Not all of us D&D players feel like carrying around our entire library of players guide books (aren’t there three of them now?) along with all the other base, core rule books. This can get heavy and cumbersome and some of us just want things simple. Enter this book. The only real book you need as a beginner or even seasoned D&D player. Let’s see what all this $20 book covers shall we?
An introduction adorns the first section of this book explaining the whole idea of playing D&D in a nutshell. This makes it work as the single book a new player should pick up – even if on the way to their first game. It even takes a page or two to show a few example turns of playing a real game. The veteran player would be able to skim or skip this section altogether, although I recommend giving it a quick glance to remember your roots. It does have a bit of the history including Gary Gygax, Chainmail, and TSR.
It then goes into the basics for a chapter. This really does touch on every basic mechanic of the game including making checks of every kind and improvisation.
Chapter 2 is all about the player characters and monsters. Here it goes over EVERYTHING about the races, classes, sizes, roles, keywords, ability scores, initiative, hit points, powers, and feats. There’s more too but I just got tired of listing it all out! You’ll be spending a lot of time in chapter 2 so just go ahead and put one of those sticky note flag things in there.
They then go into detail all about powers in chapter 3. It explains types, targets, area of effect, and keywords. Everything you need to know about those cool power cards that print on your character sheet if you use the online character builder (do we have a review for that yet? we should!).
Another chapter you’ll visit almost constantly will be the one dedicated to COMBAT. It’s 74 pages long and most definitely the longest chapter in the book. It covers every single basic thing about attacking you’ll probably need in any situation. It talks about action types, structure of a turn, movement (don’t we all get confused and need a quick reference about getting to a creature in order to actually take a swing in one round?), and all the different actions you can take. Actions like aid another, aid attack, aid defense, bull rush vs charge, crawl, delay, grab, manipulating objects, readying an action (we’ve all asked questions about this from time to time), and using a second wind. It even talks about the rules for mounted combat such as from a horse and aquatic combat such as while swimming.
Towards the end it spends about 15 pages on equipment and magic items. It doesn’t actually list any but instead explains everything on how to read all the parts of the descriptions you’ll see in all the other books and treasure cards you might use in your campaigns. It shows a few tables that give gold piece value for different levels and rarity of magic items. There’s even a little paragraph on how silvered weapons gain a bonus against werewolves and the like.
I bought this book myself and was able to look up a few things during a live game within just a few seconds thanks to the small size and great organization. A quick glance at the table of contents and it’s easy to see which page to turn to in a hurry. I do recommend using the sticky note flag things to make it even easier to get to the combat chapter. No matter if you are a day one beginner to D&D or a seasoned professional you would do right by yourself if you picked up this book. I make sure to bring this with me over all the other core books just for simplicity. In fact, I’m not sure where I put my player’s handbook. Where is that silly thing…