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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They have got it right this time.
I have been playing DnD since I was 11 - that's 36 years. I was pretty sceptical about another release of the rules. The previous 4th edition rules changed the game so much it was unrecognisable and our group switched to Pathfinder, which, despite the name was a true continuation of the original DnD rules. Pathfinder is excellent. However in continuing and expanding the...
Published 5 months ago by Dr N

versus
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Try Before You Buy!
I've been playing D&D for over 30 years - Basic, Expert, 1st, 2nd, 3.5 & 4th.

OK, i'll start by saying that I still think 3.5 is better (although it does need some house rules to maintain balance) but 5th Ed is looking pretty good (its early days...) and I can see why some people will prefer it.

And I should think there would be a near-universal...
Published 3 months ago by B. Murphy


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They have got it right this time., 13 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks) (Hardcover)
I have been playing DnD since I was 11 - that's 36 years. I was pretty sceptical about another release of the rules. The previous 4th edition rules changed the game so much it was unrecognisable and our group switched to Pathfinder, which, despite the name was a true continuation of the original DnD rules. Pathfinder is excellent. However in continuing and expanding the DnD legacy the game had become more and more complex, to such an extent that you need a laptop and a spreadsheet (eg Hero Lab) to run your character. DnD just shouldn't be like this, especially if you want to introduce new players to the game (in particular kids).

The DnD 5th edition rules have taken out the complexity in terms of those elements that really get the game bogged down at mid and high level, but kept the options. They appear to have got it right this time round and I switched from Pathfinder right away to the new rules when running the classic Temple of Elemental Evil for my 10 year old son and his friends. Those silly spells and other buffs that result in multiple enhancements have thankfully gone. The characters have been powered down, which gives a 1st edition feel, but they retain their interest developed in the 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder rules. The presentation and artwork is very good.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best bits of all the previous editions rolled into one, 24 Aug. 2014
By 
Matthew D. Hayward (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks) (Hardcover)
I've been running 5th edition for several weeks now and I'm very pleased with the job Wizards of the Coast have done with this edition. It feels simple yet has depth, and feels modern but also has the charm and wonder of early editions. It's a lot more streamlined than the 4th edition. Combat is grid-less but still caters for using a map if desired. The number of conditions and status effects are low and easy to remember. The focus seems to be very much on exploring and interacting. At the store I've been running the game at, many of the players are returning after many years away from the game, and are very much enjoying it, so I think that is a testament to this editions quality.

The pages of the book look gorgeous and are clearly laid out. The pages feel a little thin but this is a very minor point. The information is easy to find where you'd expect to find it. The majority of the races and classes from previous editions are all here, with customisation options for each, meaning you won't need to buy extra books in the future to find your favourite class or race. Some classes and races have more options than others, (mainly the magic using classes) but I don't think this is a bad thing, since I'd rather see fewer, quality options rather than a plethora of mediocre ones. The list of spells is huge.

For players of early editions, new players, or existing players of the more recent editions alike, I would certainly give this a try.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different and yet the same, this streamlined edition could possibly be the best., 14 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks) (Hardcover)
One of the difficulties in writing a review of this product is knowing that the game itself has a hugely rich and diverse history. Many tabletop gamers have their favourite edition, they have their most hated edition, they have their favourite parts of certain editions and they have their hopes for future editions. That’s a hell of a mix – one of this game’s many trials is that it’s not enough for Dungeons & Dragons to simply say ‘These are the rules’ when there are a myriad of voices calling ‘But what about our edition, our loves, our preferences?’ Forty years and four editions – not to mention the huge collection of licensed games by other publishers - does that to a game, especially the flagship of the tabletop roleplaying industry.

And, love it or hate it, that’s what Dungeons & Dragons is; the industry flagship. The game may not lead the way in the way that it used to but the brand and the strength of it’s history is undeniable. That’s one of the many things, if not the thing, that makes this new edition important.

I have a very spotty history with Dungeons & Dragons. I broke into the hobby with the Basic D&D BECMI boxsets and then graduated on to AD&D 2nd Edition, which I simply didn’t like and drifted away from. 3rd Edition and 3.5 passed me by and I came back into the brand with 4th Edition, which I enjoyed at first but soon became a little tired of as it felt too much like a skirmish game that was in contention with the ever growing popularity of MMOs. I backtracked to 3.5 and then Pathfinder, which I enjoyed immensely, and then went back to a more basic form of D&D with 13th Age. After my chequered background with D&D and the fact that I had hit gold with two games that satiated my need for complicated D&D rules and streamlined D&D rules, did I really have to return to the core D&D franchise?

