Game: Anger of Angels
Publisher: Malhavoc Press
Review Dated: 12th, October 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
Anger of Angels is a d20 supplement all about angels (you guessed, huh?) from Malhavoc Press and by Sean K Reynolds. It’s a PDF at the minute; I dare say a paperback will be along shortly. Some people will go buy this supplement because of the d20 logo, others because of the Malhavoc logo and others because SKR is the author. The best reason to go buy Anger of Angels is if you just want a whole lot of angel involvement in your game with no questions asked.
I like to ask questions though. Anger of Angels is one of those products that, I think, asks all sorts of questions about the typical D&D alignment system. Angels are, by and large, good. At one point in Anger of Angels there’s a discussion how different angels would go about clearing a land of tribes so their deity’s chosen people can move in. You what? That’s not good. That’s ethnic cleansing. One of the worse case scenarios for the not-chosen people is that Michael, the Archangel of War, sets about this task. He may lead a squadron of angels to route the tribes from the land. He may kill them all. He may kill these hapless tribes if they’re evil. Okay. What would make these tribes evil? Maybe they torture people. Maybe they engage in ethnic cleansing (oh! the irony!) or maybe they eat the wrong food on the wrong day. Yup. Eating the wrong food on the wrong day is in an example of a possible taboo from Anger of Angels. It could lead to an angel Falling. There are evil angels too, evil angels who serve the greater good but do those unpleasant tasks like murdering the first born as part of a holy plague. Evil angels aren’t Fallen Angels, not if they still serve their deity.
There’s plenty of information on the “biology” of Angels too. They’re not born as such and so I really shouldn’t call them biological. Angels are made, either by a deity or by one or more angels. Angels made by a deity are bound to it (you know, like a slave, but in a non-evil way or something) and those made by other angels tend to be free. Do you believe in divine density? In fate? In Wyrd? To put in another way, do you believe in free will? It’s an interesting question for religious folk most of the time. Imagine what it’s like for an Angel? Were they made so that they could make their own decisions? A third of angels have Fallen – so does this free will prove that they are flawed creations? Or do they simply live their pre-defined fate? In this case their fall is part of some divine plan. I love stuff like this – in my roleplaying, anyway. I’m less interested in, and rather puzzled by, suggestions that angels need to breathe air. All angels need to breathe air – even ophanites. An ophanite is typically a wheel of fire without lungs. God knows why they need to breathe air. Literarily, God knows why. These burning wheels of fire can wear two rings and a circlet. They get the standard D&D rule mechanics say-so of magic item slots. They don’t actually have to have the ring on a finger because they don’t have fingers but do need to be “holding” it to use it. Burning wheels of fire and other oddly shaped angels need to have a hand free in order to cast magic too. This isn’t two much of a bother as all angels count as having two hands. Confused? It’s simply really – the standard d20 rules apply. Don’t penalise angels for not being humanoid. I suppose it’s fair and wise to offer up rulings like this too. If you’re buying Anger of Angels to get the stats for Gabriel or the Metatron because you like to have everything in black and white for your game then you can enjoy this ruling in its black and white glory too.
Anger of Angels lets players play angels. There are 11 character race rule sets. If you want to play a snake-like Seraph then you can sit back and enjoy your total of +10 to attribute bonuses and a page of special abilities – then the effective level adjustment of +9. The back of the book suggests there as many new kinds of demons and fallen angels. There aren’t any character race rules for demons. I think the bullet point comment is right; there are as many demons mentioned by the product, just note that the level detail isn’t the same. Anger of Angels is entirely focused on the angels. I wouldn’t complain if we saw a demon companion though. What about the Distemper of Demons! No, no, my thesaurus has a better idea, the Dander of Demons. Why all the new angels then? That question’s answered explicably. If you want to have a go at an angel PC campaigns or even has angels as viable hands-on NPCs then its best to have access to lower level angels. Lower level angels can be made more powerful by adding character classes to them. I’ll offer up my observation that the Effective Level mechanic sucks. I’ll take the lower level angels as a ready way to avoid using it.
I don’t tend to like high powered games, especially not D&D flavoured ones, but Anger of Angels makes it tempting. The game takes most of its inspiration for the Heaven Hell conflict from Christian and Jewish teachings (the Old Testament, I guess) and spices the story up with titbits from other religions very occasionally. Angels raid Hell to rescue wrongly damned souls. They use Jacob’s Ladder to climb down from Heaven to the mortal coil. We’re left to speculate why souls might be wrongly damned (perhaps it’s not so bad eating food on the wrong day after all). Demons are those angels who have become corrupted by tormenting souls for power. That’s why demons are interested in souls. In Nomine gets a mention in the bibliography. Amusingly, so does Good Omens. I could have a fair bash at an In Nomine style game with this, there’s even a brief mention on angels in a modern setting.
Whoops! Have I not mentioned the prestige classes and feats? This is a d20 supplement. You knew they where there. There’s new magic and domains too. The prestige classes are the Angel of Death, Angel of Destruction, Angel of Fury, Angel of Terror and Fire-Speaker. Hopefully it’s pretty clear why I had lingering questions about the alignment system throughout the supplement. An Angel of Terror? A fanatic committing acts of terror in the name of their religion is a good guy. Their set of values allows, demands, it in the name of goodness.
And we’re back to the start. We’re back to the start because Angel of Angels provides the carefully balanced and generally useful new feats, spells and domains you’d expect from Malhavoc and SKR. Mind you, the FiendSlayer domain doesn’t quite have that quintessential rawness that the Fire, Earth and Death domains do. We’re back to the start because it’s worth repeating that Anger of Angels works best for you if you can avoid getting distracted by problems and questions spawned in D&D fantasy and which Anger of Angels has really just inherited. If you want a bunch of rules for Old Testament style angels then there’s little to quibble with here. I was torn between a 6 or a 7 for Anger of Angels on the GameWyrd scale. If I go to 6.5 and apply real maths rather than RPG maths then that goes to 7. I thought I’d point out the fine line since if you’re reading this on ENWorld then that rounding up is enough to turn a 3 star review into a 4 star one.
Oh. One other thing. Malhavoc products are printer friendly. They’re designed to be ink kind and printed back to back to save pages. In this case, though, I just couldn’t do it. I don’t know if I’d had too much beer, whether this was the first time I’d tried to print odd pages first and then even pages with Adobe Reader 6 or whether there was something weird with the internal page structure of the PDF. I printed off the even page first (great, 60 or so pages used), reversed the pages and stuck them back into the printer. I couldn’t get it to print the odd pages. The damn thing just wanted to print the even pages again. If anyone else has fought this battle – let me know.