Everything a player needs to create heroic characters for the world’s greatest roleplaying game
The Player’s Handbook® is the essential reference for every Dungeons & Dragons® roleplayer. It contains rules for character creation and advancement, backgrounds and skills, exploration and combat, equipment, spells, and much more.
Use this book to create exciting characters from among the most iconic D&D® races and classes.
Dungeons & Dragons immerses you in a world of adventure. Explore ancient ruins and deadly dungeons. Battle monsters while searching for legendary treasures. Gain experience and power as you trek across uncharted lands with your companions.
James Wyatt is an award-winning game designer at Wizards of the Coast, and now holds the position of Design Manager for Dungeons & Dragons. He was one of the lead designers for D&D 4th Edition and one of the original designers of the Eberron Campaign Setting, and has written and co-authored dozens of game supplements. He grew up in Ithaca, New York, and now lives in Washington State with his wife and son.
So I broke down and got my hands on the newest edition of the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook even though I’m not very sanguine about the likelihood that I’ll ever actually get to play the game. Ultimately this is not really a huge departure for me when it comes to my relationship with the game. I guess I am what you would call an old-school D&D Lurker. I got the old Mentzer ‘BECMI’ Red Box set and expanded out to the Advanced D & D Player’s Handbook, Dungeons Master’s Guide and Monster Manuals when I was but a lad. That being said I rarely, if ever, actually *played* the damn game given the scarcity of players in my social circles and ultimately looked into the world of D & D from the outside, mostly perusing the books and adventure modules and building characters I never (or rarely) played. So here I am with a bright and shiny copy of the newest edition and I must admit that unless I get my kids interested in the game when they get a bit older I’m not likely to actually play-test this version either!
I am certainly no historian of the genre, but despite this (and my lack of play experience) I have fairly strong feelings about the versions of the game that have existed. I liked the old D & D model that I was familiar with in my youth, though I did think that AD&D got a little extreme in its ‘let’s come up with a codified rule for everything’ approach (encumbrance anyone? Psionics *and* magic? Blech). As the game ‘developed’ from there it became less and less what I liked in the old idea (‘hey let’s build some fantasy characters and create a story around their adventures’) and seemed to start doing something strange. Everything became super ‘crunchy’ in regards to the rules (even moreso than AD&D which never met a rule set or footnote it didn’t like) and it was all about min-maxing character stats and coming up with the perfect ‘build’ to ‘beat the system’. Character archetypes (and endless classes and sub-classes with special abilities and ‘feats’ tied to them) became dominant and were no longer simply a superstructure upon which to hang your character: they now *were* your character. Also, miniatures were now apparently a necessary thing (instead of the extra frill they used to be in my day) so you could have tactical combat laid out on a grid in front of you with line of sight, distance, and party order rules. Ultimately, in my opinion, they were trying to re-create a computer game on your kitchen table so they could compete with the computerized RPGs flooding the market, instead of letting a tabletop RPG play to its real strengths: the players’ imaginations working in tandem with a concise and flexible ruleset to create guided play.
Anyway, with that diatribe aside what do I think of the new edition? I like it. I like it quite a bit! It seems to be something of a shift back to a more ‘old school’ sensibility and has streamlined a lot of the bumps and rule bulge that was starting to make D & D into an unwieldy beast. The myriad tables, sub-tables and other individual rules for performing various actions have been streamlined into ability checks with a unified concept of ‘advantage’ and ‘disadvantage’ modifiers based on existing character stats. Much nicer than having to check 18 different tables and rules depending on what kind of action you want to perform. Many of the ‘extra’ bits that I thought made 3.5 way too top-heavy (hello feats!) are now optional and much more intuitive. The character classes give us a good mix of the classic old school ones (Fighter, Cleric, Thief) with some new ones (expanded spell caster options like Warlock, Sorcerer, Wizard) and they even managed to reintroduce the Bard class and make it something that might actually be playable (and interesting), no small feat! The magic and combat systems seem to be as ‘crunchy’ as they need to be to allow for flexibility, but seem to be more unified and easier to understand (from my perspective at least) than some of the older ones that apparently required a math degree for the players and DM to understand.
