Excerpts 05/04/2005

Champions of Ruin Excerpt
By Jeff Crook, Wil Upchurch, Eric L. Boyd

Explore the darker side of the realms in Champions of Ruin, a Forgotten Realms campaign supplement! With new races, feats, spells, magic items, and prestige classes, Champions of Ruin is sure to please players who seek to have their PCs to turn to villainy and Dungeon Masters alike. Also, details for evil organizations, places, and NPCs can help the DM flesh out his or her campaign. Finally, DMs have resources to help them run games that include PCs of a more vile nature. Learn more about this supplement by reading the Introduction excerpt, discover evil nodes in the Evil Places excerpt, and then get a glimpse at some of the advice the book has for running an evil game. For more excerpts from this book, check out both the April 2005 and May 2005 Previews (coming soon).

Introduction Excerpt


What You Need to Play

To use this sourcebook, you need the Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook,Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual, plus the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. Finally, several books are referenced herein. In many cases, this reference is in the form of a superscript abbreviation of the book's title, which is tacked onto the end of the name of a spell, monster, or some other game element. The books (including some of those mentioned above) and their abbreviations, when applicable, are as follows: Book of Vile Darkness (BV), Complete Warrior (CW), Draconomicon (Dra), Epic Level Handbook (EL), Fiend Folio,Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting(FRCS), Lords of Darkness (LD), Magic of Faerûn (Mag), Monster Manual II (MM2), Monstrous Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn (Mon), Player's Guide to Faerûn (PG), Races of Faerûn (Rac), Serpent Kingdoms (SK), Unapproachable East (Una), and Underdark (Und).

How to Use This Book in Your Campaign

Champions of Ruin provides players and Dungeon Masters ideas, options, and tools for incorporating evil into a campaign. It provides new evil races, feats, and magic items. Initiate feats lend flavor to evil divine spellcasters. Supremely evil, powerful villains give the DM a gallery of new foes, patrons, or friends for the player characters. The book as a whole offers a wealth of material for expanding the role of evil in a Forgotten Realms campaign. Alternatively, much of the book can be used with minor adjustments in any setting.

Introduction: Why are some people or creatures evil? Here are a number of different philosophies.

Chapter 1, Races: Three new races are custom-designed for Champions of Ruin. Meet the extaminaar and the krinth, two vicious new races, and, at long last, a player can play a draegloth, using the monster class information provided here.

Chapter 2, The Tools of Evil: More than a dozen new feats, more than forty new spells, and a selection of newly unearthed magic items let characters explore their umbral urges.

Chapter 3, Prestige Classes: Six new prestige classes are detailed here, along with tips on how to place them into your campaign.

Chapter 4, Evil Organizations: To join or oppose? The player characters have many opportunities with these organizations. Each entry includes information on joining the groups as well as the costs and benefits of membership.

Chapter 5, Evil Places: Evil nodes, shadow nodes, shrines, and places of evil power await the brave, desperate, or devious.

Chapter 6, Encounters with Evil: This chapter offers practical advice on incorporating evil player characters into a campaign.

Chapter 7, Champions of Evil: Learn more about the elder evil of Faerûn. Aumvor the Undying, Dendar the Night Serpent, Soneillon the Queen of Whispers, Eltab, and others are detailed in all their gore, glory, and greatness.

Philosophies of Evil

Evil characters offer a rich diversity of opportunities for roleplaying. They can be complex people tormented by failure to live up to good ideals, although some evil characters never bother to analyze whether their actions are good or evil. Others believe that the end justifies the means, and that good can ultimately come of evil acts; some are opportunists who serve no higher purpose than personal advancement.

When playing an evil character, some people have a tendency to view evil in black-and-white terms and to assume that the evil character in the party is looking for any opportunity to betray, rob, or murder his companions. This is an extreme viewpoint. Evil can manifest itself in many ways, not all of them so overt as stabbing the party's paladin in the back or tossing victims into the fiery belly of a brazen idol. While assault and murder are obvious manifestations of an evil character's behavior, ruthless selfishness can often be a more potent expression of evil than the psychotic thief who murders his companions in their sleep.

A character can be evil and yet not seem to be evil; he can be evil yet consider himself the epitome of goodness; or his evil might only show itself under certain conditions. A character who has contracted lycanthropy, for example, might donate treasure to widows and orphans, build temples, slay dragons, and help old ladies across the street -- but on the night of the full moon, he hunts down and slaughters those widows and orphans and feeds the same old ladies to the dragon. Most of the time he is good, but his curse wipes out all the good that he does.

A naturally good or neutral character might be driven to evil through the need to seek revenge, finding evil acts an easy way to accomplish her goals. Another might stray from righteousness and goodness by using evil means to justify good ends. Of course, evil can be self-evident. No one is going to question whether the priest of Cyric is really a good guy at heart; he isn't -- if he were, Cyric wouldn't grant him any spells. But just because he is evil doesn't mean he is going to slaughter his companions and steal their treasure at the first opportunity. If evil were really that self-destructive, good wouldn't have nearly as hard a time combating it.

At the same time, it can be hard to understand what would motivate a person to become evil. It is the rare individual who admits -- much less embraces -- being evil, and most people consider themselves, if not wholly good, certainly not irredeemably evil. Yet Faerûn is filled with irredeemably evil antiheroes, gods and monsters. So what is evil?

If you wish to play an evil character, you might act exactly as you would play a good character, except in reverse. Instead of going out to slay the red dragon that has been terrorizing the elf village, you go out to slay the gold dragon that has been terrorizing the orc village. However, if you are going to interact and perhaps adventure with a party of good and neutral characters, you might need to explore your character's evil nature a little more deeply and try to find out what it is that defines the evil alignment you have chosen for him.

Various philosophies of evil are briefly discussed below. Each section provides tips for what sorts of religion each philosophy follows; examples of organizations, deities, character types, or creatures that embody a particular philosophy; and the alignment or alignments commonly held by those who practice the philosophy.

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