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PHBR6 The Complete Book of Dwarves (2e)

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Battle axes and beards. Good companions when travelling underground. Handy with tools.
 
If that was your view of dwarves, you need The Complete Book of Dwarves. Discover 24 new character kits, new weapons, and new possibilities, including six dwarf subraces, new proficiencies, strongholds, origin myths, and a look at dwarven personalities.
 
After reading the The Complete Book of Dwarves, you may still look down on these short folk... but only to see them more clearly!
 
*****
 
Product History

The Complete Book of Dwarves (1991) by Jim Bambra was the first demi-human book in the AD&D 2nd ed. Complete series, expanding kits and character options by race instead of by class for the first time. The result was impressive: a comprehensive, interesting 128-page book covering racial attitudes and lifestyle, dwarven subraces, mining, all-dwarf campaigns, dwarven strongholds, examples of dwarven personalities, unique equipment, and the inevitable character kits that overlay regular class abilities. If you're curious about dwarven culture or are playing a dwarf in a 2e game, you're going to want this book.

Pick Your Sub-Race. We're so used to the plethora of character options in more recent editions of D&D that it's easy to forget that the various subraces had never previously been collected in one location for character creation. Duergar, deep, gully, sundered, hill, and mountain dwarves all became available for character races with this book. For anyone who's ever had a sniveling gully dwarf PC in their party, that's perhaps not necessarily a good thing, but it's hard to argue about options being a good thing for players.

Balance of Power. This book managed to avoid most of the power inflation that plagued some other books in this series. Racial abilities and disadvantages maintain balance, and it's unlikely that anyone is going to complain about the inherent powergaming uses of the proficiencies "fungi identification" or "pest control." 

Dwarf kits are divided between warrior kits (animal master, ace for hire, battlerager, clansdwarf, hearth guard, highborn, outcast, rapid response rider, and sharpshooter); priest kits (crafts priest, pariah, patrician, and ritual priest); thief kits (diplomat, entertainer, locksmith, pest controller); and multiclass kits (champion, temple guard, vindicator, ghetto fighter, trader, vermin slayer, and wayfinder). The kits' various special restrictions do a remarkably good job of balancing out special advantages granted by each kit.

The most problematic kit was the battlerager, an unstoppable magic-resistant juggernaut of a drunken dwarven warrior who was likely to turn on party members if all her enemies died too soon. It was a wise party that had a faster movement rate than their dwarven battlerager, for, as the book explains, "being a psychopathic killer with an axe is a special hindrance in itself."
 
It tells you everything you need to know about my own campaign at the time this book appeared that a battlerager was the first kit brought into the game; that character quickly became the most popular member of the party, and my players were arguing about who got to play him when the battlerager's player moved out of state.

It's also worth mentioning that the examples of dwarven personality in The Complete Book of Dwarves are particularly good. The "decadent," the "glory seeker," the "grumbler"... players are given examples of classic personalities.

This is a book that's recommended, and highly so. It's mechanically strong, well balanced, and fun to read. You could hardly ask for better.

About the Creators. Jim Bambra is a british game designer who has worked on over 20 RPG books for Star Wars d6, AD&D, Basic D&D, Torg, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Moving on to video games, he was head of design for MicroProse UK. He is currently an independent video game consultant from Bath England.

About the Product Historian

History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to kevin.kulp@gmail.com.
 
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Product Information
Author(s)
Pages
128
Edition
1.0
ISBN
1-56076-110-5
Publisher Stock #
TSR 2124
File Size:
39.81 MB
Format
Scanned image
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File Last Updated:
November 03, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on April 23, 2013.
Publisher Info
Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast
Publisher Average Rating