Before I continue - yes, I received my copy from Wizards of the Coast and no, I won’t be going into a detailed blow-by-blow account of how this edition differs from the others; this is mainly because that is not how I write my reviews as I’m more interested in how the game makes me feel and what the game does for me as a player, and not what it’s capable of mechanically. Also, comparing this to other editions is pointless as there would be so many points to cover that I’d need more than a couple of thousand words.

THE BOOK

So, I’ll start with the presentation. It’s a hardback 320 page book with full-colour glossy pages with clear, easy on the eye type. It’s a solid book and it sits open nicely when you need it to, and it’s a good size so you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. However, the choice of design is the first thing that made me feel that this book might not be for me as I do tend to judge books by their covers, especially gaming books. I need the initial imagery to set my creative mind tingling and in many respects it’s the first draw to get my interest.

I reviewed the D&D Starter Set a while ago and I had many problems with the design and, sadly, my opinion hasn’t really changed with this edition. I like the D&D logo but the oversized ‘Player’s Handbook’ and the little red blood splash down the cover with ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ on it just doesn’t really do it for me; it’s a little bland and uninspired. More importantly the choice of front cover image doesn’t really grab me at all; some mage getting in the face of a giant whilst a fighter looks on? It may have been a great image for a supplement or adventure concerning these three but for a D&D core rulebook it doesn’t seem to fit. There’s an image on page 9 that’s simply glorious, with a dragon, a selection of characters and a huge mysterious city in the background. It’s dynamic and inspirational and would have suited the cover in almost every aspect, covering the ideals of the game almost perfectly. The cover art simply doesn’t do it for me and I felt this when I first saw it long ago, hoping that having the physical book in my hands might diminish that viewpoint. Sadly it didn’t and, as good as the artwork is, the cover doesn’t inspire me at all.

It’s when you get into the book that you begin to feel the game. The art ranges from excellent to adequate so you’re never really pulled out of the atmosphere the game is trying to create. There’s a sense of reality to the artwork that I never saw in the two previous editions and they appear to have gotten rid of the insane high-fantasy designs of those editions and gone for something a little more reserved. Oh, you’ve still got your crazy armour and costumes in there – it’s fantasy after all - but it feels much more practical and grounded in a form of reality. It’s great art and makes the world tangible.

THE CONTENTS

So that brings us on to the meat of the book. After my initial indifference to the cover I was naturally wary of what I’d find inside. I had already expressed my like of the Starter Set rules but the main rulebook was where I’d cast my final verdict over if the game had done it for me or not.

Everything you would expect from D&D is there. It’s not that much different from what we have seen before and it’s concisely and clearly laid out. One of my first questions always is ‘Is it new gamer friendly?’ I’d have to say no. There are a few pages of explanations and an example, but nothing that talks you through the hobby. In my case I don’t have a problem with this as I’m game and hobby savvy so I usually skip those parts anyway, but new gamers might need to begin with the Starter Set to get full use out of this book.

You’ve got a good selection of Races and Careers to choose from which you can use as designed or for other races you may have in mind. The starting Races are Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, Human, Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc and Tiefling. The classes are Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock and Wizard. It’s a good choice and you can mix them up with multiclassing in the optional rules if that’s the way you want to go. There’s also Feats in the optional rules and you don’t have to use them but they do add a bit of flavour to the character.

In addition, I do I like the little creative flourish to the opening page of each of the Race and Career entries - there’s a neat piece of art with an example character and a background environment to suit the entry, along with some examples of personality and some hints at their relationship with other races. There’s some quotes from some of the D&D novels to add colour, too, such as Salvatore’s ‘The Crystal Shard’ and Weis & Hickman’s ‘Dragons of Autumn Twilight’. It’s a nice touch and somewhat reminds me of the atmosphere of the game from when these particular novels were first published back in the 1980s.

It’s all well written and has flavour, that much is sure, but I feel that it reads as if it has been designed for existing D&D campaign worlds, which it most likely has. I used to use D&D for generic fantasy games but with the history and existing settings it’s obvious that they would cater for the worlds that they have already created. Forgotten Realms gets a lot of attention in here only as examples, but it does give the impression that the game is rooted firmly in the campaign settings created for it. I don’t have much of a problem with this as I run D&D campaigns in D&D settings, but if you’re looking to use this for a setting such as Middle-Earth or for a world of your own design then it’ll need some tweaking. Such is the nature of the hobby but if anyone at Wizards of the Coast is listening then please save me some work and bring back the Birthright setting!

