Chapter 1: Character Options
This section details the additional subclasses that have been steadily coming out via Unearthed Arcana. They have been cleaned up and balanced for release in this single compendium. Many of the options include some revised takes on older class variations, some new attempts at previously tried themes, and some completely new subclasses like the Horizon Walker, a ranger of the planes who moves through the multiverse.
At the end of the chapter are some new, optional racial feats. Most of these are most interesting when used on some of the “weirder” races like the Dragonborn. Many of the changes and options in this whole chapter put a greater emphasis on role-playing centered classes and class options. Our group is more into role-playing than role-playing. So that’s a plus. Combat focused gamers may find some of the new classes underwhelming.
Chapter 2: Dungeon Master’s Tools As a DM, this section is fantastic. It leads with some rules clarification and additional options if the DM wants to make things more interesting. There is also some visual help regarding the area of effect and how they are presented on grid-systems. Also included here is a much needed thorough breakdown of “fair” encounter building with tables and suggestions for DM’s.
My favorite part of this section is the random encounter tables. They finally include tables for random encounters that are broken out by level and type of environment. And there is quite a collection. Pages and pages. And the tables all have really cool, interesting things your players could run into. Really, really fun and excited to try.
Following that is some really good, thorough help regarding traps and how to make them more interesting, some ideas for downtime and after that, there is a nice collection of new magic items. Nerd candy to read. Also included are some ways to make magic items and their creation more interesting.
Chapter 3: Spells
New spells. Always nice. And at the end, multiple pages of names for quick name generation. If I had to say something negative, I’d say it’s a smaller book and it doesn’t anything super new like a completely new class or magic system. Another criticism is I wouldn’t recommend this to new players who are not going to DM. There’s a lot of “spoiler” information in here that may kill off the wow-factor of springing something new on a party that DM’s love to have.
This is a fantastic book. I would say if I had to recommend three books to fans of 5e. 1 and 2 would of course be the Players Handbook and then the Dungeon Master’s Guide. This would be number 3. It’s more of everything. More character choice, more race choices, more rules choices, more tables, more spells, and more variety. And especially to DM’s, this will be incredibly useful. It’s a book that I’ll have out in front of me every time I run a game. A great addition.