The Storyteller's Library

Below is a list of the books I've used for the development and running of the Times of Turning campaign (complete with some quick reviews). In most cases, clicking on the image will take you to where you can buy the book or download a PDF file.

 

RPG BOOKS

 

The D&D Core Rulebooks (Revised 3rd Edition)

Not really just a revision, but not different enough to qualify as a completely new edition either, D&D 3.5 boasts some much needed refinements to the D20 system. It also has some changes that are, in my opinion, unnecessary and far beyond the scope of the "revision" it was supposed to be. I'd further say that a few of those changes are just plain bad.

Even so, 3.5 is still the way to go if you're new to the game. Just don't be surprised if the campaigns you become involved in are actually employing a cumbersome hybrid of 3rd edition and 3.5 rules. Yes, it's messy, but what can you do? Hopefully, Wizards of the Coast won't pull this sort of stunt again.

 

The Complete Warrior (Dungeons & Dragons, 3.5)
by Andy Collins, David Noonan, and Ed Stark

Complete Warrior has some of the same issues as the above core books. A good chunk of the material within is rehashed and revised, taken from 3rd edition releases such as Sword and Fist. This can be a bit of a drag for those of us who've spent money on the original material.

However, it's a solid enough representation, and definitely better all around when compared to the books most of its content is drawn from. Certainly, looks-wise, there's no comparison. Aesthetically speaking, Complete Warrior is a vast improvement over its predecessors. I'd recommend it for any player who likes playing martially-oriented characters. It's also useful for DMs. However, if you have the 3rd edition class books already, pay attention to how much new content you're actually getting, and decide if it's really worth it for you. It probably will be, but it doesn't hurt to make sure.

 

Unearthed Arcana (Dungeons & Dragons, 3.5)
by Andy Collins, Jesse Decker, David Noonan, and Richard Redman

In my opinion, this is one of the better products Wizards of the Coast has produced in a while. The content is new (at least as far as WotC material goes) and there's some fine ideas contained in it. Lots of useful stuff, and it's easy to pick and choose from the options. I'm already using several of its features myself (Bloodlines, Traits, Flaws, Weapon Groups, Variant Classes). I'd strongly recommend it for any DM.

Note: The cover of the release is actually black, not brown. 

 

The Book of Vile Darkness (Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd Edition)
by Monte Cook

Oh, I like this book. Oh yes. A must for any DM, I'd say. You don't even have to use it. Just keep it displayed where players can see it, and it will cause all sorts of delightful fretting and worry.

But the content is actually pretty damn good... or... evil, rather. Hmm. The point is, I think you'll get your money's worth out of it, despite some of the drawbacks it has. Although this book is touted as being for mature readers, I'm not really sure the warning is warranted. It's still built around the rather simplistic morality of D&D, so there's only so far it can go (and I suspect it was further restrained by Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro) but, taken in context, it has a lot to offer. If I could rename it, I'd call it the Book of Mildly Naughty and Sometimes Goofy Darkness, but I'd still use it.

 

 

The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd Edition)
by Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, and Rob Heinsoo

If you have a lot of Forgotten Realms material from previous editions, you could certainly run a 3rd edition FR campaign without this book... but I wouldn't recommend taking that course. The FRCS will save you a great deal of time and effort, so it's worth the investment, even if you already have an extensive FR library at your disposal. This book is so comprehensive that you won't often need to refer to anything else.

 

Forgotten Realms: Faiths and Pantheons (Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd Edition)
by Eric L. Boyd and Erik Mona

It's current and fairly thorough... but, to be perfectly honest, I probably would've been fine with the material I've collected from earlier editions. Only recommended for those who don't have older versions of the material,  or for those who wish to have religions and gods figure prominently in their 3rd edition FR campaigns (so much so that you'd want the "crunchy" information). It's a damn fine looking book, too, if that matters to you. Some of the art is breathtaking.

Way of the Witch (d20, 3rd Edition, Citizen Games)
by Janet Pack, Jean Rabe, Megan C. Robertson, Christina Stiles

This is a good book to buy and run a campaign around, if witches are going to take center stage in your story. The background is very thorough. In terms of "fluff" and flavor, Way of the Witch offers much more than most 3rd party releases.

If, however, you want the witches to be a core class on equal footing with all the others, the presentation here is probably too extreme. Frankly, the level of detail provided here would be more appropriate for a Prestige Class: the witch just isn't "generic" enough. Also, the class described in Way of the Witch strikes me as being quite powerful, and I'm inclined to say she's overly so when compared to the standard core classes. The witch is effectively a variation of the cleric -- a divine spellcaster -- with a whole lot of macguffins thrown in. She also has a number of spells per day equal to a sorcerer's, which is probably my biggest issue with this spin on the concept. The sheer number of spells a sorcerer has is a main feature of the class, and, in my opinion, it should not be infringed upon... especially by a cleric type. The witch does have some weaknesses built in, but, while they're interesting, I don't think they balance out in the long run, particularly when Prestige Classes enter the equation.

