Rules Compendium


Product Description
The definitive reference guide of
Dungeons & Dragons(R) core rules.

Tired of hauling all of your
D&D rules supplements to the gaming table? Having trouble finding the rule you need? The Rules Compendium supplement takes all of the game’s most important rules and presents them in a single comprehensive, easy-to-reference volume for players and Dungeon Masters.

In addition to presenting the rules of the game, the Rules Compendium incorporates official errata as well as behind-the-scenes designer and developer commentary explaining how the rules system has evolved and why certain rules work the way they do.

Recent Comments
  1. M. Bode @ 5:12 pm

    “All the Rules of the Game… In one Awesome Book” is the back cover’s tagline.

    It is not. The list of official rules it doesn’t include could be a compendium in itself– No “Races of” books, no “Complete” books, no “Heroes of” books, no “Tome of” books ad infinitum.

    The Rules Compendium is a collection of some of the SRD rules (mainly from players handbook) that the developers thought were important, sorted alphabetically. You won’t find even many of the rules in the DMG such as wealth by settlement size or creating magical items. Some rules from players handbook were apparently thought too trivial to include such as rules for using profession skills and the clarification-worthy crafting rules.

    It DOES include all the combat-specific special actions such as bull rushing, grappling and fighting defensively. It has a whopping 9 pages devoted to movement. It has everything you’d need for an encounter plus some extras like the rules for dealing with the environment from Sandstorm, Stormwrack and FrostBurn.

    Expectations aside, I love the format. The rules each have their own page and are well organized. The layout is clean and free of clutter. There’s no more decorative border and the page has an open feel which makes the original core books look cramped by comparison. Provided the rule you want is in here, lookup is a snap. My hope is that this will be the concept going forward in 4.0.

    There’s some designer commentary in the sidebar that ranges from somewhat insightful commentary on design to amusing recounts of play testing. I’m a fairly avid reader of the “behind the curtain” sidebars and found these to be more personal than informative. Sometimes the text is obviously there to fill in the white space– it’s unobtrusive and keeps a page devoted to say… the Feint action from otherwise looking completely barren.

    One thing you will find from all the previous rule books is familiar art work. Most, if not all, of it is recycled but I smiled several times seeing some of my favorite artists best work. I particularly love J. Jarvis’s sword wielding velociraptor on pg 151.

    In sum, the claims on the back cover that this will relieve you from “…hauling all your books to the gaming table” is patently false. Even if it had all of the PHB rules in it, you’d still need the PHB for spells and class info. And if you’re running the game, add in the Monster Manual and DMG. And anything else that contains a non-core class, feat, spell, item, monster, skill, skill trick or prestige class.

    DMs and players who haven’t completely memorized the rules for movement and combat (but know them all by name) should find the layout and index helpful in looking up the finer points of grappling or breaking objects. I can think of several combats where this book might have expedited a rules check.

    But if anything, its usefulness will make it one MORE book you bring to the table rather than any less.

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  2. Steve Bonario @ 6:07 pm

    I picked up the D&D Rules Compendium (ordered fairly cheaply from Amazon). This is by far the best rules-related purchase I’ve made in a while for D&D. Wizards took all of the various core rules introduced throughout 3 and 3.5 books over the past 7 years and organized them alphabetically by topic with extra clarification, simplified explanations, and side comments from the rule designers. Topics like the Bull Rush and Charge combat actions each get a full page of explanation and clarification — without adding complexity. Grappling, of course, gets 2 pages :)

    The book focuses only on the core mechanics and does not include spells, class descriptions, equipment descriptions, magic item creation, feats, skills, etc. This is perfectly fine with me since many of those topics are not the kind of thing I, as a DM, necessarily need at hand.

    It’s possible that a DM will get much more use out of this book than a player. By having it on hand during game play, finding obscure or seldom used rules is much easier. So far I’ve only noticed one design choice that seems slightly inconsistent. Most topics get their own entry in the book, but all of the movement related topics, like flying, running, and overland movement, are grouped under a single Movement topic. Fortunately, there is a detailed topic index at the front of the book (which should have been at the *back* of the book, that’s where an index belongs, but this is a minor quibble).

    This book would make a great electronic download in searchable format, like a self-contained wiki. In fact, if it had been a free resource on the new Wizards D&D/Gleemax community site, they might have bought themselves back a little love from those of us who think next year’s 4th edition D&D is about 5 years premature.

    At least all of the artwork from the book is available for download here:, including some of the movement explanation diagrams.

    Overall, I’m really pleased with this product. No, it won’t replace a single book I’ve already bought, but it’s great to have the critical core rules compiled in one place cleanly, clearly and (almost) consistently.

