Epic Level Handbook




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First Post
Let's see. Just the day ago, I went and recieved from a good friend: the one and only Epic Level Handbook! So, of course, I went and looked through it.

Well! There are 6 chapters: Characters, Skills & Feats, which deals with the expanded class abilities (which, as you've probably heard, includes all 11 core classes, as well as the DMG PrCs, and the psion and psychic warrior), new epic prestige classes, which include:
The Agent Retriever, who specializes in finding items;
The Cosmic Descryer, who gains planar abilities;
The Divine Emissary, unique servant of a deity;
The Epic Infiltrator, agent of espionage;
The Gaurdian Paramount, the ultimate bodyguard;
The High Proselytizer, who empowers those of her faith;
The Legendary Dreadnought, unstoppable in combat;
The Perfect Wight, master of skulking, gains abililities like invisibility;
and The Union Sentinel, an elite police force.

The art in the core classes section is pretty good. THe DMG PrCs is better. But . . . in my opinion, possibly the best art in the whole book might be the art on the epic blackguard. It's soooooo great!

After that, they include rules for epic leadership: an expanded table. Then, epic skills ensue. These aren't really *epic* skills, merely DCs for very hard things. There's a section on psionic skills, too.

Ah, the meat and drink of the first chapter: epic feats. There's everything from Armor Skin, which gives you natural AC bonuses, to Master Staff, letting you expend spell slots instead of staff charges, to Zone of Animation, which allows you to animate dead using negative energy. The feat art is very nice.

Now comes the 2nd chapter: epic spells. As you might have heard, you have to make a Spellcraft check to cast an epic level spell, ranging from DC 27 for 'Ruin' (Object takes 20d6 damage) to 419 for Vengeful Gaze of God (Target takes 305d6 damage; you take 200d6). All of these are real nice. One of my favorites is Memento Mori: A thought that kills. Hee hee! Can't wait to pull that in my game!

Once we read the awesome power of these spells, we get a lesson on creating our own epic spells. There are 24 spell "seeds", from 'Afflict' to 'Ward'. These spell "seeds" are the bare bones of spells. You add your own touches, modifying the DC. It's very nice. Of course, there is a small section on 'Epic Psionic Powers'. The art in the spells section is pretty good, but the last picture (of that staple psion guy) is awesome.

Okay, so now we've come to Chapter 3: Running an Epic Game. This is the DM's province, players keep aside.
First, we are treated to a part on introducing epic level characters. This is short, only around a page. Then comes 'The Epic Adventure'. This is basically part of the DMG expanded. There are some new selections for walls and doors, as well as a section on epic traps. This is very nice. I just *love* the example trap they give. Mostly what's in here now is advice and variant rules. However, there's a nice table: 'Average Random Dice'. It gives the average result for rolls of d4s, d6s, d8s, and d10s. Unfortunately, it only goes up to 20. Luckily, there *is* a rule for dice greater than 20.

Now, for the Epic Campaign. This has information on creating epic adventures: new random town generation, etc. Of course, there's a 100 epic adventure ideas table. There's also an 'Epic Encounter Numbers' and an 'Epic Experience Point Awards', as well as information on expanding it for levels and CRs 41 and beyond.

Soon, we stop at Chapter 4: Epic Magic Items. This is a BEAUTIFUL chapter. I thirst at the ideas of some of these artifacts they include. There are new epic armors, epic weapons, rings, rods, scrolls, staffs, and a few new wondrous items. There's even a section on epic intelligent items. Now come the artifacts. Almost all of the minor ones are conversions from 2nd edition. There is a new one, (I think), though: Olidammara's Dice. If you've been keeping up on WotC info, you know about these. The major artifacts are, all in all, pretty nice.

Ah, finally: the monsters. There are over 60 monsters, and all but 6 of them have CRs of 21 +. The scariest one is called a 'Hecatoncheires', and it's CR 57! However, some of the epic dragons can get CRs of up to 59 for a great wyrm force dragon and 66 for a great wyrm prismatic dragon!

All of the monsters are very nice. In my opinion, however, if you've got CoC d20, you should use some of the gods in it for fine foes. Imagine: the hecatoncheires has a higher CR than Azathoth! And, you know, they reprint (kinda) the Worm that Walks, or at least a more powerful version of it. Anyway, all the monster pictures are very good.

After this, we come to the final chapter: An Epic Setting. This is the chapter I generally spend the least time with. However, don't let that guide you; what I did read was very interesting. All of the different organizations are great, and chock-full of superlevel characters. The leader of one group -- the Regulators -- is an advanced treant Wizard 36/Bard 20! That's 56th level, along with the advanced treant ECL of 28 means a total ECL of 84!!!!!

Oh, did I tell you? They included ECLs for ALL the monsters in the monster section. It's a notable thing, and I predict that the Monster Manual II will have ECLs also. The ECLs are found in one table in the beginning, along with information on ECLs.

Anyway, after the organizations, we get the city of Union, the supercity we've been told about. There are many things in it. It's certainly impressive. Once we get through with this, we get a full-fledged epic adventure! It's a site-based adventure: Kerleth's Tower (thunder booms). Of course, it's set in Union. But, it's a supreme adventure. After the adventure is a short section of adventure ideas. These are nice, but short. Then we get to . . . the APPENDIX! Bwahahahaha! *Phew* My evil mind flayer ways must be getting ahead of me.

Elminster's picture is absolutely *terrible* compared to the one in the FRCS. So are most of the pictures of the Realms' NPCs. They also include an example of extending a prestige class: in this case, the Red Wizards of Thay.

Next is the NPCs of Greyhawk, 4 of them. I skipped through this part. Now for the last part of the whole book. As I reached the end of such a great tome, I surely shed a tear as the end came. Now are the epic NPCs, up to 30th level. I wonder what we'll do for 31st level ready-made NPCs? Maybe a future moneysoaker, I mean splatbook, I mean excellent made small 40-page book for $19.99. Sorry WotC about the name confusion.

Overall, I have to say my favorite parts were the new monsters and magic items. Of course, the new feats were amazing, and I just love the potential of paragon mind flayer 40th level necromancers. I'm also glad that, instead of just printing a huge book of tables, they only went 10 levels further and included the mechanics. To me, that's a good thing.

One last pointout I have to make is the great idea of including ECLs for all the monsters. Not like any DM I know will let a character be a hecatoncheires but hey! They'll be great for NPCs! Players, prepare to meet your dooms!

P.S. The blackguard art is great!!


