Review of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything “Selections from DM’s tools”
Chapter 2 of XGE concerns additions to the 5e ruleset as well as some new items to assist the DM. Some are long and exhaustive sections, such as the encounter tables, and others are just short little paragraphs concerning small but interesting concepts. Most of these on their own are not enough to make an article, but together they can make a nice list of new features.
New rules for sleep include simplification on how a character awakes from unconsciousness, including loud noises, taking damage, or if another character takes an action to rouse them. Pretty straightforward and I don’t think too many people had a problem with this prior to XGE.
Next is something new and that is optional rules for sleeping in medium or heavy armor. If you finish a long rest wearing those you only regain a quarter of your hit dice and you don’t remove any levels of exhaustion. These rules are pretty brutal and I am glad they are optional. I think taking account of your players wearing and removing armor during a rest is a bit pedantic, but I bet there are some DMs and players out there who are looking for a more hardcore experience who would enjoy this limitation.
Being captured and tied up is a pretty common experience in DnD and XGE adds some additional rules to untie a knot. The creature who creates the knot makes an intelligence (sleight of hand) skill check (notice it is Int and not Dex!) and that sets the DC to untie the knot with an Int/sleight of hand check or a dex/acrobatics check. This is a good use of the skill with different abilities rules variant and makes a lot of sense when you consider that the strength of a knot is dependent on the knowledge of its creator and not their dexterity.
Adamantine is a rare and strong metal that makes a wonderful set of armor. In the DMG it is listed as an uncommon magic item that turns any critical hit against the wearer into a regular hit. This is a strong ability and will absolutely save your character’s life. XGE adds adamantine weapons to the game. If a hit is scored these special weapons always strike with a critical and make for an unbelievably strong item. Double damage at every hit and in my games we have a d100 table that the players roll on when they score a critical hit to add some flair and extra effects to make it special. Adamantine weapons cost 500gp more than usual and it makes no difference if it is made entirely of the metal or just coated with it.
Falling is pretty simple in 5e: for every 10 feet you fall you take 1d6 bludgeoning damage, up to a max of 20d6. XGE adds a couple of new options for falling creatures. The first is rate of falling. This assumes the character is falling from such a great distance that it takes more than one turn for the character to hit the ground. When you fall in such a manner, you instantly descend 500 feet. On your next turn if you are still falling you will fall an additional 500 feet at the end of your turn. This gives the character a chance to take an action, I’m assuming something to halt their descent or teleport somewhere else. Secondly it adds some rules for flying creatures who end up falling. A flying creature begins to fall if it is unable to move, is knocked prone, or if its speed is reduced to 0. To give a flying creature a better chance of surviving a fall than a non-flying creature, simply subtract the creature’s flying speed form the distance it fell before calculating damage. This gives them a chance to “glide” or otherwise maneuver in flight before actually impacting with the ground, assuming it is not unconscious or otherwise incapable of moving.
These short paragraphs are novel additions to the game, and even though none of these are necessarily huge impacts in terms of rule changes, together they create some new options for DMs to help run their games.