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Player's Companion $14.95
Average Rating:4.5 / 5
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Player's Companion
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Matt M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/21/2018 09:38:45

What a great book! Finally got around to reading this and found a lot of useful stuff. I especially like the new character options. Highly recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Player's Companion
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Evan D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/26/2018 22:52:03

Really well well-written book however there is some stuff thats super unbalanced like the arcane paladin and some of the spells. But there are also some really cool things. The Oracle cleric is really interesting and the races are fun. Also some of the spells are really cool RP wise. I was excited to see new tools, weapons, gear and armorbut disappointed that there was 0 descriptions of some of these items. Overall, I'm not saying don't buy it. Some will really enjoy this. I just think a fair portion is just mediocre but the good slightly outweighs the average. With playtesting this will be great one day so I have faith if you do spend money on this, it will be put to good use.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Player's Companion
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Hiten D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/09/2018 09:11:50

I have already expressed a written, detailed review to the authors (personally) several weeks ago. I will keep my thoughts with them, in the hope that revisions will be released at some point.
From one customer to another - any book that publishes player options is still more of a DM's purchase than a player's (that's my little gripe with the name). At the end of the day, your DM has to allow a particular race/archetype combination. But if you are predominantly a player, and have already bought this - read chapter 7 first! DMs - please be scrupulous when you review the mechanics of the archetypes. Don't be too hard on the authors' effort, because MT Black and co. absolutely should be absolutely be commended. At the same time, don't be deluded by the presentation into thinking that the options have been extensively play-tested. In short, I like 60-70% of the book (which is good!). The main exception is mechanical balance of most of the class archetypes. I still respect the work that was put into this (as should everyone else), and hope for revisions. Even WOTC UA archetypes often start out pretty wildly imbalanced. Nothing that some play-testing can't improve :)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Player's Companion
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Aaron M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/03/2018 17:04:29

This is very cool! Awesome work folks! Would really want to get a Fantasy Ground Version ASAP, that is why I only give this a 4 of 5 stars... Good stuff!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Player's Companion
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Xander S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/31/2018 07:58:55

Just finished reading this book. I will agree with the other reviews, all of the subclasses are way to wordy. Most classes in the PHB take up half a page at most (not counting the pictures) and some of these take up pages. Dont get me wrong, I greatly enjoy the classes, but it feels that they are taking 5th edition back to a 3.5 era with tons of class options.

As a DM I would love to use these classes in a party of 3 or less.

For example the Oath of Aegis Paladin which is my favorite of the subclasses seems insanely broken to me, and this coming from a paladin fan all the way. As a PC I would love to play this class, but as a DM it seems like a nightmare that a paladin can essentially shut down a lich. at 15th level gets to cast a cantrip and make a melee attack, which allows him to essentially make 2 melee attacks and do spell damage as many cantrips allow for a regular melee attack after casting, and you can top it off with smite. Though this is redundant as you can make cantrips bonus actions at 3rd level. So essentially by 5th level you can make two attacks and then cast a cantrip such as booming blade for a 3rd attack. Then you get an OP aura that imposes disadvantage on enemies and triggers an OP spell (aegis) as well.

Like i said, I loved the idea for this class and a lot of the classes in this book. And for someone who may run a party of 2 or 3, I find these classes to be appropriate as their level of power and complexity is taken to the 3.5 era in terms of customization, and enters into the broken realm. But for a party of 4 or more The DM would have to be pretty crafty to give his party a challenge.

Same thing with the spells. I noticed many of them are from the days of 3.5 (heres looking at you anti-magic ray) Its a 7th level spell that without any save can shut down a cr21 (23) monster.

I personally will allow this book to be used in my games in the future as i generally run adventures with a party of 3, and many of my friends love the old 3.5 era, so this book is essentially a throwback to that.

Additionally as a player character I was excited to read many of these classes and fell in love with them, but as a DM it may take some work to adjust to them.

In summary: Some ideas are really cool, some are broken but if anything I can say that this book is of extremely high quality in terms of presentation. The magic items are excellent. There is a lot of flavor here, and for a party of less than 4, these classes and spells form an excellent balance.

DND has become incredibly popular over the past few years by its ability to trim the fat from a class and not make character creation an overwhelming experience. A casual gamer or first time player would get overwhelmed by this book, as it is more of DND 5e Advanced. If you want to stream line the abilities and use the PHB and Xanathars guide as a comparison, you will be able to edit the class section to be more mainstream.

