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Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons) Hardcover – May 15, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Dungeons & Dragons
  • Hardcover: 159 pages
  • Publisher: Wizards of the Coast; 4th ed edition (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786960329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786960323
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #899,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By William M. Wilson on May 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's tough to get a good read on this book. It almost feels like a few underdark- and dungeon-themed articles and an editionless fluff book got sewn together into a single product. On the up side, the content here is solid. On the downside, it's of questionable value to both players and DMs; there's not enough of value for either to justify the full cover price. I also found it a tad unfocused... The player information is mostly underdark-oriented, rather than dungeon-crawly, as if it escaped from the upcoming Menzoberranzan supplement. [Edit: It appears that it very well might have, because Menzoberranzan is now an "editionless" supplement.]

Anyway, let's start with the good - the player stuff, which is found (mostly) in the front half of the book. As has become the norm, we begin with themes - 7, here, to be precise, in a mix of dungeon-focused and underdark-themed adventurers. Do we really need more themes? Ummm... No, not really. Are they still good to have? Sure! As long as they're good.

And these, fortunately, are good. They are generally fairly potent, mechanically, which is fine by me... Top of the potency list are the Bloodsworn, who get a slightly less-powerful Elven Accuracy at 1st, second-wind-based features at 5th, and initiative at 10th. Deep Delvers are also notable - they make up for some lackluster low-level features with a whammy - Blindsight - at 10th level. Trapsmiths are pretty cool too - they have evocative flavor, and an interesting off-turn Reaction attack which can pick up control effects. There's even a largely out-of-combat theme in the Treasure Hunter, but while their 10th level feature is interesting, it's overall kind of underwhelming.
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Format: Hardcover
Since the debut of Heroes of the Feywild, the bar has been set very high for subsequent 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Supplements. Can the Dungeon Survival Handbook meet the challenge?

The first sign that this is a different sort of book is the lack of the words "Player's Option" in the title. This book isn't just for players, and that lack of focus makes for some odd design choices. But the first chapter is all player goodness. Character themes include the bloodsworn (a single-minded slayer out for revenge), deep delver (specializing in subterranean survival), escaped thrall (a psychically-damaged and possibly insane survivor of eldritch torture), trapsmith, treasure hunter, and the uninspired Underdark envoy (bard-type) and Underdark outcast (rogue-type). All of these themes include optional powers and a sample character, sans stats. Why are these characters presented without stats? Is it assumed players will adopt the character or is it left for Dungeon Masters to use as a non-player character...in which case stats would have been useful?

The best part of the book includes new races: goblins, kobolds, and the hard-to-pronounce svirfneblin. It's interesting to see how 4th Edition handles the svirfneblin as a race, who have traditionally been very powerful opponents. The presentation seems balanced, with the opportunity to even summon earth elementals at higher levels.

Dungeon-Themed Powers follow next, an overview of powers grouped by different concepts. So for example, you might have powers from the Vault of the Drow. Curiously, there's no drow race. The exclusion is peculiar given that the skull-bodied spider symbol of the drow invasion is on the cover of the book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Want to create Kobold, Goblin and Svirfneblin characters and NPCs? Then this book is great to have for sure.

There are also some good tools listed, some other dungeon references and a way to do some random dungeon generations near the back which can be pretty useful in a pinch. There are themes that help more with dungeon and underground focused characters.

Overall some good info, but again it's not something that you HAVE to spend your hard-earned money on. If you have the extra cash and need some fluff for your games, go for it! Especially if you want to create characters using the above mentioned races.

-D
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Format: Hardcover
This book has a little bit for everyone (players and DMs), but not enough depth for either. Sort of like a hardcover magazine really.

What did I like? New races are always great. New items are fun, as is the companion section. Great for DMs new to D&D, as it incorporates some historical jumping off points and a dungeon construction walkthrough.

What didn't I like? Bloodsworn (a new theme) don't gain any benefit for hunting their sworn enemy. If your going to give me fluff (Dungeon Denizens), give me an "Ecology of" article, not a list of sidebars.

What more would I like to have seen? Monster variants (to accompany the fluff), Traps, and Encounters (interesting, stand alone, tactical locations).
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