Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 19, 2020
To start with, I want to address the naysaying I've seen about how this book is just "a reprint" of material from other books. First of all that isn't true: this book has a LOT of new content. Second, that isn't a bad thing at all. Not everyone has the money (or the time) to invest in purchasing every single sourcebook and memorizing the lot. The way I see it, this book collects some of the cooler, more versatile systems from some of the more niche books like Theros and the Sword Coast guide, which are mostly for DMs. Yes, this book has a lot in it specifically for DMs as well, but it's got a ton of stuff for players- I'd argue at least half the book.

With that out of the way, let's talk about the actual content.

The biggest chunk is obviously the new character options. We've got subclasses galore, and most of them are pretty decent, if not great. (I personally favor the phantom rogue and the way of mercy monk as the neatest, but I'm a sucker for dramatics.) While new subclasses are basically a standard in recent releases, this book switches it up a bit by adding psionics elements, as well as subclasses that almost blend two classes together. Want to be a barbarian, but still think druids are cool? Path of the beast is for you! Prefer the ranger class features, but also like the warlock? Choose a fey wanderer! Adding to this is a big host of new options for how you play your standard classes. Some of it is stuff that people have been "house rule"ing for years, but it's nice to see it codified. Toss in a few new feats and some fun new spells, and I think this makes a great package of player-centric content.

I will agree that this is sort of "advanced" stuff, though. I wouldn't put this in front of someone who isn't even familiar with the handbook yet. Swapping out class features and changing subclasses and whatnot, that requires a bit of expertise with the standard material.

The rest of the book, in my mind, is best suited to homebrewers. There's a lot there to spark your creativity in building your world or your NPCs, including rules to help simplify keeping track of NPC classes, and options for more peaceful, roleplay-motivated players. There's an excellent section on supernatural environments, as well as meta advice for getting your campaign started. The only bits I would say are less useful are the patrons system (which I feel should probably have been placed after the spells/magic items and not before?) and possibly the puzzles, since that's largely things you could invent on your own, and probably don't need outlined.

Finally I'm going to mention the art in this book, specifically how inclusive it is. WotC has been pretty good about diversity in 5E, and it really shines here. We have lots of people of color, what appear to be gender-non-conforming characters, explicitly queer characters, and varied ages and body types. We get to see orcs and tieflings doing more than looking sinister. This might not matter to a lot of people, but I really appreciated it.

Overall, I think this book is extremely worth it for experienced players and DMs alike. You might not get use out of everything in here, but there's definitely enough to make it worth your while.
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