Saturday, 31 March 2012

Warcraft - Magic and mayhem

Magic and mayhem
Remember how badly the sourcebooks have handled magic up till now? The whole “arcane is always evil, while divine is always good” that previous books tried to sell despite the massive amounts of evidence against it in the games? They made a book about that now. Okay, to be fair, only 3/4ths of the book revolves around magic, the other quarter revolving around technology. Despite the focus on magic, I'm actually pretty positive going into this. They can't possibly spend 150 pages saying “arcane magic EVIL!”, can they? The introduction even says the book is supposed to be a work by a loremaster of the kirin tor.

Chapter 1 : Magic and mayhem
This first chapter is focused on arcane magic and divine magic. Well, I'm always willing to give it a chance as long as they don't use such a black-and-white mora... *reads first sentence*

The world of warcraft is a place of ever-present magic: where sorcerers cast perilous spells that risk shattering the world, and where steadfast servants of the gods stand in eternal vigil against threats from beyond – against the burning legion and the threat that can taint even the most heroic souls.”

Well, that's pretty black-and-white, but still better tha...*reads rest of introduction*

Many believe that the primary conflict on Azeroth is between human and orc; but far deeper and more constant is the struggle between arcane magic, the magic of pride and personal power, and divine magic, the magic of humility nature and compassion.
The consequences of this conflict between the arcane and the divine have been devastating. Continents have been sundered, worlds shattered, great heroes corrupted and fallen into darkness. This conflict knows neither armistice nor treaty, for it is fought without cessation within the hearts of every creature on azeroth.”

That's... That's hilariously stupid. I honestly wanted to give up this review after reading that. It is so terrible I had no idea how to tackle this review. The only way I can begin to tackle this stupidity is statement by statement.

Many believe that the primary conflict on Azeroth is between human and orc.”
No, they don't. Maybe if this had been around the time of warcraft I or II, that would be true. However, a few things happened since then. Like the death of most of the human and orc population. Or the emergence of two more powerful enemies. Now it seems to be living vs. undead vs. demon.

but far deeper and more constant is the struggle between arcane magic, the magic of pride and personal power, and divine magic, the magic of humility nature and compassion.”
Arthas, the paladin, purged the city of Stratholme in the hopes of stopping the undead, while Jaina, the mage, begged him to spare them. The quilboar, harpy and centaur all employ divine magic, but are all savages intent on driving every other species into extinction. The kirin tor was the largest organ of arcane magic users in the world, and helped defend it for hundreds of years.

The consequences of this conflict between the arcane and the divine have been devastating. Continents have been sundered,”
Fair enough. This refers to the sundering of azeroth, which was indeed caused by a conflict to the arcane and divine.

worlds shattered”
This refers to the destruction of Draenor, which happened during a war between human and orc. The humans had mages and paladins fighting on their side. The orcs had warlocks and witch doctors on theirs. So clearly, it was not arcane vs divine.

great heroes corrupted and fallen into darkness.”
Could refer to a number of heroes, one of which, Illidan, was actually corrupted during a war between arcane and divine, so I'm gonna let it slip.

This conflict knows neither armistice nor treaty”
The kirin tor and the priests of the holy light were allied for at least a thousand years. The rangers and mages of quel'thalas for at least two-and-a-half thousand years. The blue dragonflight and the priestesses of Elune for at least ten thousand years. I could go on like this for a long, long time.

for it is fought without cessation within the hearts of every creature on azeroth.”
I'll be sure to call the squirrels next time I see a mage. Do the sagefish and the monkfish fight a private war to wipe the other out?

I could actually do the entire chapter like this, that's how ridiculously hilariously stupid it is. I won't, since that would get boring really quickly, but here are a few highlights:
- Claiming that the titans never intended arcane magic to exist, ignoring the fact that they created a god of arcane magic
- The war of the ancients wasn't fought to defeat the burning legion, but to destroy arcane magic. I'd honestly be more concerned with the swarms of demons overrunning the land than with what kind of magic they are using to burn down my home.
- Human mages caused demons to invade a second time due to their wild arrogance, until wise, non-arcane heroes stopped them. Ignoring that the humans didn't know that demons would be summoned and the fact that the heroes who stopped it were the most powerful mages to ever live.
- The orcs were corrupted because they use arcane magic. No mention of the demonic blood they drank and the genocide the committed, just using arcane magic.
- Anyone who uses magic becomes ages rapidly and becomes a dick. Writers, I'd like you to meet Jaina Proudmoore.
- Magic is a literal drug. Their wording, not mine.

The divine magic part is a bit better, probably because it is very short, though it again harps the point that the gods never interfere in the world, despite the fact that every single god but Elune introduced up to this point in canon fought in the war of the ancients.

The fel magic part is really, really short, only half a page. There is also a fourth kind of magic in the book called rune magic, but it doesn't provide any background on that in this chapter.

Chapter 2: Prepare Yourselves!
This chapter focuses on the character options introduced in this book: feats and new classes.

Actually pretty decent. There are a bunch of metamagic feats in here that I actually really like.

One new core class is introduced, along with eight new prestige classes.

The runemaster: The new core class, a mixture between a mage and a martial artist, focusing on the new rune magic. This rune magic is supposed to be less corruptive and was practiced by the titans, their dwarven creations and the tauren. It was also practiced by the scourge in warcraft III, but the book conveniently forgets about that. The rune spell system isn't really all that exciting and is way to close to normal wizard and sorceror magic in my opinion.

The bombardier: freaking awesome, mastering anything that could possibly explode(including himself at the highest level). He is a master of grenades, can bring down buildings and can make hilariously powerful explosives. This class actually fits lore very well, with the small note that its rather weird that a dwarven engineer still learns the “goblin sapping” ability before he would learn “dwarven sapping”.

The engineer: actually focuses on making reusable inventions (rather than one-off gimmicks). He can specialize in certain fields, lead crews of tinkers, draft schematics and actually make devices that are safe to use. Again, this class fits lore greatly.

The graven one: A necromancer who actually draws power from the dead, rather than just commanding them. He can create bone weapons and armor, draw power from the undead under his command, bolster the undead forces under his command and, at the heighest level even become one of the undead. Not really part of any previous lore, but doesn't contradict it either.

The shadow hunter: a shaman who commands dark spirits. He gains spells depending on which loa he can call on. This class perfectly fits into the class seen in TFT and expands upon it greatly.

The dreamwalker: a tauren who blends the shaman's ability to communicate with the dead and the druid's ability to walk the emerald dream. The result is a very interesting class which fits perfectly with the tauren race.

The steamwarrior: A tinker who has built himself a powerful suit of mechanical battle armour, like a goblin shredder. Guess what this perfectly fits? Lore!

