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D&D > Tabletop RPGJul 5, 2024 10:00 am CT

Do you need to buy the Dungeons and Dragons 2024 Player’s Handbook?

There’s a new edition of D&D in town — Dungeons and Dragons 2024 is rolling out three new sourcebooks, starting with the 2024 Player’s Handbook. But do we really need to pick it up? Or can we just soldier on with our D&D 5e books — which turn ten years old this year?

When I discuss the upcoming 2024 Player’s Handbook, I find myself asking several questions.

  1. Do I need to buy it? No. I likely won’t be buying it when it comes out unless a goose that lays golden eggs shows up at my house. Life is expensive and there are a lot of things that take priority over a luxury purchase for me right now. The rulesets between the 2014 and 2024 PHB are compatible enough that I can soldier on with the older rules for a while.
  2. Will I buy it? Likely yes. I think it’s safe to say that the 2024 edition of D&D is making a lot of good choices and makes character creation a lot more exciting for me. Moving stat bonuses away from Species (what they replaced Race with) and into the Background, while also making Backgrounds just a lot more important and interesting in general, is just one of many changes that the new version of the PHB makes.
  3. This has all happened before. I want to take this moment to tell you guys that there are still groups out there playing the original version of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons published in 1981, which in and of itself was a replacement for the Dungeons and Dragons box set rules. That’s right — the game currently considered the first edition of D&D was in fact a new edition of an older game. There’s literally a 0 Edition. You can absolutely go on playing with all the books you already have and never once touch on the new stuff, if that’s what you want to do. Heck, I still own and play a lot of D&D 3rd Edition/3.5 products.
  4. Is this edition of the game an improvement? Personally, I’d say yes. While I don’t feel like anyone needs to buy it, because I don’t think anyone needs to buy any TTRPG — this stuff is all luxuries, not necessities, as much as my inner nerd disagrees — I definitely think the D&D we’re getting with the revised 2024 edition is a superior game with more and better options. If you can afford it, I definitely recommend it.

So let’s break down why I think the book is an improvement that anyone intending to play D&D in 2024 — even if you’re not planning on playing D&D 2024 — should consider picking up in some way.

Design choices that allow you to customize your characters

The D&D 2024 rules are designed for backwards compatibility in mind, so any book you’ve picked up for D&D 5e should have monster statblocks you can use, new feats, new spells, and so on that you can use with these new materials as well. This means that unlike most of the ‘new editions’ D&D has seen over the years, 2024 D&D rules don’t immediately force you to make extensive conversions to use older books. This is a huge time saver.

At the same time, there’s just more stuff, and better stuff, in the 2024 D&D rules. The way Backgrounds are going to work in the new edition is just a much better system than the one from 2014, allowing you to play, say, an Orc Wizard without having a bonus to Strength that doesn’t benefit you. I like the way Weapon Mastery makes melee characters like Fighters feel like they have more to do than just swing the same weapon over and over again while their caster friends are fine tuning their spell choices.

Just a better, more flexible version of the same game

The 2024 PHB brings with it a lot of collecting, revising, clarifying, and cleanup of issues that have been with 5th Edition for over a decade now. You can just play as an Orc now, no more having to go halfsies. Indeed, options like having an Elven mother and a Human father don’t get presented the same way according to Jeremy Crawford during his recent Character Origins discussion.

Basically, if you want to be a character currently represented as a “Half,” like a Half Elf or a Half Orc, in the new game you can certainly be that, but it doesn’t mean you get a new Species for it. You’re just an Elf or a Human who has a parent from that other Species. Literally, it’s just flavor now, and that makes a lot of sense to me.

I mean, having Goliaths as a playable option from the jump and tying them into the Giants in the same way that Dragonborn are tied into Dragons is pretty dang cool, I’m not going to lie. And Humans? Well, Humans have all sorts of new feats and options.

I generally feel that once I do have the money, I’ll definitely be buying the 2024 PHB. Is it necessary? No. I don’t need it. But I definitely want to get it to see how I can more effectively play this new, upgraded version of 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons.

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