Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Asian Spell Compendium

Asian Spell Compendium
Published by Legendary Games
For Pathfinder
36 Full-Color Pages
$14.99

Over on Twitter, a discussion moved to products enjoyed for gaming, and one of my interactors mentioned Legendary Games did some solid Pathfinder compatible work.

Looking them over, I decided to pick up the Asian Spell Compendium from Amazon. With my Prime shipping, it arrived in no time.

So initial observations. It says it's 36 pages, but that's the PDF bit talking. It stops being numbered at 32 pages and includes a few white pages. Probably there for printing purposes as it's easier to print X number of pages than Y.

Next observation, is that it's a little "talky." The back cover gives a solid breakdown of what's in the book. I don't need another internal page dedicated to repeating the almost exact same information.

I also don't need the cover reproduced on the first page.

A full page for the credits.

Another page for the OGL.

A page talking about the idea of Adventure Path Plug-Ins. It's an interesting bit, take an adventure path and provide opportunities to expand upon it. I especially don't need to hear about the electronic bonus features that are obviously missing from the paper edition.

But it doesn't actually mention what Path this is for. Is it for the Jade Regent out some time ago or something else? Is it just an all-purpose book? If so, why waste a page on something that doesn't matter?

The breakdown by spell levels, spells by class, and spells by school, is necessary and useful.

The two pages of ads in the back? Perhaps not quite as useful or necessary.

So in a $14.99 '36' page book, you get from page 6 to page 30 of actual spells.

The aesthetics of the book?

Top notch.With the advances in graphics and design in terms of programs and access to talent with the web, not every company takes advantage of that. Legendary Games does. If you saw it on a shelf, while the pages aren't glossy, but are instead matte, the layout and design would stand right up there with Paizo and others.

Interior artists include William Hendershot, Michael Jaecks, James Krause, Matthew Manghi, Daniel  Robinett, and Steve Wood.  While you can go pages without seeing art, the art that is here is top notch. It's often very thematically appropriate to the book providing jade objects or characters that would have an 'Asian' theme to them in appearance.

The game mechanics? Like anything, including 'official' books, you've got some hits and misses. For example, Spirit Ward "This spell functions like protection from evil, but it wards against any of the following types of creatures. The protection of a spirit ward extends 5 feet in all directions from the target creature's space and moves with the target."

That's it. That's the spell. "wards against any of the following types of creatures... I know I'm dense sometimes but WHAT types of creatures exactly?

Many of the spells seem a bit underpowered in some instances, but the author attaches secondary effects which may either kick it up to the too powerful level or make it more paperwork than some appreciate.

For example, Lizard Scales. At first, you're like, "Oh man, a nifty first level spell that gives you a bonus to natural armor class. Up to +5 natural armor class at 12th level. Then the "Also" kicks in as the armor gives you spiny scales that inflict 1d3 points of slashing and piercing damage to anyone that grapples you... Not bad as it specifically calls out grapple as opposed to touch.

Another example would be Hail of Needles. Another first level spell, this one deals 1d4 per level, up to 5d4 to as many targets as you have dice, which cause bleed damage. This is one point per die for a number of rounds equal to your caster level. So a 5th level caster is going to cause up to 5 points of bleed damage to one target for 5 rounds so up to 25 points of damage, not counting the initial 5d4, with a 1st level spell?

Don't let what I'm saying throw you off, though. I get that everyone's game runs differently and that even the core spells have their winners and losers. With over one hundred spells, you may even find a favorite in there.

With top notch art and layout, I can see why Legendary Games has fans. I'll pick up a few more products before I make any final decisions about them, but the professional stylings definitely have my attention.