The book itself is nice with good (though not exceptional) art that is consistent throughout. I would have preferred something a little more ‘old school’ in style, but I guess the kids these days might not go for that (at least it's not 'dungeon-punk' like some previous artwork for the game). The flavour text adds just enough, um, flavour to make the book more than just a slog through rules, without railroading the reader into a specific world or play model (sometimes a problem with earlier incarnations that seemed to want to meld the rules to a specific company-created world obviously to ensure that all of the forthcoming world-specific rule books became ‘required’ reading). All in all I really like this version of D & D and think it’s a very good merging of the old with the new that seems much more streamlined than other versions I’ve seen. Now all I need to do is find some other nerds that actually want to play and I’m set! Any takers?
Having FINALLY played 5e, I can confirm that, in my experience, it’s the best iteration of D&D thus far. The mechanics are well thought out, it’s relatively easy to understand, and it’s not an onerous task to figure out how difficult something is and what you need to do in order to accomplish it (and, there are enough powers and abilities that give you the ability to tweak rolls to do things that are truly heroic when the situation calls for it). It’s a goshdarned delight.
Naturally, I’m playing a bard in honor of counting down to the release of The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True. Did I nearly die a horrible death when my 1st-level storyteller failed spectacularly in an attempt to recruit a minotaur to join us on a quest by challenging him to a duel? Of course I did. Because what would be the point of playing a bard and NOT doing that?
Wow. They really knocked this out of the park. Rarely have I seen such a huge brand reinvention carried off so flawlessly. I love the art, the layout, the design - the entire mechanic ethos of the system. I have some quibbles, but it's all glossed over by my infatuation.
It's like returning to an abusive ex to find out they've transmogrified into some sort of unicorn that manifests McDonald's fries at will.
One of my friends called this "The Best Edition", which is the absolute truth. So much of this book is AD&D (1st) and 2nd edition, not only in the rules that are simplified and made to work better than ever, but in the way the rules themselves are laid out. Take character classes for instance - you get a brief intro, then the rules, then it gets fleshed out. Hard numbers that you need during character creation or gameplay are real easy to find.
Everything is broken down, not just for the noob, but the veteran player. It's well organized and easy to understand.
The artwork in this book is beautiful, a far cry from the old AD&D days (tho I miss some of the Erol Otis pictures and some of the other artists). With one glaring exception, the picture of the Halfling is just sadly distorted...but that one illustration is easy to overlook considering the lavish color art throughout the book.
The biggest change is that CHARTS ARE BACK! Remember all those charts from 1st and 2nd Edition? Well here they are: overall Level Advancement, a separate chart for each character class, even a fun Trinket chart! Charts make things easy, it's all the rules you need in one handy to look place that jumps off the page.
Character creation is in the beginning and it's easy. Unlike 3rd Edition (where we needed an entire game session to create characters for the group then work out everyone's Feats and Skills), it's a snap just like in the old days.
Skills are still there, but forget what you remember from 3rd Edition about needing separate skills for horseback riding, aerial riding, and whatever-other kind of riding - now it's all greatly simplified and lots of stuff is taken for granted and not given a skill at all. And skills are tied in to your Background, which is a separate chapter where you can pick where your character comes from (think pirate or street urchin). This provides a nice packet of skills to get you started.
Feats are there too, but not only are they optional, if your DM allows their use they fit right into the class level chart like a puzzle piece - every few levels each class gets to add +2 to their ability scores (it's there on the chart!), but if Feats are used then the player has the option of taking a Feat instead. And forget the awful chains of Feats you needed to get something cool like Two Weapon Fighting, now you just pick a feat and are done with it. A few Feats DO have prerequisites, usually they are ability scores and in just a few cases they are other Feats.
All the standard races that you remember are here: Human, Dwarf, Elf, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Halfling (aka Hobbit), Gnome, plus there's the Dragonborn (someone with Dragon in their family history) and Tiefling (someone with infernal [demon or devil] family history). Each is laid out nicely and all the main races have sub-races, such as Drow. Humans get the short end of this stick, we get a bunch of ethnicities from Forgotten Realms.
Character classes are where these rules really shine. All the classics are there: Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Monk. The Barbarian is back, as is the Bard, who's finally done right. The Sorcerer from 4th Edition is also back, basically a wizard who casts magic innately - he doesn't know as many spells, but doesn't need a spellbook. And there's a new class, the Warlock - a wizard who gets his spells from an otherworldly source (Fey, Infernal, or Great Old One - and yes, Cthulhu gets a mention here!)
