The Ardlings have come to Dungeons & Dragons. Earlier today, Dungeons & Dragons officially launched the first in a series of monthly playtests of rules planned for the upcoming revised Player's Handbook being released in 2024. The new Unearthed Arcana playtest includes character creation rules that include overhauled takes on both character races and backgrounds. Many of these changes were summed up in a video posted by Dungeons & Dragons earlier today.
One of the more notable additions in the playtest is the Ardling, a new race of humanoid creatures who either live in the Upper Planes or have descended from a creature that hails from there. The Ardling's most notable feature is that they have a head that resembles an animal, typically tied to an animal with "virtuous associations." While the Tabaxi are "catfolk" and the Aarakocra are "birdfolk," the Ardlings are more akin to the Egyptian gods Tefnut or Horus.
All Ardlings have the ability to temporarily sprout angelic spectral wings and fly for a short moment, giving them the ability to maneuver across the battlefield. Each Ardling also has access to a handful of spells, determined by their celestial legacy that ties them to a particular Upper Plane or ideal.
Ardlings are intended to be a more straightforward parallel to Tieflings, who have a similar set of abilities in the new Playtest rules. Ardlings are not a replacement for Aasimar, another race with heavenly origins, but the Ardlings will appear as a "core race" in the revised Player's Handbook.
Another major change proposed in the ruleset is making Orcs a core race found in the Player's Handbook. Previously, Half-Orcs appeared in the Player's Handbook, but Orcs themselves weren't a playable race until Volo's Guide to Monsters (and more recently, Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse.) These new Orcs are presented much differently than how Orcs were explained in previous editions of the game. Their various traits are gifts of their creator god Grummish, who granted the Orcs special abilities to survive in worlds filled with monsters.
Note: A previous version of the article erroneously noted the rules for characters with parents of two different races. Players can choose the race traits from either race of the parent. For instance, a half-orc can choose the mechanical race traits of either the orc parent or the non-orc parent and then mix and match visual characteristics.