After Greg and Shelly welcome you to the show, D&D Game Designer Dan Dillon joins us for another edition of Meet Your Monsters. This week, we discuss Helmed Horrors. Our special interview this week is with award...
Sage Advice is a series of articles in which Jeremy Crawford, one of the D&D Studio’s game design architects, talks about the design of the game’s rules and answers questions about them.
D&D books occasionally receive corrections and other updates to their rules and story. This Sage Advice installment presents updates to several books. I then answer a handful of rules questions, focusing on queries related to Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons and Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos.
Over the past year, several D&D books have been tweaked. The following errata PDFs list changes to those books:
- Curse of Strahd
- Dungeon Master’s Guide
- Player’s Handbook
- Storm King’s Thunder
- Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
- Tales from the Yawning Portal
- Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
- Tomb of Annihilation
- Volo’s Guide to Monsters
The changes in those PDFs appear in recent printings of the affected books, and the changes will also appear on D&D Beyond and anywhere else the books are available digitally.
A notable change in the errata docs above is the revised text for drow in the Player’s Handbook:
As a drow, you are infused with the magic of the Underdark, an underground realm of wonders and horrors rarely seen on the surface above. You are at home in shadows and, thanks to your innate magic, learn to conjure forth both light and darkness. Your kin tend to have stark white hair and grayish skin of many hues.
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, Krynn, and other realms have escaped the cult’s influence—for now. Wherever the cult lurks, drow heroes stand on the front lines in the war against it, seeking to sunder Lolth’s web.
This new text replaces a description that confused the culture of Menzoberranzan—a city in the grip of Lolth’s cult in the Forgotten Realms—with drow themselves. The new text more accurately describes the place of drow in the D&D multiverse and correctly situates them among the other branches of the elf family, each of which was shaped by an environment in the earliest days of the multiverse: forests (wood elves), places of ancient magic on the Material Plane (high elves), oceans (sea elves), the Feywild (eladrin), the Shadowfell (shadar-kai), and the Underdark (drow). Drow are united by an ancestral connection to the Underdark, not by worship of Lolth—a god some of them have never heard of.
Recent books include monster stat blocks—like the dragon blessed in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons and the Silverquill apprentice in Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos—that contain actions designated as spell attacks, rather than weapon attacks. What was the motivation for adding this type of action to the game? This type of action isn’t new. Monsters have had spell attacks since the Monster Manual (2014). See the lich’s Paralyzing Touch action and the cambion’s Fire Ray action for other examples of actions that are spell attacks. As discussed in the introduction of the Monster Manual (page 10), a monster’s attack action is designated as either a weapon attack or a spell attack.
Is a spell attack a spell? No. The game has two types of attacks—weapon attacks and spell attacks—so a spell attack is a type of attack, not a type of spell. Sometimes a spell attack is part of a spell, as in the fire bolt spell, but other times a spell attack occurs outside a spell, as in the specter’s Life Drain attack in the Monster Manual.
When a monster casts a spell without using spell slots, how do I know the spell’s level? A spell’s level is specified in the spell’s description. For example, the description of fireball says it’s a 3rd-level spell. If you cast spells using spell slots, you get the additional option of temporarily increasing a spell’s level by expending a spell lot of a higher level to cast the spell.
Can the silvery barbs spell in Strixhaven affect Legendary Resistance? No. When a creature uses Legendary Resistance, the creature turns a failed saving throw into a success, regardless of the number rolled on the d20. Forcing that creature to reroll the d20 afterward doesn’t change the fact that the save succeeded as a result of Legendary Resistance. No amount of rerolling will undo that success.
CLARIFYING OUR RECENT ERRATA
Updated 12/16/21 by Ray Winninger
We recently released a set of errata documents cataloging the corrections and changes we’ve made in recent reprints of various titles. I thought I’d provide some additional context on some of these changes and why we made them.
First, I urge all of you to read the errata documents for yourselves. A lot of assertions about the errata we’ve noticed in various online discussions aren’t accurate. (For example, we haven’t decided that beholders and mind flayers are no longer evil.)
We make text corrections for many reasons, but there are a few themes running through this latest batch of corrections worth highlighting.
1) The Multiverse: I’ve previously noted that new setting products are a major area of focus for the Studio going forward. As part of that effort, our reminders that D&D supports not just The Forgotten Realms but a multitude of worlds are getting more explicit. Since the nature of creatures and cultures vary from world to world, we’re being extra careful about making authoritative statements about such things without providing appropriate context. If we’re discussing orcs, for instance, it’s important to note which orcs we’re talking about. The orcs of Greyhawk are quite different from the orcs you’ll find in Eberron, for instance, just as an orc settlement on the Sword Coast may exhibit a very different culture than another orc settlement located on the other side of Faerûn. This addresses corrections like the blanket disclaimer added to p.5 of VOLO’S GUIDE.
2) Alignment: The only real changes related to alignment were removing the suggested alignments previously assigned to playable races in the PHB and elsewhere (“most dwarves are lawful;” “most halflings are lawful good”). We stopped providing such suggestions for new playable races some time ago. Since every player character is a unique individual, we no longer feel that such guidance is useful or appropriate. Whether or not most halflings are lawful good has no bearing on your halfling and who you want to be. After all, the most memorable and interesting characters often explicitly subvert expectations and stereotypes. And again, it’s impossible to say something like “most halflings are lawful good” without clarifying which halflings we’re talking about. (It’s probably not true that most Athasian halflings are lawful good.) These changes were foreshadowed in an earlier blog post and impact only the guidance provided during character creation; they are not reflective of any changes to our settings or the associated lore.
3) Creature Personalities: We also removed a couple paragraphs suggesting that all mind flayers or all beholders (for instance) share a single, stock personality. We’ve long advised DMs that one way to make adventures and campaigns more memorable is to populate them with unique and interesting characters. These paragraphs stood in conflict with that advice. We didn’t alter the essential natures of these creatures or how they fit into our settings at all. (Mind flayers still devour the brains of humanoids, and yes, that means they tend to be evil.)
The through-line that connects these three themes is our renewed commitment to encouraging DMs and players to create whatever worlds and characters they can imagine.
Happy holidays and happy gaming.
SAGE ADVICE COMPENDIUM
Curious how certain rules are intended to work in D&D? Check out the game’s FAQ, the Sage Advice Compendium. The compendium also includes links to errata PDFs for some of the game’s books.