New! Improved! Backwards compatible! Honest!

If you haven’t checked out the One D&D Character Origins playtest material, give it a read.
If this sounds too negative, the bits I liked appear here.


Limited release of the Playtest

Normally the Unearthed Arcana materials are posted to the Wizards of the Coast for gamers to download and provide feedback. That was not the case here and if I didn’t have a D&D Beyond account I would have had to do some searching to find out about this one. On the other hand, the WotC website doesn’t send out a newsletter regularly but D&DB does, so maybe this might be a good shift but I would have at least liked a post to the main website announcing upcoming projects and most importantly this playtest material.

All about the Background now
Background traits determine ability score bonuses instead of Race and set the 1st level Feat.

I’m an old school gamer so it seemed natural that an average orc would be stronger than the average elf and an average elf would be more graceful than the average orc, so those racial modifiers made sense. The move in Tasha’s to decouple ability scores from race was fair enough, allowing greater customizing of a character. By linking these ability score modifiers to the background, I would argue that this swings too far the other way and actually puts a greater restriction on character building. A fighter seeking to maximize their strength will seek out the background with the best strength modifier, and thus we miss out on the more interesting story combination of a very strong Acolyte who has since picked up a sword. With original 5E rules, they would have picked orc. With Tasha’s they could pick any race. It doesn’t affect the min/max power gamer as much as it hits the player who seeks out unique combinations of backgrounds / class / race.

The 1st level feat also being defined by the Background also irks me. The thing that I liked about PCs having a feat at 1st level was that it made them a little more unique and customized. Set up like this, those three Sailor Backgrounds in your High Seas Campaign are going to have a degree of sameness in skills, stats, and feats. My preference would be to either expand the range of Feats available or just allow the PC to pick a Feat of their choice.

Admittedly, if so inclined (and with the DM’s permission), one can build a custom Background and set up the ability scores, proficiencies, and feat as they see fit.

Every adventurer’s story begins somewhere …

Nerfed – Alert, Healer. Buffed – Tavern Brawler.

It’s a pretty small list so far, but it shows the intent of how feats will look in the next release. Prerequisites are back and that’s okay. Ability score increases are gone so there is even less incentive to choose feats instead of ability score increases at level 4, 8, etc.

The proposed Healer feat has a nice boost with the ability to reroll a healing die result of 1 on the die (but must keep the new roll) for use of a healing kit or a spell (nice!) but the Battle Medic function allows the creature being healed to expend a hit die and regain that many hit points plus your proficiency bonus. The current Healer feat allows you to stabilize a dying creature and restore them to 1 hit point, but more importantly as an action restore 1d6 + 4 hit points plus additional hit points equal to the creature’s maximum number of hit dice and cannot be used again in the fashion until after a short or long rest.

I understand why this change was made as with the original Feat there was no upper limit to regaining hit points as long as you have enough healing kits and short rests to spend. It echoes healing surges from 4th ed. and the way this is set up, can be used multiple times in the same encounter. The downside, that’s fewer hit dice to be spent on a short rest. It probably better reflects the ability of a body to heal itself and leaves healing potions and spells to do the heavy lifting. At least it offers the reroll a 1 and being able to spam it in encounters as long as there are hit dice and healing kits.

You get knocked down, but I’ll get you up again, never gonna keep you down!

The high cost of music
All Musical Instruments cost 20 gold.

No. A wooden recorder should not cost the same as a lyre. About half the instruments in the PHB are 6 gold or less and the other half 20+ gold so it isn’t an outrageous thing but having priced out guitars and lutes IRL, this fixed price strangely breaks my immersion.

Thoughts …
Most of the changes that I’m not happy with will be easy enough to tinker with as house rules. When the feedback forms open up, I plan on saying my piece.

Next – Wait and see

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