The Magic Tree


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By James Treu
Chapter 6, Adventures, is pretty big and includes using published adventures, fixing problems, building an adventure, quests, mixing encounters, fleshing out the adventure setting, and putting flavor and zest in the monsters and NPCs. The Quest Cards side bar felt too much like World of Warcraft (WoW) to me though.
The encounter mix section says that fun is everything. Don’t hold players accountable. Hand waive supplies, encumbrance, getting in the city gate, etc. Well, that can be okay advice if not taken too far, but it will be. The artificial bubble feel will erode the sense of loyalty and believability.
Chapter 7, Rewards, gives solid, clear (well, except a bit for traps and hazards) instructions on xp rewards. One may not always agree, but it’s very straight forward. The part about milestones awarding action points is explicitly there to “encourage characters to take on more encounters before stopping for an extended rest.” While I agree it will help reduce excessive caution, the expenditure of daily powers and healing surges is still going to be a powerful deterrent to pressing on. Still, actions points for milestones is a laudable feature, as is the goal of reducing excessive caution and too standard play execution.
The chapter is also very clear on the awarding of treasure, including magic items. Follow the treasure parcels they set out (however you want to compose them), and you will achieve the game’s intended balanced results. Vast improvement over 3E, although you may be taken aback a bit to see it all laid out so starkly.
As to magic items, the party finds magic items 1-4 levels above their current level. You can make magic items your level or lower. There’s a lot of magic items in treasure for each level. You’ll be swimming in them, of various power, after 5 or 6 levels. By 10th level, each character in the party will have 8 magic items, not counting any potions or ritual scrolls. Within a few levels after that, all your body slots will be filled, and you’ll start having primaries, backups, and lots of wondrous items. And remember, these are just the ones the characters FIND via treasure. It doesn’t include the ones they make. Pretty clear now why they both toned down the power of a lot of magic items AND restricted the use of the daily powers of them.
Chapter 8, Campaigns, talks about using published campaigns, or parts of them, about campaign themes, super adventures (one long adventure), campaign story, and beginning, running, and ending a campaign.
Curious wording on page 147 says paragon characters “are able to use magic rings.” Can’t everyone use magical rings?
Chapter 9 talks about the world, and assumptions of the default “points of light” setting. If you read my review of Worlds and Monsters, it’s mostly similar, but it gives other stuff too. Details on civilization, including villages, towns, cities, governments, commerce and economy, plus stuff on weather, environmental dangers, starvation, thirst, and suffocation.
There’s also interesting info on religion. For example: “A temple to Bahamut in one city is unconnected to Bahamut’s temple in the next city, with each having different rites and differently nuanced interpretations of the god’s commands.” Temples in the D&D world also don’t hold scheduled worship services. Rather, the temple is usually always open and constantly busy. Holy days just ramp this up.
It also gives a glimpse about “regular” priests. Most are ordinary people who might or might not be even ritual casters.
The rest of the chapter gives pretty miniscule stuff on the Planes and the gods (mostly the evil gods). What they didn’t make clear is why at least the evil gods wouldn’t strike down characters before they advance too far. Probably stuff for the upcoming DDG to make clearer.
The chapter also gives good and clear info on how to use artifacts in your game (without busting your campaign), and a few examples. The chapter concludes with some good info on languages and using them in the game, an improvement over 3E, where language usage often became ignored or a magic-trumped joke.


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