Game: The Verdant World: a Handbook to the Green
Publisher: A New Arcadia
Review Dated: 12th, February 2005
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10 [ Really good ]
Total Score: 8
Average Score: 8.00
The Verdant World
A Handbook to the Green
By: A New Arcadia
Written by Brendan McGuigan
This is primarily a collection of plants for the d20 system. Two-thirds of the book are devoted to healing, exotic, poisonous, and monstrous plants. There are of course the nearly requisite prestige classes, and a collection of associated feats. It’s fairly large for an ebook supplement at 109 pages in the file. The zipped file I received for review includes a no-image version, that still is 105 total pages. The Verdant World is nicely illustrated, and in colour. The main file is fully bookmarked, which is always a nice feature for rapidly going to a given section. One nice feature, that is often lacking in third-party d20 supplements, is that the Open Game Content is detailed on the second page. Nearly everything save “flavour text” is OGC. Each chapter opens with a bit of story text, followed by a first-person narrative, with the section introduced as though written from an in-character point of view (metagame elements excluded, of course). Some people hate this approach; I’m quite fond of it.
The prestige classes aren’t unusual mechanically. What makes them different is the premise behind each. These range the gambit from nature’s avenger to nature’s scourge (my personal favourite… I hate palm trees). In fact some of them seem rather tame, such as the Forager, whose special abilities all revolve around finding plants. These are somewhat easy to qualify for, but not unusually so. For example, to be a nature’s scourge, one must have a BAB of +7 and be evil. I rather liked the description of the chief qualifier for nature’s avenger: “a nature’s avenger must have the ability to communicate with either animals or plants (this may be through a spell, an item, a language or a feat) to begin gaining levels as a nature’s avenger.” I found having the result (communication) as more important than the means (e.g. a certain level of spell) to be a nice touch. However, I did find it odd that for the green man class (the oddest in the bunch–a plant-symbiote class), the nurel plant only seeks to bond with warriors who are quick of limb: the requisite +6 BAB equates to two attacks per round.
The new feats seem largely to support the other sections, but are quite useful in their own right. I thought that the herbal item creation feats (of which there are three) were a bit harsh in assigning an XP cost for what could arguably be done using the herbalism skill (without a feat), but one can see why this was done for play balance reasons. Of particular interest to me were the wild herbalist (allowing one to scrounge for herbs rather than purchase & carry a healer’s kit), woodsman (allowing the creation of makeshift items, such as a lean-to), and especially the tendril mastery feat… it’s tentacle attacks, who doesn’t love those? That is, unless you are wearing a sailor suit. The “New Systems” chapter follows, and consists of a few pages to further describe herbal item creation. I rather liked this quote, “As with any third-party rule system, you should check with your DM before using any of the following.” That isn’t something you see very often.
Now we get to the meat… er, vegatables… of the book. The normal plants (read: not trying to eat your character) have a bit more thought put into them than just name, price, & game mechanics. Plants are rated by duration of freshness & how drying affects them, where they are found, rarity, what parts of the plant are used, and how they are used: poultice, infusion, smoked, etc. Some of the plants have rather straight-forward effects (e.g. healing 1d4 Constitution damage, or +2 to natural AC), some are mixed blessings (e.g. 8 rounds of bonus hit points, followed by like damage), and some are rather esoteric in their effects (e.g. cancelling all slow effects, or healing mummy rot). This section alone is worth the price of admission. This isn’t an “I coulda thought of that” situation–no, you didn’t, and the book is worth the $12 for the “normal” plants. For the monstrous plants, I was honestly expecting variations on the same tired themes: evil treants, strangling willows, shooting flowers, and at least one rehash of vegepymies (think green quiet kobolds). Fortunately, there were quite a few completely unexpected new ideas for vegetative combatants. These range from blood-sucking falling leaves, to soul-devouring trees. These are sick, twisted, and inspired.
The book concludes with a selection of plant-related spells. Many of these are of the expected “when plants attack, next on FOX” variety. There are a few eye-catchers, such as create vegan food and water, irrigation, plantmorph, and photosynthesis. As Kermit said, “it’s not that easy bein’ green.”