Thursday, April 12, 2018

Review: For Coin and Blood

I remember hearing vaguely about For Coin & Blood some time ago, but it seemed to pass me by before I got a chance to investigate. Then Diogo Nogueira, author of Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells and Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells, made mention of it on social media. And when Diogo endorses a game, there's a really good shot that I'm going to like it.

So, I googled For Coin & Blood and started investigating. Well, what I found was an awesome little game made by a passionate creator. Like my own The Hero's Journey (and obviously White Star), FCB is built on the Swords & Wizardry White Box chassis. It draws heavy inspiration from a more grim and gritty side of fantasy, clearly influenced by works such as The Black Company and The First Law series' of novels. By combining and tweaking White Box, material from several third party supplements, throwing in a heaping helping of evocative art, and excellent production values Gallant Knight Games has managed to produce a gem of a game.

While I'm not familiar with the fiction mention above, huge credit to the creators of FCB for creating a game that oozes dark fantasy. In fact, I was a bit jealous as I read through the book because I immediately thought "This would be great to run a White Box: Game of Thrones style game," which is something I had always hoped to write myself. Well, Gallant Knight Games beat me to it and good on them! The material is so evocative that it inspired me to pick up the first book in The Black Company series of novels.

So, what separates For Coin & Blood from traditional fantasy roleplaying games? Well, for starters it runs on the presumption that the player characters are not heroes. There are no holy protectors or knights in shining armor here, folks. But, what elevates this above the tired trope of "you play the villains," is that For Blood & Coin presents players and narrators with the opportunity to play characters who are complex and nuanced. No alignments, no archetypes. These are characters who are certainly self-serving, but are still capable of heroism if they so choose. The complexities of characters like Arya Stark or Jaime Lannister are right at home in this game -- and that's awesome!

Beyond fantastic, heavily shadowed black and white line art, the most evocative feature of the game are its classes. No paladins, fighters, or bards here folks. Sellswords, Blackguards, and Assassins rule the day These characters are tarnished by their own sins and willingness to do horrible things, but aren't mustache twirling villains. They're just willing to do what needs to be done when others aren't willing to get their hands dirty. That's something that's refreshing and pretty damned unique in the OSR, separating it from the more heroic games like The Hero's Journey or pulp stylings of White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game.

Author Alan Bahr grabs hold of plenty of open source third party material then tweaks it until he's given it a new, but dingy and tainted coat of paint and created something all his own. There is plenty of familiar material here, but its all modified to the grimdark mood. A few areas of note include his adversaries section, the small tweaks to the player character classes, and rules for player characters running a criminal organization.

For Blood & Coin runs under the assumption that all player characters and most adversaries are human. There are no rules included for playing non-human characters and the bulk of adversaries included in this book are mundane. This creates the implication that magical creatures (and by extension magic itself) is rare and dangerous. This helps add to the atmosphere of the material as well as keeping the page count down. A handful of fantastic creatures are included, but that only helps to accentuate their rarity in my opinion.

This is a deadly game. Characters begin play with more hit points than other White Box-style games, but gain very, very as they increase in level. In fact, it's likely that a critical hit will kill even a 10th level character outright. Again, this adds to the grimdark feel of the material and in addition will force player characters to think beyond the "beat it till XP comes out" mentality that too often plagues fantasy roleplaying games. Each class also features abilities that are familiar tropes from the traditional fighter/cleric/wizard (called sellsword, priest, and magus in this game) dynamic, but takes the time to spice up these core three into something that feels genuine to the setting material. Four additional classes (assassin, blackguard, cutpurse, and knight) round out player character options. Each is just different enough to have its own unique feel, but isn't bloated with extra, unnecessary rules.

In the final pages of the rules, Bahr includes rules for player characters running and joining criminal organizations. Based on Swords & Wizardry Chivalry, the author has taken the concepts found in that book and given them a new and wonderful spin that (yet again) reinforces the themes and tone of the grimdark fantasy genre. Even as someone who originally wrote Chivalry, I found Bahr's tweaking of my original concept to be absolutely wonderful and refreshing.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the inclusion of a 7th Ability Score: Infamy. A character's deeds and misdeeds have a huge impact on the game and this form of measuring a character's reputation provide a more complex and dynamic roleplaying experience that the more traditional alignments used in most games. In fact, alignments have been completely jettisoned in For Coin & Blood, and that's a good thing in this context.