But like I said. I loved the ideas for each class, and as a PC and min-maxer from my days in highschool I would greatly enjoy playing these classes. But by trimming some classes you will deffinitely find a larger audience.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks for taking the time to review our product, Xander! I'm glad you enjoyed it so much, though I'll be honest and say I was hoping for a higher rating given the positives you mentioned! With regards to antimagic ray, you are right that the monster doesn't get a saving throw, but it's worth pointing out that the caster must make a successful spell attack roll. With regards to the Mystic Champion feature, it permits the paladin to make an attack as a bonus action, but only if the paladin already used their action to cast a cantrip. It also kicks in at 15th level (you mentioned 5th level, but I'm guessing that's a typo). Anyway, I agree that it's a great archetype with lots of flavour! Let us know how it goes at your table.
Player's Companion
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Early T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/02/2018 22:57:40

There are plenty of long reviews here so i will keep mine short. The contents of the Player's Companion are mostly useful and there is a LOT here. The good outweighs the few things I don't care as much for or will not use. Tons of great stuff inside, from new races and classes to equipment and weapons. You can tell a lot of effort went into this and it all looks great. 5 of 5 stars in my opinion and worth the price to any player or dm.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Short is sweet. Many thanks, Early!
Player's Companion
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by James F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/02/2018 22:37:49

I am always excited about new content like this. There seems to be various opinions on architypes and not everyone will agree. This is not an issue for me as I pick and choose what is allowed in my games. This includes the official releases. This guide is no different. There are some things that I am not going to allow but there is plenty in here that will spice up my games and add more variety! The new equipment is excellent. The new weapons and armor add a lot of flavor. Glad to see the spiked chain return. the architypes are varied, some much better than others. Some feel like they're there mostly for flavor while others are mechanical in nature. There are some that I would have to tweek before allowing them, but that's part of a DM's job. The races are very cool! Always great to have more options. I also like the section for better playing tactics. It may seem a bit elementary to vets but is a good resource for new players. The layout and art is very professional giving the guide a very official look! Overall the package is very sound and a great addition to 5th edition. I wish that the Dungeon Master’s Guild would offer this in print, it would be great to have in my library. The cost may seem a bit high, but when you compare the amount of content you get, I feel it is actually quite reasonable. I definitely recommend it as a good resource for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thank you so much, James! I'm glad you are enjoying it.
Player's Companion
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Taron P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/02/2018 10:25:17

The “Player’s Companion” needs to go back to the concept table. What is presented is a collection of imbalanced, niche, and convoluted material under the guise of professional grade content. It feels as though it was written to be for a specific campaign setting, as nothing is tied into the known lore of the Forgotten Realms. This would be totally cool if this work was trying to appear as a supplement, but the presentation, price, and title would deceive many shoppers to believe this was an actual Wizards of the Coast publication (a regular issue I’m seeing on Facebook groups discussing this material). While there isn’t any claim on the material for this, the way everything is presented should merit clarification: this is professional looking homebrew content, nothing more. The reviews are from a DMsGuild module designer, and two D&D YouTubers with miniscule subscriber counts. Nothing about the reviews should hold much clout.

The artwork and formatting is grade-A, but the overall design of the classes and races needs another pass and the class and race designers need to spend more time developing a better understanding for overall balance and design in Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons. Abilities throughout the book span multiple pages, meaning in order to play anything from this compendium, you’re going to need 6+ pages for a character sheet for Features alone. That’s too much real-estate for a Character Sheet. I follow the homebrew design philosophy that if an ability spans more than two paragraphs, you have to rework the wording.

Because I’m giving this a poor score, I feel I need to clarify why. I’d hope someone would do the same in return for my homebrew content as well, so here we go:

[RACES] The races are... decent. Saurian, Myconid, Nixie, and Hengeyokai would be a great addition to most any campaign with minor tweaks. But the Half-Dwarf, Dhampir, Forgeborn, and Shadar-kai just feel like bland reskins of pre-existing races that really didn't need printing.

There's a bit of an "Over-versatility" issue going on with many of the races that makes them too easily min-maxxed. I'd never allow the Forgeborn or Saurian in particular at my table as-is just due to their DnDWiki levels of poor balance. Plus, we have Warforged, so the Forgeborn just steps on their turf.

