Complete Book Series
In AD&D, the original Complete Books were released as part of the Player's Reference series, divided into the "Complete (Class)'s Handbook" titles, which looked at that specific class, and the "Complete Book of X", which focused on races. After the Player's Reference releases finished, further entrants were released as part of the Dungeon Master's Reference series and the Campaign Reference Series.
In 3e, the books were simply titled "Complete X", with "X" standing for whatever kind of character class or archetype they were focused on detailing. The initial wave of books were 3.5 translations of "class splatbooks" from 3.0, but these were followed by a mixture of new ideas & sequels to the previous books.
- 1 AD&D Books
- 1.1 The Complete Fighter's Handbook
- 1.2 The Complete Thief's Handbook
- 1.3 The Complete Priest's Handbook
- 1.4 The Complete Wizard's Handbook
- 1.5 The Complete Psionics Handbook
- 1.6 The Complete Book of Dwarves
- 1.7 The Complete Bard's Handbook
- 1.8 The Complete Book of Elves
- 1.9 The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings
- 1.10 The Complete Book of Humanoids
- 1.11 The Complete Ranger's Handbook
- 1.12 The Complete Paladin's Handbook
- 1.13 The Complete Druid's Handbook
- 1.14 The Complete Barbarian's Handbook
- 1.15 The Complete Ninja's Handbook
- 1.16 The Complete Book of Villains
- 1.17 The Complete Book of Necromancers
- 1.18 The Complete Spacefarer's Handbook
- 1.19 The Complete Book of Gladiators
- 1.20 The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook
- 2 3E Books
The Complete Fighter's Handbook
The Complete Fighter's Handbook was divided into five chapters.
Chapter 1, Character Creation is first and foremost a simple, easy to understand guide to creating your Fighter. It also includes expanded rules for using skills to create armor, bows & arrows, and weapons.
Chapter 2, Warrior Kits adds the following new kits, and examines how kits interact with the various multiclassing rules, as well as how to abandon a kit (for plaers) and how to modify or create fighter kits (for DMs).
- Noble Warrior
- Peasant Hero
- Wilderness Warrior
Chapter 3, Role-Playing is, well, all about how to roleplay fighters. It details certain archetypical (in Gygax's eyes, at least) fighter personalities and looks extensively at how to run a warrior campaign, including the level of magic in the world, how many types of warrior exist in the world, and campaigns focused on the archetypes covered in the previous chapter on kits. It ends with brief notes on running a military campaign and the differences between a campaign and a mini-series.
Chapter 4, Combat Rules is perhaps the most stereotypical of the chapters; page after page of rules for upgrading combat, such as ambidexterity, style specialization, martial arts and exotic melee manuevers, all with the trademark convoluted mechanics of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It's the longest chapter in the book.
Finally, Chapter 5, Equipment is all about new gear and new rules relating to gear, such the effects of armor, wearing piecemeal armor, and so forth.
The Complete Thief's Handbook
The Complete Thief's Handbook was divided into eight chapters.
Chapter 1 is Role-Playing Thieves, a basic section explaining the various backgrounds a thief could have as well as some sample motivations and stereotypes with which to base a thief around.
Chapter 2, Proficiencies, introduces a whole slew of non-weapon proficiencies for the Thief to look into as well as how to use them.
Chapter 3 is the obvious Thief Kits, which adds the following new kits, and examines how kits interact with the various multiclassing rules, as well as how to abandon a kit (for plaers) and how to modify or create fighter kits (for DMs).
- Bounty Hunter
Chapter 4, Thieve's Guild, introduces the prospect of a Thieve's Guild in the setting and how to build one and how it can interact with the larger setting. It also includes rules about joining or even running a guild of their own.
Chapter 5, Tools of the Trade, goes over not only the special skills available to the Thief, but also the various mundane and magical tools available to either go about their business or cover their tracks.
Chapter 6, The Arts of Deception: Classic Cons, is a mostly RP-based chapter, focused upon a few classic tricks a Thief can use for their own schemes.
Chapter 7, New Rules for Thieves, introduces few extra rules to work with: Poisons, knocking out targets, and ways to make lock-picking harder.
Chapter 8, The Thief Campaign, focuses on how to run a thief campaign, including the level of magic in the world, the various ways thieves and their guilds interact with the campaign, and a few sample ideas of hooks for a thief campaign.
The Complete Priest's Handbook
The Complete Priest's Handbook covers not only the priests themselves, but also various ways to fit religion into campaigns. This book spans five chapters
Chapter 1, Priests, Gods, and the World, explains various key facets of mythologies, namely how gods come to be, their present existence, and their influence on mankind, and how to fit this into your setting.
Chapter 2, Designing Faith, is the most in-depth of the chapters, as it explains everything about priesthoods in both fluff and crunch. Not only is there a whole section dedicated to the various duties and rituals a priest may be expected to carry out, but it also has various rules on how to put together sub-classes of the Priest that can differ quite drastically from the Cleric or Druid. The biggest part of this is the rather dizzying list of sample priesthoods to make, each with differing Spheres of Influence to work with and differing powers as opposed to just Turning Undead.
Chapter 3, Priest Kits adds the following new kits, and examines how kits interact with the various multiclassing rules, as well as how to abandon a kit (for plaers) and how to modify or create fighter kits (for DMs).
- Amazon Priestess
- Barbarian/Berserker Priest
- Nobleman Priest
- Outlaw Priest
- Pacifist Priest
- Peasant Priest
- Prophet Priest
- Savage Priest
- Scholar Priest
Chapter 4, Role-Playing covers a decent number of topics; from typical personalities to story hooks and even how to have a priest interact with their god(s).
Chapter 5, Equipment and Combat, obviously gives a few options for items, but the only major combat options are just reprinted Wrestling/Martial Arts rules reprinted from The Complete Fighter's Handbook.
The Complete Wizard's Handbook
The Complete Book of Wizards, as you might expect, is all about the Wizard. It spans 9 chapters in length.
Chapter 1, Schools of Magic talks about the eight schools of magic in D&D. It discusses the benefits vs penalties of specialization and provides mechanics on how to abandon a school.
This is followed by chapter 2, Creating New Schools, which is all about how a DM can create entirely new forms of magic. Everything from naming it to defining its ethos to figuring out what races would likely be allowed to use it.
Chapter 3 is the self-explanatory Wizard Kits title, which is all about new kits and how to make your own. It introduces the following new kits to D&D:
- Amazon Sorceress
- Militant Wizard
- Peasant Wizard
- Savage Wizard
- Wu jen
Chapter 4, Roleplaying covers a vast array of sub-topics around its theme; iconic wizard personalities, character backgrounds, logical non-adventuring-based careers for the wizard, some example wizard-focused adventures, the "how much magic is in your world?" and campaign variations for all-wizards, single wizard kits, restricted schools and restricted levels.
Chapter 5, Combat and the Wizard looks at how wizards fight, covering the different combat categories of spells mostly.
Chapter 6 is self-explanatory; Casting Spells in Unusual Conditions. This lets you know how being underwater, on another plane, or physically impaired in some way should affect your casting efforts.
Chapter 7 is Advanced Procedures, and is the obligatory new rules systems for wizards. It covers playing 20+ level wizards, creating 10th level or higher spells, new rules for adjudicating illusions, and a system of spell research so your wizard PCs can create their own magic.
Chapter 8 is New Spells, because you knew this was coming.
Finally, chapter 9 is Wizardly Lists, a grab-bag of random lists that provide fluffy inspiration for wizards. There is a new table of familiars here, though, which can replace the normal table for Find Familioar checks.
The Complete Psionics Handbook
Comparatively easy to outline, and with a title that has been reused more than some, the original Complete Psionics Handbook was, as its name suggests, the first major update of psionics since they had first appeared as a sub-system in the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1e Player's Handbook.
The book itself was divided into an introduction, 9 official chapters, an unofficial 10th chapter introducing new psionic monsters, and a set of appendices that provided a summary of all the psionic powers in the book, an index of them, and an update of all the psionic creatures from the earlier Monster Compendiums.
The introduction covers, in brief, what the purpose of this book is - introducing the psionicist as a full-fledged character class instead of just making psionics a "secondary trait" - and the difference between psionics and magic.
