Article Header Image
A Quick Recap
Mike Mearls

I t’s hard to believe that it’s already June. Over the past few weeks, we pulled back the curtain on a number of our plans and set the stage for the next six months of Dungeons & Dragons. To hit the highlights:

  • Tyranny of Dragons marks the first in a series of campaigns that cross over between the tabletop RPG, the Neverwinter MMO, and the D&D licensed miniatures and games from WizKids.

  • 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons will hit stores in July with the D&D Starter Set. The Player’s Handbook arrives in time for Gen Con in August, the Monster Manual roars to life in September, and the Dungeon Master’s Guide releases in November.

  • Basic D&D will be a complete RPG available for free as a PDF at It releases with the Starter Set and includes everything you need to create characters using the core classes (cleric, fighter, rogue, wizard) and races (dwarf, elf, halfling, human) to 20th level. With the release of the Player’s Handbook, Basic D&D will be expanded to include monsters, treasure, and the rules DMs need to create campaigns and run the game.

  • We have plans for a program that allows people to publish and share 5th Edition material, but we’re holding off on a full announcement until this fall. Our plan is to launch the program in early 2015.

That’s a lot going on already—on top of which, you can also expect the following:

  • For the next few months, this column will focus on previewing the contents of our upcoming products. The D&D Starter Set is up first, beginning next week.

  • From June 13 to 15, Rodney Thompson and I will be at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio. Stop by our seminars or the D&D play area and say hi. We’ll have a nifty announcement that I’ll recap in the June 16 Legends & Lore column. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but I’m excited about it nonetheless.

In terms of what we’re working on now, our days are being spent finalizing the Player’s Handbook and Hoard of the Dragon Queen—the first episode of Tyranny of Dragons. Hoard is heading to the printer the day this article is published, June 2. The Player’s Handbook departs on June 9. It’s fantastic to finally see both products in their final forms.

In addition to the products mentioned above, I’ve spent much of my time this week looking at the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Chris Perkins has wrestled the Monster Manual into shape, and that book is now in its graphic design stage. I’ve also seen the layout of the new DM’s Screen, and in my (admittedly biased) view, it looks fantastic.

So that’s where we are as of June 2, 2014. The release dates seem so far away, but our deadlines help make the time speed by. July can’t come quickly enough.

Mike Mearls
Mike Mearls is the senior manager for the D&D research and design team. He led the design for 5th Edition D&D. His other credits include the Castle Ravenloft board game, Monster Manual 3 for 4th Edition, and Player’s Handbook 2 for 3rd Edition.
Sort Items By: Newest First Oldest First Top Rated
Yeah, I'm with John (below) and his repeated questions: the 3 different versions of the rules doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Nor does the 5 month release schedule. At this point it seems like come November it will be safe to actually purchase something but before then you'll only have random fragments of a game.
Posted By: nukunuku (6/11/2014 4:45:33 PM)


I like it!
Posted By: Pyrate_Jib (6/5/2014 1:08:53 PM)


G_X wrote: "The Fighter in the Basic rules will just be the simplest Fighter. The Standard rules will have that as one option alongside more complex options."

I responded: "Where did you see WotC saying that? All I've seen is that Basic is going to be 15% of the PHB, which means Basic is just a subset of Standard."

From Mearls' interview with The Escapist (

"Bolding: Will the core classes from Basic DnD be present exactly the same in the Player's Handbook?
"Mearls: Yes."

That, to me, seems to be saying that the Basic content - at least in terms of character classes - is the Standard content just formatted and released a different way. Basic classes will have Feats, class abilities, etc..

Thus my guess is that Basic isn't really going to be much of a simplifie... (see all)
Posted By: Seanchai (6/4/2014 10:59:26 AM)


To me, the quote above confirms precisely that Basic will be a simplified subset of the standard rules. What Mearls said confirms what GX said as far as I can tell. Based on the quote, what else could it be?
Posted By: VCD (6/4/2014 2:01:11 PM)


Uhhhhhh...huh? The quote says that the classes in Basic and the PHB will be "exactly the same." I don't see how they could be different in that case. If they're not different, how is one a subset of the other? - John
Posted By: Seanchai (6/4/2014 2:26:06 PM)


You have to look at the quote that precedes the one you posted:
"Bolding: So in that way building a fighter is going to feel a lot like 3rd Edition where you're looking at being able to expand in a lot of directions?