[SUBCLASSES] What's here appears to be either homebrew for people who don't want to multiclass, or unfinished sketches of concepts that are too broken to be played:

BARBARIANS

  • Ravager Barbarian: a Barbarian-Ranger multiclass in a subclass. You could nearly do a one-for-one comparison and find that they just gave the Barbarian subclass Ranger abilities. It steps on the Ranger's toes so hard that it just doesn't need to be there.
  • Wildrunner Barbarian: Incredibly convoluted. You're a... Fey Shapeshifter with some movement augmentations? It feels like a very poorly executed, but cool idea. (As an aside, the [orc?] on page 27 is the most unsettling and disturbing character artwork I think I've ever seen.)

BARDS

  • College of Disquiet: Pretty much the flavor of the College of Whispers with some Warlock-y spice. Three out of four of the abilities are augments to the hex spell. It's just not appealing to me and incredibly tunnel-visioned.
  • College of Grandeur: Paladin-Bard or Charisma Cleric. It doesn't even try to hide it. Just... blah. It doesn't feel like a bard class and that's its worst sin.

CLERICS (My favorite class, so I'm really critical here.)

  • College of Exorcism: Additional psychic and radiant damage for like… NO reason.
    • Anointed Defender is so convoluted, I’ve had to reread it several times and I still don’t understand it. When multiple “targets” are involved in a situation, this feature could be read as a feature that buffs your enemies. The wording needs another pass.
    • Vigilant Sense is absolutely too wordy for what it needs to say: “You can cast the detect evil and good spell as if it at-will as a bonus action, without using a spellslot. It does not require concentration and only lasts 1 round when casted this way.” Think about how much real-estate it takes up on a character sheet as is.
    • Exorcist’s Sanction. So essentially you can Turn aberrations, celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead with no restriction or fail-state. Hahaha Nope, I’d ban it.
  • College of Prophecy: Divination Wizard/Whisper Bard Cleric? I dig the idea of a doomsayer-esque Cleric, but this might be my least favorite homebrewed subclass of all time, and that’s in comparison to the content I’ve seen on DnDWiki.
    • Embrace Destiny. Since this spell is a staple of the class, I’ll review it here. It removes the Portent feature of Divination Wizard and makes it a 1st-level spell. I’m okay-ish with this idea, as the D. Wizard still gets it for free and can choose it as a spell, but it still feels like it impedes on the subclass.
    • Bonus Everything. So this subclass gets an always prepared spell version of Portent from the Divination Wizard, guiding bolt, guidance, and vicious mockery. Two of the strongest Cleric spells, a psychic damage cantrip (more psychic damage... weird...), and the signature feature of the Divination Wizard. This feels VERY arbitrary and makes Divination Wizard worse for its mere existence.
    • Oracle’s Burden. This makes your character a freaking punishment on the rest of your party. None of the pros to these abilities are worth the tax you will put on your party just by your mere existence. This isn’t fun at all.
    • I’m going to stop here because the rest of the abilities just step on other classes or give bland augments to spells you always have prepared, and for some reason you get find steed.

DRUID

  • Circle of the Equinox: So, copy>paste the abilities into a character sheet. See how much of your Features & Traits table you just lost to page long feature descriptions? This subclass takes three 8.5”x11” pages to describe. Features lack checks and saves, descriptions are WAY too wordy, just… no.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: An earth druid with a focus on stone Wild Shapes. It’s by far the most thought-out subclass I’ve seen thus far, but it’s still ridiculously wordy.

FIGHTER

  • Janissary: Fighter with the flavor text of an oath of the ancients paladin? What’s with all of these subclasses taking up 3+ pages? That might sound like an odd or weak critique, but it’s becoming a trend now. The Colder/Warmer climate conditions are so redundant they just need to be reworked. The Marks of Rank feature is basically a ribbon. Legion steals from Ranger’s Favored Enemy, Unyielding Comrade is cool, and Honored Commander is such an anti-climactic capstone.

SIDE NOTE: I don’t really understand the obsession with all the psychic damage I’m seeing. This further drives my point of this seeming to be a Campaign Setting Companion.