The warden: a powerful night elf assassin. Previously seen in TFT, the warden is capable of performing several devastating techniques like the fan of knives slicing torrent, shadow strike, blink and avatar of vengeance, in addition to learning several divine spells to aid in their pursuit of criminals.

The witch doctor: a troll who has mastered the art of juju, granting him a knowledge of alchemy like no other. Poisons, potions, alchemical mixtures and even fetishes, all are mastered by the witch doctor. Fits lore perfectly.

And suddenly I see why the RPG is popular with some fans of lore. This chapter is honestly very, very good. This is what the warcraft RPG is supposed to be; an actual adaption.

Chapter three: Fountains of Mana
This chapter focuses on new spells. Like the previous chapter, it is a drastic increase in quality over the previous books. However, there is still one large issue: Sorcerers and wizards get waaaaaay too many spells, getting spells that were originally not intended as arcane. All brewmaster techniques, previously said to involve the spirits that inhabit the plants that the drink was brewed from, are suddenly sorceror/wizard spells. KABOOM!, the ability used by sappers in warcraft III to blow themselves up, is now a sorcerer/wizard spell, despite involving explosives in warcraft III. All warden spells, despite being divine magic for the wardens, are now also sorcerer/wizard spells. There are dozens of examples, but at least half the sorcerer/wizard spell list from this book would have be be cut to really fit lore.

Some other niggles and fun notes:
-There is a mark of the werewolf spell, despite there not being werewolves in warcraft (at least not under that name)
-The mark of the badger makes you really, really angry. I did not know badgers were that angry.
-Mark of the golem is under the beast family of glyphs, despite golems being constructs
-Transferring spells to another caster involves getting to first base. No, really.
-Hooks of binding, a spell that chains demons and undead, has a picture where it is used on a wildkin
-There is a spell called 'mysterious purple blast'. The description can not figure out what exactly the spell is.
-There are a lot of spells with weird reagents. Again, mysterious purple blast is notable in this regard, requiring the caster to have anything as a reagent. Which actually makes it hilariously good at destroying indestructible objects; just use them as a reagent.

Overall, still a decent chapter, though it could have been edited a bit better.

Chapter four: Destiny and Reward
This chapter focuses on new items.
A small, but weird note: No species except goblins is biologically capable of having an earring. No species except tauren is biologically capable of having a pierced nose.

There is nothing that's really positive or negative about this chapter. Most of the new items are kinda meh, working counter to the feel of many cultures, but there isn't anything really stupid in here either. There's actually a list of pandaren brews in here, and I wonder if any will show up in the next expansion.

One thing that strikes me as weird is that bloodfeather's heart, an item from the bonus campaign of warcraft III, is now apparently a gem originally created for a dwarf king. Despite the fact that it dropped from a harpy named bloodfeather. Who lived far away from any dwarves. The writer of this chapter has very clearly not played the warcraft III campaign, but simply looked through the item list. Similarly, the 'horn of cenarius' paragraph said it was held by cenarius, despite it starring majorly in warcraft III(it killed Archimonde) as an item belonging to Malfurion Stormrage.

Chapter five: Temple of Boom
we finally leave the confines of magic behind to focus on technology in this chapter. The chapter contains a nice paragraph about how magic and technology fit together in the warcraft setting. Though it also suggests that the time of magic is over and the world is gonna be ruled by engineers in the last sentence. Huh. This chapter is suffering from multiple personality disorder, me thinks.

The rest of the chapter mostly consists of lists of technological items. Its actually pretty decent and seems fun to play with. Many of the things mentioned in this chapter can be found in WoW around gnomes, goblins and the undead, though there are still a few things missing that I would really like to see, like a phlogistonic unicycle mount.

Appendix one: Constructs
Basically a list of mechanical and magical constructs. It makes a large amount of contributions to WoW, featuring the first appearances of the dark iron golem (though its a forsaken construct here), the harvest golem and the stone keeper.

The editing of this book is still a bit sloppy (same editor as the core rules), but most of the book actually fits lore now. However, the first chapter was absolutely terrible. Not quite as bad as the scourge chapter from manual of monsters, but a very close second. I still give the book a 7 out of 10. It's dragged down by a few of the worse sections and the bad editing. With a rewrite of the first chapter and some editing, this book could easily become a 9.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Warcraft - The Alliance & Horde Compendium

Welcome to the third review in the Warcraft RPG series, a book that introduces the concepts of The Frozen Throne(TFT), the expansion to warcraft III, to the RPG universe, as well as integrating some other stuff. Which means I can finally stop asking whether the game takes place before, after or during the events of TFT.

Chapter I: the new blood
The first chapter is an expansion to the second chapter of the core rules, adding seven new races and eight new prestige classes.

Dwarf, wildhammer: The legendary gryphon riders of the alliance. They're a shamanistic race, close to the world of spirits. They wield the power of the thunder and ride into battle atop the majestic gryphons. Culturally, they're actually much closer to the Horde. Their section is pretty decent, with the exception of a single line: “Wildhammer dwarves have no particular home region in Kalimdor.” The core rules had already established the fact that the wildhammer dwarves are based in Ashenvale.

Elf, blood: Blood elves really, really gotten the shaft from the RPG. In TFT, the blood elves were the majority of the elven race, having been abandoned or misused by all of their former allies. They had no chance for survival, until lady Vashj and Illidan came along, and gave them a way to survive. They were depraved of the magic they were born with, yes, but they survived and stayed moral even when everything was trying to kill them. Seriously, name me one morally questionable act committed by the blood elves in TFT. In the RPG, the blood elves are only a small part of the elven survivors of the third war, and are manic power-hungry A-holes. Everything they do is to further their own position or to gain more power. Blood elves are rejected by the goodly high elves (literal quote), and are an example how even a mighty race can fall to depravity. Because its the blood elves that are depraved, not the guys who tried to commit genocide on them out of racism. Also, despite two races (same number that made up the horde in the core rules) being loyal to Illidan being included in this book, they're all listed as independent, rather than just adding a third faction.

Furbolg: Savage walking bears, many of which have fallen to the corruption of the legion. They are allies with the night elves and regard the tauren with esteem. Most notably, they sent assistance during the battle of mount hyjal, the final battle of the original Warcraft III. The only problem I have is that their favored class is fighter rather the more logical barbarian or healer.

Gnome: The now-famous tiny people with the technological obsession. They are clever, quick and don't like the high elves. But who in the RPG does?