Pound for point, point for point, For Coin & Blood is my go-to grimdark fantasy roleplaying game. In fact, grabbing it has actually saved me money because I've purchased a copy in lieu of Warhammer or Shadow of the Demon Lord. My affection for White Box-based games is well known and this is takes that original edition style of game into a new and wonderful direction by presenting a game that offers opportunities for complex, morally ambigious storytelling not often actively encouraged in the OSR. I can't wait to see where Bahr takes the game line next.

For Coin & Blood can be found  on RPGNow & DriveThruRPG in PDF and print-on-demand versions. PoD is in digest form, with a black and white interior, though it can be ordered on color quality paper for a higher quality product -- which I'd recommend. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Frustration and Focus

The past three months have been tough on a personal front, with ongoing issues regarding a family member's health and a rapid fire series of home ownership issues. I've not been able to do any writing of real substance and even had to turn down a freelance job I very much wanted to take. After being displaced from my home for almost four months, I'm finally back home and ready to turn my attention to work again.

But, the problem is that I've got so many projects in a partially completed state that I'm at a loss of where to start. I've got the following projects in various states being drafted and can't bring myself to focus on any particular one in order to bring it to completion.

Saga of the White Box: A stand-alone White Box variant drawing from Norse mythology as a primary focus, particularly the Poetic and Prose Eddas.

White Knights: A stand-alone White Box variant focused on telling stories set during the Crusades and focused on playing crusader knights.

Rad Box: A stand-alone White Box variant dealing with the post-apocalypse genre.

Cybermancer: An homage to and rules clean-up of Shadowrun, particularly the 1st and 2nd ed versions.

Untold Adventures: A Jamesification of B/X D&D and Labyrinth Lord.

Swords of Bulsara: An original system sword-and-planet RPG.

White Star: Lightspeed: A supplement for White Star: Galaxy Edition focusing on starships and space travel.

Heroes of Amherth: A conversion of The Chronicles of Amherth to The Hero's Journey.

I'm usually not this scatter-brained. In fact, I usually hyper-focus on a single project and plow through it at a pretty good clip. But each of these products is sitting in a drafted state, some as much as 50+ pages and now I can't just freakin' pick one and go. No real point or statement to this blog entry, I suppose -- just venting my frustration.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Chasing (Dungeons and) Dragons

A large part of the appeal of the OSR is built on nostalgia. Players look to relive those halcyon days of their gaming youth. Simpler rules for simpler times. Yes, there's a lot to be said from a theory and design point of view for a minimalist take on rules design, but I think to deny the wistful gaze into the past we often feel when playing these games is foolish. 

The past few months have been very rough for me on a personal level. I won't go into detail, because that's not what this blog is about. I genuinely long for the simpler times in my life. For the days when I got home from school, pulled out my Rules Cyclopedia and my graph paper and just went at it for hours on end. It was a simpler time. Now, I'm an adult. I have the responsibilities and concerns of an adult. The OSR lets me at least remember those simpler times, to hold a time capsule of my own youth bound up in a  print-on-demand cover.

But somehow, I can't go home again. Instead of ignoring or house ruling something and going with it, I break it all down to its smallest parts and try to figure it out. Analyze, study, play test. It's something it never was back in my youth: It's work.

I was looking at my bookcase today when this all hit me. I own physical copies of several versions of old school D&D or versions that would qualify as retro-clones: Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry Complete, Swords & Wizardry White Box, White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Adventures Dark and Deep, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Basic/Expert D&D, Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Rules Cyclopedia, and a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting. Hell, I even wrote one myself: The Hero's Journey Fantasy Roleplaying. I stopped counting once I hit the teens.

Why? Whenever I look at my shelf, I always default to either Labyrinth Lord, White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game, or The Hero's Journey. So why do I keep buying retro-clones? I'm not a collector by any measure. Part of it, I know, is a way to peek into the minds of other game designers. But I can do that just as easily with a PDF. Part of it is also, undoubtedly, a desire to show support for other publishers with my wallet. We're all in it together, after all.