Mearls: That's driven by the option you take, because there's also each class with a fairly simple track designed for Basic DandD."

Each class will have certain optional tracks (in another quote, Mearls specifies at least TWO tracks). He also says certain track options will be simpler than others. The simplest of each set of options will be whats presented in the Basic rules. I would describe that as the simplest subset of the 4 core classes and options available.

It seems this is the model that they'll be using for all of the Basic rules. They'll cull out the simplest subset of rules (whether that be the simplest classes, races, skills, movement rules, whatever) and present those as a standalone simplified version of the ... (see all)
Posted By: VCD (6/4/2014 7:18:53 PM)


Aaahhhhhh. Okay. Gotcha. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (6/4/2014 9:19:26 PM)


Or, Aaaahhh. Okay. Gotcha as far as characters are concerned. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (6/4/2014 9:20:37 PM)


I've not seen any directly specific quotes to support that they're designing the entire Basic rules with the same philosophy, but I can't think of a good reason why they'd deviate from something that should work. They've made mention of this philosophy but always in vague terms. To me, it's pretty clear that is what the Basic game will look like, largely because that's pretty much how they've described it from the very beginning. Some of the details have changed (like what resting/healing will be or what feats look like for example) but the core concept has remained remarkably consistent throughout the design process, that the Basic version of the game will be as simple and iconic as possible, while the standard version will introduce more expansive rules options, modules and the like. This achieves their two major goals. That the character built can feel as old school or new school as the player prefers (pleasing gamers from multiple editions of the game), and that players from multip... (see all)
Posted By: VCD (6/5/2014 12:32:11 PM)


So, it's now confirmed. The Basic rules are a simplified subset of the standard rules. As per the recent twitch livestream.
Posted By: VCD (6/7/2014 11:30:41 AM)


@ Ramzour

You wrote: "Remember, Monsters and NPCs don't need to follow the same PC rules!"

That is certainly true. They didn't in 4e. Perhaps they won't in Next as well. (Speaking just for myself, I don't have any issues with them being different.)

Of course, I still think people will want to utilize the material they pay for. If they have a book with mechanical options, they'll want to see them used in adventures.

Perhaps "major campaigns" will be few and far between. One a year, with other adventures online or every other month.

This is one of the reasons why I'm curious about just what WotC means... - John
Posted By: Seanchai (6/3/2014 11:13:12 AM)


I'll give you Wildshape, good point. That is a lengthy ability. Probably the longest for any single class feature, actually. I think it's even too cumbersome for PCs even, and I've been tinkering with ideas to simplify it for my games.

Hopefully they have already found a way to simplify it for adventure NPCs. Something as basic as this might work:
"Wildshaper [recharge 1 in 6]: The druid can wildshape into any beast. When shifted, they gain the appropriate movement for that beast (climb, swim, fly, etc), Keen Senses (adv on Wisdom checks to notice creatures), and any one of the following traits appropriate for that beast.
** Tough Beast: Advantage on STR checks/saves. +4 damage on melee attacks.
** Nimble Beast: Adv on DEX checks/saves. +2 AC.
** Tough Beast: Adv on CON checks/saves. +15 temp hp.

Simple and effective. Remember, Monsters and NPCs don't need to follow the same PC rules!!!
Posted By: Ramzour (6/3/2014 3:01:47 AM)


@ Ramzour

I don't recall saying they'd have to reprint the whole rulebook. I agree with you: it generally be very simple, usually a line or two, to explain races, classes, abilities, etc. But that's a line or two for a fair number of things. In each adventure.

And note that I said "generally" above. The 2nd level Druid ability Wild Shape uses about 190 words to explain the concept. That doesn't include the actual shapes.

Why wouldn't they want to include that information? Because it costs money. It costs money to write, money to edit, money to lay out, and money to proof.

