Those of you who’ve played Dungeons and Dragons might have heard of the Dungeons and Dragons sourcebook The Book of Vile Darkness. But for those of you who don’t, a brief primer:
During the third out of soon-to-be-five (six if you count Pathfinder) editions, they released a book that essentially embodied all the fears of the crazy Christian conservatives back in the 80s, talking all about evil, nasty things within the game’s universe, such as the leaders of its various flavors of hell, evil artifacts, drugs, torture devices, the Black Speech,vile spells, ect.
It was written by Monte Cook who, in addition to masterminding said third edition, also wrote the critically-acclaimed Planescape setting, which was known for its deep and philosophical bent on issues of morality and cosmology. Which is weird, because the BoVD was almost the opposite of that.
It was gleefully stupid and ludicrously over-the-top in a “Saturday morning cartoon villain with an R-rating” way, and thus it was roundly mocked by the D&D community.
This article by the Insidious/Awesome Bogleech gives a good highlight reel, though it misses the ludicrously dumb “Nipple Clamp of Exquisite Pain” in the magic items section.
And yes, you heard that right folks, the man behind one of the most critically-acclaimed settings in D&D history actually introduced an item known as “The Nipple Clamp of Exquisite Pain” to D&D canon, along with a crap-ton of anti-BDSM unfortunate-implications sprinkled about the text.
But anyway, along with the hillarously over-the-top Book of Vile Darkness, D&D also produced the Book of Exalted Deeds. And while the BoVD was ridiculous and camp, it was also a lot of fun. The Book of Exalted Deeds on the other hand… Eugh.
While it included the flipside of a lot of the BoVD’s content (Archangels instead of Archdevils, saintly relics instead of torture devices, really morally dubious/horrifying poisons that only affect bad people instead of normal apparently-more-evil poison), it was just kinda dull. Not goofy, not over the to, just… dull.
Perhaps it was because of the restraint they took in depicting Good in that book, for while they tried to keep their hand light on the BoED’s stuff, ultimately making it bland and toothless, they went full mustache-twirling; manically-laughing Snidely Wiplash on the BoVD, thus making the latter far more fun to read.
So here’s the whole point of this long, rambling article: My list of what the Book of Exalted Deeds would be like if it was just as over the top as the BoVD. In my opinion, this’d probably be for the better, though keep in mind that this definiton of “better” is coming from a guy who unironically likes The Last Dragon and almost likes the Golam-Globus disco-Biblical-musical The Apple un-ironically.
Anyway, onto the list:
-One of the monsters included would have been a rideable butterfly-winged unicorn kitten who craps ice-cream (Which works as a Potion Of Cure Critical Wounds) and pukes rainbows (Which works as a Prismatic Spray)
-Other monsters would include a weirdly friendly ooze made of a honey-like substance, aberrations that are essentially winged; tentacled; seven-eyed; seven-horned; seven-mawed; blood-vomiting space-Jesuses, a golem made of saintly relics, an upper-planes equivalent to the Succubus, a white; feathery breed of dinosaur that’s sacred to some religion or another, and a Pink Dragon who happens to be a reformed breed of Chromatic Dragon and has a breath weapon made of sparkles. Sparkles that also act as Glitterdust that gets nastier as it levels up and also does cold damage.
-There would also be several Flumph varians, including the pointy-headed Heirophant Flumph and the nigh-legendary Stargod Flumph.
-There would be a magical psychologist prestige class, with a focus on abilities that get villains to change their evil ways, complete with the ability at their final level to magically retrieve the villain’s equivalent of Rosebud from Citizen Kane.
-There would also be a prestige class based on Sailor Moon, another one based on Batman, and another one based on John Lennon. Yes, I’m aware of the problems of that last one, but the irony makes it funnier.
-There would be a new mechanic for harnessing-the-goodwill-of-the-people-you’ve-met-in-your-journeys-to-blow-up-the-big-bad-evil-guy-with-a-blast-of-holy-light ala the ending of every cheesy JRPG/shonen anime ever.
-Artifacts would include a bardic lute known as Ranbow In The Dark (With the coloration to match its name), the Oil-Of-Reviving-That-Person-You-Loved-Who-Died-In-Your-Backstory, a bow that fires Couatls (Think really holly winged snakes) instead of arrows, a chainsaw-holy-sword approximately the size of a man and a bag that contains random cute baby animals with multiple random; deadly templates attached.
-There would be a spell that makes the target reconsider their life on a failed will save, along with another one that makes them keep vomiting flowers for several hours, another spell that summons the target’s mother to chastise them for their wrongdoings, and another spell that turns a pot of up to 7 servings of chicken-noodle soup into a Potion of Healing.
-An extensively detailed description of the politics on the Upper planes (D&D’s various equivalents to Heaven basically), including such things as the Ascentic Archangel Pistis Sophia’s naked rampage across the 9 Hells (Which earned her the grudge of the Archdevil Dispater for her troubles), Erathol the Seer Archangel’s enormously complex and decades-spanning plans to avoid a future calamity he predicted, The Guardinal Talsid & his Five Companions plans to make themselves actually fucking relevant (Because nobody gives a shit about Guardinals), and the story of that wild party Queen Morwel of the Court Of Stars had that left her really sore at the Archangel Raziel (Though both refuse to talk about it)
-The reformed Mind Flayer would stay in the book. Yes there actually was one. Though, I’d take away the Vow of Nonviolence and just say she eats the brains of the wicked because, man, that just don’t make sense with Mind Flayer biology.
Huh. I’m now thinking this version of the BoED might actually be pretty cool. Any of you agree with me, or am I just being a dingus again?