Lords of Madness: The Book of Aberrations Hardcover – Apr 1 2005
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About the Author
JAMES JACOBS is the associate editor of Dungeon® Adventures and has also published numerous articles in Dragon® Magazine. His most recent credits with Wizards of the Coast, Inc. are co-authoring Races of Faerûn™ and Frostburn™.
STEVE WINTER has worked on numerous products as editor, designer, developer, and manager. His most recent credit with Wizards of the Coast, Inc. is Monster Manual™ II.
Top Customer Reviews
There is some good stuff in here, like the chapter on the illithids. But there are also whole chapters that really offer us nothing. A good case in point would be the grell. Despite their aberrant origins and significantly above human level intelligence, the grell are given an outlook and a culture that would frankly be more befitting a tribe of ogres. To wit: those at the top of the food chain eat those below. Literally. That's it.
Even the good chapters apprpriate liberally from older supplements, like the 2nd edition Illithiad. Worse yet, they do so in a way that's extremely poorly thought out. For example, in 2nd edition, starting right from their entry in the monster manual, it is established that illithids have trouble operating above ground. The Illithiad then gives a solution: a special suit that they can wear to starve off the ravages of the above ground environment. By contrast, this work just plops in that suit, explaining in the entry for it that it protects its wearer from the hostile world above ground. The only trouble is, prior to this entry the appropriate groundwork has never been laid. In 3rd and 3.5 edition it's never before been mentioned that illithids have any trouble at all with the above ground environment.
On the plus side, this book does have some good artwork and some decent game content (in the form of new feats, spells, etc.) that might make it into your campaign universe.
But overall, it's poorly thought out, poorly edited, and and at its core, deeply unimaginative.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book describes the great races, like mind flayers, beholders and aboleths (each has its own chapter with their ecology, way of life and thinking, special feats, and an example location ready to be thrown into any campaign), as well as some new aberrations (in monster-manual format). The DM has all the info needed to make his aberrations unique. No longer will the players encounter "a beholder" in the dark tunnel, but a beholder that has this and that special feat, this or that subtype, with classes, etc.
Most part of the book is for DMs, but there is also a chapter filled with goodies for players (aberration-hunters). (This also means that most players will not want to buy the book, it is enough to ask the DM to have a look at it before play...)
The book is altogether well written, and contains great ideas to make aberrations more fearful opponents, and also gives the players the opportunity to prepare against the aberration menace.
The lowpoint of the book is the monsters section which contains lot's of monsters previously published in older products, and are just updated to D&D 3.5. This is something anybody can do him/herself. More really new monsters would have been better...
The most disappointing thing about the book is that it does not reproduce information for monsters listed in other books, so to fully use the information it provides would involve having not only the Monster Manual and Expanded Psionics Handbook but also the Fiend Folio as well as setting-specific books. Unless you have a pretty complete library, you're going to find a number of monsters mentioned and dealt with that you don't have the details and stats for.
I give it a 4 because I think some of the art should have been better, and there are typos and grammatical errors that should never make it to print (but we're used to that). Often the new material (feats/spells) are only applicable to aberrations, so great for speciaization, but not always helpful in a campaign. Another problem is that the material is very specific yet vague at the same time. E.g. they'll say that aboleths have knowledge dating back to the dawn of existance, but then don't go into it, saying that no aboleth would share this info. Dieties get the same tease, e.g. this god is great and powerful but little is known about him...
Then, when I had finally read the whole book, I devled deeper still. Information of the Aboleths: Enormous, prehistoric slimy monsters who rule the wet recesses of the Underdark with inscrutable complex minds, mentally-crushing psionic powers, and debilitating slime. Beholders: Gluttonous and borderline insane monsters with an affinity to magic, and inbred xenophobic hatred toward all but the individual Beholder. Mind Flayers, or Illithids: Octopus-faced hivemind beings with cold, calculating minds, and affinities for magic, psionics, and a hunger for intelligent brains to survive. Neogi: Pilfering spiderlike creeps who make their quota through slave labour and trade. The Grell: Intelligent predators from a parallel dimension with great skill in alien alchemy. And the Tsochari (newcomers to the D&D universe): Worm-like body snatchers from another planet with a fanatical intent to spread the word of their giant worm master, Mak-Thuum-Ngatha.
Each Abberation is gone into useful detail for the DM and the player alike. This book also goes into revised monsters from ealier D&D books (like the Beholderkin, the Illithidae and Illithiad, and a revision of the Psurlons), as well as some new, terrifying and maddening beasts (Hound of the Gloom, Half-Farspawn... my fave, Pseudonatural creatures, Shabboath Golems, and the Zeugalak, to name a few). Also some new feats (regular and Aberrant. Aberrant Feats physicall change your character and add some bonuses here and there), and Prestige Classes to fight, or aid the Aberration menace (Abolisher, Keeper of the Cerulean Sign, Fleshwarper, Darkrunner, the Sanctified Mind, and the Topaz Guardian).
For those not afraid to plumb the depths to know things to impress, or simply scare your D&D buddies with some impressive work, DO get this book. I fully recommend it.