It also takes up space, which may be at a premium is we're taking the printing of signatures

Finally, it can also be confusing. WotC has said that people want a simple game. Many have asked for simple stat blocks. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (6/2/2014 7:12:06 PM)


I think you're right. This is pretty simple stuff. I can't imagine having any issues with NPCs at all. 3-4 lines of stat block could cover pretty much any difference I can imagine. They've done a good job of simplifying and unifying the mechanics such that the differences in the core game and the standard game will be very easy to add or subtract. That's been part of the design goal all along. Some people seem to have a hard time envisioning how it will work but I think it looks very manageable. Good even. But beside that I'm thinking they said they'd be expanding the Basic system as certain modules or supplements made it necessary to do so. This would also be a good means of dealing with rules system divergence over time which will be somewhat inevitable were the standard game to grow and the Basic game to be static. So I don't think that will be the case.
Posted By: mbeacom (6/2/2014 6:46:19 PM)



What rules do you think they will have to cover, exactly? If an NPC has the Tough feat, then all they need is one simple line saying: "Tough: this character has +15 extra hit points (already factored in above)." Done. No need to reprint the whole rule for it...only how it applies to this particular NPC.

Likewise, if the NPC is a half-orc, then they have a small section of racial traits on their NPC stat block. Two lines. One for Darkvision. One for Menacing. Easy.

Why wouldn't they want to include that information anyway? They have stated a goal to avoid cross-referencing 500 books just to run a game. Monster Stat blocks will likely have the important spells described right in the stat block. I want an adventure module to be self-contained. I don't want to play one and then realise that I don't have some necessary source book. Having all the information listed in the module is as easy as adding a small appendix. That way, even if yo... (see all)
Posted By: Ramzour (6/2/2014 5:35:55 PM)


@ Ramzour (just in case)

They haven't quite being doing that for a long time. They've been including new material - new monsters, new spells, new items, new rules, etc. - but haven't had to go over existing rules. For example, they didn't have to explain in each module or supplement that Toughness was a bonus to Hit Points.

In terms of Basic and "major campaigns," it could be cumbersome because they'll potentially need to explain:

1. Race - simple description, mechanics
2. Class - simple description, mechanics
3. Class abilities - simple description, mechanics
4. Mechanics specific to characters
5. Other mechanics

For example, if they included a Half-Orc Paladin with a Feat that dealt with Attacks of Opportunity, you'd need to include some information about Half-Orcs, about Paladins, about that Paladin's class abilities, a bit about Feats, mechanical information about that specific Feat, and information about A... (see all)
Posted By: Seanchai (6/2/2014 4:43:33 PM)



I'm not sure why it would be so difficult or cumbersome for them to provide stats for an NPC Paladin (for example). They don't have to show all the options for the paladin 1-20, just the specific stats that THAT particular level whatever Paladin has. And honestly, they should probably do that for every NPC anyway, even the FRWC classed NPCs. That way the adventure modules are as self-contained as possible. Consider the NPCs the same as the Monster stat blocks. A published adventure can have a "Monsters/NPCs" section in the back with all the stats needed to run them. And they have pretty much already been doing this for a long time now, so it doesn't seem like any extra work.

What the adventures WON'T have, however, are things that assume the PCs are a particular class outside of FRWC. So in the Adventure Level section it might say something like "it is recommended that the party have at least one Fighter (or similar) and one Rogue (or simi... (see all)
Posted By: Ramzour (6/2/2014 3:14:58 PM)


It's going to be weird if the other classes and races at least aren't in the basic rules, because that means several pages of each adventure are going to have to be devoted to reprinting rules for the classes and races that show up in that product. At least it's not an issue with monsters, because adventures already just include stat blocks for every monster regardless of where it comes from.
Posted By: Fuzzypaws (6/2/2014 2:57:38 PM)


I have to say, I'm pretty happy with the ultimate outcome. Early on in the design process, there was a lot of skepticism of how they would release their "simple core" and what that would mean for the game. But now that we have the reveal of Basic DandD as a free PDF including the simplified version of the rules, it's now clear what they meant. And to be honest, it's pretty awesome. I never thought that their simple core would also be FREE! I'm so glad they stuck to their guns of a simple core with more advanced modules and gameplay options available. I can't wait to get my hands on the simple core (Basic PDF) and the advanced options in the PHB. I think it's a great strategy and it is getting exceedingly difficult for the haters to somehow spin free DandD as a bad thing. (but they keep trying).
Posted By: mbeacom (6/2/2014 1:07:16 PM)


June for Starter set would be awesome!

