D&D 5E SCAG -- Worth it?

MrWildman

Explorer
I've noticed more threads and builds using SCAG content (spells & cantrips especially).
I tend to do sandbox/homebrew worlds, so the book didn't really register on my radar at first. But now I'm wondering . . . what's the consensus? Should I get the book for the cool new crunch (and the entertaining fluff, of course), or am I really not missing out on anything?
 

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KahlessNestor

Adventurer
It has some good new player options like the cantrips, Bladesingers, the dwarven berserkers, a new monk and sorcerer subclass. A few other things I might not be thinking of, like subraces (duergar and svirfneblin and half-elf and tiefling options). Even if you homebrew, the setting stuff could provoke some ideas.

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MrWildman

Explorer
Dwarven Berserkers?
Okay, now I'm intrigued. Are they like, a Barbarian variant?
Also, what options could they add to Half-Elf?
Hmmm . . . maybe the book is worth a second look after all, huh?
 

flametitan

Explorer
I believe the subclass is called the Battlerager. It's a barb subclass built around wearing a suit of spiked armour to do extra damage.
 


Lanliss

Explorer
I actually have the scag, so I will give a list of new race and class options.

Dwarf subrace: Duergar
Halfling subrace: Ghostwise
Gnome subrace: Svirfneblin (Deep Gnomes)
Half Elf variants, depending on their Elvin heritage
Tiefling Variants, with various fiendish abilities

Barbarian Path: Battlerager, Dwarf only by RAW, but that can be tossed
Wear spiky armor, throw your body at your enemies. Gain temp HP while raging.

Barbarian path: totem warrior
Bonus totems, Elk and Tiger

Cleric domain:Arcana
Magic God, get arcane spells in the domain list

Fighter Archtype: Purple Dragon Knight
Been told it is Warlord-esque

Monk: Way of the long death
Necromancer murder fists, deal necrotic damage and steal temp HP

Monk: Way of the sun soul
Become super saiyan, get ranged attack that levels the same as your martial arts.

Paladin: Oath of the crown
Very kingly, with oath spells like Command and Banishment.

Rogue: Mastermind
Also warlordy, good at disguise and battlefield control.

Rogue: Swashbuckler
Good at solo combat, uses CHA a lot.

Sorcerer: Storm
Pretty much what it sounds like. Get weather and lightning abilities.

Warlock: Undying patron
Necromantic Lich patron, with necromantic spell set.

Wizard: Bladesinger, Elf only by RAW, but that can be ignored
Fightery wizard, when Bladesinging(limited number of uses) add INT to AC.

A bunch of spells that do things, mostly useful things.


Also a bunch of lore and new backgrounds.
 
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As [MENTION=6801219]Lanliss[/MENTION] showed, it does have good crunch. It even has a chapter on how to use it outside of the Forgotten Realms. I would consider it worth it if you are interested in adding more to your game.
 


Even if you aren't using the Forgotten Realms, they've provided advice on how to use most of the new character options. The character options are:

Subraces
Gray Dwarves/Duergar
Ghostwise Halflings
Deep Gnome/Svirfneblin - You can get this for free from the Elemental Evil Player's Companion though
Half-Elf variants - Replace your two bonus skills with certain elf features depending on subrace (including drow and aquatic)
Tiefling variants - For tieflings that aren't all about Asmodeus--basically for 2e-3e tieflings

Subclasses
Battlerager (Barbarian) - Dwarf. Includes entry for new type of armor
Totem Warrior - Adds two new totems to choose from
Arcana Domain (Cleric) - Actually pretty awesome
Purple Dragon Knight (Fighter) - For non-Forgotten Realms campaigns they suggest "Banneret" as the name. Inspirational leader type.
Long Death (Monk) - Evilish/necrotic feeling monks
Sun Soul (Monk) - Goodish/radiant feeling monks
Oath of the Crown (Paladin) - Take the traditional paladin, split it in two, make one half lean more towards good (Oath of Devotion from PHB) and one half lean more towards law (that's the new Oath of the Crown).
Mastermind (Rogue) - The "social rogue." I don't mean social character that happens to be a rogue. I mean if you took a rogue and made a social type, this is that.
Swashbuckler (Rogue) - Cool concept. Some conceptual interaction problems with limited rogue weapon proficiencies, but other than that it's neat.
Storm (Sorcerer) - Coolest sorcerer in the game, IMO.
Undying (Warlock) - Patron is either immortal or undead, you have powers of life and death
Bladesinging (Wizard) - Elf or half-elf, warrior mage

Cantrips
Booming Blade - Adds to melee weapon damage and provides some control
Green-Flame Blade - Adds to melee weapon damage, and deals damage to secondary target
Lightning Lure - Lighting whip that pulls
Sword Burst - Very similar to thunderclap from EE, but different save and damage type

Backgrounds
(Backgrounds hardly count as crunch, because the rules give you explicit permission to build your own by combining any 2 skills, any two tools/language, any equipment package, and any feature--but they do give you new features to choose from, so I'm including them for completeness)
City Watch, Clan Crafter, Cloistered Scholar, Courtier, Faction Agent, Far Traveler, Inheritor, Knight of the Order, Mercenary Veteran, Urban Bounty Hunger, Uthgardt Tribe Member, Waterdhavian Noble

I got the book because I wanted that stuff. Green-flame blade itself is an essential part of my games because it allows any character to get a scaling melee attack with a feat (like ranged cantrips allow anyone to gain a scaling ranged attack). You can download that particular cantrip in a free preview they put up.

