Player's Handbook by James Wyatt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've been playing Dungeons & Dragons since 2nd edition, and I've DMed from 3e onward. I'm very late coming to 5e, but I'm so excited about it now that I've read the Player's Handbook!
They've streamlined a lot of the rules and simplified the math aspect, focusing much more on roleplaying and character development/background...which, honestly, I always preferred anyway. They still have the core skills PCs can develop, but it's a simple proficiency bonus system based on character level and consistent across the board. Feats are optional and much more streamlined. Characters receive certain extra skills, proficiencies, and equipment based on what background they take, all of which are fitting for multiple classes.
I'm particularly excited to see Bard back as a player class, and glad to see gnomes and half-orcs included as PC races again. Subraces, class archetypes, and backgrounds help develop unique and strong characters. Multi-classing is optional but super easy. That's really the overarching theme here: fully fleshed out characters and simplified game rules. I especially like the addition of advantage vs. disadvantage, and I'm also pleased with bardic and DM inspiration and can't wait to see how these play out in my games.
I do wish there was a clearer character sheet set-up in the early chapters. They give you the bare bones there, but no example of how to fill it out anymore. I had everything filled out but passive perception and had to look at the index to find where it was, which was closer to the back of the book and far from character creation chapters. They do have many handy tables, which are always helpful and often clearer than trying to describe everything in paragraphs. Spellcasting seemed much easier to follow in 5e.
All in all, it seems like they kept the best of all editions and simplified it overall, with a focus on compelling characters and stories. They also included brief mentions and examples of personality traits, bonds, ideals, and flaws, which seem designed to help new roleplayers understand their characters better. Not pages and pages and pages to read & choose from, though. Just a paragraph and d6 table for each. Nice if you need it, and easily skipped without repercussions if you don't. I also think giving certain starting equipment based on background is going to be a lot better for new players than handing them 100gp, a general idea of what their race & class can use, and a few tables worth of equipment, weights, and prices. It seems like they've focused on making it more accessible and fun, and I'm excited to get started.
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