Everything is already pre-ordered. And I am wishing upon a dar-gon star there are no mistakes that have to be handle with an over-the-top errata.


Posted By: mrlong78 (6/2/2014 11:58:10 AM)


One easy way to handle NPC classes that might appear in adventures but not in the core 4 would be to just have non-core classes in the Basic PDF monster listing. Put in a Paladin, Ranger, Druid, Bard, Barbarian, etc, give it the paragraph or two to explain how they work as an NPC/Monster and then whenever they show up in a module, they can simply reference the entry in the Basic PDF. There are lots of pretty easy ways to handle this once you start thinking that the Basic version of the game is all digital and can get updated as often as they like depending on the materials they release. If a module calls for a paladin, they can release a paladin "expansion" to the Basic rules. It may not tell you everything you need to know to build a Paladin through all the levels but it would easily tell you what you need to know in order to run a Paladin as an NPC. My guess is that the Basic rules will contain expansions for modules that release. They've made it pretty clear the entire fou... (see all)
Posted By: VCD (6/3/2014 1:00:49 AM)


It certainly seems like that. I thought, however, the plan was to build a simple core on future modules to be built. I'm assuming Basic characters will get all the mechanical bits that Standard ones do as they seem to be the same bit of rules, and, that being the case, it certainly seems like that plan was abandoned. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (6/2/2014 11:49:02 AM)


That was supposed to be a reply to Komomachi. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (6/2/2014 11:49:33 AM)


@ Llenlleawg

I suppose we'll have to see just what's in Basic to see how that's going to play out.

I'm assuming at this point that Basic isn't a simpler version of a game - a basic version - just a selection of Standard rules (Standard not actually being the standard, mind you).

So if we have a "major campaign" with an NPC Fighter, an NPC Wizard, an NPC Ranger, and an NPC Paladin in it, then...

1. No material beyond descriptions and stat blocks will be included for the Fighter and Wizard as full write ups for those appear in Basic.

2. Some background information and a complete work up of all relevant mechanical abilities for the Ranger and Paladin will be either included in the adventure material or appear online.

If that's the case, several things occur to me.

1. People want to use the material they purchase and they're definitely going to expect to see Standard material in the adventures they p... (see all)
Posted By: Seanchai (6/2/2014 11:46:58 AM)


What about online support - character builder, monster builder, etc.? I hope the support continues for 5th edition, but haven't heard anything explicit on the matter.
Posted By: Steppenwolf41 (6/2/2014 11:18:43 AM)


Just in case this doesn't show up as a reply under Seanchai's question, it's in re #1. Is Basic just a selection of rules from Standard as seems to be the case or is Basic, you know, like the other Basic DnD sets (a simplified version of the game)?

From what I understand, the Basic DnD set is just that: these are the rules that the game is based on. It is only simplified in the sense that these rules hold for all subsequent material they produce, be it adventures, optional rules, expanded race and class options, etc.
Posted By: Komomachi (6/2/2014 11:06:13 AM)


I noticed that the article says that the Starter Set and Basic DnD will be out in June, but the product listing says July 15. Which is correct? For now, I'm assuming the July date.
Posted By: Lord_Markelhay (6/2/2014 10:34:44 AM)


Thanks for the recap Mike! The information had been spread out over a few locations and it's nice to see it bulleted in one place. I'm really looking forward to the upcoming months with all the new products! Keep up the good work.
Posted By: Ramzour (6/2/2014 7:37:12 AM)


@Seanchai, it's not that major campaigns will "just use Basic". Rather, it's that you won't need anything more than the information in the Basic set and what is included in the campaign material to play the campaign (so, e.g. anything not in Basic, but otherwise in Standard, will be included as much as needed in major campaigns to that someone only using Basic could also play).
Posted By: Llenlleawg (6/2/2014 4:21:39 AM)


Looks like a typo, while I would love a June release as stated above, the starter set has the date of July 15th.
Posted By: JesterOC (6/2/2014 3:12:28 AM)


@Seanchai: The Basic rules and the Standard rules are the same game; the Standard rules just have more options.
Posted By: G_X (6/2/2014 2:07:54 AM)


But what does that mean?

