Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne delves deep into the One D&D announcement.

In my last column, I spent time discussing the new releases coming out later this fall and 2023 (see "Rolling for Initiative:  Looks at ‘D&D’"), and completely skipped over the announcement of One D&D (see "Core Rulebooks Are Due Out in 2024").

The One D&D project focuses on three initiatives:

D&D Rules.  Wizards of the Coast plans to expand and update the current rules for D&D 5E and is currently asking the D&D community to playtest them.  Interested participants can go to the One D&D website to register for playtesting opportunities and download proposed rules changes and updates as WotC's posts them.  From talking to some of the local D&D players that have opted into playtesting, the current materials undergoing playtesting focus on character creation.

One interesting facet of this rules update is the plan to make the rules changes backwards compatible, so that players can use their 5E adventures and campaign settings with the One D&D rules.  I remember when WotC had announced backwards compatibility with 5E and assumed that, with work, the new rules could be made to work with sourcebooks and adventures from editions 1E through 4E.  However, nothing appears to have ever come of that.  It was also possible, for a time, to use 3E rules with 2E materials and even with 1E, if the DM wanted to put some work into the conversion, but as more materials came out for 3E and 3.5E, that proved harder to do.  Given the price of 5E materials, a workable method of using One D&D rules with 5E would be most appreciated.

D&D Beyond.  WotC purchased this "digital toolset" (see "Hasbro to Purchase D&D Beyond from Fandom"), and appears to want to expand its digital offerings with it.  Hasbro has indicated the company wants to greatly increase the digital footprint of the D&D brand and, given the emphasis on digital activity in the presentation for One D&D, I see no indication the company intends to shift that focus.  In addition, the strength of the D&D brand is such that players will likely choose a site branded D&D opposed to one that is not.

Digital D&D Play Experience.  This looks as if WotC hopes to create an "immersive digital tabletop experience" to compete with Roll20 and other online gaming platforms.  Given the ability of WotC to integrate official D&D books into any platform the company develops and the amount of money that Hasbro can invest in developing the platform (plus the two years that the company will have to promote it during the playtesting for One D&D), I would expect to see a large amount of interest by online players in its use.  Applying the D&D brand to the platform, as noted earlier, will push D&D players toward the platform and away from competing ones.

Recently, WotC has brought in upper level management with experience in the digital field (see "Considering Wizards of the Coast’s New Executive Hires") rather than the tabletop RPG area, indicating the company’s continued focus on digital.  For now, the company still produces lots of print product, though in a consistent format.  It will be interesting to see what changes we see between now and Summer of 2024.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of