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Here’s what One DnD being ‘backwards compatible’ really means

Wizards of the Coast has finally shed light on compatibility between One DnD and Dungeons and Dragons 5e - here's what it means for fans.

One DnD backwards compatibility with 5e explained - Wizards of the Coast artwork showing a DnD party of players and their fantasy characters

We’ve known for a while now that One DnD‘s final iteration will be backwards compatible with the current 5th edition (5e) version, but exactly how that’ll work has been a little hard to follow. Fortunately, D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast has shared more detail about the compatibility features in a new explainer video.

Published on the official Dungeons and Dragons YouTube channel on Wednesday, the video features lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford sharing the ins and outs of One DnD‘s compatibility with 5e – you can watch it in full below, but we’ll break down the main points.

There are several caveats and conditions for the compatibility, but Crawford explains that characters built with 5e or the new rules in mind can be played alongside each other – but you’ll need to use the new core rules in the new 2024 DnD Player’s Handbook to make it work correctly.

And whatever your party, Wizards confirms you’ll have to follow either the new basic rules or the ones you know from the existing 5e DnD books – you’re not allowed to pick and choose a cocktail of various features from both to create your new character. 

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“We have designed the new Player’s Handbook [PHB] so that characters built with it can be played with characters built from the 2014 PHB,” Crawford explains. “That is true for the character options themselves – when it comes to the baselines rules, the combat conditions, the definitions of the conditions and what not.”

But he makes clear that, if your party has both new-PHB and old-PHB characters in it, you’ll need to play using the new game rules for best results.

“If you are playing a 2014 character next to a 2024 character, the 2024 rules are what should be used in that situation,” he says, “because those rules can handle a 2024 character being present, but the 2014 version of the rules will grind in a few places with a 2024 character.”

Crawford explains this is “because of terms used in a 2024 character that only have definitions in the 2024 rules.”

This isn’t unexpected – Wizards says it’s rebuilt the rules on all 15 DnD classes and the dozens of DnD races “from the ground up”, and completely changed how DnD backgrounds work, too, so we’d expected to have to use the 2024 rules with our new characters. But this video puts a little more meat on those bones to help us plan.

DnD livestream one DnD release date - Wizards of the Coast art of a dragon breathing fire

The new details come a day after Wizards lifted the covers on the brand new PHB and the 2024 Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG) on Tuesday, showing  DnD fans the guts of the new game’s core books for the first time after months of teasers. 

As per our complete DnD release schedule, the new Player’s Handbook will be released on September 17 this year, while the DMG will drop nearly a month later on November 12, containing a full Greyhawk DnD campaign setting to play with, and rules for creating home bases. We’ll have to wait until February 18, 2025 for the chunky new Monster Manual, packing rules for 500 DnD monsters, including 75 brand new ones.

For more Dungeons and Dragons info, check out our expert guides on  everything from the basic DnD stats to the various different DnD languages your characters can speak.

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