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Legends of Avadnu

I picked up this product less out of hope than of desperation: I needed epic monsters, and I needed them now. My group had passed 20th level and I needed things to keep them busy when their political intrigue became too heavy and everyone was up for some action, and the Epic Level Handbook monsters were limiting, to say the least.

To say that I was impressed would be an understatement, and I'm not easily gratified. Some of you might remember me as the curmudgeon judge of the 2002 ENnies—nothing was good enough to escape my criticism.

Legends of Avadnu is a 22-page PDF if you print the ink-light version without the cover, table of contents, or legal (~30 pages with everything). It includes 11 epic feats (1 page), 13 creatures ranging from CR 15 to 31 (19 pages), two templates (with sample creatures included in the above 13), an exotic material, and information about ways to use the ELH monsters in the world of Avadnu (2 pages).

The monsters in LoA are the most well-written and flavorful I've seen in any product by any company. The kasep-sa, for example, is the decadent remains of a race promised to never die but by their own hands, making them a difficult challenge for the PCs. (Various solutions, with mechanical descriptions and kasep-sa reactions, are of course included.)

The astral and cosmic sentinels are another excellent example: crafted from the ultra-hard siderite, these constructs protect important planar sites in pairs (one astral and one cosmic). They have interesting abilities that could easily be adopted for non epic play—the astral sentinel's Nova (S), for example, is like an offensive version of death throes.

The mechanics are quite sound; while mistakes are present, as in all products I've seen, they are much less common than in most, and are of a lesser importance. (For example, the Dreadspawn has 12 unallocated skill points—not exactly game-breaking.)

In conclusion, LoA is a great book for fleshing out a world, even if PCs are never powerful enough to directly challenge the monsters in it. Both of the templates are useable in non-epic games—in fact, the Bygone template seems designed especially for non-epic groups who want to encounter epic foes (and live).

Highlight: While the editing is practically enough to make me weep with joy, the lush descriptions and well-applied creative ideas are the strongest part of the book. Of course, I liked the epic feats too—they are good for monsters and epic PCs alike, and more flexibility for the players is fun for them.
Recommended to: All DMs with characters nearing 21st level, or already past. Other DMs will find less immediate utility, but if you buy any epic product buy this one for sheer joy of reading.
Best part: Flavorful monsters and excellent statting.
Worst part: There's not much to say. I suppose the length was a bit short for $5, but getting to use everything in it makes it a better buy than longer products that I'll only ever use a quarter of.
Judgment: *****

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