Normally this time of year sees me putting together my GenCon Shopping List, but unfortunately I’m not going to GenCon this year. For the first time since 1999, I’m staying home, largely because a) I want to spend time with my baby daughter and b) I need to give my finances a break.
But not a complete break. There are a bunch of excellent d20 books coming out this summer, and I’ve got a pocket full of freelance cash I’m eager to spend. Most are published by Monte Cook’s Malhavoc Press, which has proved that Wizards of the Coast’s loss is our gain. Cook’s publishing the sort of books WotC should have been doing instead of messing around with the core Dungeons & Dragon rules.
D&D 3.5: Player’s Handbook, Wizards of the Coast
I’m not philosophically opposed to WotC making money — heck, if they don’t make money, D&D dies, and that’s not something I want to see. But D&D 3.5 isn’t what the world needed right now. It needed a revised version of the original D&D release, not a hybrid update that incorporates new rules, massive changes to character classes, and lots of other changes that are destined to ruin rules transparency in your D&D campaign.
That said, there are some changes I like, and I’m planning on picking up the PHB and picking-and-choosing what stuff I want to incorporate into my campaign (assuming we get player consensus on that). The end result is that my campaign will probably end up using rules that look like D&D 3.1 rather than 3.5. Unlike the other books listed on this page I’m not excited about this release — purchasing it seems more like a chore than something I’m actually looking forward to. I plan on treating it as I would any other d20 product — something that’s optional, rather than required.
Arcana Unearthed by Monte Cook, Malhavoc Press/Sword & Sorcery
D&D 3E designer Monte Cook’s variant Player’s Handbook takes the basic D&D system we know so well and gives it one hell of a twist. Includes 10 new races, 11 new classes, and googles of new skills, feats, and spells. Also includes variant rules for magic and combat. Just the thing for mixing up your campaign. It’s due out in July.
Mindscapes by Bruce Cordell, Malhavoc Press/Sword & Sorcery
A 96-page psionics supplement written by Psionics Handbook designer Bruce Cordell and published by Malhavoc Press/Sword & Sorcery. Includes new classes, a variant psionic combat system, monsters, feats, powers and items. I’m a sucker for psionics, and I’ve been looking for expansions to the d20 rules ever since the skimpy original handbook was released.
Cry Havoc!, By Skip Williams, Malhavoc Press/Sword & Sorcery
3E D&D — regardless of what version you play — desperately needs mass combat rules. Not skirmish rules, like the abomination Chainmail, but honest-to-Gods, army-scale mass combat rules. This 136 book provides them, giving players a mass combat system, feats, tactics and more. The PDF’s out in July, the print version is out in October. I’m planning on picking up the PDF; if its good enough, I’ll pick up the print version too.
A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe, Expeditious Retreat Press
It’s a quandary that confronts every DM: how to create a realistic magical fantasy society based on medieval society. How much does it cost to raise a keep? How much does it cost to run a manner? How do you generate an entire kingdom’s economy. This 144-page supplement answers all those questions. It’s received praise from D&D guru Monte Cook (he gave it his first-ever “10” rating) as well as members of my own campaign (who informed me I must do what ever it takes to buy this book). Its available in print and PDF versions; I’m thinking of picking up the PDF (merely so I can have it where I’m working).
Stargate SG-1 Role-Playing Game, Alderac Entertainment Group
This may be the science fiction game I’ve been waiting for. I’ve long wanted to run a SF game in which the players jump from world-to-world Star Trek-like, exploring strange new worlds without all of the socio-political hang-ups of Roddenberry’s creation. (Ah … a strange new world. How interesting! Now let’s leave quick, before we violate the Prime Directive…)
The Stargate SG-1 Role-Playing Game — created using d20 rules AEG first used in Spycraft — offers exactly what I’m looking for — a mechanism for sending players scampering from one world to the next, a straight-forward universe, established villains, and an excuse to use all manner of variant d20 rules.