“Player’s Handbook 2”: I haz it

Myself, along with a number of other excellent bloggers, have received preview copies of PHB2. We are all working together to put together a pretty big event around it starting March 13th, and hopefully a series of other supplementary articles about the release.

In the meantime, however, I am allowed to answer questions. The ground rules are that I won’t post any actual excerpts or solid game content, and I reserve the right to not answer any questions that I don’t think are right to answer (or my answer might be: buy the book!) I’m sure everybody understands that it’s a pretty big deal that I’ve gotten a copy, and so I’m doing my best to repay that favor… and I really do want everybody to go out and buy it. 

So, with that all said, fire away…

About Dave

Dave "The Game" Chalker is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Critical Hits. Since 2005, he has been bringing readers game news and advice, as well as editing nearly everything published here. He is the designer of the Origins Award-winning Get Bit!, a freelance designer and developer, son of a science fiction author, and a Master of Arts. He lives in MD with e, their three dogs, and two cats.


  1. TreacleMiner says:

    The Table of Contents mentioned revised/updated rules on the “Marked” condition.

    Is this a complete re-working of the mechanics, or just clarifications on different situations, use in-game, etc?


  2. If only ALL of the excellent bloggers had received a review copy…*sigh*…that said, here’s my superficial, yet important, question…

    What is the coolawesomegoodest thing about the PH2?…

    Reverend Mike´s last post: Demotivational Monday: OH SHI-, indeed.

  3. Cooperflood says:

    You Lucky Dog!

    I have many many questions, but I will limit my response. I’m most interested in your thoughts on the new Shifter. Are there still just two shifters? How do they compare to the MM versions? What other options do they have in the book (Feats/Paragon Paths)? I understand you can’t list everything, I’m just interested in anything about Shifters that particularly caught your eye. Thanks very much for what ever you share and if anyone “deserved” an early copy of the PHII it was you.

  4. I just want to know what class are you DYING to play?

    Donny_the_DM´s last post: The RPGBloggers Anthology…first impressions

  5. Erekose says:

    Nice work! Question: what do some of the builds we’ve not seen yet on DDI do?

  6. @Donny –

    That one’s easy, as he’s said it before. Sorcerer, Wild Mage version.

    My question: When the fuck will my copy arrive? I want to do my “Woo PHB2!” post.

    …which will mostly consist of me going “Neener neener, I have it before you!”

    Yeah… I’m an ass.

    Graham´s last post: Scales of War – All sorts of updates

  7. TreacleMiner: It seems pretty much the same as before. It’s in a sidebar and not one of the new rules updates, so I’d imagine it’s just a clarification.

    Rev: The classes for sure, but I gotta say some of the classes have really awesome 29th level powers, the Avenger having an especially awesome one (that reminds me of The Final Countdown)

    Cooperflood: It’s just the two from MM. They’re essentially the same, which just a little tweak that makes it better. They also get racial feats and a paragon path (Moonstalker, and it’s pretty vicious!)

    While I’m looking at it, as a sidenote, there is a way to have your Dragonborn grow wings in PHB2.

    Donny: Definitely (Wild) Sorcerer, with Avenger being a close second. Watch for my article on the 13th for more about that.

    Erekose: The ones that jump out at me: the Thaneborn Barbarian is more of a leader type. Both the Divine classes get a different Channel Divinity depending on their build.

    Graham: However long customs wants to take 🙂

  8. Michelle says:

    About what percentage of the new feats can be used by older races and classes (e.g., PHB1)?

    Is there additional material on Adventuring or Combat?

    Have they introduced any alternative forms of multi-classing?

    Why is it that these new lurex dancing tights go baggy at the knees after only a couple of evenings’ fun?

  9. “About what percentage of the new feats can be used by older races and classes (e.g., PHB1)?”

    Hmm, maybe around 20%?

    “Is there additional material on Adventuring or Combat?”

    There’s backgrounds, but that’s probably not what you’re looking for.

    “Have they introduced any alternative forms of multi-classing?”

    Just the ones for the new classes, though I’d say there’s at least one thing that gives Paragon multiclassing a boost.

    “Why is it that these new lurex dancing tights go baggy at the knees after only a couple of evenings’ fun?”

    You’re doing the lambada, when they were clearly designed for the tango.

  10. What’s the basic theme behind the Bear Warrior paragon path? Got a player who’s using a lot of Bear-totem stuff for his playtest barbarian, and I was curious what that’s got behind it.


  11. Finalresting says:

    Is there any magic items that stuck out to you as extra cool?

  12. Ktulu: Not to be flip, but it’s about being a bear 🙂 You get a bear form while raging, and attack powers with bear in the title that seem appropriately angry.

    Finalresting: I like the Bard implements which double as wondrous items. Many of them give you benefits during a short rest, so it’s kind of like the buffing aspect of the 3e Bard.

  13. yesnomu says:

    Hey, what are the prereqs for Weapon/Implement Expertise? Restrictive?

    What are the Predator Druid level 29s like? Curious to see what the apex of that subclass will be.


  14. Implement users got almost no feat support in PHB, specially when compared to weapon wielding classes. We have already seen some promising goodies from PHBII, like Implement Expertise. Do you think there is enough stuff to make characters with implements happy? Would I be able to build, say, a 10th level Wizard with 6 cool feats, without resorting to multiclass?

    Psikus´s last post: Rule updates in PHB 2

  15. Cooperflood says:

    Thanks for the Shifter response. I would have liked to see more shifter varieties, but I’m not suprised that there are only two. And I can’t wait to see the Moonstalker PP, it had better not blow like Adroit Explorer.

    I’ll throw in a few more questions that you can answer, provided you have the time. Do any of the epic destinies stand out to you? Are there any that have any truly “epic” abilities (Like the Dark Wanderer or Mythic Sovereign)? Finally what prereqs (if any) are tied to each destiny?

    I’ll be honest I was a little concerned when Wizards previewed rituals that had class prereqs. In my mind it set a very bad precedent. It is a clear violation of one of the cental design principles of the new ritual system; that anyone, even a dumb beatstick can cast a ritual. That being said I haven’t actually seen any of the bard specific rituals. Do you think that the designers had any justification in the new distinction or was it possibly just a throwback to previous editions? I understand this question maybe slightly controversial, so feel free to ignore. The issue is one of my biggest potential concerns with the PHII, but it most certainly didn’t cause me to cancel my preorder.

    Thanks a million!

  16. yesnomu: Two of the level 29 druid powers that jump out at me: one summons a sustainable blizzard, the other transforms you into the perfect form of the “Primal Beast” that is very good at hunting bloodied targets.

    Psikus: Specifically for Implement users? Not a huge amount, honestly. There’s some more generally useful feats, and a few more feats that help out arcane casters in similar style to “Burning Blizzard”, but it still might be tough to fill 6 feats with as much focus as weapon users get. I expect Arcane Power will be the book to go to for that.

  17. Cooperflood: Two of the epic destinies really seem appropriately Epic: Harbringer of Doom and Revered One. The rest are kind of flat. I still think the best epic destinies have appeared in Dragon.

    As far as the Bard rituals go, I tend to agree with you, but they clearly fit solidly as being Bardic, if that makes sense. A lot of song-based rituals, so I can see why they wouldn’t open it up to any ritual caster… gotta have some pipes on ya.

  18. That said, all that Bard-specific rituals mean is that you need to pick up one more feat (the Bard multiclass feat) to take them.

    For those wondering about the Druid, I’ll be covering that one for this event, so drop me a line at my site if there’s something specific you want to see covered.

    I’ll definitely go into the options for each tier, though.

  19. Congrats, you dirty dog! No questions, just jealousy. 😉

    The Last Rogue´s last post: The PCs – A Madness Stirs Intro

  20. One thing I’ve been curious about – how are the attack roll bonuses looking this time around? Any feats or things that can in general help out the to-hit? Or is the pretty high “whiff! you miss!” factor alive and well still?

    Wyatt´s last post: Spirits of Eden Spring Playtest Game: You Could Be An Athirua Too!

  21. How does someone get on this list to get Preview copies of the D&D books?

    and can you give us a general idea of the Deva backstory?

    MacGuffin´s last post: Ages of Ages of Avion

  22. Wyatt: I have a feeling you’ll like the Avenger! His striker mark trades extra damage for accuracy: it lets you roll two d20s and take the higher result for your melee attacks, as long as your target is the only enemy adjacent to you.

    There’s also the Weapon/Implement Expertise feats, which add +1 to-hit–I’m not very happy about those.

