Role Playing Games on
Book of the Righteous

The Book of the Righteous is Green Ronin's book of their gods. It includes about two dozen extensive writeups for gods and their churches, a large mythology, prestige classes, an alternate core class (the holy warrior, a generalized paladin), and even a few monsters and magic items. Overall, the illustrations are decent; the cover art is the best I've ever seen gracing the cover of a d20 product, but the interior art is uneven in quality.

Holy Warrior The BotR presents a new core class, the holy warrior. Holy warrior is an extension of the paladin class; while they are customized for each of the major gods presented (using templated abilities), they must be good—even if the god the holy warrior worships isn't.
The holy warrior addresses a need that has been expressed by many gamers: more customization, and more setting-specific information. The class succeeds at both handily: each god has their own 'flavor' of holy warrior, and their abilities are reasonably fluid—for example, you can choose two of three domains (similar to cleric domains, but without spells) from your god's list.
Unfortunately, I have serious balance issues with the holy warrior. Take a basic example: the Eagles of Urian. On first level they gain: detect evil, lay on hands, the Auran language, Improved Initiative, Dodge (even without Dex 13), and the ability to rebuke air creatures as a cleric of her level. That's a lot of powers to give a full base attack core (that is, nonprestige) class! Additionally, they have a decent skill list—including Spot. I needn't even get into the issue of their celestial giant eagle mount...

Creation Story: One of the more extensive undertakings of the Book of the Righteous is its creation myth, which is tightly integrated with its prestige classes and holy warriors.
There's something to be said for putting together a story this extensive. The main story is about 30 pages between Chapter II and Appendix I. It is well-written and reasonably interesting, but difficult to customize on its own. (Chapter X addresses this to some degree, giving suggestions for changing it to fit your own world.)
Unfortunately, I found the story unsatisfying; it broke little new ground. It is to be lauded, I feel, for its hard stance against racial deities, but most other aspects are familiar and even clichéd: the gods unite to throw out the great evil; the chief angel rebels and is cast into Hell; gods are forbidden by mutual agreement from changing Earth directly; there are separate planes for the devils (Hell), demons (the Abyss), and daemons (Gehenna).

Gods and Churches: Most of the book (200 pages) is devoted to each of 22 gods. Each one gets 6–8 pages, on average, with full-page artwork and overviews covering the balance. It's nice to see so much space devoted to the gods for a change, but unfortunately the material isn't very inspiring; the gods aren't that different from the standard gods that appear everywhere. I'm reminded of Greyhawk when I read it.
As in most of the sections, the author's unusual take on alignments has an impact on the quality and usability of the material. There are no mainstream evil deities, and this is a real shame and lack. There is a section for evil gods, but they're not very similar. The prevalence of good gods and their worshippers makes the world of the Book of the Righteous a uniquely unplayable one: the PCs can't save the world from an overarching conspiracy, because there's no real opportunity for one when good churches are everywhere. Sure, there are small evil cults, but beyond level 6 PCs need something bigger, somehow.
The section on evil cults of god gods provides some degree of workability, but they're limited in what they can do and how they can organize.

Personally, I got no use whatever out of the Book of the Righteous, and I run a campaign with a strong emphasis on the gods. In fact, out of all the D&D books I've ever bought, this is the purchase I regret most. I didn't like the mechanics of the new classes, sapping all flavor out of already tired archetypes; I didn't like the new spells or domains; I thought the creation story was same-old, same-old; I enjoyed reading the evil section, but didn't get any use out of it. I despised their take on alignment, I hated their strongly good-slanted pantheon, I found their gods to be as flat as Greyhawk gods or FR gods—and for me, that's a horrible comment. I didn't like the stats for the new creatures, which I've never used as a result. The new PrCs weren't good by my standards; they were about at the same level as what I see on EN World's House Rules forum.
More random things I didn't like: backward prophecy mechanics (p. 104–105); magic items—especially since they don't have prices, making treasure valuation hard (even if they're not sold); holy warriors, especially since they're required to be good even if serving a nongood deity; the enforced segregation of evil and nonevil members of the same faith.

In short, aside from the cover and a bit of the art, I found the book utterly useless. There's nothing particularly creative in the book, which is perhaps my biggest complaint; if all I had to do was tear out the mechanics by the roots and rewrite them, I'd have something useful after 10 hours of prep. Now I have nothing regardless of preparation, unless I cut out the pictures I like and use them for props.

Highlight: Half a dozen pages per god!
Recommended to: DMs looking for a new pantheon without leaving behind their old stereotypes, especially DMs who enjoy tinkering (the BotR is fairly modular).
Best part: The cover art is excellent, the best part of the book; I liked about an eighth of the interior art, but I disliked the rest strongly. The space wasted on 1Eesque forms of address by level doesn't use too much space, but as I don't find them useful, so it's just another strike against the book for me (though admittedly not enough to drop a point from the score).
Worst part: awkward take on alignment, rehashing of stereotypes, game balance
Judgment: **

Back to the general RPGs page