RPGBOT.News – DnD 5e Errata 3.0

Show Notes

In this episode of the RPGBOT.News, we discuss the newest round of errata for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, including controversial changes to the text of existing source books, the frustrating initial presentation, and what this might indicate for future products.

Materials Referenced in this Episode

Transcript

Randall 

The RPGBOT.news. I’m Randall James, and I’m redacted. With me is Tyler Kamstra.

Tyler 

Hi everybody.

Randall 

And Random Powell.

Random 

*Beep*

Randall 

perfect. Yeah. So on the news today, we’re going to talk about the D&D irata 3.0. That came out in the middle of December. Random what what the heck happened?

Random 

There is a much longer conversation here to be had about the move towards more political correctness, which I know has a lot of baggage associated with that phrase, but really just the concept that not all X are Y, even if most X are Y. That is a conversation that we will have later, probably a few episodes from now should come out, hopefully sometime in January, as long as we’re able to slot it, where I think what we’re going to talk about today is just how WotC handled this, because, boy, it wasn’t good.

Tyler 

Yeah, I agree entirely. So they made some changes to some source books, most notably to Volo’s Guide to Monsters, which has the internet very much up in arms. And the way that the messaging around these changes happened made things way, way worse than they needed to be. And I know this never works. But to all of the people out there who are upset about these changes, I’m gonna ask you to take a deep breath and calm down while we talk about this.

Randall 

Yeah.

Tyler 

It’s probably not as bad as you think.

Randall 

Yeah, I mean, I think that like even highlighting the sequence of events. So I’ll call this out. And then you tell me, like hoppin with corrections as we go, right? The errata drops, folks read the announcement, they go and they read in the errata, the way that it’s posted, is, here’s the new content. Here’s the new content. So first of all, you actually gonna have to go hunt for what’s cut, and we’ll get to that a little bit, I think. And then the initial inclination is that everything you see that’s changing, is removing alignment. It’s you know, so, you know, my players are no longer chaotic evil or lawful evil, I forget which. You know, the the Drow are no longer murderous. And you’re like, Oh, you’re taking my flavor. What are you doing? And then I think what was lost in that? Is it if you actually went and looked, not all the flavors left, what was taken out because in other parts of the book that were untouched, the flavor is still there. And then 2, yeah, I guess later on, there was a redaction step or not a redaction but like a softening of like, oh, wait, hey, we were just…

Tyler 

Yes, yeah. So the initial errata went out, and then within a day or two, I believe. R when Winninger… Gosh, what’s his first name of Mr. Winninger, the head of Dungeons Dragons and, man, I want his job title. He, he tweeted an update to the the design blog article which announced the errata with a like a full page long letter, explaining what the intent was behind the changes and clarifying exactly what was changing. The root of the problem and the root of the negative response to this is the Errata PDFs for the Volo’s, for Volo’s Guide to Monsters said that certain sections of the book were just being removed. So specifically the roleplaying a whatever section. So roleplaying a kobold, roleplaying yuan-ti. Like, the PDFs just said, this section is removed, full stop. And for most for most of the creatures in the book that’s like the heading one paragraph and then some tables which with example personality traits, bonds, flaws. So even if that’s actually what they were doing, and just removing those tables and those single paragraphs of text, honestly, it’s not that big a deal. Like, the entire sections detailing what these creatures are like as a whole still there.

Random 

Here’s where I will come in with both a bit of a different opinion and also the thing that people seem to be most up in arms about. There are of course, two main ways for you to access Volo’s. You can either own a physical copy, or you can own a digital edition that you have through D&D beyond. Now, if you have the printed copy, they can print all the errata they want and all that’s gonna do is add content for you. Because you know you can go look up the errata 3.0. And you can see that the stuff that they eventually added back in is there. You know, they replaced X paragraph with X text. Great. However, the biggest problem that I saw people who were not just arguing for the sake of argument, and my biggest problem with it, is that if you own the digital edition through D&D Beyond, they made these changes to your digital edition and offered no explanation as to why they were going to do that or if they were going to compensate you. The answer is, of course, no. And so you no longer have the book that you purchased. Whereas people with the digital or the physical copy, have not only the book that they purchased, but also the extra content they’ve written. And, in particular, the fact that they are changing something that you have purchased money for. That is, you know, it’s… while I understand that if you want to dig into how D&D Beyond puts itself up, it is almost certainly technically speaking a license because that’s how everything works in this day and age. That’s still a real unsatisfying argument to “but I bought a book and you rewrote it after I bought it.”

