Richard Baker works as a game designer for the RPG line at Wizards of the Coast, Inc. A New York Times best-selling novel author with Condemnation, he has also authored The City of Ravens and Forsaken House.
I just bought the 4 "type" books, and Complete Arcane is by far the best, among the 3 new classes wich are Warmage, Warlock and Wu Jen, warlock is the best, this new 20lvl class is worth buying the book one it's own. Prestige class are ok, some are worth some attention but some make you wonder if they were actually thinking when they wrote them. I love the new selection of feat, they gave sorcerer only feats wich gives them Draconic powers (pretty cool) Good spells good magic items GREAT BOOK, a must buy IMO , if your only buying one D&D supllement book this year, make it this one
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
93 of 95 people found the following review helpful
Excellent resource for DM and playerDec 9 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
First and foremost, this book offers two new core classes and a 3.5 update: the Warlock and the War Mage are both new, and the Wu Jen has been updated from Oriental adventures. Of particular interest are the two new classes and how they balance.
The Warlock doesn't have spells, but invocations, and these invocations are essentially at-will spell-like powers. So instead of the usual spell lists and spell slots, instead of spells, instead of spell points or psionic points, we have the first class completely built on at-will magical abilities. A Warlock at 20th level has only 12 invocations, total. Invocation powers vary from least (duplicating the darkness spell, for example) to dark (duplicating the foresight spell), and are group by four classifications rather than nine levels. (They do have spell level defined for purposes of saving throws and the like.) On top of the invocations, a Warlock comes with extra hit points (d6), gradually increasing damage resistance, and a built-in blasting power that does damage about on par with magic missile (at will, mind you) and can be modified into more powerful variations with invocations. I'm not sure yet whether it is well-balanced, but it appears to be so. I will likely use it as a villain at some point before I allow players access to it.
The War Mage is a rather intriguing design. The spell casting is like a sorcerer's with the same large amounts of spell "slots" per day, and an ability to choose what gets cast when, rather than having prepared spells. The class also gets to wear light armor without taking an arcane casting penalty, and this can be increase to even heavy armor at higher levels if one also spends a feat to improve this ability. Combined with this is a d6 hit die so this plus the armor makes for a tougher cookie than a wizard or sorcerer. The real interesting aspect of this class is in the spell list and how it is employed. The class automatically has access to every spell for each spell level it can access: spells known -is- the spell list. Further, these spells comprise the best combat spells in the game. On top of this, the War Mage gets an "Edge" that adds his intelligence bonus to the damage of any spell cast (which is about equivalent to adding an extra die of damage to every damage spell). So just by taking the class, you get to wear armor, have a decent d6 hit die, and can cast the best combat spells in the game. What a munchkin, right? Well, I haven't mentioned the trade-off, yet: it's -only- offensive combat spells. This class cannot cast extremely useful spells that are staples of the sorcerer/wizard spell lists. There is no Identify, there is no Detect Magic, there is no Dispel Magic, there is no Shield, there is no Mage Armor, there is no Fly, there is no Teleport, there is no Polymorph. You can blast things to kingdom come. That's it. The party had better have at least a bard to make up for some of these, but it would take a full-time wizard or sorcerer to truly make up for the lack of versatility. Ideally, I see the War Mage as a strong computer game class, because most of what is lost are the spells that just aren't useful in a computer game, because it is so difficult to write a game than can handle these aspects of a true pencil-and-paper wizard's versatility. I look forward to including the class in my gaming both as PC and NPC, because I find its strengths and limitations fascinating.
Several of the prestige classes from Tome and Blood are found here in new, revised versions, but there are several new prestige classes, as well. A couple of these are bard-oriented. Of particular note are the Argent Savant (a force-spell specialist), the Effigy Master (a special kind of golem specialist), and the Wild Mage (which hasn't appeared in official WotC material until now, as far as I can tell, and has only existed in independent d20 sources and in its old 2nd-edition version). The concept behind the Argent Savant is intriguing, and even though it is only 5 levels, if force spells like magic missile and shield are what intruigue you about wizard spells, it is very much worth taking. The Effigy Master is definitely a unique approach to magic, though a bit awkward if one doesn't enjoy writing up creatures from the monster manual and applying an "effigy" template to them. The Wild Mage is remarkable in a couple of ways, in that it was included at all, and that it has only a 2 page write up. Basically, the Wild Mage ends up with a variable spell caster level (average level is about .5 higher than an analogous non-wild caster) that can exert mild control over random spells and at high levels can take a memorized spell and turn it into a Wand of Wonder effect. I'm glad they took the time to consider adding the Wild Mage to the roster, but I think it deserves a lot more lovingkindness and attention to detail. Using randomized spell caster levels and the wand of wonder table is what allows the write-up to be only 3 pages. There is no chance of spells "going wild" by accident, which was part of the charm of the old Wild Mage, and there are no big tables of possible wild mishaps ordered from most disasterous to most helpful (so that a bonus applied to the role could be a kind of good luck nudge). I don't fault the designers for this, though. The Wild Mage as classically understood is not easy to balance. I think the Wild Mage concept is still undergoing growing pains, much like psionics did until the two most recent psionics handbooks, and we'll see some more official versions over the next several years until the kinks get ironed out.
