Wizards of the Coast has recently released two book sets, and today we are taking a look at the Dungeons & Dragons: D&D Rules Expansion Gift Set. This is a four part set, all bundled together in a stunning cardboard slip case. It includes the previously released Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, alongside the initial release of the new Monsters of the Multiverse book. Slipped in with all of this Dungeons & Dragons goodness is a DM screen, so you’ll be super prepared for your next session!
The D&D Rules Expansion Gift Set includes content aimed towards both adventurers and Dungeon Masters, leaning towards the latter for on-going usage. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything will help players set up new and wonderful characters, with subclasses aplenty! From Creation Bards to Bladesinging Wizards a huge portion of the book is dedicated to subclasses.
A lot of these are going to be choices players make as they level, with minimal variations at first level. As per the rules written, players can change their subclass up to level 3, still keeping to their main class of course. These subclasses allow players to further customize their character towards a play style they prefer or want to bring out of an adventurer: be that Druids choosing if it’s starlight or fungi that they draw power from, through to a ranger that commands beasts as well as their bow.
The content for adventurers doesn’t stop there though with… wait for it… magical tattoos now a thing, alongside new spells and artifacts. These tattoos are only produced by special needles, coming with unique designs which the character must attune to, akin to attuning to a magical weapon. An instantly recognisable benefit of the awesome absorbing tattoo is that it will protect the bearer from specific damage types, based upon the inks colour. This is only the tip of the iceberg, so characters might want to get inked at every opportunity.
There’s some great stuff for DMs too though, with many ready to go puzzles. Not only are there over 10 puzzles included, they are fully designed with exactly what your players might stumble across item wise in a location and the handouts you’d want to pass to players. On top of this, they have difficulty ratings, helping the DM pick the ideal puzzle for the right moment in their story – be that a chamber with skulls or a mansion full of paintings. The concept of group patrons is also explored, and while DMs have been using guilds and group related perks for years it is great to see some officially expanded rules for it.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything also adds more subclass based choices into the mix for adventurers just starting out. From swashbuckling rogues to drunken master monks there’s plenty to choose from. One of my favorites, which is a must for my next character, is the Samurai fighter who can delay death at least for one extra turn – if not killed outright. This just sounds like it’ll be an epic story moment. Expanding these 25 subclasses further are new feats and backstories, which can help more varied characters to be crafted.
To help DMs out there are also some awesome traps, chance encounters and items included. As well as detailing some simple trap options, such as bear traps or poison needles, and complex traps, including paths of blades, the book gives hints and tips to designing traps of your own. Potentially more importantly, it then goes on to how to best place them into locations so they feel less shoehorned in. Xanathar’s Guide even touches on the times when the party would be doing nothing, with downtime activities. Want to visit a local fighting pit, well there are details to even participate, or perhaps just research a rare book you’ve found – there’s a potential complications table to lead the plot.
With Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything available separately, Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse is the shiny new book that will get DMs excited. This takes monsters, beasts, playable races and more from both Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, combining it into one new Dungeon Master’s book. Brimming full of content there are over 250 monsters to throw at adventurers, from demogorgons to froghemoths, and a lot in between! Some have even been updated since their initial unveilings to the world, with tweaks and changes to their stat blocks. In some cases, as with Kobolds this has seen one of their previously iconic skills removed in the form of Pack Tactics no longer listed, all in the name of balance.
Monsters of the Multiverse isn’t solely for DMs either though with 33 fantastical races, from Fairies to Sea Elves, detailed for player characters and NPCs alike. Coming with race specific traits, like the hooves of a centaur or rabbit like hop of the Harengon, there’s enough to get incredibly unique and new races of characters into your next D&D session. As with the likes of a lot of the Feywild races these aren’t necessarily new races, coming originally in The Wild Beyond The Witchlight. Still, it’s great to have such a range listed in one place – especially for those who haven’t got many of the other sourcebooks.
As almost expected with Wizards of the Coast combining two full books into one there have been some casualties. These range from simple variants of a monster not making the cut or lore elements left on the cutting room floor to entire monsters not being at DMs finger tips. It’s a shame to see that some of these have been shrugged aside, especially if looking to replace two books in your collection with this one.
The books in the set split the audience, offering some bits for players to utilize and the rest being for those running the games. Predominantly for players it’s creating characters, with new and epic sounding races, subclasses, traits and such that will see the books hitting the table, though with spells to flick through when leveling it’s not like they’d sit on the shelf after this. For Dungeon Masters these will sit on the table each game alongwith the Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual ready to check a rule, throw a puzzle or trap at adventurers and generally expand the multiverses of D&D.
(Editor’s Note: The Dungeons & Dragons: D&D Rules Expansion Gift Set was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The game is currently available from local board game stores! Find your local store here.)