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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Most useful books

    I'm playing 3.5, and I have all the core books, but I'd like to get one or two other books to... do something. I'm currently playing a bard and a mage (yes, two characters.) Any suggestions as to the most useful, helpful or interesting?

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    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Expanded Psionics Handbook

    Tome of Battle:Book of 9 Swords

    Probably the two most balanced books there are out there, and full of good stuff.

    EDIT: But for what you want, probably the Spell compendium and... something.
    Last edited by Lert, A.; 2008-12-17 at 08:33 PM.

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    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Most useful? That's a tough question. For what, specifically? Optimization? RP options? A little of both?

    They're both spellcasters, so from a logical standpoint anything arcane helps.

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    For players? I find the most useful books to be the ones that broadly expand archetypes. Complete Adventurer, Complete Scoundrel, and Complete Champion come highly recommended, as does the PHB-II and the Spell Compendium.

    For players who want a different kind of game? Expanded Psionics Handbook, Tome of Magic, Magic of Incarnum, and Tome of Battle.

    For DMs? Monster Manual III, Monster Manual V, DMG-II, Manual of the Planes.

    For DMs who want to add different things to their game? Magic of Incarnum, Tome of Magic, Expanded Psionics Handbook, and Tome of Battle.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Arcane would be nice. I'd also like books with a few nice prestige classes. The Complete books would probably work perfectly well for that, so which of them are most arcane?

    Also, what is Tome of Battle about? Besides battle, I mean.
    Last edited by AppleChips; 2008-12-17 at 08:36 PM.

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Quote Originally Posted by AppleChips View Post
    Arcane would be nice. I'd also like books with a few nice prestige classes.

    Also, what is Tome of Battle about? Besides battle, I mean.
    It basically takes the spell mechanic and turns it into martial combat tactics.

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    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Nice prestige classes?

    For those two, I especially like to play around with Complete Arcane and Complete Champion, or to a lesser extent Complete Mage.

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    If you're interested in prestige classes, check this out:

    http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/lists/prc

    It's an index of prestige classes, a brief description of them, and the book(s) they appear in. At the bottom of the page are the full names of the books (the abbreviations can be hard to guess).

    You could choose whichever books contain the prestige classes that sound interesting to you.
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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    For players? I find the most useful books to be the ones that broadly expand archetypes. Complete Adventurer, Complete Scoundrel, and Complete Champion come highly recommended, as does the PHB-II and the Spell Compendium.

    For players who want a different kind of game? Expanded Psionics Handbook, Tome of Magic, Magic of Incarnum, and Tome of Battle.

    For DMs? Monster Manual III, Monster Manual V, DMG-II, Manual of the Planes.

    For DMs who want to add different things to their game? Magic of Incarnum, Tome of Magic, Expanded Psionics Handbook, and Tome of Battle.


    I'm going to assume you meant Complete Divine, rather than assume you have completely gone off your rocker.

    Other than Complete Champion, I agree with everything Fax said. Also, Stormwrack, Frostburn, and Sandstorm are all excellent for DMs if you're running a campaign in any of those environments. (Water-y places, cold places, and hot places respectively.)
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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Bookworm View Post


    I'm going to assume you meant Complete Divine, rather than assume you have completely gone off your rocker.
    What's a bard or sorceror going to do with Complete Divine, other than multiclass and just be another turning beast?

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Bookworm View Post


    I'm going to assume you meant Complete Divine, rather than assume you have completely gone off your rocker.

    Other than Complete Champion, I agree with everything Fax said. Also, Stormwrack, Frostburn, and Sandstorm are all excellent for DMs if you're running a campaign in any of those environments. (Water-y places, cold places, and hot places respectively.)
    No, I meant Complete Champion. There are some breakable bits in it, but that's true for every book. I think it's wrongfully maligned as an overly cheesy book because of a very few bits in it--but, to me, that's like calling Complete Arcane cheesy because of the Iot7FV, or calling Complete Divine cheesy because of Divine Metamagic.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Hmmm.. Seems like a lot of choices.
    I think I'll probably go with either Complete Arcane, Adventurer or Champion. Which of these three do you think is... most enjoyable?

