on 18 April 2011
This book is not for the novice D&d gamer, large parts of the information it contains is based on existing classes such as Clerics, Warlocks and Wizards. If you are unfamiliar with these existing classes and how to play the game generally, then this book is not an easy place to start.
What it does give is a way for devout or arcane classes to be "dark" without necessarily being evil. The Paladin class is given a way to be grey rather than stark white or black. The whole book is based on the idea of flaws in the characters, it intoduces Paladins to Vices that can actually work in their favour. Necromancy and Nethermancy schools for Wizards lets you create undead fiends or creatures of shadow to do your bidding. Warlocks can make various pacts which exact a price in return for power. The book creates "New" character classes for Assassins (Executioners), Paladins (Blackguards), Warlocks (Binders) and Vampires.
The section on Races of Shadow - Revenant, Shade and Vryloka - did not appeal to me on first reading, fortunately there are more familiar races which also get "Shadow" versions.
The book not only includes Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies for the classes it discusses, but includes Epic Destinies that may be of interest to classes not in this supplement. There are some "Shadow Feats" and "Aventurer Feats" but only a few. The equipment it lists is minimal, and is eminantly forgettable in my opinion.
In summary, I think this book has limited attraction, but will suit those it does attract quiet well.
on 30 August 2011
I was looking quite forward to this expansion - a chance to play an anti-hero, a guy who walks the line between villainy and heroism. Of course I can do that anyway with role-playing but having paladin do that seems a bit wrong..
Anyway there are options for a necromancer, a neithermancer, classes for a blackguard (anti-paladin), assassin and vampire as a class. (so that you can stack it onto whatever race you play - clever huh?)
However necromancer options fall short of the previous editions. There is no commanding legions of undead and draining souls.. it still follows the 4E formula, which is fine but I was hoping for something a bit different than your regular 'summon' and 'necrotic' damage powers. The blackguard looked the most interesting to me with his 'vices' being his driving force.
It is an essentials product but isn't clearly marked as such which is a little disappointing.
The background 'fluff' is mostly geared to the 'regular' setting which has the Raven Queens realm as the expected shadow plane. It has useful information but nothing I couldn't do without. If you want something shadowy just play a Shadar-Kai.
on 21 March 2014
OK, I bought it for the cover - which is excellent - and for the idea that something evil can do good. The artwork and presentation are first class. The backgrounds and thoughts behind it all are great, and the pictures are inspirational - but the playability is not up to the standard of the rest. The powers and abilities seem excessive and there seems to be chunks missing after the initial thoughts - for example there are only two vices given for a blackguard. This all being said - there is plenty to work out on your own if your are an experienced GM.
on 24 April 2011
First of all, why is this a hard-back?
This is, to all intents and purposes, an Essentials product, yet it comes in the hardback format beloved of the PHB/DMG rather than the hand-sized paperbacks of Heroes of the I've Forgotten What books. So where does this book sit on the shelves? Well, slap-bang in the Essentials section that's where.
The classes and races are all presented in Essentials format. The class options are formatted in the same format. If you're not using the Essentials line of products then you'll find some stuff, nearly twenty pages, of use here to your existing characters
feats (Two measly pages),
equipment ( Four, count 'em Four items)
Epic Destinies (Four of),
Paragon Paths (Mmm. quite a few, some class-dependent, most usable; ten of)
Well, that's nineteen of the 159 pages accounted for.
Very "Essentials" stuff:
Two school of magic for the Essentials Wizard. Some class options, like a new pact for the Essentials Warlock.
Three classes: Assasin, Paladin (well, Blaggard) and sparkles-not-included-Vampire. I suppose they had to really.
Three races: Revenant (HOLD ON HERE! The Revenant was supposed to be a 'subscriber only' race, I feel... cheated!) Shade and Vryloka. Pardon me but I really feel as if we could have left the Races section out. As previously commented, the Revenant was supposed to be subscriber only, so this is just a new Essential-alike build of the same class. Meh. Shades seem like a waste of time, they are that, shades of what's left after you pledge part of your soul to The Shadow (dum dum dum!!) and seem a little like a half-hearted idea. Vryloka. Vryloka, where shall I start? A race of not-quite-vampires. Well slap me down with a wet haddock, so you can actually have a not-quite-vampire race with the class of... Vampire. There seems something superfluous there but I can't quite put my finger on it.
On the good side. The book has great background material in it. I'd never let my players near an 'Evil' class, sorry that's not how we play it (we're not teenagers afraid of the daylight and I believe sparkly vampires passed us by, thankfully; our vampires attack people with railway spikes) but a lot of the paragon paths looks quite... fun. I've always wanted a revenant as a response to character death, but this book hasn't changed that because, well, duh, subscriber.
And please, everyone remember exactly how you pronounce "Blackguard"...