GameWyrd strives to bring you reviews of the latest releases and that’s just what we’re doing with this review of the Epic Level Handbook. This high profile Wizards of the Coast product was released in the UK just this week. It’s been available for those of you who share a landmass with the Wizard’s Tower for quite some time now. If this were a review of Wizard’s distributing powers it wouldn’t be a very flattering one.

The Epic Level Handbook is well written and has convinced me it’s possible to roll-play epic levels. I remain unconvinced that it’s possible to role-play much of the epic style.

What do I mean by that? Take the cleric class for example. Why does a cleric stay in awe of a god that he’s long since outstripped? And yes, the epic rules in the book will easily let your characters grow to that sort of power. Does Elvis the epic Bard take time off from putting naughty dragons over his knee and giving them a spank to tour around the local towns, villages and cities to pick up the latest songs and gossip. Even if Elvis travels in disguise are all the new songs and tales about Elvis the Bard? I don’t think Bardic Knowledge as presented by this book really works on the epic scale. You could just impose sensible limitations or turn it into a spell like ability (the Bard becomes specially attuned to what people are singing about) but that wouldn’t be mechanically fair on the other character classes. This is just an example but it does show the roll-playing success over role-playing. The book has this to say on Bardic Knowledge, "Though not a spell, bardic knowledge can have a great impact on the characters’ ability to know information." Oh dear.

Chapter One covers characters, skills and feats. The character section is comprehensive, it not only examines epic levels of the core classes in the Player’s book but it covers and extends the prestige classes in the DM’s book. There’s the suggestion that only 10 level prestige classes can be pushed into the epic levels since they’re the only ones which really count as a full time career. There’s lots of artwork here, each class gets its own illustration and I’m sure everyone will stop to admire the Blackguard’s quality. Then there’s a whole list of epic level prestige classes that’ll sate even the most crunch hungry player (if for only a while). The psionic characters are also covered. I was more impressed with subtler touches such as the starting equipment for epic level characters since it allows people to set up and run an Epic Level Campaign from scratch.

Then there comes a look at the skills. This section has mixed success. As with the entirely of the book it is presented and cleanly and carefully, it’s easy to read and follow. The section is good at finding uses for skills at epic levels and they remind me very much of Anime. Rather than walk, why not leap from treetop to treetop? I’m not convinced some of the examples are valid though; they’re more like spell-like abilities than extremely good skills. "I’ll bet you could use a cooling swim. A dip in that pool of acid would be refreshing," is suggested as a possible bluff. I don’t think so. Just where’s the bluff anyway? On the other hand, having such a tight reign on your thoughts insofar that you might be able to beat spells like "detect thoughts" seems just about possible, just as we hear rumours of people able to beat polygraph machines in real life. I don’t care how good you are; you can’t balance on a cloud. Mind you the DC for that last one is 120. I wonder what the DC is for trying to balance on light or shadow? The authors should just have bitten the bullet and accepted the fact that at some point skills because superhuman. It really would have made a huge difference if the book had come up with some suggestions as to deal with this level of ability as a roleplaying issue and not just dice. Is it an inner mysticism? A victory over paradox? The awakenings of a blood magic?

If you think the skills are impressive then wait you take a look at feats. There’s a new type of feat – the Epic Feat – and this caveat is enough to allay almost all of the trouble I had with the skills. An epic feat is something more than human. Epic feats like "Bonus Domain" seem to be more than divine too; "Listen up Kord, you’ll give me this extra domain or I’m coming over to kick your arse!".

Tucked away in this section you’ll find the table for spell slots above 9th level. The spells themselves appear in chapter two. The spells are truly legendary, vast amounts of power to through at your players and let your players throw at their enemies. It does good by stressing that these spells are not a right, it’s entirely up to the DM as to whether they’re allowed. Epic spells need to be specially developed. The mage needs to find time, money and the XP sacrifice to research and master these spectacular effects. In addition the development of epic spells require special seeds and these are the base spells from which the epic ones are grown from. These spell seeds are incredibly powerful in their own right too. The seed destroy does 20d6 over a range of 12,000 feet and requires a Spellcraft of 29.

I’m not sure how this system maps onto divine magic. I don’t think it does. Are clerics left to develop these spells themselves while remaining submissive to the source of their lesser magic?

I think the epic magic works very well – but only for arcane magic.

Chapter three offers advice on running and epic game. The main suggestion is to retool the world, changing everything to suit the new epic characters. The hugely powerful necromancer lord the characters destroyed a campaign back was actually just a pawn being used by an even more powerful undead abomination called an atropal. If the characters haven’t heard of legends during the course of the campaign, legends which can be turned into epic campaigns then there’s some suggestions as to where to go from there; perhaps the world is young and the group is the first ever to reach such heights. Leaving the world behind seems likely after that.

It would be too easy to slam the book for suggesting that epic level campaigns are ones set in bigger and more dangerous dungeons than the dungeons used before. It’s exactly what it does do – but this is a written with Dungeons and Dragons in mind. Suggestions include using a adamantine portcullis rather than a wooden door and using a wall of force rather than a paper wall. Actually, I think the stats for paper walls are there only for completeness! The dungeon concept actually does work on the epic scale, some terrible place where terrible things have been imprisoned. It’s the Monte Cooke formula; some cleric came along and trapped evil demons in the temple, temple that looks like a statue or barrow ready and waiting for you to come along and deal with them. The DM is just left to work out why the characters want to be in such a place anyway. Not for another pile of gold, surely? The epic wilderness seems unlikely since creatures of power enough to bother epic characters would clearly have wiped clean any wildernesses long before the players got there. Those are the two case studies. If it’s locked up or enclosed then it’s a dungeon, if it’s outside then it’s a wilderness.

The chapter considers variants on some rules, how do deal with challenge ratings now that the players are using the special epic system, they scale up the demographics to exceed the 100,000 gp limit of a metropolis too 600,000 gp for a planar metropolis and tinker with the previous settings and there’s even some suggestions on how to deal with mixed-level campaigns. There’s a table of 100 epic adventure ideas. It’s a nice touch, I suppose, trying to show that the game goes on at this level. Examples include, "A ranger hero recognised around the world begins to organize a group of explorers for reasons unknown." (on the poor side of the scale) to better ones like "Dwarf miners follow a vein of adamantine to a hinged valve sealed with divine magic of an age older than any of the current deities." Speaking of which, if you want your epic characters to ascend to godhood, go for it, the handbook is happy to push you in the direction of Deities and Demigods.

