This is a game with a long and storied history, marked by a continuous effort to hone and refine it into a thing of great beauty. Much has been written about the game and its great ability to evoke a sense of the Knights of the Round Table in King Arthur's Britain, so this review will not delve into that. Playing Pendragon is an experience, and it is an immersion into the genre of Arthurian literature that is both supported and compelled by the mechanics of the game in ways that few games undertake. Moreso than in many other games, players will discover their characters and the world they live in, in play. I would strongly recommend this game to anyone with a love of Arthurian fiction, fantasy roleplay, or interesting game mechanics.
This 5.1 edition is, as it states on the back, a cleaned up version of 5th Edition. On a surface scan, little is different, other than the shift from Arthaus to Nocturnal. For players of earlier editions, there are greater differences. Character generation has dropped the random method for point assignment, and the wider character options which marred or made 4th Edition (depending on your PoV) have been cast aside as well. This rule set focuses on generating Knights from Salisbury in a clean and efficient manner to get people into the game without delay. For newcomers, it is excellent. For old hands, some might prefer to fall back on chargen from previous editions then sally forth with the rest of 5.1 intact.
The look of the pages in the PDF is sharp and attractive. The organization throughout is easy to follow. A small but surprising complaint is that this title lacks bookmarks and hyperlinks which is extremely frustrating for use at the table. Other than this issue, the PDF is an fantastic value and very satisfying.
The print on demand version of the book I received, however, left something to be desired. In hardcover, the covers were extremely warped and the pages rippled into several waves so that the book cannot lay flat. So extreme a curve was present that the lower corner of the cover coating are pulling open.
Inside, the book is as gorgeous as one would expect. The pages are crisp and of good paper, with a strong binding. For someone who does not care how their books look, or who treats them with tough love, there would be no problem. For someone who appreciates a well-cared-for book, this curvature of cover and rippling of pages is annoying, and very disappointing concerning the purchase price.
Delivery time for print on demand was extraordinary and I have nothing but praise for this aspect of the program. I have ordered print on demand from DrivethruRPG before and had no reason to complain: everything was flawless. On this order, however, with this title and one other I ordered with it (The Great Pendragon Campaign), I was not completely satisfied and would hesitate before trying PoD again.
[4 of 5 Stars!]