The very first chapter is an exhaustive examination of the Psionicist class; requirements, level-restrictions, multiclassing, proficiencies, etcetera. It also included the Wild Talents system, which allowed for members of other classes to possess psionic powers themselves without devoting themselves exclusively to psychic arts.
The second chapter is Psionic Combat, an exhaustive and controversial new combat subsystem. Why was this so bad? Read the Psion page.
Chapters three through eight cover different categories of psionic power, with an ssortment of new Sciences and Devotions for each. In order, they go Clairsentience, Psychokinesis, Psychometabolism, Psychoportation, Telepathy and Metapsionics.
Chapter 9 is all about running a psionics-heavy campaign.
The Complete Book of Dwarves
The Complete Book of Dwarves was the first of its ilk to focus on a race rather than a class, expanding upon how to make a more distinctive dwarf character. Although, like all of the racial books, it was somewhat hindered by the default assumptions as to what a race was in AD&D, it still strove to present as much useful information as possible.
Ironically, although its successor would go down in infamy for blatant racial supremacist overtones, the writing in this one is pretty arrogant too.
This splatbook was divided into 11 chapters:
Chapter 1 is The Creation of Dwarves, literally a glorified creation myth. At 5 pages long, it's the shortest chapter in the book.
Chapter 2 covers Dwarf Subraces; in addition to the now-iconic trinity of Hill Dwarf, Mountain Dwarf and Duergar, it also covered Deep Dwarves (non-evil Underdark dwarves, which is one of the many ways in which Duergar struggled to gain an identity for themselves), Sundered Dwarves (those clans who have lost their traditional identity and no longer fit the standard mold) and Gully Dwarves (a wretched, goblin-like breed introduced in Dragonlance).
Chapter 3, Your Life as a Dwarf, covers all the bits on dwarf culture; clans, loyalties, world view, crafts, humor, wealth, individualism, emotions, attitudes toward other races, war, isolationism, hearths, diet, clothing, and music & singing.
Chapter 4 is Character Creation; rules for creating a dwarven PC from any of the subraces in the 2nd chapter.
Chapter 5 is Proficiencies, all about new weapon and non-weapon proficiencies. The most unique addition here is new skill proficiencies to build upon the dwarf's traditional gimmick of being able to sense things when underground, in a cave or in a dungeon.
Chapter 6, Dwarf Kits, is all about race-restricted kits. Because dwarves are one of the multiclassing races, this is actually one of the longest chapters in the book. It provides the following kits by class:
- Dwarf Fighter Kits:
- Animal Master
- Axe for Hire
- Rapid Response Rider
- Dwarf Cleric Kits:
- Crafts Priest
- Ritual Priest
- Dwarf Rogue Kits:
- Pest Controller
- Dwarf Fighter/Cleric Kits:
- Temple Guard
- Dwarf Fighter/Rogue Kits:
- Ghetto Fighter
- Vermin Slayer
Chapter 7, Role Playing & Personalities, is just a list of example dwarven personality archetypes: the Decadent, the Glory Seeker, the Grumbler, the Hoarder, the Optimist, the Paragon, the Phobic, the Pragmatist and the Statesman.
Chapter 8, Mining is... well, what do you think it is? A new rules system for creating and running your own mine.
Chapter 9, Equipment, looks at some uniquely dwarven weapons, some dwarven war machines, and has rules for smelters to go along with the earlier chapter on mining.
Chapter 10, Dwarf Strongholds, is a do-it-yourself guide to designing a dwarven stronghold. With a sample one for reference.
Finally, chapter 11 is the self-explanatory Designing Dwarf Campaigns. Complete with the importance of myth and the gods, the races of the world, wars & conflicts, and creating new kits.
The Complete Bard's Handbook
The Complete Book of Bards was, in its way, one of the more experimental of the Complete Books, being full of new optional rules and ideas to make the bard class more fun.
The very first chapter is Character Generation, which even opens with an admission that the standard dice rolling mechanic for character generation makes you extremely unlikely to qualify for a bard, what with the need for being an Any Neutral Human or Half-Elf with Dexterity 12, Intelligence 13 and Charisma 15. The rest of this chapter breaks down and simplifies the rules for creating a bardic character, as it was considered one of the more complex characters of AD&D.
The 2nd chapter is the obligatory Kits chapter. It even presents the original PHB bard in kit format, as a True Bard, in order to make it easier to understand which features a given kit retains in common and which are unique. Aside from the True Bard, the kits presented consist of the following:
- Blade (bards that make a show of weapon-skill and stunts)
- Charlatan (bards specialized in deceiving others, gnomes can take this kit to 6th level)
- Gallant (romantic warrior type; sort of a bardic paladin)
- Gypsy-bard (nomadic tribal performer with some very /pol/ overtones, elves can take this kit to 9th level)
- Herald (bards that use their social skills to aid nobles, all demihumans can take this kit to 6th level)
- Jester (bards specialized in amusing through buffooner, gnomes and halflings can take this kit to 15th level and 8th level respectively)
- Jongleur (bards specialized in juggling and acrobatics, gnomes and halflings can take this kit to 9th level and 12th level respectively)
- Loremaster (bards specialized in chronicling and historical knowledge, elves can take this kit to 12th level)
- Meistersinger (musicians with an affinity for the wilderness, which gives them authority over animals; elves can take this kit to 15th level)
- Riddlemaster (bards that entertain with the use of riddles, rhymes and puzzles, gnomes and halflings can take this kit to 8th level and 9th level respectively)
- Skald (warrior-poets, dwarves can take this kit to 12th level)
- Thespian (professional actors & mimes)
Chapter 3 expands on the bardic class options. One of the longer chapters in the book, it opens with the idea of Demihuman bards; whilst demihumans are barred from the "True Bard", this section not only confirms that the previous Kits chapter provided variant bards open to certain demihuman races, it also provides four 15th level demihuman-exclusive variant/kit bards - the Dwarf Chanter, the Elf Minstrel, the Gnome Professor and the Halfling Whistler - as well as explaining how dwarf/gnome/halfling "demi-bards" have their magic affected. It also provides a list of new multiclassing options for demi-bards, and rules for humans dual-classing into or out of the bard class.
- Dwarf: Fighter/Chanter or Fighter/Skald
- Elf: Mage/Minstrel, Thief/Gypsy
- Gnome: Illusionist/Professor, Thief/Professor, Thief/Jongleur
- Half-Elf: Fighter/True Bard, Fighter/Blade, Fighter/Gallant, Fighter/Skald, Ranger/True Bard, Ranger/Meistersinger, Mage/Loremaster, Mage/Riddlemaster, Cleric/True Bard, Druid/Meistersinger, Thief/True Bard, Thief/Gypsy, Thief/Jongleur, Thief/Thespian
- Halfling: Thief/Jongleur
Chapter 4 compiles all of the non-weapon proficiencies in easy-to-read tables, so a player can more easily pick them, and adds a number of new bardic NWPs, such as acting, chanting, crafting instruments, crowd working, and so forth.
Chapter 5 examples the bard's common abilities - picking pockets, detecting noise, climbing walls, reading languages and using written magical items - in greater detail.
Chapter 6 examines the bard's relationship with magic, such as using bardic perfomance types in lieu of spell verbal components. It also includes some new bard-developed spells; Alter Instrument, Sound Bubble, Silence 15' Radius, Improved Magic Mouth, Instant Audience, Wall of Sound, and Conjure Cabinet, as well as new bardic magical items and some older magic items that bards tend to favor.
The 7th chapter looks at music in more detail, covering its place in history, listing myriad musical instruments, and providing a glossary of sound.
Chapter 8 is all about role-playing bards better, as well as examining new rules for applying the Reputation, Fame and Infamy mechanics to bardic PCs, and how to run bardic performances.
Chapter 9 is "Comrades", examining bardic colleges, patrons and followers.
The Complete Book of Elves
Without a doubt the most infamous of the Complete Books line, the Complete Book of Elves is a racial splatbook for elf characters that got hit with so much elven love at the cost of hypocrisy and blatant stupidity that it would become memetically infamous.
How bad was it? Eventually, the author would post a formal apology for writing it on the internet!
The first chapter was, as with its dwarf predecessor, a 4-page creation myth. This was followed by chapter 2; Variations on a Theme, which examined all of the different elf breeds - Aquatic, Dark, Grey, High, and Sylvan, as well as taking a look at Half-Elves and finishing with an examination as to which of the aforementioneds breeds the elves of Al-Qadim, Dark Sun, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Ravenloft and Spelljammer fit into.