Naga: The great sea-serpents, hidden beneath the waves of the great sea. With powerful arcane magics and devastating mutated soldiers, these creatures have only recently begun appearing, for some mysterious reason. I really look forward to hearing about their plan. Which isn't elaborated on in this book at all. Or in any other warcraft media after this. Huh. So, why did they emerge again? And how did Illidan know that they were still alive? Oh well, I guess it isn't important. And another race loyal to Illidan. Seriously, they should have added an illidari faction.

Pandaren: Aah, the drunken chinese panda warriors from the hidden continent. Well, the other hidden continent. For some reason, the pandaren are said to have more of a kinship with the alliance than with the horde. Last I checked, the pandaren were a shamanistic race that enjoyed resting, a good drink, culture, connecting with the spirits and travelling the lands to discover new inner peace, which would pretty much make them an even mix of tauren and dwarf.

Troll, jungle: The writer of this entry apparently did not realize that the world of azeroth had more than one species of troll, as the entry states that the trolls are constantly fighting the high elves, which applies to forest trolls.

Now, overall, a pretty good selection of races. I'd have included Ogres, Draenei or Satyrs instead of Pandaren, but that's just me.

Prestige Classes
Death Knight: The great warriors of death, commanders of the undead legions and champions of the scourge, the death knight represent everything that is cold, dark and evil. The article mentions that Arthas was the first death knight, though I'm not sure of that, since we know that the old orc horde had death knights as well, though the exact similarity is never made clear.

Demon hunter: To hunt something, you must know it. To best know it, you must become it. This was the philosophy of the demon hunters, who started using arcane and even fel magic in order to hunt down demons. The demon hunter prestige class is limited to night elves, blood elves and humans. Now, night elves, I can get behind, seeing as they had the unit in warcraft III. Blood Elves are pretty logical as well, as they could have learned it from Illidan, the greatest and most famous of the demon hunters. However, I have no idea why humans can become demon hunters. There is not a single explanation I can think of that doesn't also have the high elves as a possible race. Also, only people with a good alignment can become demon hunters. Despite half this book being dedicated to try and set up Illidan as a major villain.

Dwarven Avatar: An entire class based around the bizarre dwarven archeology religion called Mystery of the makers. And I find it weirder and weirder. I'm really not quite sure how this class is supposed to work. Is fighting supposed to increase the amount of "hey, we are descended from titans!" realization, since otherwise, how could this class have levels? If the dwarves already have the power, why do they have to meditate at specific altars? How come no dwarf ever realized "hey, I have the innate ability to turn into stone!" It's not really a complaint (unlike treating the mystery of the makers like a religion), but it's just something that really, utterly baffles me.

Marksman: This guy likes guns. Not really a lot else to say. Kind of bland for a prestige class.

Necromancer: Capable of creating entire armies on their own, necromancers are one of the most dangerous and horrible beings on the planet. I know I already mentioned it back in the core rules, but I think it's worth going back to: Why are all the necromancer spells in the core rules book? There is no apparent reason for it. Even padding couldn't possibly apply, since the core rules book, even discounting the necromancer spells, is already a lot bigger than the 124-paged Alliance&horde compendium.

Primal: A class that focuses on physical strength, losing themselves into the rage of battle and becoming more and more like an animal. Wait, isn't that just a barbarian with a few levels of beastmaster? Why does this warrant a new class? It's not like the class really has any unique and interesting abilities or background.

Warmages: Wizards study. It's simply what they do do. Normally, they study up high in their violet towers, noses in their books. But that is not what the warmage does. The warmage knows how to fight as part of a larger battle-group, altering his spells to suit the needs of the army.

Windrider: It's a knight/huntress/raider... IN THE SKY! Okay, that's a bit unfair, as the classes play pretty differently. Still, there isn't really more to it than 'sit on an animal and throw stuff' and it feels like it should just be a build for knight/huntress/raider rather than a unique class.

Overall, not all that bad a choice regarding the classes. Though again, 1 exclusive to the alliance(dwarven avatar), 1 generally only played by non-horde (warmage) and one not available to the horde (demon hunter). There clearly is a bit of a bias regarding focus going on.

Chapter Two: Cho... WAIT!
Why is this book called the alliance and horde compendium? Of the seven new races, only three belong to either the alliance or the horde, and only one out of eight classes is exclusive to either side. That's less than one third of the new content. So yeah, bad name.

If they wanted to make an alliance&horde compendium, it wouldn't really be that hard either. Have the dark trolls from the last warcraft III mission join the horde, and you could have three new horde races (dark trolls, jungle trolls and ogres). Then you could add the dryads/keepers of the grove, furbolg, wildhammer dwarves and gnomes to the alliance. You get seven races.
Classes isn't that hard either. Just add some of the units from warcraft III. Shadow hunter, far seer and witch doctor for the horde. Dark knight, mountain king, warmages and warden could be your alliance options. Wind riders can not be taken by independent races any way, so you get a grand total of eight classes. But apparently, they just didn't care about the title.

Chapter II: Choosing Sides
This chapter is supposed to expand the racial descriptions with the events of the frozen throne. That is not what it does. Instead, it just serves to introduce plot holes and set Illidan up as a villain.

The alliance
Humans: Why exactly are the humans not allowed to settle anywhere but theramore isle? True, there isn't exactly much good fertile land left, since Feralas has not yet been established, but it's not like the horde, of which they are said to be jealous, has better land. Durotar is pretty much the most barren piece of rock in the world and the barrens will boil anyone alive. From the description of durotar given in the core rules, it sounds like even thousand needles or tanaris desert would be an improvement, and those places are free for alliance taking. There is no reason for them to stay on the island. Hell, the night elves didn't have any objections to the wildhammer dwarves settling in ashenvale, so why don't the humans just move to Darkshore, which the night elves don't care about?
Why is this chapter bringing up Illidan? He has nothing to do with the human backstory. Apparently some mages told the night elves it was a bad idea to try and kill Illidan, but that's really all it amounts to. I have no clue why this piece of text is in here. It also introduces a major plot hole regarding TFT, where the night elf forces were unaware of Illidan's plan to destroy the lich king, freeing the world of the undead. Here they were fully aware that Illidan was trying to kill him, but stopped him anyway. And for some reason, this is portrayed as the right decision, despite the fact that it makes no sense.
Ironforge Dwarves: As good a time as any to bring it up: When did the dwarves discover their titan heritage? In some sources it's only after settling on Kalimdor and the discovery of Bael Modan, while other sources say it was the excavation of Uldaman, before the third war, that led to the discovery. This piece of text seems to settle on Uldaman, with the actual renaissance being triggered by the discovery of Bael Modan. But that conflicts with the presence of dwarven avatars during warcraft III.
Also, the dwarves apparently fought Illidan at one point and hate him and all other power-mad elves. We didn't actually get to see any of this in warcraft III, where the dwarves were just another race repressed by Garithos' rebellion. Also, Illidan is now apparently planning attacks on everyone, not just the frozen throne. For gods' sake, why don't you just give him a disney villain song while you are at it?
High Elves: Wait, when in the hell did the high elves fight Illidan? Also, apparently Illidan no longer left for outland voluntarily, as seen in TFT, but was now driven back by a unified alliance army. Also, the evilness of the blood elves is played up again. Seriously. Villain Song.
Night elves: And another story regarding Illidan takes up the whole section, but this time its even weirder. Apparently they thought that, when Illidan used the eye of Sargeras, he was trying to become the new lich king. Also, it was Illidan's second attack on the frozen throne that allowed Arthas to become the lich king.
Wait, what? Illidan's entire goal in the campaign was fighting Arthas and the lich king! He fought him to the very last end! True, his first attack inadvertently led to Arthas needing to merge with the lich king (though it wouldn't if Malfurion had just thought for a second and realized Illidan wasn't planning on merging with an undead orc), but afterwards he opposed Arthas at every single step. The entire point of the second attack was to kill Arthas and destroy the frozen throne. 
Gnomes: Minor complaint, but this section is under the impression that ironforge mountain is located in Lordaeron, when it already was established in earlier games, books and even in the core rules that the mountain was in Khaz Modan.
Half-elves: Apparently, the half-elves are as loyal to the alliance as ever. No wait, that's the first half of the paragraph. In the second half, the alliance only is the means to an end. Consistency? Editing? What's that?