Randall 

Yeah, I mean, just to, like, to echo that, in getting prepared to do this show, I started pulling old and new excerpts from the player’s handbooks. I own a physical copy. And then I went to look at Volo because I think Volo had a lot of what folks were interested in. And I literally couldn’t find the old version of the content to form an opinion about the changes that were made.

Random 

And I’m just gonna cut in real quick, because the internet is occasionally full of heroes, as well as the vast majority of other stuff it’s full of. And so there is a post, which we will link in the show notes. Where on Reddit, I am so bad at finding usernames here, but tiny little tech says, greenie3x3x3 took all of the text that was removed, and just slapped it in a Reddit post. So it will be there forever, it will be in the show notes for this episode, you’ll be able to find it. You can just copy it down. But I mean, one of the things that staggering when I found this post, and this post was actually how I found out that this change had happened. This is like two pages of text that before they talked about, you know, that they were gonna put stuff back in for that was a lot of text that was just gone from the thing that you bought. So anyway, that is there.

Randall 

Yeah, we will have a link in the show notes. If you want to follow up on this later. I will say you sure jinx that saying it’s gonna be there forever, because we’re going to find it and it’s just gonna say [deleted], [deleted].

Random 

Of course.

Randall 

But yeah, we’ll, we’ll definitely put a we’ll put a link in the show notes. And so hopefully that’ll be there. If not, perhaps you’ll be able to find it on the Wayback Machine. Yeah. Does it make sense to actually get into some of the content that was changed?

Tyler 

I think that’s a good idea.

Randall 

Okay. In the player’s handbook, I think maybe there might be two areas we want to focus. I think there’s a lot of good stuff we’re talking about just in the changes in the Pplayer’s Handbook. And then maybe we step into some of the other source material. Sound good?

Tyler 

Yeah.

Randall 

All right. So one thing is basically alignment. Removing alignment, and I think most culture entries from all of the race guides. So I want to give an example. Again, if you go to every single race, there is a section called “alignment” and that has been removed. If I understand the intent of that correctly, they’re basically saying, you know, yeah, let’s actually let me do this. I’m gonna read the halfling alignment, and then we’ll talk it through. Halfling alignment. Most halflings are lawful good. As a rule, they’re good hearted and kind, hate to see others in pain, and have no tolerance for oppression. They’re also very orderly and traditional, leaning heavily on the support of their community and the comfort of their old ways. There’s a ton of roleplaying guidance hidden in that, right? You’re, you’re lawful, you are kind hearted, you don’t want to see other things in pain. And so even if you’re monka Fighter, something like this, the fact that you do have to to inflict pain occasionally, even on you know, neutral, like, Okay, this is kind of a muddy area. That might be a roleplaying guide. Like you might be the person who’s like, Hey, Tim, what if we weren’t murder hobos this week? I feel like there’s a lot of strong guidance. My understanding of the intent of this is basically to say, like, but you don’t have to play your halfling that way if you don’t want to. To which I respond. I knew that.

Tyler 

Yeah, that that seems to be the collective response to these changes. The people who’ve been playing D&D A long time who are active in discussion communities understand yeah, like all of this setting material, all of the like description of personality and culture and stuff. That’s all optional and you’re free to change that. I think Wizards is trying really hard to make to make that idea accessible for new players. So if you come into the game, and say, I want to play an evil halfling, and then you look at the alignment says, oh, as a rule, they don’t like hurting people. Like, because it does specifically use the phrase “as a rule.” And I can understand, wanting to move away from saying, like, all halflings are X. But I do agree, like they could have just changed that, like, instead of saying, as a rule, they could have just said “many halflings are like X.” Like they could have very easily just changed the wording of those paragraphs to make it clear that this is a suggestion, not a mandate.

Randall 

And in fact, in the alignment section later in the player’s handbook where they gave you like lawful good, here’s some examples. Lawful evil, here’s some examples. Literally, what they did half the time, is they just change the language from, you know, “all Celestials are lawful good” to “typically Celestials are lawful good.” Boom, there’s a change and if you like, you know, just typically, comma, fix nothing else.

