Once again, Wizards has proven that teaming up with other premier game companies to produce fantastic books pays off. With the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, players in Faerun will receive everything they need to adventure across the western shores of the Forgotten Realms.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first. Am I tired of every single book since release being about The Forgotten Realms? Yes, yes I am. I’d have rather seen an Ansalon Adventurer’s Guide, or a Khorvaire Adventurer’s Guide? Yes I would. This doesn’t take away from how impressive the book is, simply a statement that I need them to start spending more time in different worlds.
So! What’s in this book? It’s split between a campaign guide and a player’s resource, making it useful for anyone at the table.
The campaign guide section looks very similar to the campaign guides to 3rd and 4th edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Guides, but on a smaller scale. Rather than spend a few pages focused on a far-flung region of Faerun that no one will ever adventure in, it keeps the focus along the Sword Coast, cutting down the page count dramatically. While this is fine for those of us who have previous editions of the Campaign Guide, in order for us to use it to flesh out those rare occasions where we need to send our players to Mughom, players new to D&D with 5e may wonder about the other regions of the continent, particularly because all of the adventures so far have focused on the Sword Coast. Overall, though, the in-depth look at the gods, cities and history of the Sword Coast is very useful, and will make great reference material for further adventures set in the region.
The player’s section features new things for all classes, and new racial variants for established races. Deurgar and Deep Gnomes are now playable races, which will make one of my players very happy (she’s playing a deep gnome now), while another one of my players is less happy (his character hates Deurgar).
The new class features are fantastic, giving bards 12 new musical instruments and 3 new colleges. Druids have 3 new circles, clerics can now worship the god of magic (which one of my players did last campaign with a cross-classed cleric/wizard), and monks get a whole 6 new monastic orders! Rangers get a little flavor information, but not much other than that, which is disappointing, and all the other classes get one or two other things. Many of the new spells are reminiscent of my favorite class in 4e, the Spellsword. You can now have spellswords of your very own with Booming Blade, Green Flame Blade and Sword Burst!
The book also features twelve new backgrounds, giving players a much bigger sandbox to build their characters from. The art throughout is nice, and features fantastic writing.
Should you pick up this book? If you’re playing in the Sword Coast? Absolutely. If you’re interested in new character options, probably. Check it out and let me know what you thought of it!