Tuesday, March 23, 2010

DnD: Player's Handbook 3 Quick Review

For those who want the bottom line right away, here it is:

If you definitely know you want to play a certain class or race featured in the PHB3 - or perhaps you want to build a character using the hybrid rules - this is the book for you. Those players who simply like having a lot of options may find some use in (some of) the Skill Powers and the additional Feats this book provides, but probably little else. I got the impression that the developers were really struggling at points to make all the new races and classes unique and distinctly separate from those in the previous two PHB's. At this point, it's hard to imagine they'd be able to scrape together a fourth PHB - and I don't think I'd want one if they did.

Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way, I spent the better part of the weekend digesting the PHB3 and taking notes on what jumped out at me. I will confess up front that I did not read every single one of the class and skill powers in detail. So, without further ado:

As an aspiring artist, it would be remiss of me not to point out the incredibly awesome cover illustration. I was really impressed with the rendering and detail.


Not a fan of the introduction, which explains the origin of the Shardmind and a (possible) origin of the Psionic power source. I often find the abundance of nameless, faceless figures doing things "a long long time ago, in a place far far away" to be annoying and sloppy writing - but that may just be me.


Gith - Has a Wizard's Ability Scores, but a (Ranger/Rogue)'s skills and abilities

Minotaur -
So glad they included them, even if they're competing with Goliaths as the party's 'heavy'

Shardmind -
A better Eladrin, they'll make tough Wizards. Hate their concept and origin. HATE the fact that they are depicted as male and female. If the developers/artists could stick with one non-gendered living construct with the Warforged, why not another?

Wilden -
Kind of like them, but choosing a new aspect every day could get confusing. Add Psionic powers and Monk disciplines to that and you've got a real pain of a PC to keep track of. WHY are sentient autonomous plants depicted as having genders and mentioned as having parents? Most plants reproduce asexually. Last comment for the Shardmind applies here, as well.

Racial Paragon Paths

Bloodied Champion (Minotaur) is scary.

Shard Disciples' Irruption of the Gate power seems really strong.

As much as I dislike their flavor, powers like Recrystallize are awesome. Min/maxers are going to love the Shardmind.


Ardent = Cleric + Paladin?

There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to the power point progression chart.

Battleminds have a lot of movement and damage resistance powers.

Not a comment on the classes, per se, but let it be known that John Stanko is an awesome artist.

The Monk's Full-discipline rules take a few read-throughs to sink in; even then, it seems complicated. Perhaps if I were able to see it in action, it'd make more sense, but from a strictly text perspective, it's not something I'd encourage an unseasoned player to try.

More confusion: The Monk's unarmed strike is a weapon in the unarmed weapon category; Ki-focus is an implement (along the lines of a holy symbol, if I understand it correctly).

Psion = mind Wizard

A high-level Runepriest will be a force to be reckoned with, by my estimation.

The names of powers seem to be getting a little crazier.

Bloodbound Seeker strikes me as a less damaging, but more fun Ranger.

Cloud of Doom (Lv 20 Death Arrow Paragon Path) could put some serious hurt on a flying creature, due to the fact that it automatically makes it fall out of the sky (landing prone).

Hybrid Rules

Oh, the min/maxers are going to have a field day with this section. I can only imagine what sort of insane concoctions are being created at this very moment.

The rules do seem fairly straightforward - low level hybrids will be pretty powerful for their level; higher level hybrids will be somewhat less effective for their level.

Epic destinies are tacked on to this section. Rather awkward place to stick them.

Skill Powers, Feats and Magic Equipment

Nice alternative(s) to Utility Powers, but some skills have more options than others. I think the devs could only think of so many ways to use History. In some ways, it's a reflection of PHB3 in general - they want to add more options, but there are only so many new ideas they could come up with before the races and classes start overlapping and losing their distinction from one another.

More feat options are always welcome.

There is 1 multi-class feat for each new class (6) and 3 multi-class feats for the Psionic Power Source.

Superior Implements add a couple of interesting new properties, but Accurate (+1 Attack) and Deadly (+1 Damage) seem redundant to the existing magic items/weapons/implements.

Really like the consumable magic items for psions - more for the fact that they are consumable than the abilities they confer. It adds an extra dimension to the experience, I feel.

Appendix & Glossary

About what you'd expect: attempts to explain, in a succinct manner the new and older terms, with an emphasis on effect type keywords.

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