Arcanis has always been special to me. I remember how one of the first d20 products to come out alongside Third Edition was an Arcanis adventure, one my group had a lot of fun with. From there, it did more and more, until it became one of the first full-fledged campaign settings for the d20 system. The book that really delivered in that department, fleshing out a bold new world of adventuring for a reinvigorated D&D game, was this book, the Codex Arcanis. Of course, this isn’t the exact same book that came out in 2001, per se. The original Codex was updated (including making it 3.5) in 2007, and it’s this book that now is released in PDF format.
A hefty book, Codex Arcanis weighs in at over two hundred fifty pages in length. It has full bookmarks, which is a must for easy navigation since the book has no table of contents. The covers are the only instances of color artwork, with the rest being black and white. Borders are present along the top and alternating sides of every page. There is no printer-friendly version, which is a touch disappointing.
The major purpose of the Codex Arcanis is to provide a background and setting for the Arcanis campaign. After an introduction that sets up the religions of the world, and touches upon related topics such as what happens after you die, the book’s chapters focus on various portions of the world. These chapters cover the history, major institutions, notable NPCs, and much more of the various areas throughout Arcanis. Altogether, fully 80% of the book is dedicated to this, making the Codex Arcanis a very system-neutral supplement.
If you’re looking purely to cherry-pick new mechanics, though, then you’ve only got the book’s appendices to look forward to. The book has sections detailing the game stats for the major races of the world, along with new feats and prestige classes. While I may be mistaken, I’m pretty sure that this game material is mostly new, compared to other crunch-heavy Arcanis supplements.
The Codex Arcanis is a book that lays out the campaign world in all its glory (updated to include events from various supplements), and it does so very well. It’s 80/20 approach to fluff and crunch guarantees that while it’s mostly usable regardless of what game you play, it has enough to immediately start an Arcanis-centric 3.5 game if you feel so inclined. After so long, it’s great to see Arcanis get (what I’d call) a re-release at the close of Third Edition. Things have come full circle for one of d20’s first campaigns, and Paradigm Concepts sends d20 Arcanis out in style!
[5 of 5 Stars!]