Excerpts 05/01/2006

Player's Handbook II Excerpt
By David Noonan

The Player's Handbook II builds upon existing materials in the Player's Handbook by expanding the options available for players by both providing new material and increasing the uses for existing rules. Included are chapters on character race, background, classes, feats, spells, character creation, and character advancement. New rules include racial affiliations that make race matter as a character advances in level, new character classes and alternate class features for existing classes, new feats, tools for rapid character creation, and additional organization and teamwork benefits -- an option first introduced in Dungeon Master's Guide II and Heroes of Battle. The excerpts below include the table of contents and introduction, the knight class, expanded barbarian material, a feat table, the polymorph subschool and sample spells, and some material about rebuilding your character.

Contents and Introduction

Table of Contents

What You Need to Play

Chapter 1: New Classes
New Starting Packages
Beguiler Spell List
Dragon Shaman

Chapter 2: Expanded Classes
New Starting Packages
Favored Soul

Chapter 3: New Feats
General Feats
Ceremony Feats
Combat Form Feats
Divine Feats
Heritage Feats
Metamagic Feats
Tactical Feats

Chapter 4: New Spells
Dual-School Spells
The Polymorph Subschool

Chapter 5: Building Your Identity
Character Background
Farm Hand
Noble Scion
Tribal Origin
Personality Archetypes
Simple Soul
Personality Traits
Being a Good Player at the Table
Managing the Paperwork
Rolling Conventions
Respect the Spotlight
Other Concerns
Talk About Your Character
Chapter 6: The Adventuring Group
Party Backgrounds
Childhood Friendship
Building the Party
Adventuring Party Basics
Being a Team Player
Teamwork Benefits
What is a Teamwork Benefit?
The Team Roster
Teamwork Benefit Descriptions
Camp Routine
Circle of Blades
Crowded Charge
Cunning Ambush
Cunning Ambush, Improved
Expert Mountaineers
Foe Hunting
Group Trance
Indirect Fire
Like a Rock
Massed Charge
Missile Volley
Steadfast Resolve
Superior Team Effort
Team Melee Tactics
Team Rush
Team Shield Maneuver
Wall of Steel

Chapter 7: Affiliations
Broadening Your Game
The Two Categories of Affiliations
Why Join an Affiliation?
Membership Has Its Privileges
Features of Affiliations
Making Affiliations Dynamic
Example Affiliations
Bloodfist Tribe
Brightmantle Weapon Forge and Trading Consortium
Caravan of Shadows
Castle Mairo
The Chalice
Darkspire College of Thaun
Dragon Island
Elves of the High Forest
The Golden Helm Guild
The Land of Honor
Merata Kon
The One and the Five
Restenford Guild of Insurers, Solicitors, and Beggars
Restenford Sewerworkers Guild
Sharulhensa, the Alabaster Towers
Sun Fane
The Thunder Sail Argosy
Wintervein Dwarves
Creating Your Own Affiliations
Example of Play

Chapter 8: Rebuilding Your Character
Class Feature Retraining
Feat Retraining
Language Retraining
Skill Retraining
Spell or Power Retraining
Substitution Level Retraining
Ability Score Rebuilding
Class Level Rebuilding
Race Rebuilding
Template Rebuilding
Rebuild Quests
Rebuild Quests in the Game
The Gates of Dawn (Levels 6-8)
The Necrotic Cradle (Levels 13-15)
Appendix: Quick PC and NPC Creation
1. Choose a Class
2. Determine Ability Scores
3. Pick Your Race
4. Pick Your Skills
Skill Priority Lists
5. Pick Your Feats
6. Miscellaneous Characteristics
7. Choose Equipment
A la Carte Shopping
Equipment by Level
8. Pick Your Spells
Suggested Bard Spells
Suggested Cleric Spells (Positive Energy Channelers*)
Suggested Druid Spells
Suggested Duskblade Spells
Suggested Favored Soul Spells
Suggested Hexblade Spells
Suggested Marshal Auras
Suggested Paladin Spells
Suggested Ranger Spells
Suggested Sorcerer Spells
Suggested Warlock Invocations
Suggested Wizard Spells
Random Personalities


When you play a character in a Dungeons & Dragons® game, it's all about the choices you make. Every facet of your character that makes him or her unique is the product of a conscious decision on your part.

Player's Handbook II is all about expanding your choices -- sometimes in ways you might expect (new classes, new feats) and other times in ways you might find surprising, such as a set of rules for re-engineering your character (about which we have more to say below).

Chapter 1: New Classes expands the roster of standard classes by four, with the addition of the beguiler, the dragon shaman, the duskblade, and the knight. Any of these classes would be a fine choice if you want to play a character that doesn't fit any of the archetypes that are represented by the other classes we have published.

Chapter 2: Alternate Class Options revisits eighteen of those other classes -- the eleven from the Player's Handbook as well as seven others (such as the scout and the favored soul) that made their debuts in supplements. We look at these classes with a fresh set of eyes, providing for each one an alternate class feature, three new starting packages, and a discussion of character themes that are appropriate for the class in question. If you're intrigued by the idea of playing a cleric who spontaneously casts domain spells instead of cure spells, check out page 37 for the particulars.

Player's Handbook II would not be a book worthy of its title if it didn't present new feats and spells. Chapter 3: New Feats contains more than 100 additions to the vast selection of feats in the D&D® game, and Chapter 4: New Spells presents a similar number of new choices for spellcasters of all sorts.

This book starts to blaze its own trail in Chapter 5: Building Your Identity, which contains dozens of brief discussions on how to add more depth and realism to your character's background and personality, plus some advice on how best to fulfill your role as a player at the gaming table.

Chapter 6: The Adventuring Group takes a step back in perspective, focusing on the characters who collectively make up a particular kind of party. How did these wouldbe heroes come together in the first place, and what part does each one of them play in a well-rounded group of adventurers? The chapter also includes a few new teamwork benefits, expanding on a concept that was introduced in Dungeon Master's Guide II.

Characters are defined not only by who they are as individuals and by the other PCs they travel with, but also by the relationships they form with likeminded individuals whose heritage or interests compel them to follow a common cause. Chapter 7: Affiliations describes a new kind of group that characters can belong to -- they rise or fall in status within their affiliations according to their deeds and their qualifications, and the most motivated and successful of them all can even advance to a leadership position. In addition to a number of fully fleshed-out example affiliations, this chapter provides guidelines for players and DMs who want to create affiliations that are unique to their campaign.

Perhaps the most intriguing new concept in this book is presented in Chapter 8: Rebuilding Your Character. While many DMs and players have created house rules for handling situations involving the reselection of feats, reallocation of skill ranks, altering ability scores, and so forth, the D&D game has never before had official rules on the topic of revising your entire character. So whether your dwarf fighter just regrets a single bad feat choice or wishes he were actually a half-orc barbarian or an elf sorcerer, Chapter 8 offers rules and advice that covers the subject of character rebuilding from start to finish.

Finally, an extensive Appendix sets forth an efficient method for quick generation of new player characters or NPCs, which (among other things) streamlines the process of selecting skills and feats. The next time you need a character in a hurry -- or even if you don't -- check out this system.

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