The Complete Wizard’s Handbook (1990)

The Complete Wizard’s Handbook (1990) was another one I thought was a complete snooze in the 90s, but unlike Priest’s, I’ve turned around on this one. This is very good.

Basically, if you look at 1E, there are magic-users and there are illusionists — a specialty wizard. PHBR4 takes the 1E approach to illusion in and applies it to all the schools of magic. This is laid out in broad strokes in the Player’s Handbook, but dealt with in detail here. The result is eight fully-formed specialist Wizard classes, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. It is, mostly, pretty balanced.

The book then commences to piling on more and more detail. There are the kits, which basically amount to roleplaying cues. But there are also wizard personalities (which also amount to RP cues) and careers (which…well, there are a LOT of RP cues in this book, OK?). New spells, of course (including some classics, like chromatic orb), as well as fleshed out rules for researching new ones. There are rules for spellcasting, too, mostly restrictions based on environments and hazards, but also much needed clarifications on how to deal with the mechanics of spells, particularly illusions. The bit on adjudicating illusions should be required reading for all D&D players, honestly.

Then, in the back of the book, is a bunch of lists of random stuff. I looooove lists of random stuff. Familiars, sources of spells, wizardly diseases. There is so much good stuff here!

Also, that Dave Doorman painting of the thessalhyrda is dooooope.

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