By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Headless Hydra Games is 106 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside front cover, 1 page header, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover, 2 blank pages inside back cover, 2 pages of advertisements, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving 95.5 pages of content, so let’s check out this spell selection.
First of all let me say that I LOVE the beautiful full-color artwork – the full color artworks spread throughout the book rank among the most creepy, evocative and cool I’ve seen in any 3pp’s book out there. Unfortunately, the file does not come with a printer-friendly version, though, so prepare your printer to be challenged. The result is worth it, though! Secondly, you’ll realize that this book offers full-blown support of the APG, including spells that have been specifically designed for the new classes and even features some new alchemist’s discoveries in a side-bar. Which brings me to my hallmark for great spells, Rite Publishing’s awesome 101 spells series, which as of the writing of this review, does not feature this support. (Though it is in the process of being added in the upcoming compilation!) Thus, Eldritch Compendium gets 2 plus points. What about the spells, then?
They are interesting, that’s sure. Ever wanted your death to trigger the arrival of a terrible bird that carries your corpse away to have it resurrected? Create mirrors to show other places? Conjure up terrible silent, disturbing entities of pure magic (that come with awesome artworks – the Ether Child ROCKS!)? What about a spell for each school of magic that can be considered the epitome of the respective school, making you temporarily a tremendously powerful incarnation of the respective force of magic? A spell to make a ship fly for a limited amount of time? A spell that synesthetically exchanges two of your opponents’ senses, thus confusing him/her? A spell to summon tiny, disturbing stick effigies to obey your command? A spell to add magical blades to the sides of horses, making for an even more deadly charge. “Ladder of Tresses” lets the hair of the target grow long and makes it climbable. There’s also a cantrip that makes regular surfaces temporarily a mirror.
There are also “Quintessential” spells for each of the schools of magic – these spells are 9th level and are the epitome of the arcane power of the respective school, making e.g. the necromancer an avatar of death. While powerful, I can see them being a great high-level-reward or even the aim of a caster’s whole career. While some side-boxes acknowledge their power, personally I don’t consider them OP. Among the rather story-centric spells, we also get a ritual to restore a ruin to its former state. A spell I considered interesting, but potentially unbalancing, is “Spellbreaker” – it works on another spell and makes it automatically bypass spell resistance.
We also get 6 new feats, 7 new magic items and appendices of spell-lists by schools, use, descriptor and author, helping to find the spells you’re looking for.
Editing is ok – I noticed less than 10 glitches on 106 pages and none truly impeded my enjoyment of the spells. Layout and full-color artworks absolutely rock – this is one of the most beautiful 3pp-books I’ve seen out there. On the downside, though, there’s no printer-friendly version and this book extols a heavy price from your printer. The pdf is extensively bookmarked and in contrast to other spell-books, features a lot of spells with a story/non-combat usage, which is awesome, at least in my opinion – it means that the book serves rather as a complimentary book to e.g. the 101-series by Rite rather than being a direct competitor. The book is so different in focus and tone from RiP’s stellar series that I’ll be using both. Where the RiP-series is rather focused on mechanics and encounters, this book does not offer as many brilliant rules as RiP, but it has some story-heavy fluff that immediately makes you come up with cool ideas to use them. On the downside, though, some of these spells suffer from their rules being not as clear as they could be. While the book is stunningly beautiful, not having a printer-friendly version hurts the usability of the book. In the end, my final verdict will be 4 stars – if you’re looking for an old-world-style spell-book, this is a great, albeit not perfect buy. If you’re looking for some spells that feel different or some APG-support, this might even be 4.5 stars for you.
Eldritch Secrets–Spell Compendium vol. I is available from: