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March books & RPGs

This month, I’ve read two books:

4. Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child – starting off with Reacher confronting a female suicide bomber on a New York subway train, this is one of the best Jack Reacher novels. Somewhat unusually, it touches on contemporary issues (Afghanistan and the war on terror) although unsurprisingly Reacher spends half of the novel working with an attractive female cop and the rest of it alone with enemies everywhere. Gripping as usual and great fun.

5. Adventures on the High Teas: In Search of Middle England by Stuart Maconie – I really liked Pies and Prejudice, but this is even better. A travelogue covering towns all over the country which personify Middle England, Maconie visits the Cotswolds, Tunbridge Wells (home of Disgusted Of), Jane Austen’s Bath, David Brent’s Slough and more. He writes about the people (nearly always nice and/or charming), musicians (Pink Floyd, Nick Drake), writers (Austen, Gaskell, M R James), Thai restaurants (the official cuisine of Middle England) and intrepid TV detectives (Morse, Tom Barnaby). All of this is done with considerable wit and humour as he explodes the myth that these parts of the country are full of small-minded, not-in-my-back-yard bigots (although they do inexplicably still read the Daily Mail). Highly recommended.

RPGs:

- Player’s Handbook 2 – 4th Edition D&D books (some might say RPG books in general) don’t make for fun reading so I haven’t read the PH2 from cover to cover. However, I’ve read through all the sections in varying degrees of detail and am pretty impressed by the book. There have already been a lot of reviews linked to from this LJ so I won’t go into too much detail here.

Of the new races, I really liked the deva (which fits very well into Parsantium) and the gnome (which I think has found its niche in 4e). The classes are pretty good too – we already know about the barbarian (Hrothgar, played by g0gmag0g ) and the invoker (Sharden, played by jzaltman ) through the playtest versions, but the new bard looks cool and I also liked the avenger (slightly sinister holy warrior). The new sorcerer is OK – the wild mage bit is quite fun – but it’s not that different to the warlock or the wizard. There are also three other primal (nature-based) classes: the druid, the shaman and the warden which all have a slightly different schtick. The druid has wildshape, the shaman summons a spirit companion to fight on her behalf and the warden (more lamely) polymorphs into a part-beast (or part-tree!) form to attack his enemies.

                   

The other sections in the book cover backgrounds, feats (some no-brainers such as Weapon and Implement Expertise), magic items, new paragon paths (including racial ones) and epic destinies, and a few rituals. All decent stuff, although a few more rituals would have been good.

Overall, this is a great book for players who are looking for an interesting new class to play or yearn for some of the bits missing from the first three core books.


- Dungeon Delve – I just know this book is going to come in very handy! It presents 30 small dungeons, one for every level of play, each consisting of three encounters, so playable in a single session and mapped out using D&D Dungeon Tiles. All of the information is in the “delve” format (doh!) so monster stats, descriptions and everything else needed to run each encounter is on a double page spread. As well as raiding bits from this book to add to my own adventures, I can see myself running one or two of these as one-offs when not everyone can turn up.


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