Sharpen Your Survival Skills
Taverns are filled with tales of talented heroes and their breathtaking exploits. The prowess and ingenuity of these remarkable characters gives them the edge to succeed where others cannot.
This supplement for the D&D game provides everything you need to sharpen the skills and enhance the abilities of characters of any class. Along with new base classes, prestige classes, feats, spells, monsters, and magic items, Complete Adventurer provides alternate uses for skills and other options that expand the capabilities of the most versatile heroes.
To use this supplement, a Dungeon Master also needs the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual. A player needs only the Player's Handbook.
Complete Adventurer (2005) is the fourth of the Complete books. It's aimed towards the stealthy classes, giving rogues and bards the same range of options that the martial, arcane, and divine classes already received. This books follows the same pattern as the previous three: three new and unique classes, a slew of new prestige classes, a plethora of new feats and spells, and examples of orginations related to the book's themes.
Showing Class. The new classes borrow the rogue's focus on skill use, combining it with ki-powered stealthy assassination (the ninja), debuffing and arcane spell-related thievery (the spellthief), and a more robust martial character class focused on fast movement (the scout.) All three classes are well constructed and well balanced, filling a niche for players who like skill-heavy characters. I find the scout particularly interesting, as it's the only character class whose focus on fast movement is directly tied to its effectiveness in combat. Move at least 10 feet each round and get a significent bonus on damage; stay planted in one location and give it up. The class is focused primarily on mobility, and in a game where giving up a full attack is usually a bad tactical choice, the scout makes a nimble and maneuverable into a viable option.
I'm not sure that any of these three classes made as many waves as the warlock, but all three are fun to play and tactically interesting.
Prestige Aplenty. As in previous books, prestige classes are a combination of brand new classes and older classes that have been updated to D&D 3.5 rules. Prestige classes are categorized by bad guys, good guys, melee-focused, nature-focused, spellcasting/psionics-focused, stealth-focused, and special abilities (such as shape-shifting.) There are some nature-focused classes included that don't particularly seem to fit the book's theme - the animal lord, the beastmaster, and the master of many forms, for instance. They're interesting classes regardless, and nearly all the prestige classes are both interesting and imaginative. In a campaign where information is more important than gold, for instance, the shadowmind (a psionic spy) would be a joy to play. It's also nice to see the thief-acrobat return, a nod to 1st edition AD&D, and the shadowbane inquisitor and the shadowbane spy are great examples of two very different rogue-based prestige classes that nevertheless work well alongside each other.
Seven prestige classes in this chapter tie into organizations presented later in the book. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on how much your campaign uses orginations, of course, but I like the idea of classes being tied to larger groups in the campaign world. It gives a PC the feeling of being a part of something larger than just themselves, and the details are fairly easy for a DM to customize. The tradeoff is that such classes often feel a bit odd in campaigns where the DM chooses not to feature the organization prominently.
Skills and Teamwork. It's a pleasure to see rules for expanded "aid another" attempts. With rogues being so skill-focused, the ability to improve skill checks for the other characters at the table often becomes incredibly useful. Skill synergies and greater bonuses for high aid another checks make that possible. They're simple new rules, but useful. Chapter three also gives rules for expanded skill descriptions that are possible with high checks. Want to climb quickly at full speed instead of the normal 1/4 speed? Take -20 on your check, and you can. Rules like this help make high-level play fun and challenging.
There are a number of feats in this chapter as well. Some are designed to make certain multiclass combinations, like monk and paladin or monk and rogue, effective and viable. Others allow interesting combat options, such as excluding an ally from a spell area effect for gaining a second reflex save at the cost of falling prone. Of particular note are the number of bard-related feats, quite useful if you feel your bard has been somewhat neglected in supplements.
Don't Be a Tool. The "Tools and Equipment" chapter focuses on quite a few magic items, a few exotic weapons, alchemical devices, masterwork instruments for bards, and various tools to boost or improve roguish skill checks. For my part, I can't see a listening cone without thinking back to 1e AD&D and the dreaded earseekers, parasites that would burrow into your ear when you listened at so many doors that it began to bore the DM. Nowadays, such a cone just gives you +2 bonus to Listen checks, but you know what? Your DM may decide to be old school. Better safe than sorry.
Spells are something of a catch-all category this time, with new spells for assassins, bards, clerics, druids, paladins, rangers, and sorcerers/wizards. The assassin and bard spells are particularly fun, with many of the bard spells thematically centered around music.
Getting Organized. Depending on your campaign needs, this section is either invaluable or just interesting reading material. I'll argue that despite not being riddled with new PC options, it's the best section of the book for DMs; organizations make for fantastic fodder when building out a campaign world and the adventures it contains. Whether an organization supports a PC or is a major antagonist (and it very well may be both), these are loaded down with adventure hooks and mechanical benefits for joining.
Complete Adventurer finishes out the Complete books in fine style. It's a solid, useful addition to any 3.5 campaign that contains rogues, and it remains startling useful for non-rogue classes as well due to its slightly wider focus.
About the Creators. Jesse Decker started at Wizards of the Coast doing "temp work" and ended up editor-in-chief of Dragon and a brand director of D&D. Not a bad career path. Nowadays he is a senior game designer at Secret Identity Studios.
About the Product Historian
History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.