Other information that isn't specifically Forgotten Realms is the racial pantheons for Dwarves, Elves, Drow, Halflings, Gnomes, and Orcs (these are traditionally shared amongst multiple D&D worlds and settings).

Pretty much everything else in there (so 80%+) is Forgotten Realms specific. It also is specific to the 5e Forgotten Realms, so if you are playing in an earlier era (as I am) and care about continuity, you can get some value out of it, but you have to go over it with a fine toothed comb. They tried to make the 5e FR feel mostly like 2e-3e era, with a dash of 4e material, and it is set over 100 years in the future from 3e.

The book has some nice art in it.

I wanted it primarily for the crunch (even though I'm philosophically opposed to crunch bloat...). All of it is useful for non-FR D&D campaigns. You could easily drop it into Greyhawk or your homebrew world, and they even give suggestions for how at the end of the book. (The little Ghostwise halfling sidebar is the only piece of crunch that is Forgotten Realms specific.) I'd get the book just for material.

Most of the setting information is of limited usefulness to me because when I play Forgotten Realms it's set in an earlier era, but I like a lot of the material on the Forgotten Realms deities.

Hopefully that can help you decide whether it works for you.

[EDIT - I see I was beaten to the post. Well I spent a while on this so I'll leave it up anyway.]
 

pukunui

Legend
I'll add my voice to those saying it's worth it, even if you're not planning on running a game in the Realms. Most of the lore might be superfluous in that case, but there are a number of adventure seeds sprinkled throughout that you might find inspirational. I'd also argue that the crunchy bits are worth it on their own, though.
 

flametitan

Explorer
I'll add that there's also a note on human variants, though it's more Realms specific. It allows humans to take an ethnicity exclusive language as a free bonus language.
 

Patrick McGill

First Post
Keep in mind that the book is mostly not crunch, however. The largest portion is setting information for the Sword Coast.

I personally enjoy it and I like the character options it brings, but if you get it just for the options... well I hope you enjoy reading setting information for entertainment.
 

Dualazi

First Post
I'll be the voice of dissent and vote nay on its worthiness, unless you can find a used copy in reasonable condition for cheap. As others have said, there's some good crunch in there, but most of the book is fluff for the realms, and not even all the realms; just the parts you already probably know the most about. As it stands, for me the price/value to me isn't great enough to recommend it.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
With the dearth of official expansions of character options, the third of the book devoted to crunch was quite welcome. Even moreso in that if added some options that weren't covered in the PHB like the who weapon attack cantrips, Booming Blade and Green Flame Blade.

The rest of the book is quite nice, but if you are only looking for crunch the breakdown is: 17 pages of races, 23 pages of classes (including the four new spells), 9 pages of backgrounds.

To sum up - if buying just for crunch it's 1/3 of the book, maybe 1/4 if the backgrounds aren't interesting. There are definitely some new options like bladesinger, the cantrips, some racial, that are broadening.
 

I think the determining factor is how much spare cash you have, and how much the cost will set you back. It's a good book and can be found relatively cheaply online, but if you're not playing in the realms the scant dozen pages of crunch are pricey.
 

tuxgeo

Adventurer
Another consideration is Adventurers' League: the last I knew, players are allowed to use any material from the PHB, and either from the Elemental Evil Player's Guide or from SCAG, but not both. If that matters to you or to members of your group, it might be worth considering.
 

MrWildman

Explorer
Thanks, everyone! (I knew I could count on the ENWorld boards)

Looks like I'll be visiting my FLGS next month. Probably look for a used copy first.
The new options look like fun. I'm familiar with some from Unearthed Arcana, and reading about some of the others gets my creative juices flowing! And I always enjoyed reading fluff material. I remember buying so many Shadowrun books that never saw any game-play, but that I read and re-read endlessly for entertainment. Ah, good times . . .
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I've noticed more threads and builds using SCAG content (spells & cantrips especially).
I tend to do sandbox/homebrew worlds, so the book didn't really register on my radar at first. But now I'm wondering . . . what's the consensus? Should I get the book for the cool new crunch (and the entertaining fluff, of course), or am I really not missing out on anything?
I have it, but sadly, I do not feel it's worth its money. Not for its crunch, at least.

As an introduction to the Realms, sure. But boy does it pale in comparison to the absolutely stellar 3rd edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting - which must contain a hundred times as much campaign info, and still managed to cram in much more crunchy goodness too!