Beyond the core and prestige classes are the feats, and there are several new feats that make this book worth having all by itself. Some of these pertain just to the new core classes, and others are simply latest revisions of 3.0 feats. The new feats are intriguing, however. Arcane Mastery lets you take 10 on a caster level check, meaning automatic success against casters of lower level (useful for dispels) and for always getting past weak magic resistance. Several feats offer triplets of 1/day spell-like powers (0 and 1st level). Mage Slayer is no longer a class, but a set of feats. Those doing the dragon thing have a bunch of Draconic feats they may take. You can get a familiar with a feat, if your core arcane spellcasting class doesn't have one. Practiced Spellcaster does a great service to all multiclass spellcasters: add up to +4 to your caster level (not increasing number of spells, but the power with which they are cast) so long as it doesn't exceed your character level. If you are a 4th level fighter, 6th level wizard, you can take this feat and cast your spells (still limited to the spell progression as of level 6) as if you were 10th level. Thus, you can do damage (and dispel magic, and penetrate spell resistance) based on your character level rather than on your much weaker class level. This does a world of good to balance the game and let players not be crippled for wanting to have a bit of variety in their characters.
As far as the spell lists in this book go, this alone is worth the price on the cover. As with any new set of spells, there are good and bad, balanced and imbalanced, but having new ideas for what spells can do added to the official material is always nice. There's even a cleric spell in here that I want to ask my DM with whom I am playing a cleric to allow.
Why not 5 stars? Simply because as with most game supplements (and even the core rulebooks), there is a lot of hit and miss. There's always things that I don't like, or think that could be done better, or I will have to house-rule for myself because the designers severely over- or under- powered something. Also, with so much variety, there are always elements that just don't apply to anything that one would consider playing; not to say that these elements are bad or wrong, just uninteresting or inapplicable to current plans. However, what I do like in this book, I -really- like, and there is plenty of that.
81 of 91 people found the following review helpful
wizards treasureNov. 14 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
this is the latest in the complete series from WOC. The complete arcane introduces us to three wizard types, the Warlock, the Warmage and the Wu Jen. All of these wizards are limited in some way.
The Warlock is generally evil and or chaotic. His abilities come from himself. He picks and choses defenses, attacks and types of invocations to use. He may wear armor and uses a D6 for his hit points. There are levels of invocations that he may use. The Warmage is a remake from the old elves handbook. Humans and half-elves may be warmages and have their own spell list and may wear armor also with the ability to use their intelligence bonus as additional armor damage. The Wu Jen is a remake of the oriental adventures. This wizard has his own spell list and has to take a series of taboos to enable other special abilities.
The prestige class section has some of the prestige classes modified from the older tome and blood book. The Acolyte of the skin, the alienist, the fate spinner and some others make a reappearence modified for 3.5 and other changes. The wild mage from the Forgotten Realms makes an appearance here as well as the mindbender, a mage dedicated to manipulating things.
There are new feats for wizards to check over, like the battle caster which allows you to ignore the arcane spell failure for wearing armor, another allows you to gain an extra slot for a spell, or the ability to do a twin spell, essentially a spell that is cast twice at the same time.
There are new spells of course, there are several levels of orb spells which do acid, cold, electricity, fire or sound. You can also pump up your familiar. There are new spells for the Wu jens like smoke ladder and Iron scarf which is a ranged attack doing a d8 +1 per level For the warlock there is dark one own luck which allows a luck bonus equal to your charisma bonus on the other saves during a 24 hr period.
There are new magic items and enhancement to spellbooks, like waterproof and resistent to energy. The list of magic items is small.