  • Talaric Battlemind: Psychic Eldritch Knight that relies on a ton of homebrewed spells. I seriously typed that side note above before I even looked at this. This subclass takes up 6 pages! Are you serious? This needed to be trimmed in Proofreading.

MONK

  • Way of the Sightless Strike: Blind Monk cliché as a subclass. It is executed… decently? But this just feels like a reskinned Fighter subclass or a homebrewed feat/feature for being good at being blind.
  • Way of the Thousand Steps: SOOOOOOOO wordy and convoluted. You seem to have wanted to create a Monk Tradition that specialized in Speed, but this reads like someone watched a few episodes of “Justice League” and tried to make The Flash as a class. Move to Safety has to be the most ridiculous feature I’ve ever read. You just move so fast that you can somehow carry 6 creatures a mile away from you as an action? WHAT?!? Just… What?!? Further, this class takes up another 5 pages. That’s a nightmare of a character sheet.

PALADIN

  • Oath of the Aegis: I read through this document a few times before typing this review and got to this subclass. This whole concept of “The Weave” is really furthering my belief that this was typed as a companion to a Campaign Setting. This subclass feels like a celestial eldritch knight variant or something. Okay, next.
  • Oath of Inquisition: So... Inquisitor Rogue/Ranger as a Paladin Subclass? It synergyzes well with the base class but the features just seem to keep trying to tweak spells and the Aura of Discernment capstone is laughably OP. Advantage on Wisdom and Intelligence saving throws for all allies within 30 feet of you, forcing a Constitution saving throw on any creature that casts an enchantment or illusion spell, and gaining resistance to fire, necrotic, and psychic damage? How would a player know someone is making a Deception check against you? Or is this an ability made to punish your allies if they lie? If so, this is only making the "Lawful Dick" paladin stereotype even worse.

RANGER

  • Warden's Fury: No ability here takes up less than 3 paragraphs. Maybe it's formatting, maybe it's just poor wordage, but this could be trimmed to MAYBE a page or two. Cool concept, poor execution.
  • Thief Taker: This text right here just shows the problem of all of the subclasses: "If you are using the optional multiclassing rules, rangers of this archetype gain a special benefit: they can substitute their Intelligence score for their Wisdom score when determining if they can be multiclass rangers." Why the arbitrary synergy? It's like this was written to be an Inquisitor Rogue path for Rogues that took Arcane Trickster or vice-versa.

ROGUE

  • Acrobat: This is just a Monk Multiclass as a subclass. A new bonus to Armor Class, insentive to use quarterstaffs, a defense against falling damage, and the Intoxicated Frenzy feature from Drunken Master. Plus, what's with the Subclass name? This is just weak in concept and execution.
  • Daggerspell Guardian: Cool name, let's see what we have... Eldritch Knight/Arcane Trickster/Soul Knife/Hexblade Rogue Multiclass. See the pattern that's developing here?

... I'm going to stop here. The rest of the classes follow a similar pattern. I won't be using any of this material, due to imbalance or poor execution, and I regret having spent $15 on it. The artwork is the best part of this entire package and the Homebrewery's design power is really showcased in just how professional this all looks, which is the only thing saving this from being a 1/5 Star Review. The actual meat of the product is a mess of imbalanced and poorly written concepts under the guise of professional content. It all needs another pass.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Hi Taron, thanks for buying our product, and I'm sorry it did not meet your expectations. You didn't include any comments on Backgrounds, Equipment, or Spells, and I think you would have found some good things in those chapters. I hope you will revisit the archetypes again at some point - there are many, many cool ideas in there, and I think you will find some material that is useful at your game table (perhaps with some tweaking). Kind regards, MTB
Player's Companion
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Ben F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/30/2017 22:37:53

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free because I helped proofread a portion of it. I did not see the majority of the book until it was released, however, and was very excited to see it in its entirety.

I'll work through the chapters one-by-one, then give an overall assessment at the end. I'll also provide a TL;DR at the very very end. This is a long one, as befits a long book.

1. RACES: The races are all narratively interesting, and I feel they help fill different niches than much of the official racial material. They each provide plenty of description of each race's society, typical mannerisms and personalities, etc. to help players get a feel for what that character might be like. The races' abilities also seem to mesh with their themes, allowing them to fit into some obvious archetypes for classes but not excessively restricting them or making a class feature redundant with a racial feature. My personal favorite is he shadar-kai, which absolutely screams out for me to make a rogue, though its abilities make it excellent for any stealthy character. I like this version of the shadar-kai much better than the one WotC put out in its Unearthed Arcana article.

As a general note about the book that I first noticed in this chapter, several individual items in this book have been previously published in portions or in their entirety by contributors to this book, such as the dhampir, hengeyokai, and saurian races (all three by Benjamin Huffman, AKA Sterling Vermin), so if you're interested in only one or two items from the table of contents, try searching for those individual items elsewhere. I'm not sure exactly how many items from this book can be found elsewhere (since I don't make a habit of buying, reading, and remembering everything out there on the DMs Guild and elsewhere), so I can't provide a comprehensive list. The designers listed on the credits page are Benjamin Huffman, Chris Bissette, Jeremy Forbing, M.T. Black, Patrick E. Pullen, and Scott Bean, so start your search with their work.

2. CLASSES: Each class from the PHB gets 2 new archetypes here. The authors worked to try to include archetypal options that add more complexity, but to match those up against straightforward archetypes. They don't do this for every class (some classes have 2 archetypes of low to moderate complexity), but several of them definitely do. Fighter, monk, rogue, and warlock all have an option that definitely adds a lot of complexity to the class, paired up against a simple option.

Many of the classes also get at least one d10 table of trinkets. It seems that each trinket table is intended to go along with a particular archetype, though I can only base that assumption on formatting and visual organization of the book rather than anything explicitly stated.

The ranger archetypes are listed as "conclaves," which is the word used for the Unearthed Arcana revised ranger archetypes, while the PHB ranger's archetypes are called... well... "archetypes." This creates a little confusion about whether these archetypes are intended to blend with the PHB or UA ranger, though I know there have been guidelines on how to make an archetype for one fit the other. I'm probably overthinking this.

I haven't done an in-depth evaluation of the archetypes here to see how they fare as far as balance goes - my assessment is more based on a general feel of balance (which WotC developers have also said is something they consider when "balancing" an archetype). That said, all the archetypes seem pretty well balanced to me, though of course some will shine brighter and seem more powerful in certain types of campaigns or under certain DMs. The archetypes are also all interesting narratively - they have a place in the world, rather than being an excuse to smash interesting features together or requiring a character’s story to come almost entirely from their race/background. I like them all, and I can already envision a few characters using them.

Here's a little idea of what some of the first few archetypes have to offer, with my thoughts on fun race/class pairings. This will be the longest part of the review, so if you just wanted an overview, go ahead and skip to my review of the next chapter.

-Barbarian: The ravager barbarian sticks close to the idea of a raider, focusing on mobility and power, while wildrunner brings in Feywild elements that would make an elf (or hengeyokai) barbarian an interesting choice. I'd like to make a ravager soon... maybe as a saurian.

-Bard: The disquiet bard gives you the option to be edgy without going to the crazytown that Xanathar's college of whispers bards go to. A dhampir would be a great fit for this. The college of grandeur gives you some powers reminiscent of 4e's warlord class, allowing you to grant allies temporary HP and to empower them to act out of turn. Warlord aficionados will likely gripe that it's not enough, but the only way to satisfy them would likely be a full warlord-style class, which has been done elsewhere (sometimes quite well!) in 3PP products. This is a great way to give the bard class a smattering of warlord-esque abilities, and might be the first bard archetype I've ever wanted to play! Maybe I'll make a nixie grandeur bard.

-Cleric: The description of the exorcist cleric domain screams Ghostbusters meets Men In Black. The archetype's features don't quite make it there, but perhaps that's a blessing given the different genres. It does clock in a solid, powerful archetype against unnatural entities that I'd be happy to play (and might even name my character Jay Venkman for kicks and giggles... of course, that name doesn't seem appropriate for the myconid race that makes for a great pairing here, or for the dhampir race that makes an interesting thematic choice but doesn't have the ability scores for it). The prophecy domain, on the other hand, does what you'd expect regarding support and foretelling (thematically but not mechanically similar to the divination wizard), but also has a physical ailment that, while burdensome, also grants you some benefit as well. This benefit usually makes sense with the ailment, but not always... I guess that's where "it's divine magic" becomes the answer.

