Saturday, May 19, 2007

Complete Champion

Title: Complete Champion
Product Line: Dungeons and Dragons, d20
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast

What it is

This book is for those who which to run Divine Characters and those characters who are strongly tied to divine organizations. As such, it has a large number of affiliations (affiliations by the bushel, as Londo would say). The book starts of with a bit about what it means to be a True Believer in a world where deities roam or effect the world.

The first chapter talks about the organizations of all of the core deities. For each deity, it gives an affiliation. It describes what the affiliation is about, who its enemies and allies are, its scale, the criteria for rising in rank, what the ranks do for you, what feats are favored by members of the affiliation, their favored combat tactics, what types of adventures you're likely to be involved in and what their favored oaths are. Then it gives affiliations for each of the clerical domains. think that's enough affiliations?, bur wait, there's more....

The second chapter is about character options and making divine characters out of members of other classes. For each of the core classes, it gives one or more replacement levels. Next are the new feats. It introduces a new type of feat: the Domain Feat. This gives you some ability associated with the respective domain. It also includes more reserve feats (which I'm not too sure about). Then we get... ...wait for it... ...more affiliations. In this case they are organizations that closer to affiliations that we are use to seeing. Each organization also has one or more new prestige classes associated with it.

The third chapter has new spells. These are, not surprisingly, divine spells.

The fourth chapter has divine items. It starts out with new power components that enhance certain spells when used. Then it gets into special holy symbols that increase the caster level for certain spells or some other modification that seems to be about the power level of a feat. The next part has magic items that are useful for divine characters and introduces a new type of magic item: the domain staff. A divine caster can use a domain staff to convert memorized spells (or spell slots) to spontaneously cast spells in the staff. Each staff has the nine spells associated with its domain.

The fifth chapter has divine quests and locations.

What works

It gives some good background for divine organizations and provides plenty of hooks for your campaigns. The feats are, on the whole, balanced. None of the feats seem to be too unbalancing though I still have doubts about some of the reserve feats. The prestige classes are kept to a minimum and logically worth with the organizations that promote them. The spells and items are useful without being game breaking. The adventure ideas and scenarios in the back don't take up too much room (and are almost superfluous in the context of a whole book filled with adventure hooks). All in all this is a pretty balanced book.

What doesn't work

I still don't like the reserve feats. They can be must have feats for certain classes and I'm not much of a fan of that. Also, the Paladins have a must have feat: Battle Blessing. Frustrated by the question: cast or fight? Well, why choose when you don't have to. It turns Paladin spells with a casting time of one standard action into a swift spell (it also turns full round spells into standard action spells). Once a Paladin has spell casting capability, this seems like a must have feat. Also, the wording is a bit vague. A rules lawyer might be able to argue that the sentence can be parsed so that any caster can use it and that Paladin spells are only an example. As a DM, don't let them do that. As it stands as a Paladin only feat, it isn't unbalancing since Paladins have so few spells (though a Bless Weapon cast while charging an enemy is going to be a very common game occurrence).

They had so many adventure hooks and locations throughout the book that they didn't really need the fifth chapter. I suspect that WotC have some internal book format that writers must adhere to. It's nice that you generally know where to find things but they really don't need to add things they don't need just to fit a format.