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Thread: Magic of Arcanis
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2007, 09:02 PM #1
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
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- Mar 2004
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Magic of Arcanis
It has been a long while since I reviewed anything, so please be indulgent, and remember English is only my secondary language.
Magic of Arcanis is a 223 pages soft cover book from Paradigm Concepts, and it is mostly a rules supplement, offering lots of new options to players. Classes, feats, spells ... all the good stuff.
While written primarily for the excellent and innovative world of Arcanis, most of it could be ported to other campaigns with changing a slight bit of fluff. But hey, fluff is what makes roleplaying, right ?
I mean, any moron can publish a boring dungeon adventure, with random monsters taken out from the latest batch of published minis. Heck, I could do that when I was thirteen… and I wasn’t all that bright.
But who can publish a gut-gripping adventure, with believable political factions, a coherent world, and a campaign that steals your breath consistently over several dozens adventures ?
You bet it ! : It’s Paradigm Concepts, also known as PCI ! And they’re pretty much the only ones these days.
The cover art is a nice colour rendering of Sanctorum mages battling the magic hordes of the eviiiiillllll Sorcerer-King of Ymandragore. Interior art is good quality black and white. Who cares ? D&D only discovered colour with Planescape, anyways !
There are 10 chapters in the book + 2 appendixes. While the book deals mainly with arcane Magic (for wizards), there is something for everybody inside, including the divine-casting classes !
Chapter I defines magic in the world of Arcanis, both how it works, and how the local churches and governments perceive it (4pages). It is interesting, as it is not very different from standard D&D cosmology, but is explained in an interesting parable.
Chapter II the Sanctorum of the Arcane describes this "secret" organisation, specific to the world of Arcanis. (8 pages)
It is VERY interesting ! Why so ? Because you will not find mages openly advertising themselves in this world ! Mages are hunted for their blood and their powers by the minions of the Uber-powerful sorcerer-king, and have to work underground mostly, much like the Veiled Alliance of Dark Sun.
I happen to love this take on the world, as it gives much more leeway to the players of other classes, and explains neatly why mages do not rule the world entire, like in say ... you see which setting I mean...
Chapter III is "Core Spellcasting in Arcanis" and re-explains the core classes in this world for the sake of completeness.
Chapter IV new Core Classes.
It is full of good ideas. In there you will find several new options :
Altherian Artificer : A kind of Clockwork mage creating golem-like contraptions
Hedge Mage : kind of a classic low-powered country witch
Shaman (much like the various handbooks already done on the subject)
Spellblade : much like the Duskblade of WOTC, though written earlier, a cross class fighter/mage
Suromar : a psionic-hunting elven fighter/mage
Warder : a kind of arcane spell-using elven ranger mirroring OD&D elven class
The two later classes are updates from the old Paradigm 3.0 book on elves
All of them are interesting options, except maybe the Altherian Artificer, which I have trouble picturing. I have seen Spellblades played rather successfully in my games.
Chapter V feats
There are several new feats here (24 pages)
Background feats, such as patchwork soul (you are the reincarnation of some previous heroes, and some of your old life comes is still here...)
Bardic tradition feats : this is much-needed. In real life music is shaped a lot by culture, and so it should be in fantasy worlds. And Boy ! Are cultures interesting in Arcanis ....
Channelling feats : for alternate uses of turn undead
And plenty of others, all of excellent design, and some really really useful
For instance : sanctify weapon : use one turning attempt to make your weapon ghost-touch
Chapter VI Prestige Classes : 60 pages
There are plenty of brilliant and innovative ideas out there, so I will only speak of the ones I like most.
Via Sapienta : this is not one but rather 8 prestige classes devoted to one of the schools of Magic. Kind of like 2e, only better, with nifty cool powers and such.
Arcane Infiltrator : A mage specialized in disguising himself and his powers. Can be running from the Inquisition, the sorcerer-king, or who knows ? If you are running Dark Sun you could take it into the Veiled Alliance.
The Ehtzara : creepy shamanistic desert druids. Mwahahahaha !
Order of St Armon : A military knight/mage order. Yes.
Vispillio de Magus : professional mage/thief.
Psionic inquisitor : Now you must really fear the Inquisition ! Let everybody behold the power of the gods.
Chapter 7 is new Equipment.
Mostly alchemical stuff, though I like the idea of staves with hidden compartments inside.
AAaaahh ! You’ve been waiting for Chapter 8 ! The SPELLS !
SIXTY pages of them.
I won’t get into the specifics, it’s better if you drool. But I’ll say something for them : when the name of the spell is cool, you don’t even need to know what it does to add it on your spell list.
And the Last chapter is specially, yes specially, for us old-skool grognards sadistic DMs :
ThE Menace of YMANDRAGORE !!! Mwahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahhahahahahahha hahahahahahhahaha ! hahahaha!
After giving all these powers to the players, we needed a vacation, something … precious, yes ? yes !
All around the book you learn all these cultured mages, with all their powers are hunted by the agents of the BAD guy, the Sorcerer-King. You learn why, and How, they shall suffer.
In short, this book is screaming : BUY ME !!!! Whoever you are !
Who wants plain vanilla when you can have a free layer of chocolate on top ?
Who wants D&D when you can have Arcanis ?
You probably can’t find a better bargain anywhere on the market, and the ideas inside will last you for years. You needn’t even play Arcanis to find something worthwhile inside. This book is for everybody ! You want it in your collection, you want it on your game table !
If only the other publishers had as many ideas as these guys, we would not need any other editions for the next 50 years !
One of the best buys possible around, except for the Player’s Guide to Arcanis, of course.
If you do not have a campaign now, join Living Arcanis, and experience RPGs the way they were meant to be. Get out of your cave, NOW !!!
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