There are experiments that go well, and others not so much. In the case of the ardlings, the new species called to give a boost to the Dungeons & Dragons franchise, things have not gone as expected. And not only will it not make the cut after its recent testing phases, but because Wizards of the Coast has decided that it will not directly appear in the next edition of the game manuals. His existence was a seen and not seen. From here, two legitimate questions: what are the ardlings and what the hell happened?
Let’s put ourselves in context, from a time to this part Dungeons & Dragons is making major revisions to its past for its future, which ranges from eliminating campaigns that today would be seen with new eyes to not-so-subtle adjustments such as replacing the term “breed” with “species” to accommodate the times current.
The case of the ardlings, luckily, has more to do with the gaming experience than anything else, but in a way there is an underlying relationship.
The Ardlings: Half-Fantastic Beasts and Where Not to Find Them
But, again, we return to the most essential: what are the ardlings? Or better, what have they been up to now?
Introduced in August 2022 as a completely new species, the quick and cursory description is that they are humanoid beings with traits and characteristics unique to animals. In essence, the arrival through the front door of the anthropomorphic concept to the fantasy realms of Dungeons & Dragons beyond what already existed. Of course, with nuances.
The official description of the ardlings also puts us in context with their common origins and what makes them a species despite the notable differences between themselves.
Celestial animals roam the Beastlands, a plane of untamed beauty and wilderness. Many of those otherworldly animals serve the Beastmasters, and in the early days of the multiverse, some of the animals evolved into bipedal forms. Among them are the Ardlings, people with the heads of beasts, keen senses, and an innate connection to divine magic.
Long ago, the ancestors of Ardlings migrated to the Material Plane, and Ardlings can now be found on many worlds. An Ardling has an animal-like head. Depending on the animal, the Ardling may also have fur, feathers, or scales. Some small and some stout, Ardlings are as varied as the animals they resemble.
And how does that affect the game? To start with, the way in which an ardling is created is very unique, since there are four main groups
- climberswith appearance, advantages and characteristics of bear, cat, lizard, squirrel and other similar animals
- the flyers, with the advantage of falling or jumping and inspired by bats, eagles, owls, etc.
- The runners, that not only increase their speed enormously, but the charging action (deer, horse, etc)
- The swimmers, with exceptional mobility in aquatic areas, resistance to cold and resistance under water. Some examples are the crocodile, the frog or the shark.
In addition to these benefits, ardlings gain other qualities of their own and bestial natures. Although, for all intents and purposes, it’s not just about getting looks, but something very close to superpowers. And that’s what leads us to the crux of the matter.
The fans have spoken, and they don’t want the ardlings
In a recent update on the future of Dungeons & DragonsJeremy Crawford and Todd Kenreck discussed at length how future changes were established for the expansion, evolution and news of the game itself and the entire universe beyond it.
Thus, a very important part is the feedback received through natural channels, such as comments or social networks, while others are more direct, such as community playtests and the core of players who proactively evaluate what is to arrive
In this way, the adjustments introduced for the Dragonborn and Goliath have passed that test with flying colors, while the general impressions received around the ardling leave a very different reading and consequences: not only has the possibility of them appearing in the next revision of the game that will arrive in 2024, but that nor are they guaranteed to appear in future manuals.
According to Crawford himself, the architect and designer of the game, it is that despite there are many fans of them, the bad impressions obtained in the game tests (which even had to be redone due to a Goliath-related bug) don’t leave much leeway. However, he leaves the door ajar, ensuring that the way they work gives them a perspective in which they understand that their time has not yet come.
The future of Dungeons & Dragons does not stop
Honest answer or a diplomatic way out? Perhaps both at the same time. Crawford says that the big problem – according to the impressions of the fans – is due to the context created for the ardlings. In any case, it is at least curious that now that Dungeons & Dragons he turns to the community to eliminate the term races from their universe, an entire species has been extinguished by the will of the fans.
Or, at least, its arrival is not foreseen in the short or medium term.
All in all, the expansion of the Dungeons & Dragons brand continues its course. the movie Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is on the verge of candy, and in August Baldur’s Gate 3 will be released on PC and PS5 after a lengthy early access phase. Nothing bad.