The horde
Apparently the relations between the horde and the alliance were severely damaged by Illidan fighting Arthas at the end of the TFT campaign. Even though neither faction was involved in that battle. Even the book doesn't bother to explain this.
Jungle Trolls: The piece of writing contradicts the manual of Monsters, which stated that the jungle trolls hail from the lands south of stormwind, while this book says all the jungle trolls live on the islands between Kalimdor and the eastern kingdoms.

Independent Factions
Blood elves: Oh dear god, this is going to suck. Apparently the blood elves are a group of nomadic terrorists now, who have drained demons in a mad lust for power, only joining Illidan because he could promise them even more. 
Goblins: I love this section. Goblins actually sell their deforestation skills to the nature-obsessed night elves, to help deal with corrupted felwood forest. That's brilliant!

Chapter III: The craft of war
Lots and lots of rules regarding big battles. It's a bit odd to put it in this book, as it has thematically little to do with the rest of the book. I try to limit my comments to lore, so let's skip over this section.

Appendix I: Weapons of war
This chapter should not be in this book. It simply does not have anything with the warcraft franchise. It's supposed to give rules for the siege weaponry in the warcraft universe. Except that the rules given here are for ballistas, catapults, crossbows and trebuchets. You might notice a few things that are missing from that list. Warcraft III featured mortar teams, steam engines, boiler-powered demolishers, shredder sawing machines, sapper suicide squads, corpse-throwing meat wagons and building-freezing frost wyrms. None of those things are described in this appendix, which just describes some generic medieval weaponry.

Chapter Not-In-This-book: Missing
What really astounds me about this book is that it so small, with only 124 pages, less than any other book in this edition of the RPG, and nearly half of these is used on chapter III and appendix I, which have nothing to do with the rest of the book (or the warcraft universe for that matter). So what exactly could be added?
  • Expanded creature list. A lot of the new TFT creatures were not included in the manual of monsters. Void walkers, void dragons, jungle stalkers, succubi and tide revenants were but a few of the new mobs that could have been given statistics.
  • Expanded location descriptions. The core rules only described the lands of Kalimdor, but TFT takes place mostly outside of those. Descriptions for the continent of Northrend, Outland or the broken isles would all have fitted in rather well.

The main flaw of this book is how it handled Illidan and the Blood Elves, and boy is it a big flaw. For some reason, they saw the need to set them up as the new great threat, one that could rival the scourge itself, and to insert them into every single racial backstory. I think the writers missed a big chance by not making the illidari a legitimate faction. There are a bunch of minor inconsistencies in there and the writing can be a bit awkward, but not nearly as much as the core rules. However, the book is way too small, and much of it is spent on stuff that shouldn't be in it (to the point where the title of the book is a blatant lie). I give this book a 2,5/10.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Warcraft - manual of monsters

Manual of monsters
Now, this book is essentially a giant list of monsters, so it's gonna be a bit hard to review. Instead, I'm going to tackle the general problems of the book first, and then point out a few more specific errors.

General notes
The book follows the same structure as the dungeons and dragons monster manuals, and uses the same terms as that book. However, that system was designed to fit every fantasy world, rather than a single specific one, so a few of the terms may be too vague or too broad.
Take for example the environment note on the creatures. In dungeons and dragons, they have to fit in every general fantasy world, so they just say 'environment: forest'. In Warcraft however, they already have specified the entire world, so they could just say 'environment: forests of northern kalimdor'. But for some reason, they chose not to.

Another problem is that they copied the race types (things like humanoid, giant and fey), without actually describing how they work in-universe. In a universe with no established lore this is okay, but in a universe with heavy backstory it can get problematic. The most affected by these are the fey. In dungeons and dragons, fey are just beings with a strong connection to nature, which overrides any other types they could have. In warcraft, however, I could never figure out what exactly a fey is supposed to be. If it is 'connected with nature', shouldn't the mountain giants, green dragons and ancients be fey? If it is 'descendents of ancient guardians', shouldn't centaurs, furbolg and quilboar be fey? If it is 'empowered by the emerald dream', shouldn't dire animals be fey? No matter what definition I try, I can't find any that fits.

Now however comes the biggest problem, and the reason why this book fails: Minimalism. Despite the massive backstory of the warcraft universe, most creatures only get a one-page entry, of which about a quarter is taken up by the statistics of the race, and up to half by the picture. This makes many entries so incredibly short that some don't go beyond physical appearance and combat tactics, leaving out any backstory. And in some cases, this backstory can be rather important. For example, the dryad article doesn't mention the fact that they are allied with the night elves at all, despite giving us (fairly balanced even) stats for playing a dryad.

Chapter one: creatures of azeroth
I'm only going to address entries where I can find significant omissions, errors or just oddities.

Only 3 species of ancients are described in this book: lore, war and wind. Warcraft III also featured ancient protectors, ancients of wonders and trees of life, so why leave those out?

