Friday, January 30, 2009

The Quintessential Wizard: A Review

As I was currently playing a Wizard in a D&D 4E campaign, I figured that when the opportunity to review The Quintessential Wizard came up it was serendipity. When I created my character I was a little let down at the lack of options and flavor for building my arcanist. The choices available in comparison to the other classes seemed a bit…bland, or maybe un-unique. Same-ol, same-ol. The Quintessential Wizard goes a long way towards rectifying this.

One note: the book was designed by Italian studio Asterion Press, and there are a few instances where the translations show. Nothing major, the work they did was exceptional and I seriously doubt any of us could do better on an Italian published book. When reading, be a bit forgiving of a few awkwardly worded sentences.

One of the things I enjoyed the most was the way the book was written for the roleplayer, with interesting notes on relations between wizards and other classes, how the wizard fits in a party and ways these new powers, paths and feats can be used to fill a RP niche. For those players interested in just the crunch, these sections are easily skipped over, but I’m glad they are included for the player interested in a little depth.

The limited origins within the PHB are resolved here: seven fresh new origins for your spell-slinger! There is a lot of breadth to these: serious variety in the direction your spellcaster can come from and ultimately go.

There are a ton of new feats, powers and rituals. Over a dozen new Paragon Paths are introduced. There are also new implements added: Dragonmask, The Hat of Wizardry, Safeguard Shield and Unreal Mirror. Also included are of course the hordes of magical toys to play with (including ones with “upgrade slots”)

Now delving in to the nuts and bolts of all of these I did find a couple that were questionable: a metamagic feat that used one healing surge to regain 50% of the HP.

People are going to raise questions about the Power Creep. I do think that a number of powers listed in QW are a bit “better” than the original ones in the PHB. Better as far as having more bang for the buck. Not a lot, but enough that some folks may complain. This is the first of these books, and as the Ranger and Warrior and Warlock get theirs, they will also get a bit of a “bump”. I think this Power Creep is inevitable: as long as more books are published, more powers are revealed; those character classes will get a bit of extra “power”. The way I see it, the Wizard needed a bit of a “bump” anyhow.

All of these powers etc. are nice examples of what can be done with the D&D 4E system. Any of these powers, feats, and origins can easily be strip-mined and tweaked to fit other classes. Many of the effects are hot-swappable. A creative player or DM will have a lot of fun with this book; it’s a good resource for both.

Of course it has to be said that with any supplement it needs to be approved by your DM first. There is going to be some material that at first glance a DM will freak about: Chronomancers anyone?

That said, good DMs should be able to use the same book and create interesting challenges for these new characters. Actually, I’ve always felt that every time a new book like this came out that I was opening Pandora’s Box: while I get to use a small part of the book for MY character, the DM gets the whole book to make a fun-house from The Nine Hells for the NPCs, monsters and for us, the PCs to enter.

The Quintessential Wizard is 144 Pages long. Softcover, Perfect-Bound. It’s a solid printing; no loose pages. It should easily hold up to many years of gamer use and abuse. The cover is full-color and the interior is grayscale as far as the artwork goes.

While a couple of the images are a bit wonky, overall the artwork is very good. I really liked the work of Maichol Quinto and Emiliano Petrozzi. There were some other images I really liked but wasn’t sure who produced them. The layout was well done; this can easily sit beside any of the WotC books and be used without excessive hair-pulling. No index, but it has a good Table of Contents. The Quintessential Wizard costs US $24.95 (print) or $17.47 (eBook). This is par for the course.

Overall I enjoyed the book. The material is extremely useful, largely balanced, well laid out, and pleasing to the eye at a reasonable price-point. Definitely worth picking up!

Production Value: 4 out of 5 Dice
Playability: 4 out of 5 Dice
Overall Score: 4 out of 5 Dice

No comments: