition are a part of character creation that provide items and proficiencies based on what the character did before they were adventurers. The 2024 PHB updates backgrounds to make them a more core part of character creation.

Backgrounds now provide a first level feat, as well as skill proficiencies. On top of that, ability score bonuses have been moved from the character’s race/species to their background, giving characters three ability options that they can increase, either as a +2/+1 or a +1/+1/+1 bonus.

Backgrounds still provide starting gear, but no longer provide minor roleplay-focused features, such as the Acolyte’s Shelter of the Faithful or Charlatan’s False Identity.

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New and Revised Feats

Feats have also been revised, both with new feats and updates to existing ones. The new PHB features 75 feats, including several first-level feats that can be taken as part of a background and “epic boon” feats that can be taken at level 19 (and above for those who play past level 20).

Many of these feats are imported and updated from books like Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.

Fighting styles, once a class feature shared by classes like Fighters, Paladins, and Rangers, have become feats themselves. This allows those classes to take fighting styles a normal, while unlocking them as feat options for other classes (which was technically already possible with the Fighting Initiate feat from Tasha’s Cauldron).

Weapon Mastery

One complaint about weapons in D&D 5th edition is how similar so many of them are. A longsword and a battleaxe are practically the same, for instance, while others went all but unused.

Weapon Mastery is an attempt to address this, by enabling players to unlock new properties by, as the name suggests, mastering their weapons. This is intended to make each weapon more unique and provide more options for players while giving their melee characters more options in combat.

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Minor Rules Updates

Other updates are small but impactful changes to the overall rules. These include:

  • Drinking potions as a bonus action
  • Inspiration (now called “Heroic Inspiration”) can be used to re-roll any die
  • Rules for building a new character at higher levels

2024 Dungeon Master’s Guide

The 2024 Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG), due out November 2024, is also seeing a major revamp. One major focus is on empowering DM’s with a guide for creating adventures and settings, followed by an updated look at the classic Greyhawk setting made using this new guide and five short adventures that DMs can use as an introduction for themselves and their players.

The updated DMG includes basics for running the game, as well as a toolbox with rules around curses, poisons, environments, and so on. It also adds new magic items and a rule for crafting magic items.

One of the biggest changes is the addition of a “Bastion” system, allowing players to build and upgrade strongholds. Starting at level 5, players can begin building bastions, which they can grow and upgrade as they adventure and level up. Dungeon Masters can provide players with a “Bastion turn,” where players can upgrade their bastion or give orders to their hirelings, giving them more of a stake in their property.

New Monster Manual

The updated Monster Manual (MM), set to be released in February 2025, features over 500 monsters for Dungeons & Dragons. These include reworked versions of existing monsters, as well as 75 new monsters.

One of the goals for the new Monster Manual was to offer a greater variety of encounters within the same monster or enemy type. For instance, it adds a greater variety of vampiric monsters, so that characters of every level can face a vampire of a roughly equivalent threat. These peak with “apex” versions of monsters at the highest challenge ratings, such as a Colossus for constructs or an Elemental Juggernaut for elementals.

This also includes a greater range of NPC groups, so that not every bandit or enemy mage has the exact same challenge rating and weapons.

More to Come

Wizards of the Coast will be revealing new information for the updated species, classes, monsters, and mechanics in the 2024 Dungeons & Dragons update throughout the week, so keep an eye out for the latest news and updates.

The new Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual are now available for pre-order as a bundle on on DnDBeyond, and will be available for order soon at your friendly local game store.

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