This book gives us the line: “No one has ever encountered a young dragon smaller than a drake”. Which would be a really big feat, considering the dragonmaw orcs enslaved the dragon queen alexstrasza and used her as an incubator, making her churn out hundreds of eggs and riding her offspring into battle. You're telling me no one actually saw one of the eggs hatch?
Black dragons
The black dragons are said to sell their unworthy young to orcs. Which orcs are we talking about here? Are we talking about horde orcs? I don’t recall any other groups of free orcs having been established at this point, so does that mean the horde has a wing of dragonriders now?
Blue dragons
Two sentences from the blue dragon entry. I'll let you figure out how they contradict.
1)“These dragons are best known for altering their forms and integrating into other societies in order to learn new technologies, spells, and crafts.”
2)” Blue dragons are a bit xenophobic, keeping to their territories and maintaining their own studies without interference.”

The text says that harpies are covered in their own poop, have no social skills and are ugly as sin. So why the hell do they still have a higher-than-average charisma?

Obsidian destroyer
Worst entry in the book. It only describes combat tactics and looks. It doesn't mention their ties to the scourge. It doesn't mention where they can be found. And unlike most other entries, that information is very much a necessity. Despite being introduced in the warcraft III expansion, we haven't been given any information on them. What's their origin? When and why did they join the scourge? Why is an intelligent creature with a torso and a head listed as a magical beast rather than a monstrous humanoid? Furthermore, the little information that is given in this book doesn't fit with the unit from warcraft III at all. In warcraft III, destroyers were created from obsidian statues and drinking the magic of others to fuel their powerful spells. Here, they're basically just animals.

The nerubians are said to have survived the lich king's undead plague because of their mental resistance. How the hell does that work? The undead plague doesn't infect your mind, it just kills you and zombifies you. There is no mental aspect. And since we know that the nerubians can be raised as undead by other means, it isn't resistance against being raised as an undead.

Overall, a very good entry. The only slight issue I have with this are the given pandaren weapons. The shaktani warblade is never illustrated or described, so I have no idea what it looks like. Other than that, I’d vote it the best description in the book. It even makes the brewmaster appear like a credible combat- and lifestyle.

This section claims that, after the sundering, the quilboar were forced to defend their lands against both Tauren and Pandaren, contradicting the statement in the pandaren article that the pandaren left the continent before the sundering.

Revenants never really got any background in the previous games, so this entry is the first we got. It seems like revenants are in fact elementals. For most of them, this does make sense. However, there is a species of revenant it does not make sense for: The death revenant. This entry claims that they're earth elementals, but all of their powers revolve around necromancy. So it doesn't really fit. Why not make them magical constructs or something?

Ice troll
The entire ice troll entry talks about the small tribe of ice trolls living in Dun Morogh. It's kind of forgetting about the whole 'massive empire in northrend' thing, aren't they?
Jungle trolls
Jungle trolls, described here as the most civilized species of trolls, are the only ones to get an intelligence penalty.

Chapter two: the burning legion
The page image for the burning legion is an image of Illidan. Illidan is not a member of the burning legion. Otherwise, it's pretty okay.

Chapter three: the undead scourge
Okay, for all you warcraft fans reading this, I'm going to have to ask you to take a few precautions. First, if you have a drink, finish it. Make sure there isn't anything around you that can get damaged by wild and angry flailing. Okay, here it comes:

This chapter claims that all undead in warcraft are intelligent and free-willed. The only reason that they would want to join the scourge is because of human prejudice. True, over time their ethics do fade away, but this is a process that takes years.

Done flailing? Good. For you non-fans, I'm probably gonna have to give a bit more of an explanation. The warcraft III story started when the cult of the damned, a group of cultists serving the lich king, started spreading poisoned grain through the kingdom of lordaeron. Everyone who ate the grain was killed in their sleep, arising as a zombie. Not only did this kill a significant chunk of the population within a single day, anyone else who survived would be torn apart by zombies. All of the zombies we see instantly become aggressive and serve the lich king without any objections, even when the orders are suicidal. All of the other undead we see created are also instantly evil after they were first summoned, with the death knight Arthas raising the contents of a graveyard to bolster his army in the first mission of the undead campaign. In addition, we know that when the lich king was weakened in the expansion campaign, many undead regained their free will, with the elven ranger Sylvanas Windrunner leading a large force of rebel undead. How would that work when all the undead are already free-willed?

Speaking of the expansion campaign, the inconsistencies regarding the timeline become even greater in this book. Ner'zhul, the original lich king, is still in power, and it is made very clear that he is completely safe and secure. However, Sylvanas has already become independent, something which only happened after Ner'zhul was mortally wounded.

When we finally get to the unit descriptions, you can see that the author of this chapter never played warcraft III, but just got a list of unit names. Shades, which were harmless spies, skeletal warriors, the most basic and weakest form of undead, and skeletal mages, slightly stronger than warriors but still weak, have suddenly become the three most powerful species of undead in the world. Zombies are not at all loyal to the scourge(sometimes even maintaining their morality), serving only because they would otherwise be killed by human mobs. It's never answered why they don't simply join the forsaken rebellion.

Appendix two: Villains
I'm sorry for bringing up the timeline again, but it's just so incredibly inconsistent. This chapter acts like all the events from the expansion have already happened. The chapter itself is fine, just listing the stats of a few villains and their artifact.

Appendix Three: Other Monsters in Warcraft
The canonicity (canonity? Canonicallity?) of this chapter has been discussed for a long, long time. Basically, this chapter mentions creatures from other non-warcraft source-books and tells them how they could be incorporated in a warcraft campaign. However, many of the creatures listed here actually do exist in warcraft lore, so its a bit confusing. Blizzard has since declared the entire RPG uncanonical, so, luckily, I don't have to choose a side in the discussion. I'm just going to point out a few flaws.

Some of the creatures listed were already described in the first chapter of this book. Yet here we're given completely separate, contradictory explanations for the following species: centaur, demons, dryads, salamander, wyvern and ogre.

Gorgons are said to come from the abyssal plane, which doesn’t exist in the warcraft universe.

The amalthean goat piece says that the lich king still serves the burning legion, which would mean the RPG takes place before the final two missions of the original campaign of Warcraft III. Yeah I know, timeline. I won't bring it up again.

In the blood maiden description, what does the phrase “These horrific creatures are highborne
elves created in the same way as the naga” even mean? The naga are created from highborne elves, so if you created a highborne elf from a highborn elf… you apparently get a different creature.

The blood crone description says that these servants of the burning legion have been waiting since the second war. So, what were they doing during the third one when the burning legion actually invaded?

The tome of horrors section claims warcraft orcs and ogres are goblinoids.

Overall, the book isn't as bad as the core rules, but only because it's so damn minimalistic, prohibiting them from listing too much stupid.

Warcraft - The role-playing game

Hello to everyone who reads this. I've recently gained an interest in writing reviews, so I decided to make a blog. The first few reviews are going to be expansions and rewrites of reviews I did on MMO-champion. These reviews are going to focus on the warcraft RPG, though I have plans to also write about other franchises.

