By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Super Genius Games is 10 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 8 1/3 pages content, so let’s check them out!
Instead of providing new spells that are only marginally different from existing ones, this pdf offers so-called variants, i.e. spells that work “just like spell xyz” with some modifications. To give you an example, a melee-version of magic missile that does more damage, but needs a touch attack. Some modifications are combinations of spells or offer more complex deviations from their source-spells.
On the plus-side, this enables the pdf to provide more content than we otherwise would get. On the down-side, this also means that you need to have to original spell ready and cobble together the source-spell’s and the variant’s information.
In this second offering, once again the classes from the APG get their fair due, receiving a lot of cool modifications. The Magus-class thankfully also gets some love, but the Ultimate Magic support is also something that may have unfortunately had a bit detrimental influence to this pdf’s quality – while the universally lauded Magus-class and its support is greatly appreciated, some of the spells of UM are of the ridiculously overpowered category and this power-creep is reflected in their variants in this pdf.
There are some spell-variants herein, too, that I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot-pole: Saber of Light lets you ignore all hardness and DR (!!!) and grants you the Deflect Arrow feat. Brewer, Scrivener and Retune Wand let you change how an item works. Need a spraying color wand but only have a magic missile one ready? There we go. You have a potion of stoneskin, but need healing? Just cast the spell and your potion changes While offering a lot of flexibility, this essentially changes very basic assumptions on how a magical economy and these items work and could hence lead to severe logic repercussions. Beware!
Don’t be fooled, though: The vast majority of the variants actually serve some interesting, cool purpose and offer fluff and options via their names and the classes to which they’re offered. From the howling agony-based Inquisition-spell to the superbly cool Eye of Doom, the ultimate scrying tool to remote-cast your foes to oblivion, this pdf offers a lot of neat ideas.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the 3-column SGG-standard, but unfortunately we get no bookmarks, which would have been very useful in navigating the spell variants. The artwork deserves a special mention, as the pieces are gorgeous. On the content-side, I can say that I absolutely LOVE how the pdf offers support for the APG-classes and the Magus. On the other hand, though, I’m lazy and just don’t like the concept of searching together two sources of spells and combining them – looking up the particulars of a certain spell is annoying enough as it is -adding to it does not necessarily improve the flow of the game. I won’t hold that against the pdf, though, as it is part of the design-goal of the pdf. I nevertheless maintain, though, that d20pfsrd hyperlinks or at least bookmarks would go a long way to make this series more user-friendly. Combine this with the couple of spells that are wise open to abuse and change the fundamental dynamics of how your campaign-world might work and we get my verdict: While this pdf is still a good buy with a lot of content, it is at least partially problematic and leaves something to be desired with regards to user-friendliness. Thus, my final verdict will be 4 stars.
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