  23. I have no questions. I have only vituperation!

    Curse you, The Game! Curse you until the end of your days!

    Matthew´s last post: Fie on gnomes

  24. No offense taken; thats what I was figurin’. 😀

  25. Wow! I am soooo jealous! Excellent bloggers? Hmm, if anyone told me I get a free PHB2 for blogging excellence I would have worked harder … hehe!

    My question is: How much different feels the sorcerer from the wizard and are those “secondary effects” still in?

    Stargazer´s last post: Dungeonslayers: The deed is done!

  26. Wyatt: Weapon/Implement expertise already seems to be generating some gnashing of teeth to be a “must-take” feat to get an extra bonus to hit. And as mentioned, Avengers definitely seem like the class to take to be sure you hit. Other than that, whiffing is here to stay.

    MacGuffin: It’s not that easy, but I do recommend joining the RPG Bloggers mailing list off of RPGBloggers.com. Devas are those who once served the Gods, but chose to incarnate in mortal bodies and are in an endless cycle of reincarnation. It’s very cool.

    Matthew: Any attack you make on me now does an extra d6 damage.

    Stargazer: I will also recommend to you that you join the RPG Bloggers mailing list. Special offers often come across it. Sorcerer is pretty focused on its two builds, either randomness or dragon/elemental stuff. It does a lot less with status effects too.

  27. OriginalSultan says:

    Can I has cheeseburger?

  28. OriginalSultan: u can haz, but don’t take mah bukkit

  29. Mindshadow2k says:

    How do you like the new stealth rules? So many friggen questions I can’t formulate them hehe!

  30. Honestly, they seem pretty close to what’s in the errata, with just some extra clarifications. I’d have to go line by line to compare them. It’s a little complex for my tastes, but I assume stealthy characters will read up on them.

  31. D’oh! I was thinking of joining the RPGBloggers, but I never got around to it/thought it was getting too crowded…

    anyway… I am having an argument with someone, do the Devas and Rakshasa have any connection? One of the previews said something about a Deva almost reincarnating as one.

    MacGuffin´s last post: Ages of Ages of Avion

  32. This will probably be the only excerpted line I post (since they said this at New York Comic Con too): A deva whose soul is corrupted risks being reborn as a Rakshasa.

  33. phew, good thing I didn’t put any money on that…

    thank you for answering my questions, and if you have any free time, not that you will with your new book and answering questions, feel free to check out my blog: http://ideamancer.blogspot.com/

    Its mostly D&D, but there is also some random ideas (that I hope are entertaining enough to read) in there as well.

    MacGuffin´s last post: Ages of Ages of Avion

  34. Tell more about Dragonborn wings?

  35. The Dragonborn paragon path grants wings that let you fly.

  36. I haven’t seen much said about Wardens. What are their different paragon paths like?

  37. @Steve –

    One of the other blogs will be previewing Wardens. It probably wouldn’t do much justice to give you a vague answer here.

  38. Though I will say that, like the Warden itself, they all focus on a transformation. And one is the Verdant Lord.

    Take from that what you will. 😛

    Graham´s last post: Scales of War – All sorts of updates

  39. @Stargazer –

    BTW, for how much different the Sorcerer feels from the Wizard? The Sorcerer is a striker, so it should be fairly different.

    Graham´s last post: I have a PHB2 and you don’t!

  40. @Cooperflood –

    re: types of Shifters.

    While there are only two, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

    See, they get some new Paragon racial feats. Like “Beasthide Shifting”.

    I think you’ll like it. 🙂

    Graham´s last post: I have a PHB2 and you don’t!

  41. The_Gun_Nut says:

    Re: Missing in combat. I have noticed that the 4th edition makes it a requirement that you max out your pertinent combat attribute (strength for fighters/palys/melee rangers, dex for rogues/ranged rangers, etc.) and forsake all others for your combat abilities. While some might call “min/maxing” or “power-gaming” or even “munchkin”, the truth of the matter is that 4th edition D&D focused on the slow, “boring”, part of the previous editions (combat) so that game play would speed up and be exciting. And while role-playing is an important part of the game, it doesn’t require much in the way of rules, really. Therefore, all the rules presented in the books NEED to be about the one time in an adventurers life when they aren’t chatting someone up.

    It worked. However, to be effective in combat now, the primary focus of all the rules and abilities listed in the PHB and DMG, one HAS to maximize their combat statistic to ensure that, throughout their adventuring career, the required number on the d20 remains around the 9 to 12 range. Right in the middle where WotC said it would be. It is no wonder, consequently, that the people playing who don’t min/max their combat stats and strive to make a “character” and not a “fighting machine” are disappointed in combat by the rather large number of misses.

    I say this: Min/max your character to combat monsteritude, but create a personality outside the rules and numbers written on the paper. If you want an intelligent fighter, max out his strength stat and then put the rest in intelligence. You want a wise bow ranger? Max out your dexterity stat and put the remainder in wisdom. Or do nothing of the sort and just play your character that way. Your character will remain competent all the way to level 30, and you will have the satisfaction of creating a multifaceted, interesting, balanced persona.

    OK, now for the questions.

    The druid is listed as a Primal Controller, right? How do his control abilities stack up compared to the Wizard?

    Is there a controller other than the Druid and Wizard?

  42. @The_Gun_Nut –

    re: Druid

    I’ll be covering the Druid in more detail when the reviews come up, but let’s go with some quick answers to your questions, in order:

    – Yep. Primal Controller.

    – Quite well. More entangley-controller, less “keep ’em from grouping with area attacks” controller. Also wild shape.

    – Yep. Invoker. Divine Controller. Also neat. Will be gone into more by The Core Mechanic

    Graham´s last post: I have a PHB2 and you don’t!

  43. What paragon-tier feats stuck out to you, and what do those specific feats do?

    Also I’m extremely curious about the Verdant Lord paragon path-what are it’s features and powers?

  44. @John – re: Verdant Lord

    We aren’t giving away rules yet. But suffice it to say, you turn into a tree.

    Given the history of the class, and the fact it’s for a class based around transformation, this should be no surprise. 😛

    Want more? Wait for whoever is doing the Warden. I’m not sure who this is, but there will be links when the articles go up next week.

    Graham´s last post: I have a PHB2 and you don’t!

  45. It seems like a lot of people don’t like the warden. From the preview he doesn’t seem “that” bad. Does he improve in later levels.

  46. @Hadley –

    It’s… a specific flavour that won’t be liked by everyone.

    I like the concept, though I don’t see myself playing one much. There are definitely some cool Warden powers, and they have a very effective marking ability.

    The Warden will actually be talked about more on the 13th by ChattyDM, if you can wait that long.

    Graham´s last post: I have a PHB2 and you don’t!

  47. I endorse all of Graham’s answers here 🙂

    For the Warden, Blumpkin got to play one at New York Comic Con and really dug it. I think double saving throws is pretty cool by itself.

  48. Is it possible to summon like 12 creatures all active at the same time in a given encounter?

  49. lol, I doubt it, but I don’t see why it would not be possible… odds are that even if you could, only one (two, maybe three at most for a daily) would attack or move on any given turn.

    at least, that’s the way I figure it would go in 4e.

    MacGuffin´s last post: The terrible truth

  50. @wes and MacGuffin

    Let’s just say you’re both right.

    You can summon as many creatures as you have summoning powers (which will never be 12, but could be 4 or more).

    But they have no actions of their own. You use your own actions to command them. So you can (usually) only have 3 or 4 doing anything on your turn, and not all can be attacking.

    That said, if you look at the Druid summons (Primal Power preview in Dragon magazine recently), many of them have instinctive actions. So, for instance, if you summon a boar, it will charge the nearest chargeable enemy on your turn, unless you tell it to do something else. (Other ones may attack, just move to the target, move to an ally, etc.) So you could theoretically just blow all your daily powers, summon 4 beasts, and let them go wild while you did other things. This may even be a good idea, in some (not all) circumstances.

    The Invoker summons, on the other hand, are more controlled. They stand there until given direction, and have more commands that they could be given. So while not as many will be “active” at once, they’ll be in better formation and not acting by GM prerogative.

    Graham´s last post: The PHB2 Druid – Nature’s Schizophrenic


  1. […] stuff, too.  I have a couple of article ideas lined up, including some collaborative stuff with Critical Hits, but I’ll also take […]

  2. […] join my voice to those who already have started bragging posting about having received pre-market copies of the Dungeons […]