Book of Vile Darkness

Book of Vile Darkness

Infobox Book
name = Book of Vile Darkness

image_caption = cover of "Book of Vile Darkness"
author = Cook, Monte
genre = Role-playing game
publisher = Wizards of the Coast
release_date = October 2002
media_type = Print (Hardback)
pages = 192
isbn = ISBN 0-7869-2650-3

"Book of Vile Darkness" is an optional supplemental sourcebook for the 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. The book was written by Monte Cook and published by Wizards of the Coast in October 2002. Described as a "detailed look at the nature of evil,"cite web| title = Book of Vile Darkness| work = D&D Products| publisher = Wizards of the Coast| month = October | year = 2002| url =| accessdate = 2006-11-26] it was the first Dungeons & Dragons book labelled for mature audiences. The second was the "good" companion volume "Book of Exalted Deeds".

Before release

As with most new products, Wizards of the Coast announced and previewed "Book of Vile Darkness" on its website during the months before its release. Unlike other products, previewer Mat Smith revealed virtually no hard details about the book's contents because the book "is being released as a 'Mature Audiences Only' title." Instead, he stressed that this book was something its developers felt had been requested by the community, something that "many, many gamers have been asking for."cite web |last=Smith |first=Mat |title=I thought things were slowing down! |work=Previews |date=2002-09-13 |publisher=Wizards of the Coast |url= |accessdate=2006-11-27] Also, as part of the promotion of the book, Paizo Publishing included sealed "mature" sections in both official Dungeons & Dragons magazines. "Dragon" issue 300 included flesh and skin themed magic,cite journal| last = Jacobs| first = James| title = Arcane Lore: Secrets of the Skinscribes| journal = Dragon|issue = 300| publisher = Paizo Publishing | month = October | year = 2002] while an adventure printed in "Dungeon" issue 95, "The Porphyry House of Horror", called on players to infiltrate a harem in order to disrupt a sacrificial orgy intended to turn the city's residents into fiends.cite journal| last = Jacobs| first = James| title = The Porphyry House of Horror| journal = Dungeon|issue = 95| publisher = Paizo Publishing | month = October | year = 2002]

Author and co-creator of the Dragonlance campaign setting Tracy Hickman distributed an angry response to "Dragon" 300 in a mailing-list newsletter entitled "D20 Terrorism".Hickman, Tracy (2002-09-12). [ D20 Terrorism] . "Hickman Newsletter #96". Archived from the original on 2002-09-13. Retrieved on 2006-11-26.] Hickman described both the "Dragon" content and the then-unreleased "Book of Vile Darkness" as "excrement" and as "cheap, trashy and demeaning." Following repeated references to the Comic Book Code, he stated, "Every dark fear that mothers and clergy across America have about D&D is now, suddenly, true. In one stroke, I watched everything Laura [Curtis] and I had worked toward for the last 25 years come crashing to the ground."

Following Hickman's statement and amidst substantial debate in the online community, Paizo president Johnny Wilson issued a statement defending the magazine material.cite web| last=Wilson| first=Johnny L.| title = Paizo Publishing: Were We Thinking? Or Were We?|publisher =| date = 2002-10-18| url =| accessdate = 2006-11-26] He drew comparisons between the growing "Book of Vile Darkness" controversy and that involving the video game "Mortal Kombat". He also argued that "publishing a guide to the atrocities and perversions that put the VILE in EVIL" allows role-playing that is "truly heroic" in contrast, while citing real-world examples of horror and heroism, such as the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Vietnam War, and World War II. Nevertheless, he did offer a partial apology, remarking that the introductory content outside the sealed sections was "as offensive (or more so)" than what was within them.

Content and support

"Book of Vile Darkness" introduced several new mechanics relating to evil in Dungeons & Dragons, including rules for drug use, demonic possession, torture, and ritual sacrifice. It introduced 18 new prestige classes (see List of prestige classes). Like most supplemental source books, it included new spells, feats, and magic items. Some, including corrupt spells and vile feats, introduced new mechanics supporting evil characters. Also included were several of the archdevils and demon lords, such as Asmodeus and Orcus, updated for 3rd edition.