Take the Paladin for instance, which in classic D&D was a holy warrior that had to be Lawful Good; while a great class that was powerful and also powerfully restricted in their requirements, it made for some cookie cutter characters. In this book the first thing you see is an illustration of a Half-Orc Paladin! They still are designed to fight in the cause of righteousness, but at 3rd level they choose one of three Sacred Oaths that defines what their character is and how it is played going forward:
Oath of Devotion - "The loftiest ideals of justice, virtue, and order." Basically your classic Paladin, though sometimes called White Knights, Cavaliers, or Holy Warriors (nice touch).
Oath of the Ancients - Known as Green Knights, Fey Knights, or Horned Knights, these seem designed for elves in that they serve the light and defend life.
Oath of Vengeance - Known as Avengers or Dark Knights...OK, yes, this is the 'Batman' of the D&D universe, but damn if this doesn't make me want to play a Paladin!
Almost all the classes follow this pattern - somewhere between 1st to 3rd level they pick a path and that defines them and some of the abilities they get as they level up. The exception is the Wizard, who picks a school of magic (remember those from 2nd Edition?) This system makes for an efficient way to create characters that are not just another Fighter, Wizard, Rogue, or Barbarian, but it does this without the overwhelming burden of Feats and Skills that smothered 3rd Edition.
The rules still have Saving Throws, though they've been simplified. Also the Ability Checks from 3rd Edition are here, but again they're streamlined and easy to use. Now we also have Advantage and Disadvantage - once you earn either, you roll TWO dice for your next hit/ability check, then take the highest (Advantage) or lowest (Disadvantage) of the two. A cute and easy way to work a lot of different stuff into the game without having a new rule for these situations...you get an Advantage or Disadvantage, done!
Finally I got to Chapter 9: Combat - this is where, after all the greatness that came in previous chapters, I fully expected the game to lose me. Not so! This chapter is - are you sitting down? - 10 pages long! That's it. It's just how a combat turn works, surprise, actions you can take, damage and healing. BAM! (make a save)
Where character classes and races make up the majority of the front half of the book, magic takes up most of the back half. Spells are laid out alphabetically, with large charts breaking down lists for each spell casting class in the front. Cantrips are back, most of the spell-using classes have them (Paladin and Ranger being the exceptions) and they are actually effective. Familiar names such as Mordenkainen and Otiluke have returned - I recall they vanished at some point. The descriptions are streamlined and nicely descriptive, sometimes there's also an 'At Higher Levels' bit at the end.
There are some useful Appendixes at the end:
Appendix A: Conditions - clear definitions of stuff like Blinded, Petrified, and Prone.
Appendix B: Gods of the Multiverse - Simple stats, geared mainly for Clerics, for divine beings from The Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Ebberon, some of the Nonhuman deities, then the Celtic, Greek, Egyptian, and Norse pantheons.
Appendix C: Planes of Existence - This has been reworked slightly since AD&D, but it still makes sense. My favorite changes is The Far Realm, which lies beyond all the Inner and Outer Planes, and is where you're likely to find Azathoth and other Lovecraftian horrors.
Appendix D: Creature Statistics - Just enough to run some low level adventures, mostly wild animals though Skeletons and Zombies did make the cut.
Appendix E: Inspirational Reading - A favorite of mine from AD&D, this section set me to reading Moorcock and Lovecraft. The great classic fantasy artists are here, along with their modern contemporaries and some that I've never heard of.
The only downside is that this edition of the game took so long to come out. Long time players have had to suffer through 3rd Edition (which was a mess of Feats and Skills - I actually needed a 1 page cheat sheet to keep all the math in one place!), to an unplayable 4th Edition that was basically an online MMORPG on paper. I remain one of the only players of my old gaming group who still knows what their dice collection looks like.
Not the mess that 3rd edition was, the system actually works, but it still lacks a heart.
Put it another way, what is this game for? What is its identity? What does it try to do, that no other game out there does? Call of Cthulhu is for the horrific cosmic tales in the bent of H.P. Lovecraft and his contemporaries, where madness and death are always the turn of a page away. Savage Worlds is for fast-paced pulpy action, where 'plot' is just an excuse for the next fight or challenge. Burning Wheel is for playing as characters with rich history and depth, fighting for what they believe in, be it by blade or wit. The World of Darkness line of games is for gloomy yet romantic horror, where nothing is the way it seems at first. Shadowrun is for cyberpunk, for hacking and street samurais and fighting The Man, with a bit of a fantasy twist to it. Risus wants to be the lightest and the simplest game on the market.
