Dungeons and Dragons has been the go to tabletop game for decades and has become the foundation for most modern RPGs. The fifth edition continues the tradition and offers a vast world and a welcoming environment for new players.
The book starts with a short preface about the origin of the game and what it is. The introduction afterwards goes into depth about the game of D&D and role-playing in general. It describes, briefly, the multiverse of D&D and the role of the player and GM. The book then describes how it is broken into 3 core parts. The first part covers character creation, the second covers the rules, and the third covers magic in the game. It also describes the basics of play including the role of the GM and what the players do in any given situation. It then explains the core of the game itself, dice rolls. The dice for this game include a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and a d20. It also includes the rules for a d100. Most things in the game will tell you what to roll such as 2d10+12 which would mean you roll two d10 dice and add their results together with a 12.
Every character has six ability scores that represent their base attributes:
Strength: Generic muscle, athletics, and melee
Dexterity: Balance, stealth, and flexibility
Constitution: Health and durability
Intelligence: Intellect, magic knowledge, textbook information
Wisdom: Perception, medicine, and animal interaction
Charisma: deception, negotiation, and other social skills
The game also details how rule conflicts are handled, with a more narrow or specific rule beating out a general rule. Such as a character not being able to jump a certain distance but a spell overruling that and allowing them to jump further. Also, all numbers, when divided, are rounded down. It also breaks down the basis of any adventure into three categories, Exploration, Social Interaction, and Combat. It finally gives a small bit of info for magic in the setting before reaching Chapter 1 and beginning the character creation process.
The character creation process is extensive and well thought out. Most helpfully, the process is aided by a sample character that is made alongside the rules. This presents an example of how they are used at each step to make a character. Two of the most important decisions in the game are also the first two steps which is race and class. What a character is capable of is determined primarily by their race and class, class more so than race. D&D gives you a large supply of races to begin with including many now standard races such as Dwarves, Elves, Humans, Dragonborn, Gnomes, and Halflings. Each have their own modifiers and unique abilities that determine what your character can do. Each one also has their own culture and background that influence how they interact with each other and other races. The classes in this game are extensive and some take up to 7 pages to cover. Thankfully, the book gives a table with a brief description at the beginning of the chapter covering them.
The game also explains hit points and how you determine what you start with as well as your proficiencies. Next the book covers determining your ability scores which is done randomly, though some GMs may allow a player to assign their own points. After this you finally determine the details surrounding who your character is. This includes their moral alignment, their ideals, their flaws, and their background. The book comes with 16 pages of backgrounds and their bonuses, a very helpful and fun tool. And then lastly you choose your starting equipment. When it comes to gear D&D has you covered, with gear ranging from simple travel lanterns to tridents and scimitars the book has a great amount of choice in this department. The game does also cover multi-classing, for those wishing to mix and match as well as feats that can be taken for your characters.
The second part of this book covers the rules of the game starting with ability scores and how to handle ability checks. It also covers saving throws.
The book also delves into the details around travel and the flow of time in game, as well as social interactions. This then leads into combat and shows why most players describe adventuring as it takes 5 minutes to walk for two hours but two hours to fight for 5 minutes. The combat section covers in depth how combat is calculated and how fighting while mounted and fighting underwater impacts it.
The third and smallest part of the book covers Magic. The amount of spells to choose from is staggering with 68 pages required to cover them all. However, they are fun and varied. They are also separated by class and level, restricting which ones you can choose from.
At the end of the book is multiple appendixes which cover status conditions and the different gods that exist, as well as other interesting information.
The book is very enjoyable and comes with a large amount of information for getting started. The walk-through for building a character alongside another one is fantastic and really helps drive home how the system works. One weakness of the book is its lack of world building. The entire book is primarily focused on making a character and giving you options. Compare this to the Edge of the Empire core book which has over a hundred pages of world information and lore to read and it shows how this is a bit weaker. The book also does not include much information for the GM as it is kept in a separate book, meaning that you will need at least two books to really begin playing. The art in the book is well done but with varying quality. While some images have great depth and shading others look more like quick sketches. But the design is consistent and delivers a good feeling regardless. While the book is lacking in many departments which is shown in its smaller size it gives a player exactly what they need to make a character and to understand the rules of the game. For a beginning player it’s a great way to begin their adventure but for a group looking to begin its a big piece of a much larger puzzle.
Thank you all so much for reading and if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for what I should review next please leave them in the comments below or email me with the subject “Beginner RPG”. And if you’re interested in the game you can buy it here. Have a wonderful day.