Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition is an edition of the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop roleplaying game rules first published by Wizards of the Coast in 2014. As of 2020, it is the most recent edition of the Dungeons & Dragons rules. It succeeded Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-2013), and was preceded by a D&D 5e open playtest known as D&D Next (2012-2014).

D&D 5e was highly successful after release, with sales growing year-on-year. By the end of 2019, it was the most popular roleplaying game played on Roll20.[1][2]

Features[edit | edit source]

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Development[edit | edit source]

In May 2010, Wizards of the Coast fired D&D design and development manager Andy Collins, one of the senior staff on D&D 4th edition.[3] His successor, Mike Mearls, took charge of the process of revising the D&D game. The R&D team took time to reflect upon the core principles of D&D for, following the poorer than expected reception of D&D 4th edition.[4]

Around mid-2011, Mearls distributed a short thesis statement to the R&D team, describing a series of basic directives and design goals for the new edition. The overall intent was to reunify the divided D&D community by creating a D&D game experience familiar to players of all earlier editions of the game. The new system needed to be able to support a variety of play styles, incorporate traditional core concepts, become more accessible to smaller groups and those with less time available, and write mechanics which focus on the strengths of the tabletop game format.[4]

Announcement and release[edit | edit source]

Early speculation[edit | edit source]

On February 28, 2011, blogger Newbie DM speculated that Wizards of the Coast was already planning a new edition of Dungeons & Dragons for release in 2014. His basis included a slow in D&D 4th edition print products, the cancellation of the D&D Miniatures product line, the establishment of Mike Mearls as D&D brand manager, reports of Wizards of the Coast staff playing classic AD&D, and the fortituous timing of D&D's upcoming 40th anniversary.[5]

Rumors spread that the new edition would be announced in August at Gen Con 2011, though ultimately no announcement was made. The decision by Wizards of the Coast to hire D&D third edition core rulebook author Monte Cook, announced on September 2011, likewise lent weight to the idea that a new edition of the game was on the way.[6][7]

Official announcement[edit | edit source]

A new edition of Dungeons & Dragons was officially announced to the public on Jan 9, 2012. In an article titled Charting the Course for D&D, lead designer Mike Mearls revealed that a limited internal playtest on the new rules had already begun, with open playtests on the new edition scheduled to start in Spring 2012. Mearls described a vision of working closely with the wider D&D community, and an intent to use this new edition to draw disparate players from all eras of D&D together.[8]

The announcement came at a low point for D&D 4th edition, where Paizo Publishing's rival Pathfinder RPG had been the number one selling RPG for two quarters.[6]

D&D Next playtest[edit | edit source]

Main article: D&D Next

The public playtest edition of what would become D&D 5th edition was known as D&D Next.

A small number of official products were also released that included a version of the Next rules, prior to the official release of D&D 5th edition. These included Murder in Baldur's Gate (2013) and Legacy of the Crystal Shard (2014).

Core rulebooks[edit | edit source]

The first official product for D&D 5th edition was the Starter Set (5e) (2014), followed by new versions of the core rulebooks: Player's Handbook (5e) (2014), Monster Manual (5e) (2014), and Dungeon Master's Guide (5e) (2014).

Supplements and other publications[edit | edit source]

See also: Category:D&D 5th edition publications, List of Dungeons & Dragons books

Over two dozen supplementary first-party sourcebooks have thus far been released for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, beginning in 2014. A major focus has been on adventure modules, primarily set in the Forgotten Realms. Material for additional campaign settings began to appear after the first few years, including Eberron, and new settings such as the Magic: The Gathering worlds of Ravnica and Theros and the world of Exandria from the web series Critical Role. A number of digital-only supplements have also been released, primarily through the Dungeon Masters Guild.

Dragon Magazine was revived as a digital publication, Dragon+, in 2015.

Reception and influence[edit | edit source]

Uptake and growth[edit | edit source]

D&D 5th edition was a major success at launch, and continued to grow year-on-year thereafter.

In Q4 2014, D&D 5th edition accounted for 20.06% of all campaigns played on virtual tabletop Roll20, the second most popular after Paizo's Pathfinder RPG (23.86%), but beating all earlier editions of D&D including D&D 3.5 (15.81%) and D&D 4e (8.32%).[9] D&D 5e's share continued to grow, increasing to 31.39% in Q4 2015, and 47.54% in Q4 2019.[10][2]

Praise[edit | edit source]

Criticism[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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