If you're curious; Sylvan Elves are what we now call Wood Elves, whilst Dark Elves are Drow and Grey Elves were a kind of uber-elite, uber-asshole version of High Elves who're such douchebags they actually make slaves of other elven races.
Chapter 3, Physical Attributes, takes a long look at the various physical characteristics of elves, such as their stages of life, their supernaturally keen vision, and their interfertility. It also covers elven music, for some reason.
Chapter 4, Mental Attributes, does the same thing for elven mentalities, icluding outlook, emotion vs. logic, generational splits, and attitude towards other races.
Chapter 5, Elven Society is a comparatively brief chapter on the day-to-day workings of elven civilization; language, livelihood, rituals and holy days.
Chapter 6, Elven Myths, recounts 5 elf morality tales.
Chapter 7, The Death of Elves, is a brief chapter looking at how elves regard death by accident/violence and how they honor their dead.
Chapter 8, ELven Dwellings is... well, you can probably figure it out; a look at the distinctive city-building styles of grey, high and sylvan elves.
Chapter 9, Optional Rules, is a grab-bag of new rules; letting elves progress like humans do, giving them no level limits but doubling the EXP cost of levels after their "maximum", the new Bladesong Fighting Style, new rules for archery stunts, rules for arrow breakage/loss, and rules for using bows as melee weaplons.
Chapter 10 is Character Creation & Kits. Next to chapters 2 and 3, this is the longest chapter in the book. It covers PC stats for all of the elven subraces, and a bevvy of new elven kits. It even includes the first ever "race-only" kit, the Undead Slayer, which can be taken by an elf of any class.
- Elf Cleric Kits:
- Elf Fighter Kits:
- Wilderness Runner
- Elf Mage/Thief Kits:
- Elven Minstrel
- Elf Fighter/Mage Kits:
- War Wizard
- Elf Fighter/Thief Kits:
- Elf Fighter/Mage/Thief Kits:
Chapter 11, Elven Equipment is an assortment of new elf-made items, ranging from weapons to luxury goods.
Chapter 12, The Magic of the Elves is an assortment of elf-invented spells and magical items, and rules for artificial limbs.
Finally, chapter 13 is Elven Campaigns. The suggested examples are the elf-dominated world, the human-dominated world, an elf vs dwarf campaign, a world where the evil races rule, an aquatic campaign, or a campaign focused on half-elves and their direct progenitors.
The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings
The last of the demihuman racial splatbooks in this line, the Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings was the only one of its ilk to function for two races at the same time. Arguably the shortest of them all, it consisted of ten chapters; 5 for each race.
Myths of the Gnomes is, despite its name, mostly focused on the small gnomish pantheon: Garl Glittergold, Baervan Wildwander, Callarduran Smoothhands, Flandal Steelskin, Segojan Earthcaller and Urdlen.
Gnome Subraces provides complete mechanical rules for creating a gnome PC. It houses stats for the original "rock gnome" race, as well as the newcomer "forest gnome" race, the svirfneblin and the Krynnish Tinker Gnome.
Gnomish Culture covers various cultural aspects of gnome society; festivals, the importance of fire, marriage & family, food & drink, humor, magic, warfare, and so fourth.
Gnome Character Kits is the second mechaniclly-focused gnome chapter, and provides... well, what it says; new kits for gnome characters:
- Gnome Fighter Kits:
- Gnome Thief Kits:
- Gnome Illusionist Kis:
- Gnome Multiclassing Kits:
- Buffoon (Thief/Illusionist)
- Stalker (Fighter/Thief)
- Gnome Cleric Kits:
Granitehome depicts a typical gnomish village, a perfect launching pad for gnome PCs, an inspiration for DMs to design their own, or just a place to drop into your campaign.
'Myths of the Halflings is, again, actually focused mostly on Yondalla and her other halfling-focused deities. It does also cover the halfling folk-hero Littleman and a general history of their race.
Halfling Subraces covers the three iconic halflings from the Player's Handbook, the Kender of Dragonlance, the Rhulisti of Dark Sun, and the Furchins of Spelljammer. Some basic lore is provided, but the focus in on PC stats.
Halfling Culture examines what halflings think, do and feel; what village life is like, family structure, norms & tabboos, and of course the big reason why most halflings are homebodies and a few become PCs.
Halfling Character Kits is, again, the other crunchy chapter in this book, with new class kits for halfling PCs:
- Halfling Fighter Kits:
- Halfling Thief Kits:
- Halfling Fighter/Thief Kits:
- Halfling Cleric Kits:
Lindendale depicts a typical halfling village, a perfect launching pad for halfling PCs, an inspiration for DMs to design their own, or just a place to drop into your campaign.
The Complete Book of Humanoids
This entry into the Complete Books series focused on "Humanoids", that nebulous term that basically meant "humanoid races which aren't demihumans and so are usually presumed to be evil". Spiritual successor/brother to "The Orcs of Thar" for Mystara under the Basic/Expert D&D line, it was all about ading new races to the classic line up.
That's right kiddies, playable orcs, goblins and the like were a thing long before Warcraft came along.
This book was divided into seven chapters, not counting the introduction:
Chapter 1, "Humanoid Characters", was all about the mechanics of playing huanoids and how to feature them in campaigns, with four specific campaign models: "A Friend In Need" (the humanoid PC was rescued by the human/demihuman PCs and is owed loyalty), "Is A Friend Indeed" (the reversal; the human-kin were saved by the humanoid), "Hello Again" (the humanoid is a human-kin PC who fell afoul of Reincarnate) and "All That Glitters" (the humanoid PC is a hireling who forms a bond with the party). Ironically, the simple idea that, maybe, humanoid races in your setting are NOT handled the same way as in standard D&D settings never comes up - it would be a long time before D&D would be that open-minded.
Chapter 2, "Humanoid Races", lists the various new races made playable in this book:
- Giant-kin, Firbolg
- Giant-kin, Voadkyn
- Gnoll and Flind
- Ogre and Half-Ogre
- Ogre Mage
- Orc and Half-Orc
Chapter 3, "Humanoid Kits", introduces new subclasses for humanoid members of the Warrior, Wizard, Priest and Rogue classes:
- Tribal Defender
- Mine Rowdy
- Pit Fighter
- Saurial Paladin
- Wilderness Protector
- Hedge Wizard
- Humanoid Scholar
- Outlaw Mage
- Witch Doctor
- War Priest
- Wandering Mystic
- Tunnel Rat
- Humanoid Bard
Chapter 4, "Humanoid Proficiencies", as the name sugests, provides a list of new "humanoid appropriate" nonweapon proficiencies.
Chapter 5 is "Role-Playing Humanoids", which provides extended roleplay tips on a humanoid. Limited by the presumptions of D&D at the time, but still interesting, including examining tribal life, social & racial disadvantages, humanoid trait and campaign complications.
Chapter 6, "Superstitions", ties into the frequently primitive status of humanoids, examining all of the different superstitions and how to use them in play.
Finally, chapter 7, "Arms and Armor", talks about how the new races interact with existing armor & weapons, and introduces new humanoid weapons.
The Complete Ranger's Handbook
Because the Ranger was seen as one of the more complicated classes of the time, the Complete Ranger's Handbook devotes most of its 10 chapters into detailing and expanding upon its rules and how those rules interact with the core rules of AD&D.
Chapter 1, Character Creation, looks at the basic mechanics of becoming a ranger. Chapter 2, Ranger Abilities, expands upon the individual special abilities of the Ranger class. Chapter 3, Followers, is the first touch of new rules, as it allows rangers to have animals as followers as well as the normal demihumans.
Chapter 4 is, of course, the obligatory Kits chapter. Alongside the new kits, there are rules on acquiring them, abandoning them, creating new kits, rules for multiclassing and dual-classing rangers, and "demi-rangers" - that is, mechanics to allow for dwarf, gnome and halfling rangers. This mostly amounts to mandating they take a specific kit (Guardian, Mountain Man or Warden for dwarves, Forest Runner, Pathfinder or Stalker for gnomes, and Explorer, Feralan or Sea Ranger for halflings), restricted environments, lesser tracking, and altered access to magic. There's an even an optional rule for multi-classed ranger-druids.