But as I starred at that shelf, I knew the real answer. I'm chasing that twelve year old kid I used to be. Problem is, I just can't leave well enough alone. I can't just game. It's become work. It's become this kind of ceaseless quest to find the perfect game that will somehow whisk me away to junior high -- and I'm not sure that's possible anymore.

I often wonder if it would be best to cut myself off. To simply select a game and use it as my singular go-to -- at least in terms of running games. Yet somehow, I always hold myself back from doing just that. Maybe it's because I'm not twelve anymore, and I never will be again.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

For Love of Basic D&D

I'm a Swords & Wizardry White Box guy. That's pretty obvious. I love to design using that set of core mechanics, as is evident from Barrel Rider Games' White Box line of products and the creation of White Star. I think it's a system with infinite possibilities due to its simplicity and the cleaner, more modern design brought to it by current OSR creations like White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game. In short, it fits like a glove. It just clicks in my mind.
    

 

But believe it or not, it's not my favorite D&D-style system to play. My favorite system to play is Rules Cyclopedia. It's a big, bold book chock full of clunky, archaic rules. From the perpetually confusing Weapon Mastery rules, to the never-once-in-my-life-have I used Seige Warfare rules, to the "who the hell ever reaches 36th level?" Immortal rules. But, by God is that book full of potential. I believe it's the greatest single-volume fantasy RPG ever published. In that tiny font, 3 column layout, my imagination (both as a young boy and as an old grog) soars. Maybe it was because it came out when I was just the right age. Maybe it was the art. Maybe it was hiding away in those pages after a bad day at school. Hell, I don't know. But I know that the Rules Cyclopedia is when I realized I was going to play RPGs for the rest of my life.
  

  

As most reading this blog know, Wizards of the Coast has made the Rules Cyclopedia available in both softcover and hardcover print-on-demand formats now. I'll get my hell mittens. But here's the real kicker: There's some seriously awesome print on demand support for Basic D&D these days. In addition to the RC, they've got the DMR2 Creature Catalogue, B1: In Search of the Unknown, B2: Keep on the Borderlands, and the Hollow World Box set (along with a few other more obscure products and a few of the Known World Gazatteers) available as print-on-demand. Never did I ever think I'd see the day.

That means the Rules Cyclopedia and Basic D&D will be around as long as print-on-demand is around. I guess the game itself finally reached 36th level and ascended to Immortality.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

State of the Halfling 2018

2017 has been a helluva a year for me, and not in a good way. I've had some pretty major developments in my personal life that have forced me to sacrifice time previiously spent working on writing. It's not hyperbolic to say that things in 2017 have been life-altering for me, and in most cases not for the better. 2018 came crashing in with a swift kick in the nuts for the ol' halfling, so there's no calm in sight.

So, with that in mind I wanted to give folks an idea of what's on the docket for 2018 when it comes to Barrel Rider Games.

First & Foremost: White Star: Galaxy Edition is still going to be released in Print-on-Demand on both OBS and Lulu in hardcover and softcover formats. We had some large formatting corrections to make based on the first set of proofs received, and are upgrading to premium paper for the OBS release. Sorry for the delay. Those who have purchased the PDF will receive a coupon for a discount reducing the price to equate with the Print + PDF combo.

Cybermancer: Cybermancer is billed as Fantasy Cyberpunk Role-Playing in the Retro-Future, and it is currently being drafted. It's a retro-homage to old school cyberpunk RPGs we all know and love. It's basically the "big" project for 2018.

Other Projects: I have a slew of other products in development, all in different states of conception. These include Saga of the White Box, Heroes of Amherth, Rad Box: Post-Apocalyptic White Box Roleplaying, several small White Box supplements in the style of White Box Omnibus, Compendium, Gothic, and Arcana.

Because of the changes in my life and the new obligations created, I am no longer providing release dates for products. Project goals might be stated, I can't commit to hard release dates at the moment. My current situation no longer allows for committed time to focus on writing and what time I am given could be immediately consumed by this new personal development, and without notice.

Currently, getting the doors closed on White Star: Galaxy Edition is of the utmost importance and is my largest focus. I want to get it done and out there for everyone to enjoy. I'm genuinely proud of it and want folks to enjoy it at their gaming table for years to come.