Chapter four is on epic magic items. What can I say? More crunchy! Power of the universe! Page 143 is work checking out for the illustrations of interesting magic staffs. Um. More crunchy! Okay, sure, it’s very crunchy but it’s crunchy done well. It’s cordon bleu crunchy with silver service.

And what of chapter five? Monsters. This is another chance for the crunch experts at WotC to shine but better still they’re actually fairly inspirational creations, some truly scary things and I can say with some certainty that we’ll begin to see chatroom names along the lines of ‘Atropal’, ‘Xixecal’, ‘Brachyurus’ and ‘Devastation Vermin’ within seconds. I do like the idea of Devastation Vermin. If you build a better mouse-trap then nature will build a better mouse. There are dragons here too, epic dragons like the ‘force dragon’ (think ‘wall of force’) and the prismatic dragon. It’s a different angle from Gygax’s recent Slayer’s Guide to Dragons but I think it’ll be possible to combine the two. My favourite is the Worm that Walks even though it’s an idea I’ve seen used to great success elsewhere.

There is a sixty-page campaign setting for chapter six. It’s actually rather well written and the introduction of groups and factions (albeit at an epic power level) gives some hope that scenarios with subtly, politics and drama are still possible. It’s set in the mighty city of Union, one of those places that sit on the nexus point of planes. The campaign is complete with colourful maps, detailed descriptions of the places therein and NPCs. At the end there is an adventure set in the campaign setting. I think this strategy of introducing a place and then the adventure is a step forward from the old habit of diving straight into the adventure and suggesting that the locations can be used again in homebrewed scenarios.

The appendixes will be of interest to crunchy Faerun and Greyhawk fans. Figures like Elminster, Szass Tam, Iyraclea, Eclavdra and Mordenkainen appear in illustration and in new epic level character sheet format. The very last appendix is a collection of succinct charts and tables for the creation of epic NPCs.

I’ve grumbled a lot in this review. I’m not keen on the idea of epic level games and I think that’s clear. I was hoping that the book would pull me around and although it tugged in places it hasn’t really succeeded. On the other hand, if I wanted to run an epic level game or didn’t want to retire characters fast approaching 20th level then I would less grumbly. The book is of unquestionably quality. 320 colour pages, hardback, expensive ($39.95 US and I paid £26.00) and wonderfully illustrated. With the exception of epic divine magic the book’s mechanics are nicely worked out too. The resulting good / bad effect leads to a middling rating, all things weighed and measured, I’ve found it to be a fairly average book.

This GameWyrd review can be found at epic levels here

Edited for clarity.

Although since I rarely play at high levels, I wasn't initially going to pick up the Epic Level Handbook. However, the book was much prettier than I thought and I decided that, since folks like Ryan Dancey had mentioned some of my problems with the system, Wizards of the Coast was aware of them, so there was a good chance the book would solve my problems and make high level play fun. In addition, it was on sale through some kind of distribution error at buy.com for less than $14, so I figured I really couldn't really lose with that, right? Well, yes and no. It's still $14 that don't know how much use I'll get out of, since it didn't grab me in the least and say "play some epic characters, %&@#!!!" the way Manual of the Planes did. But it did have a few inspired moments. Here and there.

First of all, this book is without a doubt the biggest and heaviest book on my RPG bookshelf. Coming in at about 320 pages (when you count a few pages of ads in the back), the book just looks meaty. And as you'd expect, it is mostly full of "meat" -- little in the way of setting or anything like that, tons in the way of mechanics.

The book starts off with an introduction saying that as far as D&D is concerned, epic just means above 20th level (you probably already knew that.) It starts the first chapter off listing "epic" characters. "Baba Yaga. Conan the Barbarian. Cu Chulainn. Elminster of Shadowdale. Elric of Melnibone. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Gandalf. Gilgamesh. Hiawatha. Odysseus. These are names of power. Names of glory. Epic names."

However, unfortunately, with the exception of Elminster of Shadowdale (who doesn't really belong on that list anyway) the book then completely ignores that list and doesn't give you anything you could use to actually recreate any of those characters. One of my complaints about D&D overall, and it really shows here, is that it is increasingly self-referential, forgetting the "source material" that inspired it in the first place. Chapter 1: Characters, Skills & Feats, for instance, after giving you very bland expansions of each of the classes presented in the PHB and the DMG, gives equally bland feats and skill DCs. Very little of this is original, inspiring or even neat, in my opinion, and none of it harks back to the list of epic characters listed as the chapter starts. The fact that most skill DCs, to give one example, are about 75-80% or more dependent on bonus and only 20-25% (if that) dependent on your d20 roll makes epic level play fairly boring, in my opinion. In a quick playtest, it was initially kinda fun to just see the amazing things we could do, but as the novelty value wore off after less than a single evening I really wonder how useful any of the material in this chapter is to someone who really wants to run a long-term campaign with these rules. Oh, and the chapter also attempts to "fix" the system at higher level, by coming up with an all new bonus system as you advance to apply to your attack and such. This sort of works -- at least the system isn't obviously "broken" but the problems I mentiond above about how much your d20 roll matters anymore can't be completely eliminated. Of course, this becomes an issue even before you roll past 20 on the level-o-meter, so it's not surprising.

Then again, I'm a miserly old codger with my own stick-in-the-mud views on how the game should be played. How does the rest of the book stack up?

Chapter 2: Epic Spells suffers from the same problem, in my opinion. The "epic" spells are just larger than life novelty items -- epic whoopy cushions that are fun(ny) once or twice, then boring forever after that. However, the chapter includes a very good idea, although I find it to be a bare skeleton of a system when ideally this should have been rolled out to all spells, epic or otherwise. I'm talking about the idea of using spell seeds and factors to create your own spells. Spell seeds are the basic thrust of the spell, and depending on what variables you want to add to it (factors) like changing the DC or casting time you can get spells that feel very different. By combining different seeds and layering factors over them, you can really create a very flexible spell system. Alas, it really only works at epic level though, when with a "standard" methodology that we could use at level 1, I'd have found this section to be worth the price of admission by itself. Chalk it up to a missed opportunity. Chapter 3: Running an Epic Game is more bland, somewhat useful yet certainly uninspiring work, including how to run epic dungeons (!) and other things that suggest that becoming "epic" really doesn't mean anything has changed, as there are few ideas on how to make the game really different in feel. There is some good advice on how to manage runaway wealth and power. However, the nature of the system is that most encounters will either be a landslide victory for the characters or a landslide loss for them, and a few variant rules help to dull the edge of this factor a little bit.

