We-View Wednesday – Player’s Handbook 2


The new Players Handbook 2 arrived without much fanfare at my house last week, because at the same time a GIANT box arrived that piqued everyones attention (the aforementioned Skittles game, posted about here.)  But after we all got our spins on, I have now had a chance to digest some of the hereafter called PHB2, and I have a few thoughts about it (obviously, or this wouldn’t be much of a review.)

New Races:

Let me preface this portion of the review by saying that I am somewhat of a fantasy RPG traditionalist when it comes to character races.  Give me Humans, Elves, Half-Elves, Dwarves (Dwarfs?), and  Haflings, and I’m happy.  So when 4E came out and suddenly I’m looking at Eladrin, Tiefilings, and Dragonborn, well, I’m afraid I kind of gave them the stink eye.  Eladrin were fine.  I just thought of them as the High Elves and the Elves as Wood Elves.  Dragonborn?  Far as I’m concerned, they don’t exist in my world.  Tieflings?  Well, I had a player that wanted to play one, so I gave in and am making the adjustment.

Now, PHB2 comes along and gives me a whole swath of new races.  The spirit-like, holier than thou Deva (bleh).  The Gnomes are now a PC race again.   (I’m not a monster any more!  Rar!) Large, strong, partially rocky Goliaths?  Not in my campaign, thanks.  The ubiquitous Half Orc makes a return, and I will gladly welcome them in place of the Goliath and Dragonborne.  And the Shifter, a feral race with traces of lycanthrophy (which I actually found kind of cool, and won’t mind having in my campaign in the right circumstances.)

They have also added Racial Paragon paths, where you can choose a paragon path based on race and not on class, such as the Halfling Scoundrel (Scoundrel?  Scoundrel?  I like the sound of that!) or the Human Adroit Explorer.  Oddly enough, there is no Racial Paragon path for Half Elves, they have to take the Versatile Master Paragon Feat now in PHB2.  *shrug*  OK.  Whatever.

New Classes:

After some pointed thought, I find the new classes a decidedly mixed bag, the same as the races.  The ones coming out on the upper end of the scale are the Avenger (a holy warrior), the Barbarian (obscene amounts of damage), and the Sorcerer (chaos personified…lots of damage, but very random).  The classes I’m grouping in the middle of the pack are the Druid (half of your powers can only be used while shifted into your animal shape) and the Warden (protector of the earth…the really tough brother of the Druid).  The classes I was cold on were the Shaman and the Invoker.  Don’t have a real reason why, just didn’t like the classes or abilities that much.

It appears to me that the goal is to have at least one Character Type (Leader, Defender, Controller, Striker) for each one of the Power Types (Arcane, Divine, Martial, Primal).  This book added all four Primal power classes ( Barbarian (Striker), Druid (Controller), Shaman (Leader) and Warden (Defender)) as well as filling the holes in the other Power types.  Did those holes really need filling?  Dunno.  I didn’t see a huge need, but now they are!

My big question…where is the Monk, and where will he fall in the grid?

The Rest:

Besides the races and classes, there are a few more things in the book.  They have a series of character backgrounds now, where you can choose a background for you character and that will give you a bonus to either some skills appropriate to the background, or a new language, or the like.  You can choose backgrounds based on Geography, Society, Birth, Occupation, or Race.  I really like this set of rules, it helps to give your players a push to round out their characters.

You also have some new feats to match up with the new races and classes, some new items and magic items, a few new rituals, and lastly, an Appendix that has some rules updates to the rules as presented in the Players Handbook.


I found the PHB2 to be a real mixed bag.  There is a lot to like here, as well as a lot that just made me go “Eh.”  I am sure that I will get some use out of the supplement, but since I am already in the middle of a campaign with established characters I’m not going to get much use out of that stuff.  I didn’t like several of the races as well as a couple of the new classes.  Overall, I’ll give this one a respectable three crits.  Buy it if you have a need for new characters and want to have every option possible available to your players.


One Response to “We-View Wednesday – Player’s Handbook 2”

  1. thegeekwearsprada Says:

    The plural form of dwarf can be dwarfs or dwarves. Dwarfs had been acceptable since the 17th century while dwarves was first recorded in the early 18th century.

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