Tyler 

Yeah.

Random 

Yep. When we get to the full episode about this, we’re gonna have a long chat about Celestials. You’ve both really said it really concisely like that, there was so little point to what they did, in the ham-handed way that they did it when it could have been fixed by just a “usually” or even preface any of this content with just a paragraph that says, these are guidelines don’t take them as written in stone. And then you have to make one sentence addition to your whole book.

Tyler 

Yeah. Also the removal of alignment from racial traits means if you look in the player’s handbook, alignment is only addressed in, I think, chapter five, like the character description section, where it explains the different alignments which means that… chapter four, thank youl In, in the entirety of the player’s handbook, alignment is explained on like, two pages in total. Not not even explained, explained, referenced discussed. So now this this iconic, like, has existed since early days of D&D system that is used to broadly define a creature’s philosophical outlook is basically hidden away in a section of the book that people will probably read once and then never again. So when you’re looking at monsters, like, you come into the game, alignment is discussed on these two pages that you might very easily miss during character creation, you crack open the Monster Manual and say, see, this monster is lawful neutral, what is that?

Random 

This is probably the start of them transitioning to whatever 5.5 is going to be. I expect that we will just see a complete removal of alignment at that point. And then more of a transition to just, you know, bonds, flaws, ideals. But that’s sort of a problem because A, it’s still there now and B, even some of those tables for like, bonds, I think, have alignment options. And that’s a good place to start.

Randall 

I want to, I feel like there’s a little bit of evidence that might challenge that, and I think it’s maybe worth talking through. So Tyler brought up the alignment section in the Player’s Handbook, it’s in chapter four specifically, it’s on page, one, 122. There’s a thing here that I thought was cool that I want to call out, that doesn’t challenge that, but then we’ll roll back, it’ll be great. Under the section “alignment in the multiverse” and multiverse, ding, ding, ding, I feel like this is something that they definitely want to come at us with. A change that was made. The old language was “a devil does not choose to be lawful evil, and it doesn’t tend toward lawful evil, but rather, it is lawful evil in its essence, if it somehow cease to be lawful evil, it would cease to be a devil.” Okay, the change the new language is actually not that drastically different than that. So let’s hear. “A devil does not choose to be lawful evil, or tend toward lawful evil, but rather, it is lawful evil in its essence, if it somehow ceases to be lawful evil, it changes into something new, a transformation worthy of legend.”

Tyler 

And we do actually have one canonical example at least in D&D lore that has been printed in fifth edition. Descent into Avernace, the character on the cover of the adventure is a celestial that got a little too involved in the Blood War and became a fiend by changing alignment. So, like, it does canonically happen that that creatures that are like outsiders, devils, celestials, etc, can change alignment, but when that happens, it’s generally a big deal.

Randall 

And it’s exceptional, quite literally.

Tyler 

Yeah.

Randall 

I and so in this case, they left in that language of lawful evil and even still being explicit that like, a devil is lawful evil. That is part of what being a devil, devil means. But the the idea that like we will let an out, you know, we’re not going to say that you would cease to be a devil, we’re also going to say that it does become something else. And that that is in fact, something interesting. And I think that’s even enticing, like if I’m a DM and I’m reading that I’m like, what else could I do? You know, what legends can I create?

Tyler 

Yeah, and I, I think this specific case is a good example of how they could have handled the racial alignment stuff better. Like, they clearly understand that they can start from the existing texts and add flexibility to that without completely removing the text. So deleting the alignment entries from the races is disappointing. And Random, you suggested that in 5.5, we might completely they might completely remove alignment, but it might just go away. I honestly I get that 50/50 odds. I really have no idea. They tried removing alignment from statblocks in a couple of adventures, and people complained about it. So they brought it back. But that’s also when we started getting the “usually whatever alignment.” So it’s possible that they’ll stick to the “usually”, like, prefix on all alignments, but I honestly don’t know.