For example, we've been told that those who want to play a simple Fighter can do so alongside - at the same table as - those who want more mechanical options. So when we're talking about Basic and being able to build characters with Basic, I'm assuming a Basic Fighter will be different from a Standard Fighter. It'll have fewer moving mechanical parts. You won't pick Feats at all. Something like that.

However, it seems like Basic is just a selection of Standard rules. You could build the exact same Fighter using the Basic PDF as you could using the Standard PHB.

Okay. That's fine with me. That's what I would have done from the outset. But I didn't think that was the plan. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (6/2/2014 11:31:35 AM)


The Fighter in the Basic rules will just be the simplest Fighter. The Standard rules will have that as one option alongside more complex options.
Posted By: G_X (6/2/2014 2:50:03 PM)


Where did you see WotC saying that? All I've seen is that Basic is going to be 15% of the PHB, which means Basic is just a subset of Standard. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (6/2/2014 4:30:30 PM)


Posted By: Evenglarexi (6/2/2014 2:02:06 AM)


Second bullet point says June for Starter Set. Should that be July? Totally fine if you've decided to move it forward....:)
Posted By: DungeonSquirrel (6/2/2014 12:43:21 AM)


I hope the picture is the new design for the 5e PHB. The little bit more zoomed out picture make it a lot better to grasp, what is going on in the picture.

I´d also like to see previews of the upcoming products. At least the schedule is now clear.
Posted By: UngeheuerLich (6/2/2014 12:12:03 AM)


I still have two questions:

1. Is Basic just a selection of rules from Standard as seems to be the case or is Basic, you know, like the other Basic DnD sets (a simplified version of the game)?

2. Are all Next adventures going to just use Basic or only the "major campaigns"? - John
Posted By: Seanchai (6/2/2014 12:11:38 AM)


If you have nothing new to say, then why post a column at all? That's weaksauce, man. Do you want people to buy this game or not? Give the people some actual protein to sink their teeth into...not this lazy BS.
Posted By: Gizmoduck_5000 (6/2/2014 12:05:22 AM)


There is some new stuff in there. For example, he mentioned "publishing" Next content, so I'm assuming there'll be some kind of OGL. Which wasn't clear when he actually posted about the OGL. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (6/2/2014 12:09:58 AM)


But he calls it a "program," which to me says it won't be anything like the OGL.
Posted By: G_X (6/2/2014 12:55:40 AM)


Could be. Dunno. At least this seems to indicate companies can publish material for the game. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (6/2/2014 11:32:53 AM)


Did you read the title of the article? "A Quick Recap". Why you would expect much new information here? And since you are so eager for the release, wouldn't you rather the devs spend their valuable time getting ready for the release instead of writing lengthy article full of new content that we're going to see next month anyway?
Posted By: Ramzour (6/2/2014 7:34:26 AM)


Boooo! Give us real content. Stop stalling.
Posted By: Gizmoduck_5000 (6/2/2014 12:02:34 AM)


You are a real piece
Posted By: DDNFan (6/2/2014 2:15:36 AM)


He's not allowed to complain if he wants to? - John
Posted By: Seanchai (6/2/2014 11:50:32 AM)


have a little patience, would you?
Posted By: Ramzour (6/2/2014 7:31:09 AM)


Booooo, give us a real comment. Stop trolling! ;)
But seriously, this is a recap. If they put a bunch of new content in a recap, lots of folks would miss it. They've been posting/talking more in the past 2 weeks than in the past 6 months. This has been a huge month for news.
Posted By: mbeacom (6/2/2014 1:13:53 PM)



Create Comment
Follow Us
Find a place to get together with friends or gear up for adventure at a store near you
Please enter a city or zip code