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  3. Edward Swing @ 8:34 pm

    The Rules Compendium is one of the best hardbacks that WotC has put out recently. It is aimed at providing a resource for quickly resolving GM (and player) actions, and features a wealth of rules in a relatively concise format. The topics are (sort of) arranged alphabetically, and it is relatively easy to find what you’re looking for.

    The book includes good sections on attacking, actions, conditions, and all of the other things that a GM needs to be aware of during an encounter. While it does not include rules for building characters or encounters, it provides everything one needs for resolving the encounter. Concise descriptions are complemented by useful diagrams, and the tables combine elements from the DMG, PH, and many other books.

    As a GM, I had started working up a rules summary to have behind my GM screen. Now, with this book, a lot of what I had been creating has been done for me. Kudos, WotC!

    There are a few gaps. It would be nice if the various skills had gotten more exposure. For instance, it would be nice to have an exhaustive list of DCs and modifiers for the Climb check, for instance. Some of the optional uses of skills from the various books could have complemented this. The book is short, so this material could have certainly be added.

    The only other gripe I have is that the Rules Compendium has been published near the end of the 3.5 publishing cycle. The advent of 4th edition makes this book great for those who plan on staying with 3.5, but gamers who plan on adopting 4th edition will find this book of limited usefulness.

    However, the combination of useful and well-organized rules, good diagrams, and extensive tables make this book well worth the money. As a nice touch, the developers and editors liberally insert commentary, referring to personal adventures or why rules were developed the way they were. It was a nice touch, giving the gaming community a rare glimpse into the design process. Kudos again!

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  4. Ulises Troyo @ 10:23 pm

    If you ever have sat around the table while playing D&D, waiting for the designated rules lawyer to page through the core books in search of how a specific rule works (especially when these rules are incomplete and reference other books for clarification), then you need this book. Whether you’ve been playing third edition since its inception or you’re new to the game, this book is must-have for all gaming groups.

    If you know anything about this book, though, then I’m assuming you’ve heard all the negative things that have been said about it: that it’s pointless to buy a book that will be obsolete in a couple of months (when D&D’s forth edition comes out), that it doesn’t include any rules that can’t be found online for free (through the SRD), and that it’s Wizards Of The Coast’s latest ploy to charge money for something they’ve already published before. None of these are valid arguments against this book.

    First of all, the fourth edition is still nearly a year away… and even when it’s released, it’ll take months (if not years) for it to amass the information 3.5 already has available. All those character options, feats, and spells (including all psionics and Eberron material) won’t be updated right away. Also, if you own the Core Books already (the Player’s Handbook, the Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monster Manual, without which this book is useless as there is no game), then having this handy reference tool will only extend the longevity of that investment, because it makes 3.5 a more compelling game. By simplifying the rules and organizing them, gameplay is made quicker and with less bickering over what interpretation of the rules is correct. And since there’s no reason for there to be more than one copy of this book around in your gaming group, if all of you pitch in to purchase it, it should hardly be an expense at all.

    The book is wonderfully written, and everything from the way the information is organized to the way the rules are explained make the Rules Compendium the ultimate reference tool for D&D. Forget paging through three books trying to decipher how a specific rule works. Don’t know whether you can move diagonally past a corner? You can’t and you’ll find the information under Movement>Diagonal Movement. Did you know that you can attempt a grapple for every attack your Base Attack allows? And that you deal grappling damage automatically when you secure a grapple? Or that, if your Base Attack permits, you can escape a grapple and finish using the rest of your attacks as a full-round action? If you don’t, then check out Grapple. The same goes for Cover, Attacks Of Opportunity, Natural Hazards, and every other Core rule you can find.

    Rules clarifications are not all the book excels in, though. You’ll find plenty of sidebars that explore options and specific rules’ raison d’ĂȘtre. Among these you’ll find excellent reasons to use Overrun, Delay, Fight Defensively, and Total Defense more often (with examples from the designers’ own games or playtests). You can find these sidebars on nearly every entry, and they can be as helpful (or more) to understanding how rules work.

    The most whimsical feature of this book is a series of small essays labeled as “interludes”. They are written by the designers of the game, and cover topics such as abstraction versus simulation in game design and role-playing versus tactical gameplay in D&D. Designed to give some insight on rule creation, these articles are informative (and sometimes personal) accounts of what makes D&D such a great game. Not that we don’t all have our own reasons already.

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  5. D. Tell @ 1:22 am

    This book is nicely priced at Amazon,but it ends up being another book you will carry-especially for an already heavy laden DM.It is a useful tool for the game table and it explains many rules quite efficiently,and even adds some usable twist to existing rules.

    I would recommend this book more for a helpful player character at the gaming table,it is useful-but for a Dm it is just another book because it doesn’t eliminate the need for any others.

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