Yesterday afternoon, my Amazon.com order came in. I’m a few books behind in the WotC release of books, so I ordered the Player’s Handbook Races: Dragonborn supplement, as well as Underdark. I’ve only cursorily glanced over them, but here’s my initial thoughts.
Dragonborn is a pretty solid book, with some great flavor material. Unfortunatley, most of the material would only be useful for people playing in the implied setting, as it has lots of references to Io and such.
On the plus side, I plan on writing up my own campaign world soon, using a lot of the elements of the implied setting, so I’ll be able to use a lot of this.
For 10 bucks, it’s worth picking up, whether you’re going to be playing a Dragonborn or not.
One beef I have, is that the book feels like a chapter in one of the Power books (Arcane Power, Divine Power, etc). I think this would be much better served if they had come out with a larger book called Player’s Handbook Races, with all the races of PHB 1. You could follow that up with Player’s Handbook 2 Races, and so on. The problem, I think, is the same as the Power books. As the books go on, you’re going to get better and better supplements, leaving the others in the dirt. Eventually, the Dragonborn book will pale in comparison to the Eladrin book they’re sure to someday release.
Underdark is a fantastic book, simply from the initial glance I’ve given it. It’s definitely worth getting if you ever have any interest in running anything remotely underground. There’s a wealth of monsters, encounters and more, as well as fairly fleshed out locations and some gorgeous pictures.
I agree with NewbieDM though, a lack of maps is an issue.
I cringed a little when I saw the picture of Torog, god of the Underdark, in the back of the book. In the past, my players have encountered shrines to him, but they were always to a frog-like entity, so I wasn’t expecting the image they have for him, a tortured and flayed human, weeping with wounds. I’m not saying that Wizards shouldn’t depict him this way (I would love to watch my players recoil in horror when they realized they’d have to face him), but I’ll definitely be keeping this book on the top shelf away from toddler’s eyes. That’s a scarring image.
Definitely pick the both of these books up to fill out your collection. You won’t be disappointed.