Early Dungeons & Dragons was a sword & sorcery adventure game, of exploring hidden places and doing battle with horrors therein, of sneaking past beasts and challenges and coming back rich if coming back at all. It was occasionally unintuitive and difficult to get into, but pretty damned good at what it did right. Then as time passed, it forgot its roots, and drifted away, and reached out for new things to do and new markets to find and more money to be had. It can no longer do what it once did... nor can it really do anything else.
Hence I submit that Dungeons & Dragons lost its heart with the 2nd edition, and - barring a brief stint with 4th edition, that was actually a pretty competent small-scale tactical combat game - has not discovered it since. Now it has nothing more going for it than, no identity beyond, That Game Everyone Plays. The game that wants everyone to play it. The game that tries its damnedest to please everyone, not understanding or caring about how impossible this is.
It's still not a bad game. It's hard to be genuinely bad, when you spend so much time and money and effort to one thing. And I suppose it makes for an adequate introduction to the hobby, for people who are unlikely to have even heard of any other games there might be. It's the gateway series for them - but they do themselves great disservice for staying with it forever.
If you read this review now, then it's not unlikely that you've just gotten to the roleplaying scene with this game, or are thinking of doing so. And I say to you, go for it. Dive deep into it. Savour the sweet nectar that is interactive, cooperative storytelling and gaming. Have fun. Have so much fun.
But know this - you've but tipped your toes into it. You can still see the bottom of the shallows, still barely ankle-deep into it. Step upon the precipice and look down into the depths where you can no longer see the bottom, and know that there's far more down there, far greater glories, just waiting for you than this. As your tastes develop, as you find yourself liking more some aspects of the game and its system than others, you'll find more there that fit to you much better. You'll be almost guaranteed to find a system, a score of them, that you will prefer over the newest edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Even the list I put towards the beginning of this review but scratched the surface.
Welcome to the hobby of roleplaying. I hope you will enjoy your stay.
As the synopsis states, this book contained "everything a player needs to create heroic characters for the world’s greatest roleplaying game".
I am entirely new to the D&D World so slowly worked my way through the information that featured here, as it took me some time to truly understand the mechanics of everything it highlighted. I had such fun attempting to do so, however, and feel well-equipped for my first real game in this world!
I haven't played D&D since they brought out 3.5 edition way too soon after 3.0 and said piss on it. I've been eyeing this book from afar for a couple years and jumped on it when it got marked down to around 16 bucks for Black Friday.
I don't know when I'll ever get to use this with no gaming group and an autistic three year old running around but I enjoyed thumbing through it. Obviously, it's an RPG manual so I didn't read EVERY page but I read enough to digest the mechanics.
The book was organized fairly well, although explanation of advantage/disadvantage before they were repeatedly mentioned would have been nice instead of saving it for the abilities chapter. The art pretty good but not anything I feel compelled to get tattooed on my back. There's even a nice appendix of recommended reading material in the back.
Everything about this edition seems to be geared toward simplifying things and spending less time making characters and more time playing, which I love. So many hours of potential gaming have been lost when somebody can't decide what skills to take, etc.
There aren't as many skills and feats are optional so character creation is sped up quite a bit. I like that race, class, and background all contribute to a character's skills, languages, starting equipment, etc. I thought 3.0 had too many choices and this reins things in a bit. Hell, there's even a quick build if you really don't want to put much thought into character creation.
I was skeptical about the new Warlock class but it's different enough to be interesting now, a spellcaster who gets their powers from a pact with an extradimensional creature is right up my alley. The monk feels more like the 1st edition monk than anything else but also has some cool features as you advance. While I'm on the subject, the way characters have ability choices as they advance is pretty cool. Wizards and Sorcerors now have a d6 hit die instead of a d4 and rogues are now d8s. That should make for fewer deaths at low levels.
I'm not crazy about what Tieflings have become since 2nd edition but I guess it's not that big of a deal. The new Dragonborn race has potential for abuse but seems interesting enough. I'm sure there are more optional races and classes than you can shake a yew wand at in later supplements but I'll have to wait until those drop into my cheapness zone.
The Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition Player's Handbook is an outstanding book. Presentation is beautiful, it's very organized and easy to read, and as a game system seems to cover most of the bases for easy and intuitive play.
So why only 3 stars? My biggest complaints with the system are the price tag, scope, and expectations.
