Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook for 5E

Let me back up before I move forward. I have just passed my 40th year of playing Dungeons and Dragons. When the first remake came out, at the time, I was angered over Gary Gygax being kicked out of his own company and the game becoming too politically correct. So I never added to my collection with the newer books and I stayed on this vein through the proceeding decades and various D and D updates. Although I have been participating as a player in a 3.5 game over the last couple of years, I have not updated my own first edition game for over 40 years.

Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook for 5E

Genre:  Fantasy (RPG)

Publisher:  Wizards of the Coast

Released:  2014

Stars:   4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

So what made me break down and spend the money to start accumulating the newest edition of Dungeons and Dragons, 5E? My young boys would be the answer. I wanted to start getting them to game with me and figured, if they like it, the kids in school will not be playing an edition from the 70s.

This being said, let’s dive into this system, which although 5 years old, was new to me.  The handbook guides a player through character creation in a long and very detailed manner. The instructions for the most part make sense (Although I still have some unanswered questions) and should excite old and new players alike.

Besides the subtle changes in the systems, which might be too complex to really dive into in depth here, one of the primary changes is the vast number of character classes one can play. For instance, Rangers used to be a subclass of Fighters, but now Rangers have their own subclasses. Many races have subraces too, so overall I would say there are roughly four times the number of classes and maybe five times the number of races one can play. Each of the subraces and classes have various divergent abilities which increase as they advance in levels.


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In my eyes, the classes appear to start off much stronger, but slow as they increase in levels compared to the original. They also max out at 20th level, which although my highest level character is 18th, this still seems a little limiting.

I guess in general comparing the original against the most recent version of Dungeons and Dragons brings up the interesting question: Which is better, a system designed by one genius or a team of people editing and building on his ideas?

I think one of the big the pros of the original is it felt gritter and much more deadly. Poison killed a character and did not give them a headache and minus on rolls for an hour. People could be hit by death spells, get levels drained, be turned to stone, or swallowed whole and in a round your character is gone.


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In the newer edition much of the teeth is taken out of spell and monster effects. It also allows short rests which can recharge characters, but nothing is as crazy as the idea that a character gets all their lost hit points back when they take a long sleep! This and many things make this seem more like a game, instead of real events interpreted the best way possible through rules and dice rolling. No way would a guy peppered with eight arrows feel perfect after a snooze.

For what it sets out to do it accomplishes. It seems fun and for a guy like me feels like a strange mix of playing a brand new game while slipping back into a comfortable broken in set of shoes. The goal and effort is epic, I just tagged it down a little because I feel they made it a little too easy for players and made them rock stars even at first level to insure, even from the beginning, the players will have enough tricks to continue to want to play and buy more of their books.


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