There are just so many archetypes, I can't summon the energy to process and review them all, but I do want to hit on the four that I believe have the most complexity since some people might be looking for some meatier options.

Rogue gets the Daggerspell Guardian archetype. It's basically another version of arcane trickster, but where the arcane trickster dabbles in wizardry, the daggerspell guardian can choose to dabble in sorcery or druidism. You get sorcery points that let you do rogue-ish things, and eventually you pick up either metamagic or wild shape. Lots of things to keep track of here: spells, sorcery points and the things you can do with those, metamagic abilities or wild shaping (you can pick from a lot of different animals with this, which means you want to be familiar with at least a handful of go-to beasts if not more), plus remembering all the normal things a rogue wants to keep track of like rules for sneak attacks, stealth, etc.

Warlock gets the Elemental Potentate patron. If you were to ask yourself the question "Hexblade patron warlocks really expand on the pact of the blade, but what patron would really expand on the pact of the chain?" then you would probably get this archetype. Think sha'ir. You get a special familiar that can do a few different things for you (potentially more than a typical familiar), but its primary task is to fetch you different spells over a long rest, from either the warlock or sorcerer spell list. This means you have to be familiar with all those spells that you could choose, and try to plan ahead for what you'll need that day. You also eventually get the ability to summon minor elementals, which means you get to control (well... control-ish) minions. Add in more eldritch invocation options and you've got a whole lot of options and things to keep track of in and out of combat. [Side note: I like that the list of benefits granted to the different pacts acknowledges the design space of other pacts beyond the core three and grants a benefit for those non-standard pacts.]

Monks... I love monks. They're pretty straightforward (except for that Four Winds tradition that catches so much grief, right?). The Way of the Thousand Steps is set up like Four Winds, with various disciplines you can use by spending ki points. Its disciplines are geared around movement, and it has a lot more disciplines to choose from than Four Winds. (Four Winds has 17 disciplines. Thousand Steps has a whopping 51.) Four Winds only ever lets you know 5 disciplines, while Thousand Steps will let you know up to 9, and while Four Winds says "these disciplines are your only archetype features," Thousand Steps still gives you other features that all deal with movement. These other archetype features are probably to make up for Thousand Steps seeming to follow Four Winds' convention of having disciplines cost ki equal to the spell level+1, which seems to be a major point of contention. So... yeah, the usual monk stuff, plus a bunch of disciplines to choose from and use, plus other archetype features. This archetype almost takes the cake in this book for complexity, but I'd say it's a close second or maybe a tie with, ironically...

Fighter. The bastion of banality, finally getting something with even more options and complexity than the Battlemaster or Eldritch Knight archetypes in the form of the Talaric Battlemind. Yes, "battlemind" as in psionics - thankfully it doesn't become quite as elaborate as either version of the Mystic class WotC presented in Unearthed Arcana. It actually feels a bit more like the Four Winds (and Thousand Steps) monk's disciplines. Now you get to keep up with cantrips, psionic manifestations (and how many of them you know), a psi limit, and psi points. And your casting stat is Constitution, even though you don't really cast leveled spells - there are 38 different manifestations to choose from, and only one of them that I see ever says "you cast the _ spell." Oh, and every time you spend psi points on a manifestation, you (the player) get to remember to regain HP (on your character). If you want a fighter with complexity, you got it right here.

3. BACKGROUNDS: These backgrounds provide solid story hooks for characters, and several of them encourage players to collaborate with their DM (which I think is always a great thing to do when creating a character, and any feature that encourages/requires that is a good one in my book). These might not all be good fits for every campaign, but they fill in gaps among common backstory tropes that official WotC publications don't fill.

I feel like the Feral background provides a slight mechanical penalty (in the form of reduced languages) that isn't offset by any other feature in the background, but it does offer one of the more classic barbarian backstories, and they're not exactly expected to be the linguist of the group, so I guess it's ok. The player chooses the background willingly, knowing the penalty, so presumably it's worth it to them.

The mortician background gets a little dark, and recommends the player get DM approval. I'm not a huge fan of opening up these sorts of depraved/evil options to players (even with that caveat) in a standard book - honestly, I'm not a huge fan of some official WotC class/archetype options for the same reason. Perhaps it would be acceptable in a book geared more toward adults and depraved/evil themes, where everything needs that caveat... or perhaps I'm just a prude.

