Nightmares from beyond the grave: Hushed voices tell spine-chilling tales of encounters with the walking dead and other unliving horrors. No other creatures have evoked such fear and fascination as this dreadful menagerie of malevolent spirits and mindless shells.
This supplement for the D&D game presents a comprehensive overview of the undead. You'll uncover information for creating, customizing, and combating undead characters and monsters - including strategies and tactics commojnly employed by undead and those who hunt them. Libris Mortis: The Book of Undead also provides new rules, feats, spells, and prestige classes, along with a host of new monsters and monster templates.
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.
Call me shallow, but any book with gaming stats for a brain in a jar immediately has my attention.
Libris Mortis: The Book of Undead (2004), by Andy Collins and Bruce Cordell, is a DM-focused sourcebook that explores the origin and role of undead in D&D. They really got it right with this one; while lots of supplements over the years have taken an in-depth look at the undead, very few have gone beyond game statistics to explore what motivates them beyond sheer hunger. Understanding and riffing off of that background can help a DM propel her adventures from pedestrian to inspired. There are also more than 30 new monsters and templates, advice for undead-heavy campaigns, descriptions of undeath cults, and several adventure sites.
Even with a DM focus, the sourcebook doesn't neglect players. Extensive player-oriented rules cover undead-related spells, feats for fighting the undead, prestige classes, and rules for playing undead characters. Presented in Wizards' prestige format, with good graphic design and extensive color art, the book is a joy to look at as well.
Getting Enough Exorcise? Ever wonder about the vast range of diets enjoyed by undead? The first chapters discuss the manifestations and metabolisms of undead, including a relatively unique chart that lists just about every published undead's diet and feeding habits. There are rules for hauntings and how to exorcise poltergeists, discussion of undead hunger and propagation, and an explanation of how effective immortality can affect an undead's plans, desires, and motivations.
More importantly for the players, there are tactics, rules, and options to make heroes more effective when fighting the forces of darkness. If you need a listing of good offenses and defenses against the undead, including special weapons, this is the place to go. New feats are largely broken into metamagic feats (such as causing spells to do extra damage against undead), divine feats (which may improve undead turning or provide resistance to energy drain), and general feats (including one that speeds up undead turning.)
Undead share in the love. "Corpsecrafter" feats allow improvements to undead, and a metamagic feat causes damaging spells to do more damage against living creatures. Vampiric sorcerers and liches are going to be significantly more terrifying after taking advantage of some of these feats.
A Class of Their Own. As first laid out in Savage Species (2003), monsters here have their own monster classes. This makes them simple for a GM to scale to different level parties, increasing their relative power as they become more powerful, and it becomes much easier for a player to actually play an undead as a character. Since the monster becomes more powerful at the same rate as the other player characters, it's less disruptive than one might expect. Still, I won't be surprised if these rules inspire fewer monstrous PCs and more finely tuned, really nefarious bad guys.
The prestige classes are interesting, and not all are designed for your villains. The Death's Chosen allows a mortal to become a living minion of an undead, and the Master of Shrouds forces spectres and wraiths to do her bidding, but pit her against a Master of Radiance or Sacred Purifier and you'll see an interesting fight. The prestige classes are strongly themed and well balanced. There are also undead prestige classes that are only meant for undead. Lurking Terrors, Master Vampires, Tomb Wardens - if you want to make your undead adventure particularly terrifying for the heroes, this is a good place to start.
Spells, equipment, magic items, and "undead grafts" round out this section. If you've ever yearned to create a living necromancer with undead parts grafted to him, you're definitely in luck.
Monsterpalooza. This is a particularly good selection of new undead, particularly in terms of new templates. Ghost brutes, negative energy-soaked evolved undead, half-vampires... with these templates, you can create a remarkable and memorable foe out of just about any other monster in the book. Libris Mortis is worth it for this alone.
Beyond the monsters, however, are some 40 pages of guidance for methods of incorporating undead into a campaign. Whether you need ravening beasts or nefarious masterminds, this final chapter makes it relatively simple to run a fun, undead-themed campaign. The book closes out with sample adventuring sites and a handful of undeath cults that can be dropped into any game where the DM needs robust villainous conspiracies.
Overall, this is an excellent book for anyone playing a variant of d20. It is highly recommended for DMs, but includes plenty of useful player information too.
About the Creators. While he has recently left his astoundingly creative career at Wizards to become a senior designer with Monte Cook Games, Bruce Cordell is responsible for some of the most chilling undead and aberrations in D&D.
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.