D&D's new playtest canonises a subclass rename from Baldur's Gate 3, lead rules designer 'worked with Larian'

Baldlur's Gate 3 - Karlach sits at an outdoor restaurant in the city, holding a menu on a date with the player
(Image credit: Larian Studios)

OneD&D—yes, they've moved past the naming, but it's what I'm going with to save you having to read 'revised 2024 ruleset' a hundred times—had a big old playtest released the other day, which holds a whole heap of interesting class adjustments. Chiefly, a subclass has been renamed to its Baldur's Gate 3 moniker.

For those who don't roll with pen & paper, Dungeons & Dragons conduct playtests for new mechanics every so often. You can think of these like beta branches for MMORPGs. It's all a work in progress—and although great care has been taken to remove them, traces of balance problems may remain. 

One interesting tweak comes in the form of the Barbarian subclass, the Wild Heart. Aside from some balance tune-ups, eagle-eyed readers may have noticed it's using Larian's new name, rather than its original flavour of "Totem Barbarian." Lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford revealed that he'd been working with Larian Studios to rename the class, way back when Barbarians swung into the game's early access period in February of last year.

“What many people don’t know … is I personally worked with Larian to name that subclass. And we knew at the time that we would end up unifying the name when we came to the 2024 Player’s Handbook.”

This generally groks with a system-wide effort to pull out thorny language, such as the word "race", which is slowly being phased out in favour of "species". This sensible move that shouldn't upset anyone pairs with Tasha's Cauldron of Everything's tweaks to how ability scores are assigned. You used to designate them based on the one you picked—elves, for example, were naturally more intelligent—whereas now you can put your +2 and +1 wherever. Widened customisation options for players and less unsettling implications: a win-win for anyone not stuck in the past.

While I'm not aware of any major controversies surrounding the Totem Barbarian subclass, the change makes sense. In the real world, totems have deep roots in cultures and religions—attaching them to a subclass is about as weird as having an Oath that requires your paladin to wield a holy crucifix. Not to mention, the past naming trapped the subclass in a specific type of flavour for basically no reason.

I assume they've been moderated, but it's nice to see the comments section of the preview lacks the typical pearl-clutching over what should be a completely uneventful change. Players are instead keeping up a strong tabletop tradition of getting all granular and critical about proposed balance changes. Pelor bless these theorycrafting soldiers, warding off the darkness of Sorcadins to come.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.