Monday, July 7, 2014

Deep Magic by Kobold Press: Round 1: Fight!

Deep Magic is a lengthy PDF that I've recently acquired. It's way too long and detailed to do it any sort of justice in one review unless the review itself was product length and that would just bore the crap out of any readers and me writing that review.

The PDF weights in at a mighty 378 pages. Mind you that does count the cover, rear cover, several pages of thanks from the Kickstarter, and other 'standard' things like table of contents. The art is full color and there is a lot of solid art in it. I've heard good things about the print version having full color, which is great because another book I own by Kobold Press physically looks to have had full color art that was turned black and white for the print version and to be honest, it was done poorly and took value away from the print product.


For me, magic is always a fun thing. Well, not always. There can be TOO much supplement suffering. But when I see something like this and read the background of it, funded from a Kickstarter by Kobold Press, it reminds me of 'the good times'.

I remember reading the original Tome of Magic and the Complete Wizard's Handbook and thinking they were filled with awesome options. I remember before that, Ed Greenwood's always excellent Pages From The Magics, and the old FR4 The Magister, magic items and spells and all sorts of other awesome things.

This product brings a lot of those good feelings back.

It's firmly a Pathfinder book mind you. I'm sure that someone with more time and effort could easily point out what might need to be dropped and changed for say, 3.5 or even 3.0, and some will yank some of the back ground text out for any campaign that uses magic but that will not be me! At least not today.

In terms of 'Appendix N' style inspiration, things that make me want to use it right away or steal it for another game, I didn't have to look past Chapter 1: New Magic Options. These are various schools, sub-schools and other options for magic using characters that often include spell books which lists out several new spells, which are in turn detailed in Chapter 2.

Of the ones that really perked my interested though? Fool's Summoining. From the book, "This little-known but horribly dangerous subschool of conjuration and transmutation magic draws upon a group of creatures called the Listeners. These creatures infest ordinary summoned creatures with a template that makes them more powerful. In essence, these Listeners pervert summoned creatures’ biology. Sometimes, affected summoned creatures go insane."

There are more details and information on how there are game mechanic and descriptive changes to various spells. This reminded me heavily of an old Dragon article detailing basic Dungeons and Dragons magic of all things. I believe that old example used an elf whose magic missiles were actual like green arrows to represent the nature bond that the elf had. It was well done then, and it's a fantastic example of seeing some of the professionals of the industry say, "Yeah, change the mechanics in minor ways to make things cool and interesting and intriguing again."

Another one I liked? Living Spellbooks. Sure, we have Stormbringer, and the homage Black Razor as intelligent blades, and intelligent magic items in general are not unknown, but the authors do a nice job of bringing out why Living Spellbooks are cool and why you should include them.

The last thing that really popped out to me? Vril Magic. If your familiar with old school Rolemaster, one of the first companions introduced 'Arcane Magic'. I know that sounds stupid to someone whose only played Dungeons and Dragons, but wait, hear me out!

Rolemaster magic was broken into three types: Channelling (from the gods), Essence (from the weaves of magic), and Mentalism (from the self). Arcane magic was more 'raw' and more powerful but almost more difficult to control and was very popular.

In various Hellboy and B.R.P.D. books, Vril is that ancient power that the prehumans used to fight against those ancient and terrible evils that currently infest the world. It's also used as power for a suit of armor during World War 2 in the Sledgehammer comic. Fantastic stuff in the setting Mike Mignola.

Anway, Vril in this incarnation, is 'raw' and more 'primitive' or 'primal' magic. There are feats and other things that make the caster more distinct and unique and it does a good job of it and I can easily see using it for players looking for methods to fight 'that damn ancient evil' because despite how overplayed and sometimes boring that can be, the quest to bring to light old magics in and of itself can be fun.

I hope to get back to this book soon but I still have a ton of other things I'd like to ramble about. The one thing I won't be throwing my two cents in, at least on the blog here, is the whole 'controversy' on the new 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons. I've seen two major bones of contention and well, others have gone over them in depth and in detail and at the end of the day, it's not my thing.

It brings to mind an old saying by Conan. Something like "Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.." Yup in a nutshell.

Deep Magic is available from for $24.99 in PDF format.