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Encyclopaedia Arcane: Crossbreeding - Flesh And Blood [Paperback]

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Item description for Encyclopaedia Arcane: Crossbreeding - Flesh And Blood by Jonathan Richards...

The book kicks off with an Overview of magical crossbreeding, looking at the ways arcane energies can be harnessed to recreate various magical creatures or entirely new species. Designing Magical Crossbreeds gives all the basic rules required to create new creatures. Complete rules and tables are given to allow players to specify the ability scores and special traits of their creations. Every aspect of the new creature's statistic block is detailed here, including attacks and face/reach. Transmutation Rituals covers everything such characters will need including laboratories and the acquisition of test 'subjects', as well as methods of pacifying them during the ritual. Having decided upon the ritual and acquired the 'base' creatures, the player may then use the rules in Creating Magical Crossbreeds to bring his new creation to life, bringing his arcane knowledge to bear along with any required materials. Advanced Procedures provide accomplished practitioners with a wide range of new options to further enhance their understanding of this art. The next chapter, Magic Items, provides practitioners with new objects of arcane power designed to enhance their transmutation rituals and increase the capabilities of the species they create. The last chapter Provides many Sample Hybrids for players to base their new designs on, or for Games Masters to quickly insert into their scenarios - and there are going to be many that get the creative juices flowing immediately. The book wraps up with a few words from Johnathan in the Designer's Notes.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   64
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 10.4" Width: 8.2" Height: 0.3"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 17, 2003
Publisher   Mongoose Publishing
ISBN  1903980917  
ISBN13  9781903980910  

Availability  0 units.

More About Jonathan Richards

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Jonathan Richards is an author, journalist, actor, and cartoonist. His movie reviews appear weekly in the "Santa Fe New Mexican" and online. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society. His political cartoons are seen regularly in the Huffington Post. He illustrated Alan Arkin 's children 's book "Cosmo". He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his wife, Claudia Jessup, who is a successful novelist under the name Meredith Rich.

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Reviews - What do customers think about Encyclopaedia Arcane: Crossbreeding - Flesh And Blood?

Well-constructed guide to monster-making  Jul 17, 2004
"Crossbreeding: Flesh and Blood" is part of the "Encycloaedia Arcane" line of accessory books for d20 fantasy role playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. It is a handbook for players and GMs who want a standardized set of easy-to-consult rules for crossbreeding animals and/or monsters to make new creatures.

This is one of the "crunchiest" Encycloaediae Arcane I have seen. The inside front and back covers are filled with the crossbreeding tables from the book, and make using "Crossbreeding" remarkably easy: a one-time read-through and access to the tables is all that should be necessary to get gamers into the monster-making business ... or art ... or defiant tampering with the Laws of Nature, depending upon your point of view.

The book is set up like the other Encycloaediae Arcane, with an introduction to the subject and the book, and closing words from the designer (author Jonathan Richards). The beginning of the book's "meat" discusses the general hows and whys of crossbreeding, and is lacking, in this reviewer's opinion, in a sufficient exploration of the MOTIVES for crossbreeding. One way this might have been rectified is by including more grey-lighted narratives of "actual" crossbreeders (such as Waldimer, who has a full page across from the Introduction, but of whom we hear no more, or Sasha, on page 33, whose "successful" experiment on herself doesn't quite satisfy her). Other gamers do not like such narratives, I know, and dismiss them as "fluff," but the subject of magical crossbreeding has been dealt with rarely in gaming, so it would have been very nice to have more insight into the mindset of crossbreeding wizards rather than just dismissing crossbreeding as a stage in a typical wizardly career (which it most certainly isn't). I think Jonathan Richards shows himself as a good enough narrative writer that a bit more of the "grey matter" would have been helpful.

Richards does introduce one very powerful rule mechanic which deserves adoption in most games: the reason why hybrid monsters can't be "simply" created with a polymorph spell is that there MUST exist a template creature for a creature being transformed by a polymorph spell. Fuzzy bunnies exist, therefore a creature may be polymorphed into a fuzzy bunny. Owlbears exist, so creatures may be polymorphed into owlbears. Richards suggests, however, that before the first owlbear was created by crossbreeding, it would have been impossible to polymorph anything into an owlbear. Very Platonic. Very useful. And a good reason for mages to want to crossbreed creatures: to make things into which to polymorph other creatures.

Richards provides an elegantly simple chart for what the monster type of a crossbreed would be, and I found nothing to argue about in it. An "aberration" crossed with a "vermin" yields an "aberration;" a "humanoid" crossed with an "outsider" yields another "outsider" (damn those evil cultists!). Note that in order to properly understand this chart one must be familiar with monster "types" as outlined in the Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebook III, the "Monster Manual."

"Crossbreeding" next gives a selection of suggested magical crossbreeding rituals (followed by attendant new magical items for said rituals). Parents should note that Richards does not give details for any of these rituals which might lead an impressionable youngster to actually undertake a magical hybridization of Fluffy and Kitty. Richards states in his Designer's Notes that this was to allow gamers to create spells appropriate to their own campaigns, but it also makes the book acceptable to younger gamers than it would have been had he introduced more specifics.

Tables of possible results from various crossbreeding experiments are given (and reproduced inside the covers). These deal with most eventualities of crossbreeding experiments, detailing the possible results of crossing what with what to obtain this or that result. Note that a familiarity with the core rules of the d20 system are required to apply these in a game, although someone playing D &D under second edition rules (or playing an entirely different game) could probably "homebrew" adaptations of the charts for the local gaming campaign.

"Crossbreeding" also has a large selection of "known" hybrids (which means creatures into which others may be "officially" polymorphed if these rules are adopted for a game). Among the noteworthy critters are the "Gulor," a cross between an orc and a wolverine, the "Ooze Hound," a hybrid of riding dog and grey ooze, the "Slithertoad," part snake and part toad, the "Skyshark," a flying cross of dire bat and shark, and the "Haemovorid," a hybrid of pixie and stirge ("I'm not making this up, you know!"). Although some gamers simply can't get enough of new monsters, this is one section which I personally found over-long, and I would have gladly sacrificed the page-and-one-half given to the Mud Elemental (are there not enough on the Para-Elemental Plane of Mud or Ooze or whtever it's called?!) for more narrative material. ("Fluff!" comes the cry from the peanut gallery, but I stand by my opinion.)

Another reviewer elsewhere than this site has zapped "Crossbreeding" already for a serious editorial gaffe which I must echo: on page 30 an incorrect illustration is used for the "Spidertoad," the new hybrid familiar which is used as an example for a crossbreeding experiment -- our first held-by-the-hand walkthrough of the process. The illustration shows the result of an arachnid-fey crossing, apparently, not a spider-toad hybrid. Woe betide the foolish GM who uses the illustration as an example of what a "spidertoad" looks like!

I really enjoyed "Crossbreeding." Its rules mechanics were clearcut and easily applicable, its layout was almost uniformly good, and the charts on the inside covers were very useful. I give "Crossbreeding" four stars and recommend it for Gamemasters and (with GM approval) for PCs, too. I give it 4 stars.


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