- Forest Runner
- Giant Killer
- Greenwood Ranger
- Mountain Man
- Sea Ranger
Chapter 5 covers Proficiencies, both clarifications and modifications to old ones, and a selection of new ones. Chapters 6 and 7, Magic and Equipment, are full of new spells and items, both mundane and magical.
Chapter 8, Role-Playing, is all about roleplaying advice; it covers demographics, how one becomes a ranger, comon traits of the classical ranger, a look at daily lives for rangers, the typical ranger's personality, and how they handle gaining experience.
Chapters 9 and 10 follow in this vein. Chapter 9 examines how rangers feel about religion, including their interactions with druids and clerics. Chater 10 examples forgatherings, the ranger get-togethers where multiple rangers spend some time hanging out to exchange ideas, barter for supplies, participate in contests of skill, catch up on gossip and just generally blow off steam by hanging around like-minded souls.
The book concludes with an appendix that examines the AD&D 1st edition Ranger, or rather how to handle rangers in that particular rule set.
The Complete Paladin's Handbook
Much like its Ranger counterpart, the Complete Book of Paladins is first and foremost concerned with examining the rules and flavor of the Paladin to make it easier for players to understand. It spans 9 chapters, with an appendix for AD&D 1e Paladin rules.
The first two chapters, Character Creation and Paladin Abilities, look deeper into the crunch of making a paladin and its inherent abilities.
Chapter 3, Ethos, looks at the paladin's most infamous trait: the long and byzantine list of behavioral restrictions they were forced to undergo as part of their mandated "Knight in Shining Armor" character theme. This is perhaps the least-liked chapter in the book, as this is where the whole thing of paladins being encouraged to be dicks to non-good party members springs from. It also examines mechanical side-effects of the mandated "chivalric" behavior of the paladin, and how to deal with the inevitable behavioral violations.
Chapter 4 covers kits, as usual. It also examines abandoning kits, creating new kits, and mechanics for both demipaladins - demihuman multiclassed fighter/clerics who gain limited paladin-like abilities as a result of their combination of devotion and martial talent - and for dual-classed paladins... which basically amounts to "Paladins can only dual-class as Clerics".
- True Paladin: Your "standard" paladin.
- Chevalier: Basically an alternate name for the Cavalier, this is a paladin who emphasizes the "knight" aspect by coming from noble stock.
- Divinate: A paladin who serves as the military branch of a church.
- Envoy: A paladin diplomat and representative.
- Equerry: A paladin specialized in mounted combat.
- Errant: A wandering paladin who has no ties to a singular landed authority, but seeks to do good wherever s/he roams.
- Expatriate: An exiled paladin who still seeks to do good, usually fleeing a corrupt government or church.
- Ghosthunter: A paladin specialized in slaying the undead.
- Inquisitor: A paladin specialized in battling evil mages.
- Medician: A paladin with training in the healing arts.
- Militarist: A paladin who focuses on their martial skills first and foremost, usually a member of an army.
- Skyrider: An Equerry specialized in riding flying mounts, such as the pegasus or hippogriff.
- Squire: A rookie or underling paladin.
- Votary: A more fanatical and self-righteous form of the Divinate.
- Wyrmslayer: A paladin specialized in fighting dragons.
Chapter 5 covers various old and new non-weapon proficiencies. Chapter 6 is a mixture of new equipment and examination of why paladins are so associated with particular pieces of equipment. New magical gear is part of this chapter, as you'd expect.
Chapter 7 is devoted to roleplaying, with lots of basic assumptions about the paladin's nature and role given it is so pigeonholed into the Arthurian Shining Knight model. It includes examples of how a paladin may have been risen to their rank and routine activities. It even provides a look at things like marriage and and courtly love, the paladin's personality, and how they keep themselves financially solvent.
Chapter 8 is devoted to examining faith and the precise relationships that could exist between the religions in a DM's setting and the paladins of that same setting.
Finally, chapter 9 is devoted to Orders; organizations of paladins. Sample orders are provided, and there is also an examination of how the DM can make their own.
The Complete Druid's Handbook
One of the shortest Complete Books at a mere 6 chapters long, the Complete Book of Druids is brief and to the point.
The very first chapter is Druid Charcters. It examines druidic organization, a basic summary of the mechanical side of creating a Druid PC, mechanical rules for druids from specific regions (Arctic, Desert, Gray - aka, Underdark, Forest, Jungle, Mountain Plans and Swamp), and the rules for multiclassed and dual-classed druids. Amusingly, it even has a section lampshading that a high-leveled dual-classed druid tends to have an unfair advantage in the duels that decide political rank.
The first chapter also has an expanded set of sub-mechanics to running farms under AD&D rules. Which gives you some idea of just how druids were perceived in AD&D.
A very large sidebar in the first chapter addresses the idea of non-human druid PCs. It references the four races given access to that class in the Complete Book of Humanoids - the Alaghi, Centaur, Saurial and Swanmay - and gives the author's opinion on other races:
- Dryads can become 4th level Forest Druids; Half-Dryads can become 7th level or higher Forest Druids.
- Sylvan Elves can achieve 12th level as Forest Druids and tke the Herbalist Kit. Drow cannot become druids, but Half-Drow can become Gray Druids. Elves may have access to a druid-like priest kit.
- Giant-kin, specifically Firbolgs and Voadkyn, can become 7th level Forest Druids or have a druid-like cleric kit.
- Halflings did originally have the ability to become 6th level druids in AD&D Original Edition, with Unearthed Arcana giving them a higher level, and they have the Leaftender cleric kit. The end result, the author argues, is that 2e halflings should be able to reach 8th level as Forest or Plains Druids.
- Lizardfolk can reach 7th level as Jungle or Swamp Druids.
- Satyrs and Half-Satyrs, like their dryad relatives, can only be Forest Druids; pure satyrs max out at 4th level, and half-satyrs at 6th level.
Chapter 2 is, of course, the mandatory kits section.
- Adviser: A druid who provides counsel to a ruler, ala Merlin.
- Avenger: A militant druid who seeks to actively root out and destroy threats to the wild.
- Beastfriend: A druid who feels a particular empathy for animals over plants or humanoids.
- Guardian: A territorial druid who takes a specific region under their charge due to its resources requiring prolonged care and attention.
- Hivemaster: A Beastfriend specialized in insects and arachnids.
- Lost Druid: A druid whose former territories were maliciously destroyed, resulting in the druid turning to dark magic and seeking vengeance.
- Natural Philosopher: An intellectual druid who is as much a scholar of the wild as they are a protector.
- Outlaw: A druid who hails from a region whre evil has taken over, leading to them becoming militant in their drive to restore the balance.
- Pacifist: A non-violent druid who seeks to preserve intelligent life and seek diplomatic solutions over violence.
- Savage: A druid from a particularly primitive, Stone Age type background.
- Shapeshifter: A druid who focuses on mastering the shapechanging powers of their class above all else.
- Totemic Druid: A druid who forms an almost priest-like bond with a specific totemic beast.
- Village Druid: A relatively urban druid, who lives amongst villagers in order to keep them safe in return for their following the druidic codes.
- Wanderer: A nomadic druid who roams the land constantly instead of taking a singular territory.
Chapter 3 examines the greater druidic order, the assumed mystery religion to which druids belong, their equivalent of the typical cleric church. Sub-aspects of this chapter include branches, membership, moving up or down in the ranks, conducting the duels that they use to settle disputes, and the existence of the malevolently anti-civilization Shadow Circle.
Chapter 4 talks about role-playing druids, examining things like their world-view, how their particular religion does or doesn't match up with the existence of nature-invested deities, interacting with other people, daily routines for druids, ceremonies, and just other tips to make your druid character deeper and more interesting. There are even some sample druid personality types and druidic campaigns.
Chapter 5 is the obligatory Druidic Magic chapter, with new spells and magical items.
Finally, chapter 6 examines sacred groves - the catch-all phrase for any druidic equivalent of a holy site slash temple, complete with the possible magical powers that such a place could possess.
The Complete Barbarian's Handbook
Whilst the Barbarian is iconic to Dungeons & Dragons in the modern era, the truth is that the raging, near-naked warrior with a big axe of 3e was almost as much a 3rd edition invention as the Sorcerer. There was a "Barbarian" class in AD&D, but it differed in some very marked ways from its 3e progeny - called the "Barbarian Fighter", it was a warrior class with enhanced mobility and some baked-in cultural assumptions, but completely lacking the now-iconic Rage mechanics.