Randall 

I want to give one more example of this. And then I want to make an argument like you say, 50/50, I say I’m 90% confident alignment’s gonna survive. So, in the Drow section under the elf race, I’m maybe just gonna read this first paragraph. In Yeah, okay. The Darkness of the Drow. We’re in, and this is the old, to be clear, on page 24 of the Player’s Handbook. Were it not for one renowned exception, the race of drow would be universally reviled. To most they erase of demon-worshipping marauders, dwelling in the subterranean depths of the Underdark, emerging only on the blackest nights to pillage and slaughter the surface dwellers they despise. Their society is depraved and preoccupied with the favor of Lolth, their spider goddess, who sanctions murder, and the extermination of entire families as noble houses vie for position. That’s, that’s a harsh thing. Right, like, okay. In the new, there’s a bit of this language. And then let’s look maybe talk about what it means, right? The new says, “The Cult of the god Lolth, queen of spiders, has corrupted some of the oldest Drow cities, especially in the worlds of Oerth and Toril. Eberron, Kryn, and other realms have escaped the cult influence for now. Wherever the cult lurks, drow heroes stand on the frontlines in the war against it, seeking to sunder Lolth’s web. So it’s, again, it’s basically going back to typically, it’s embracing the idea of the multiverse and saying that, well in these worlds, it’s this way and in these other worlds, it’s this other way. But there’s always these examples of heroes. And so if you want to play the evil, you can play the evil character. If you want to play the mighty hero who wants to strike down Lolth on behalf of all the Drow, you can play that too.

Random 

Yeah, but God help you if you dual-weild scimitars and get a black cat. Just saying.

Tyler 

Everyone accidentally builds that character once. Everyone does it. I have, I have met so many new players who’ve come in, been like I want to build a Ranger. I want to use two weapons. Scimitars seem like a good choice. And I want to have the beast companion, and Panthers seem cool. And that’s just, like, that is in the like cultural zeitgeist inescapably, and people don’t even know where it comes from.

Randall 

It’s the right thing to do.

Random 

And to, to be clear where it comes from is the one exception mentioned in the Old D&D text from a very popular series of books a while back, which we will link in the show notes. His name is Drizz’t or Drizz’t, depending on how you want to pronounce it, but it’s too many consonants and yet not carry on.

Randall 

Yeah, the the paragraph that I didn’t read. The first sentence, yeah the one drow at least broke the mold in the world of Forgotten Realms, Drizz’t Do’urden, Ranger of the North has proven as quality as a good part of defender of the weak and the innocent. Yeah, yep. Good old trust. Interest. Yeah. And so I feel like this is a good example where, like, they’re not… I feel like they’re not actually throwing it out. But they’re saying, in the multiverse, we reserve the right to have this race typically go this way. But in this other space, we’re gonna say they typically go to some other way. And then you as an individual have the right to choose as well.

Tyler 

They’re really leaning into the idea that the core rule books are not tied to one specific setting, which, for the first couple of years of fifth editions existence, it was very clearly like we are only supporting Forgotten Realms for like three years. So having the core rulebooks be more setting-agnostic is really helpful. Removing some of those cultural indications, even potentially the alignment sections, says, like, this is the baseline for what defines a halfling. But personality and culture wise, like all bets are off. That is a setting detail. Now, it would have been really nice if we’d gotten some Errata for the Sword Coast Adventurers’ Guide, which is currently the only fifth editions setting book for the Forgotten Realms. And when you say Sword Coast Adventurers; Guide, most people think “I forgot that existed.” Because, yeah, almost like almost nobody has it. There’s not a lot in it. But I have my copy right here. It’s, you know, wood and paper, and all those things. And there’s sections on the races of the Forgotten Realms where they could have just stuck the alignment section right in there. Like, halflings in the Forgotten Realms are typically lawful good and all of those other things we got from the player’s handbook. And then they could have that same alignment entry in every other setting book. And I’m, you know, I’m hoping maybe that’ll do that for the setting books we’re expecting in 2022. But at this point, it seems unlikely. So, like, culture, culture, alignment, philosophy, those could be specific to a race in a setting. Removing those from the core rules kind of makes sense. I just… the way that they did this was clumsy.

Randall 

When and then finally, I will say like having it per setting makes sense. But then, am I going to buy every setting book, and when I sit down in a session, the DM says we’re going to be you know, my world is based in this setting. Now, does everybody need to go buy that setting book so that I understand what folks tend to be like?

