The idea was interesting, but I felt that the implementation was really bad. It could just be cultural thing for me. The source material was basicallyThe idea was interesting, but I felt that the implementation was really bad. It could just be cultural thing for me. The source material was basically inspired by Oriental martial arts, fighting styles, movies, and anime. I found the whole implementation to be really cheesy and mostly nonsensical.
In summary, the sourcebook is about providing melee replacements - so goodbye fighter, ranger, and paladin. If you use this sourcebook, there's zero reasons to play with the original core warrior classes, as the three new classes (crusader, swordsage, and warblade) are way more powerful - unless of course, you happen to want to play a blackguard or you like tracking or archery. The three new classes are play like front-line wizards - you can generally cast one "spell" (manoeuvre) once per encounter. In fact, as they scale up in power, you probably don't need rogues or wizards much, since some manoeuvres can do sneak attacks and AoE attacks.
The sourcebook requires significant investment as it adds a lot of new rules. The majority of the content aside are all geared towards giving the new classes more options. I dislike the new classes primarily because the more they're described felt more like prestige classes to me - all crusaders fight for a religion, all swordsages are scholarly fighter seeking for a "truth", and all warblades are glory-seekers. There are nine martial disciplines (hence, nine swords), but they are very oddly restricted to certain classes - why? This is one of the nonsensical things. If we're talking about oriental inspiration, this sourcebook serves up a lot of categorisations and restrictions just for the sake of it. Sure, the DM could change it, but I'm reviewing based on what's offered.
Backstory-wise, the Temple of the Nine Swords is fine, I just found the whole internal conflict to be very contrived. The so-called legendary founder? Such a character can't be built using the mechanics presented in this book, due to the limits on the number of manoeuvres you can learn. Throw in how he managed to accumulate nine swords of such varied backgrounds that they just destroy any plot cohesiveness. And the prestige classes? They're ok within the context of this book, except for the so-called "Master of Nine" - that class is more like taking specialist levels in several schools of magic than being a "master" of several disciplines. The flavouring is just so wrong.
But that's enough ranting. I mainly dislike the sourcebook because I found the flavouring and imagery to be really bad. Then I dislike the power level of the new mechanics, they're not just slightly powerful - they're very powerful. I'm probably not the target demographic for this book, seeing how cheesy and over-the-top some of them content are. Perhaps this sourcebook was not meant to be serious, and more a fun thing; but it's not for me....more
A pretty decent supplement. It highlights the concepts of what makes horror interesting and alluring, and how to make it fun. But it doesn't seem to gA pretty decent supplement. It highlights the concepts of what makes horror interesting and alluring, and how to make it fun. But it doesn't seem to go quite deep enough, as what it seems to offer is make analogies to old and modern media sources. So if you liked horror enough to get this supplement, chances are, you already know what makes horror tick.
The sourcebook introduces a new taint mechanic and variant rules regarding fear. The new mechanic basically makes "taint" an actual thing to be tracked, thus something tangible to put pressure on the players. It also introduces two new core classes and several prestige classes that relate to the ideas in the sourcebook. I only found them mildly interesting. The new core archivist felt odd with its use of divine magic and the core dread necromancer felt unnecessary. I did find the new spells, items, and creatures to be very interesting. Other than these, there's a new demigod, a small section on dreams, and a smattering of sample adventures....more
Not that I've run a war-themed campaign before, but I've certainly read enough to realise that this sourcebook is pretty handy if one is going to do iNot that I've run a war-themed campaign before, but I've certainly read enough to realise that this sourcebook is pretty handy if one is going to do it.
It starts off with providing and identifying the differences between traditional campaigns with a war/military campaign, and the roles the PCs could play. It includes rules and guidelines for establishing army composition, setting up interesting battlefields, tracking the flow of events in a battle, and keeping score on well the PCs for assisting the war effort. Meaty stuff. Then it throws in some sample encounters, the typical stuff you'd see in movies - rescue, escort, hit-and-run, etc.
On the mechanics side of things, it includes stats on siege engines, how to handle large groups of NPCs, rules on rallying, morale, and commander auras, and touching a bits on promotions and rewards for the players.
For the players, some useful spells for battle situations, new skill applications and a few 5-level prestige classes that are more generic roles than classes (the exception being the War Weaver, which I found intriguing), but they're easy to adapt to add flavour into. There's also a new "teamwork benefit" mechanic to reflect the military training aspect of a war-based campaign.
The appendix rounds up the sourcebook by fleshing out the typical compositions and stat blocks for entire armies of the different core races plus drow, orcs, goblinoids, lizardfolk, and giants.
All in all, it feels like a sourcebook that's quite essential to getting a war campaign just right. ...more
Volume 1 is actually a compilation of two stories, 4 issues each. Great nostalgia factor if you grew up with the Forgotten Realms as the fantasy worldVolume 1 is actually a compilation of two stories, 4 issues each. Great nostalgia factor if you grew up with the Forgotten Realms as the fantasy world.
The first story is "The Hand of Vaprak", where we're introducing to a band of adventurers led by a wizard, and together with two new recruits, managed to put an end to the evil artifact. What was awesome about this story is the appearance of Alias and Dragonbait (shown on some of the covers). Brings back memories. Elminster was in the shadows, as usual.
The second story is "The Dragonreach Saga", where the bands visit to Elminster got them tangled into a very serious matter, but taken in a rather light-hearted manner. Not quite sure how I liked this one; it builds upon the characters from the first story, but the way the main villain ((view spoiler)[a humanoid of unknown race, who wields a powerful artifact capable of decapitating dragons, and who summoned and rode the tarrasque (hide spoiler)]) was dispatched felt rather callous given the subject material. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Can't help feeling that this book is just designed to make people pay more. The PHB2 offers more options that to me should've been part of the three cCan't help feeling that this book is just designed to make people pay more. The PHB2 offers more options that to me should've been part of the three core books. Rules expansion features very little here - most of it is to offer up what used to be D&D staples as "options".
Essentially, it brings back long-timers gnomes and half-orcs, the shifters from Eberron, the goliaths from Races of Stone, and the deva race. For classes, it pulls in the previouly mainstream bards, barbarians, druids, and sorcerers, then throws in avengers, invokers, shamans, and wardens.
One reason I feel that these should not have been "additions" is because these classes round out and fill out to the new MMO-style paradigm D&D4.0 adopted - for example, PHB1 had only a single "controller", so PHB2 brings out more "alternatives".
All my other previous criticisms apply. The paragon stuff, even with the new racial paragons continue to make things to narrow and too stereotyped. The bardic powers that teleport all over the place just feels hilarious and ridiculous to me.
Aside from these, there's a just couple more feats, items, and rituals for the new classes, plus some simple rules on background/racial bonuses....more