D&D’s Jeremy Crawford on the evolution of player race choices

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Few years ago, Dungeons & Dragons‘ creators the promised change was future to how massively the game is popular fifth edition approached the race. Years later there has been iterated— but as the latest sourcebook look to the future of the game, there are still a lot of changes to be made.

In the wake of ads specifically targeting certain races like the Drow—dark-flayed, elven beings who have long been considered an “intrinsically evil” species, in both J&D fiction and in the moral alignment mechanisms of play – 2020s Tashas Cauldron of Everything introduced an entirely new system for character creation that gave players the ability to come up with their own stat bonuses for a given race, decoupling them from being, as they were in the past, inherent strengths and weaknesses physical or culturally mandated. Now the latest evolution is coming Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, a complete collection of rules not only for opposing creatures and NPCs drawn from the nearly eight years of additions to Fifth Edition rules, but newly updated and refined rules for 33 playable races. For J&DJeremy Crawford’s lead rules maker, publishing monsters of the multiverse gave the team a much-needed chance to address every playable run and realign them with the new approach to the game.

“As we put together this wonderful collection of peoples, it was also an opportunity for us to give them a fresh coat of paint. Over the past eight years, in endless conversation with the fanbase, we’ve learned that there are certain ways to make things work better, ways to improve the gaming experience, to facilitate understanding, rationalize … and so we laid those lessons bare by looking at the races in monsters of the multiverse, as well as each of the monsters,” Crawford recently told reporters during a virtual event promoting the upcoming launch of monsters of the multiverse.

“Specifically, when we were working on the races for this book, we were really coming at it from two main directions: one from a game design/game balance direction, and one from a game balance direction. Because this is the first time that all of these player races have been brought together in one book – and in a few cases, the first time at all – as we’ve brought all of these races together, from a game design standpoint. game, we want to make sure now that they’re all there, they offer a comparable amount of power or versatility or a sense of bringing something meaningful to a party in a variety of adventure situations,” Crawford explained. “People will notice that the races have all become more powerful …partly because we had to bring in a bunch of them so they felt like they were making a comparable contribution to the party they were going to be in. We also streamlined a number of things. We also, while working on these traits, removed anything that was specific to a particular world’s version of these peoples. Because the theme of this book is the Multiverse. So we want to make sure that the kobold and orc you encounter in this book are the kind of universal version, that makes sense whether you’re in the Forgotten Realms, or on Greyhawk, or in a world of your own creation. The key for us is that there are time, place and planet specific versions of these people, and the version that is more universal and flexible. More open to feeling at home no matter where you are in the vast J&D multiverse.

Part of this evolution was also to bring a level of diversity to the playable races beyond humans, which have always been relatively flexible as a playable option, sort of as a bonus to choosing the simple choice in a fantasy setting , but also to reflect the diversity of human cultures in the real world. “We really wanted to reinforce that all races are just as flexible as humans when it comes to the range of cultures and personalities,” Crawford continued. “We’ve also removed all cultural rather than physical or magical traits – you’ll also see we’ve done something on the game design side, which is that ability score boosts don’t show up in runs in this Instead, players will be able to have a floating set of bonuses during the determination phase of character creation rather than it being part of their race selection.

It doesn’t just help to give everyone J&D race in monsters of the multiverse a more flexible and interpretative set of guidelines, but also works to address a long-standing criticism of game design: players often felt that if they wanted to play a certain race, they had to choose from a certain set of classes to optimizee their bonus abilities, or vice versa. “For a while now, we’ve disliked the fact that in-game race choice often weighs too heavily on the player’s class choice,” Crawford admitted. “Fans often talk about this – this connection between race and class is not something that we as designers really want. We want players to choose these two essential elements of their character and choose the two that really suit them so they don’t feel pigeonholed. [In Monsters of the Multiverse] people will get the floating bonuses that we introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron. If someone creates a character and wants to recreate the bonuses that existed before, the advantage of the floating bonus system is that they can do just that.

That, as with previous changes Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introduced, was an important point that Crawford wanted to emphasize: the system presented in monsters of the multiverse is an accompaniment to that of the fifth edition Player’s Handbook, an option rather than a replacement. “We didn’t take anything away here. What we did was give people the ability to create whatever character they want without us getting our hands on the scale of ‘this is the class you should choose if you play that race,” Crawford clarified.

“Player characters are our players’ favorite creations, and again, we didn’t want to feel like we were getting our hands on the scale, personality, and values ​​of a player’s personal character. But again, alignment is still in the game, but as it always has been, it’s the player’s choice and the DM’s choice.

Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse will first be available as part of the J&D Rules Expansion Gift Set – Collectible, and Previous Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything—departure January 25, 2022. The book will be available on its own, in digital and physical format, from May 17.

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