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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default revising the book of vile darkness

    the 3.5 BOVD usually gets slagged off left right and centre. It provides some intersting options crunchwise to construct villains, but has always been slated for its lack of fluff/views on evil itself

    so... throwing this one out there as a fairly open topic

    what would you have put in there to make it "better"?
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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    more soul eater

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Fiendish Codex II was far superior than the Book of Vile Darkness for me. And to a lesser extent, the Fiendish Codex I, but those are demons, and so who really cares what they do? Devils are where its at.

    We just needed a "Fiendish Codex III: Yugoloths, Demodands, And All Those Other Random Lower Planes Dwelling Critters That Aren't That Important With Perspectives on Pandemonium, Hades, Gehenna, Acheron, and Carceri".

    In the Book of Vile Darkness, I found most of the fluff okay, but not stellar (nothing I hadn't seen before). The crunch was...meh. We had spellcasting prestige classes that didn't progress any spellcasting. Most of it was on the underpowered side.

    The one thing I liked most of all was that it introduced me to the Blood War, which has appeared in some form or another with varying degrees of influence for some amount of time in every campaign I've ever DMed since.

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    I also liked the pain currency mechanics...gives those willing to play around with demonic entities, especially in plane games, some more believable currency...

    Gold means nothing to demons and souls are quite difficult to get your hands on...pain is right down the middle.
    "God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of his own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time." (Good Omens - Terry Pratchett)

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Quote Originally Posted by kemmotar View Post
    I also liked the pain currency mechanics...gives those willing to play around with demonic entities, especially in plane games, some more believable currency...

    Gold means nothing to demons and souls are quite difficult to get your hands on...pain is right down the middle.
    Indeed...I don't know how planescape handled it, but I've always felt that there isn't enough planar currency... Or at least, I haven't encountered much of it other than souls, raw chaos, and inspiration or what have you.
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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    The BoVD was not 3.5; it was published before the revision.
    "Courage is the complement of fear. A fearless man cannot be courageous. He is also a fool." -- Robert Heinlein


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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    The biggest problem, IMO: The PrCs had tons of (icky, disgusting) flavor, but not much punch. Most of them were caster-centric, but there was only one full-casting PrC in the whole bunch. Clerics got some interesting spells, but not much in PrC's. Melee PrCs weren't all that interesting, iirc, either.

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Quote Originally Posted by Telonius View Post
    The biggest problem, IMO: The PrCs had tons of (icky, disgusting) flavor, but not much punch.
    And the feats and items and such that did have punch (or should I say pinch, regarding the out-of-left-field nipple clamps of exquisite pain?) were based on immature ideas of evil (like the aforementioned clamps basically saying "People who act weird are evil") or oversimplifications of evil (pretty much "Evil is diseases, poisons, and souls, that's it) or even evil-ization of not-really-evil concepts (for instance, why couldn't an ur-priest be Good to steal from the rich demon-worshipers and give to the poor paladin orders?)
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Well, that essentially D&D is based off of a generic fantasy setting where good and bad are too intrinsically separate things.

    When you introduce players that are older and can understand that it's not all black and white, then it pretty much depends on the DM, the players, the setting and the circumstances.

    For example, using the nipple clamps of exquisite pain on a devil worshiper to extract from him the place where the world ending ritual is taking place is usually not seen as evil, but rather as using whatever means you can to save the world...However, chances are that in a heavily lawful paladin stick up their a** city, you'd still be imprisoned for doing it.

    A single book cannot hope to find the distinction between good and evil when humanity has tried for thousands of years to no avail...

    Thus they say, this is evil, because it is easy to understand why it would be seen as evil. After that, depending on alignment and the DM, you can work around alignment restrictions.

    I for one would allow spells with an evil descriptor even to a NG/LG cleric on the premise that he uses the appropriately, for example as above...

    thus, because they can't cover every possible scenario they the item itself is evil. The use may be good...but the book does not entirely concern itself with the use.
    "God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of his own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time." (Good Omens - Terry Pratchett)

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    It needed more gruesome spells. Seriously, I want to summon horrors, rip blood out threw someones skin, knock them out from raw pain like a variant sleep spell. Stuff like giant fists falling out the sky? Wtf? Is this monthy python?!

