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The writers of this book did their homework, and this book is a very enjoyable read, whether or not you actually intend to play the game.
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The magic system (another big issue) is great also: is not to powerful, but powerful enough. It let you combine your magic, you do not need to "memorize" the spells, etc. But one thing is important to remember: forget about big balls of fire or dozens of magic rays creating havoc between your enemies... Think more of how Gandalf use the magic and you will have a more precise idea of how the system works... And you want to be a member of the Wizard Order? This book tell you how to achieve this.
One last word: the biggest challenge will be for the Narrator (or storyteller, DM, or whatever you call it). To create a wonderful story in the Middle Earth that capture the Tolkien mood without copy the books will not be easy, but this book help you a lot in the process... The rest is for your imagination.
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This is the d20 system role-playing game for the Wheel of Time system, at least for the first six novels...the character stats given are as of the end of Lord of Chaos. It offers a more-or-less complete game system that's surprisingly good.
Included are entirely new core (i.e. 20-level classes) and prestige classes, such as the algai'd'siswai (Aiel spear-fighter), armsman, wanderer, woodsman, noble, initiate, and wilder, which are more appropriate to the world than those listed in the D&D PHB. They use the standard skill and feat system. There are two playable races, humans and Ogier (the big guy on the cover); humans get an extra skill point and an extra background feat, in a fashion similar to the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
Feats are mostly standard, but include the various channeling feats and Lost Feats, which are limited by the need to take a precursor feat before taking the real feat, which should keep them rare. Equipment is mostly normal, with mention of power-wrought swords and other wondrous items, such as masterpiece weapons and armor (like masterwork, but better).
Channeling...ah, channeling. As others have mentioned, it's put in as a spell slot system, but the available slots represent a safe limit. You can overchannel all you want, but sooner or later it'll cost you. The weaves listed have variable effects based on the slot used, which is nice. They have a decent way of handling linking and angreal and sa'angreal, but I'll get more into that later. And, for male channelers, there's the joy of the Madness mechanic.
Included are character descriptions for most of the major hero characters (Rand, Mat, Thom, Lan, Moiraine, etc.), as well as MM-style descriptions of the various beasts and exotic animals found in the setting. Sadly, no Forsaken are depicted, yet. One will also find standard rules, some setting information, and advice on running the game.
On the whole, I'm quite impressed. It's a nice and coherent system, and works better than I thought. I can't find much to complain about, other than some minor quibbles...such as some of the character write-ups being wrong (some people not having abilities that they demonstrated in the novels, or equipment, etc.).
What I'd like, of course, is an expansion or two...obviously, they'll have to do one the farther the storyline goes. I think that short prestige classes for each of the Ajahs might be nice, and lists of where Portal Stones and the Ogier Ways are would be very helpful (aside from GM fiat).
But, what I'd really like is an Age of Legends expansion...with all sorts of lost weaves and feats for item creation. Gosh, that'd be cool.
Source material-wise, the book is densely packed. It certainly has information gaps, but I did not reasonably expect one roleplaying sourcebook to exhaustively give the setting for a 7000+ page novel series.
For roleplaying material, the book is superb. The jump from 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons to Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game should take less than a day for the GM and maybe two hours for a player. Complete newbies may need more time, but new players need a longer learning period for any roleplaying game.
The adaptation of the magic items and spellcasting system are spectacular. I had been terrified that a handful of DnD spells would be renamed and one or two ill-considered dreamwalking spells would be inserted. Instead, small aspects of the DnD mage and sorceror class have been taken and tweaked with a lot of new material. Channelling, shielding, linking, sa'angreal, and saidin's taint are covered and covered well. Dreamwalking also earned its own section.
There are few elaborate adventure hooks but a number of short ones and numerous hints and suggestions.
I say, get it and go nuts. (...)
Also, having read the Wheel of Time series twice, I was worried how they would adapt the series to rp. And I think they did it very intelligently. I can see why it has Robert Jordan's stamp of approval. It certainly has mine.
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I gave this book only one star because of what I consider the devious way the book was presented. I expected a slice of Americana but got an excercise in feel-good faith reassurances instead. The way the story is presented isn't what the book is really about.
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