With the quarantine, my goal is to play games on the Roll20 Virtual Tabletop. Roll20 has a store where you can purchase and integrate the D&D rules into your game, the basic set costing $80, which is too expensive for me. It seems like the D&D hobby is 75% collecting and 25% gaming.
The scope of the game is enormous; dozens of books, add-ons, etc. I'm definitely looking for something more contained, and simpler. I don't want to read and try to memorize all this stuff, and people who have bought the books expect to use them in the game, I'd imagine.
My perception is that people will expect certain things out of Dungeons and Dragons. Most D&D players have been playing for a long time, and a perception of how a D&D game looks and feels has evolved. My personal feeling is that straying too far from the "accepted formula" probably will not work.
To be fair, I expected most of these things since I played D&D as a kid. There has been so much hype, and "D&D 5e" dominates the "looking for game" Reddit forum to the extent I had to check it out for myself. The rules are a lot more streamlined than they used to be, and if you like "the D&D formula", I think it would be quite good.
One thing D&D 5e has going for it is market share. As I mentioned above, it seems like the vast majority of tabletop gamers are playing D&D, so it would seem to be much easier to find a game.
This really is a very nice book and a fun looking game system, it's just not what I want to play.
Note to Wizards of the Coast on an otherwise excellent production of the new D&D Player's Handbook: nowhere in an index should the word "see" appear when followed by another entry in said index instead of a page number.
This goes double if the entry you are directed to also includes the word "see" followed by yet another entry in said index instead of a page number.
Seriously, other than to annoy people, what's the point? It takes up more space to print the name of the other entry than it does to simply put the page numbers that entry refers to!
I've even run across one time where I found an entry that referred me to a second entry, that in turn referred me to a third entry that didn't, in fact, appear to exist!
Disclaimer: I have not read this book cover-to-cover, but I have read all the core rules sections (Chapters 7 to 10), as well as large chunks of the rest of the book, and have used it in play.
It may not be fair to put the only real complaint I have with the game at the front of the review, but it's such a glaring problem that I face nearly every time I pick up the book, that I felt it deserved the prominent attention.
Otherwise, this is an excellent book. Great production values, good layout, easy to read, easy to understand, easy to use in play (index aside). After three sessions, the rules appear solid. Since I spent so much time criticizing the index, I think it's fair to point out some of the real highlights of the game.
The advantage/disadvantage mechanic is brilliant. Getting rid of 99% of the modifiers from previous editions and replacing them with "roll two dice and take the highest or roll two dice and take the lowest" is an amazing way to simplify things that works great in play.
The inspiration mechanic combined with personality traits is another brilliantly simple solution, this time to the problem of encouraging roleplaying without getting too distracted with minutiae. Do something in character, get a check. Spend the check to get advantage on a roll.
I also appreciate how spellcasting has been reworked to be more fun at lower levels, while still keeping the vancian feel of earlier editions, even though I'm not really a fan of the vancian system.
Overall, a game that feels much more like an evolution of 1st and 2nd Edition AD&D to me than 3rd or 4th edition did.
Hey, all right, so I read this whole thing! I mean I skipped the description of all the spells, I'm not going to remember that anyway. But I legit read basically everything else, hooray for me. How much I actually retain remains to be seen.
I've only ever DMed this here fifth edition, so I don't have a lot of basis for comparison (though I did play one, multi-year campaign of 4e). It seems like there's a lot shit for everybody to keep track of in re: their class, but the onus is on the player for that. With regards to combat mechanics etc, I do like the idea of advantage & disadvantage. I think it simplifies a lot of things, instead of having to remember +2 this and -1 that. Just . . . is it good? Advantage. Nicht so gut? Disadvantage. Doneski. Also it involves rolling more dice, and who doesn't like the excuse to roll more dice? Crazy people.
Now on to the Dungeon Master's Guide. Hold me.
P.S. Oh and without a doubt 100% my all-time favorite part is the "wild magic surge" table. Please oh please oh please let one of my players choose a sorcerer who takes the "Wild Surge" origin so that we can have the potential for the following whenever they cast a spell (this is just a taste, there are fifty of these):
-Illusory butterflies and flower petals flutter in the air within 10 feet of you for the next minute -You cast fireball as a 3rd-level spell centered on yourself -You cast magic missile as a 5th-level spell -You are immune to being intoxicated by alcohol for the next 5d6 days -You turn into a potted plant until the start of your next turn -You cast polymorph on yourself. If you fail the saving throw, you turn into a sheep for the spell's duration -Roll a d10. Your height changes by a number of inches equal to the roll. If the roll is odd, you shrink. If the roll is even, you grow -Your hair falls out but grows back within 24 hours -1d6 flumphs controlled by the DM appear in unoccupied spaces within 60 feet of you and are frightened of you. They vanish after 1 minute
This is a pretty strange book for which to write a review, honestly. I’ve played D&D for a few years now, and have consulted this book countless times—though with expanded free time I finally sat down and read it cover to cover. It was a fun time. If you are new to D&D, I especially recommend the official Player's Handbook.
