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Book Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Player’s Handbook 2
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Henchman21   |  @   |  
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D&D: Player’s Handbook 2
A 4th Edition D&D Core Rulebook
Written by Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, and James Wyatt
Wizards of the Coast
$34.95
Release date: March 17, 2009

I’ve been meaning to do a series of articles on the books being released for the newest edition of Dungeons and Dragons since I started playing several months ago, but it just kept getting pushed back. However, I now find myself with some free time and spare energy, so I will begin this series today, by talking about one of the most recent books released for the game, the Player’s Handbook 2.

Player’s Handbook 2, or PH2, is a fairly important book in the line, clearly the most important since the first Player’s Handbook. Each Player’s handbook is important because these are the books that tell us what kind of characters we can play. Where PH1 laid the groundwork for the game and gave us the basic classes and races for characters, PH2 gets a bit more exotic, with 5 new races, and 8 new classes.

Some are of the races are classics from earlier editions that were left out of PH1 for space, while some are new additions to the game that look to set out their own place in gamers’ hearts. The five new races are Deva (kind of an angelic race and the opposite number of the Teifling from PH1), Gnome, Half-Orc, Goliath, and Shifter.

Me personally, I don’t see myself using most of the races in the book, maybe the Half-Orc or Goliath, but then I tend to favor playing fighters, and those two races lend themselves well to those classes. The Deva is a brand new race to D&D, and they are essentially an angelic counterpart to the demonic teifling introduced in PH1. They work well with some of the divine classes introduced in PH2, and would make good clerics, but they seem kind of boring to me. If you’re going up against zombies though, you may want to bring a Deva along. Gnomes and Shifters are now a playable race after being in the Monster Manual, but again they don’t really do anything for me. I don’t see much difference between Gnomes and Halflings, so they’re inclusion seems a bit redundant. Shifters could be interesting to play. They are essentially were-wolf types and make for good strikers, and they could be fun to play. Half-Orcs and Goliaths are also very similar races in player role, but they do have different personalities and backgrounds. Still, they seem just as redundant to each other as Halflings and Gnomes are so it seems kind of pointless to include both here. Overall, I was a bit disappointed by the races included with this book, but I can understand that some players were asking for certain ones, and I can understand why they’re here. It just doesn’t mean I have to play as one.

The 8 new classes are a bit more diverse, and we get the inclusion of classes that use the Primal power source (which is added to the already available Divine, Martial, and Arcane power sources). The eight classes are avenger, barbarian, bard, druid, invoker, shaman, sorcerer, and warden. You get a good mix of useful and just plain fun classes to try out. Warden look to be a great new fighting class you can use as a meat shield; they were designed to soak up damage with a lot of defensive abilities and a massive number of hit points. Avengers are a more purely offensive version of the paladin and are sure to be a hit in games with lots of undead monsters. Invokers have a direct line to the gods and are useful for controlling enemies or buffing you fellow party members. Shamans act as leaders and can use their nature spirits to strengthen their teammates and heal them, while still doing a fair amount of damage . Barbarians, druids, and sorcerer’s are pretty much what you’d expect them to be and then there’s the bard, which you can play, but I wouldn’t suggest it, unless you want to be laughed at by the rest of your gaming friends.

Added to the two main sections that cover the new races and classes, there’s also some new racial paragon paths, new feats that mostly focus on the new races and classes, some new items, and a section that clarifies some rules. All in all, it’s a pretty nice package, and well worth it if you’re looking to make some more exotic characters than you can find in the first Player’s Handbook. I’m already getting some use out of it by starting a Goliath Warden that I’m looking forward to playing. I will warn you and say that if you haven’t picked up any 4th edition books, you’ll want to pick up the first Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook
, as that actually explains the rules, where the second one is more of an add-on. However, I’m enjoying my time with 4th edition, and I think you will too. Next time, I’ll focus on the 4th edition experience, and what it plays like. Until then, keep those dice rolling.

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