The AD&D concept of a Barbarian was strictly tied to Conan the Barbarian: a "primitive" warrior hero from a rugged region whose dominant culture was pre-Iron Age. Thus, this book is a double-duty book, covering variant fighters and clerics hailing from those "savage" cultures that rely on hunter-gathering lifestyles and have no capacity for blacksmithing. It has acquired a certain... unsavory cast in modern times.
The first chapter is Character Creation. Here, were presented with the Barbarian class (a variant fighter) and the Shaman class (a variant cleric). They are hardier and more mobile than their mainstay counterparts, and possess a knack for wilderness survival, but lack access to armor outside of the leather & hide group, whilst shamans have restricted spellcasting and turn undead capabilities.
Chapter 2 is Special Characteristics, which examines the underlying socio-cultural elements used to define "barbarians", such as a cultural aversion to magic, examples of "talismans" (the shamanic version of holy symbols), interaction with the concept of money, language, strongholds, followers, and general behavioral quirks.
Chapter 3 is the inevitable kits chapter, divided into Fighter Kits and Cleric Kits. It also addresses the idea of demi-barbarians - barbarians of the dwarf or elf races - and rules for dual & multiclassed barbarians. Barbarians & shamans can only dual-class or multiclass into each other
- Brushrunner: A plains barbarian fighter specialized in hunting food by running it down, making him incredibly fast even by barbarian standards, but restricting his armor usage.
- Brute: The most savage and low-cultured of the barbarian fighters, this is your standard pulpy caveman type.
- Forest Lord: A barbarian fighter with a totemic allegiance to a specific kind of animal, giving him some minor druidic abilities. Basically, this is the kit for if you want to play Tarzan.
- Islander: A barbarian fighter hailing from an aquatic culture, who is thus used to surviving and fighting on boats or in the water. More magical than some, he has innate shapechanging abilities and the ability to create his own magical weapon.
- Plainsrider: A barbarian fighter from the plains and deserts specialized in mounted warfare and archery.
- Ravager: The most stereotypical of barbarian fighters, a muscular behemoth whose berserk fury is his deadliest weapon.
- Wizard Slayer: A barbarian fighter specially raised and trained to combat wizards and other practitioners of dark magic.
- Dreamwalker: A barbarian shaman specialized in the spiritual world, which is touched upon by dreams.
- Flamespeaker: A barbarian shaman who has a unique relationship with fire.
- Medicine (Wo)Man: A barbarian shaman specialized in healing and counselling others.
- Seer: A barbarian shaman specialized in divination and omen-reading.
- Spiritist: A barbarian shaman specialized in communing with and currying favor with the animistic spirits of the world.
- Witch(wo)man: A barbarian shaman based on your standard pulp fantasy voodoo priest.
Chapter 4 is an examination of proficiencies, listing all of the old ones that barbarians can access or which may need special rules, as well as a number of new proficiencies.
Chapter 5 is all about weapons and equipment, starting with answering the question of "so, why doesn't my barbarian want to learn how to use the more durable and sharper iron axe instead of his old flint axe?"
Chapter 6 looks at Barbarian Cultures in more detail, aiming to provide players & DMs with a better guide to fleshing out the societies from which barbarian PCs and NPCs come from.
Chapter 7 looks at how to roleplay a barbarian, including just why your "primitive" character is running around with more advanced cultural characters.
The Complete Ninja's Handbook
The Ninja: the weeaboo thief-assassin, a figure of fascination amongst the budding weeaboo culture even way back in the 70s, before anime existed in America and peoples' only exposure was badly translated kung fu films. So, you can be damn sure that the Ninja got its own Complete Handbook for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, even if it was the last of the official line.
The second chapter is the obligatory kits chapter:
- Stealer-In: This is the standard or basic ninja.
- Shadow Warrior: A ninja that is more adept at combat, at the expense of their thievery skills. Only humans, dwarves and half-elves can take this kit.
- Intruder: This is a ninja specialized in espionage, specifically in the arts of sneaking into places where they shouldn't be.
- Consort: A ninja specialized in social missions.
- Pathfinder: Ninjas specialized in survival in the wilderness. Only humans, half-elves and halflings can take this kit.
- Lone Wolf: The ninja equivalent of either a ronin, a clan exile, or else the last survivor of a destroyed clan.
- Spirit Warrior: A ninja who has mastered a number of unique magical techniques, giving them access to specialist spells. Only humans and half-elves can take this kit.
Chapter 3 covers Shinobi. Hilariously, the book itself acknowledges that these were the same thing in real life. Here, "shinobi" covers a number of class kits representing members of ninja clans who aren't actually members of the ninja class, but who've still picked up some basic tricks. This is basically a work-around for the silly rule that ninjas can't multiclass or dual-class.
- Shinobi Fighter
- Shinobi Ranger
- Shinobi Mage
- Shinobi Illusionist
- Shinobi Priest
- Shinobi Thief
- Shinobi Bard
Chapter 3 also covers the idea of "Spies", which are basically ninjas with non-weeaboo cultural trappings.
Chapter 4 is the obligatory assortment of new ninja-themed nonweapon proficiencies, as well as new combat subsystems to make martial arts viable. This comes with even more subsystems like finding a martial arts master and getting them to teach you.
Chapter 5 follows it up with new ninja gear, from weapons and armor to other things, like eggshell grenades.
Chapter 6, Country and Clan, is a basic shorthand guide to medieval Japanese culture, in order to create a more "authentic" background for ninjas.
Chapter 7 is Playing the Ninja, the roleplaying chapter which opens up by telling you that you should give every effort to make your character appear to NOT be a ninja, as disguising your true nature is more historically accurate.
Chapter 8, Campaigning the Ninja, is a DM's chapter focused on how to incorporate ninja PCs and NPCs into their campaign.
Finally, the 9th chapter provides sample ninja NPCs and ninja organizations to incorporate into a DM's campaign.
The Complete Book of Villains
As its name suggests, the Complete Book of Villains was a DM's toolbook designed to help the DM come up with better villains in their games more easily. Officially classified as DMGR6, it covered a wide array of topics.
Chapter one, Defining Your Villain, is all about the basics; occupation, objective, motive, personality, attitudes & behaviors, tastes & preferences, surroundings, history, network, appearance, abilities & alignment, and so forth.
Chapter is the self-explanatory Henchmen, Flunkies & Lackeys chapter.
Chapter 3 is about designing villainous organizations.
Chapter 4 is a guide to introducing your villain, whilst chapter 5, titled "Delivering the Goods" is tips on roleplaying villains and describing the shit they get up to.
Chapter 6 examines the difference between monsters and villains, and how to use the former as either villains or as henchmen.
Chapter 7, "Advanced Villains", is about more prolonged and unusual uses for villains, such as the recurring villain, the rival, the mythic/symbolic vilain, and the faceless villain.
Chapter 8, "Creative Villainy", covers new ways to incorporate villains into your game.
Chapter 9 covers a number of sample villains.
Chapter 10 is an assortment of general ideas for generating villains.
The Complete Book of Necromancers
Unlike the other books in the series, which were Player's Handbook Reference, this was part of the Dungeon Master's Reference sub-line, with the code of DMGR7. As its name suggests, this book focuses on Necromancers - as that's a role shared between the Wizard and the Cleric (the latter referred to in-book as "Death Priests"), this book uniquely covers both classes at the same time.
Officially, this is for Dungeon Masters, but really, most of it is more useful for players.
The very first chapter, Necromancers, breaks them down piece by piece over several subchapters. Firstly, it looks at how to build a necromancer by the rules for making PCs (we did tell you that the audience for this was mixed). Secondly, it provides a number of new necromancer kits, which we'll examine below. Thirdly, it brings up several kits from earlier in the Complete lineup (Wizards and Sha'irs), with particular attention paid to two; the Witch and the Ghul Lord, discussing why they "fit" with the necromancer archetype. Finally, it provides a number of new nonweapon proficiencies; anatomy, necrology, netherworld knowledge, spirit lore and venom handling.
