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Relics & Rituals: Excalibur

Written by Damien


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But again, they're not all bad. Just the majority of them. Luckily, prestige classes are optional material to begin with, so you don't have to use them, and they don't take up so much space in this product as to make it worth any less.

Chapter Three: Skills, Feats & Equipment
To begin with, we get a bunch of new skill uses. Many of which are quite useful and well-designed. Some of the new skill uses include:

Diplomacy -- Honourable Negotiation, Romance
Disguise -- Armoured Disguise
Forgery -- Forge Device
Intimidate -- Beware the Black Knight!
Knowlege -- Bestiary, Courtley Manners, and Heraldry

After the skills come the feats. This is the best portion of the chapter, and it's going to make all the players wish they had more chances to nab them. Feats such as Avoid Treacherous Blow, Clerical Authority, Deny the Lethal Strike, Demonic Tutor, Disdain the Dishonourable Command, Fury At Dishonour, and Foeturner. But there are so many feats that it would be far too time-consuming (and space-consuming) to mention them all. But suffice to say that many of these feats are quite inspired! For example; Foeturner allows you to make an enemy into your faithful cohort (for a certain span of time) if you defeat him in fair combat.

The equipment section comes last. The weapons are listed with modified prices (but none of their other stats), and Eastern-style weapons like the nunchaku have been removed completely. Armour gets a similar treatment, with two new styles - the armour tunic and Fae Armor.

Surprisingly, the equipment section also has a fairly complete list of clothing, with everything from different quality spurs to tabards, to wool dresses. It may seem unnecessary, but this one little table can be very meaningful for outfitting a character, and showing the difference between your common street merchant and the noble lord. Jewelry gets a similar treatment as clothes, with a big list of items. The chapter then moves on to quickly cover mounts and related gear, and other random equipment you may need from backpacks to soap, to flasks. Even the prices of food and drink in an establishment are given.


Chapter Four: Spells
Chapter four starts out by giving full alternate spell-lists for the spellcasting classes. This is a nice feature, as it helps to push the Arthurian feel of removing some of the flashier spells like Meteor Swarm. The chapter also has a huge amount of new spells meant to fit the Arthurian theme. Bridge of Air, Blunt Edge, Adversity, Calm Weather, Emblazon, Raise Foundation and Raise Land (to name but a few) are all excellent spells with solid uses that fit the theme completely.


Chapter Five: Magic Items
There's not much to say about this chapter. One is left wondering why it's even a chapter, as it could easily have been placed as a subsection of the Spells chapter. In any event, as with all magic item chapters in d20 products, this is a mixed bag. Some of the items are good, some are very silly. But all in all, there's too many. An Arthurian setting should have that feeling of wonder that goes with magic items, rather than awarding them at every opportunity just because that's how it's usually done in D&D. Regardless, some of the items aren't bad at all. However, I would have much preferred a chapter dealing with the relative lack of magic items in an Arthurian setting, rather than simply allowing that 'break the theme' element to creep in just to save the general assumptions of D&D (like the characters having access to tons of magic).


Chapter Six: Setting
The setting chapter gives details on those important aspects of the game and themes for the setting that didn't fit elsewhere in the book. Honour comes first. This value can either supplement, or replace, standard alignments. Honour is a numeric value that represents how well a character remains true to his ideals, ethics, and morals. Many abilities, and even feats in this book are tied to a character's honour rating. After honour, an overview of chivalry is given, as well as different example codes of chivalry. The question of what exactly is a 'knight' gets a brief summary, followed by a discussion on courtley love and how to handle it in the game. This is a particularly interesting section for fans of the older Arthurian tales of the questing knight fighting for the honour of a love he cannot have, and other similar themes.

Following that is a brief synopsis of prophecy and how it figures into the game, as well as religion (including the different religions available in the game). Magic, standard d20 races, and typical d20 monsters (by type) are also discussed at the end of this chapter, in reference to how they can be used in an Arthurian or Excalibur game.


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