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The Xanathar peers upon his pet goldfish.

This review was turned into a 5 minute video.

Xanathars Guide to a Bunch of Shit

I waxed for four hours about all sorts of shit.  Chiefly among them was "Xanathars Guide to Everything" and what I thought of it.

It is a different sort of book then I assumed it would be; certainly a lot thinner then I assumed a 'book about everything' would be.

What I was really surprised about, is the stark lack of content regarding Skullport ;)

Who is Xanathar?

Maybe an odd place to start and you may ask, why does it matter?  Well, let's talk about what Weezehards is doing in releasing this book.  They're creating a supplemental source book chock full of awesome Unearthed Arcana material that's been honed to a fine point of balance, with an extra d8 added for good measure.

Now who or what is 'The Xanathar'?  The Xanathar, as I explain during the course of four drunken hours, was 'The Eye.'  You can google him up and get the whole shpeel but in short, there was a beholder who called itself 'The Eye' and it went on down to Skull Port where there was another beholder, that one calling itself 'Xanathar.'  The Eye pulled some strings, then ambushed and killed Xanathar, taking his holdings, and claiming to be him, explaining that Xanathar was just a title, and he was now 'The Xanathar.'

Over time, that Xanathar was killed by paid adventurers (mercenaries) and another beholder took its place.

So you ask again, why does any of this matter?

Xanathar was a number of beholders, all of which were responsible for operating a massive thieves guild network from the under works of Skull Port.

The book, Xanathars Guide to Everything, is a general compilation of character options, skills, class and race feats, a handful of new magic items and spells, and a whole lot of tables for generating encounters and names.  Like a lot.

And my point:  Xanathars Guide to Everything has zero content related to thieves guilds, organizations evil or otherwise, how the business models of the underworld function across the world of Faerun, and instead is full of generic source book information.

This book could just as easily been titled "Unearthed Arcana Compendium 1."  Weezehards, I suspect, considered the brand power of 'The Xanathar'?  If this is the case, I thinks it's safe to say they're drinking a bit too much of their own koolaid.  Naming this the 'Book of Everything' and then relating it to general character options instead of focusing it on things that interest Xanathar is an odd manuevre because it's not a book about everything regarding characters, etc, it's ancillary, bolt on game content and nothing to do with Xanathar at all.

Ultimately, they'll need to release another of this book, another book that compiles a whole lot of their excellent UA material into a book that I can buy to support their work.  What the fuck are they going to name that?  Xanathars Other Guide to More of Everything?  This would paint Xanathar as, at best disorganized and at worst, a fucking retard; because he published his book as a compendium of everything, but clearly there was more shit.

The Great Book of Tables

Approximately 10% of this book is random generation tables for rolling up names, and encounters. If we include tables that organize magic items (which oddly do not include items from supplemental materials, only the DMG) and tables for the additional backgrounds and other character detail options (barbarian totems, tattoos, etc) we see a LOT of tables provided for mostly flavour.

I don't have a major issue with this but I think it's a point to address when discussing a book called, "Xanathars Guide to Everything."

This sort of material can be found here.  That is donjon rpg tools and it has a lot of random generators.  It has a random dungeon generator.  The 10% of Xanathars "Guide to Everything" includes over five hundred names for people across all the cultures of the world, and I think that that is a really cool tool to provide a Dungeon Master, but does it belong in XGtE?  Couldn't it very well be a pamphlet sold for five dollars?  Couldn't that lead to a whole new line of products that deal in generation tables?

The source books have always had random generation systems included for the Dungeon Masters benefit.  Here's a perfect example of some historical business.  However, none of the handbooks ever did, and the XGtE feels like a compilation of handbooks pressed into one volume.

Again, I want to stress, I appreciate the flavour, and one could argue that my gripe here is the books title, but it's a bit more then that.

I think it's called the Guide to Everything because they were just shoving a bunch of shit into a book to sell.  They had accumulated a whole lot of Unearthed Arcana material and want to sell it, but what could they do to ensure the value for the players?

So they pad it out with tables, stick a beholder on the cover, make a loose reference to old material and profit.

Bottomline:  Great Content

This book has a lot of good stuff in it.  Nearly two hundred new spells, a handful of flavourful magic items, and scads of new character options.