You, if you are astute, can probably already guess what I'll say about Chapter 4: Epic Magic Items. In general, I find magic items uninspiring anyway -- I can barely read through that section of the DMG. This chapter is about the same calibre as the DMG, with items that will knock your socks off, as you expect. Nothing is really different than you'd expect, I think, except that the writers have to engage in some kinda loopy logic to explain how artifacts are now junior league magic items compared to "epic" magic items. The book really begins to show its truest potential in Chapter 5: Monsters. Of course, if you've read my reviews in the past, you probably know that I really enjoy monsters (which is ironic, because as a DM, I prefer to use NPCs as adversaries and really keep the monsters at a minimum.) However, for the first time in the entire book (starting on page 155, I'm afraid to say) I'm inspired by something in the book. Some of these monsters are truly magnificent in execution and concept, like the atropal -- undead, aborted god-foetus creatures, the Xixecal -- the Godzilla of ice-creatures, special dragons and golems, white and black slaadi and more. Templates are even inspiring -- the paragon creature that adds up to +18 to the CR (!) and represents the ultimate expression of that creature, or the "epic" pseudonatural template for some real Lovecraftian nightmares. Or how about the Worm that Walks -- a new kind of lich in which the body completely decays and the only thing that is left is an anthropomorphic mass of writhing worms and maggots!

Some attempt at setting is made in Chapter 6: An Epic Setting in which a number or very cliched organizations are detailed, and a demi-plane where the bouncers only let epic folks in, apparently, called Union is described. Other than Arnie Swekel's artwork of the floating city and dragon-riders approaching it, I found the treatment felt rushed and thrown-together in most regards.

Next come the probably obligatory Appendix I: Epic NPCs of Faerun and the much shorter Appendix II: Epic NPCs of Greyhawk Blah, I guess it had to be done, but I, not-surprisingly, didn't find it any more interesting than anything else in the book. Finally, Appendix III: Epic NPCs gives tables for DMs to quickly put together "standard" epic level characters (!?), although the concept is a bit of a misnomer to begin with.

So, to recap, with the exception of the marvellous artwork (most of the best of it done by Wayne Reynolds, as usual -- Sam Wood and Todd Lockwood were noticably scarce in this book) and a fascinating monster section, the book struck me as servicable, but no more than that. I didn't feel inspired to roll up an epic level character to try one out (although I did anyway, probably just so I could use the book once and not feel bad about having bought it) and certainly not to run an epic level campaign. I was hoping that this book and Deities & Demigods would create a synergy of some kind; that the two of them would somehow be greater than the sum of the two. Unfortunately, they do not -- surprisingly they don't even work well together, in my opinion, so we're left with -- again -- a book that tantallizes with snazzy pictures, but then disappoints with burgois execution.

By Steve Creech, Exec. Chairman, d20 Magazine Rack

This review is for Epic Level Handbook by Andy Collins and Bruce Cordell. Published by Wizards of the Coast, this 320-page book (retail $39.95) presents the “official” rules for character advancement and running campaigns beyond 20th level. If you plan on playing characters higher than 20th level, consider this to be Core Rulebook V (I consider Psionics Handbook to be Core Rulebook IV).

When I first read the book, there were many disappointing features that I thought fell short of the hype and expectations. I admit much of it stemmed from seeing (and using) the unofficial rules that were handed out at a previous Gen Con. Obviously much has changed since then and understandably so.

When a character moves beyond 20th level, the standard progression rates no longer apply (except XP). Otherwise, you would have uber characters with base attacks of +60 in no time at all. Needless to say, this issue is countered quite effectively. Advancement is quite slow and highly controlled in a manner that is a logical extension of the existing progression rate. In addition to new skill points and feats, each core class continues to accrue special abilities that augment them even more. Barbarians gain better damage reduction and dodge capabilities. Bards and clerics gain additional feats. Druids may wildshape more frequently and into other forms. Fighters continue to gain bonus feats every other level while a monk’s speed becomes blazing fast. Paladins may remove disease more frequently and rangers gain more favored enemies. Rogues improve their dodge ability along with their sneak attacks. Sorcerers and wizards gains bonus feats while the primary prestige classes continue to advance their own special abilities in a progressive manner.

Epic level prestige classes are presented next. There are nine in all, with each tailored to a core class’ particular strengths. Epic prestige classes cannot be taken until a character has surpassed 20th level and meets the specific PrC requirements. The nine classes are: agent retriever, cosmic descryer, divine emissary, epic infiltrator, guardian paramount, high proselytizer, legendary dreadnought, perfect wight, and union sentinel. The agent retriever specializes in acquiring long-lost items. He receives tracking bonuses and ethereal jaunt and plane shift as he progresses. The cosmic descryer is an expert on the mysteries of the planes and gains abilities tailored to the planes, such as planar summoning and enduring gate. Divine emissaries are essentially favored by their specific god. They gain divine inspiration, extra smites, and greater planar ally. The epic infiltrator specializes in espionage and sabotage. She gains sneak attack bonuses, the ability to read thoughts and cover her identity. The guardian paramount is the ultimate bodyguard, taking the damage meant for the one he guards. Besides bonus feats, he gains uncanny dodge bonuses and protective aura. The high proselytizer is the voice of a deity, inspiring religious movements. Legendary dreadnoughts are the ultimate warriors, literally unmovable and unstoppable. The perfect wight is best described as a supernatural thief. With abilities like improved invisibility, incorporeal and shadow form, this class is awesome. Finally, the union sentinel is a planar policeman devoted to maintaining law, order and peace.

Epic skills are handled the same as other skills except they signify actions or abilities of astounding proportions. For example, using Balance, you can walk across a cloud (DC 120). Escape Artist can let you pass through a wall of force (DC 120). These are just a few examples of what you can expect with epic skills.

Epic feats is a section that is both good and disappointing. The sheer number of feats in impressive to say the least. Some of the feats are truly epic (such as Death of Enemies, Great Smiting, Improved Death Attack, Lasting Inspiration, or Penetrate Damage Reduction) while others seem to fall short (such as Epic Reflexes, Epic Prowess, Legendary Climber, or Superior Initiative). I have to say my favorites are Swarm of Arrows, Trap Sense, Polyglot, and Legendary Tracker.

Chapter two deals with epic spells. While 9th level spells are still the top end of spell progression, epic levels allow for the direct manipulation of spell energy to produce incredible results. Epic spells begin with a seed that is then developed (which is time-consuming and expensive) after which it may be cast. The Spellcraft DC for most epic seeds is quite high ranking from DC 50 to DC 120 (or more). There is a decent listing of epic spells that will give everyone a rough idea what to expect when crafting their own spells. My favorites are Dragon Strike, Hellball, Summon Behemoth, and Vengeful Gaze of God for sheer power. The rules for developing epic seeds are laid out very well and are fairly straightforward.