Warcraft - The role-playing game
A trend I have been noticing lately in the more lore-oriented parts of WoW fandom is the growing reverence regarding the warcraft RPG. Whenever any change is made, I see posts decrying the new stuff as inferior to the detailed setting of the RPG books. So I decided to take a gander at this book, and see if it is all its cracked up to be.

Chapter one: A world at war
The book starts, rather sensibly, with the background story of the franchise. To fans of the franchise it should be pretty familiar, and there is little to nothing that it adds to the story. However, there is a bit of an issue here that will become far, far more annoying later in this book: When is the RPG supposed to take place? The history section mentions all of the events from the original Warcraft III, but does not mention those of the The Frozen Throne (TFT) expansion (which had come out just before this book). However, it does mention the events from the bonus missions of TFT. It could be said that the bonus missions take place during or before the expansion campaign, but the RPG explicitly takes place a year after warcraft III, while TFT starts a month after Warcraft III.

Chapter two: Heroes
Chapter two gives the rules to make your character. It provides a list of races, core classes, prestige classes and feats. Since not all of you are RPG players, a brief explanation. In the d20 system, your character consists of multiple aspects, most notably the race, class and feats. Races are simply picked from the list. Obviously, you get only one race, though there are also systems in place for hybrids. You also get a class. However, unlike most RPGs, you can actually have more than one class. Each level your character gains can be put into any class your character has access to. Core classes are classes that are easy to take, usable in most situations and with few prerequisites. Prestige classes are more specialized, representing a later career specialization (like becoming a dragonslayer rather than just a warrior) and usually have some requirements.

While the book uses the d20 system, it should be noted that they aren't actually included in this book. As with most d20 books, it assumes the player is into dungeons and dragons, where the system originates.

Human: Right from the first racial entry, you start suspecting that this book might not be very good with warcraft lore, as the very first sentence claims that humans are amongst the youngest races on Azeroth (for the record, at least four out of the nine playable races included in this book came into existence after the humans). There are also a ton of minor errors, like claiming that the three great wars were fought against demon hordes, which is only true for the first one.

Dwarf, ironforge: The very first sentence of this paragraph is a goldmine of stupidity as well, with the claim that the dwarves in this book are just like the ones from dungeons and dragons, who are your basic generic fantasy dwarves. This is true, but only if you ignore the fact that warcraft dwarves use airplanes, shotguns and tanks, have a racial obsession with archeology and were actually portrayed as nice and outgoing, rather than stoic, before this book. In another note of stupidity, dwarves get the same abilities as the ones from dungeons and dragons. The ability to turn into stone gets handwaved by the dwarves discovering something new about their heritage, but the bonus damage against giants doesn't get any explanation at all. In D&D, the damage is explained by dwarves living near giants and having developed special fighting techniques. In warcraft, giants live in the oceans and in forest groves on the other side of the world, far away from any dwarven city.

Elf, high: Any fan of warcraft is probably a bit surprised at the inclusion of high elves in this game. For those of you who don't know, the high elves, during the TFT campaign, renamed themselves as blood elves, in remembrance of their fallen people. Betrayed by a human grand marshal, the race was forced to flee to outland, another planet, in order to survive. While those events did take place in the Eastern Kingdoms, near the human homelands, and the RPG takes place in Kalimdor, at the other end of the globe, the dwarven section made clear that there had been contact between the two continents. So why exactly are the high elves still calling themselves high elves? Why are they still following orders from a human that served the same nation that tried to kill their people? Never explained!

Even ignoring that, the description of the high elves is no better, as they have now all become paranoid racist douchebags. The night elves now kill the high elves on sight because of their use of arcane magic, despite warcraft III showing us that the relation between the two races had actually become really good.

Elf, night: Night elves have suddenly joined the alliance for no apparent reason. It could have worked with the events from warcraft III, as the night elves and blood elves were obviously getting over their old wounds in that game, but in the RPG, the night elves kill any high elf seen in their territory and have an intense hatred for all users of arcane magic. Do I even need to mention that the leader of the alliance is one of the most powerful users of arcane magic left alive on the planet?

Goblins: Actually a very decent entry, with little to comment on.

Half-elf: Ever heard of the term "Can't argue with elves"? It's a term used by the site TVtropes, which analyses common themes in fiction, also known as tropes. The trope "Can't argue with elves" refers to a common fantasy situation where elves (or any other single race) are always morally superior, who always know what's best for everyone, are physically superior, have better magic and are also ├╝ber-hot.
However, many writers realized that a perfect race isn't very interesting and decided to add some negatives. However, some writers don't want their perfect little race to have any flaw. Instead, they make the race discriminated against, with humans not being able to just admit that the elves are in every way superior to them. The half elves from the RPG are pretty much this, except taken to a ridiculous extreme. Instead of merely being prejudiced against, mobs of villagers try to kill half-elf babies out of jealousy. What's makes the situation particularly weird is that, in warcraft, elves and humans usually get along just fine, with the human kingdom of Dalaran having a notably large population of elves. Yet the children of these two races are intensely hated.
Which is still believable. There is presedence in real life for people hating those of mixed race more than those that who are just another race. What compounds the matter, however, is the presence of another hybrid race in the rpg: Half-orcs. Despite the half-orcs being born from humans and orcs, long-time enemies of one another, half-orcs are still mostly accepted in society. Yet we have to believe that half-elves are treated far worse?
Before you make angry comments, let me clarify myself. Racism is a terrible problem, which is still very much alive in today's society. But while racism is not logical in and of itself, there is a bit of logic behind it. If you hate a race, you either have a specific reason, or you just hate all races that are not your own. However, the only explanation we are ever given that this specific race is so hated is jealousy. But that explanation doesn't work since humans and elves do actually get along pretty decently.
And why the hell do we have half-elves as a playable race anyway? I can't recall a single half-elf character ever getting mentioned in the previous games. Yet somehow they get a spot in the main rules, while the much more important ogres, trolls, wildhammer dwarves and gnomes have to wait for the supplements.

Half-orc: Half human, half orc. Not fully accepted by either, but able to proof themselves by working really hard. Unlike the half-elves, there is actually a precedent for half-orc characters in the form of the orc assassin Garona.

Orc: The description is actually pretty decent. One problem however is the image that accompanies their section, which looks nothing like an orc.

Edit: I have actually found where this picture is from. It's the concept art for the orcish warlord, a unit from the warcraft III Alpha that never made it into the final build (there's quite a few of those). The screenshots I've seen of the in-game unit look like a normal orc, so I have no idea what was up with that piece of concept art.

Tauren: They're xenophobes now. Which perfectly explains why they befriended the orcs within ten seconds of meeting them. No wait, it doesn't.