The rules feel very stripped back and there are some nice additions, for example:

- You have a selection of skills, but not too overbearing or detailed.
- The Saving Throw is now Ability based, so you have to roll a D20 plus your Ability modifier against a DC. Simple.
- There’s a cool Advantage/Disadvantage rule; if you have an Advantage then you roll two D20s and keep the higher score, and it’s the lower score for having the Disadvantage.
- Inspiration rewards players for roleplaying their character’s personality, traits and flaws well and gives a bonus to a chosen roll.
- There’s also a neat Background section in which you can choose a background, such as Charlatan or an Entertainer, and you a roll on random tables to build a suggested history and personality. It’s optional, but it does create some interesting characters that some gamers might find it a challenge to roleplay out.
- The Magic system is easy and is a simple case of using spell slots, which a rest and research replenishes, and the spells are as varied and as detailed as ever, giving spellslingers plenty of options.
- Combat is hauled right back and covers movement, actions and attacks of all kinds. It’s a short section of the book and the DMs Guide will no doubt expand on this, but it’s straightforward and easy to manage, and what I saw as the complications of 4th Edition are gone.

In all, the rules have been lightened and simplified and the additional rules add options and a bit more dynamism but no extra complication.

I like the rules. A lot. In fact, I think that these are the best D&D edition rules that are available as they take the game, trim the fat and make it much more playable. You still have your crunch but the rules feel modular so you can drop certain sections if you want. For example, I probably won’t use the Feats or the Inspiration rules. Will it affect the game? Not at all. Unless the players make a fuss of not having the option it won’t disrupt the rules at all. Would it unbalance them? Maybe. But I’ve never cared about game balance in any game I’ve ever played so that’s not an issue for me. These rules make the game as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.

The book is almost a full roleplaying game in itself. You’ll still need the DMs Guide and the Monster Manual – that’s a dead cert if you’re new to the hobby - but there are some beasties in the back you can use as templates and get a few games out of this book to wet your appetite for the following books. There’s nothing stopping you from using an old 3.0 or 3.5 Monster Manual if you want to do some low-level games, but the official 5th Edition manuals will no doubt be your best choice.

With brief appendices including Conditions (such as Grappling and Paralyzed), Gods (including the pantheons of Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Dragonlance and Eberron, as well as real-world pantheons), the Planes of Existence, Creature stats, Inspirational Reading and an Index, the book has everything a player will need to get into a D&D game. As I said before seasoned gamers will be able to use this and get playing straight away but newcomers to the hobby will be better off waiting for the other two core books to really get into the game.

CONCLUSION

My thoughts about the cover presentation aside, D&D 5th Edition is a solid, well thought out game that I think really delivers. There were ideals that this edition would help to unite all editions and that D&D players will finally have a unified set of rules they can all enjoy and share. I don’t see much of that, truth be told, but I do see an attempt to strip away the complication and an attempt to return to a more streamlined simpler game system and a rulebook that promotes characterisation and roleplaying.

This makes it an attractive game to me, and the thought that I can simply drop entire sections of the rules to help simplify my experience even further really appeals. There’s nothing stopping me from running what would tantamount to a Basic D&D game. This was no doubt true of other editions, but this is divided up in such a way that I can completely ignore certain sections and not have to worry too much about the effect that the exclusion will have on the rest of the game, and maybe even re-introduce those options later on in the campaign.

Does it make me look back on the days of old when my BECMI days were King, and does it capture that atmosphere and sense of adventure and fun? No, not really. I think it’s impossible to do that and any attempt on mine or the game’s part to try and recapture those heady days of D&Ds popularity would be a little foolish. I don’t think this game has really tried that and it stands on it’s own merits without cashing in on the nostalgia factor. It was nice to read those old Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance novel snippets but that’s as far as it went, I think, and the game really has been designed for the here and now.

Would I recommend it to D&D gamers of other editions? That’s the real trick, isn’t it? I’d certainly recommend them to have a look, but the editions are pretty much entrenched, now, and gamers play the editions they love. Their preferred versions not going anywhere and the nature of an ongoing roleplaying campaign means that groups do not have to rely on newer or older editions to enjoy their chosen version. That’s a given.

I’d certainly recommend it to general D&D fans that have followed the game over the years and dabble in all editions. This just might be the edition you stick with permanently.

A couple of years ago I wasn’t enamoured by the thought of a new D&D edition but after reading this book I’m convinced that the flagship game is going in the right direction. Some decent support with adventures and sourcebooks are a must, and modular rules that do not have to be used in existing campaigns would be welcome so that games do not have to be modified as new material comes out, which would ultimately make the game bloated.

