Ultimate Options – New Arcane Discoveries
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 of content, so what exactly do we get?
With all the love for the justifiably lauded Magus-class in Ultimate Magic, the other good innovations in this granted, not perfect book, did not get a lot of support. This pdf remedies that by providing 29 new arcane discoveries. I do like the concept of arcane discoveries, as they provide exclusive abilities for the wizard, who has seen the thin end of the wedge with the advent of sorceror’s bloodlines, witch love etc. So, do these discoveries hold up?
The variety of options presented is quite nice: One expands upon the save-boosting feats like iron will, enabling you to one day act as if you had the equivalent of evasion for said save-class. The master of crunch, Owen K.C. Stephens also has a discovery called armour runes up his sleeve, which is actually a balanced, cool option for arcanists to wear armour and still cast by paying for the protection in unavailable spell-slots. Excellent design! We also get options to cast faster, harder (think power attack for spells), form deeper bonds with your familiar and increase your arcane bond There unfortunately are some rather bland ones, too – additional effects for the respective elemental damage types: Catching fire, being deafened etc. Not too exciting, but not per se bad either.
Anyone even remotely intrigued by Al Qadim and similar Arabian settings must take a look at the Genie Servitor discovery, which grants you scaling genie cohort – pure awesomeness and actually balanced! There is also proof that elemental-themed discoveries can rock is the lingering flames one, which lets you summon fire elementals via your flame spells. Lingering necromancy lets you heal yourself via damaging foes after casting necromancy spells. Spell Cunning also makes for a smart discovery, enabling you to change one of the components of a spell to another one, e.g. a somatic component for a material. The spellbane-discovery makes a wizard a true danger for other casters and finally, there’s a dread discovery for 20th level wizards, Undying: For 25000 GP per usage, it teleports you to safety and brings you back to life as per true resurrection. You may even add a delay to this super-contingency. Very cool and an adequate capstone-discovery.
Finally, there are two alternate class powers for the wizard, the Academician, who gains more discoveries and 6 skills per level, but no arcane school and the Zauberer (German for Wizard, btw., but with slightly different connotations): It is the latter that BLEW ME AWAY. He prepares spells in advance, casts via charisma, but uses not the vancian system, but rather a simple, concise and balanced point system. Very cool and a prime example of concise design: Cramming the necessary information on one page deserves applause.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the 3-column standard and the full color artworks actually rock. The pdf has no bookmarks. Owen K.C. Stephens does it again – this pdf is a prime example of crunch-mastery, adding a vast array of excellent options for wizards that make the class more distinctive. The added variants for the class are up to the excellent quality of discoveries and, surprisingly, none of the new options felt over-powered. This pdf is a prime example of excellent mastery of the rules married to cool ideas – my final verdict will be 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval.
All Stars take on the Mega Dungeon is available from: