Old-school players will likewise be pleased, as the outdated AD&D rules system has been given a thorough overhaul. Gone are almost all the old restrictions on race and alignment. Halfling sorcerers, half-orc paladins, dwarf barbarians, and gnome monks are now possible. THACO, negative armor class, funky saving throws, inflated ability scores, heat-based infravision, and just about every other needlessly complex rule has been reworked into a faster, more consistent, and more fun system. Players can choose unique special abilities for their characters as they gain levels, which means that even two fighters of the same race and class can have very different abilities. The end result of all these changes is a dynamic game with more customized characters.
Almost every page has some form of new artwork, and the art almost always serves to explain a concept or illustrate a point. The book is filled with example montages that help to show the difference between human, half-elf, and elf, or relative size differences between creatures, or what the various levels of cover and concealment look like. These illustrations make the rules much more clear. The style of the artwork is consistent throughout the book and is a definite departure from older editions of AD&D. Instead of the classic medieval artwork of Larry Elmore, the new book has the spiky, leathery, Mad Max-meets-Renaissance look of the Magic: The Gathering card game.
We would have preferred less radical artistic changes, but we love everything else that Wizards of the Coast has done with Dungeons & Dragons. The rules are fast and clear, and the characters--including the new sorcerer class and the return of the monk, barbarian, and half-orc--are fabulous. If you're new to the D&D game, then this rule book is the perfect introduction. And if you're an old-school gamer who played D&D back in the day, then welcome to the new era of D&D. You won't want to go back. --Mike Fehlauer