4. EQUIPMENT: Solid stuff all around. No standouts as exceptionally good, bad, or broken here, but also no waste. Many supplements I see just write up the same stats and slap new names on the armor or weapon. Not here – you get your money’s worth.

Nothing much to see in the armor department. 5 new pieces of armor: 1 light, 2 medium, and 2 heavy. One is cheaper than other options in its class, one is better AC than other options in its class, and 3 offer minor mechanical benefits over their PHB counterparts for increased cost. Three of them have some roleplaying/narrative value.

The weapons get a little more interesting. All but one of the new weapons are martial. Many of the weapons are classics making a comeback, and most of them bring a small new mechanic to the table. There are of course several popular double-ended weapons that make a comeback, as well as composite bows and repeating crossbows. In a book that has the shadar-kai as a playable race, you also expect to have the spiked chain, and this book doesn’t disappoint. All of these are great additions to the game that won’t drive anyone up the wall trying to figure out how each one works.

The adventuring gear is sensible. Some new tools and instruments, some new spellcasting foci, some books that make use of downtime rules, etc. The sunstick returns, but at a much higher price than I remember it costing… no worries, torches still work until I’m higher level and have boatloads of gold lying around. We also get potions of magical restoration (aka blue potions or mana potions) and tanglefoot bags! I think my favorite entry is the dictionary – mechanically it has a downtime effect, but I just imagine an adventurer carrying around this big tome of words to correct people on their spelling, pronunciation, and word usage – it’s essential equipment for every wizard, especially the academic lore wizard presented in this book. (I kid, I kid!)

Trinkets are a thing. I don’t typically use them in my games, but the few times I have, they have encouraged wrinkles or additional layers to character backstory, and I’m not opposed to that. 100 more trinkets = 100+ new character story ideas. I’d say that’s a fair use of 3 and a quarter pages.

5. FEATS: Lots of good options here! I don’t feel like any of these are “fluff” feats that only add roleplaying value or are too situational to see much use. There are 21 total feats, 11 of which are “half feats” that grant +1 to an ability along with other benefits. The ability bonus granted by these half feats is always specified, though one of them gives you the option to pick between two abilities to increase. The feats predominantly cater to combat, though several would be useful for social interactions, and a number of individual features within the feats could be useful as part of exploration. All of them are accompanied by a short blurb that uses non-mechanical terms to describe the abilities granted by the feat in in-game terms, which I think is a nice addition, as it reminds the player that these feats are a part of who their character is as much as what they can do.

6. SPELLS: I don't often play spellcasters, so I can't even begin to process all these spells - I need some digital spell cards, or a way to sort through the spells by what I'm looking for like D&D Beyond allows. (If the creators wanted to... say... upload these spells to the Homebrew database on D&D Beyond, I would grab them in a heartbeat!)

There are 134 spells spread over 34 pages, including some evocative art. The ones I proofread all seemed interesting and useful to various character types, though Sorcerer and Wizard get a lot of them on their lists, even compared to other full casters. Since there's no way I could adequately review all of those spells without writing more pages about them than they take up in the book, here's some info you might be interested in - namely, the spell school/spell level breakdown.

Don't like lots of numbers? Here's the number-free version: The spells favor transmutation and evocation while seeming to overlook divination, and they slightly lean toward low-level spells over high-level ones (which makes sense).

-Abjuration: 15 spells. (2 cantrips, 1 1st, 3 2nd, 3 3rd, 3 5th, 1 6th, 2 7th)

-Conjuration: 16 spells. (1 cantrip, 5 3rd, 1 4th, 2 5th, 3 6th, 2 7th, 2 8th)

-Divination: 9 spells. (2 cantrips, 4 1st, 1 6th, 1 7th, 1 8th)

-Enchantment: 14 spells. (4 cantrips, 2 1st, 1 2nd, 2 3rd, 1 4th, 1 5th, 1 7th, 1 8th, 1 9th)

-Evocation: 23 spells. (1 cantrip, 1 1st, 3 2nd, 3 3rd, 4 4th, 5 5th, 1 6th, 4 8th, 1 9th)

-Illusion: 13 spells. (3 cantrips, 2 1st, 2 2nd, 1 3rd, 2 4th, 1 5th, 1 6th, 4 8th, 1 9th)

-Necromancy: 17 spells. (2 cantrips, 2 1st, 2 2nd, 2 3rd, 1 4th, 1 5th, 4 7th, 2 8th, 1 9th)

-Transmutation: 27 spells. (3 cantrips, 8 1st, 5 2nd, 2 3rd, 1 5th, 2 6th, 1 7th, 2 8th, 3 9th)

That means there are 18 cantrips, 20 1st level spells, 16 2nd levels, 18 3rd levels, 9 4th levels, 14 5th levels, 10 6th levels, 11 7th levels, 12 8th levels, and 6 9th level spells.