- Archetypical Necromancer: This is your stereotypical evil wizard who employs the darkest of necromantic arts; Clark Ashton Smith is upheld as the iconic depictor of this kind of necromancer, with gamers being pointed to his loathsome villain protagonists Mmatmuor, Sodosma, Vacharn, Vokal, Uldulla, Nathaire, Abnon-Tha, Narghai and Vemba-Tsith. This kit's gains access to the special powers covered in the "Vile Pacts & Dark Gifts" subchapter, but suffers from the punitive maladies detailed in the third chapter.
- Anatomist: A surgeon turned necromancer, anatomists range from legitimate healers to mad scientists out to build Flesh Golems to sadistic vivisectionist-torturers. They gain increased proficiency with knives, and can even learn to wield a cutlass and short sword, have increased proficiency with the healing skill, and can perform autopsies. The downside is that they need to perform regular dissections of corpses, or they lose their kit bonuses until they catch up on their studying backlog.
- Deathslayer: These are vengeful wizards who seek to destroy the undead, turning to necromancy for the better ability to fight, outwit and understand their quarry. They get to pick a single "greater" undead (Banshee), Mummy, Ghost/Spectre, Lich or Vampire); against that one type of undead, the Deathslayer is resistant to their mental attacks, and has an increased chance to hit with their own attacks and with their spells. The downside is that their obsession with fighting "The Enemy" is so strong it functions as a Geas.
- Philosopher: More of a mad loremaster than anything, the Philosophical Necromancer studies the dark arts for the sake of Knowing. They have the knowledge abilities of a Sage in their specialty fields (necromancy, necromantic magical items, the netherrealms), an increased chance of wild talents, and a +30% chance to learn Necromancy spells (which stacks with their base specialist bonus). The downside? Even worse combat skills than a normal wizard, a high chance of being insane, and a -30% penalty to learning non-necromancy spells.
- Undead Master: A true pulp-style "Dark Mage", this Necromancer/Conjurer/Enchanter hybrid can learn Enchantment spells (normally forbidden to them), as well as Conjuration spells, and can command undead and non-angel outsiders as if they were Clerics. The downside is that they can't cast Transmutation, Illusion or Divination spells, and they're even worse at melee combat than the Philosopher.
The second chapter, Dark Gifts, is a grab-back of a subtopics. It first looks at dual-classed necromancers (Fighter, Cleric, Thief and Psionicist), examining what you need to do in order to qualify for these hybrids and character choices that will make you stronger. The next topic, Wild Talents, looks at the likelihood of necromancers having innate psionics and provides a new pair of tables for generating necromancer-appropriate wild talents. This is then followed by the much more interesting topic "Vile Pacts & Dark Gifts"; eerie, strange, magical abilities that you can give a necromancer to strengthen its feeling as a master of dark arts and bargaining with unholy beings, such as shapeshifting in an animal's form, animating the dead with a touch, regenerating like a troll, being able to innately command the undead like a cleric, or being immune to non-magical weapons... naturally, the book strongly suggests that DMs should keep this good stuff for their NPCs. It then concludes with examining necromancers coming from outside of the demihuman ranks - this was the edition when only humans were PHB-compatible with the specialization. Particular attention is paid to Drow, Dragon and Githyanki necromancers. The chapter ends with rules for undead necromancers.
The third chapter is The Price; a brief examination of the presumed social stigmas that necromancers will face, and punitive rules for necromancers being affected with deformities, diseases, madness and curses as a result of their dark studies - unlike the "Vile Pacts" segment, DMs are encouraged to use these on players, especially if they beg for a Vile Pact of their own.
Chapter four is The Dark Arts; this talks about the typical spell selection of a necromancer, discusses the three "schools" of Necromancy - White, Gray and Black, and of course finishes with the inevitable array of new spells. White Necromancy is described as "spells that restore or fortify the living body & life force, spells that draw from the caster's own life force, and spells that disable the undead". Gray Necromancy covers all those spells about raising and controlling the undead. Black Necromancy is specified as "spells that bring death, physical injury, or spiritual annihilation in an excruciating and terrifying manner", and the book encourages the DM to amp up the creepiness of spells like Death or Finger of Death in order to justify them being more evil than Chain Lightning and Disintegrate. It even goes so far as to recommend DMs incorporate the Powers Check mechanics from Ravenloft as a punitive measure for casting Black Necromancy spells!
The fifth chapter is Death Priests, and begins our look at the necromancer as seen through the lens of an evil cleric. Subtopics include new varieties of deity whose clergy count as Death Priests (the God of the Dead, the Goddess of Murder, the God of Pestilence, the God of Suffering, and the Lord of Undead), and this is then followed by the 6th chapter, The Priest Sphere, which is new cleric spells for these types.
Moving on, we come to the seventh chapter, Allies, which covers apprentices, henchmen, familiars, undead servitors, and several secret societies: the Cult of Worms, the Scabrous Society, the Cult of Pain, and the Anatomical Academy.
Chapter eight is Tools of the Trade; poisons, potions, magical items and tomes of necromantic lore.
Finally, we close on chapter 9; The Campaign. This consists of a detailed adventure site in the form of the island-prison of a lich and the necromancer's academy she has founded to free herself, some necromancer-themed adventure hooks, and full NPC stats for the various named necromancers who have shown up as references in the book and who appear on the titular island.
The Complete Spacefarer's Handbook
Whilst the Player's Reference line of Complete Books ended with the Complete Book of Ninjas, the concept would be revived again for three new books, the Complete Campaign References. This three-book line would take the basic concepts seen in the Player's Reference books and apply them to more specific settings.
The first such book, the Complete Spacefarer's Handbook, was a tie-in to the then-nascent Spelljammer setting. Due to the dearth of content at the time of its release, this was the largest of the three Complete Campaign References to be released.
Chapter 1: Groundlings in Space helps players and DMs with campaigns set on any of the AD&D campaign worlds to convert their characters and campaigns to the SPELLJAMMER setting. It provides a groundling's-eye view of adventuring in space, suggests several methods for integrating groundling characters into the SPELLJAMMER setting, and explains how the inhabitants of the standard AD&D campaign worlds view spelljamming.
Chapter 2: New Spacefaring Races presents several new player-character races for SPELLJAMMER campaign players, along with a long look at the older races. These new nonhuman races are much more alien than those previously described for the AD&D game.
- Dracon: Centaur-style, vaguely draconic-looking lizardfolk.
- Giff: Mercenary hippo-folk with a love of guns.
- Grommam: Gorilla-people.
- Hadozee: Chimpanzee-people with patagia, which let them glide like flying squirrels.
- Hurwaeti: Gnome-like scaly humanoids.
- Lizardfolk: Smarter than the standard groundling variety.
- Rastipede: Centaur-esque bugpeople with a long tradition as dubious merchants.
- Scro: Intelligent, disciplined, organized space orcs.
- Xixchil: Mantis-folk with a culture based on fleshcrafting.
Chapter 3: Spacefarer Kits defines several new character kits unique to the SPELLJAMMER setting. Spelljamming characters can now be Corsairs, Arcanists, Astrologers, or Salvagers. As with kits from the PHBR series, these kits are optional; DMs may choose to include or exclude specific kits from their campaigns.
- Corsair: A warrior kit that represents a roving, semi-official agent of their native government who is, basically, a legalized pirate.
- Crusader: A warrior kit that represents a militant religious warrior, charged with using spelljamming to spread their church's authority across the stars.
- Frontiersman: A ranger and fighter kit representing a space-faring explorer and potential settler.
- Marine: A fighter trained as a member of a space navy's military forces.
- Merchant: A fighter who seeks to acquire profit through trade, studying the combat arts mostly to defend themselves against brigands.
- Arcanist: Not to be confused with the shitty Arcanist of the Ravenloft setting; the Spelljammer arcanist is a mage-turned-trader, a wizard who plies the spacelanes in pursuit of arcane knowledge and trinkets. As a kit, this can be taken with normal wizardly specializations.
- Astronomer: A wizard dedicated to studying the mysterious of space, making them fonts of space-relatred lore.
- Geomancer: Despite its name, not an elementalist; geomancers are wizards who study the nature of planets, making them more adept at surveying worlds from orbit.
- Imposter: An illusionist who uses their magical skills and personal charimsa to deceive and beguile those around them, letting them create fictitious personas to pass themselves off as.
- War Mage: A warrior-wizard who has an increased aptitude for martial weapons and greater skills at piloting spelljammers in combat.
- Astrologer: A clerical version of the Astronomer.