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    I'd personally say Complete Arcane out of those three, but then I love Warlocks.

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Quote Originally Posted by AppleChips View Post
    Hmmm.. Seems like a lot of choices.
    I think I'll probably go with either Complete Arcane, Adventurer or Champion. Which of these three do you think is... most enjoyable?
    Arcane. Warlocks are awesome and there are expanded spell lists for arcane casters.

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    If you want to expand out of "Kill things and take their stuff" gameplay, I highly reccomend Complete Scoundrel. It also introduces Skill Tricks, ambush feats, luck feats, ect.
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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Draconomicon. I just can't get enough of just watching that beautiful beautiful artwork. Not to mention that if you're into dragons, you'll love that book, too (some of those sample dragon biographies are just priceless).

    It's got baby dragons in it, how can you resist?
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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Quote Originally Posted by Gorbash View Post
    Draconomicon. I just can't get enough of just watching that beautiful beautiful artwork. Not to mention that if you're into dragons, you'll love that book, too (some of those sample dragon biographies are just priceless).

    It's got baby dragons in it, how can you resist?
    That, and the fact that dragons are essentially giant winged scaly cats, keeps me loving that book.

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    I'll echo what others have said here - almost all the Complete series is worth picking up (though some are better than others), and Tome of Battle and Expanded Psionics are both great for adding new elements to a game. Spell Compendium is also helpful, but you can get by without it. (Or, at least, I have.)

    I also suggest, though not QUITE as highly, that you check into the Races series. Races of Stone is probably one of my favorite 3.x books, and Races of the Wild has some cool stuff as well. (You can probably skip most of Races of Destiny, but some stuff in it, like the Chameleon PrC, is cool.) Not only do they all add a lot of fun feats and PrCs, they also have a lot of fluff you can use as a PC or DM (Gnomish wedding ceremonies, Elf naming systems, etc.).

    If you EVER plan on DMing, the Environment series (Frostburn, Sandstorm, Stormwrack) is good, and so is MMIII. It's probably my favorite book as a DM.

    Also, get Dungeonscape. It's got tons of neat stuff for DMs AND players, including new templates, traps, alternate class features, and the Factotum, which is a really fun class.
    Last edited by RTGoodman; 2008-12-18 at 12:35 AM.
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    Default Re: Most useful books

    The books I (and my group) have gotten the most out of in our group are:

    PHB II
    MiC
    SC
    UA

    UA will have more options than you're ever likely to use, but for what you do use, it's brilliant (although admittedly, you can pick up most of it as open content on the www).

    Now, ToB and EPH always rate highly, but involve adding new sets of rules and abilities to the game. If you're cool with that, then by all means, grab them. If, like my group, you already get bogged down with the rules just in the core, possibly not such a good idea.

    I used to consider myself a Psionics/Maneuvers hater, now I've realized that there is nothing wrong with them, just not my cup of tea.

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    The funny thing about bards is that, from an optimization standpoint, all the best stuff comes from different books.

    Snowflake Wardance: Frostburn
    Sublime Chord: C. Arcane
    Virtuoso: C. Adventurer
    Words of Creation: Book of Exalted Deeds
    Dragonfire Inspiration: Dragon Magic
    Song from the Heart: Eberron Campaign Setting
    Masterwork Instrument Special Effects: C. Adventurer
    Whirling Blade: Spell Compendium (And some other spells, which I can't currently remember the name of)
    Melodic Casting: C. Mage
    Knowledge Devotion: C. Champion
    Crystal Echoblade, Harmonizing Weapons: Magic Item Compendium

    There's approximately 1-3 good bard choices in about every single book. Maybe they wanted to highlight the fact that bard's are Jacks of All Trades, but seriously...
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    Default Re: Most useful books

    The two books that most expanded our group's play:

    Tome of Battle
    Spell Compendium


    Expanded Psionics doesn't count since while we did buy it, it was already usable through SRD.