Bards get 48 new spells on their list, clerics get 28, druids get 33, paladins get 14, rangers get 18, sorcerers get 63, warlocks get 38, and wizards get 65.

7. BETTER GAMING: This chapter is relatively short and contains no game mechanics. It is solid, helpful advice for people new to the game (and some people who aren't new to the game... often called "problem players"). However, I question how many people new to the game will have their hands on this book. As for the advice that would be most applicable to people who aren't new to the game... well, if they haven't learned those lessons about what makes them a problem player by now, I don't know if this or anything short of direct confrontation/communication by members of their gaming group will help. On the whole, I feel this section could have been left out and the book would not have been worse for its absence.

8. CHARACTER NAMES: The preamble to the book says this chapter was a late inclusion, and it shows.

Many people were furious when it was announced that Xanathar's Guide to Everything would "waste pages" with a 17-page-long section on names, but those 17 pages were also interspersed with 9 pieces of art (ranging from small to one-third-page in size, with many being one-quarter-page) indicative of the culture each was adjacent to, and the names were helpfully presented by (fantasy) race or (real-world) culture, as well as by gender. The names were listed alphabetically in four columns with only one name per line per column, and presented as random tables to roll on or choose from, with 50 names per table. Regardless of your opinion of the need for the names, they were well organized and presented.

On the other hand, the 7 pages of names in this Player's Companion have 4 one-quarter-(or less)-page pieces of art interspersed, though it's not clear how the art relates to the names. The names are also not broken down by anything other than forenames and surnames - not by race, culture, or gender... they are at least presented alphabetically, for whatever that's worth. They are presented in two columns on each page, with 5 to 7 names on each line of each column – however much would fit between the margins. Reading them makes me go cross-eyed. On the bright side, since this is a PDF that didn't have a predetermined page count (that I know of) like WotC's published books, these aren't "wasted pages." If you want to use them, great! I'll save my eyeballs by sticking to the earlier chapters.

OVERALL/FINAL ASSESSMENT: The book's appearance is professional, and they used great art pieces to help bring it to life. There are a few layout decisions that are a little bit questionable (mostly regarding tables and spells that spill over onto other pages), but not enough to be a real problem outside of the chapter of names. I'm also a bookmark-man... I like my PDFs thoroughly bookmarked. At the time of writing, this PDF only has bookmarks for the start of each chapter. Easy enough for me to fix on my own, but in this day and age I don't feel like I should have to. The book is 170 pages long, plus a page each for the title, credits, table of contents, and introduction. Chapters 7-8 combined (the two chapters I could do without) are only 15 pages long, so you're really getting 155 pages of awesome stuff... at its price of $14.95, that's over 10 pages per dollar (over 11 pages/dollar if you count the last two chapters back in), and it's well worth it! I'm looking forward to playing my shadar-kai acrobat rogue... or will I make a saurial ravager barbarian first? Or a nixie grandeur bard, or a myconid exorcist cleric, or... or... Too many good options in this great book!

TL;DR: The last 2 chapters are the worst part of the book, and their only problems are unimportance and poor organization/format, respectively. The other 155 pages are great! 5 stars! Worth the cost!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Hi Ben, thanks for all your help, and also this very fair and thoughtful review. I have to take personal responsibility for the last two chapters! MTB
Player's Companion
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Tony P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/29/2017 18:46:26

The Player's Companion is an outstanding tome with an impressive plethora of player character options. Personally, I can't wait to see a Fiendtouched Forgeborn Elementalist brought to life at my table... or maybe a Feral Dhampir Exorcist... or how about a Doomsaying Nixie Acrobat?! The options are enormous, and this is a book every Fifth Edition D&D player will want. Full Review Here



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks Tony!
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