I think most players look to the 5th edition when consulting on game play, character build/background, some story build, and many other components to crafting the best possible game. While the most popular and reliable resource out there, the only reason I do not rate this higher is that more often than not I also find myself utilizing other online resources like Roll20, Jsigvard, or the late OrcPub2 (may their convenient character sheets rest in peace).
Overall, do not confuse my rating for this book as a rating for the game of Dungeons & Dragons on the whole. Afterall, whether or not a game is actually good predominantly relies on the effort and creativity that you yourself put into it. This is a great book, the only item I can recommend more is investing in a good set of dice, especially if you can get a lucky streak going. Do keep in mind though, that this is all coming from a chaotic neutral frame of mind, so take of it what you will.
It's been well over a decade since I used the 3rd Edition (the last version I studied at at any length), so my perceptions are no doubt altered by age and experience. None the less, I've had a consistently more endeared sense toward this latest version. The character generation feels streamlined, the gameplay mechanics more logical, and the options more broad. And it certainly doesn't hurt that the artwork is phenomenal!
One of my favorite aspects is the encouragement given to backstory. Rather than focusing primarily on the technical and combat, there's a good balance for those of us who enjoy a deeper dive into our character's heads once we've created them. A character's history actually matters, and it has tangible affects on how you play.
I was sometimes annoyed that spells are arranged by level--I think an additional alphabetical listing somewhere would have been useful. But that is a subjective nit to pick and in no way deserves to detract from my rating.
I've read a lot of game systems, and even several versions of D&D, and all in all 5E impresses me. The system is robust, the art lovely, and the focus on storytelling refreshing. This is a solid core rulebook, and a solid system. I only dock a star because there are some system patches and expansions that end up in Xanathar's that I'd have liked to see in here instead.
Qualità manuale (impaginazione, illustrazioni, disposizione regole): 4 stelle Ambientazione: 3 stelle (fantasy generica non presente nel manuale) Sistema regole: 4 stelle (d20 riveduto e corretto ma statico)
Wow! I must admit that I am impressed- Wizards of the Coast did a great job of revising Dungeons & Dragons with 5th Edition. Back in the day, I originally started playing Basic D&D and AD&D 1st Ed., but the main version that I spent a lot of time with (years) was AD&D 2nd Ed. I dabbled a bit in 3rd and 4th Ed. but I didn't really like them compared to 2nd Ed.
This newest Edition (5th), I believe does a great job of bringing it back to the older (1st & 2nd) Editions, but in a better way. The system has been simplified but retains just enough complexity to make it fun and easy to play. Me and some of my old school friends that haven't played a game together in years were so interested in playing the system that we started playing a monthly online game and we are having a blast- everyone picked up the gist of the rules within the first hour. There are many more in-depth reviews out there so I'm not going to go into all the details, but I highly recommend this game.
I'm not going to mention when I first started playing D&D. I'm not going to mention any feelings about previous editions. I'm not going to mention how many other Players Handbooks I already own. I am only going to mention two things: 1. This is the best iteration of the game. Ever. Period. 2. The book looks and reads the way a D&D rulebook should look and feel. Good writing, good layout, good art. Great game.
A very helpful introduction to the world of DND and gave me a sense of the characters I might encounter during my first campaign this weekend (squee!!)!
It was a lot of fun to develop my character (an elven rogue) with prompts to help me develop her backstory (urchin orphan who escaped poverty after conning an aristocrat), personality (cynical and untrusting), and values (yeet the rich).
Dungeons and Dragons, the granddaddy of all role-playing games, has finally released its long-awaited fifth edition. The new rule set provides the perfect opportunity for lapsed players to return to the game, as well as allowing new players to get in on the ground floor. The new edition takes a back-to-basics approach, returning to an old-school feel while maintaining the best game mechanics from the last few editions. The rules have been streamlined without being over-simplified, making the game more inviting than ever for new players of all ages.