Here's to hoping 2018 is a bit gentler and softer to the Barrel Rider, but given the way it's started I'd better armor up.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Review: Midlands Low Magic Sandbox Setting

I've spoken before of Low Fantasy Gaming and its fantastic blend of OSR simplicity and 5th Edtiion mechanics. Seriously. It's good. If you don't have it, grab it. Well, +Steve Grod  (aka Stephen Grodzicki) is at it again with Midlands Low Magic Sandbox Setting. It is currently available as a PDF for $10 on DriveThru and RPGNow. That's usually my breaking point for a digital product, but Steve was kind enough to provide me with a review copy before I even knew it had been released. Even at the price point, I feel like MLMS is practically a steal.




It's a massive product, clocking in at 365 pages and is billed as "a low magic, low prep, customisable sandbox in a 'points of light' medieval fantasy realm" and that's exactly what it is. The region, known as the Midlands, is described in several broad locations. The vast majority of this is wilderness and it is described in the text and repeated in the details of the flora and fauna to be very dangerous. The few settlements are given brief descriptions, a few key locations, along with backgrounds and stat lines for a few major NPCs. In everything, the Midlands are described in terms of adventure hooks. This is a setting that begs to be used. It's not a static painting meant to be looked upon or held some kind of sacred "canon." The player characters will change the world simply by their actions, and that's clearly by design. I feel this is key to campaign setting books, and its nice to see an author who is willing to pass on their creation onto gamers and give them the freedom to run wild without any kind of implication of what is "allowed."

Given that Low Fantasy Gaming has no clerics or divine magic, it was a pleasant surprise to find a fully detailed pantheon tied to the Midlands. I found this refreshing and a true insight by the author that humanity's belief in the divine in the real world is not defined by witnessing miracles at the hands of Clerics or Paladins, but is part of their natural desire to explain why things happen in the universe - to explain the unexplainable. These religions, even without spell-slinging Clerics, still impact culture and society wherever they are found. This kind of real-world mentality really strength to LFG's "low fantasy" element. It gives the setting a real grounding.

Magic is also given a low fantasy treatment. Even more so than the LFG core book, MLMS is a book that hammers home the fact magic is something man was not meant to know. It is dangerous, uncontrollable, and will inevitably lead practitioners to ruin. Magic items are rare to the point that no such thing as a Sword+1 in MLMS - each magic item is unique and was created for a purpose and was likely the product of an long lost era spoken of only in myth and legend. Magic and magic items in MLMS are, well, magical -- as they should be.

While MLMS could easily be seen as system neutral in terms of using the setting, it does have a few goods specific to Low Fantasy Gaming. Three new classes are introduced: Artificer, Monk, and Ranger. The Ranger is the stand-out here, feeling most tied to the material found within this book and they have a true rugged wilderness tracker vibe to them. They feel... dangerous. The Monk is serviceable without being too Wuxia in its stylings, but I admit I'm not generally a huge fan of the class in general so I might be giving this incarnation the short shrift. The Artificer is a cool concept, but feels unevenly written. Some of its abilities are thematic and cool, like the use of black powder weapons and alchemical solutions, while others feel a bit silly like chaintooth weapons (i.e. chainsaw additions). Still, you could pick and choose these individual abilities and it would be easy enough to disallow that which isn't appropriate to a given campaign.

Where the player options really shine are in the Gear Packs and Party Bonds sections. Gear Packs are class-based packages of predetermined equipment for starting characters. Choose a melee weapon, a ranged weapon, a set of armor, and a gear pack and you're off to the races. Party Bonds establish how the party knew each other before a campaign began, and both quick and surprisingly thematic to the material found in MLMS.

There's a short bestiary chapter which is primarily composed of monsters tied to the specifics of the Midlands setting. They're few enough in number to feel unique, but not so many as to feel as though the setting is populated only by these specific monsters. There is also a small section on designing your own monster. Useful stuff for the GM, but nothing unexpected when it comes to supplements like this.

The GM Tools chapter includes variant initiative methods, a really fun random NPC generator and a magnificent series of random encounter tables that really highlights elements of the setting established in previous chapters of the book. I was pleasantly surprised that "random encounter" did not mean "combat encounter" in these charts, as there is no implication of required violence, nor is there any attempt to "balance" these encounters to the level of the player characters. The rest of the chapter is filled with more random charts including tavern generator, name generator, city street name generator, even bar menu generator - but the real shining random table in this chapter is the Regional Event generator. The Regional Event generator details an event that happens every few months or after a year or so that impacts the setting as a whole. Things the PCs are necessarily involved in, but will likely impact their lives: The death of a king, the rise of a supposed prophet, things like that. It gives the Midlands a real living, breathing quality - something that remains present through the entire supplement.