Running an epic campaign is the subject of chapter three. This is a very solid chapter and a good resource section for any GM. Epic dungeons can easily be made even tougher by adding walls made of mithral, adamantine, or pure force instead of mere stone. Of course, the traps can be even more devastating. There is an illustration showing just how devastating a trap may be that should make any player’s heart sink in fear. Especially when he realizes his GM is seeing the same picture. Planar encounters will probably become more common given the power level of the characters. Of course, one of the strong points to this book is the fact that you now have the tools to make your villainous NPCs truly epic. There are some very solid things contained in this chapter including a table of 100 epic adventure ideas.

Chapter four discusses epic magic items. Guidelines for the creation of epic magic items are included. There are new armor and weapon qualities along with miscellaneous magic items. This is one of the disappointing sections of the book, in my opinion. Some of the items are certainly deserving of epic status, while others, are simply reprints of previous edition magic items or artifacts. For example, Everfull purse (formerly Bucknard’s Everfull Purse) is now a minor epic artifact (which I wouldn’t consider as epic). The Axe of the Dwarvish Lords is a major epic artifact and rightfully so. There are some old favorites here, but not all of them fall into epic status. Especially when you think of the Hand and Eye of Vecna as major artifacts in the DMG.

Monsters are the topic of chapter five. Sixty-four monsters are presented with Challenge Ratings ranging from 5 to 57. All but 6 are at least CR 21. Although they look to be balanced, the statistics on several of these creatures are staggering. I especially like Xixecals, the Iron Colossus, Primal Elementals (even if the artwork for the primal water elemental reminds me of Gumby), Slaads and Winterwight.

Chapter six gives GMs information on creating epic settings. Here are the tools for using powerful organizations, cities, and NPCs to interact with your epic characters. The organizations are well described with an overview and brief history followed by details of the organization, its leadership, member benefits and responsibilities, and possible encounters. This chapter also gives you a full-blown site-based adventure as a primer for your epic characters as well as adventure “nuggets” for creating your own adventures.

The book wraps up with three appendices detailing well-known personalities as well as baseline statistics for NPCs of every standard class from 21st to 30th level. All of the big name personalities are here: Elminster, Halaster Blackcloak, The Simbul, Alustriel, Manshoon, and Mordenkainen.

In conclusion, Epic Level Handbook is a great resource. While there are some sections that are a bit of a letdown, it does deliver the goods necessary to either take your players or your villains beyond 20th level. GMs looking for ideas of epic proportions will get the most out of this book. I recommend it as a good accessory to the core rulebooks if you’re looking to take your campaign to higher levels. It’s worth it.

To see the graded evaluation of this product, go to The Critic's Corner at www.d20zines.com.



Chapter 1: This chapter covers the expanded levels for character classes, skills and feats. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did they expand the advancement of the core classes (fighter, cleric, and so on) but also expanded the core psionic classes, as well as the prestige classes of the DMG. The advancement follows a logical continued progression without too much to trip on. Interestingly, all of the less than 10 levels prestige classes are defined in here as having no additional advancement, while the 10 levels prestige classes are. I say this is odd, because this means (almost by definition) that the 10-level prestige class is actually unlimited in levels...

The skills section is where the book has its one shining moment. Here we see that with a high enough skill roll, a character can swim up a waterfall, or walk with nothing but a cloud to support him -- here (it seems) is the one place where a character can truly be epic. Still, most of the things that they touch upon do not reach the sorts of things that one reads about in epic fantasy or legendary, mythological tales. I sincerely wished they had gone further in this section than they did. As it is, it seems almost half-hearted attempt to explain a great idea.

The feats section is where the book hits one of its two darkest moments. here we see that the best that they could come up with were expanded versions of feats they had already published, or rather obvious things that, although not that impressive, are labeled as EPIC feats, and thus almost tell you that they must be special then, huh? For example, there is a feat that grants an additional domain. In and of itself, this seems a rather obvious thing for a cleric to be able to gain, so why is it something that must wait for level 21 before it can be had? Is it really something that suddenly separates the big boys from the really big boys? Not in this reviewers humble opinion.

Chapter 2: Spells. Wow. I can now cast a spell that deals so much damage that one has to wonder why they did not just cast HARM. Where are the spells of truly epic power? Where are the spells that will curse an entire nation, causing all who would assume the title of king to go mad? Where are the spells that will bring about a Never-ending Winter, or plunge the world into eternal night? Where are the spells that cause trouble on a global, planar and extra-planar scale? Where are the spells we read about in truly epic stories? Where are the spells that one feels might only be possible if one is a truly epic individual? In its stead, we get the hell-ball. A super-duper-supped-up ball of fire + acid + who-knows-what-else. Boring, in my opinion; and even if it is not boring, it still is not (again, in my opinion) EPIC.

The one redeeming feature of this chapter is how spells above 9th level are handled. It is an interesting and well thought out (mechanically) system. One that, if someone wanted to, could be molded into a system to eliminate spell levels all together. In fact, I have been working on such a system, since I read this.

Chapter 3: An advice chapter on how to run an epic game. Unfortunately, all it really tells you is how to run a game that has really, really, really powerful people in it. And if there is anything I cannot stress enough, it is that really, really, really powerful does not (always) equate to epic. There is a feeling here, a soul if you will, that is missing from the mechanistic approach to define epic. In the end, the advice is decent to above average and serves the mechanics that they have drawn up well.

Chapter 4: Magical Items. This is the other truly dark portion of the book. This is the most uninspired, uninteresting chapter of the book. As I stated in my original comments, above, if +5 is the limit, then +6 and higher must be epic! And this, it seems, is what they give you. Wow. I could not have thought of that one. I wanted items of power that were almost frightening to use, I wanted items that made me think -- things like the ring in Lord of the Rings. Go watch the movie (even if you have read the books a hundred times) and look at what it is to go invisible with that thing. Look at the hint of power that can only barely be fathomed. Look at the allure of that ring, and how it corrupts the soul. Look at how that ring is epic, and how a sword that shifts from +5 to +6 is not epic, and you will see what I mean.

Chapter 5: Monsters. A fair, somewhat interesting chapter that details a few creatures I might use. Still, few of them are what I would constitute special. But, they are not bad -- they are entertaining to read, and so I recommend reading through it. There are a few gems in there that make this chapter worth while.

