Today, I have a review for you; this at long last is Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. This “Xanathar guide to Everything” is the fifth edition book i.e., swashbuckler 5e xanathar. I have anticipated this more than any other book, since the three core books came out and I’m very excited to have it in my hands. At last we’re going to be taking a deep dive into it “Xanathar Guide to everything” and I’ll be telling you what I think so let’s start with Xanathar’s guide to Everything Book Review.
Xanathar’s guide to Everything- Xanathar 5e Detailed Review- swashbuckler 5e xanatha
Alright so here we have it. This is “Xanathar’s Guide to Everything- explore a wealth of new rules options for players and Dungeon Master’s in this supplement for the world’s greatest role-playing game”.
On the backside here we’ve got a little description of Xanathar, He is the crime lord and is known to hoard information on friend and foe like he catalogues lore about adventures and Ponder’s methods to thwart them. His twisted mind imagines that, he can eventually record everything.
So Xanathar is kind of a control freak and there is his friendly- friendly fish in the opening page of the book. He perfectly cleared that sylgar was not harmed and that we had nothing to do with it.
Better yet, don’t bring it up and don’t mention us so clever little disclaimer. As usual the cover is really nice, I really like it. It is absolutely beautiful.
This book does retail for $49.95.
The special cover or the limited edition cover or whatever they call it- the alternative cover.
In my local game shop, it was $89.95, so, I just said “No, Thank you” to that, kind of outrageous, I’m not sure if they’re up charging or not, but I just got the standard edition for this one $49.95 and I think it’s worth it.
I really like it so far. So you got the credits in the left hand side of the book after opening its first page, you’ve got the table of contents on the right hand side of the book.
Chapter one is all the Character options, tons and tons of character options, all the way from page 7 to 273. Then you’ve got chapter 2- dungeon master tools, which is also over 70 pages of the book and then you’ve got the spells and as we open up to the introduction, you will notice we have Xanathar and it’s goldfish and we have all little notes flavor text from Xanathar himself.
So the intro here describes, what this book is for. It’s basically just extra tools for players and Dungeon Master’s, a lot of it, is based on unearthed Arcana which is a monthly maybe or bimonthly, I don’t know a column they put out a free PDF on their website, i.e, Wizards of the coast.
That has some new things for people to try. New character options, some new rules options and things like that. And now that people have had a chance to try some of that stuff in the form of unearthed Arcana, they now have refined it based on feedback; they’ve gotten from people and released it in this book.
Now there is quite a lot of stuff that never showed up on unearthed Arcana. And a lot of the stuff that did show up in the Arcana, has been refined and changed and tweaked quite a bit.
So these are ten rules to remember, these are some common things that people got confused about essentially in the core rules. And so they’re clarifying some things here which is really helpful.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything 5e- Chapter 1: Character options
Beautiful art throughout the book, as is standard for Wizards of the Coast 5e.
As we get into chapter 1, you can see the subclasses for each class you’ve got. 3 for barbarian, 3 for bard, 2 for cleric, 2 for druid, 3 for fighter, 3 for monk etc.
So these are subclasses. These are like the archetypes, so some of them you know a lot of them when you get to third level you get to choose them, that seems like most of them but some of them at first or second you do get to choose your level, like you know cleric domain at first level, your source or a bloodline at first level as well.
So there are some of those things but yeah they do give a little description available under the table of characters, so you can understand the basics of what each one does and overall they’re really good.
I can’t tell you much to the balance of these. To be honest with you I haven’t tried playing them, I haven’t played in, I haven’t DM them where players have tried them.
So me and my mind just doesn’t generally work in the way of fine tuning and balance and making everything perfect.
Anyway, so yeah, there they seem cool. I’ll say that they do seem really cool, there are some awesome options. I’ve played quite a bit of cleric before and I really like the forge domain sounds- pretty awesome.
There’s some other ones that definitely are appealing to me. I would say that if you are fairly new to D&D 5e this is absolutely something that you may be you probably want to wait on, unless you’ve got 50 bucks to burn.