Random 

I would certainly hope that if a DM is going to base their campaign in a setting that they at least own the book, and will be happy to share that information. Like, Ah, yes, DM, I would like to play a halfling. And the DM says, “great, here is what halflings are like in Eberron.” You know, because, like that’s… now again, that’s a hope for roleplay. And unfortunately, you know, maybe some DMs are not all about that. And so if your DM is not giving you that information, maybe that’s a conversation you need to have. But realistically, I think that having it in the setting-specific books is fine. As long as, you know, anyone who wants to go play in those understands that like, Yes, I should get the Eberron book, I should get the Kryn book, you know, whatever.

Randall 

Yeah, there’s a I mean, so Random, he always talks about the social fix. there’s a really interesting conversation that everybody’s going to have to have with a lot of nuance of like, okay, look, in this particular setting halflings are, are terrible. Like, they’re just awful. Like, they’re, they’re short, and they’re mean, that’s what I can tell you about them. And, and then the DM has to say but like, but if you want to have a good halfling, you can have a good halfling, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Random 

Yeah, well, and again, you know, so both for the established settings or for your own homebrew setting. Always, always, always playing something exceptional is immediate, free story, right? If you are generic mc-halfling, then everyone who interacts with you is going to say, ah, yeah. And this is one of the things that I actually think Pathfinder 2, does really well. And if you listen to the new the news episode, which I didn’t think we were actually calling news yet the first one, Guns and Gears, Pathfinder 2 talks about like, when you you’re like, I am a Druid, and it talks about like, what do you what do you do as a druid. You know, that sort of that meme, like, what I do, what people think I do, what my friends think I do, what my parents think I do, what society thinks it does. Like, they have that section, but in actual, you know, genuine utility. And so having that for your class, your your race, whatever, is really useful, because, you know, if, if you’re going to walk in as a halfling, you’re going to understand, Okay, here’s the actual family traits that I you know, like racial traits that are common among halflings in my culture. And then here’s what people have stereotyped about halflings. And so being able to buck that may be a fun thing, even if you are playing something very standard.

Randall 

And I think that makes a lot of sense. I do want to talk about how we actually use alignment for our player characters in game. Tyler, I’m gonna throw you under the bus before you can throw me under the bus. We’re playing a campaign together.

Tyler 

Oh, no.

Randall 

I’d like you to speculate, live on air, the alignment of the other three characters in our game.

Tyler 

Boy, that’s hard. Okay, so John, who is your character, John the dragonblood Sorcerer. I’m going to guess… I want to say chaotic neutral.

Randall 

Okay.

Tyler 

Pavu, our ascendant dragon Monk. I’m gonna guess Matt picked something which made sense at the beginning and then forgot what it was. No offense, Matt. I’d say probably lawful good for Pavu, or maybe neutral good.

Randall 

Okay,

Tyler 

Let’s see, Bard, the Bard, I’m going to say probably also chaotic neutral.

Randall 

Okay. All right.

Random 

Do you have access to those? Or was this just an exercise?

Randall 

I, okay, we’re gonna be real honest. I started the exercise. And then I thought, hmm, it’d be really good if I actually had access to this right now.

Random 

Hence the frantic flicking. Okay, good.

Randall 

Yeah, yeah, that clicking in the background?

Tyler 

Having any luck finding it?

Random 

Well, perhaps we can just post it in show notes at the end. Ask your DM.

Randall 

I figured Dan would do his project magic, podcast magic because Dan is a magician. I think it is legitimately possible as I look at John’s character sheet that I did not pick an alignment, because I did not think it mattered. And I guess, yeah, the point that I wanted… Oh, chaotic. Good. You said chaotic, neutral for Jon?

Tyler 

I did. Okay.

Randall 

Okay. Uh, actually, you might have said… Yeah, you did.

Tyler 

I think I said chaotic neutral. Yeah. Yeah.

Randall 

Okay. And honestly, that’s probably more honest. The reason I want to bring this up is I know, as a player character, I do enjoy role playing. I don’t necessarily think about my alignment so much as I do think about, you know, what’s the what’s the kicker, that we keep running around, beliefs?

Tyler 

Oh, bonds, traits, flaws?

