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Reviews of 'Epic Level Handbook'

Epic Level Handbook

by Andy Collins, Bruce R. Cordell, Thomas M. Reid
D&D Expansions, Volume 9

Reviews of 'Epic Level Handbook'

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Reviewer: Matt

Rating: Stars

For those players that have felt constrained by the fact that the Dungeons & Dragons game only shows character progression to 20th level, there is salvation: the Epic Level Handbook. If you've ever wondered what a 300 HD monster looks like, or how to deal 200d6 damage on a spell, you'll find the answers in the Epic Level Handbook.

Most of the information presented in the Epic Level Handbook is quite good. The authors do an excellent job of presenting suggestions for ways to run the high level campaigns, some of which are fairly obvious, while others are excellent suggestions that come from play testing experience.

The book opens with notes on each of the character classes presented in the Player's Handbook, and the prestige classes that are detailed in the Dungeon Master's Guide, and it covers how to advance them through the epic levels. Suggestions include which features (bonus feats, etc.) to allow as their level increases, which to drop, and what to leave alone. This allows the classes to stay fairly balanced throughout their adventures at higher level. The Epic Level Handbook also includes new skills and feats that are appropriate for high-level characters, and will serve to keep them alive when battling some of the toughest monsters in the multiverse.

Speaking of the multiverse, much of the book focuses on the cities and lands of the outer planes. Because of the high-level monsters that the PCs must encounter at these high levels, the traditional game world setting may not be the most appropriate place to conduct your adventures. The Epic Level Handbook presents the city of Union (in the center of the planes) as the primary city from which to begin adventures, though it also suggests a side trip to Sigil from the Planescape multiverse. In addition, the Epic Level Handbook includes a short adventure onto the elemental plane of fire, complete with an encounter with an Infernal and a red dragon who was once a consort of Tiamat. Certainly an adventure of epic proportions!

The directions for advancing spells in level and power (such as a casting a 10th-level fireball without the damage and range restrictions that are part of the 3rd level spell) are good, and will breathe new life into the spells in the Player's Handbook or from other sources. Where the spells chapter shines is in the creation and description of the epic level spells—I found that the instructions for creating these spells with "seeds" of other spells were quite good, and the possibilities that were opened up with the epic spell rules extend the existing magic system quite nicely.

The remainder of the book covers epic magic items and epic monsters. For all intents and purposes, most of the material presented in these two chapters basically takes your average magic item or monster and adds unbelievable power to it—Bracers of Epic Armor +15 or a Holy Devastator wielded by a paladin. The Epic Level Handbook is rounded out by three appendices, which cover the epic characters of Faerun, Greyhawk, and epic NPCs.

For those DMs with characters who have achieved the ultimate success in their campaign world, and are looking for bigger and better challenges, the Epic Level Handbook is for you. While some of the material is simply an extension of the D&D rules for lower-level campaigns, the epic spells, pre-generated monsters, and the epic feats give a DM a good foundation for running a successful epic campaign.

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