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Crunchwise, BoVD has some utterly ridiculous spells and items in it, like Death by Thorns, Mindrape, and that item that sucks things into the Ethereal plane. A lot of this stuff is really overpowered, and should go. There are also poorly thought out things like the sacrifice system that can be easily abused.

    As for the fluff, I agree that it seems to characterize as evil a lot of things that are merely deviant, or in some cases actually chaotic rather than evil. And some things make no sense at all, like that spell that answers a question that begins with "who" being [Evil].
    Last edited by Claudius Maximus; 2009-07-06 at 01:15 PM.
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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Quote Originally Posted by Claudius Maximus View Post
    And some things make no sense at all, like that spell that answers a question that begins with "who" being [Evil].
    I believe it is WHO you are asking, rather than WHAt you're doing, that makes that spell Evil.
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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Quote Originally Posted by kemmotar View Post
    Thus they say, this is evil, because it is easy to understand why it would be seen as evil.
    That's exactly the problem, though--all the icky stuff can be obviously evil, and we don't need a book for that. We need a book that looks at the psychology of someone who is the essence Chaotic Evil, not just bad; we need a book that examines the nature of evil in a universe where evil is a tangible force just as real as physics in ours; we need a book that covers the truly evil, sacrifice-three-million-innocents kind of magic that destruction just doesn't cover.

    We don't need a book that says "Yeah, the way you've been playing your villains? Mostly right, but they aren't icky enough."
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    Darn you PoDL for making me care about a bunch of NPC Commoners!
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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    That's exactly the problem, though--all the icky stuff can be obviously evil, and we don't need a book for that. We need a book that looks at the psychology of someone who is the essence Chaotic Evil, not just bad; we need a book that examines the nature of evil in a universe where evil is a tangible force just as real as physics in ours; we need a book that covers the truly evil, sacrifice-three-million-innocents kind of magic that destruction just doesn't cover.
    Agreed. Having an official, more or less indepth examination and ruling on alignments would have gone a long way to stymie the blood war of forums.

    ....Come to think of it, most demons don't really have blood....<_< >_>
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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    That's not entirely true... their is a skinless demon that oozes blood constantly in fiendish codex >.>. Not to mention the 3.5 core demon that has cidic blood-like slime thats acidic to things that touch it.

    Anyway - Main thing I enjoyed the most of the entire book was the demon prince information. I did not know much about the dnd pantheon other then the core gods until I got that book, then exalted deeds.

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Most of the interesting psychological stuff is in other books.

    Savage Species-have a couple of paragraphs on Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas- the fact that evil characters can have friendships, be loyal, loving, affectionate, devoted, etc, and explaining that a big part of Evil is compartmentalization-

    treating your "out-group" like dirt while being kind, loving, friendly, loyal, etc to your in-group.

    Champions of Ruin went into some depth on various reasons for a character doing evil acts- including the "ends justify the means" type of anti-hero. And stressing that, regardless of your motives, if your methods tend to be evil, character alignment is evil.

    Heroes of Horror had a passing mention of how Evil doesn't necessarily mean villain, how the law probably doesn't accept Detect spells as evidence, and how killing someone for detecting as evil will generally get you locked up for murder anywhere. Eberron Campaign Guide had similar comments, stressing that you can't just go out and kill evil people- you need better reasons than that.

    Fiendish Codex 2 had a list of Always Evil acts (and some Always Lawful acts) as well as an outline of typical Lawful Evil society.

    Exemplars of Evil also went into various types of villain- their methods, their reason for villainy, etc. It had a long list of personality traits, and the alignments (lawful, chaotic, evil) they tended to be attached to.

    Complete Scoundrel has a list of fictional characters- and their alignments, including Evil ones.
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2009-07-06 at 01:45 PM.

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Quote Originally Posted by Jane_Smith View Post
    It needed more gruesome spells. Seriously, I want to summon horrors, rip blood out threw someones skin, knock them out from raw pain like a variant sleep spell. Stuff like giant fists falling out the sky? Wtf? Is this monthy python?!
    Check the Libris Mortis. It's got a spell that is a ray, and on hit causes the target to lose half of it's current hit points, round down, as it's blood and bodily fluids are forcibly expelled from it's body. The fort save only stops the stun.