- Diplomat: A clerical negotiator, who uses their priestly skills to act as intermediary.
- Evangelist: A cleric dedicated to spreading their faith across the stars.
- Medicus: A cleric focused on the arts and sciences of healing, as adept at using non-magical curatives as wielding healing spells.
- Missionary: A more subtle, but impactful, version of the Evangelist.
- Aperusa: You know how AD&D has a Gypsy class/kit for thieves? Meet the Spelljammer version. People try to forget that this ever existed.
- Courier: A rogue or a bard who makes a legitimate(ish) living by carrying verbal messages across the stars.
- Harlequin: A traveling performer of the stars, a bard (or more rarely a thief) who makes a living as a clown or jester.
- Privateer: A space pirate.
- Salvager: The lowliest rogues of the spaceways, a scavenger who seeks out derelict ships to plunder whatever valuables remain in the floating wreckage.
Chapter 4: Role-Playing offers a number of new spacefarer personalities. Like the kits, the concept of personalities comes from the PHBR series and is completely optional.
Chapter 5: Spacefaring Proficiencies describes new nonweapon proficiencies for your spelljamming campaign. These proficiencies can be taken by spacefaring characters as well as groundling characters who have traveled in space for a while.
Chapter 6: Spacefaring Logistics discusses some of the practical issues involved in traveling through wildspace and the phlogiston. It describes how to deal with supply problems in space and lists several new pieces of equipment especially designed for SPELLJAMMER campaigns.
Chapter 7: Spacefaring Organizations describes 16 spacefaring organizations that your characters may join—or oppose. We offer some insight into the purposes of these organization and explain how they fit into the complex political web that stretches across the spheres.
Chapter 8: SPELLJAMMER Campaign Design is for the DM, although players may read it. It explains the various ways to set up a SPELLJAMMER campaign and describes how to apply AD&D game rules in space. This section includes a review of various spells from many AD&D products, noting how spell effects change in the SPELLJAMMER setting.
Chapter 9: Strongholds in Space modifies and adds to the Castle Guide so that your player characters can build fortresses and attract followers.
The Complete Book of Gladiators
The second last splatbook of its ilk to be covered, The Complete Gladiator's Handbook (CCR2) wasn't an official part of the original complete books set, but a thematic tie-in based on Dark Sun and its creation of the Gladiator class.
One of the shorter books, the Complete Gladiator's Handbook consisted of the following chapters:
Character Creation: New kits, a basic guideline to arena managers, a brief overlook of the usefulness of necromancers to gladiatorial arenas, and brief stats & outlines of renowned Athasian gladiators.
- Beast Trainer: A gladiator who tames beasts, either for the benefit of the arena or to serve alongside them in the pit.
- Blind Fighter: A gimmicky gladiator who specializes in fighting whilst blinded.
- Arena Champion: A gladiator who strives to be the best of the best in their native fighting pit.
- Convict: A convicted criminal forced into the gladiator's life, giving them access to a mixture of warrior and rogue abilities.
- Professional Gladiator: A gladiator who chose to pursue the life of a fighter-entertainer, and consequently is much admired.
- Jazst: A theatrical gladiator who relies on an acrobatic fighting style that combines dancing and dual-wielded razors.
- Montare: A gladiator specialized in mounted or chariot combat.
- Reaver: Gladiators who specialize in killing and/or capturing monsters for the arena.
- Gladiatorial Slave: A slave who has been raised as a gladiator since they were a child.
Gladiator Abilities: An examination of the gladiator's unique armor optimization and unarmed combat abilities, as well as new non-weapon proficiencies.
Combat: New Athasian weapons and armor, new combat subsystems, including unarmed combat tricks.
Arenas of Tyr: A guide to the most famous gladiatorial arenas of the Dark Sun world.
The Gladiator Campaign: How to run a campaign focused on the gladiator class.
Running Tournaments: New rules for running gladiatorial tournaments.
The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook
The last of the Complete Books to ever be released for AD&D, CGR3 - the Complete Sha'ir's Handbook - was, much like its Gladiator counterpart, released as a tie-in to a setting line as opposed to a general splatbook. In this case, it was a retread of the Complete Wizard's Handbook for the Al-Qadim setting covering not only the famous genie-binding Sha'ir, but also the Zakharan Sorcerer and the Elementalist.
Much like the Complete Gladiator's Handbook, the Complete Sha'ir's Handbook is short; a mere four chapters.
Chapter 1, The Wizards, looks at the three Zakharan mage subclasses in greater detail. This chapter expands upon the mechanics presented in the Arabian Adventures corebook, and can be divided into three sub-chapters; one for each of the wizard types. The Sorcerers sub-chapter examines how Zakharan Sorcerers handle being able to master two elements simultaneously, their ability to use elemental matter as a substitute for material components, how to apply the "acquire apprentices" mechanics to sorcerers, and rules for conducting a Sorcerous Duel. The Elemental Mage sub-chapter contains rules for "devotion", the mechanics by which an elementalist can attempt to earn public good-will to offset the shoddy reputation their ilk has (and which can be an easier way to earn XP), and mechanics for playing as one of the Unseen; an elementalist who can disguise who they are by feigning the abilities of non-wizard kits. Finally, the Sha'ir sub-chapter focuses on gens; expanding on just what a sha'ir needs to do in order to maintain the services of a gen, fleshing out how "spell-fetching" works, mechanics for seeking rituals that will permanently alter and augment gens, and rules for independent, free-willed gens who no longer serve a sha'ir. It also includes a segment expanding on the crafting of genie prisons.
Chapter 2 is, of course, the requisite Kits chapter:
- Astrologers are wizards that study the unique mystical properties of the stars, allowing them to craft "hanging" spells that they can tap so long as a designated constellation is visible in the sky.
- Clockwork Mages, or Mechanicians, are a proto-artificer; clockwork-fascinated wizards who can't cast spells directly, but instead craft enchanted devices which produce the effects of spells - or, more accurately, they can produce clockwork based constructs.
- Digitologists are wizards obsessed with mathematical formulas; by working to understand the way in which mathematics and magic can be linked, they can convert spell formulas into complex equations. This means they must spend more time memorizing their spells per day, and makes their spells slower to cast, but it allows them to wield much more potent magic than their level would normally let them cast.
- Ghul Lords are the Zakharan form of necromancer, a sorcerer-like breed who draw their power from the Negative Energy Plane rather than the Elemental Planes. This manifests in the form of being able to use Manipulations - spell-mimicking effects fueled by hitpoints and which require nonweapon proficiency slots to learn - plus the ability, from 10th level on, to Turn Undead as if they were a cleric 3 levels lower. The drawback is that their spells are inherently spooky, which means people don't like them. Like, at all. Also, they can only cast a select handful of necromantic spells, they lose 3 points of Charisma at character creation, and from level 3 onward they lose 1 point of Strength or Constitution each time they gain a level, until one score drops to 5 - at which point the drain stops, but they lose another 2 Charisma.
- Jackals are the precursors to 3e's Spellthief; conniving and sneaky wizards who, rather than studying books and scrolls, actually drain spells from the minds of other wizards and use them for themselves.
- Mageweavers are another form of proto-artificer; they are artisans focused on the arts of weaving and spinning, who learn to bind magic into the silk and cloth they work. They can't cast spells of the higher level, but instead have a much larger pool of low-level spells per day, which they cast by weaving into scarves and tapestries, from which they can then draw the power, like cloth versions of spell scrolls.
- Mystics of Nog forsake the traditional art of spellcasting to instead channel magical energy directly into their bodies, turning them into a kind of wizard-monk hybrid.
- Spellslayers are wizard-assassins specialized in slaying other wizards, possessing a unique perspective of Abjuration magic which enhances their ability to disrupt and deaden spells or spellcasting, at the cost of being unable to cast spells themselves.
Chapter 3 covers Sorcerous Societies, the various mage's guilds and arcane brotherhoods found throughout Zakhara. It also provides some information on how to craft your own sorcerous societies.
- The Brotherhood of the True Flame is an order of evil fire mages who seek not only power over all non-mages, but to stamp out all kinds of magic other than fire elementalism.
- The Constellation is one of the largest groups of Astrologers in Zakhara.
- The Cult of Sand is a benevolent and relatively young order of sand (earth) elementalists, which mostly seeks to refine its mastery of elemental magic and to oppose the actions of the Brotherhood of the True Flame.