And new, preferably young, players are needed if the hobby is to survive into the future. Tabletop RPGs have always been a niche market, and while D&D enjoyed a brief period of mainstream popularity, it has had a difficult time competing for the attentions of the youth market. Video games, television, and movies have largely replaced board games, books, and table-top RPGs as their primary sources of entertainment. But if any edition of D&D has a chance to recapture some of that market, it is this one.
The new Player’s Handbook, the first of three core rulebooks for the new D&D, is an exceptional product. It provides an excellent introduction to playing the game, with simple, clear rules for adventuring and combat. It provides details for the major player character classes and subclasses, along with all their abilities as they advance from levels one to twenty. All the classic classes and races are represented, as well as a few of the newer ones from third and fourth edition.
The writing is top-notch, with a lot of flavor and description provided on top of the necessary crunch of the rules. Far from a dry listing of rules and tables, the books is actually enjoyable to read. The artwork is fabulous, and its diversity should be applauded. Characters are male and female, black and white, and all the fantasy races are well represented. As others have pointed out, there are no gratuitous pictures of female warriors in scanty attire; all characters here are appropriately dressed for adventuring, not the boudoir! It is as if Wizards of the Coast has finally realized that D&D has a very diverse audience: male, female, black, white, Asian, gay, straight, and all permutations thereof. Instead of catering to one group, they have made an effort to be inclusive, and that can only be a good thing.
New in this edition are “backgrounds,” which is a profession you practiced or life you led before you started adventuring. From criminal to noble, soldier to acolyte, these backgrounds provide additional skills, proficiencies, and role-playing hooks to help you get into character. Along with your class and race, your background rounds out your character into a life-like persona.
Races include your standard human, dwarf, elf, and Halfling, along with more exotic choices such as gnome, dragonborn, and tiefling. Classes are the classic fighter, wizard, rogue, and cleric, joined by the druid, sorcerer, bard, warlock, and more. Each class has two or more sub-classes (archetypes) which allow you further customize your character. Further, an optional feat system and the ability to multi-class can provide players with everything they need to make their character unique.
A great many spells are included in the book, and many of the classes have at least some spell-casting ability. Cantrips, or zero-level spells that can be cast at-will, provide wizards and sorcerers with useful powers they can use any time, so they won’t find themselves relegated to throwing daggers once their sleep spells and magic missiles are exhausted for the day.
Combat is greatly simplified and will move much faster than it did in fourth edition, or even third. Gone are the slew of modifiers players and Dungeon Masters were forced to keep track of in previous editions, replaced by the Advantage and Disadvantage mechanic (roll 2d20, take the highest roll if you have Advantage on an attack, save, or ability check; roll 2d20 and take the lowest roll if you have Disadvantage). It is elegant, easy, and in practice, fast and fun. Using a grid and miniatures is optional, and combat in the imagination, called Theater of the Mind, is completely viable. Many players and Dungeon Masters will still prefer to use a grid to keep track of position, but it is not required since combat is not as tactical as it has been in the past. Or rather, it can be, but that is completely up to each individual group.
The rules are simplified, and intentionally left open to interpretation in places. This is because fifth edition is returning power to the Dungeon Master, or referee, as was the intention in 1974 when the game was created. Adding optional modular rules from the Dungeon Masters Guide and other sources should be simple with this system, as should creating house-rules. Each game will be different, and, depending on the skill of the referee, fast, deep, exciting, and unique. Role-playing and exploration are emphasized as much as combat (the Three Pillars of Adventure), and there are plenty of rules and suggestions in each category.
Physically, the book is beautiful and well put together. There have been some reports of faulty products, with pages missing, faded, or falling out, but my copy is pristine, as I am sure most are. If you purchase the book and receive a faulty copy, return it for a good one!
In all, the new Player’s Handbook is a great product, and a must for the serious D&D player, or those wanting to give the game a try. The rule system is the best yet, and the book itself is a beautiful addition to any bookshelf. I am more than pleased with it, and highly recommend it to any role-playing game enthusiast.
