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New DnD playtest brings base-building to 5e

The latest DnD playtest adds Bastions, a system for creating an HQ for rest and recuperation, and then kitting it out with special rooms.

DnD playtest bastions - a disney-style castle, with a woman walking towards it.

On October 5, Wizards of the Coast released a surprise bonus DnD playtest, which brings base-building mechanics to the next iteration of Dungeons and Dragons. Known as ‘Bastions’, this feature allows players to create their own headquarters or safe havens in the world, and then gradually upgrade them over time.

Up to now, all the DnD playtest material Wizards has put out has come from the Players’ Handbook, focusing on elements of 5e character creation and progression, like DnD classes, or DnD backgrounds. Now, however, they’ve given us a sneak peek into the new Dungeon Masters’ Guide with the Bastions feature.

In games where the DM allows Bastions, players will each have the option to set up their own base of operations from level five, and fit it out with facilities that grant special abilities. For instance, a spellcasting class could have an Arcane Study in their Bastion, which lets them cast the 5e spell Identify. A 5e Fighter, however, could have a Smithy for crafting armor and weapons.

Dnd playtest bastion - unsavory characters playing cards in a casino.

As well as providing special functions, Bastions are also linked to time, and as such they seem to provide something of a framework for your DnD campaign. Every seven days, these home bases experience ‘Bastion turns’, in which players can assign new orders to their facilities. You’ll also roll on a table for Bastion events each Bastion turn, which could be something positive, like a magical discovery, or negative, like an attack on your base, or a hireling getting arrested.

If you don’t have something specific for your Bastion’s facilities to do, you instead accumulate Bastion points. These can be used in a number of ways, from gaining DnD magic items, to even bringing your character back from the dead.

Having a part of a fantasy DnD setting that’s your own has always been an attractive prospect in Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop roleplaying games. It’s something fans have always homebrewed for themselves, or resolved through DM fiat.

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While early versions of the game did feature ‘domain play’, it was generally considered something of an ‘end goal’, a feature that only the highest level characters would unlock, almost as a reward for making it so far. Conversely, Wizards of the Coast’s implementation of Bastions envisions them as something that will stick with you throughout a campaign, with new facilities added at levels 5, 9, 13, and 17.

Wizards wants players to playtest the new feature, and provide feedback in an upcoming survey. “You don’t need an adventure prepared,” the playtest doc explains, “just focus on creating Bastions and resolving Bastion turns.”

The last DnD Unearthed Arcana, Playtest 7, did a lot for the 5e Warlock and 5e Barbarian classes, though players were still left cold by the latter, despite its strange new World Tree subclass. The newest version of the Warlock was also deemed OP by many fans. In the new playtest video, Crawford says the results were positive overall. “Most of the classes in it, people are feeling really good about,” he says, adding that the new 5e Rogue had an 89% approval rating.