Thursday, September 16, 2010

DnD: Quick Review of the Essentials Rules Compendium

Last night I picked up a copy of the Essential Rules Compendium. Here's what you need to know about it:
  • You cannot use this book to make characters. The basics of character creation are spelled out, but the race- and class- specific information are in the  Heroes of the Fallen Lands (Clerics, Fighters, Rogues & Wizards / dwarves, eladrin, elves, halflings & humans) and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms (Druids, Paladins, Rangers & Warlocks / dragonborn, drow, half-elves, half-orcs & tieflings) books.
  • The book is intended as a quick table reference. Find the rule you need in the detailed table of contents or index and flip to it. Granted, there are a few pages in the front that go over the history of D&D and the nature of roleplaying (wasted space, IMHO). The rest of the book, however, dumps almost all the fluff and pretty artwork to get to the point. As such, rules lawyers and DM's will benefit the most from having it at their side.
  • It's $20. Not a bad price for a compact, currently up-to-date set of rules. Certainly cheaper than the regular 4e hardcover PHB was. Of course, the (first) PHB had everything you needed to build and play a character. If you plan on getting this and one of the other books mentioned above, expect to shell out at least $40 in the store - a bit less online.
The bottom line is that this book is a replacement for the rules portion of your 4e PHB - just like the hero books are replacements for the character portions. If you want to jump on the Essentials bus, this is a great place to start. If you're happy with 4e the way it started out, there is nothing new here that you need to keep enjoying the game.

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