Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is the newest source book for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons. The book is full of tools to help you bump up your game, whether you’re a player or a DM. But is it an actual guide to everything? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
The first portion of the book is what a lot of people will be buying Xanathar’s Guide for, and that is the character options. Once you hit level 3, you get to choose a subclass to specialize in. Xanathar adds a ton of these subclasses for every class. The number of each class options ranges from one to four per class, for a total of 31 subclasses. Pretty much all of these subclasses are fantastic, save for one. I’m not really a fan of the scout option for rogue, as it feels like a half ranger to me. But every other option sounds awesome, and I’ve gotten a lot of character ideas from them. My favorite subclass has to be the sun soul monk, which is basically a fighter from Dragonball Z with energy blasts and such. It has my inner child screaming.
The next section in Xanathar’s Guide is a guide to creating a back story for your character. It runs you through your character’s story from birth to adventure, giving you options along the way. These options are organized in tables, so you can even leave your fate up to the roll of the dice. If you ever get stuck on your character’s story, this tool will be invaluable for you.
The next section is made specifically for DMs. It includes expanded and revised rules, as well as a ton of tables for encounters. The best of these revisited rules is the trap rules. These rules now include the idea of complex traps, which are encounters in themselves, much like a fight with monsters. Another handy revised rule is downtime. This part really helps flesh out your games in between adventures. Because heroes deserve a little relaxation every now and then, don’t they?
The next section brings the favor back to players. It’s full of new spells for players, some of them are the coolest I’ve ever seen! There are also racial feats in this section, which are a great way to solidify your identity as a member of your race.
The final section of Xanathar’s Guide is perhaps the most controversial. It is a section full of names. A section that is 18 pages long. Some have complained that this is way too much real estate for such a minimal part of the game. I was one of these people. However after seeing the rest of the book and how jam packed full of value it is, I’m seeing these name tables as great tools to pull npc names from. It is certainly another helpful tool to put into your DM toolbox.
So in the end Xanathar’s Guide to Everything may not be a guide to absolutely everything, but it’s close. The class options alone make it worth the sticker price. Everything else is icing on the cake. It has a ton of great information for player and DM alike. If you’re looking for a gift to get your friend that plays DnD, give Xanathar a thought. He’ll make sure you’re playing your games with the best tools. And while you’re playing those games, keep those dice rolling high!