    All the Completes pretty much do what you'd expect them to. That said, Complete Mage and Complete Champion have the most usable material (and Complete Champion has the most material you need to moderate), including many worthwhile PrCs.

    Complete Warrior's only big contribution are the tactical feats for melee. They're really interesting though and break the "move, swing, full-attack, full-attack, move, swing" mold quite a bit. That said, if you got Tome of Battle, you'd be able to break the mold way more and overall, Tome of Battle makes Complete Warrior unneeded, as it fixes any problems your martial characters may be experiencing (the inability to move and deal significant damage, the inability to effectively Two-Weapon Fight, fight unarmed or Sword & Board, the inability to control area, the monotonity of your chosen combat style, being restricted to basically doing the same sequence over and over again and the inability to truly play a "battle leader").

    Complete Arcane mostly contributes few PrCs. Interesting, but I'd get Spell Compendium and Complete Mage first for all sorts of arcane awesome.

    Complete Divine boosts those who need no boost. There're great Cleric PrCs and such, along with some insane feats. I'd really get Spell Compendium and Complete Champion before it.

    Complete Scoundrel is awesome for Rogues and all scoundrelly types. I love the book to death and skill tricks are just plain awesome. I'd get this ASAP, although it doesn't have that many usable PrCs. The feats and skill tricks are awesome though. Same with Complete Adventurer, there are very few good PrCs there, but it has solid base classes and feats.

    Complete Psionic is basically only there for extra powers and Ardent. Unfortunately, most of the contents of that book sucks. And Magic Item Compendium kicks ass.

    Player's Handbook II expands all classes, and contains a bunch of few decent ones. It's definitely well written, and I'd get it pretty soon as, like said, it has material for all characters along with character ideas and the like for those with trouble coming up with something interesting.


    Soo, what I'd get in order:
    1. Tome of Battle
    2. Spell Compendium
    3. Player's Handbook II (at this point, you've considerably expanded the game for melee types and spellcasters, and everyone equally; this is the point where I'd say you've got the most mechanical pieces in place and playing should be a blast compared to Core-only)
    4. Complete Scoundrel
    5. Complete Champion
    6. Complete Mage
    7. Complete Adventurer
    8. Complete Warrior
    9. Complete Arcane
    10. Complete Divine
    11. Complete Psionic

    Toss Expanded Psionics Handbook to #2 if you don't use Psionics through SRD. Magic of Incarnum is strictly additional material, so while it's awesome, it may feel a bit weird and thus, I'd probably get it after milking the standard archetypes for all their money. Same with Tome of Magic (let's be honest and just say "Tome of Binding").

    Btw, few other splatbooks with very specific benefits:
    Dungeonscape: Has great alternative class features and a great new coreclass, but not much else. I'd take it between Complete Mage and Adventurer though.

    Heroes of Horror: Has rules for horror adventures, few awesome classes, and such. The classes are available online though, so unless planning for horror adventures or the Taint-system, I wouldn't get it.

    Heroes of Battle: Has rules for mass combat and wars and such. Get it if interested in running such.

    Unearthed Arcana: Most of it is available online, but it's got awesome bits. Basically a book of houserules with all kinds of ideas on how to change things for the better. Definitely worth a look.

    Champions of Ruin: It's strictly speaking a Forgotten Realms-supplement, but if you're interested in archery-related material (something all the other splatbooks pretty much spit on) along with some scoundrelly stuff, this is for you. Definitely good for those not planning on adventuring in FR too.

    Drow of the Underdark: Too bad all the cool stuff has to be planned for NPCs, eh? This book, if allowed for non-Drow PCs, has oodles of great ACFs, feats and such to specialize characters in some unusual things (and it actually makes poisons decent along with Dungeonscape providing listings of the superior poisons). I'd check this if interested in fear-effects, poison , hit'n'run-type characters or...well, drows.

    Races of X: The problem with these books is that to really enjoy them, you need them all. They go to great lengths describing each non-standard race and their mentality, daily routines, usual lives and so on. Absolutely awesome for details on each race, but if you have some players playing with a race you have "Races of X"-book for and others playing with a race you don't, it might lead to a sitiuation where the player playing "Races of X"-race has the race-part of his character considerably more fleshed out. This is not to say you couldn't RP an Elf without Races of the Wild or a Dwarf without Races of Stone, but the difference before and after having read the appropriate Races of X is huge in my experience.

