Oh my! Vestiges
& summoning! Tons of feats...
wait...that I can't take?
I expected this book to alleviate some of the concerns I have about Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition, but it ended up compounding them, sad to say. Lets talk about feats for a minute, shall we? Having looked through the Players Handbook for feats for both my current character, a warlock, & my concept character, a warlock/paladin, I've come up empty time & again, especially at the Paragon & Epic tiers. There are some interesting feats for martial characters, & even feats that might be cool to have for a weird hybrid character, but you can't qualify for them without...well, you can't qualify for them. I mean-- why is that "wizard only"? Who does it serve to offer less options? "Oh well," I figured. "They can only offer so many feats in the first book." I don't mind that the PHB is less a core book & more the first core book. I can handle that. Arcane Power is the first source book I've looked at, figuring that it would have tons of options for me to pick from. Well, I was dead wrong. There are options, but they continue the trend of being needlessly exclusive. Don't get me wrong-- I like strict attribute requirements. Demanding diversity in characters. The requirements that really get my goat are things like "sorcerer only" or "dark pact only" or "deva only." Why the heck would you make the majority of feats in your book inaccessible to most characters? I mean, it really annoys me. There are plenty of feats I'd take if I had my druthers but, well, I couldn't possibly qualify for them even if I wanted to go out of my way. Only one multi-class, & sure, you could make a "Elf friend" type feat to qualify for racial requirements, but I shouldn't have to go out of my way to make a fun character.
The same thing holds true for Epic Destinies. Why the heck are these so restrictive? What is so special about the Parable that it is only available to wizards? I mean-- I thought the whole goal of these was to be available to anyone? We're already back at the same problem Prestige Classes had; by making such a narrow keyhole of requirements, you shut off entire avenues of play. Ones that could be awesome; maybe my paladin of Vecna "discovers" that all the world is an illusion-- why can't he take the Parable destiny? "Well, sure, he could, all he needs is to take the Wizard mutliclass feat." Okay, but why do I have to stretch to make it work? Heck, what if I want to be a Paladin/Daggermaster/Parable? See-- there is plenty of weird flavor that these rules shut down, & for no particular reason. Also: is it just me or are all of these Epic Destinies weaker than the Demigod?
The familiar rules are really good. Probably the best part of the book. You know-- like Rituals, I think they are probably better than most feats. Still, they are cool & the flavor text is a) nice & b) permissive. You want a giant butterfly? Sure, fine; use the Bat statistics, but say it is a butterfly. Done. & there are sample "quirks" for your familiar, some of which are adorable-- your little homunculus makes a statue of every monster you kill? Aww. The rules for Tomes, a new magic item, are interesting; they seem really powerful? But evocative. No pun intended! The only problem with them is that I had to dig around to find that wizards are proficient with them-- it was buried in the intro text.
Edit: I also meant to say: this book is much more racially diverse. & I don't mean elves & dragonborn, I mean people of colour. There is a much better balance of skin tones &c in Arcane Power than in the PHB-- I took note of it & wanted to give a shout out on the subject. Fixing problems is a good way to deal with problems. Right on.