The announcement of the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons release schedule brought up a troubling gap in the playability of the game. The D&D Starter Set, released July 15, would not contain character creation rules, but lead designer Mike Mearls confirmed that players would still be able to make characters without the set. That question was answered today at D&D seminar at ACD Games Day. The answer, repeated by Mearls on Twitter: about 15% of the Player's Handbook will be available for free as a PDF. This is consistent with Morrus at ENWorld’s prediction about online support of the character generation, and my prediction that there would be significant PDF support of the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Board Game Geek live-tweeted the ACD seminar with some interesting tidbits:
- There will be a new emphasis on villainous organizations in the new Monster Manual to accompany the monsters featured in it.
- Sidebars in the Dungeon Master’s Guide will provide tips on how to convert the game to older editions.
- The D&D movie is in the works once more, which implies the two sides in the lawsuit may have finally settled (as I predicted). The trial date has been set for July 1. ICv2 agrees:
There are some indications that settlement talks may be underway, including the fact that the last two delays in the trial date were at the request of the parties. The stakes are certainly higher now that the D&D property is about to undergo a highly publicized relaunch (see "New 'D&D' Dates, Info, and Pics"); it’s a great time to make a movie.
Mearls revealed more D&D news in rapid succession over the past few hours:
- More in-depth combat will be in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
- Traditional magic systems (probably Vancian) will be in the Player’s Handbook, an optional point-based system will be in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
- Wizards of the Coast is setting up shop in the gaming hall instead of the dealer’s hall at Gen Con.
- Even though they were missing from the playtest, henchmen will be in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, summoning spells in the Player’s Handbook
- The Dungeon Master Guide will have rules to convert spell attacks to Will/Fort/Reflex saves.
- The Starter Set adventure will be set in the Forgotten Realms but will be easy to adapt to other campaigns, with previews revealed next month.
- Online play (i.e., Roll20) MIGHT be supported by Organized Play.
Mearls seems to have been given license to share details about Dungeons & Dragons, so if you have questions try asking him directly on Twitter.