|| For some unexplained reason, the introduction to this book recommended that long reviews be posted to ENWorld.com. I purchased this product at RPGNow.com, and I would rather post my full review here. It isn't as if a reviewer is going to quoting pages of material for anyone else to copy for free. Nonetheless, I have fulfilled by the wishes of the Le.
Unorthodox Bards is a clever collection of variant bards for D&D 3rd and 3.5 Edition campaigns. This book isn't as thorough nor as a varied as the old Complete Bard's Handbook for 2nd Edition, but this is a fun little ebook in its own right.
The artwork is surprisingly good. The interior illustrations are small but wonderful monochromatic portraits.
There are a total of seven classes described in this tome, five of them being beginner classes and two being prestige classes. Flavor text is almost completely gone -- some readers will like that and others will not. All classes follow the theme of focusing on music and performance rather than the grifting aspects of the bards. The Soothsayer could use some more work, but the other classes seemed very well developed.
The baubles and urus of power appear in other books like Synergy Artifacts, but they are particularly useful here because they match the bards' adaptability well.
LIKED: There are several good points. The artwork is small but impressive. The classes seem well balanced and mostly well developed. Baubles and urus offer much more freedom in the creation of magic items.
None of these new bard classes are by themselves compelling enough for me to roll a new character. I think they would be most useful to the gamemaster who wants to a different flavor of bard in every culture that is visited during a campaign.
DISLIKED: Clarification on the requirements of these classes would have been much appreciated. Nothing is mentioned on the subject in the book's very short introduction, and individual class descriptions are confusing in this regard. Also, I found other editing errors that caused me a fair amount of confusion elsewhere in the text.
My standard complaint with every OGL product I've read is that they focus too strongly on D&D 3.5. Over half of the gamers I know refuse to play this version, but writers of OGL products seem to be in denial of this fact. I'm not asking anyone to violate copyrights here, but I would like to see at least some suggestions or guidelines for use in other systems. Andrew Hind always does this in his articles for Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine. Some alternate free systems are available right here on RPGNow!
QUALITY: Very Good
[4 of 5 Stars!]