With all this content, we still haven't got to the meat of MLMS: Adventure Frameworks. This chapter includes 50 adventure frameworks , which aren't as thin as random encounters but are designed to be as easy to implement and provide an evening's worth of adventure with absolutely minimal prep. For GMs with no prep time or when your players head off in an unexpected direction, they're an absolute god sent. Each adventure framework is tied to a location type (city, swamp, forest, etc), and provides several hooks and rumors to draw the PCs in. From there, the framework provides a series of linked encounters that will easily cover a full night of adventure. And there's 50 of them. That's enough to run multiple campaigns without ever running the same framework twice. Each framework runs five or more pages and includes around a dozen encounters. Many have matching keyed mapped for those encounters. Given that much of the inspiration for LFG is in the episodic pulps of early sword and sorcery fiction, this fits style of the game quite well and feels like a natural way to run it. Adventure Frameworks cover about 200 pages of this book.

Finally, MLMS's final pages include an index for easy reference of the material contained therein. This useful, but often overlooked touch is always nice.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't discuss the art. MLMS is filled with black and white line art and extensive maps of several locations. Grodzicki makes use of several pieces of stock art by many different artists, but it never feels disparate. This book is packed with visual appeals and there's rarely a page in the entire thing that's absent of art. The maps are both easy to use and visually appealing, which is an important balance, and vary between traditional top-down view and isometric.


Midlands Low Magic Sandbox Setting is a worthy successor to Low Fantasy Gaming. Its over 350 pages of content provide enough material for years of game play, using LFG or any other OSR game out there and for those who are using with LFG the new classes are a nice touch. While I was given a copy by Steve for review and I have trouble with a $10 price point for most PDFs, had I bought this with my own cash, I certainly would have felt like I got a deal. The most ringing praise I can provide is that Midlands Low Magic Sandbox Setting makes me want to run an LFG game physically, at a table, with my local players. Few products do that these days, and so far the LFG product line is batting a thousand. I can't wait for the physical release of this product and will be snapping it up as soon as its available. You can grab it for yourself on RPGNow and DriveThru.



Monday, November 20, 2017

Review: Xanathar's Guide to Everything

In spite of not actively playing or running a lot of D&D 5th Edition, I have followed the game line and think that, over all, it's a damn fine outing by Wizards of the Coast. I've been very pleased with their model thus far of releasing only three or four books per year, with the majority of these being long term, large scale campaign adventures. With the exception of the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, there haven't been a whole lot of fiddly bits added on to the material found in the Player's Handbook.

Well, Xanathar's Guide to Everything changes that. Clocking in at 192 pages, it's an even split of player focused material, DM focused material, and new magical spells or items. When this book was announced, I was very, very nervous. Was the clean, easy to digest 5e I'd come to respect going away? Were we going to begin that slippery slope into countless and ever more ridiculous character paths ala 3.X's seemingly infinite spread of prestige classes? In a few more years was I going to need three, four, or even half a dozen different books to make a character that followed the seemingly unavoidable power creep that always seems to slither its way into D&D a few years into each edition?



Well... sorta.

The first 70-some pages of XGtE is new Paths for each class. Fifth Edition D&D already offers a dozen classes and each individual class has two or three paths within it, as presented in the Player's Handbook. The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide offers a handful of others, but their very specific to Forgotten Realms and number no more than half a dozen (as I recall at the moment). To my personal tastes, that's over three dozen options for focusing and defining your character. I don't need, or want more. But, XGtE has 'em because players like an infinite number of options, even if they know in their hearts that these options will never be explored.

That's not to say their all bad. College of the Sword (Bard), Drunken Master (Monk), Cavalier (Fighter), and Swashbuckler (Rogue) are all brimming with flavor. But several just feel... well.. thin on substance, but long on style. Hexblades (Warlocks), Horizon Walkers (Rangers), and Oath of Conquest (Paladin) all find their origins in third edition with the Hexblade class, Horizon Walker prestige class, and Blackguard prestige class. Sure they look cool, but I don't feel like their presence really explores these classes properly. They feel included for the sake of filling up the corners, as it were.