Nie wierzę, skończyłem. To była długa lektura bardzo klasycznego podręcznika, który ma miliony stron tworzenia postaci i rzucania czarów. Nie mam nic do klasycznych podręczników jako tako, ale definitywnie wolę mniej klasyczne systemy, gdzie są trzy zasady na krzyż, mechanika uproszczona albo jak w Wampirze podręcznik jest pisany tak, jakby Twój wampirzy stwórca opowiadał Ci o świecie. Nie mówię, że gra się źle (naprawdę fajnie!), ale po prostu wolę trochę inne pisanie 😉
I’ve been playing DnD 5e since 2015. I’ve never actually read the Player’s Handbook (PHB) front-to-back until now. The PHB is pretty much the only source material I would suggest for new players. In a game with as much depth and history as DnD, that is saying a lot.
As a player, DnD is composed of two pieces: role-playing a character and mechanics that support role-playing that character. For example, you might create a half-elf monk who has honed her body to use her fists as weapons. The monk class then describes mechanics by which you can make that character a reality via in-game actions. The combinations are endless, but must conform to the rules and mechanics in the PHB.
The biggest question I get about DnD, without fail, is “what’s the point?” There’s no notion of victory points or defeating the other players at the table. Is it really a game if I can’t win it? I would liken DnD to reading novels, building LEGOS or playing pretend. Why do people do it? Simply because it’s fun.
Okay that was pretty tongue-in-cheek. What actually makes the game fun though? I’ll talk about my two favorite aspects of DnD: the character creation and the roleplaying.
Making the character is an endless playground. My favorite thing to do is start with a really simple idea for a character. Maybe I want to try roleplaying a fisherman. Or maybe I’m really interested in the lore of Dwarves. I start with how I want to experience the world. Then I can find a race, class and background to fit in with my character.
Your character doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are other players’s at the table. There are small and large quests to be had. This is roleplaying. As a player, you really have to step into the shoes of your character. It doesn’t matter how Andrew would react when his friends are on the precipice of an unwise battle. Gar Bagfins, the plucky Halfling Ranger, is always ready to go. Roleplaying is an exercise in empathy for someone that only exists at the table.
Even as an adult, we need to learn to play nice. When you’re playing DnD, you definitely need to be sensitive to your fellow player’s wants, needs and feelings. I have mistakenly wanted my character to be the hero of the quest. But it’s not fun for everyone else if you’re the only player making decisions and doing cool stuff. My DM, fellow players and I are constantly communicating about our character’s needs, feedback and what we want to happen. DnD is a game where you have to flex your emotional intelligence, something that is not so common in a lot of games.
If you’re interested in playing DnD, this is the place to start.
When I was growing up, one of my favorite books was the Monster Manual from 2nd Edition D&D. The weird thing is that I never once played D&D, nor really had any particular desire to. I must have just found the book in a bookstore and my parents noticed me looking at it so much that they just bought it for me. I guess my experience of reading it was similar to the enjoyment of reading a book of mythology, or maybe looking through an atlas--a spur to the imagination.
Later on, when we got a computer, it came with a multi-CD set of the game Baldur's Gate, which is based on the 2nd Edition D&D rules. I really loved playing that game, although I didn't really connect it to D&D at all. I didn't play it any more once I went to college, but a few years back, when the "Enhanced Edition" was released, I bought that too and have played it a fair amount more (as well as the sequel, which I never played as a kid).
Then last year, I actually played "pen & paper" D&D for the first time, playing through the 5th Edition intro adventure, "Lost Mines of Phandelver," with three friends (I was Valerian, a wood elf monk). It was a lot of fun, and made me a little sad that I didn't play until age 30! But it's something I'll continue to enjoy. I think the 5th Edition ruleset is very nice; conducive to an open and permissive style of play that really takes advantage of the freedom of an in-person game vs. a computer game. Although I don't buy books much anymore, I've made an exception for several of the 5E rulebooks. This year, I started DMing a campaign (Curse of Strahd) for the first time, and am also loving that! Elise makes fun of me for spending so much time "studying" with my books spread out all over the table.
Finally got around to reading this cover to cover. It's very well constructed when you read things in order but I feel that there needs to be a master cheat sheet in the back for character building references. I think I'm going to just that with the character sheet on page 317 so I can reference specific pages.
I'm definitely not going to retain everything but I wrote all over the tiny margins and covered the book in sticky notes. I have a solid foundation and a much clearer understanding of how 5e works.
Did any if ya'll read Appendix E? I think I have to go add 100 books to my "to-read" list.
3.5 stars. Modernised and improved, and really the only complaint I have is that the spells should be arranged by level rather than simply alphabetically. An impressive re-imagination of the brand and the artwork was impressive.