That makes for 2 races that can join either faction (half-orcs and goblins), 2 horde races (orcs and tauren) and a grand whopping total of 5 alliance races (dwarves, high elves, night elves, half-elf and human). What's really amazing about that statistic is that they left out two fairly important horde races (ogres, trolls), yet still included the half-elves.

Core Classes
The RPG only keeps 5 classes from dungeons and dragons: the barbarian, who specializes in physical strength, the fighter, who specializes in weapons, the rogue, who specializes in stealth and special skills, the wizard, who learns magic through training, and the sorcerer, who has ancestry that allows him to naturally cast the same spells as wizards. In addition to this, they also introduce three new classes.

Healer: Pretty much the same thing as the cleric from dungeons and dragons, except with a dumb name. The healer, while good at healing, can do a lot more than just that, making the name rather non-fitting. Not to mention that the lore behind it is really shoddy. In the RPG, players start out as a healer, and can only later take the druid, priest or shaman prestige classes. But in the actual lore, characters start their careers as priests, druids or shaman, with no mention of healers to be found. So this class really shouldn't exist and be replaced by the priest, druid and shaman core classes.

Scout: Replaces the ranger from dungeons and dragons. It no longer has any casting abilities or an animal companion, but gains a lot more skills to survive the wilds for long periods of time.

Tinker: A truly new class, which is actually pretty cool. It specializes in mechanics and the construction of weird devices.

However, before we move on to prestige classes, lets take a minute to talk about the inclusion of sorcerers, which really baffles me. In dungeons and dragons, the distinction between sorcerers and wizards makes sense. After all, that game is supposed to fit into any generic fantasy setting, which often have unexplained magical powers. However, in the warcraft backstory, its made quite clear that arcane magic is something you actually have to study. So the sorcerer class doesn't fit into the setting at all. What compounds the matter is that they keep referring to Jaina Proudmoore (leader of the alliance on Kalimdor) as a sorceress, despite the fact that we saw her studying under a mage back in warcraft III

Prestige Classes
The RPG keeps only 2 prestige classes from dungeons and dragons: the archmage and the duelist. What's really annoying is that the book doesn't actually say it keeps those two classes, instead listing the classes it didn't keep, forcing me to cross-check. The archmage and the duelist are fine classes to keep though. It also introduces a bunch of new prestige classes.

Beastmaster: Based on Rexxar from the TFT bonus missions, the beastmaster specializes, in, you guessed it, beasts. He gets an animal companion and the ability to talk with beasts, which fits with the class seen in warcraft 3. However, he also somehow gets the ability to grow claws and horns, infuse his companion with magic and see through his eyes. Beastmasters are never said to follow a certain religion or practice arcane magic, so I wonder where the hell the magic powers come from.

Druid of the wild: Unlike the druids of the claw and talon in warcraft III, the druid of the wild does not limit himself to a single totem animal. The druid should really have been a core class, with druids of the talon and claw as prestige classes.

Elven Ranger/sentinel: Pretty much the ranger core class from dungeons and dragons with a bow specialization. Fits the setting. Alliance-only.

Gladiator(alliance)/Blademaster(horde): The naming of this class just confuses me, as it implies that blademasters are just the horde version of gladiators. However, anyone who plays warcraft III knows that that is complete and utter baloney. Gladiators are showy, fighting to amuse the public. Blademasters are stealthy, capable of becoming invisible. Gladiators are just guys you put in an arena. Blademasters have magical abilties. So how exactly do you merge those two concepts? I can't imagine a gladiatorial match where both contestants are invisible to be any fun. Plus, don't we already have a class based around duels, called the duelist? The gladiator part of this class is just completely unnecessary.

Horde assassin: They're horde assassins. The name pretty much describes their backstory. However, the horde assassins completely copy all the abilities from the assassin prestige class from dungeons and dragons, which includes arcane spellcasting, something the orcish horde is explicitly not very good at.

Hunter: Pretty much the ranger core class from dungeons and dragons with a melee specialization. Fits the setting. However, like the gladiator and the beastmaster, they have magical powers with no explanation where they come from.

Infiltrator: An alliance-only class who specializes in manipulation and spying. Unlike the horde assassin, the infiltrator operates mostly within human lands, to try and keep the factions of Theramore from tearing each other's throats out. The lore behind it is fine, but the abilities are a bit weird. Especially the connections ability. Basically, it means that you can roll to see if one of your connections is in the area. However, some of the connections you can roll for are a bit highly placed. Like Thrall. Silly doesn't even begin to describe some of the results you can get with this, since it can be used in any inhabited location and you choose the contact to roll for. So you could just walk into Theramore prison and roll for Thrall. BAM, leader of the horde is now imprisoned. Or, if you want some good blackmail material, just go to a black market and roll for Jaina. The possibilities for abusing this mechanic are endlessly hilarious.

Knight(human, high elf)/huntress(night elf)/raider(orc): A warrior who fights on the back of an animal. Fits lore okay.

Paladin warrior: Not sure why they added warrior to the class name, but hey. It's pretty much the paladin core class from dungeons and dragons, but that fits fine in the setting. Alliance-only.

Priest: Followers of the holy light or Elune. Fits lore pretty well, but should have been a core class. Alliance-only.

Shaman: People who communicate with the spirit world. Surprisingly enough, the class is not horde-only. Fits lore pretty well, but should have been a core class.

Warlock: Evil mage who specializes in summoning demons and offensive spells. Fits the setting.

That makes for 7 classes available to both factions(beastmaster, druid of the wild, gladiator/blademaster, hunter, knight/huntress/raider, shaman and warlock), 4 classes that are alliance-only (elven ranger, infiltrator, paladin warrior and priest) and only 1 class that is horde-only (horde infiltrator). Coupled with the races section, I think you might be starting to notice a pattern.

This chapter also includes new uses for skills and list of feats (specially trained abilities). They are basically lists with little to no lore information and are pretty okay.

Chapter three: Adventuring
This chapter offers more lengthy explanations for several other aspects of your character, namely affiliation, faith and equipment.

The affiliation starts out by mentioning that, while most members of a race are usually loyal to a single faction, that does not mean a player should be. Which is good, as it opens up a lot of possibilities. Wanna be a human mercenary that works for the warchief? Wanna be a tauren that doesn't trust the orcs? All is possible. Descriptions for both factions are also given. The alliance is strong, but fractured. It has weak leadership, the faction's can't agree on anything, and a large portion is racist. The horde is smaller, but more unified, led by the living legends Thrall and Cairne Bloodhoof. Players of World of Warcraft should get a giggle out of that, as the situation in that game is completely reversed, with a strong, unified alliance and a fractured, racist horde.