If D&D sticks along this track then I see good things for the future of the 5th Edition of the game.

Highly recommended.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely better than 4e, 10 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks) (Hardcover)
Great production quality on the book (what the pictures don't tell you is that there's a tactile non-slip surface on the back cover!), but you want to hear about the contents. Here it is:
As someone who's read the 3rd (and a half) and 4th Edition Player's Handbooks, I can say that I like this one best. Most of my experience is with 4th Edition (don't hold that against me) and this is a vast improvement on that for the following reasons:

1. It's less about numbers
The Character Sheets have expanded to three pages instead of two, but one page is dedicated to spells (which your character might not even have) and another is dedicated to story-driven stuff like your character's personality, appearance, allegiances etc. Only one page dedicates any real space to stats, and even that one is relatively minimal. This is great, because...
2. Teaching a newbie how to make a character is easy
I'll be honest: even I didn't fully understand what some of those stat boxes in the 4e character sheet were for for a long time. This book makes the whole process a lot more understandable, and thus less intimidating to newcomers. It's also just quicker for an expert to draw up a character. The character creation process is even more inviting to newbies because...
3. The new Background mechanic really emphasizes roleplaying
When coming up with a character concept, you don't just pick a race and class and fart out a backstory. In this edition, "backgrounds" are part of the game mechanics, and a player chooses what philosophy they follow, what people are important to them, and what the character's major flaw is (for example, a visible "tell" when they lie, or being a sucker for a sob story). These points all get formatted in a way that you can pick them or roll a die and get them randomly. But the important part is that they matter - when you play to character, especially when you make decisions that are in keeping with your flaw, you get rewarded with "Inspiration" which can boost your rolls. You can also get a "trinket" which is a piece of junk (you can choose from a list or roll) your character carries for unknown sentimental reasons. This is absolute gold in terms of what a DM can do with that. Sure, you could add those details on your own initiative in 4e but newbies never think to do it. It gives a lot of depth and gets players to think about their characters more.
4. Magic Equipment is gone
It's still in the game but it's in the Dungeon Master's Guide where it should be, instead of tantalizing 1st-level players with all this gear they don't have. Magic Equipment is a lot rarer and therefore more significant. The space saved by removing this means...
5. There are more races and classes
Gnome, Half-Orc, Barbarian, Bard, Druid, Monk, Sorcerer... these races and classes were missing from Player's Handbook 1 in 4th Edition and I wasn't inclined to buy PHB2 just to get them, both for monetary reasons and because too many core books would be a lot to juggle during a game. They're included in the basic package in 5th Edition.
6. Class options are simpler
Some of my players were overwhelmed by the amount of "Exploits" they had available to them. That level of complexity should be reserved for Wizards and the like; but a Fighter should be able to just swing a sword and let their imagination dictate whether they attempt some fancy trick with it, not have an Exploit tell them. Additionally, a lot of the bigger options/paths get left until you're a couple of levels in, allowing a player to get a feel for a character before committing too fully to choices that they might not even understand at 1st level.
7. Multiclassing is back the way it used to be
Other people will point out that there are advantages and disadvantages to this, but I really prefer the old system from before 4e, and it's back.

There are a lot of other little points I could spend all day talking about but the short version is: 5e is good, it emphasizes fun, and in terms of content it's better value for money than 4e's PHB1.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Try Before You Buy!, 6 Nov. 2014
By 
B. Murphy (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks) (Hardcover)
I've been playing D&D for over 30 years - Basic, Expert, 1st, 2nd, 3.5 & 4th.

OK, i'll start by saying that I still think 3.5 is better (although it does need some house rules to maintain balance) but 5th Ed is looking pretty good (its early days...) and I can see why some people will prefer it.

And I should think there would be a near-universal opinion that its better than 4th Ed!

5th Ed is straightforward enough for newbies to get a grasp of quite quickly, but with enough complexity to keep experienced gamers interested.

But, rather than me go into great detail, the basic 5th Edition rules are legally downloadable directly from Wizards Of The Coast for free, which allows you to "Try before you buy." So I strongly suggest anyone interested do that and give it a short try to see if you like the mechanics.

If you do, the Players handbook is still well worth getting for all the extra options it makes available - more classes, class options, races, spells, feats, etc...

I very nearly gave this four stars. Two things put me off:-

1) The index is awful. You look something up and it'll often say "See x, y or z" and you have to look something else up instead of it just giving you the page number you want. As it is a reference book that quickly gets very annoying. You'll probably soon feel the overwhelming urge to write the numbers in yourself.

2) More importantly, it seems many of the original run of books have been very poorly made and the net is already full of reports of bindings failing and pages falling out - after only *two* months! This includes the one we use and are now seeking a replacement for. That is *very* bad! I still use some of my 1st Ed books and after almost 30 years they still look in far better condition than this 5th Ed one.

Hopefully that is being resolved, and it would be nice if they had a look at the index issue at the same time...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the game you've been looking for...!, 17 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks) (Hardcover)
This 5th edition of D&D is great. No, fantastic. How do I know?

Well I first started playing D&D with the basic edition. Then moved to Expert. Followed on by every edition after that (2nd, 3rd, 3.5).
I bought 4th edition, and that is when I stopped playing D&D. After playing D&D for 29 years, 4th edition was a skirmish miniatures game. If I want to play a game like that, I play Warhammer. I tried making up my own game, mixing rules from Gurps, Castle & Crusades, and 3 or 4 other games. But now I'm old (older :) ), I have a family and don't have the time to custom craft a game, the easy I could when I was 16.

So when I heard 5th edition was coming out, I was hopeful, but not optimistic (given the debacle of 4th edition). Well how wrong was I.
5th edition is straight forward & easy to play, yet has the nuances and complexity built into the mechanics to give you the feel that the rules really are taking into account the infinite possibilities, which is what RPG is all about. This has transformed the game for me. I really, really like it, and recommend it to anyone interested in playing an RPG.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars D&D returns to form, 10 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks) (Hardcover)
I was pleasantly surprised by this work. After the disaster that was 4th edition this new edition corrects all its shortcomings and more. In many ways it even exceeds the 3rd edition (and Pathfinder) - this version cutting out a lot of the bloat, resulting in a mechanically less complex game which doesn't lose any depth. Combat now much simplified and hence not a nightmare to run anymore. All the original character classes and races are back - plus a few additional ones. It's the D&D I remember with a lot of improvements. As other have said, it's like a fusion of the best aspects of 2nd and 3rd editions with all the needless crunch dumped. The fact that D&D Next focuses on role-playing is a further bonus. This version has got me into resurrecting my old campaign and playing again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was not disappointed. The rules are largely clearly set out, 16 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks) (Hardcover)
As a long time player of D&D, and a participant in the playtest I had high hopes for this product. I was not disappointed. The rules are largely clearly set out. the game seems to be one that complete newcomers can now access easily.
Character creation is the best I have seen in all versions of D&D, and encourages role-playing rather than just hack and slash. The character backgrounds are a great innovation to D&D and very welcome.
Combat flows very well, and is more intuitive than previous versions.
The changes to spellcasting give more flexibility.

The book is very well illustrated with some very good pictures.
If you are an existing D&D player, or somebody who wants to know about D&D this book is a must buy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great rules. Well written. Well worth the money., 13 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks) (Hardcover)
The PHB is a good book, no doubt about it. It has a well written rule set which is easy to understand and which incorporates the things I loved about AD&D 2nd Ed. with what I liked about 3rd edition. And the finished product is so well made that my houserules list is amazingly small after 4 months of playing the game with my group. More importantly for our group - it made us finally take the plunge and leave AD&D 2nd edition behind after almost 30 years of gaming. May she rest in peace.

In addition, the way it's written makes it so easy to understand that even the guys in my group who usually struggle with the wording in RPG books could read it on their own and come back with a minimal amount of questions (english is our second language). They got how the system worked and how the classes worked for them as players. To be able to play our first session with few interruptions due to questions was a fun experience. It also speaks volumes about this book.

There is a small problem with this book though, at least for my group and I. The alphabetized spell list is a pain in the backside, even now several months down the line. We've resorted to downloading Excel spreadsheets with the spell info from the Internet. We use the spreadsheet to pull stats and get a quick feel for the spells, and use the PHB to read the detailed descriptions about the spells. I honestly don't know if there is a better way of doing it than WoC has done, but that doesn't make it any less painful to use...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back on form and better than ever!, 15 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks) (Hardcover)
After the high of 3.5 and tremendous low that was the 'world of warcraft' 4th edition, 5th, I am relieved to report, is back on message.

All the bits that needed simplifying have been (no longer do you need a maths degree and a tremendous memory to add up all your bonuses and penalties), and a much needed background and personality section has been added to character generation.

Although much is the same, don't be fooled. This is a complete overhaul, and it is *all* for the better!

Can't wait to try it out now...
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