While I will absolutely mock the idea of this coming from "The Xanathar" or being a "Guide to Everything" that 'The Xanathar' would care to document, it is a great little source book akin to the Swordcoast Adventurers Guide that provides a lot of great character development options, as well as packing in a lot of Unearthed Arcana materials that needed to find a home.  A bit of a run on sentence but accurate.  It's a good book.  It's not a necessary supplement by any stretch; I would risk to say that most of the material in here comes from reddit posts and discussions on forums.

The character options are groovy, each of them providing another branch of interest for players to delve upon, each expanding the boundaries and blurring them further between classes.  The revisited sections each provide appreciated expansion on gameplay facets that can always use more lip service (eg: traps).

It accomplishes the need for a source book of this sort, and I hope to see more releases of this sort in the future.

What it's missing

The easy route here would be to talk about canon elements that aren't addresse.  It would be easy to decry this publication for it's fraudulent use of an old character reference.  However, the truth is that I could not give any less of a shit about that.  I think it's unfortunate that they chose to brand it the way they did for a number of reasons, but that has no bearing on what the content of the book is, and could have included thereby (the book was designed to be a source book, so be it).

No, what this book is missing is the same thing we're missing in every book released thus far and that is:  A section on puzzles.

Back in 4th edition we had 'skill challenges' and I always hated them.  Gameplay should involve dice, but gameplay should not ever be just rolling dice.  Decisions, critical or not, should always be the focus.

When it comes to puzzles, I spoke last night of how my own descriptions were often the short coming in the puzzles success.  I don't consider my puzzles deeply enough, or don't consider how things will seem from the other side fo the table.

Puzzles on a local level (a player or two, as opposed to table wide) are easier to manage although they'll pull everyone else in as well.

I'm babbling a bit here, but in short, I'd like to see some studies on puzzle design and delivery, and how traps can fit into that.  One might argue that complex traps are like puzzles, and I would simply agree and state that 'Yes!  Complex traps are like puzzles, but they're not necessarily puzzles.  Some are just traps."

That's what I feel is missing from XGtE

Muted, ignored, blocked.

Greg Tito, you're a ponce.  Recently I tweeted that XGtE cost me $80 in reply to a tweet by Tito regarding the book.  As is the usual fare, white knight numpties oozed from Twitters nethers to 'defend' poor little Greg Tito and his soft mind.

One of these 'Paladins of Weezehards' literally posts that I have the option of 'not buying the book.'  Always a fucktarded sort of response.  Seriously, what kind of response is this?  Anyhow, numb nut actually tweets a follow up on that to say, "So many options."  As a community leader on behalf of the company, he chooses, not to say, "Books are expensive, thank you for supporting us.  We appreciate you."  Look at the tweet I made.  Could've literally just said, "Thank you for supporting us."  No.  Dumb fuck actually follows up on the white knights post, figuratively agreeing that I have the option to not buy Weezehards product, then mutes me.

Greg Tito, you are a terrible public relations guy.  It takes a special sort of someone to be a dick like me, but it takes a special sort of someone to be a 'community leader' like you.  A 'community leader' who, instead of nourishing the support of passionate individuals, sows further animosity then 'blocks' the scorned.  That's the real dick move right there.  And you're right, as I stated repeatedly, I and many other folks do have options, and one of those is to stop supporting these products.  My other options of course, is to become such a voice that no matter where you block me, you'll still hear of me.

Public Relations at Wizards of the Coast, ladies and gentlemen.  Top notch employee right here.

I don't agree with..

I don't agree with the pricing model behind Weezehards digital services, and while I considered purchasing a D&D Beyond membership, the truth is that if I had done this, purchasing XGtE would cost my group $110 CAD to have both the physical and digital works.

I don't agree with the idea that I pay $65 +shipping for a product and receive no discount towards the digital service.

I don't agree with digital products being about half the price of a hard cover book being carried in a retail store.  That's just fuckery and you know it.

Your game has a high price of entry on either platform, and here's another facet of all this.

If I buy the material on D&D Beyond, I can't actually play digitally with it.  If I buy it on Roll20, I can play the game, via remote, with friends.

D&D Beyond is a supplemental source of info and services, but to use the tools to generate a character, for example, you have to buy a source book of information.  So if I buy the source material on D&D Beyond, I can generate a character using that source material FOR THE PENCIL AND PAPER GAME!

Ugh whatever.


The crew is currently within the city of Royals Peak and their next move is yet to be decided.  What threads will the fates spin around them?  Tune in Friday at 7pm PST to find out!