Wizards of the Coast provided additional support for the book through its website, including rules clarifications,cite web |last=Williams |first=Skip |title=Book of Vile Darkness Frequently Asked Questions |work=Official D&D Game Rule FAQ |date=2002-12-10 |publisher=Wizards of the Coast |url= |accessdate=2006-11-27] details on additional archfiends,cite web |last=Cook |first=Monte |title=Even More Archfiends! |date=2003-01-17 |publisher=Wizards of the Coast |url= |accessdate=2006-11-27] adaptations of "Book of Vile Darkness" content to epic levels,cite web |last=Collins |first=Andy |title=Book of Vile Darkness |work=Epic Insights |date=2003-01-17 |publisher=Wizards of the Coast |url= |accessdate=2006-11-27] and even a screensaver.cite web |title=A Little Something Vile |date=2002-12-07 |publisher=Wizards of the Coast |url= |accessdate=2006-11-27] However, no update to "Book of Vile Darkness" content was provided after the release of the 3.5 revision.

Reviews and reactions

Reviews of the book presented mixed opinions about its quality. RPGnet reviewer Alex deMorris found fault with the book's presentation of evil. "The evil here is more cartoon than anything else," he wrote. "What about the world's evil: like pedophiles, rapists and other degenerates? Why are they missing in a mature title about the nature of evil?"cite web |last=deMorris |first=Alex |title=Review of Book of Vile Darkness |publisher=RPGnet |date=2004-01-12 |url= |accessdate=2006-11-27] Darren MacLennan, also of RPGnet, gave the book a more positive rating and a recommendation, despite his determination that "one of the book's major problems is its inability to come to terms with evil" due to a lack of "moral complexity and shading" and "points where the evilness takes on ... a juvenile quality,"cite web |last=MacLennan |first=Darren |title=Book of Vile Darkness |publisher=RPGnet |date=2002-10-23 |url= |accessdate=2006-11-27] while Ken Gustafson of Silven Publishing authored a more positive outlook. "Overall," Gustafson wrote in August 2003, "Book of Vile Darkness" is quite possibly the best supplement that Wizards of the Coast has put out in recent memory."cite web |last=Gustafson |first=Ken |title=Review of Book of Vile Darkness |publisher=Silven Publishing |date=2003-08-04 |url= |accessdate=2006-11-27]

Much of the content and concepts of "Book of Vile Darkness" have since been reprinted or adapted in source books without the "Mature Audiences Only" label. Rules for drug use had in fact already been printed,cite book |author= Carl, Jason and Sean K. Reynolds |title=Lords of Darkness |publisher=Wizards of the Coast |date=2001-11-01 |id=ISBN 0-7869-1989-2] while later material included corrupt spells,cite book |author= Crook, Jeff, Wil Upchurch and Eric L. Boyd |title=Champions of Ruin |publisher=Wizards of the Coast |month=May | year=2005 |id=ISBN 0-7869-3692-4] vile feats, possession,cite book |author= Jacobs, James, Erik Mona and Ed Stark |title=Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss |publisher=Wizards of the Coast |month=June | year=2006 |id=ISBN 0-7869-3919-2] and detailed discussions of demon lords.

Within the game

Within the fictional world of the game, the "book of vile darkness" (also sometimes capitalized as "Book of Vile Darkness"cite journal| last = Leati| first = Tito| title = The Champion's Belt| journal = Dungeon|issue = 128| publisher = Paizo Publishing | month = November | year = 2005] ) is a supernatural book that serves as a reference guide to evil and granting experience points and a bonus to the wisdom attribute of evil spellcasters, while harming or corrupting those of other alignments. Although listed as a magical item in 2nd edition, the history of this tome and its copies is first detailed in the supplemental source book that shares its name. Most recently, the "book of vile darkness" has been included in the "Dungeon Master's Guide" for the 3.5 revision, where it is now considered a minor artifact.cite book| last = Cook| first = Monte| title = Dungeon Master's Guide| edition = v.3.5| year = 2003| month = July| publisher = Wizards of the Coast| location = Renton, WA]


External links

* [ The Official "Book of Vile Darkness" Homepage]
* [ "Book of Vile Darkness" Art Gallery]

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