Chapter 6: A bland campaign setting that I cannot see too many people oohing and ahhing about.

And that about sums it up.

Dave's Conclusions

First let me say how much I wanted to like this book. I wanted to see how the designers of D&D handled truly epic characters -- not just really powerful characters, but epic characters. The sorts of characters that leap off of the page and stare you down, face-to-face, and literally demand that you use them in your game! Characters that come alive when you look at them the way that Perseus or Gilgamesh do when you read about the.

This was not, it would appear, what the writers of this book had in mind. Sure, they come close at times with things like the ability to do things that were defined as impossible by earlier books in the D&D line. This was good, but none of it was inspired.

The Dungeon Master's Guide puts a limit at +5 on magical enhancements. So the Epic Level Handbook takes the same charts, with the obvious costing progression and continues it out to +10! <yawn> This was material that was obvious to anyone who has looked at the original charts. Did I need a thick, hardback tome to tell me how to do that?

Look, I can come up with make it a +6 sword! That's Epic! all on my own -- but I wouldn't. That is not epic. Not even in the simplest definitions of that word. Epic is a sword that allows you to draw energy from yourself and your allies to greater effects. The sort of things that make you think once in a while -- the sorts of things that remind you of the old Spiderman (tm) adage: with great power comes great responsibility.

Someone on the message boards described his frustration with this book in much the same way I was feeling when he said: I wanted thieves that could steal the moon fro the sky and the blue from a fair-maiden's eyes... -- and that was a good summation of what I was looking for (but did not get) in this volume.

However, I have been criticized before for giving reviews that judge the book on what I wanted it to be, rather than what it is: so, instead I will rate the book a 3 -- it is an average d20 source book, with a lot of crunchy information. Unfortunately, I find that crunchy information to be old-hat, standard fare and without anything really unique to say. Thus, it cannot rate anything higher.

Additional Information

OK... some called what I (originaly) wrote above a rant... I can see that, but it is a review, in the sense that it tells you a great deal about what is not in this book that, to garner the title EPIC, should be. However, I have no trouble expounding upon what I wrote, as you can see.

(note: I also fixed the formatting tags).


First Post
There's really only one problem with this book: Epic Expectations.

You've bought the book (or are thinking about it) because you expect to play Epic characters, and you've been told that once yer characters are past 20th...(poof!)...they become Epic. Whatever that is, you're not sure, but you're hoping that once you open this book, you'll find out.

Well, you're going to be dissappointed. No two ways about it.

This is a solid book, a good book, a well-crafted book....but it's just not going to meet your definition of Epic. That's mainly because (I'm guessing) you don't really know what an Epic D&D system looks like. (But, you say, "that's why I'm buyin' th' book!") The problem is compounded by the fact that this book has alot of different roles to fill, and a very wide spectrum of people to please. The book tries to please both the "more power!" people and the "game balance!" people, while at the same time continuing the feel and rules progression we've all come to expect from D&D. That's one big bill to pay.

A Peek Inside:

As usual for me, this is not a play-test review, and I will not go over the structure in detail -- just those parts that catch my eye.

Chapter 1: Characters, Skills, and Feats
The first thing to notice is that a 21st level character is not much different from a 20th. Just about 1 level of different, in fact. So, there's no "shazzam!" The skills have higher DCs, and the feats are more powerful, but much of the time you'll be saying (as I did): "Hey, that's not Epic...." But it does have a wider scope than pre-21st levels, and the rules here are well-balanced and occasionaly (dare I say it?) inspiring.

For example, in the epic feats section you can find Two-Weapon Rend next to Vorpal Strike. While the first might raise cries of "that's not epic!", the second brings out whispers of "Hey..not bad!". An informal survey of players (actually, of just me), shows opinion is that there's a ratio of 2:1 "truely" epic feats in this section. The rest of this book follows that trend....and I'm not convinced that's a bad thing.

Chapter 2: Epic Spells
Very cool, actually. If more of the book could have been like this, I'm sure there would have been more "5-stars" in the ratings column.

Chapter 3: Running an Epic Game
I'm not sure what everyone's trouble is with this chapter. It's intelligent, concise, and covers all of the bases. The fact that this advice is also useful for lower level games is irrelevent, IMHO. There's really very little wasted verbage here.

Chapter 4: Epic Magic Items
A decent chapter, but probably one of the more dissappointing ones. It is true that most of this chapter seems a mere extension of the core rules, rather than a pronounced shift to epic items. And many of the items (like Staff of Mighty Force, or Ring of Adamantine Law) seem like they could be made just as easily with pre-epic rules. On the plus side, the Everwhirling Chain kicks some serious arse.

Chapter 5: Monsters
Very cool. This chapter ranks up there with the Epic spells chapter. Example? Undead infant-abomination gods . End of discussion.

Chapter 6: An Epic Setting
Not a good chapter, and especially dissapointing after reading thru Chapter 5. I was especially dissappointed by the Planar Metropolis of Union, which seems to be Sigil, times two. Ah well. But to be fair, I may use bits and peices of this, at least as I think through how epic characters can fit into my home-brew universe.

  • Production: 5 Very good. As is the standard for WotC, word-density, editing, organization (there's an index, for example) and format are all excellent.

    Artwork: 4 Good. Some peices are not so good, and over all many don't have that undefinable Epic quality to them.

    Game Mechanics: 5 Excellent. As far as I can tell (without playing it), it all seems very solid and balanced.

    "Cool" Factor: 3 Here's were it lost alot of people. There are some great ideas.....but they're surrounded by "more of the same". In a way, perhaps that's good......considering it's just epic levels of the same game we've played since 1st level.

    Overall: 4 Good, but not awe-inspiring

I think if you're thinking of post-20th level playing, you'll find this book complete and useful. If you think this book is going to be somehow different, you're going to be dissappointed. All-in-all, I'm glad I've got it, and I imagine I'll be even more glad as time goes by. I'll place bets with anyone interested: this book will improve with age.

The Epic level handbook is a 319 pages hardcover. This book is written to help your characters to go past level 20. The lay out is in the familiar WOTC core book. The artwork is exactly what I aspect from the creators of Magic the Gathering, pretty good. It has six chapters.

Chapter one: Characters, skills and feats.
This chapter provides the hard rules for going past level 20. The system is that you basically get at every odd level an epic attack bonus and every even level an epic bonus on your saves. As they explain, a system with more attacks or strong and weak attack rolls wouldn't have hold out. The saving throw would automatically fail or succeed depending on if it were a weak or strong save, because they would differ more then 20.

