Thursday, August 28, 2014

D&D Players Handbook [RPG Review]

I've already written a little bit about the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons, but this review is about the full game, not simply the starter set. Well, this is at least about the brand new copy of the Player's Handbook sitting right in front of me.


Classes are back, and they resemble the style found in DnD3.5.
First off let me say the book is well produced. The cover is strong (if the one matte section is a bit weird feeling), the colors are good, and for the most part the art is good too. I say for the most part since every image of a Halfling seems to be anatomically impossible, or anatomically comical. Not that I feel bad, Halflings and Gnomes have always been my least favorite races. 

4.5 out of 5 stars

Backgrounds are simply amazing.
This book contains everything the player needs to create a character and play it in whatever world their respective DM creates or uses. So what all is included?

Races: It has the normal selection of Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. These are the common races, and each race has two or more subtypes. Then there are five rare races; Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, and Tiefling. They even joke that Half-Elves are not actually all that uncommon. I'm glad we've avoided some of the silly races from DnD4 like the Deva and Minotaur. In fact we can go this entire edition without those being playable character races and I will be happy. I would also have enjoyed seeing Half-Orc ignored as well... but we can't have everything can we?

Classes: We have a solid and strong list of classes including a few I was a touch shocked to see. The classes are Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard. Like the common races, each class has two or more options for the direction you can take your character. For example a Fighter can be either a Champion, a Battle Master, or an Eldritch Knight (yes, a magic wielding fighter, which is just cool). 

Now in earlier editions of DnD that was about all that you really picked for your character. In 4E you did pick new features at level 11 and level 21, but those were just more class modifications. This new edition has one more major character design choice.

Backgrounds: Every character gets to pick a background. From that background they gain some additional languages, proficiencies, and equipment. They also add some built in roleplay elements to the character, you might say they are the character's character. They also give the DM a new way to reward players for actually playing in character. The backgrounds are (and I do hope they expand on these in future books); Acolyte, Charlatan, Criminal, Entertainer, Folk Hero, Guild Artisan, Hermit, Noble, Outlander, Sage, Sailor, Soldier, and Urchin. From these backgrounds the characters can draw on several things such as Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws. I'm fairly certain you can make an excellent Doctor from the Sage background... so you know, that's a plus.  

I really like everything I've read in the Player's Handbook. There is only one real reason this edition of DnD does not have a full five star rating, and it is a glaring omission. Neither the Dungeon Master's Guide nor the Monster Manual were released with the Player's Handbook. This means that crafting your own world is rather difficult right now. Yes, you can play the pre-built adventures, but, at least for me, half the fun of DMing comes from crafting your own world and plot.

Still, I think this is the best DnD I've played.

I'm gonna have fun with this edition. 

Hey, look! Realistic female fighter characters! Wow.

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