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Thursday, 29th December, 2011, 02:49 AM #11
Orcus on an Off-Day (Lvl 22)
I found the discussion of evil to be dull. There wasn't anything really insightful in it; in fact, I'd say it oversimplifies the nature of evil. I would have done a more loving treatment of it, not necessarily longer but better, dwelling less on the obvious statements that don't shed any new light on evil.
The "vile encounters" chapter should have been totally awesome. Instead, it spends a couple pages trying to make a distinct category of "vile encounters" that, fundamentally, doesn't have anything to set them apart from any other encounter. "Orcs raiding a village to round up prisoners to sacrifice in a ritual to call up an aspect of Gruumsh" is not really any different from "orcs raiding a village to round up prisoners to enslave". What makes the encounter vile?
Basically, there isn't anything in the description of a vile encounter that reads to me like anything other than an attempt to justify the existence of a chapter on the subject!
Some of the "vile traps" aren't all that vile, either. "Oh noes! A trap that turns me into a mouse! How vile!" Uh, no. "Oh noes! An iron boot trap, how vile!" Uh... still not seeing how this qualifies as even evil, much less vile.
The section on villains isn't very good BoVD material, either. I mean, it's a fine discussion of the topic, but again, lacks the enthusiasm for evil that I'd expect in a discussion of "vile" bad guys. I mean- Kitiara, vile?? I hate Dragonlance more than most, and even I wouldn't call her "vile".
The actual new monsters included aren't very vile either. Fallen angels- servants of dead gods- are angry at the loss of their former patron. How does this make them vile?? They are even still trying to continue their deity's work! Sure, maybe if they followed a vile god, but from the way I read it, these "vile" monsters could be trying to continue good works. Uh, what?
Then you have the mini-adventure that centers around the Book itself... which includes absolutely no moral dilemmas or vile elements other than a few powers in stat blocks (discounting the questionable moral dilemma of whether to take the book in the first place).
All of these are areas that disappointed me; I think the solution I'd offer is pretty obvious.
Don't pussyfoot around. Talk about the nature of evil in a darker-than-Disney way. Talk about ways to make encounters feel vile, not just by saying, "Oh yeah, these orcs have a really vile motivation!!1!!" but by showing the vileness. If you include monsters and traps in a BoVD, they ought to be vile monsters and traps (some of them work for me; the rot grub filled pit is a great example). There are TONS of vile traps and monsters from D&D's history that we haven't yet seen in 4e. Why a new silly fallen angel monster that might be on a mission for good instead of, say, the brain collector?
And as for the adventure, there ought to be difficult moral choices with real consequences for taking (or leaving!) the Book, as well as once the party has it (or has given it up).
My 2 coppers.
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Thursday, 29th December, 2011, 03:13 AM #12
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
Thursday, 29th December, 2011, 08:36 AM #13
Thursday, 29th December, 2011, 11:42 AM #14
Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)
"Indecisive Neutrality"? I'm sure they will get around to it, eventually.
Thursday, 29th December, 2011, 02:07 PM #15
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
So who here just might let their D&D peeps just use these feats and other stuff even if they aren't evil? I could see it working for unaligned but meh. We shall see. The contract killer is op with its lvl20th attack that adds 5d8s if you are hidden. So with sneak attack, assuming they get backstabber, that will be 8d8s + W damage xD lol.
Saturday, 31st December, 2011, 09:28 AM #16
Superhero (Lvl 15)
The book doesn't seem to go into evil = icky, sadomasochism is vile evil, over the top sort of gross = evil that the original BoVD did, but some of the examples (as others have said) don't strike me as particularly evil in the grand scheme of things. Stuff from the feywild and far realm as evil (these aren't exactly alignment based planes so why precisely are they providing examples of vile evil versus the Abyss or the 9 Hells?). The crypt thing as an automaton being a vile trap? Unless it's taking the living spirit of someone to power it, and making them witness their own actions as a tomb guardian in forced undeath it's pretty tame for traps. There's some of 'kinda sorta I guess this might be evil' in the 4e BovD versus the 'omg over the top to the point of being silly' evil in the 3e BoVD. Both have their drawbacks on the topic, but how actually dark can you get before getting complaints about the book?
Mind you, I'm coming off of having written a book about soul-devouring daemons for Paizo (Book of the Damned 3: Horsemen of the Apocalypse), and I'd argue that a good deal of that book covers some of the same ground as the various iterations of the BoVD do (albeit from a very focused angle). And even then it's a fine line between writing material that truly impresses upon readers the level of irredeemable evil such a creature epitomizes and not going so utterly grimdark that it's not readable, or so crazy over the top that it goes into the realm of silly and shock for the value of shock.
While the book talks about souls, I'd have gone into the 'why' part of it in more explicit terms and about what fiends and evil gods do with them, and how PCs or NPCs can use them. What value do they have, what power can they provide, and what are the consequences of actually using souls in such a capacity?
Some of the recycled artwork is a little jarring, and I'm not sure if the art budget is getting compromised (like in late stage 3.x) but some of them just stood out like the 3e MM Chaos Beast. It's partially a 4e rewriting of the topic, but a creature that was CN for multiple editions now being "vile", again it's just odd to me. But again, that's a consequence of things beyond the author's control and he has to make the best of it.
And to answer a question from before, the readability part. There just seems like a lot of white space on some pages, with straight black text on plain white background it's feels like a textbook (which is a problem I've had with a number of 4e books). It might just be perception and I've not actually done a word count on various pages (which is hard when I don't have a copy in hand from my FLGS).
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Tuesday, 3rd January, 2012, 02:57 PM #17
Scout (Lvl 6)
Sorry to deviate from the topic somewhat, but....
Can someone with the book give me the names of the fallen angels? They sound like a good fit for my own campaign, so I would like to take a look at them on DDI later.
Tuesday, 3rd January, 2012, 03:31 PM #18
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
Wednesday, 11th January, 2012, 01:37 PM #19
Surprising lack of necrotic support. Poison support isn't much better--just a couple "once per day tack some on." Still no cold ki focus for vamps/assassins/monks. I liked the Channel Divinities and the disciple feats for the most part. The boons generally have ok properties but some of them have silly drawbacks on the power.