|Xanathar's Guide To Everything By Wizards RPG Team, Hardcover
OK, so the book itself says you can play Dungeons & Dragons with theย Player's Handbook,ย Dungeon Master's Guide andย Monster Manual. The big selling point of Xanathar's Guide to Everything are the new class archetypes, offering players new class abilities for the first time since Sword Coast Adventure's Guide. The amount of new class content is great; each class gets at least two new archetypes except for the wizard. Each archetype offers something new to the classes and opens up the door for fresher and more varied characters. New class options like the Zealot Barbarian and the Oath of Conquest Paladin stray away from the usual stereotypes that the classes are known for, allowing for more creative characters. For example: monks who rely more on weapons than their fists and Warlocks who are bound to a celestial being as opposed to an evil entity.
The characters, themes, cities, factions and history are highly developed to a point where it's possible to spend an entire session simply exploring cities like Waterdeep or Balder's Gate. Famous bard and historian, Volo, authored several guides throughout his time traversing Faerun, making him the authority on matters in the Forgotten Realms. Volo's Guide to Waterdeep cemented my fascination with the well-known, sprawling Faerun city. My introduction to Xanathar through Volo's Guide instantly endeared the character to me, and I even used him in my Tyranny of Dragons campaign a few years ago.
Much like Volo's Guide to Monsters, the framing device for Xanathar's Guide is from the perspective of a beholder who runs a thieves' guild beneath Waterdeep. At least, that's the ideaโฆ in practice, this pretense is dropped by the second paragraph of the book. The first page basically opens with a blurb about who Xanathar is, and thenโฆ nothing of consequence. The intro has no way to connect him to the contents of the book, so they barely try. The only other references to him are little notes throughout the book, but if beholders are supposed to be brilliant (as Volo's Guide insisted), Xanathar's insights don't support it. He adds nothing to the book, which is a shame, because Xanathar's Guide to Everything is a killer title.
For lore fans, the Xanathar is a title given to the Beholder who rules the Xanathar's Thieves Guild in Skullport. Skullport is an infamous black market town in the depths by Waterdeep, a key city in the world of The Forgotten Realms. Many Beholders have taken on the mantle of Xanathar, so it isn't clear who is the current one. The book touches on the Xanathar and how its organization generally operates, but it does not provide enough material to make it a part of an adventure (of course many experienced Dungeon Masters won't find this an issue and cobble together some house-rule material).
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