Anger of Angels
From: Malhavoc Press
Reviewed by: Ron "Seawolf" McClung
Anger of Angels is a new Fantasy d20 RPG Supplement from Malhavoc Press.
The concept of the "War in Heaven" was introduced to me by the movie The Prophecy. I thoroughly enjoyed that movie at the time and love the concept of warring angels. Sean Reynolds has put together a well thought-out and thoroughly engaging source book on this subject, from the perspective of fantasy role playing in the d20 system. It is compatible with the 3.5 version of the d20 core rules.
From the Page 3: “From the dawn of civilization, people have wondered about how they came to be and what happens to them after they die.”Anger of Angels opens with a introduction explaining the core concept and purpose of the sourcebook. The primary focus is on Judeo-Christian mythos, with the occasional mention of other religions. Because the concept of a war in heaven between angels and demons is primarily a Christian concept, I can understand it. It also comes from a monotheistic point of view, simply referencing the Almighty as God.
Chapter 1 covers the background needed to understand the War in Heaven--from the fallen angel of Satan to the jealousy angels had for humans; from the corruption of the angels into demons to the invasion of Heaven. In these two pages you get general information, with only a few specifics. It's flexible enough to fit into any fantasy game but specific enough to give you the meat of the perceived-game-universe.
The second chapter delves into the origins of angels and how they are created. It even introduces ways for other angels to create angels. It also covers issues like angels and free will, the mortality of angels, angels breeding with non-angels, the creation of half-angels, and the corruption of angels. Interestingly, death for an angel is final because they are the physical manifestation of spiritual energy. They are unaffected by raise dead or resurrection. The chapter further explores aspects of angels including angelic vessels - shells that angels wear as disguises, angelic wings, armor, and weapons.
The bulk of the second chapter is taken up by the angelic races that are playable as player characters. Eleven races are presented here with the standard array of d20 statistics and text. Virtually every conceivable archetype is covered in these 11 angels. From Cherubim, Heaven's sentinels and Malakim, Heaven's soldiers to the fiery wheels of the Ophanim, Heaven's messengers and Seraphim, the most holy of angels, these races range from the familiar and mighty to the strange and awkward. I am just not so sure how one plays a fiery wheel or a winged serpent - but I guess that's where vessels come in. The chapter closes out with a few interesting paragraphs on creating variant angels.
The key thing to note when planning to use these races is to plan on a high starting level campaign. Level adjustments range from 3 to 9, with most being 5 or 6. So depending on the type of campaign you want to run (see Chapter 3), the mortals in the party (if any) will have a high starting level to be able to keep up. Not that this isn't expected or anything bad, but I do realize there are some players that prefer to start out at low levels and work their way up. The GM and the players just have to be prepared.
From the back cover: “The sanctity of heaven was shattered at the dawn of the world, when prideful angels rebelled”
Chapters 3 and 4 cover a lot of the material needed to run a campaign caught up in the war between Heaven and Hell. Chapter 3 is the campaign guide, covering advice on how to handle the different types of possible campaigns and how angels interact with the Material Plane, as well as background material for the angel society, angel rankings, angelic personalities, and their relationship with mortals. Of note is the beginning of the chapter where it breaks campaigns down for a GM and conveniently puts this book in perspective. The GM should decide on the type of campaign he wants to run. The author presents 4 types - Angelic, Mentor, Standard, and Adversaries. Each are well defined and make it more clear as to what kind of game this source book would fit in.
Of note within Chapter 3 is a short section on using this sourcebook in d20 Modern. In a couple of short paragraphs, it basically says feel free to use it in the modern setting or even sci-fi setting (in anticipation of d20 Future).
Chapter 4, Planer Geography, is the mappings of Heaven and Hell - the battle grounds for angels and fiends. The seven planes of Heaven and the many facets of Hell are mapped out and described in moderate detail. Familiar things like Jacob's Ladder, Eden, the River Styx, Limbo and Purgatory are presented. Each, of course, is a supernatural realm, so they are presented in more abstract form.
Chapter 5 and 6 are focused on prominent angelic non-player characters and organizations. Full of a wealth of prominent angels, Angels of Note includes some familiar names like Gabriel, Metatron, and Michael. It has statistics of the Eight Archangels, as well general notes about several others. Chapter 6 describes four very interesting angel organizations started on the mortal realm These open up new possibilities of plot and intrigue when you consider groups like the Council of Wings (a group of allied fiends and angels who have grown weary of the War in Heaven and work to protect the mortal realm from its ravages) or the Society of Godsblood (a group that protects half-celestials and their related kind).
Chapters 7 through 10 cover the d20 specific information to include angels and fiends in your d20 world. Chapter 7 covers feats for angels and fiends - a total of 45 angelic or fiendish feats to add to your d20 world. Many have the prerequisite 'angel' or 'fiend', as you would expect. Chapter 8 presents angelic Prestige Classes including ones like Angel of Death and Angel of Terror - a total of five. Chapter 9 covers Magic and Spells - all angels have spells and have immediate access to all spells in the list as long as they meet the prerequisites. Chapter 10 covers heavenly and hellish creatures as well as more angel NPCs to add to your campaign world.
In conclusion, I have to say that I am already inspired by this book and hope to use it in one of my d20 Modern games. It is well written and researched ( and includes a good bibliography for those wanting more resources of angelic legends and beliefs). Being written by what I would call one of the "big dogs" of the gaming industry, Sean K. Reynolds, I was honored to have a chance to review it. My only complaint, I would say, is that the type face was a little small - but that might be because I am getting old. The art was good, and appropriate for the subject matter. It was also well edited.
I would recommend this for those GMs seeking to expand into new realms like this and to those GMs looking for new and refreshing inspiration.
For more details on Malhavoc Press and their new Fantasy d20 RPG Supplement “Anger of Angels” check them out at their website http://www.swordsorcery.com, and at all of your local game stores.