    They also contain a new race or two each (Races of the Wilds has Raptorans AND Catfolk, Races of Stone has Goliaths, Races of Destiny has Illumians and Races of the Dragon has a bunch of stuff like Spellscales, Dragonborn, Draconians, etc.) along with racial PrCs, weapons, items, etc. So they expand the other side of the character. Special mention to Races of Eberron, which gives you a pile of interesting races you could use for whatever campaign settings you're playing in, including Construct PC Warforged, Lycanthropic PC Shifter and Doppelganger PC Changeling. And the psionic Kalashtar.

    Sandstorm/Frostburn/Stormwrack: Out of these, Stormwrack was the best in my opinion. There's a severe lack of stuff related to the wide seas in the DMG and Stormwrack did a nice job describing the perils and such you might find in a D&D sea. Frostburn is mostly there for the races and such, while Sandstorm is mostly used for the PC material (PrCs, feats, spells, etc.). So yea, if you're interested in environmental expansions, I suggest getting Stormwrack first. Frostburn is kinda middle-ground and Sandstorm is mostly there for the mechanical stuff (of course it describes desert climates and wastelands, but those are rather well covered in DMG already).

    Libris Mortis/Lords of Madness/Exemplars of Evil/Draconomicon/Fiendish Codex I+II: Out of these, Draconomicon was the most interesting for me. As should be obvious, they're handy tools for a DM to enhance encounters and such, although they also provide PCs with some tools for highly specialized "monster hunters" (along with a few handy general feats). Draconomicon goes to the greatest length on a single monster type, while Libris Mortis and Lords of Madness have a good deal of material on an entire monster category (the undead and aberrations, respectively), and Fiendish Codexes go to great lengths on two specific planes and their denizens (Abyss and the Nine Hells respectively). Exemplars of Evil I found mostly yawn.

    Dragon Magic: If you enjoy the idea of dragon-descendant PCs, this book is great. Awesome, even. Tons of great crunchy stuff. Too bad it's so specific and requires the whole dragonblood-thing to be any good for you (if using this book, I suggest allowing the "Dragontouched"-feat from Dragon Magazine to allow any PC to acquire Dragonblood-subtype). Oh, and the Dragon-related spells are awesome for your monster Dragons too.

    Champions of Valor: FR specific, but you can take the material out of that campaign settings. It has many interesting ways to specialize your characters with a literal crapton of alternative class features. So get it if that's your cup of tea.

    Unapproachable East: Yet another FR specific book that I'd suggest using in a wider context. Has some of the most interesting PrCs ever along with a ton of usable feats, magic, and even some races. You can just ignore the settings and use the mechanical parts, or use the settings-ideas in other settings.

    Monster Manual II-V: Decent material, but you can mostly make do with the monsters found in the other books and online. I'd get them last.

    Planar Handbook: Major "meh". I think "Manual of the Planes" from 3.0 did a much better job explaining the planes and all that. Planar Handbook was very light on interesting material and overall, just didn't work out that well for me. It's also probably the least talked-about splatbook in 3.5. That should say something. It's not so bad to get tons of publicity, nor not good enough to get publicity, it just...gets forgotten.

    Elder Evils: Yawn... I can come up with world-ending monsters myself, thank you very much.

    Weapons of Legacy: Great idea. Only problem is, the makers basically made these legendary weapons you must bond your lifeforce worse than your average magic sword.

    Miniatures Handbook: Mostly yawn. Some interesting stuff, but mostly for a Miniatures-game. Classes here make records in terms of suckitude, btw.

    Book of Exalted Deeds: Yawn. Some interesting crunchy bits and really crappy ideas of what "good" is (Poisons are evil! Here're some Poisons not called Poisons 'cause they only work on evil things that are good!). Really, the most pretentious, dumb book ever.

    Oriental Adventures: Pretty much what the name suggests. If you want an oriental theme, get this. Also, juicy crunchy bits.
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Quote Originally Posted by AppleChips View Post
    Hmmm.. Seems like a lot of choices.
    I think I'll probably go with either Complete Arcane, Adventurer or Champion. Which of these three do you think is... most enjoyable?
    Complete Adventurer is the most enjoyable. The other two offer more options for character power, though.

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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Simple Answer (tm)

    Whichever Complete book seems most relevant to the kind of characters you like playing.

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    For DMs, I recommend the Magic Item Compendium, Dungeon Master's Guide 2, and the Draconomicon.
    The Magic Item Compendium has many interesting and useful items that can help the game to be varied and fun. The DMG has alot of boring magic items, so this helps in that regard.
    The DMG2 has some great tips for DMs (beginners especially, but I've learned a thing or two from it as well). It also has a premade city (if you take the time to study it, you can learn how to create detailed cities and towns too).
    I prefer the Draconomicon for the fluff, actually. The descriptions of dragon societies, anatomy, hoards, and the specific npc dragons presented in it are very useful to my games. The prestige classes, magic items, and weird monsters not so much.

    For players, I suggest the Player's Handbook 2, Complete Adventurer, and the Spell Compendium.

    If you're ever interested in oriental themed games, pick up Oriental Adventures and Rokugan. I'd also suggest Way of the Ninja, but it went out of print years ago.
    Last edited by Chrono22; 2008-12-18 at 06:28 AM.

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Tome of Battle: Good for beefing up melee characters. It certainly does the job better than Complete Warrior (which has gems of its own, regardless.) ToB introduces the Crusader, Swordsage and Warblade. Crusader is a divine-powered melee tank with the same flavor as the Paladin. The Swordsage can go many ways, but it's typically stealth or skirmishing. He can even do Judo. The Warblade is essentially a Fighter with way more options. Not very tanklike, but definitely good at physical combat.
    Player's Handbook II: Introduces good classes and also adds alternate class features for the core classes. Good feats and spells too.
    Spell Compendium: All casters will love this.
    Complete Arcane: The spells are reprinted in Spell Compendium, but it introduces the Warlock. Warlocks are good.
    Expanded Psionics Handbook: Psionics are pretty interesting. Good for adding to your game.


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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    @Eldariel: that's quite some list thar pilgrim.

    Useful books? I'd have to copypasta what Aslancross said above, but - Spell Compendium, and + Manual of the Planes.

    I also have an irrational love for "Races of Stone Short". You can keep the rest of the "Races of..." series (...Treehugging, ...Generic, ...the Fanboi) though.
    Last edited by bosssmiley; 2008-12-18 at 06:51 AM.

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    HalfOrcPirate

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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Actually as a bard the best two things to twink your character are from Tome of Battle and Complete Mage (I think, I'm looking for Sublime Chord here). As a bard you can easily become awesome if you focus on two aspects of your bardhood, and it's easy to do that with Tome of Battle by turning into a Bard/Crusader/Ruby Knight Vindicator (with Divine Bard) or into a Bard/Warblade/Sublime Chord/Jade Phoenix Mage, Or a lot of other things from those books. Complete Adventurer is also pretty sweet.

    Oh and your wizard needs zero outside help. In 99% of all cases, Wizard20 is the scariest thing in the room.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Most useful books

    Quote Originally Posted by woodenbandman View Post
    Oh and your wizard needs zero outside help. In 99% of all cases, Wizard20 is the scariest thing in the room.
    Im curious to hear the argument for wiz20 instead of any number of the full casting PrCs. With wiz20 all you get is a slightly higher save and familiar progression, whereas with the PrCs, abundant as they are, you can have a host of neat abilities. Unless of course you were only trying to make the point that wiz20 is sufficient...in which case I could agree. Kinda interesting to see that a non-optimized wizard, a la wiz20, is actually a lot better than most other builds.

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    smile Re: Most useful books

    I think that the tome of battle is the most usefull because it is good for players and dms alike (dm that is if youwant to wipe theflour with the broken bodies of the adventurures)

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