Well, I guess I'm boring. I've never done this. :)
I think "splatbooks" were big in 3.0 and 3.5 and I only played 3.0 for about 4 months. I guess I kinda missed this boat. (Thanks to the Dungeon Bastard I DO HAVE the "Horrifically Overpowered Feats" book...)
When I played Champions, I did enjoy incorporating Powers from Champions 2 and Champions 3 into the game. I remember I wanted to play a Gadgeteer with a gadget pool. That was kind of abusive.
I also knew how to make an Elemental Power Pool go a long, long way during character creation.
2E had splatbooks: the Complete X Handbook series. Also you could say the Faiths & Avatars line for specialty priests was a set of splatbooks. I consider splatbooks to be expansion books that, because they're trying to get sales, tend to amp up the power level of the PC. Players buy the books and the DM adopts them because of the "nag factor". I don't know how many DMs foisted the Complete Elves' Handbook on his players because he felt Elves were underpowered and deserved to shoot twice as many arrows, never sleep, ignore the weather, and loom menacingly.
My first D&D book was actually a splatbook - The Complete Thief's Handbook (imagine trying to learn how to play from that). I just assumed it was allowed and, not being aware of the Player's Handbook, thought one bought whichever book was relevant to what they wanted to play
@1d30 -- Good to know. I guess I've seen them (kinda reddish covers?) but I didn't own any. Maybe the Castles book, but I bought that recently from a used book store... I'll have to look for that Elves book. Sounds funny.
@ProfessorOats -- That would be a strange way to begin. Starting with the DMG corrupted me enough as it is...
Indeed it was. I blame it for my love of the baroque and my preference for calling skills "proficiencies", and why I can't get rid of the damn things. That book had a whole section dedicated to generating thieves' guilds, so that was actually pretty cool! The art was pretty neat too, if a little high fantasy. Only part I look back on poorly was the storytelling bits. Other than that, it's easily my favorite splatbook
I am a little jealous, though. The DMG? I could (and have) read Gary's rants for hours
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