It has been quite a while since this series took a look at actual rule books. Well, aside form the occasions when I mention other games you might want to try out. Today we get back to some down-to-it rule books from the 3rd Edition era of Dungeons & Dragons. Each of these books has not really been seen in quite a while, at least not as proper D&D published supplements. One, to be fair, was released in the 4th Edition, but it frankly didn’t do it justice. Still, whether you play 3rd, Pathfinder, 5th Edition, or other games these will give you new rules to use or whole bunches of ideas!
The thing about this resource is that it is one of the most dense and usefully packed supplements to come out of 3rd Edition. Not only that, but it is a resource that updates a lot of information to 3.5 that hadn’t been. Of course, as the title suggests, it hold only one thing: spells. That is the beauty of it, though. The book is over 200 pages of spells. Druid spells, wizard spells, paladin spells. The book has them all. First of all, if you play 3rd Edition you absolutely need this book. It is comprehensive from many supplements and key to diversify not just player’s options but loot options and NPC / enemy spell options. Aside from that, these spells are pretty readily adaptable to both Pathfinder and 5th Edition, meaning that you have dozens and dozens of potential spells at your fingertips for those two games. Beyond that it is a near limitless font of inspiration for spells and spellcasters in any game. Where else are you going to get a spell called vortex of teeth which features spectral piranhas that damage all within, including incorporeal creatures?! If all that isn’t enough this books also has cleric domain lists, which means you have over two dozen domains to inspire you to create new clerical groups and cults!
This is the first of two books for today’s article that featured a mature content warning sticker. Which is, honestly, quite appropriate. Especially for this one. The Book of Vile Darkness is one which features the dark side of stories, the D&D universe, spells, and more. This is specifically designed to make evil really bad. And not just in the classic sense, we are talking blood, gore, torture, murder, sacrifice, and all sorts of horrible things that evil is attached to. It is not a book for everyone, but it is an incredibly useful book. There is a chapter about vile gods, vile cultures, and the nature of evil itself. A whole chapter is devoted to variant rules which includes things like possession, sacrifice, and curses. Beyond that there are evil prestige classes, magic, demon lords, dark monsters, and more. If you want a story that confronts evil in its worst forms and at its darkest, this will be a good resource for you. Additionally, there is an appendix which might be of use to some. It is about evil PCs and the evil campaign. This provides some good insight into running such a game, but also warns against the primary danger of such a game; the moment when PCs turn against each other or when things go pretty dark. Like I said, this source books isn’t for everyone and even some portions might not be for you if it is, but it is still a source worth mentioning.
Now we see the opposite side of the coin from our last resource. This one is much more appropriate for an adventure, since it deals with the side of good and heroism. The first chapter deals primarily with the nature of what is good. From charity to mercy to personal sacrifice, there is much to look at and many character traits and story lines to derive from these ideas. It doesn’t limit itself to that, but also discusses violence, ends to a means, punishment for crimes, and more. Another thing that this book considers is law versus chaos and how they don’t equate to good versus evil. The variant rules that this supplement provides are interesting and include sainthood, exorcism, martyrdom, and more. While the prestige classes and spells are interesting, I find that this book gets greatest use from the celestial paragon chapter. We always here about gods and goddesses, good and evil, we here about demon lords and devil princes. What we do not hear enough about are powerful creatures of good. Unique and named angels, archons, and more. This book has a whole chapter on them and the contents are diverse. The other great thing is the monster section. Having agents of good who PCs might butt heads with due to misunderstanding or tangential goals are always fun story points, but we get far more evil monsters than good. Get this book to help diversify your worlds and challenge your party in different ways.