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The Apocalypse Stone (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by James R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/15/2004 00:00:00

This is an okay adventure. The premise is pretty interesting, and some of the events are cool. Overall though, I don't think I care too much for it. The main "bad guy" that gets the players involved in this definitely seems to take a "needlessly complicated" approach to the situation. Later when the world starts falling apart, a celestial creature comes down who can help get the players to the stone so they can try to save the world. However, it decides to put them through a series of tests first to see if they are really "good" and heroic. Instead of sending people to save the world ASAP, it decides to waste a lot of time and a lot of its power to make sure your players I guess "deserve" the honor of trying to save the world. That seems pretty rediculous to me. One of the tests also involves trying to make the players sacrifice some magical equipment to keep two Remorhaz magically asleep to show their "selflessness", even though it will probably seem to the players that doing so will only temporarily keep them asleep and that simply keeping their equipment and killing the Remorhaz would be far better for everyone involved, but that wouldn't be "selfless" so it is the wrong course of action. Those kinds of things irritate me to no end.

The way the Stone works is very odd too. Apparently, this world was built so that if this one particular stone is removed from this one particular place, it gets cut off from all the other planes (including the Prime I think), and begins to fall apart. Apparently this is the way the gods made this world. Why? Beats me. Seems like a pretty poorly thought out way to create a world to me.

There are some nice bits. Moloch, a deposed Duke of Hell (from 1E D&D) shows up, and there is a Death Knight who offers to join your group in an effort to redeem himself. There are also rules at the end for playing Death Knight characters. I also liked the idea of how the castle worked in general and some of the events going on in the beginning. Overall though, I think that the basic plot of the adventure and its developement doesn't make a lot of sense or seem very reasonable, so I can't say that I consider it to be a very good adventure.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Apocalypse Stone (2e)
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Tales from the Infinite Staircase (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by James R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/15/2004 00:00:00

I had some issues with the rating I wanted to give this module. Most of the adventures themselves are just fine; they look enjoyable and are pretty well written. The problem I have though, is that the Staircase itself is barely described at all. There is no real explanation of how to navigate the thing in general, like how the players would be able to find a portal leading to a certain plane or location besides the ones in the adventures, and being infinite in size, checking each doorway you come across to see where it goes could take forever to find someplace specific. Basically, it doesn't tell you how the Staircase might be used apart from the adventures presented with it, which I found very disappointing, because I was expecting it to go over the Staircase itself in more detail. As is, you could cut out almost all the information on it and it would barely affect the book, since only fairly minor alterations would be needed to use most of the adventures with more mundane planar traveling methods. Also, I thought before reading this that the Staircase potentially lead everywhere. According to this book though, it only leads to places of creativity, which means only places inhabited by sentient creatures, usually major cities and the like. This would actually reduce the number of places it can reach to by quite a bit. Most of Pandemonium would be off-limits to the Staircase because of this.

So me giving it a 3 star rating is basically a warning. It isn't poorly written and the adventures aren't bad. It's just that if you want some good info on the Staircase itself, this book won't really do that much, it is more of a backstory device to get from place to place without using traditional Gates or portals. It won't tell you how to incorporate it into your ongoing campaign or how to use it on a more general basis.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Tales from the Infinite Staircase (2e)
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T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by James R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/15/2004 00:00:00

This is basically a classic dungeon crawl scenario. There are two towns that you get involved with at the beginning, which gives some opportunity for roleplaying, but for the rest your players/characters will be roaming the Temple, finding treasure and killing monsters, including even possible encounters with the demon prince(ss) Zuggtmoy, the demi-god Iuz, and St. Cuthbert. It is also designed to take the players from low levels to high levels.

If dungeon crawls aren't you're thing, this could probably be avoided. But as a dungeon crawl, I think that it is very well done and looks quite challenging and enjoyable. It's classic D&D at its finest.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil (1e)
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Planes of Conflict (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by James R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/15/2004 00:00:00

This was a very well done. It covers Elysium, Carcerri, Bytopia, Beastlands, Grey Waste, and Gehenna, and is all excellently written. If you're going to adventure in any of these planes, this supplement will be invaluable. Only criticism is that with this download the maps are all chopped up into about 9 separate pieces each, so in order to be able to really use them you'll have to either copy and paste to some sort of drawing program or print it all out and then stick them together like a puzzle. Not hard, but kind of annoying (and the 2nd option would consume a heck of a lot of ink).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Planes of Conflict (2e)
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Monstrous Compendium - Planescape Appendix II
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by James R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/15/2004 00:00:00

Well, it's a Monstrous Compendium, so you know that all you're getting is a bunch of critters from the get go. This one has Rilmani, Eladrin, and Guardinals, who are native outsiders to the Outlands, Arborea, and Elysium planes respectively, similar to how Tanar'ri are the natives to the Abyss. It also has a bunch of other monsters (of course), some more interesting than others. Monsters of Legend are pretty neat (it's like a template you apply to a certain kind of monster to make it much much more powerful, representing the primeval, archetypal specimen of its kind). Overall it's pretty good, And if you're planning on visiting Elysium or Arborea, this is definitely a good buy.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Compendium - Planescape Appendix II
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Warriors of Heaven (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by James R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/14/2004 00:00:00