The other cornerstone of the system are epic feats. For example the bard will gain only extra feat every three levels. If you fear it will make him another fighter don't worry. There are feats that will give him new or expand his bardic music. Since there are ten such feats and there are other interesting feats, your bard should be able to level for a while.

The problem is that some old abilities are expanded. A barbarian gets an extra rage every four levels. Since the barbarian is still only able to rage once every encounter, at some point the extra rage becomes useless. There is only a set number of challenging encounters a party can handle every day. Luckily they realized it with the paladin; he gets as many feats as the bard, and still gets more remove disease each week.

WOTC has also updated their prestige classes into epic careers. They haven't forgotten the psionic classes either. Good job!

What would a book be without the prestige classes, for some persons reason enough to buy any book. In that philosophy WOTC has written epic prestige classes. The first is the agent retriever, a guy that retrieves objects. Then there is a guy that infiltrates a guy that is bodyguard, a guy that starts religions in countries, a combat monster and a cop. I belief this is the weak spot of the chapter, I'll explain below.

They have also written additional epic DCs for existing skills. Some are good, climbing like a fly on the ceiling DC 100, others are goofed up, standing on your horse: ride DC 40. I must assume every circus needs an epic acrobat to do this trick.

I give this chapters two and a halve star. The system works and does the job. The reason why I don't give any more is that they have ignored a few issues. Take the fighter. As written in the D&D books it's a frontline fighter. When such a fighter reaches 21 level, he is an extremely elite soldier and a veteran that can write the book on how to wage war. What would any society do with such a guy, they would get him in as an advisor. He would get a lot of skills that made him a master of waging war, not the limited skill list of the PHB. This guy would get intimidate or diplomacy to motivate the troops. Bluff for all kinds of misleading tactics, and knowledge about most battles. In short it would be more realistic to have the fighter evolve into a warmaster. And that would have been a real epic class, instead of the agent retriever.

For the cleric the problem is even worse, at some point the cleric's power will begin to rival that of his god. What happens then. Will he pray "oh not so mighty Pelor who is weaker then me. No, the guy will go and look to become a god himself, a god is best helped by an allied god and many gods have cleric levels (see deity and demigods). Time for another epic class: The seeker of divinity.

Unfortunately the book ignores these problems.

Chapter two: Epic spells
What do you think makes for a good epic spell. A rabbit out of the hat, a ball of fire that burns a 20ft radius, a spell that conjures a dragon, a spell that puts a country in a year long winter or a spell that fills the granaries in a country. If you rightfully belief that the latter two were it, I have a disappointment.

This chapter lets spellcasters build their own spells. Sounds cool, looks cool but is flawed. You start with a seed, for example energy. This seed will let you do 10d6 damage to an 20ft radius, with a reflex save like a level ten spell. You can design a spell with a bigger save, more damage, a better roll against spell resistance or greater area. You can even add another seed that animates the corpses of your victims into zombies.

Before you think "great, that makes up for not being able to turn my country's summer season into a blizard", hold on. the only thing that limits you is your spellcraft skill. This baby has a cap equal to your level level+3. Your potential targets will get more hitdice, better spell resistance and better saves. You can improve the damage by 1D6 for a +2 on the development’s DC, a +1 saving throw DC costs for another +2 development DC. In short at higher levels a big gap will start to form.

You can have the spell damage yourself, or pay XP to make it easier to develop and cast, but that won't solve it. Even worse the XP burning will make sure that you will limp even more slowly behind, and the development of epic spells costs XP. The only way to keep up is to take the epic feat "Improved spell capacity" as many times as possible. That baby will give an extra spell slot up to one level higher then your previously highest slot. Use heighten spell and go for save or you're out spells. The cool frostball that turns your victims into zombies simply won't cut it. But in case of emergency, we still have timestop and mordenkainen's disjunction.

Pity, this chapter could have pushed the book into the four star region, now it keeps it down.

Chapter three: Running an epic game
This chapter starts to explain how special epic characters are. You are encouraged to let them explore major events in the multiverse. The chapter goes on with explaining how to upgrade your dungeons, luckily they do hint your dungeons should change. They also give the advice that you should fast-forward something, like a wilderness. Your players should easily walk trough it. They also note what I belief is the spot for epic characters: the planes. They also introduce some optional rules, nothing really special. The epic campaign is the next topic. The main message here is that you should be prepared for some spells. The best part of the chapter is a hundred epic adventure ideas, there are some really cool ones.

This chapter has some good parts and some part any GM should have already figured out.

Chapter four: Epic magic items
This chapter does exactly what it says.

Chapter five: Monsters
The chapters give your Epic characters new enemies. A very cool idea was abominations, or what happens when gods make mistakes. Or the genius loci, when the landscape itself animates. Such enemies do well in an epic campaign. The chapter does unfortunately also feature some critter that lack epic feeling. If you would downgrade the stats of a prismasaurus or ruin swarm, they will make great normal campaign monsters, the only epic thing about them is their stats.

I find this chapter about average, there is some good stuff and there are creatures that clearly say "yes, I'm not original but the writers thought they had to put a creature of this type in the book".

Chapter six: An epic setting
This chapter start with a couple of epic organizations. One again the writers repeat the mistake they made in chapter one. Putting epic before a chapter and boosting the stats does not make something epic. We are getting an assassin guild (you'll never find those outside an epic campaign), A society that seeks magical devices (ok, that's not that bad), a society in which members claim divine ancestry. A mage guild, a group of mercenaries, a planar cartographic society (yes, the first one that is truly epic), a group that secretly tries to govern others and a police force. Then they introduce the city of union. Although they describe the city, they fail to answer one question, why, apart from the stats and society that it houses. I could easily downgrade the stat into a non epic one, without losing taste. To add shame to injury on page 248 in the sidebar, they address the really interesting cities, the ones the have written epic all over them.

My conclusion
Chapter one is the most important one of the book and it works reasonably well. Therefor the book does what it says and earns two stars. However the book keeps lacking things. chapter one could have been more innovative. Chapter two could have been great but isn't, chapter six could have been much more interesting, any city in the Manuel of the planes would have made a great epic setting. Sure if you want to keep dungeon crawling after twentieth level, go ahead. But epic should mean you are just that, epic. Not crawling through a dungeon killing bigger goblins with bigger stats for more XP and treasure. Half the book says it should be that way and the other half says bigger dungeons and bigger critters. A lost opportunity.


Oh dear god, the attrocity that is the ELH should never have been allowed in print.

