Putting the Advanced back in Dungeons & Dragons

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Are you one of those Dungeons & Dragons players who feels left behind by the new 4th Edition of the venerable tabletop RPG? Maybe you feel like it’s missing something big — like half-orcs and barbarians — and something small — like gnomes and Tolkien-style halflings.

The Advanced Player’s Guide might just help you recapture the old-school magic. Taking advantage of a license that allows third-party publishers to market supplements for Wizards of the Coast’s popular D&D game, Expeditious Retreat Press has come out with what may be the answer to many gripes with the system.

The book stats our three character races (Earth Gnome, Orc-Blooded and Shire Halfling — the first two were dropped from the new D&D Player’s Handbook, and the Halfling got an image makeover to be less Hobbitlike) and similarly revives five character classes (Martial Artist, i.e. Monk; Nature Priest, i.e. Druid; Savage Warrior, i.e. Barbarian; Troubadour, i.e. Bard; and Spellbinder, i.e. Illusionist). With these write-ups of character options from earlier editions, the Advanced Player’s Guide is sure to be a hit with longtime fans. It also offers more than a dozen new feats and paragon paths (including the Assassin and Acrobat of editions past), new rituals and optional rules for wounds and crafting items.

$12 PDF, $25 book; 112 pages
The Advanced Player's Guide: $12 PDF, $25 book; 112 pages

It’s a good thing the book offers those item-crafting rules, because one area in which it is sorely lacking is equipment. (The recent official D&D release Adventurer’s Vault should satisfy the shopper in every player, though.)

The lack of color inside the Advanced Player’s Guide is a downer, particularly given the color-coding 4E relies upon to distinguish among at-will, per-encounter and daily powers in the official rulebooks. The flip side of this is that many players have taken to creating their own color-coded “power cards” for their characters anyway, so ultimately it’s not a big deal — and monochrome certainly must have helped to keep the book affordable. Even so, it’s beautifully illustrated and well organized.

The book is mostly the work of one of 4th Edition D&D’s playtesters, and was written concurrently with the game’s development — but the license didn’t allow third-party publishers to sell their D&D-compatible products until Oct. 1.

The Advanced Player’s Guide is one of the first third-party supplements to market. Overall, it is well worth its price and should satisfy hardcore dungeon delvers who miss their Half-Orc Barbarians and Gnome Illusionists — at least until the official Player’s Handbook II comes out next year.

UPDATE: Corrections for this product are now available at http://www.xrpshop.citymax.com/apgerrata.html

Previously, on Nerdvana:

Here and there ...

Scott Kirchhofer
One of Nerdvana's founding bloggers, Scott Kirchhofer is a graphic artist and designer of the Nerdvana logo, as well as a gamer and comic book movie fan.