Xanathar’s Guide To Everything, by Wizards of the Coast
In reading this book, I thought it actually would be a guide to everything, and although it has quite a bit of material (some of which I was already familiar with), it wasn’t quite as dramatic or complete a guide as I had hoped it would be. It did not, for example, have any discussion of how to roleplay Lizardmen, which is something that I am always looking for when it comes to a guide like this one. In general, it may be said that this book provides some interesting angels on how to handle classes in D&D and provide some more options for names as well as character hooks. In general, that is something that I can always appreciate and so I found some enjoyment reading this book even if it was not quite as complete as I would have preferred it to be. You may call me old-fashioned, but when I read a book that purports to be a guide to everything, I really expect a lot more of everything to be involved in it. Like many purportedly complete books, this one has a lot of information but is by no means a guide to everything, which would likely be thousands of pages long anyway. It is better to underpromise than underdeliver, though.
This book is about 200 pages long and is divided into three chapters and a couple of appendices. After an initial introduction, this book contains character options that take up around 3/8 of the book as a whole. These various options include paths for barbarian characters, colleges for bards, domains for clerics, circles for druids, archetypes for fighters, ways for monks, oaths for paladins, archetypes for rangers and rogues, origins for sorcerers, patrons for warlocks, and traditions for wizards, including some more options for origin stories and racial feats for characters. The second chapter, which takes up another 3/8 or so of the book, consists of tools for dungeon masters, which is a more miscellaneous collection including falls, sleep, adamantine weapons, knots, tool proficiencies, spellcasting, random encounters, traps, downtime options, and the awarding of magic items to characters. There is then a third chapter that deals with spell lists and descriptions. After that there is an appendix that provides shared campaigns and then another that provides different names for various nonhuman races (namely dragonborn, dwarf, elf, gnome, halfling, half-orc, and tiefling) and then various human cultures from Arabic to Spanish organized in alphabetical order.
There are certainly players who will find a lot to appreciate here. Those players looking for more options to name characters (especially humans) in a diverse fashion will find much to appreciate here. Likewise, the book provide some advice to Dungeon Masters that many will likely appreciate a fair amount and may indeed benefit from. Likewise, those that want more options within fairly normal race/class combinations will find some things to appreciate and use in terms of new paths and ways for such characters to follow beyond the normal ones. If few of the options were particularly appealing to me I was at least able to think of a few ways that these options would be able to enrich my own playing by providing new options for some of the characters I may play in the future. And it is likely that at least some of the hooks will be appealing to others as well. If this book does not live up to its hype, it is at least a book that is easy to appreciate and to appropriate, and any book that is able to improve one’s gaming experience is one to celebrate.