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Unearthed Arcana (Dungeons & Dragons d20 3.5 Fantasy Roleplaying) Hardcover – February 1, 2004
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About the Author
Jesse Decker has written numerous articles in relation to the D&D game, and his most recent credit is the D&D Arms and Equipment Guide.
David Noonan's most recent credits include the D&D accessories Stronghold Builder's Guidebook, Hero Builder's Guidebook, Complete Warrior, and the Urban Arcanaª Campaign Setting.
Rich Redman's most recent credits include contributing to Deities and Demigods, Defenders of the Faith, Monster Manual II, Savage Species, and the D&D Arms and Equipment Guide.
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- Second: Don't confuse this with TSR AD&D 1st Ed Unearthed Arcana or Sword & Sorcery Arcana Unearthed. Both cool books.
- Third: Don't read the Amazon description. It makes you think this book is all about strongholds for some reason...
- A minor annoyance is that WOTC already have a DMG2 released and a Player's Handbook 2 planned, and the material herein would be better placed/organized into a larger 500+ page Player's Handbook and larger 500+ page DMG respectively or just merge all these things entirely. Monte Cook did it with a huge Arcana Evolved. Why can't WOTC do this? Why all the individual books (this one is barely 200+ pages)? It's stupid to flip through 100 different books to see all the different classes and races available, make 1 race book, 1 class book and so on...Everyone else is doing it (Moongoose, Green Ronin) but WOTC. I think Hasbro has enough money.
- Its variants, house rules, and draws from a variety of sources and influences old and new as others have suggested. You have race variants (desert elf, aquatic gnome, etc. not terribly exciting), class variants (new paladins, etc., cool), Gestalt classes vs. multi-classes (nice), many "Bloodline" race-types (a succubus mates with a human creating a human with some demon bonuses - very interesting), Character traits and flaws, item familiars (very cool), insanity (which goes back to the original AD&D DMG 1st Ed), Rep and Honor (goes back to original AD&D Oriental Adventures 1st ED), Spell points instead of Spell memorization (fire and forget method) (many people use this spell pt house rule), the racial Paragon (sort of like a Prestige Race). On and on. Very neat stuff...
Criticism that this book has contradictory rules or not-well-thought-out cohesiveness is missing the point. I like this book more than the regular DMG or PHB.
Back in second edition there was a game called Player's Option, if you recall, and it gave you a good deal of freedom to customize your character. This book goes well beyond that. Its actually quite interesting. There are little tweaks for all sorts of races due to climate or elementally based races. Follow this up with a lot of variants for classes which are basically swapping a few things in and out in most cases, sometimes losing a trait from one class and gaining another, while some are new. In my opinion, this adds a lot more depth to the game because if you do want to play one of the 10,000 prestige classes, it gives you more than one avenue to get to them. If you do not like prestige classes, then this gives you more options than the dozen or so base classes that currently exist. I would particularly recommend this if you're fond of playing Specialist Wizards (in which case this is a MUST), Barbarians, Monks, or have ever wanted to see a quality representation of an "Anti-paladin." This may be the section of the book you most commonly use, and that would be mostly at character creation.
There are some feats, which are so-so on the usefulness scale but are just so very interesting and characterful. Then, traits to make your character more attuned to how you envision his personality, and flaws to give him special vulnerabilities (and of course there is a benefit to them as well). Its an interesting section to say the least but after that you get into some very wild and, indeed, very fun options, including a variant on weapon proficiency based on weapon groups, variants on armor systems, D&D without levels, and even D&D without hit-points. All I can say is, despite how crazy that sounds, someone obviously put a good deal of thought into it since it is at least mostly viable.
Basically, if you're bored with D&D sometimes, this book is curry powder. It would DEFINITELY spice things up again.
I wouldn't buy if you're a player, much more of a DM resource. However, if you have a very flexible DM that likes external ideas, it might be worth a look.