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Charles Phipps
Master of Realmslore

1359 Posts

Posted - 18 Mar 2022 :  01:39:59  Show Profile  Visit Charles Phipps's Homepage Send Charles Phipps a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Well on advice from the good posters here, I picked this one up and I'm enjoying it despite some genuine "What the Nine Hells?" moments that come from a few of the decisions (not so much bad as, "why?"). It's a fantastic book overall and very good humor.

But just so I'm clear...it's a Wizards of the Coast book but NOT official content?

My Blog: http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/

PattPlays
Senior Scribe

416 Posts

Posted - 18 Mar 2022 :  03:11:28  Show Profile  Visit PattPlays's Homepage Send PattPlays a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wotc doesn't want to officially acknowledge that Demodands exist XD
Not to mention that the miniature space hamster is a spelljammer invention by my understanding. Making it official would technically make spelljammer 5e canon. lmao

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Edited by - PattPlays on 18 Mar 2022 03:12:14
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Charles Phipps
Master of Realmslore

1359 Posts

Posted - 18 Mar 2022 :  06:28:32  Show Profile  Visit Charles Phipps's Homepage Send Charles Phipps a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Some general opinions:

**The Good**

1. I am a huge Baldur's Gate fan so I was recommended this book out the gate. Mostly, I admit I bought it not because of Minsc and Boo (who I love) but because I heard it updated Imoen for use in 5th Edition and that was something I wasn't going to miss out on. Yes, it's me, Imoen and she'll always be an inspiration for my PCs and their LIs.
2. I generally enjoyed the book and thought it was extremely well done. I'm confused about why it's not canon, though, and why Wizards of the Coast would release a professionally done book on the Forgotten Realms via a third party release. It's especially weird since Baldur's Gate is so incredibly popular.
3. The art is fantastic in the book. I've actually been taking screenshots of the PDF and cut and pasting them into art for my home game because there's so many fantastic images here. Jaheira, Bodhi (who is scary hot), Imoen, and Edwin are all beautiful works of art. I daresay this is up there with D&D in the Eighties.
4. I enjoy the comedic duo of Volo and Minsc and wish we'd actually seen them work together or read about it. The pompous intellectual ass and the lovable fool would have been a great comedic pair to follow across the realms. The premise of this just being Minsc's rambling thoughts about his adventures across the Realms makes it very entertaining.
5. I absolutely love the updates on the various factions here that include some badly needed material for the Realms: The Harpers especially are a group that needs to be detailed because they're the frigging Harpers man. Plus we've got the Flaming Fist, Shadow Thieves, and other groups that are definitely useful to put in games.
6. I like how the book gives us a bunch of enemies that can be used in a variety of ways for a variety of levels. The Black Dragon who is trapped in the form of a dwarf but can become a rampaging one if killed is a pretty cool one. So is the Half-Ogre who wants to stalk PCs, love them, and call them George.
7. There's ample updates on a lot of great Baldur's Gate characters like Jaheira, Imoen, Xan, Kagain, Montaran, and so on. I have *issues* with some of these, however. Generally, though, those on Team GoodTM are well updated.
8. It was cool seeing Michael B. Jordan as a Halruuan airship captain on page 121.
9. I like how the book provides a lot of stats for Archdemons and Archdevils. We've got Baalzebul, Mephistopheles, and Pazazu among others. If you think there's a place for stabbing the infernal in your game then this is definitely a good place to look. I admit, this isn't my cup of tea because the only fiends I use is Asmodeus and Gargauth. I prefer gods of evil.
10. Rules for Lichdom!
11. Edwin is awesome and I actually love the idea that he got back to Thay eventually. Especially with something as ridiculous as acquiring a Nether Scroll. Making him an 18th level mage seems too much in a setting where almost no one gets over 16th. Also, WIS 15? CHR 16? Bullshit. Wisdom 8? Chr 10? MAYBE.