Also, it should probably be noted that the material presented in this book appears to be very, very much influenced by the actual Wiccan religion. This might be bringing fantasy a little too close to reality for some people. Others might find it to be a plus. It certainly helps in adding depth to the content. In any event, I thought it to be a point worth mentioning. 

 

 

The Witch's Handbook (d20, 3rd edition, Green Ronin Publishing)
by Steve Kenson

Here we have a witch class that's a bit more in line with the standard core classes (although I think it leans on the weak side). The Witch's Handbook approaches the witch from an arcane angle, rather than a divine one (though Wisdom is still her key ability). Flavor-wise, this book is not as strong as Way of the Witch, but if you're adding the witch in as just another core class option, it doesn't have to be. In fact, you might prefer it not to be, so you can more easily add campaign-specific flavor yourself. 

However, the Witch's Handbook makes the same mistake that Way of the Witch does in giving the witch a sorcerer's spells per day. I really think this is a bad idea, as it steps on the sorcerer's toes. On the other hand, if you're not going to have any sorcerers around, there's probably no harm done in bringing in the witch (but definitely think about at least improving the spell list).

 

Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed (d20, 3rd edition, Malhavoc Press)

I'm not keen on the Diamond Throne setting, but that's simply a matter of taste. Whether or not Monte Cook's world flicks your own switch, Arcana Unearthed is still a worthy purchase, if for no other reason than the fact that it gives you a fresh perspective on things.

There's a lot of good stuff in this book. I'm using select pieces of it. It's actually seen more use than a few of the "core" books I own right now. That should tell you something. You have to be careful, though. Some of this stuff wouldn't integrate well into a typical Dungeons & Dragons game. Actually, some of it won't integrate at all.

 

 

The Complete Book of Eldritch Might (d20, 3rd edition, Malhavoc Press)
by Monte Cook

This is a compilation of the excellent Books of Eldritch Might put out by Sword & Sorcery/Malhavoc Press. I use both the Sorcerer and Bard variants included in its pages. It's billed as an "arcane sourcebook" and it's just that. Highly recommended.

 

Celtic Myth (GURPS, Steve Jackson Games)
by Ken and Jo Walton

I've found that, when you're looking for source material, GURPS books are almost always solid investments. Celtic Myth does not fail to meet expectations. The delivery is pretty dry, but then that's usually the case with GURPS books.

 

 

The Celt Campaign Sourcebook (AD&D 2nd Edition)

Part of AD&D's Historical Reference series. You'd think it'd be as good as the GURPS book above... but it's not. Still worth snatching up, if you can find it somewhere cheap. Sadly, I haven't been able to track down a PDF version of it.

 

The Viking Campaign Sourcebook (AD&D 2nd Edition)

Better than the Celts book. It served well enough that I didn't feel the need to track down GURPS Vikings. However, had my game been initially set in the northern isles, I might've felt differently.

 

Forgotten Realms: Hall of Heroes (AD&D)

Good background entries on Tristan and Robyn Kendrik (as well as other major Forgotten Realms personalities). The entry for Tristan is particularly enlightening, as it offers insight on the distant history of the Moonshae Islands.

This book predates the Druidhome trilogy, so Alicia and her cohorts aren't included. To get them you'd have to pick up the Heroes' Lorebook somewhere. You can find Diedre Kendrik in the Villain's Lorebook, which is available as a free PDF file from Wizards of the Coast.

 

 

Forgotten Realms: Moonshae (FR2, AD&D)
by Douglas Niles

I never picked this up when it first came out... which is odd, because I have most of the other 2nd edition sourcebooks. It was interesting to read one of the original supplements after the Realms have evolved so much. It's been very useful... more so than I actually thought it'd be. It had a significant influence on the material I wrote for Times of Turning. If you're going to run a campaign involving the Moonshaes, it's worth downloading this book as a PDF for a few bucks. The maps alone are a great help.

OTHER REFERENCE MATERIAL

 

The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook
by Sherrilyn Kenyon (with Hal Blythe and Charlie Sweet)

I've had this book for years, and I can't tell you how much help it's been. It's an invaluable resource that should be on any Storyteller's shelf.

 

Prophet of Moonshae (Druidhome Trilogy: Book One)
by Douglas Niles

Hoo boy, this novel was bad. In fact, it was so bad I couldn't bring myself to read the other two. Still, if you're a stickler for the canon, you should probably give this trilogy (and the first Moonshae trilogy) a go. Good luck. Myself, I just changed the canon. I'm a rebel like that. 

 

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