    Next level up has got the same spell, except Web is tied into it centered on the target using his own blood vessels to create a living mass of constricting gel.


    BoVD was 3.0, not 3.5. As such, some things are vastly underpowered in terms of spell casting, while some PrCs and things are completely broken if imported straight (Like tripling the threat range of weapons, and stacks with Improved Crit as well as getting Rusting Grasp)

    What suck, sucks bad. What is good is too good. And things just don't work right as the fluff would have you think. BoVD and BoED gives really bad examples of the Good/Evil axis and sadly the 3.5 response to the BoVD (Which was the BoED) didn't hold a candle to what Evil has to offer. (I mean come on, an evil metal that changes the crit multiplier to x4 straight up?! Hello Rapier builds!)

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Some Third party sources have gone into it. (I don't have much on that though)

    Quintessenial Paladin 2 outlines three major variants- Evil Everywhere, Evil as A Choice, and Supernatural Evil.

    in Evil Everywhere, the PHB quote on "humans tend toward no alignment, not even Neutral", is taken literally- roughly a third of population are Evil, a third Good, a third Neutral (and a third Chaotic, a third Lawful, with appropiate overlaps)

    Here, your grasping landlord or greedy thug is Evil, and your friendly old lady who bakes cakes for the poor is Good. This kind of Evil is a part of the world and can't be destroyed. Paladins certainly shouldn't attack people for being Evil, and while they should perk their attention up when they detect it, as a rule it doesn't mean person needs to be dealt with using violence.

    in Evil as a Choice alignments other than Neutral are rare- most evil characters are "a criminal, a terrible and wilful sinner, or both" Even then, detecting Evil is a warning, not a call to arms. Paladins should investigate, but they cannot assume its smiting time.

    in Supernatural Evil, as a rule, only monsters, divine casters of evil, and similar agents of darkness detect as Evil. Even a serial killer would not detect as Evil, unless he was committing his acts as part of his service to fiends. Here, you can smite when you detect, as a rule.

    EDIT: Also, in Save My Game article on WOTC site, there was an outline of Law and Chaos- fairly consistant with Eberron, and Dragon Magazine, though maybe not a perfect fit. If there were Good/Evil articles- they've probably been taken down since they have been retiring the oldest articles.
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2009-07-06 at 02:06 PM.

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Quote Originally Posted by Jane_Smith View Post
    Anyway - Main thing I enjoyed the most of the entire book was the demon prince information. I did not know much about the dnd pantheon other then the core gods until I got that book, then exalted deeds.
    If you liked the demon prince descriptions, see if you can get your hands on any 2e Planescape material. There's one book (whose name I can't remember at the moment, though I can picture it sitting on my shelf) that goes into great detail about the power structures, physiology, etc. of all the fiends, and another one for the celestials. FC1 and 2 took most of their information from the fiend book, except where things were changed to better fit in 3e, so if you liked the Fiendish Codices you'll love Planescape stuff.
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    Quote Originally Posted by abadguy View Post
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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    I just took a look into the BoVD, starting at the beginning.

    What is the meaning of the Part "Fetishes and Addictions" in the Chapter "The Nature of Evil"?
    Do they say alcoholics and mentally ill people should be smited instead of being offered treatment?
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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Think of it as more problems that Evil characters tend to succumb to.

    Their version of "psychopath" has very little in common with the medical definition- being basically, blood-crazed serial killer.

    Addictions don't make a character Evil (since they aren't in the list of Evil acts) but they do provide a possible reason for them to start becoming evil- through committing crimes to feed their addiction.

    Forgotten Realms is a bit more generous on that side, allowing clerics of Loviatar to be LN. So you could, in Faerun, be both sadistic and non-evil.

    EDIT:
    the drugs in D&D are fictional ones, and alcohol isn't on the list. The prototype for the drugs/addiction rules was Lords of Darkness, a Faerun book about the various organizations.

    Useful note- in BoED, there are vows based around giving up alcohol, coffee, etc, on the principle that "by giving up something that is healthy and good, you gain spiritual insights."

    Theses aren't compulsary to be Good or even Exalted Good, though.
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2009-07-06 at 02:50 PM.