There are primarily two types of creatures in the monster area. One is the effigy creature that is created by the effigy master. I consider this to be a techno mage and elemental grues as well as elemental monoliths.
There is a section on playing the various types of wizards more from a philsophy point of view than any mechanics and lastly there is a section on various guilds and societies.
I do consider this to be a useful book. I have a Japanese style environment and the Wu Jen will be useful. The warlock has the ability to be a very nasty villian type to use. The prestige classes werent that exciting but as a dm I can always find a use for them. The additional spells are always nice to use or have the players find in scrolls from strange and exotic places.
I would give this a 3.75 rating overall
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
People of the arcane flavor will enjoy this... others, not so much.Dec 26 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
Ok, the book is good, but it's certainly not great. Most of what the book has to offer is more for giving your character flavor, and it really won't suit a min-max'er or a power gamer. But, if you're still interested (because you love the arcane classes as much as I do) then read on.
The Book offers several new core classes, each of which have a very unique feel to them. The Warlock is chaotic and/or evil, relying on a limitless supply of "Eldrich Blasts" that serve as her main offensive ability. She manipulates these blasts with invocations, and she gets very few of them. The next is a Wu Jen, which is basically a Wizard with a very oriental feel to it. The spells are more based around elements (Asian, not European) than schools, so it offers a different perspective on magic. The third is the Warmage, which, as the name implies, is a battle ready caster who is great at raining down destruction... and little else. The class offers little in the way of utility, so you could basically consider it to be the arcane equivalent of the barbarian and/or fighter.
The Prestige classes aren't fantastic, but then again, many casters loathe the idea of giving up spell progression for a few neat tricks. Luckily, the Complete Arcane offers a decent set of classes to choose from, a few of which actually let you maintain near-complete progression. Some might not see the tabletop and feel a bit like filler, but then again, it's rare to see an arcane geared prestige class. Over all, I really like the classes the book had to offer.
The feats the book has are, well, pretty damn awesome. I think this is the real shining point of the book. There are many many new metamagics (like the ability to convert any elemental damage into your chosen type, for a sort of arcane signature move), and half a dozen feats that allow non-casters the ability to use a few minor spells as spell like abilities. This section also has some very interesting sorcerer-based feats, most notably being an evolution of their draconic heritage.
Lastly, the book hold a plethora of new spells, most of which I found to be very useful. Many of the combat based spells created for the Warmage made their way to other caster's spell lists, so you can at least consider your mage to be better armed in a fight.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. Yes, it wasn't fantastic, but jeez... Tome and Blood did an awful job of spicing up the caster classes, and I think this book really made amends to that. Being a Wizard and only being able to choose from Metamagic Feats or Spell Focus got really dull, so I was thrilled to get ahold of this book. If you like the arcane casters, and you'd like to add a bit of individuality to your mage, I definately recommend picking up this book. If you're new to the caster classes, or don't often play then, I'd say pass it on by.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not a bad bookDec 31 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
I got this book for Christmas and I've read through it twice, paid more attention to some of the more interesting ideas and such, and I've concluded that it's worth owning. I like the Warlock class, but I haven't used it yet. I like some of the prestige classes and I can see my players using several of them. New spell choices are always welcome because they give my players something more flashy than the old fireball or lightning bolt to throw at foes.
I didn't buy those rotten little soft cover Sword and Fist or Tome and Blood books Wizards produced a few years ago because I knew they're redo them later in HC with revisions. After looking through them I just knew they would. So I don't feel like I'm being cheated by having the 'complete' books arrive now. Sure some of the prestige classes are updated and weakened but that's done for the sake of game balance so it pleases me. 3.5 made me very happy after playing 3.0 and discovering all it's flaws. I'm glad that these new books are coming out even if some of the prestige classes included are pathetic. As a hobby game designer myself, I also get a kick out of, or am inspired by, the stuff Wizards produces.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
wowsa-is warlock overpowered or what?June 15 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
I play regularly in a mid-high level game, (12-15) and my buddy comes in one day raving about warlocks. I read through the book, and lem'me tell ya, im glad he's only hung up on the eldritch blast. The imbue item power, by itself, is enough to make this class overpowered. I made a character with duel wand wielding, (another new feat herein), and he turned into a gunfighter with as many and as diverse a wand as he wanted. If you're a power gamer and you really wanna piss your dm off, the warlock class is for you. It has the ability at third level to be abused via the normal incantations. Darkness and Devil's Sight is as vicious a pairing on any tabletop since that whole Celerity thing in vampire.