I thought this book was pretty good. There don't seem to be nearly as many books written on angels and celestial beings as there are on the fiends, so I feel it is a bit more unique tha, say, Guide to Hell. It contains a few new locations on the Upper Planes that are somewhat interesting, including the land of the Quesar, a testament to how angels aren't always perfect or just (not in the Quesar's eyes, anyway). It also goes into celestial motives and lifestyles to some extent, mentioning that they don't actually spend every last waking moment crusading for the cause of good; sometimes they are content with relatively simple and mundane pastimes. The book gives information on Aasimon, Archons, Asuras, Guardinals, and Eladrin. The info isn't super detailed, but to me at least it is somewhat new. There are also huge sections dedicated to creating celestial PCs, which include most forms of each celestial race except some of the most powerful (notably solars and tome archons). I think that these are pretty well done; it has most of them start off weaker than their Monstrous Compendium counterparts and gain more spell-like abilities, magic resistance, etc as they advance. One thing I don't like is that, like pretty much every race in 2e DnD, they try to balance them with humans. Even Aasimar, human/angel hybrids, are balanced against humans. It really makes no sense to me why something half human and half angel, which should by all rights be quite a bit more powerful than humans, still average out to being about equal (nowhere does it give any justification in the book as to why Aasimar should take a -2 constitution hit, but I guess they just have to have something to balance out their +2 wisdom bonus, even if it doesn't actually make sense). That kind of "balancing" just seems extremely forced and unrealistic to me, but I guess that's more a gripe against the 2e system in general than this product in particular. Oh yeah, except for the few new sites at the begining, there really isn't any info on the planes themselves that the Celestials live on. You'll need Planes of Law and Planes of Chaos for those. There isn't any real detailed info on any of the gods they serve either, though there is a condensed list in the back that names a lot of Powers and their alignment and realms of influence.

Overall though, if you're interested in the fiend's good counterparts, this is a pretty good book.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warriors of Heaven (2e)
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Book of Artifacts (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by James R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/14/2004 00:00:00

The book basically gives what it promises. It's about Artifacts and provides plenty of them. You're almost certain to find something in here that will appeal to you. There are a few kind of annoying features. Just about all of the Artifacts have some of their powers determined randomly or picked by the DM. I don't quite get why this was done. If the DM doesn't like a certain power of an Artifact, they could always change it. I just think it would be nice to know more definitively what an artifact can do rather than know it can do X constantly and Y 3 times per day, and then the DM has to roll for or decide what its 3 major spell-like abilities are going to be. There are also notes about how appropriate they are for a group to have, which I kind of find annoying. Some of them say things like, "This artifact isn't really appropriate for the PCs to hold on to and can unbalance a campaign." If a DM is going to include an Artifact, he should already have a good idea of what it can do, and be prepared for the consequences. And giving PCs something and then taking it away when it is no longer convenient for the DM (as is suggested several times, even if it requires the characters simply being burglarized one night) seems unfair and a lot like "rail-roading" to me. And, kind of a nit-pick, all of those suggestions also assume that all of the characters are of one good alignment or another.

After the Artifacts section there is a section for creating magic items and recharging magic items. I already use other rules for both of these, and always had magic items recharge naturally like they did in other RPGs I've played, so I didn't really look too closely at these sections. Apparently, charging magic items is hard though. The section is about 7 pages long.

Overall, I think it is a decent book, but it has a fairly narrow focus and is of limited use to any given campaign, plus it has the irritating suggestions for controlling PCs who get ahold of an artifact that I mentioned above, which is why I only give the book a 3.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Artifacts (2e)
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Guide to Hell (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by James R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/14/2004 00:00:00

This book is okay. The main reason I got it was for the description of the Nine Hells themselves and the devils and devil-lords, so I didn't pay that much attention to the new PC kits or the spells even, so I won't comment on those. What I will say is that the book is short, only 66 pages. One serious problem I have with it is that, from what I can tell, pretty much all the information in it on the geography and places in Hell are lifted from the Planes of Law boxed set, so if you've already read that (like I had), a decent chunk of this book becomes redundant to you. It does include a complete list of the current Lords of the Nine, including 2nd addition attributes and HP for if you actually want your players to have a shot at killing them. Some of the Lords of the Nine are new as well, and it explains where they come from and what happened to the old 1e Lord. There's also a somewhat controversial explanation in the beginning about who Admodeus really is.

Overall, I would say that for info on the Plane itself, as well as its denizens, you'd be better off getting the Planescape books Planes of Law and Faces of Evil: The Fiends. If you really want info on the Lords of the Nine though, then this has more info on them than the old Monster Manual 1 & 2, and is cheaper than the Book of Vile Darkness.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Guide to Hell (2e)
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