D&D Adventurers League adds incoming Tasha’s change to Ability Score Increases
If you’re not familiar with the Adventurers League, it’s the organized play league for the Dungeons and Dragons game that lets players play pick-up games of D&D at local game shops and other events like conventions. It’s maintained by Wizards of the Coast, and is essentially the replacement of and spiritual descendant of the RPGA, or Role Playing Game Association, originally started in 1980 by then-owner of D&D, Tactical Studies Rules or TSR. Since the Adventurers League is owned by Wizards, it is the official play league for D&D. As such it uses the most current version of the game — 5th Edition. For a lot of players, especially players who take part in the organized play sessions that it maintains, AL play is used to determine what’s ‘official’ as it is devoid of the usual house rules players use in their home games. This FAQ document is useful for getting a sense of how Adventurers League play works and how it’s run.
Recently, the AL updated its Player’s Guide in support of the upcoming Plague of Ancients campaign for the recent Rime of the Frostmaiden adventure. That’s important, because AL rules usually have a specific rule that you can use the Player’s Handbook for 5th Edition and only one additional rulebook — called the “PHB+1” rule. This means that if you are creating a character and you want to use rules in a book such as Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, you can’t then also use the rules from another sourcebook such as Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes or the upcoming Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
PHB+1 will be an issue for a lot of players, because Tasha‘s is going to contain the solution D&D came up with for racial abilities pigeonholing player choice in terms of racial bonuses. The solution is to let players apply the Ability Score Increases granted by the choice of a specific playable race to any stat, and a lot of players wanted it — being able to put the +2 bonus to Strength Mountain Dwarves get into Charisma will let you finally play that Mountain Dwarf Bard you’ve always wanted. But if this rule is in Tasha’s, then you can’t use it alongside Xanathar, since that would be PHB+2.
Luckily, the AL came up with a way around this. They’ve directly imported the customization system from Tasha’s into the AL Player’s Document and made it baseline to the Adventurers League, so that it doesn’t count against the PHB+1 rules. This means you can use the system in AL games and still use Xanathar or Mordenkainen or some other book to create your character, meaning you can play that Half-Orc Sorcerer and put your bonus into Charisma, or that Halfling Barbarian can put their bonus into Strength. You’re not penalized by your choice of playable race anymore — while you can absolutely play your Half-Elf the way the PHB indicates with a big bonus to Charisma, if you want your Half-Elf to be brainy instead, you can put that bonus into Intelligence.
This is also a great sign for the future of D&D, as the inclusion of the Tasha race system as baseline to AL games means that it could well end up in any future editions of D&D itself. After all, we’re six years into 5th Edition, and ten years is usually considered around the time we get a new edition of the game, so either a 5th Edition .5 (similar to how 3rd Edition got a 3.5 revision) or 6th Edition will be coming relatively soon. Either way, if Adventurers League play uses this new system as baseline, it’s likely to be incorporated into any such future revision.
It’s a solid step towards making racial choice simply a choice, and not a restriction. It’s long overdue, and making it baseline in this fashion is heartening to me. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.
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