Get used to the rules, play a lot of the classes, explore different options and then if you’re feeling like okay, I’ve been playing D&D 5e, pretty heavily for a year or two, I would love to explore some different character options now than what I’ve had available to me. This is a great book for expanding what you have already in the core rules.
So yeah for each class you’ve got a little bit of kind of background stuff like “what is the heraldic sign of your fighter” in this case. Who is your instructor and what is your signature style and these things are really just for flavor.
They’re not going to make a mechanical difference for the most part but there are things that DM can use
So for a monk, you’ve got what is your monastery like what is your monastic icon and who was your master, so there’s all these different things.
Then, they get into the one or two or three or four different archetypes different subclasses for that class. So yeah that’s pretty cool.
Some of these options at the beginning can really fit well with any class and you can mix match a bit you know it’s like view of the world. These are generally from a ranger perspective but it could be used for any class really, same with homeland or sworn enemy.
There’s definitely some things that you know you can mix and match in the first section. Once you get into the actual subclasses, those are specific to that class.
There’s 4 level Rouge archetypes I mentioned so there is the swashbuckler mastermind inquisitive and scout (available in Swashbuckler 5e Xanathar) with wonderful pictures. I really like that mask, so cool, its really cool looking. Lots of great art throughout and it’s nice that they did include a picture of each archetype.
So those are the subclasses and yeah overall I think they’re really cool, they look great and I can’t wait to try some of them out then.
This is still part of chapter 1, “this is your life”. This is a lot of back story stuff, role tables for figuring out, a more detailed back story than what the backgrounds in fifth edition will give you. The emphasis here is on ideas, not rules. You’re not going to get any mechanical benefit from these background, traits and back stories, features, it’s just for flavor, to help you role play, a better.
I’m kind of torn on that. I can see this being useful and I have looked up stuff like this for players before. There was a pathfinder book. I think, it was ultimate campaign, I’m not totally sure. That had a lot of this sort of stuff even more than this.
It was like super detailed. I remember we spent with a game group once like 20 minutes just rolling this stuff up and writing it down. This has a lot of detail but not as much as that it’s got plenty for me. I don’t honestly know if I’ll use this that much because I’m sort of a fan of discovering my character as I play.
Coming in, with an incredibly detailed background, especially if it’s developed in isolation, I think is not the best way to go.
However sometimes I’ve had players who really struggle with role play and really struggle to separate themselves from the character and realize that no, you’re not just playing. What you want to do as if it’s a video game, rather try to inhabit this character and actually role play. I have found that for players like that it can be helpful to develop this and I would say maybe one thing at a time even, maybe this session, let’s roll for your family and then next session let’s roll for how you became the class you are.
I became a clerk because for what was a significant life event or what’s an adventure that you went on and stuff like that. So yeah I think that is maybe a good way to go. I’m glad they have the tools here. I don’t know if I’ll use it a whole lot for myself.
Then you’ve got some racial feats as well so these are feats like your head feats, in the core rules except now they are specific to certain races. They seem cool and seem pretty similar in the way they work to the other feats, which is good.
So, just a couple pages of those and then you get into chapter 2: the dungeon masters tools. So I will say I think that the inclusion of a lot of stuff for players is really nice here.
We haven’t seen all that many books that are useful for D&D Player’s most the books. And it makes sense I understand, why are great for Dungeon Master’s.
Dungeon Master’s are usually ones buying books anyway, but it is good to recognize that hey we want to give a lot of player tools to.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything 5e- Chapter 2: Dungeon Master’s Tools
In the dungeon’s masters tools section, here in chapter 2, we get a lot of rules clarifications and rules expansions, maybe the things that we’re just left pretty unclear in the original and now they’re providing some clarification.
Maybe, things that were easily exploited, or ruled inconsistently on, and providing some additional rules to help kind of shore, some of those things up and enhance the game and enhance the simulation.
