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Official Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Unearthed Arcana Hardcover – August, 1985


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: TSR; First Edition edition (August 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880380845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880380843
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 25 customer reviews
It's sure to add an entirely new level to your campaigns!
Kent David Kelly
People were very happy to see new character classes (such as cavalier) as well as expanding on existing ones, and upgrading their previously diminished status.
Todd7
This is the book that changed a casual passtime into an obsession for me.
Psychedelic Cowboy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Psychedelic Cowboy on March 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is the book that changed a casual passtime into an obsession for me. It adds a new layer of depth and magic to the D&D system. It was here that Dark Elves became player characters, the barbarian was introduced. Paladins became the horsemen they always should have been. Here are advanced spells, weapons & armor, character classes (thief-acrobat, higher level druids, cavaliers, and more), and races. At last you could be more defined that simply "elf" or "dwarf." This book loosened up the system a bit and allowed for player individuality and choice. I love this book so much that I still prefer to play 1st edition D&D-- though I have played many many other systems-- because this book allows for so much freedom and creativity.
I KNOW this book is good, because someone always ends up stealing my copy (the true mark of a book's greatness), but I always replace it-- and it's worth whatever I have paid for it.
It's so good, I think it would make interesting reading for a non-gamer. I gave it five stars because they don't allow six.
Highest possible recommendation.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kent David Kelly on May 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is the final piece in the puzzle that is the AD&D rules - Gary Gygax's last major contribution to the game system, before the diluted 2nd edition came out, is displayed in its full glory here. It's obvious that this is a work for intermediate and advanced players, since some of the races and classes here (and the attribute-rolling system!) are over-powered for easier, beginning campaigns. In addition to the dark races (such as the Drow, Duergar, and Svirfneblin), and the advanced classes (such as the Hierophant, Acrobat, Cavalier and my fave, the Barbarian), there's also new weapons, hundreds of new spells, hundreds of new magical items, the deities of the demi-humans, and much more. It's sure to add an entirely new level to your campaigns!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William M. Wilson on June 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My two D&D loves are AD&D 1e and D&D4e, though I've played both 2e and 3.*e over the decades, along with probably a dozen or so other games. I've run an AD&D game within the past few years, and it's still just a blast, and a good break from the more mechanically-oriented 3e and 4e. While I was catching up on my AD&D stuff, I ran across Unearthed Arcana.

And ... hm. I remember loving this book in the 80's. It's still got some great stuff in it. On the other hand, it's also clear that the expected power level of characters took a huge jump between 1979 and 1985. I was a munchkin growing up, and this book indulged my munchkinism more than any book outside Dragonlance Adventures.

There's some great stuff in here, like Weapon Specialization (to an extent) and a grappling/pummeling system that doesn't require a few weird percentile tables. And the polearm illustrations are fun; no longer do you have to wonder what a Bec de Corbin looks like! But outside that... well, let's take a look.

* For starters, there's a new dice rolling system which not only guarantees you get the class you want, but makes it extremely likely you'll have a 17 or 18 in your prime attribute. 1e is a bit too stingy with ability score modifiers for straight 3d6 rolls (hence the 4d6-drop-lowest-assign default rolling method), but this goes way too far in the other direction.
* There's broken races. How broken? Try "summon a huge earth elemental 1/week" broken. Try spell resistance broken. Svirfneblin and Drow way outclassed any of the other races in 1e, and with the expanded level advancement table, they really didn't have to pay for it.
* There's broken classes. The Barbarian and Cavalier are both much mightier than even the mighty Paladin.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dmitri M. A. Hubbard on June 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you are reading this review, and you want to play the new 4th Edition D&D, you have come to the wrong place.

Unearthed Arcana was written in 1985. I was about 10 years old and was playing AD&D, which consisted of the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manuals 1 and 2, and the Fiend Folio. That year however, Gary Gygax and Jeff Grubb decided to try to add a further dimension to the 1st Ed game.

This game not only adds dimensions, it adds a number of "fixes" to the game to raise problems that had come about from the initial books.

Problem 1 - the level limits for non-human characters were too low. This book addresses this by giving higher ability score characters higher limits. (GOOD)
Problem 2 - the fighter subclasses do not have distinct enough roles. This book separates the Paladin to become a subclass of Chavalier, and the Barbarian becomes a new class of fighter. Therefore, we have the "knight" style classes, Chavalier and Paladin, and the "warrior" classes - Ranger and Fighter, who get weapon specialisation, and the "tanking" brute class the barbarian. (GOOD)
Problem 3 - charisma is not physicial attractiveness, but personal magnetism. Solution - introduce (redundant) seventh attribute = Comeliness. (BAD)
Problem 4 - characters not heroic enough. Solution - make uber powerful characters who are rewarded for rolling high ability scores. Encourage players to cheat or do anything to raise ability scores. (BAD)

It appears that after Unearthed arcana, for all its great new spells, magic items, class changes, and variation of the races (now you can play a Drow = dark Elf, and history was never the same again) fuelled the creation of mega-powerful characters. Ability scores rise in importance.
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