We're on to chapter two, Variant Rules. The majority of this chapter is crap but there are sections that are way too good to pass up on. Exalted Cohorts (pg 24) presents an interesting idea for new companions for good characters. Exalted Gods (pg 24 - 26) is mostly useless though they do present a deity that will be going into all my future games: Estanna (pg 25). That is a perfect deity that can go into just about any campaign at any point without any work at all. I love her concept and execution.
Exorcism (pg 26), Heroes of the Heavens (pg 26), Heroic Sacrifice and Martyrdom (pg 27), Mercy, Prisoners, and Redemption (pg 28), Sainthood (pg 29), Waging Peace (pg 31), and Words of Creation (pg 31) are a waste of ink in most ways that matter. On the other hand Tithes and Offerings (pg 29) and Voluntary Poverty (pg 29) are fantastic. Voluntary Poverty is especially intriguing and I would welcome the act at any table I'm running.
Chapter Three: Exalted Equipment has sanctified weapons which are cool. The idea that a weapon can be infused with holy energy is one that I find especially appealing for campaigns where devils, deamons, and demons are an active presence in the world. I don't particularly like the game mechanics for creating one but fuck I'm normally the Dungeon Master so I'll ignore them anyway.
Now we come to Ravages and Afflictions (pg 34 - 36).
Poison and disease are generally the tools of evil monsters and characters, implements of corruption and destruction. If snakes and vermin are associated with evil, as they are in many cultures, it is usually because of their venom that they are viewed in such a negative light despite their neutral alignment. Using poison that deals ability damage is an evil act because it causes undue suffering in the process of incapacitating or killing an opponent . . . Besides the curative abilities of clerics and paladins, the powers of good have their own answer to poison and disease; ravages and afflictions, magical traumas that turn the moral corruption of evil creatures into physical corruption that wracks their bodies. Ravages and afflictions affect only evil creatures, and are particularly debilitating to evil outsiders - despite the immunity to poison that is common among such creatures . . . (pg 34 - 35).
While I understand the thought process behind declaring poisons and diseases evil I don't understand how ravages and afflictions are not. Yes they affect only evil creatures but they still cause ability damage. Logically all four should be evil. Of course this is a needless book where they're trying to justify the page count and price tag so I suppose the pages have to be filled with more than just pretty pictures.
Speaking of, best picture in the entire book:
|I love this picture from pg 35|
The concept of Relics (pg 36) is really neat, like the sanctified weapons previously mentioned, but they're not as well done. Most of the items mentioned are either rip offs of existing items (the Shroud of Turin) or they're misappropriated from the Book of Vile Darkness (i.e. the Executioner's Axe from pg 36).
The rest of the chapter is crap.
Chapter four is filled with either worthless or broken feats.
Chapter five is mostly a complete waste of ink though there are a few exceptions: Defender of Sealtiel (pg 55), Fist of Raziel (pg 63); Risen Martyr (pg 68); Sentinel of Bharrai (pg 69); and the Wonderworker (pg 82). The other prestige classes are either so nuanced that there are few ways to logically work them into the narrative or are so well designed for non-player characters - I'm looking at you Apostle of Peace (pg 51) - that there is no reason for them to even be in a damnable book for players.
Chapter six has some really cool spells, though most of them are either re-workings of previously published material or re-wordings of perfectly fine, already existing, spells. Some of my favorite spells are Exalted Fury (pg 99), Glory of the Martyr (pg 99), and Phoenix Fire (pg 103). In fact, just about any spell with Sacrifice description is worth using.
That shit is cool as fuck all.
After the spells only read page 116 (Intelligent Items) through page 119 (stopping at Redeeming Evil Magic Items) and you'll avoid all of the wasted words and bullshit that fill up the majority of this chapter.
Chapter 7 is better that it's counterpart in the Book of Vile Darkness but I could live without most of this chapter. The exception to that statement comes from pages 138 - 149 where some of the coolest paragons reside. Love these guys and could easily see working them into a campaign without them dominating the story or even taking one iota of momentum away from the players (unlike the majority of the paragons in the chapter).
Chapter 8 is useless for the most part. There are essentially five good monsters in this entire chapter: the Crypt Warden (pg 167), the Guardinals (pg 173 - 175), the Hollyphant (pg 176), and the Rhek (pg 181). Of all these my favorite is the Guardinal, Ursinal (pg 175) which is just cool as all get out and well worth the slog through this chapter.
|Seriously, the Ursinal is just too freaking cool.|