Then there are also some things like two proficiencies that were not very impactful in the core rules and they’re adding some rules to help make them a little more attractive in terms of players pursuing them.
So here is that section on tools and skills and how you can use tools and skills together and then a little more detail on the actual toolkits, to kind of expand those rules and make it more clear and useful.
Then they’ve got some stuff on spell casting, perceiving a caster at work, how can players perceive that how can players possibly identify a spell that has been cast.
They have also included the invalid spell targets area of effects on grids of different options for understanding and representing the area of effect of a spell.
Then there’s a section on encounter building which personally, I don’t find all that useful. I mean, maybe I will. Maybe once I sit down and actually start designing, encounters sometime soon, I will use this but as I start reading over it, it just gets really complex.
I tend to kind of wing it guys and just kind of say “oh that’s a cr3 monster and I’ll work it out” and I that gives me enough of an idea, that I can figure something out. In the introduction of this section they really do recognize the idea.
This is not an exact science. You really do have to assess your party, you have to assess these characters and understand what is there max damage, what are their special abilities and spells that can make it an encounter much more easy than I expect or much more difficult. But there is some good guidance here that expands and kind of represents things a little bit differently than the XP budget system that was in the dungeon masters guide. And certainly gets more detail than just the challenge rating system.
Still I don’t see myself using it too much. I see myself winging it a lot more than using this and I’m really glad there are tools out there like the Goblin Ovid and counter planner, I think. It’s called that is just really handy for planning encounters.
Then you’ve got these role tables for random encounters that are broken down by the terrain or environment so Arctic encounters, coastal encounters, levels 1 through 4.
Now one of my problems with this is, there’s a huge variety you know “2d 10 merfolk”, could for example rolling for that could give me two merfolk or it could give me twenty merfolk and that can be a big difference.
They do recognize that sometimes, “hey, if you roll too crazy your players are going to want to sneak by this encounter your players probably are going to want to run away.” But still it’s interesting.
I think overall it’s not a big problem and it can be easily adjusted.
It is nice to have these tables where if I know my party’s in a certain kind of environment I have a wide variety of options for encounters for them and they do point out that not all of these encounters have to be combat encounters. Once again but actually a lot of them could be good role-playing encounters and might require some thinking outside the box which, I think is great.
Traps : Dungeon Master Tools- Xanathar Guide to Everything
I like that they give you more traps. I’m really bad at building traps myself and half the time I run the traps that are written in the books incorrectly. So I can always use more and more thinking about traps. I’ve done a lot of googling of traps and looking for stuff online and seeing what other people are talking about.
But I always appreciate having more options for traps as well as some rules for designing simple traps. So these are all pretty simple traps. They provide the note on making traps meaningful, they really emphasize that you don’t want to overuse traps. You don’t want to go into a game of D&D and have your players constantly paranoid that you are going to use traps so use them in a manner that is few and far between and then really catch your players off-guard with them.
And don’t make it all about them being overly cautious unless that’s your preferred style of play, personally, not for me. I like my players to go about their business and once in a while deal with a trap they also have this bit on complex traps which you know these traps are almost more like a boss encounter really in the form of trap.
This path of blades these are often like full room traps so yeah this is a pretty huge description of this trap here and then you’ve got the sphere of crushing doom. You’ve got the poisoned tempest trap there and then you’ve got this bit about designing your own complex traps. Downtime Rules are something I really appreciated in unearthed Arcana, which released as a PDF I don’t know about a year ago maybe. Actually probably more like 2 year ago now they did change some of it and refined some of it I think the section on Rivals was called foils before.
Overall it looks like it were they who organized it a little bit better in terms of having these role tables and such some example downtime activities.
This is something that I think is a big game changer when you are running a campaign.
Considering how you do downtime, can really make a big impact because it’s important to understand that the game is much more than just about the combat. The game is so much about developing a character and what is your character doing in the time between adventures.