Random 

Bonds, ideals, traits? All four of those are in there.

Randall 

Yeah, I, I think I have that implicitly in my head. But I’m not necessarily thinking about the fact that I am a chaotic good character. In fact, I’m, I’m not. It’s a lie. And I wonder, like, even when I DM, I don’t, I think about the role of the character in the story. And I tend to pick bosses and bad guys that fit the role. So there’s a correlation with the typical alignment. But I don’t necessarily let the alignment dictate, I don’t really even think about it. And so, I say all that to say, for all of the hullabaloo that we just gave, I, I think the flavor and the culture text is really useful. I’m actually not going to be so heartbroken if you don’t give me the hint that it’s a chaotic good character or lawful, good character,

Tyler 

I might be having a “get off my lawn” moment. But if alignment goes away, I will actually miss it. I like having that basic one-line descriptor of a creatures philosophy. I know people frequently just skip it for their characters. And I honestly, sometimes I do that myself. But having a monster, like, if you flip open your Monster Manual, and you look at a monster for the first time, and it’s something big and hulking and weird looking and the alignment says lawful, good. You’re gonna think “oh, okay, maybe there’s something more to this” instead of just “oh, this is some monster that my players are going to beat to death and take its shoes.”

Random 

And honestly, one of the best examples of that: werebear.

Tyler 

Yeah.

Random 

Almost without exception. lycanthropes are like you will see in, you know, your pop culture werewolves. They just want to eat you and/or make more werewolves, and go. Wererats are also like that. Weretigers. I don’t know if they exist in fifth edition, but they were in previous.

Tyler 

Yeah.

Random 

And then you get to werebears who are neutral good. Now, this is not like the base creature was neutral good and then we put the werebear template. No, this is while you are acting as a werebear, you are neutral good. So, you know, this is like, once a month, you spend three days going around and, like, aiding senior citizens across streets and picking up trash. Right? Like, that’s, that’s your rampage. Now, if you didn’t have that in the chart, you would have no reason unless you read through the entire thing to go, Ah, yes, werebear. This is somebody helpful. Okay. And I know, I’m going to try and cut most of this conversation and and post it to the the, the the episode that we do later because, like, alignment, I think does have value. But you know, as so like as to why this change matters. That’s why. There is value to be gained from just having an L/E or an N/G in a chart so that I, like Tyler said that, so that I can look at it and go I”‘ve never seen an aboleth before. Uh, evil undead. Great. Nailed it. And I can go from there.

Randall 

Okay, it’s actually funny that you bring that up. So there’s this idea in music, especially for guitar players or bass players called “cheat books,” where somebody you know, you’re doing a solo thing out of the show, somebody comes up to you and says, “Can you play this song?” And you know, you’ve heard it, you don’t really remember the words, but you’re pretty good guitarist, you pop open a cheat book, and it’ll say, like, Here’s a basic strumming pattern. Here’s the chord progression and you’re able to go, and then it won’t sound right. But the people are drunk anyway, doesn’t matter. You just play the song and they’re happy. It almost feels like having that, you know, chaotic evil marker is kind of the equivalent of a cheat book for DM, where it’s like, oh, they’re gonna try to fight this thing. Okay, Monster Manual. Okay, here, I got it. We’re ready to party.

Random 

Exactly.

Randall 

Yeah. Okay. All right. Well, thanks, folks, for joining us on this edition of The RPGBOT.news. I think the summary is it’s gonna be alright. Everything’s fine. We’re gonna keep going. There’s new content coming, that’s gonna be great. Everything’s okay. Join us next time. Ikay, the thing that I wanted to sneak in there, but then I didn’t realize at first I didn’t want to come over. When you were talking about the werebear being chaotic good, it’s like okay, so like all werebears are just Winnie the Pooh. Like, you know, running around with their, with their head stuck in honey jars. That’s that’s… that’s chaotic good, right?

Random 

They’re actually neutral good. Winnie the Pooh is absolutely. I mean, I would definitely call him… honestly, I mean, I probably, ya know, he’s definitely got a good eye but also dumb, and werebears are not dumb.

Tyler 

Pure of heart and dumb of ass.

One Response

  1. GreatOldOne December 25, 2021

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