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
A rather disappointing sourcebook to be honest. It's meant to be a counterpart to the Book of Vile Darkness, but I think it was done wrongly. From a mA rather disappointing sourcebook to be honest. It's meant to be a counterpart to the Book of Vile Darkness, but I think it was done wrongly. From a mechanics point of view, they took "opposite" too literally. From a flavour point of view, they didn't do it enough.
The new feats were decent and some were even interesting. Some of the spells are okay, but I think there's too many "affects evil creatures only" spells. The prestige classes were pretty horrible, with two 5-level classes as excuses to gain extra exalted feats. The celestial-specific prestige classes were even worse than the mediocre ones in the Book of Vile Darkness - not only is there little coherence with their abilities, they are all very similar (smite is a heavily reused ability). Even the magic items pale in comparison with the evil counterparts.
The saddest excuse of an "option" was ravages and afflictions - poison and disesase for evil creatures that are normally immune to poison and disease...
The remaining bits of the book dealt with the celestials and their champions, just like the introduction for the demon princes and devil lords. But where the Book of Vile Darkness also provided information on cults, motivations, and schemes, these celestials are terribly lacking in what they want to do. Without them, the celestials ended up as nothing more than stat blocks.
With "exalted good" being much more difficult to roleplay, an adventure module or sample scenarios would have served to illustrate things better, especially how it ties in to the Book of Vile Darkness - not just mechanically.
It just felt like this sourcebook was a rather waste of a good opportunity to provide moral dilemmas and hooks for bringing in celestials, as opposed to just being primarily a mechanics supplement....more
Great sourcebook for when you need extra mature options for the villains your players are going to face. While the appendix does give you options forGreat sourcebook for when you need extra mature options for the villains your players are going to face. While the appendix does give you options for playing such villains, I think the options were designed with NPCs in mind.
It packs in lots of options, some of the interesting ones include two new subraces, lots of evil spells, your typical assortment of feats, and new magical items; all themed with evil and horror. There's also background, stat blocks, and plot hooks for the demon lords of Abyss and the diabolic rulers of the Nine Hells.
Some of the poorer bits include the small section on new monsters. I think it's minor and uninteresting enough that they shouldn't have bothered, and used that space for fleshing out the other sections.
The prestige classes were pretty poor I think. The majority of them were meant to be themed to their respective demon lord or devil prince, but I didn't find them coherent or thematically interesting.
What I would have liked to see more was more evil ideas and hooks. For example, the options on drug use and torture was useful, but would have been better if ideas on how to use them were also present.
Overall though it's a great resource for options you could throw in sparingly into your campaigns, even if you don't want to deal with the subjective morality questions raised in the book....more
A large anthology of four novellas set in four different worlds that shares a common theme - dragons.
The first is in the Forgotten Realms and deals wiA large anthology of four novellas set in four different worlds that shares a common theme - dragons.
The first is in the Forgotten Realms and deals with the infamous duo of Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle. I've already read this in another anthology and while I enjoyed it then, it was recent enough that I didn't reread it. It provides great backstory on how these two got entangled in Damara.
The second was not enjoyable at all. Weis and Hickman put Tas on the forefront of a comedic adventure... again. There's only so much kinder antics one can take in a lifetime I suppose. There's little here that hasn't been similarly done before, which made it rather boring.
The third is by Baker, set in the city of Sharn, in Eberron. This was an interesting read, and features rather engaging and likeable protagonists. And I got a little surprise by the plot, which was... well, a pleasant surprise.
The final novella is set in Dominaria, but the exact location is unknown (or at least, not to me). This one was rather enjoyable as well and features one of the more interesting antagonists in the myriad worlds of Magic: the Gathering. ...more