- The Hands of Badiat abd Ala'i is a sha'ir society dedicated to loyally serving and aiding the cause of genies, seeking to gain the favor of geniekind and, from it, greater power. They tend to ignore the fact that many genies are, frankly, assholes.
- The Mechanician's League, as its name suggests, is the premier society of clockwork mages in Zakhara.
- The Red Eyes are a mad cult of human sorcerers (in the Zakharan sense) who seek domination of the world and the destruction of all other humanoid races.
- The Sea's Children are the largest organization of sea (water) elementalists & sorcerers in Zakhara, with little defining them beyond that fact.
- The Servitors of the Zephyr are a secretive order of wind elementalists turned spies, dedicated to preserving "the balance" (read: the status quo) throughout Zakhara.
- The Society of the Shifting Sands is an order of mage-archaeologists dedicated to unearthing the secrets of the ancient ruins and lost civilizations hidden in the wastes of Zakhara. As such, they are the most prominent of the "any wizard accepted" sorcerous societies in Zakhara.
- The Spellslayers is the evil, anti-mage cult to which most of the spellslayers of Zakhara belong.
- The Viziers are a young and secretive society, open only to childless female sha'irs. They are dedicated to gathering information and concocting webs of seduction, manipulation, deceit and murder, so that their society may seize control over Zakhara.
The final chapter is an assortment of new spells and non-weapon proficiencies.
Complete Adventurer & Scoundrel
The Complete Adventurer was part of the original quartet of 3e Complete Books, alongside Complete Arcane, Complete Warrior, and Complete Divine. As the last of this first wave, it succeeded both Song and Silence and Masters of the Wild. It was succeeded/complemented by Complete Scoundrel.
The 2nd chapter was filled with a wide array of new Prestige Classes:
- Animal Lord
- Daggerspell Mage
- Daggerspell Shaper
- Dread Pirate
- Dungeon Delver
- Fochluan Lyrist
- Ghost-Faced Killer
- Highland Stalker
- Master of Many Forms
- Nightsong Enforcer
- Nightsong Infiltrator
- Shadowbane Inquisitor
- Shadowbane Stalker
- Wild Plains Outrider
The third chapter expanded upon the descriptions and uses of the skills from the Player's Handbook, and combined it with a vast array of new feats.
The fourth and fifth chapter were the inevitable array of new equipment and new spells, respectively.
Finally, chapter six, the last in the book, provided mechanical guidelines to building your own organizations for players to join, found or run afoul of, and provided a multitude of examples:
- Blacklock Loreseekers
- The Bloodhounds
- Coillege of Concrescent Lore
- Daggerspell Guardians
- Dragonblade Ninja Clan
- Eyes of the Overking
- Greyhaunt Investigators
- League of Boot and Trail
- Nightsong Guild
- Order of Illumination
- Shadowmind Guild
- Talespinner's League
The last of its ilk to be published, the Complete Scoundrel, continues the focus on generalist and "skill monkey" classes from Song and Silence, but drops all support for nature-themed classes.
Complete Arcane & Complete Mage
As can be inferred from their titles, this duology (Arcane came first, Mage came second) focuses on arcanists. They are the successors to Tome and Blood. Although the precise array of material differed between the books, both expanded on options for players and DMs alike when it came to arcane spellcasters.
Complete Arcane's first chapter provided three arcane classes - the Warlock, which was new; the Warmage, reprinted from the Miniatures Handbook; and the Wu Jen; returning from Oriental Adventures alongside all of its spells.
Its second chapter was an array of Prestige Classes:
- Acolyte of the Skin
- Argent Savant
- BLood Magus
- Efficy Master
- Elemental Savant
- Enlightened Fist
- Green Star Adept
- Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil
- Mage of the Arcane Order
- Master Transmogrifist
- Seeker of the Song
- Sublime Chord
- Suel Arcanamach
- Wayfarer Guide
- Wild Mage
Chapters 3 and 4 are, of course, an array of new arcanist-focused feats and new spells.
Chapter 5, magic items, contains the expected new magical items and ger enchantments, but it also looks at some variant rules; new alternative materials to use in place of potions and scrolls, a new "magic item" in the form of Contingent Spells, and a short examination of spellbooks, including mechanics for using, constructing and protecting them.
The 6th chapter of Complete Arcane is devoted to Arcane Monsters, featuring the Effigy Creature (a kind of Construct based on an animated clockwork automaton), the return of the Elemental Grues, an ultimate form for standard elementals in the form of Elemental Monoliths, and new creature templates for the Pseudonatural Creature (an animal corrupted by exposure to the Far Realm and the Spellstitched (an undead augmented by the painstaking inscription of magical runes onto its body).
Finally, chapter 7 dedicates itself to arcane campaigns. It looks at how different kinds of arcanist are likely to be perceived in the "standard" D&D world and offers tips on how to handle an arcane-heavy campaign, particularly given the various utility options that arcanists have.
In comparison, Complete Mage's first chapter examines the fundamentals of magic; what is its nature, what defines it compared to divine or innate magic, typical traits and motivations of specialist wizards, common character archetypes for arcanist PCs, and how an arcanist can stand in for a warrior, expert or healer class role.
The second chapter provides assorted new variant class features to add a more "arcane" feel to your characters and a massive array of feats. One unique type of feat introduced here that would be expanded on later was the Reserve Feat. Reserve Feats gave casters an at will ability if they had a sufficiently powerful spell prepared, but not cast.
Chapter 3 is more Prestige Classes:
- Abjurant Champion
- Eldritch Disciple
- Eldritch Therge
- Enlightened Spirit
- Holy Scourge
- Lyric Thaumaturge
- Master Specialist
- Nightmare Spinner
- Ultimate Magus
- Unseen Seer
- Wild Soul
Chapters 4 and 5 are the obligatory new spells and magical items.
And finally, chapter 6 examines running "arcane adventures", which is basically adding a more overtly magical theme to your standard adventure.
Complete Divine & Complete Champion
The priestly counterpart to the Complete Arcane & Complete Mage, this duology focuses on divine magic users. They are the successors to Defenders of the Faith.
The first of the two, Complete Divine, features the Favored Soul, Shugenja and Spirit Shaman classes, an array of new divine Prestige Classes, new feats, rules for epic-level divine characters, holy relics, new magic staves, an expanded look at gods from the corebook and other Greyhawk deities that didn't make it there, the Divine World (all those niggly little details about fleshing out your gods and religions), and the inevitably new Cleric Domains and spells.
Complete Champion, on the other hand, examines the corebook deities churches in more detail, provides divine magic-flavored alternative class features, covers an enormous array of new feats and spells, details divine PC organizations and Prestige Classes, new divine magical items, and guidelines to creating divine quests and sites.
A complement to 3.5's Expanded Psionics Handbook, which itself replaced the Psionics Handbook, the Complete Psionics offers new classes (Ardent, Divine Mind, Lurk, and the "variant Psion" Erudite), psionic monster classes for the Duergar, Gith, Half-Giant and Thri-Kreen, a new race (the Synad), new Prestige Classes, new feats, new psionic powers, new monsters, and some general character options for making psionic characters feel more at home in your setting. Psionics fans hate it since it was clearly made by people who didn't understand the system nor particularly liked it, while contradicting the fluff and existing rules at random. To make the book even more worthless, anything actually worth using from it was released for free as a preview, and that’s not an exaggeration, as Soulbow and Erudite were both released for free and were easily the best parts of the book. This disdain was responsible for spawning the superior third party Hyperconscious and Dreamscarred Press.
One of the first of its line to be released, and succeeding Sword and Fist, the Complete Warrior focuses on martial characters; it introduced the Hexblade, Samurai and Swashbuckler, as well as Variant Classes for non-magical Paladins and Rangers. It follows this up with warrior-themed prestige classes, new feats and skills, rules for "Guardian Familiars", and a guide to fantasy warfare, complete with a small pantheon of completely new war/martial virtue-focused deities. As one of the earliest books for 3.5, and one focused on martial characters at that, it is notoriously underpowered with Samurai in particularly being considered the worst player class ever published in third edition, rivaled only by Truenamer which is unplayable in the sense that it doesn't work. One thing that is well regarded is the introduction of Tactical Feats. Tactical Feats, instead of making a character better at a single thing they could already do, give a set of three new abilities that could be performed in combat.