One thing I really liked about adventures in middle-earth actually the fellowship phase. So yeah lots of good stuff. You got gambling, crime, pit fighting, relaxation, religious service, research, magic. So, anyway really cool stuff, not so useful, if you’re doing one shot or shorter mini campaigns, but especially in a long-term campaign that stuff can make a big difference. I really appreciate that inclusion.
Awarding Magic Items
I have heard some criticism of fifth edition(Xanathar 5e) from people who really liked 3.5 or Pathfinder that magic items in general just aren’t as well developed in this. And that’s true if this edition just puts less emphasis on magic items. It does not assume that players are going to be accumulating a lot of magic weapons. But they do include some more expanded thoughts for including magic weapons in a campaign and I really like this.
They included some common magic items. The magic items that are not all that mechanically powerful but are very-very interesting and I just absolutely love them I can’t get enough get enough of these.
The dread helm: this fearsome still helm makes your eyes glow red while you wear it.
Clothes of mending: this elegant outfit of travelers clothes magically mends itself to counteract daily wear and tear.
Probably my favorite item is the mystery key: a question mark has worked into the head of this key the key is a 5% chance of unlocking any lock into which it’s inserted. Once it unlocks something the key disappears.
I absolutely love that, really cool. Just something I can make a campaign very interesting. I can imagine players trying this key on all sorts of locks and finally, eventually getting it to work on one. I think that’s really awesome.
So there’s just some really interesting stuff here.
A wand of scowls
This one has three charges, while holding it you can use an action to expend one of its charges and target a humanoid you can see within 30 feet of you. The target must succeed on a dc-10 charisma saving throw or be forced to scowl for one minute. Oh man that’s so good. On a one, the one transforms into a wand of smiles, haha, oh man, okay so yeah that good stuff.
All right and then we have the magic item tables, these compile magic items from the dmg I believe as well as this book into some tables now, which I thought they were organized this way in the dmg but then I went back and looked and realized “oh no they’re not they’re kind of broken down by sections.” So here’s your section on Wands, armor, magical weapons, magical rings etc.
Whereas this just organizes them by how common they are and that’s really nice. I appreciate that, I think maybe it was something that should have been done in the dmg but it is nice to have it here.
Xanathar’s guide to Everything 5e- Chapter 3: Spells
Then we get to chapter 3: spells. So this just expands the spell list from 5th edition of Xanathar’s guide to everything. So you’ve got a bunch of spells for each class and overall I was impressed with how many there are here there’s a good amount with.
Basically we’ve got page 150 all the way to 171 here so quite a few spells and they are organized in the same manner as they are in the players handbook, meaning they have each class’s spells.
Full list here of additional spells organized by level and then throughout the rest, they have the full descriptions of the spells in alphabetical order.
So there’s always a little bit of kind of going back and forth. There’s one reason I really appreciate the spell book cards actually.
Another good consideration they write in here is that maybe you want to consider not overwhelming your players by saying “here’s a whole bunch of new spells to pick from”, especially if you have someone who can pick any spells from the whole spell list like a cleric including all these spells especially with a new player. Just give them more and more choices that can feel a little bit overwhelming. So it might be good to kind of pepper them in or you could even have you know four wizard spells have your wizard find a spell book that has a couple of them.
A couple of new ones that they’d never heard of before make them as loot I think that’s a really cool way of handling it. But overall I read through them and yeah there’s some really good stuff. There seems to be a pretty good mix of spells that will be very useful in combat and are just obviously mechanically useful along with+ some spells that might acquire a little creativity and aren’t as clearly and obviously useful. But do some really cool and interesting things.
Tiny servant is an interesting one. You can basically make some inanimate object into your tiny servant so here they have a tankard of ale that has now become a tiny servant, I love it.
This is all, I can have for you as a Xanathar’s guide to Everything Review. The rest of the book should be read thoroughly by you, as there is many more things to read and focus on. You should get this book now if you are actually a real fan of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (Xanathar 5e).
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