I ask you: what kind of madman would it take to unleash such a horror unto the role-playing populace? Especially one so looked forward to by the RPG community in general?

When I first heard about it, I was excited. I wanted my players to get to epic levels. I waited with bated breath, and snatched it up the moment it was released. But woe was me, for I spent $40 on a paperweight, for all I will be using it. I've had it for months and months now, so this isn't a knee-jerk reaction. Indeed, I still liked it upon first reading. But the more I've used it, the more I've hated it. Indeed, I think this makes my review very valid. It's written not just after reading the book, but playing with it *extensively*. I think know what I'm talking about here.

Anyway, let's talk about it's many shortcomings on a point by point basis. I'll address the problems as they appear in the book.

CHAPTER 1: EPIC CLASSES: The basic classes are mostly-balanced, except that the attack and save progressions go all screwey. Specifically, BAB is the same for all classes. Though this is an obvious attempt to fix another problem I'll discuss later, it causes some serious problems. For instance, a character who took 20 levels of fighter, then 20 levels of Wizard will have a better BAB than one who took 20 levels of wizard before taking 20 levels of fighter.

STILL CHAPTER 1: EPIC PrCs: These are amazingly better than just continuing a regular class or PrC into epic levels, which I guess is the ultimate continuation of the arms race d20 has become in so many products, with each author trying to make his options the best/most powerful. PrCs are better than base classes, for the most part, and Epic PrCs are just as much better than PrCs. I mean, I'd hate for the basic classes like "fighter" to be viable for a character's whole career! Then you wouldn't need as many supplements to further escalate the arm's race!

CHAPTER 1: EPIC SKILLS: This is, amazingly enough, pretty well done. It's the one part of the book I use. It just has new and higher save DCs. Nothing exciting or ground-breaking, which is probably why it's the one part of the book that works.

ALMOST DONE WITH CHAPTER 1: EPIC FEATS: These vary so much in power that it's laughable. Epic Dodge lets you automatically, with no roll, negate one attack against you every round, for instance. Powerful? God, yes. OTOH, Beast Wild Shape lets you wildshape into a beast. And we all know how many powerful beasts there are at epic levels (hint: none). Legendary Climber let's you ignore penalties for scaling walls at normal speed. Why is this even an epic feat? Epic Spell Focus gives you a +6 to your DCs. Yes, +6! Armor Skin gives you a +2 Natural Armor bonus, as if any epic character would be caught dead with anything less than an Amulet of Natural Armor +5 (note: the feat specifically says it doesn't stack with natural armor from items). Most eigth level characters would find this feat useless. On the other end of the power scale, Mighty Rage increases your barbarian rage bonus from +4 to +8. OK, I think that's enough examples.

CHAPTER 2: EPIC SPELLS: They've completly scrapped the D&D magic system in the epic spells. Now you've got a big mix-and-match table that lets you make your own spells, and you have to make Spellcraft checks to cast them. It's a neat idea, but flawed in execution. First of all, all of them require a Spellcraft check of 24 and the appropriate Knowledge skill (Nature for Druids, Religion for Clerics, Arcana for Wiz/Sorcs) at 24 ranks. Of course, this completly hoses Sorcerers (as if they needed further hosing!). Most Sorcs have average-ish intelligence, and get two, maybe three skill points per level. If your campaign is going epic, almost, if not *all* of a sorc's skill points have to be tied up between these two skills. And gods forbid you didn't design your sorc with epic levels in mind from the begining. Oh, and the epic spell examples they provide are dumb. There's one called Vengeful Eye of God that you'd have to be 80th level or something to cast, and one called Let Go of Me that doesn't even deserve to be Epic (more like 6th or 7th). Plus, it has a dumb name for a epic spell.

CHAPTER 3: EPIC CAMPAIGNS: Just general advice on running epic games. Probably would be useful if you were masochistic enough to try it. A lot of this is rehashed stuff from the DMG, but with an epic twist. They kinda-sorta suggest you errata Time Stop. Or, at least, suggest that you interpret it "strictly." Oddly, they don't actually tell you if this is the canon interpretation. I think the reason is it's not, but the writers thought Time Stop was still way broken anyway.

CHAPTER 4: EPIC MAGIC ITEMS: OK, here I'm going to talk about the problem with AC. In D&D, you rely more and more on magical AC boosting gear as you level up. This trend continues in the ELH, but the magic items continue to fall behind. I challenge you to build a 40th level fighter. Now, see what his AC is, even outfitted with the best gear in the book. I bet it's barely within five of his to-hit. If that. So he'd only miss himself (or another similarly outfitted character) on a roll of a 1. The gear just doesn't scale up well.

CHAPTER 5: MONSTERS: Same AC problem here. Let's take a look at the first monster, the Anaxim, a CR 22 creature. It has an AC of 37. It has a to-hit of 40. Soooo. If two Anaxims were to fight, one would only miss the other on a roll of a 1. It only gets worse as the CR gets higher. Basically, when two characters are figting in a melee, they only roll d20s to see if they get a critical threat and to make sure they didn't roll a 1. Just to assure you I'm not taking a bad example, lets' look at the next several creatures:

Atropal: AC 51, Attack +49 (OK, this one misses itself on a 1 or 2).
Chicimec: AC 39, Attack +39
Dream Larva: AC 52, Attack +56
Hecatoncheires: AC 70 Attack +71

You get the idea.

CHAPTER 6: EPIC SETTING: This is the bit I've read the least, and it seems to be well done, flavor wise, though since it draws from the rest of the book, it's as flawed mechanically as the rest. One gripe: Why is the City of Union in there? Why not just detail the city of Sigil, from 2e Planescape. Gods know Sigil would have plenty of epic characters running around, and Union is just a big rip-off of Sigil (look, another city with bunches of portals and epic characters running about). Why not make 2e Planescape fans a bit happy instead of creating such a similar city? On the other hand, I'm glad the corrupting touch of this book did not screw up my favorite setting. So maybe it's for the best.

APPENDIXES, EPIC NPCS OF GREYHAWK AND FAERUN: Nothing big here, except many characters were mysteriously leveled up. Mordenkainen, for instance, has gained three levels in the one year since he was last stated. He's going to be more powerful than Eleminster in another few years, at this rate. Also, they detail the Cat Lord that was killed during the Something Wild adventure way back in 2e. He was replaced with a new, female Cat Lord. I'm surprised they didn't catch this, but then, the quality control was much more lax elsewhere, so I guess it shouldn't be a surprise.

Well, that's my review. Comments welcome.

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