By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Necromancers of the Northwest is 108 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving 103 pages of content, so let’s check out the sequel to one of my most favourite magic-books for PFRPG.
In line with its predecessor, Advanced Arcana II kicks off with an aptly-written IC-introduction before going into a rather interesting discussion on some basics of spellcasting and introducing new spells into a given campaign. Instead of just shrugging their shoulders, the NNW-guys provide quite a neat variety of options. If you as a DM e.g. want to limit the amount of spells available to druids, clerics and similar divine spell-casters, there actually is a table herein and it turns out to be a valid approach. Information to buy this book in-game, research the spells, find them etc. is given in extensive detail.
Even better, we get a new kind of spell-class – spells that have different effects depending on the age of the caster (and yeah aberrations, dragons etc. are covered as well): An example would be a spell that tells you something about past, present or future depending on a caster’s age or a curse that actually increases in power when uttered by older characters. While at first this might seem strange, these spells make for good reasons to actually play old/venerable etc. casters and explain a bit the respect given to old, fragile and yet powerful geezers. Much to my extreme enjoyment, my favourite innovation from Advanced Arcana I comes back with a vengeance – Segmented Spells!
Segmented spells take up more than one spell-slot and have to be cast in succession. How meta-magic etc. influences these spells and their detailed rules are covered along some cool extensions – the segmented spells in this book are more complex than I anticipated: Most of them can be aborted at some time during the casting of the spell, making the results somewhat less powerful and adding to the customizability of the respective spells. It should also be noted that segmented spells can be cast by multiple cooperating spellcasters and that the rules governing this cooperation are just as rock-solid as you’d expect them to be, making ritualistic spell-casting a valid and rewarding option in combat. Even better, segmented spells are not only high-level spells anymore and even the regular spells contained herein usually have more than one option of usage, somewhat similar to fire-shield, but often with even more modularity. offering multiple rather different effects. It should also be noted that the pdf has went with the times and includes spell-lists for the classes from APG, the magus etc., further enhancing the utility of the book.
Not stopping with basic spell-casting supremacy, the pdf also excels with regards to fluff by providing background stories for the archmages that loaned their names to the respective spells, introducing e.g. a paranoid abjurer and a dread necromancer that devised an extremely lengthy spell that is sure to annihilate his foes if they cannot find him first. Spellbooks are expanded upon as well – rules for uncommon bindings and prices for e.g. copper pages make spellbooks more versatile and somewhat lessen a DM’s inhibition of targeting spellbooks of PCs – neat!Special inks like lich bile, gorgon blood etc. are covered in their very own section, adding somewhat minor meta-magic effects to any spells written in them, adding to the academic, esoteric flair of wizards. The poor witches are not forgotten either and get a selection of 6 new familiars, including intelligent oozes, bookworms and minor swarms of biting insects. Not stopping even there, the book also offers us a selection of alternate arcane bonds, e.g. to the elements, locations, spirits and even spellbooks. Oh, have I mentioned the appendix with a rather large amount of alternate spell components of disturbing body-parts ranging from doppelganger hearts to dragon#s teeth and their effects on spells cast?
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. The pdf comes with a printer-friendly version and features the used parchment-look and 2-column standard by NNW. The stock-artworks are nothing to write home about, but the vast array of bookmarks that enhances navigation is something I did enjoy about this book. At 103 pages, no glitches and extensive bookmarks are an impressive thing to pull off. Recently, I haven’t been too impressed with many of NNW’s offerings. This one is different: Well-thought out, I actually did not consider even one of the spells over-powered. The fluff that suffuses the respective spells adds another, cool dimension to the crunch while material components, familiars etc. constitute an awesome bonus of cool options that are sure to enrich your gaming experience.
The fact that this book manages to incorporate the mostly ignored age categories into the spell-casting process while adding a vast array of expertly-crafted, complex segmented spells and versatile spells that include a plethora of options. All while keeping the balance. Alex Riggs and Joshua Zaback have created a worthy successor to one of my favourite magic books ever and deliver more pages than you could ask for at the low price of 5 bucks, all chock-full of magic, imaginative goodness. If you’re even remotely into magic and look for a book of complex spells that offers options upon options while providing advice on handling the introduction of new spells, this book is for you. In fact, I consider this book one of the best examples of work on the field of spells currently out there.
If you’re bored by standard spells and want to check out magic that does things a bit differently, be sure to check this out. In fact, If you only buy 2 books from NNW – buy this and its predecessor – they are excellent examples that show what the necromancers can do when they set their minds to it. My final verdict of this stellar pdf will be 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval.
Advanced Arcana Volume II is available from: