RPG Review: Dungeons & Dragons 5e PHB


This would be the place where I review the new Player’s Handbook for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition.

I’ll just tell you the rating now. 11/10

There’s tons of content in there. But I want to focus on three major things.

1.) Classes

2.) Races

3.) How this differs from Pathfinder/D&D 4e

Let’s start with classes:

There are 12 classes: Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard.

Each class has at least 2 options for class development (called something unique for each class). Think of these like built in archetypes (from Pathfinder, if you’re familar with that.)

All about the rages and the hitting things. They get a Berserker path (moar rages. rages better!) and a Totem Warrior path (animal powers!).

Bard gets a boost. He’s now a full spellcaster up to 9th level spells. There are Lore bards (classic knowledge bards) and Valor Bards (combat/skald bards).

Clerics stay the same. Priests. Magics. Heals. Cool. The default gods are different (Forgotten Realms based it appears), but it’s still great. The domains are Knowledge, Life, Light, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, War.

Druids are pretty cool. There are Land Druids gains extra spells and abilities based on their terrain. Moon Druids are all about the shapeshifting being better.

Stab. Stab. That sort of thing. Champions are basic fighters. Just..hitting stuff. Battle Master uses a “superiority dice” mechanic to drive his abilities. Eldritch Knight is a gish who can use wizard spells and hit with a sword. I think it’s awesome that this is here as a base option for the game.

Monks are still the same. Punching. Kicking. Their different traditions function as follows. Way of the Open Hand emphasizes unarmed combat. Shadow is a weird teleporty/sneaky monk. Very cool. Four Elements monks are all about fire hands and stoneskin.

Paladin’s are still the holy warrior I know and love, but now they’ve added options! Devotion is the classic paladin. Healing and smiting. Ancients are nature guardians, extremely good against evil magic. Vengeance is the new “blackguard”. Seem very focused on hunting down targets and battlefield control.

Rangers are split now. There’s the Hunter (favored enemy ranger) and the Beast Master (animal companion ranger). Still gets spells. Still awesome. Just hyper focused.

Rogues are still…thiefs, backstabbers and trapfinders. Thief was in the basic rules. He’s the trap rogue, and the pickpocket. Assassin..stabby stab. Murderface. Arcane Trickster can spellcast, and rogue it up. Coolest thing? Can steal spells from casters.

All about the bloodline and magics. Draconic becomes more dragony. Breath weapons and wings and stuff. Wild Magic has surges of awesomeness with rolls on a table of bad.

Pact based magic. Archfey is a trickster warlock. Fiend gives luck and hellfire based powers. Great Old One is all about the crazy, aliens and madness.

Still the basic student of magic, the wizard has the most variety of magic. Arcane Traditions are like the schools of old are are still the same: Abjuration, Conjuratiom. Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, and Transmutation.

Fantastic right?


Well races are cool. They function like classes with a base with suboptions. Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and Humans are already in the main section and basic rules as the “Big 4.” Each one has 2 options or more (even Humans!). The less-common races are Dragonborn, Half-elves, Gnomes, Half-orcs and Tieflings. I wish Aasimar were included, but that’s a personal preference.

Very cool. Very balanced. And pretty standard to what they’ve been sine 3rd edition.


How is this game different from 4e/Pathfinder?

Well, I think it’s simpler. The overall modularity of the game is fantastic. You can plug and play any number of options you want.

The advantage/disadvantage mechanics are great.

The layout, art, writing, and focus on content is brilliant. It’s good. Well delivered. Thought out. It’s just…top notch in a way no WotC RPG product has been in a while.

Frankly, I consider this a step up from 3rd edition/Pathfinder, and a whole flight up from 4e. This is the D&D I’ve been looking for, and I think I found my new go-to Fantasy RPG. Sorry Iron Kingdoms and Pathfinder.

This is a game worth of the title Dungeons and Dragons.

I think Gary would be proud.