Second, we have a This is Your Life section which consists of a collection of charts where you can randomly generate your character's motivation, ideology, flaws, and background. While this is good for players looking to flesh out their backstory, it's also excellent for DMs looking to make NPCs on the fly. So, sure, it feels kinda standard to have this sort of thing in books of this type these days - but with good reason, I think.

Next, for players we have some new feats. Now, before you go running in terror like I was inclined to do, I have to remind you: Feats are entirely optional in 5e. This is repeated over and over and over again. Also, there's all of two pages of new feats, and all of them are tied to a character's race. They're solid, with both strong mechanical benefits and a flavorful flourish.

The book then moves behind the screen to the Dungeon Master section. It opens with some clarifications on things like simultanious actions, falling damage, sleeping in armor, and other areas of the game that are either ill defined or can easily bog down play if a group decides to debate such things. Having these clarifications helps keep the game moving, but goes against my general philosophy of "Rulings, not rules." Still, worth having if your group is more interested in the details or you're looking for guidance as a new DM.

Now we get into a long exploration of identifying magic items and spells, designing encounters (and by encounters, it seems implicit that they mean combat encounters), and trap design. I was pleasently surprised to see quite a few pages devoted to in-game down time. What exactly are the players doing on the days/weeks/months between adventures? How does this impact play? What if trouble arises because of their downtime activities. I was really pleased with this section and given the general nature of what's described here, it can easily be cannibalized to any d20-based fantasy game. Spend all your time between adventures simply lounging about drinking? Awesome, recover some lost ability score points. Want to hang out and help the local clergy? Fantastic, you get 50% off the next few spells cast to aid you by a cleric of that church, but watch out - you might get drawn into the politics of the faithful. Want to be a pit fighter? You go right ahead, you'll earn renown and glory -- but you might get your ear ripped off in the process.

Magic items get the full court press in XGtE. From crafting them, to rewarding them, to quite a few new ones - there's a lot to chew on. What I like most here is the fact most of the magic items in this book are very, very minor. The Hat of Wizardry, for example, lets you cast a wizard cantrip that you don't know. But if you fail your Arcana check, you can't try again until you rest. Useful, not terribly overpowering, and offering a nod to the old days of Saturday morning cartoons. A personal favorite is the Cloak of Billowing. As a free action, once per round, you can make the cloak billow out behind you so that you look cool. No real mechanical effect - you just look bitchin'.

New spells? Yep. They're there. You knew they were going to be there. I won't go into it, because it's your standard list of "filling in gaps from stuff we had to cut from the PHB" to "WTF? This is strange. Why'd they include that?"

My favorite part of the entire book is Appendix A: Shared Campaigns. It's basically a few pages on social etiquette at the table between players, suggestions for running a Shared Campaign like those found in the D&D Adventurer's League (or as some in the OSR call this style of play, a Westmarches campaign). It gives recommendations on character creation, gear, simplified rules for rewarding level advancement and magic items. It's very much the "Rulings not rules" section of the book and I thought they packed a lot into 3 pages. In particular, I love the "PHB + 1 Supplement" rule when making a new character. By this rule, for Shared Campaigns, you can only make your character using the PHB and optional material from a single other sourcebook. So if you take Bladesinger from Sword Coast, well then you can't take some Elven racial feat from XGtE. It may seem a little arbitrary, but the amount of book keeping that's eliminated by doing this is well worth it in my opinion.

Finally we get charts with metric boatload of NPC names. Useful, but it does feel like filler.

All in all Xanathar's Guide to Everything really does have a bit of everything. You're certain to find something useful in here, whether you're a player or a DM. It ain't cheap, though, and retails for $50, though online retailers often have it cheaper if you don't have an FLGS. Is it worth the price of admission? Well, I'm not really sure. I grabbed mine at a hefty discount from an online retailer, but seeing as I don't actively play a lot of 5e at the moment, had I paid MSRP I'd feel a bit slighted. That being said, if I was actively playing in or running a 5e campaign on a weekly basis, then I think Xanathar's Guide to Everything has enough meat on its eye stalks to make a worthy purchase.