So, as crunch it's far too light. As fluff is much lighter than ten years ago. The best thing I can say about it is that for a complete newcomer to Forgotten Realms, it presents an easily digestible introduction. For everyone else, it just contains scraps of info: scattered bits of Realms-updates since 4E and the odd cantrip here, and a subclass there.

It's just too light. Condense it down to half its page size, cut two thirds off its price, and you have something.

Alternatively, add more subclasses so every class gets one, and add a dozen spells (NOT the elemental evil ones!), and a sprinkling of magic items, and you have a solid foundation. Perhaps add a few bonuses, such as the page on Svirfneblin Spell Gems (from Out of the Abyss). Then just double the background info and you might have something worth the asking price!

---

More specifically, I'd say over half of the little crunch there is simply not interesting enough.

One reason for this is how padded it feels, with chunks of text devoted to races and classes that end up in... nothing. The way it refluffs existing crunch feels like empty calories.

Then there's too many subclasses I simply don't see any of my players actually taking.

Battlerager: cool image but meh implementation. Using up your bonus action for an extra attack - we already have such a subclass (and it still can't amplify a feat that too uses the bonus action). Reckless Abandon - too many ways to gain temporary hit points already. And the small number just sucks - had you gotten them each round, it might have been something. Getting to dash as a bonus action is also weak. Ultimately, you will never find magic spiked armor in any module or on any random roll, dooming the subclass in any group where you can't trust in the bottomless generosity of your DM. Grade C+

Totem Spirits: a nice extra selection. Sure, nothing beats Bear, but still. Grade B (but a very small snippet of crunch)

Bards: from a crunch perspective, a solid F. Especially since it takes you a fair few minutes before you realize you're not actually getting anything, which is especially harsh since you're the first class to make this realization.

Cleric: again, the Arcana domain is a solid effort. Just so very little. Grade B

Druids: Grade E (not F because by now you know some classes doesn't get anything, and the section is mercifully short)

Fighter: Grade C-. Yes, we get a whole new subclass. But it's strangely specific and tied hard to the Realms (and Cormyr is not even on the Sword Coast!). It is a warlord-like subclass, but extremely cautious. The only thing the warlord players want is an Inspiring Surge like ability, but here you get a single use per short rest, rather than something you can use every other round! And to add insult to injury, you only get to give a single attack, not a full extra attack's worth! And the final straw is that you can't do this instead of acting yourself - nooo you get this as part of your Action Surge, preventing a true passive Warlord feel!

Monk: I'm gonna be generous and hand out an B+. The two new subclasses might not be ultra-inspiring or that different, but this should have been the minimum bar for all classes, rather than the maximum contribution for just a single lucky class.

Paladin: Not sure how good this subclass is, so I'll give it a grade of B for the moment.

Rangers: Grade E. Only the fanboys and apologists would not agree when I say the new revised Ranger should have been ready for inclusion in SCAG!

Rogues: Two subclasses, but my generosity is faltering quick, and really "above and beyond" means more than two subclasses. (As I said above, how about some new spells, magic items and the like; a couple of new battlemaster maneuvers perhaps) The swashbuckler isn't bad, but doesn't change the basic fact ranged combat is too attractive in 5th edition, especially for fragile rogues whose hp and ac has no place in melee. The mastermind is mostly strange. The warlord wants its Master of Tactics back. I hate abilities that talk about meta information, such as Insightful Manipulator. Grade B-.

Sorcerer: the storm sorcerer didn't get bonus spells (as in playtest) but also didn't get anything else (that is, the bonus spells were just removed, not replaced by anything else). The end result is something that reads as a decent NPC class: too many abilities are just glorified ribbon abilities, and you certainly don't get anything comparable to the draconic AC you lose. Grade C-.

Warlock: also a NPC build. If you feel favored enemy is too situational, just wait until you get a load of this. Slightly better because Warlocks got so much going, and because Warlocks can be built for the new cantrips (the sorcerer should stay far away from melee) - grade C+.

and then we get to the only truly brightly shining spot...

Wizard: you get the Bladesinger, which is awesome. And you get cantrips to support it. By this time I'm so starved for some truly crunchy crunch, if you know what I mean. Grade A


In the end, I can only recommend SCAG it somebody else is buying it for you... or if you're new to the Realms, to 5th edition and to D&D in general.

Zapp
 

My group uses it all the time - since I got it, I don't think we've had a campaign yet where someone doesn't use options from it. Right now in my current SKT group, we have a swashbuckler, a barbarian using the Tiger totem path, and a sorcerer with the Waterdhavian Noble background.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
I feel like the SCAG needed to be 100 pages longer to be worth the money. One thing that was conspicuously absent was faction information. The AL makes a big deal about factions, and the SCAG would have been the perfect place for in-depth write-ups. I'm thinking 20 pages for each faction, detailing its history, prominent NPCs, bases of operation, etc. Instead, we got nothing.
 

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