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One D&D’s final class playtest aims to solve the problematic Druid, Monk and Barbarian

Hello short rest Rage; goodbye one-size-fits-all Wild Shape.

Image credit: BryanSola/Wizards of the Coast

The last class-focused playtest for One D&D dropped earlier this week, giving players one final peek into Wizards of the Coasts’ plans for the next iteration of their popular tabletop RPG. Barbarians, Druids and Monks returned to the spotlight with a round of major revisions, along with some general changes to spellcasting, grappling and the apparent disappearance of Epic Boon feats.

Versions of classes presented in this document are likely the closest we’ll see to whatever eventually gets printed in the trio of sourcebooks that Wizards plans to publish in mid-2024. As mentioned in our big breakdown of all the changes between One D&D and the current 5E, all three classes in this playtest bear a history of mechanical problems or underperformance - whether the changes suggested here successfully solve those issues is a matter for the feedback form that opens on December 11th.

Many underwhelming or straight up boring cantrips upgraded their offerings in previous playtests, and now healing spells such as Cure Wounds and Healing Word are receiving a shot in the arm. Both low-level versions and their mass-healing equivalents have mostly doubled the number of dice the player rolls when calculating regained HP. Elsewhere, grappling swaps its contested Strength check between the grappler and their quarry with a simple Strength or Dexterity saving throw. Additionally, the ‘Epic Boon’ feats available to characters only after reaching level 20 have been unceremoniously swapped for the capstone class features that existed before.

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Barbarians’ Brutal Critical feature has been replaced by the new Brutal Strike in One D&D, which lets the player choose between either gaining advantage on the attack or increasing the damage on a roll with no extra benefits. At later levels, Brutal Strike provides a few tactical options on hit, such as hamstringing foes, flinging them 15 feet and clobbering the opportunity attacks directly out of them, among others.

Wizards admits that playtesters correctly highlighted Barbarians as the only class without a benefit from short rests, so they now regain an expended use of Rage when stopping for a breather. Persistent Rage, which the class gains at level 15, restores all of Rage uses once per long rest when you roll initiative. Finally, a barbarian’s rage will only end when they’re rendered unconscious, not incapacitated.

Druid’s original Wild Shape has been restored, replacing the playtest version that untied the class from specific animals in favour of generalised stat blocks depending on the creature’s biome. In exchange, Wild Shape will be a bonus action for all subclasses, and Circle of the Moon druids instead gain triple the temporary HP when transformed and can cast Abjuration spells and Moonbeam while furry (or scaly, etc.) Oh, you can now speak your known language regardless of Wild Shape form.

Image credit: BryanSola/Wizards of the Coast

Most of the Druid subclasses have been overhauled in some way - Circle of the Land focuses on four primary regions (Arid, Polar, Temperate and Tropical), while Circle of the Sea offers water breathing, enhanced swim speed and combat abilities based on the tides. It’s worth checking the specifics, which breaks down the lost temporary HP when transforming and how your pool of potential animal forms grows as you level up.

By far the biggest changes come to the Monk, a class that many players rank as most needing a complete overhaul. Earlier playtests established a strong foundation, but this last document really put flesh on the class’ bones. Monks can use their bonus action to attack without also dedicating their main action to attacking a foe, allowing for much more tactical freedom. That same bonus action can be used to Dash or Disengage for free - same as a Rogue. Stunning Strike will always impart a small bit of Force damage even when the target hits their saving throw, ensuring the critical move never feels like a complete whiff when the dice act naughty.

Monk subclasses enjoyed a similar glow up, with Way of the Four Elements transforming into Warrior of the Elements and replacing old abilities with elemental strikes that can hit foes up to 15 feet away. A character’s chosen element has been relegated to a flavour choice instead of one with mechanical implications, so it still feels as though the formerly despised subclass still has some room to grow.

A feedback survey on this playtest will open to players through the D&D Beyond website on December 11th.

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