Archeology is a religion now. No, really. Apparently the dwarves no longer believe in the holy light because they discovered they were created by the titans. Not that the philosophy of the holy light contradicts that in even the slightest way. Not that the dwarves started praying to the titans either. It's just a religion. Without any beliefs. You figure out how that works.
The other religions described in here are a lot better though. We finally get a new explanation for the holy light, which was basically christianity in Warcraft I and II, but was retconned in Warcraft III. Now, its the spiritual background radiation of the universe. All the deities, elements, spirits and gods form a network of power that spans the planet, and the holy light is a philosophy to get in tune with that power. It's actually pretty clever. The other listed religions are shamanism, demon worship and worship of the lich king (lord of the undead).

Pretty much just a list of items and material. It's all decent and there is some real fun mechanical stuff in there. Army knives, parasol parachutes, steam-powered jackhammers and pulley guns. It's a pretty good chapter. It even includes rules for making your own, unique, inventions. One comment I do have is that only rules for making arcane magical items are included, despite the existence of divine magical items in warcraft III.

Chapter fo... Wait!
Before we move on to the next chapter, I must address another subject; Editors. Most published books have them. It is their job to read through the entire work carefully, looking for errors. As such, I have to say that the editing in this book is TERRIBLE. Seriously. I only point out some of the larger or more annoying mistakes, as otherwise we would be here for hours, but every single chapter has dozens of errors that anyone should have spotted. Goblins being described as not using guns, despite getting bonuses on gun use in their race description. Multiple mentions of orc chieftains, despite their description saying orcs no longer have them. Even the map has errors, with durotar being misplaced. Now, the occasional mistake I wouldn't mind. But when every other sentence has such an error, I do get annoyed. Why do I bring it up now? Because the next chapter is terrible. I will only point out the largest of errors, but there are a few hundred more.

Chapter four: magic
This chapter is horrid. The background research is terrible. The morality is absurd. It utterly sucks.

Let's first take a look at how magic worked back in the days of Warcraft I, II and III:
Arcane magic, the magic used by wizards and sorcerers, has always been a bit corruptive in the warcraft universe. If not properly used, it can attract demons, or the user can get addicted to its power, making him feel bad when he has no access to magic. However, most of the modern practitioners are actually rather responsible at their use of arcane magic, and the high elves and the mages of the Kirin Tor have done much to safeguard the world.

Divine magic, the magic used by priests, druids and shaman, is drawn from other beings. It has no real inherent morality, instead depending on the nature of the deity that you draw power from.

However, someone told the writers of the RPG that subtlety is for chumps, and their portrayal here is quite different. Arcane magic is the magic of demons, a corrupting blight that has come from misusing the great gifts of the titans. It is the source of everything that has ever gone wrong in the world. Every user of arcane magic has his mind twisted and his body ravaged, becoming a hollow, nasty shell of his former self. Divine magic on the other hand is the magic of purity and humility. All the people who use divine magic are noble, upright beings with nothing in mind but the protection of the innocent.

I can't even begin to cover every single error in this chapter. Instead, I'll just give you the biggest two.
  • The arcane magic chapter blames the entirety of the third war on the fact that the elves arrogantly taught the humans how to use arcane magic. The third war, for those that never played warcraft III, was not started by human mages. It was started by a demon called Kil'jaeden, who turned the orc warlock Ner'zhul into the lich king, and planted him at the north pole of Azeroth. From there, the lich king started raising an army of the dead. Sure, he did use a number of rogue mages from Dalaran, but I sincerely doubt he couldn't have elves instead.
  • The divine magic chapter claims that the gods of Azeroth never directly interfere with the world, and no one is even sure whether they exist or not. This statement is utterly baffling. At this point in canon, there are four known groups of gods: the ancient guardians, the five dragonflights, the old gods and titans. Both the ancient guardians and the five dragonflights fought during the war of the ancients alongside the night elves, many of whom are still alive to this day. In addition, the high elves and the human nation of Dalaran had frequent encounters with the dragonflights. In addition, this very book revealed that the dwarves had actually found physical evidence of the Titans.
The chapter also includes a list of spells. For some reason, it also includes spells for the necromancer prestige class, which, as you can see above, is not included in this book. So why would they include it here?

Chapter five: The world of warcraft
This chapter is dedicated to the world of azeroth, mostly describing the various regions of the continent of Kalimdor, as well as describing the horde and the alliance. Again. Though with even more detail this time. I don't get why the affiliation paragraph was included in a previous chapter if the full explanation is gonna be given here again. Again, something an editor should have spotted.

The alliance chapter is really the only noteworthy description. As stated before, the alliance is a highly fractured. While some of it is expected, as the alliance contains so many cultures that now have to live in a single small area (which reminds me, there are no mentions of any culture clashes between any of the seven human kingdoms anywhere in this book), some of the reasons are just contrived. For example, Jaina has forbidden people of the alliance to live outside of Theramore. Despite there being plenty of unclaimed lands on Kalimdor. For another example, dwarves are not represented in the government at all. For no reason other than to create tension.

The descriptions of the areas are pretty decent, and should be old hat for anyone who played world of warcraft, and completely uninteresting for anyone else. There are however two points of note. One: the dwarves live outside of Theramore. Despite the fact that Jaina said the alliance could only live on theramore isle (which is admittedly a lot bigger in the RPG), there are actually two large dwarven cities, one in the barrens and one in ashenvale. Yet this contradiction is never even addressed.
Two: The night elves and where they are supposed to live. Winterspring, Hyjal, Ashenvale and Azshara all have the description that, while they are important to the night elves, they don't in fact live in those areas. Darkshore and Felwood may have been populated, but those zones were ravaged during the third war. And in Moonglade, it is mentioned that the night elves have no major towns in the area except their capital of nighthaven. Does this mean that the entirety of the night elf race, described in this book as savage, lives in a single massive city?

Also, in a unique complaint, I actually have to object to the font size used for the maps. It is completely inconsistent. Silithus, Feralas, Barrens, Mulgore, Darkshore and Durotar are all written in a large font, while the zones mount hyjal, ashenvale, stonetalon, thousand needles, dustwallow marsh and tanaris are all written in smaller letters. In addition, the echo isles and theramore isle also get the large font, despite only being described as sub-zones in the book.

Chapter six: Campaigning
This chapter consists of tips for game masters. It's mostly just a few short adventure hooks, some general descriptors for how quests should feel and a few quick hints for handling situations that can occur in the warcraft RPG that can't in dungeons and dragons. It's pretty decent (though still filled with dozens of minor errors), but not all that suitable for a lengthier review.

See you next time, when we take a look at manual of monsters.