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    I found myself looking through the BoVD recently to see if they had rules for slavery, and specifically guidelines on what the cost of a slave might be in different contexts. No luck. I was very surprised and disappointed that slavery didn't really get a mention, so some fluff on the topic and a price list are definitely things I would have liked to see.

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Only things that goes out of its way to say "slavery is evil" are BoED and Cityscape: "the institution of slavery should be regarded as an evil by any good aligned characters in a campaign"

    Forgotten Realms Campaign setting mentions it- page 86-87- describing places where its common, and the default attitude of Heatlands characters to it.

    Apparently 50-100 gold pieces is the typical price range for healthy laborers.

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Interestingly, in Lords of Madness, the Neogi chapter has a rough formula for calculating the costs of slaves. Give it a look-see. Generally, low-level, common race folk are really cheap, while PC classes, high levels, and exotic races sell for much higher.

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    I think the book needed more discussion about what Evil is, and I mean a genuine discussion. The book really has only one version of evil. There's a quarter of one page that accepts the idea that two characters in a DnD game might have a different definition of evil, but the rest of the 200+ page book rejects the idea that you might have a different definition of evil to the author.

    Fortunately, whenever someone creates a thread with a topic like this we get a genuine discussion on the nature of Evil.

    If you were wondering, my view is pretty similar to this one above:

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    in Evil as a Choice alignments other than Neutral are rare- most evil characters are "a criminal, a terrible and wilful sinner, or both" Even then, detecting Evil is a warning, not a call to arms. Paladins should investigate, but they cannot assume its smiting time.
    Last edited by AvatarZero; 2009-07-06 at 04:15 PM.

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    I've made a differnt concept of good of evil just this day. If the topic is still up, I might post it tomorrow. (To tired for tonight.)
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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarZero View Post
    I think the book needed more discussion about what Evil is, and I mean a genuine discussion. The book really has only one version of evil. There's a quarter of one page that accepts the idea that two characters in a DnD game might have a different definition of evil, but the rest of the 200+ page book rejects the idea that you might have a different definition of evil to the author.
    That's probably because D&D is a game. They can define good and evil as however they want it. Saying that a behavior is good or evil by D&D rules is no different from saying that wizards have 1d4 hitpoints per level and Rogues aren't proficient in heavy armor. A roleplaying game doesn't need to have in-depth discussions on good and evil.

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Fiendish Codex 2 implies that "most people are only weakly aligned" but doesn't say whether that means Neutral,

    or just, that most of the non-Neutral ones are very mild- that your average Evil person is "only just Evil" etc

    I'm inclined to go with the latter interpretation- its midway between Evil Everywhere and Evil as a Choice.

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    Fiendish Codex 2 implies that "most people are only weakly aligned" but doesn't say whether that means Neutral, or just, that most of the non-Neutral ones are very mild- that your average Evil person is "only just Evil" etc

    I'm inclined to go with the latter interpretation- its midway between Evil Everywhere and Evil as a Choice.
    I'd go the same way, because I don't believe the "neutral" alignment necessarily means "doesn't really care" (although it can, just as "good" can mean "cares, but not enough to do anything more than talk about it").

    In fact most people are in favor of both law and good, but won't do much about it beyond paying taxes, and will occasionally commit minorly evil or chaotic deeds without feeling any remorse. And if they see government behaving chaotically or evilly, they are as likely to take that as excusing more chaos and evil on their own part as they are to stand up and object.

    One thing I don't like about 4E is that "true neutral" has been replaced by "unaligned". There's no room for the character who, for philosophical or religious reasons, is firmly committed to a certain balance between Law and Chaos, between Good and Evil, and is willing to act in ANY way to restore that balance: murder a good king and steal his treasury in one kingdom, donate all the loot to a good cause in the next.

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    Default Re: revising the book of vile darkness

    True Neutral was always a bit blurred, it included both the committed and the uncommitted.

    I disliked the whole "any atrocity is OK in the service of the Balance" concept- seemed a bit too ruthless for Neutral. After all "neutral people have compunctions against hurting the innocent" PHB.

    Unaligned has room for the "servant of the Balance" if you choose to run the game that way. Its just that, like in 2nd and 3rd ed, they will share the zone with people who are less committed (and a hefty chunk of the old CNs and LNs as well)

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