D&D Essentials: Heroes of the Fallen Lands

October 20, 2010

Heroes of the Fallen Lands is an alternate Players Handbook with different takes on the classic 4 iconic classes- Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, and Thief. The rules remain solidly 4th Edition D&D rules – so rumors of “D&D 4.5” are pretty much off the mark – the small adjustments are identical to what you can find in the free Errata from the Wizards site.

The alternate builds have less choices a player has to make to get a working character, and less choices a player has to juggle in play. This makes it easier to jump in and easier to get to playing. It’s an excellent jump-in point for new players.

I think one of the pitfalls 4E fell into was the “trap of the hardcore” – although one of the initial goals was to reduce the amount of character building mastery that would be necessary, with the flood of supplements, they were effectively repeating 3E’s pattern of encouraging players to obsess over optimal choices in character generation rather than focus on play itself. Essentials is actually a really good step back in the right direction.

The book has a good chunk of rules – skills, some basics on combat and conditions, without covering everything. It’s enough for a person to play with, without having to master everything.

It’s a $20 softcover, in a smaller format that makes it easier to carry around. (Also, the character sheet is much better laid out and designed than the core 4E character sheet).

I’m thinking I’ll probably run 4E using these classes rather than the core book classes- it cuts down on the character generation time by a lot and helps shift players towards play, rather than “pre-play” as a focus.

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