**The Bad**

1. Sad but true, there's some complaints here.
2. Basically, the book is absolutely full of retcons that seemed designed to undermine, avert, and ruin the efforts of the video game protagonists. It's basically like the ending of the CURSE OF STRAHD where they say, "Strahd will come back no matter what you do so any good you did in this module is pointless." I'm very much of a belief that RPG canon should allow protagonists to make measurable changes for the better and given the popularity of the Baldur's Gate video games, this is doubly irritating. It's not even limited to BG either.
3. I think we all agree making Aribeth into a servant of the Nine Hells was a terrible idea and that the book should have stuck to her canon ending of being redeemed. Making her a servant of the 2nd most powerful demon in Hell is doubly weird. She was a Blackguard of Morag and had nothing to do with the Nine Hells.
4. Jon Irencius is alive and Bodhi too? Who the hell thinks this is a good idea? It's like bringing back Darth Malak. It's one of the all time best games and his story was epic. Why the hell ruin it? Also, I am deeply confused whether he's stuck in the Shadowfell or Ravenloft itself. Is Jon a Darklord? If so, what's his curse? Or is the Demiplane in the Shadowfel now? God, keeping up with this is so hard.
5. Random aside: Jon Irenicus being a Lich is a bad idea because that would probably make him a great deal less of an asshole. Most of his motivations were due to his inability to feel anything as a dying while an immortal Lich doesn't feel anything as a perk.
6. A lot of these monsters seem overpowered in the way the 2nd Edition monsters were and 3rd Edition and 5th Edition had been getting away from. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of information about permanently slaying them--which should be the goal of PCs. Bodhi, at least, is an exception.
7. Having Saverok lose his redemption to become a Priest of Bhaal is rank character assassination and another thing I really disliked about this book. It seems determined to overwrite every bit of progress the heroes have made to make the Forgotten Realms a better place.
8. See also Viconia Devir in the fact she's apparently STILL a one-dimensional Shar worshiper with apparently no character development. Hell, working with the cults of the Elemental Evil God? What the hell?
9. Speaking of Out of Universe Gods, the book mentions Vecna a few times. Since when has he been canon to the Realms?

My Blog: http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/

Edited by - Charles Phipps on 18 Mar 2022 17:28:51
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
11180 Posts

Posted - 18 Mar 2022 :  15:31:02  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Is there anything in there about how one time a miniature giant space hamster teamed up with a kercpa and an al-mi'raj to take on an evil hag?

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Charles Phipps
Master of Realmslore

1359 Posts

Posted - 18 Mar 2022 :  17:29:02  Show Profile  Visit Charles Phipps's Homepage Send Charles Phipps a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Updated my review of the book.

My Blog: http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/
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Eldacar
Senior Scribe

426 Posts

Posted - 19 Mar 2022 :  00:47:54  Show Profile Send Eldacar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Charles Phipps

3. I think we all agree making Aribeth into a servant of the Nine Hells was a terrible idea and that the book should have stuck to her canon ending of being redeemed. Making her a servant of the 2nd most powerful demon in Hell is doubly weird. She was a Blackguard of Morag and had nothing to do with the Nine Hells.

I wrote a long post which included detailed character analysis and then my iPad ate it. I truly and genuinely despise Apple. Anyway, a shorter version. Much shorter, actually.

Aribeth did have something to do with the Nine Hells. If Hordes of the Underdark is played, then as part of it, the player will travel to Cania, where they encounter the spirit/soul of Aribeth. She went there after death. While she can be initially redeemed by the player with minimal difficulty, and will fight alongside them up until the finale, things take a sharp turn there.

As it turns out, if she is taken to the final confrontation with Mephistopheles, he reveals that she was in fact drawing on Cania's power, dragging her back to evil - or more specifically despair and depression and evil through that - and cementing her as a Blackguard under his dominion. If the player has her true name, then she can be compelled back to the player's side, but that is not a definite. Additionally, if she was romanced by the player, then the power of True Love(tm) can allow her to be redeemed a second time, without needing the true name. It requires a Persuasion check, however, and the check is one of the most difficult in the entire game with no guarantee of success even if the player has maxed their Persuasion and Charisma. It only appears if she was romanced, simply befriending her is not enough.

So to cut it short (blame Apple), she does have a Baator connection.

quote:
7. Having Saverok lose his redemption to become a Priest of Bhaal is rank character assassination and another thing I really disliked about this book. It seems determined to overwrite every bit of progress the heroes have made to make the Forgotten Realms a better place.

This one I am torn on, because I enjoy his existing redemption epilogue and prefer it to be his end, but at the same time I acknowledge that it leaves the door open for him to have lived on afterward and potentially fallen back towards evil, just not on the Sword Coast:

"In the years following his resurrection by CHARNAME, Sarevok never settled in any one place for long. In Berdusk he is said to have routed an army of invading orcs, displaying such fearsome power and rage that terrified locals weren't sure whom to fear more. In Westgate he arrived as conqueror, brutally enforcing his will only to mysteriously vanish months later. He acted like a man that did not know himself, and all the stories agreed that Sarevok was a tortured soul, balancing between life and death, never to achieve either. Eventually he disappeared, said to have assaulted the Abyss itself, or even taken his own life. In truth, he journeyed to Kara-Tur to bury his one true love, the warrior Tamoko. He never returned, though the stories endure."

To me, that's his end.

quote:
8. See also Viconia Devir in the fact she's apparently STILL a one-dimensional Shar worshiper with apparently no character development.

Viconia's relationship with Shar was always a very uncomfortable combination of outright abuse, gaslighting, and Stockholm Syndrome, to me. It was an irony that her relationship with Lolth was abusive and Shar was in many ways no different, just more subtle.

"The Wild Mages I have met exhibit a startling disregard for common sense, and are often meddling with powers far beyond their own control." ~Volo
"Not unlike a certain travelogue author with whom I am unfortunately acquainted." ~Elminster
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