Posted on December 22, 2004 by Flames
Normally I’m not one who likes many D20 products on the market, as I am not a regular user of that system. Also due to the fact that many of the products out there are not of the highest quality that they should be, more of an attempt to make a few dollars off of the D20 logo with a halfway thought out ideas done with shoddy writing.
However this particular book does not fall among the ranks of those.
It is evident that a lot of thought, effort and imagination when into the writing. Along with some old-fashioned blood, sweat and tears. They took the subject and exhausted it as completely as possible covering angles and ideas that many others miss. Putting the amassed collection of ideas into a readable and organized fashion is another step they took in the preparation here.
Poisoncraft: The Dark Art will still appeal mostly to dedicated users of the D20 system, there are plenty of items, poisons and other bits of knowledge that can be easily ported over to other games. For players it will offer all the extra little bits that they want for their characters who delve into the areas of poisons and other such toxins. For gamemasters it will be an excellent addition of things to use for and against your players to make the game more interesting.
Now for the chapter by chapter.
Chapter 1: The Craft of Poison.
Contained here are the rules needed to use this book into your games. Including new terms that are used throughout the book. Also complied here is the list of rules for crafting poisons, harvesting the raw material needed, exposure and decay. Plenty of crunchy goodness for those who enjoy it. Just don’t forget to make yourself and antidote in case something goes horribly wrong.
Chapter 2: Feats of Poisoncraft.
Although this chapter is not very long Blue Devil Games manages to put a lot of material in this section. It is divided into two sections, one for regular feats and the other for metapoison feats. Metapoison are a new form of feats that allow the player to alter the very makeup of the poison they are using or creating.
Chapter 3: Toxic Magic.
Staring off with a nice little addition of rules for magically created or altered poisons this is a very meaty section of the book. Following that is additions to the spell lists for Bards, Clerics, Druids, Paladins, Rangers and Sorcerer/Wizards. Each spell that needs more explanation is then described in detail in the following pages.
Chapter 4: Tools of the Toxic Trade.
Now we start with a plentiful list of equipment and gear. Covering everything from basic items, magical weapons and armor, shield special abilities to Wondrous Items. These all vary from items that enhance the delivery or potency of poison to those they attempt to prevent or stop it completely.
Chapter 5: Poisoncrafters of prestige.
What kind of D20 sourcebook would this be without the addition of a few Prestige Classes? Here they provide six new classes that fit right into the theme of the book. Each being well described with all the necessary information needed to run them. My personal favorite being the Darkblade, a specialized form of assassin who prefers the up close and personal form of dealing death.
Chapter 6: Creatures of the fang.
One of the best creators of poisons out there are living beings themselves. A section of additional monsters that each have their own take on naturally produced venom was a pleasant surprise, something that I didn’t expect. Plus, just like everything else in here, they are well thought out in detail with plenty of uses in any campaign. Along with a with a few templates that can be transferred onto already existing creatures.
Chapter 7: Adventures in the Dark.
Here is a small compilation of adventure seeds for use. While not detailed out in full-fledged adventures they do give you the basic overview and the stats for the NPC or major creatures involved.
Finally in the end there is an index and a very detailed appendix. Included are conversion notes for use with Monte Cook’s Arcana Unearthed. Lists of poison naming conventions, families and such. A poison creation sheet and a character sheet addmendum, two things that is always quite useful.
In the end I have to say this is one of the best D20 books that I have seen on the market. Even more suprising is the fact that it is being produced by an independent company, after all the thrift that has come out for the system from the many fly by night operations in the last few years. But this proves once again that the creativity driven end of the market is where to look for the best ideas, rather than the profit driven.
I have to give this book a five out of five. Highly recommended to anybody who uses the D20 system and would like to give a little more flavor to their poison selections.
Reviewer: Peter Amthor
Look for Blue Devil Games eBooks at RPGNow.com.