When next was announced i was intrigued. Then i played the first playtest and was not. Basically lost interest overnight and gave up on 5e. When the previews started coming out my interest picked up again and i preorded the starter and just picked up the PHB from Patriot games which happens to be a wpn store.
This will be a shortish review, looking at the main features. And i will mostly avoid detail to avoid spoiling the book.
Chapter 2, races. Nice detail on most of the races should help rping the various races, and the subraces are nice. I have a few quibbles about some of the stat choices (no cha on gnomes), some lf the races are op(elves), and owning blood of fiends, the tiefling pages are a bit light but on the whole it’s a great chapter and a positive start to the book.
Chapter 3, classes. The main bones of the book. The sub class idea gives some good versatility to every class meaning only barbarians cannot be casters of some sort. The layout is great and it looks good, so what about the classes themselves.
Barbarian. Some good bits, but underwhelmed by rage. Just a small bonus to damage doesn’t really match the other martial classes. Edit – resistance is good, but the subclasses are up.
Bard. Great. Full caster, lots of other support benefits, plus the ability to blow someones mind using power word kill via music! bards are no longer a joke class.
Cleric. The base class is nothing special, but the domains make a real difference, although trickery seems under powered compared to the others.
Druid. Generally pretty good but the focus on wild shape made me think this is focused too much on WOW rather than DnD druids of the past. Luckily another sub class or so can change the focus a lot.
Fighter. The basic fighter did a job but was uninspiring. But throw in the other 2 subclasses and compare to the other martial classes and the fighter suddenly looks great. And probably makes a better ranger as well.
Monk. I love the monk. The base class is pretty cool, but the sub classes make it even better.
Paladin. By removing the alignment restrictions it becomes more appealing. The different sub classes make it more so, but they don’t add as much mechanically as with other classes. Luckily the basic class is already pretty solid.
Ranger. Oh dear. The basic class has nothing going for it, losing features to be a half caster. But the sub classes are botched. The hunter has interesting features but you only get a few. The beastmaster is a travesty, following the daft 4e rule of using your attacks to make the companion attack. Considering the companion doesnt level up as such this seems poor and makes little sense. You would be better served running a fighter or rogue with an npc pet, especially since the ranger can’t do anything the fighter can’t in terms of fighting style. No special archery or TWF rules means you only pick ranger if you want to be good in the wild. Needs fixing.
Rogue. Decent damage, fun abilities and three good sub classes. Will do what you want it to. Good stuff.
Sorcerer. Seems interesting but only having one bloodline is hugely dissapointing. I expect wotc or 3rd parties to fix this quick. Sorcery points make the class seem different to wizards and warlocks, but it also seems like a gimmick.
Warlock. More different casting, and with three pacts and three patrons the warlock has a lot of variety, except in their spell choice. Also they have d8 hit die and start with armor proficiency which is interesting.
Wizard. Huge choice of spells, eight schools to choose from but pretty basic. This is the simple caster in reality. Schools don’t add a huge amount, and don’t restrict spell selection which is surprising. Bit of a shame to have no generalist, but will be fixed easily.
All in all the classes are an interesting read, and with a few exceptions look fun to play.
Chapter 4-6. The backgrounds are a great idea and add a new element to 5e from previous editions. Feats are massively reduced and feat chains are gone, with many feats being rolled into the classes. Feats are now interesting rather than being something neccesary, and the way they made them optional is a great idea.
Chapter 7-9. Pretty much the same as basic or the starter set. Combat is massively simpler which is good, except cover rules which i still find odd. Not much to say other than i like the way this has gone. They could probably use a few more rules for the skills but its fine. The equipment chapter is great, especially the bits of services and loving expenses which many games leave out.
Chapter 10-11. Magic. I usually skip this. Far too many spells. But the writeups are to the point and the spells look good. Its just that 90 pages is a lot of real estate. But when every class can potentially cast a bit, its more relevant than ever before.
Appendicies. The super good bonus stuff. Having animal companions is a nice touch. Including a list of gods for 4 worlds and 4 pantheons is a great idea. But adding a section on the cosmology is just amazing. I just hope they add to these sections soon, and not in 2016 or beyond.
Layout and art.
Races and classes.
Simplified, but not simple, rules.
It’s D&D for all.
Ranger. It’s just dissapointing.
Too many pages for spells. Can’t be helped but i feel it’s 90 pages i won’t read…
In all a great book, and makes me excited in a way i haven’t been since i read the whole books lf becmi and 2e. 3e got too big, although i like pathfinder…but don’t play it due to bloat, a d 4e was unuseable without a lot of computers at the table. 5e really seems to take the best bits of all the editions and hopefully the DMG will add some good optional stuff. Pity it’s a three month wait. I am now very interested to see where they go with this, and hope that it’s not a FR campign book. I have three already, how about something smaller, lr a different world….please!