In the latest round of playtest documents for the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons out today, Wizards of the Coast focuses on the Druid, Paladin, and Ranger.
When they announced the new versions of the venerable roleplaying game in January of 2012, codenamed D&D Next, they also announced a public play test . Since May, the companies has been releasing documents every month or two, tweaking rules and add more character concepts each time. In the latest version of the playtest documents, the character classes Druid, Paladin, and Ranger have been added. This brings the total classes in the playtest to nine, likely a majority of what will be in the final game.
The Druid, a priest of nature, remains largely unchanged from past versions. One interesting detail is that the animals they can shape change into are now listed, such as a hound or a bird or a fish. In the past, a Druid could transform into an almost limitless number of animals, though it may that this limitation is only imposed for the playtest. The Druid now also chooses a specific Circle, which determines some of the magic and powers they get.
Likewise, the Paladin, a holy knight, now chooses an Oath to follow, which determines some of their abilities and powers. The Palading also now has a basic Channel Divinity ability and a wide range of ways to use that Divinity, providing greater flexibility for Paladin characters.
Lastly, the Ranger is your standard wilderness warrior and guide. In the past, Rangers chose to specialize in using two weapons or using archery. As of now, that mastery is gone from the class. Furthermore, their training in fighting specific kinds of creatures, known as Favored Enemies, have gone from being simple bonuses to a suite of specific abilities that make sense against goblins or dragons or giants. Choosing which kind of enemy to favor, like the choices other classes just introduced make, provides variety and helps insure no two Rangers (or Druids or Paladins) alike.
Wizards has continued to do a good job of stripping the classes down to the very things that make them unique, part of the overall strategy to make D&D Next simpler and more accessible. Since launching the playtest, Wizards has been listening to feedback and the surveys they send out to playtesters. Every new packet released features tweaks to basic rules like combat or skills, and the actual character classes you choose to play as. And with the playtest likely continuing throughout the year, into early 2014 for a likely Fall 2014 release, D&D Next will continue to evolve and improve.