Review of the 5e Player’s Handbook (Ability Scores & Races)

Here is part two of our in-depth look at the 5e PHB.

Ability Scores

One thing that bugs me about 5e is that they vastly limit the power level through ability score, but give ability bumps away like candy. For example, ability scores cannot go above 20 without the use of a powerful item (the old ability score improvement items, like Headband of Intellect only grant a score of 19, and give no benefit if you already have a 19+), but a character will receive +10 stat points from 1st to 20th. If a player rolls an 18 at creation, she will max out their prime requisite very quickly (immediately for some demihumans).

It just seems odd to cap scores at 20 and then give a ton of bonuses to them ( +2 or 2 +1’s five times before twentieth level).


All the standard races are represented, and there are no big surprises here. In addition to Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Half-Elves, Halflings, Half-Orcs, and Gnomes (back from their sabbatical in the 4e MM), Dragonborn and Tieflings have carried over from 4e. In addition, the Drow were added as a playable subrace (at your DM’s discretion), with no level adjustment or penalty.

Mike Mearls stated in a D&D Podcast that R&D wanted all standard races from all editions to be present in 5e. Fans of the Eladrin should note that while not in the PHB, they are present in the DMG.

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