This review first appeared on The Digital Front Podcast #4 and at Purple Duck Creations.

Behind the Spells: Dispel Magic Review
Reviewed by Mark Gedak <mark AT thedigitalfront DOT com>

This tightly-focused product is 9-pages and retails for $2.00. This product is the 36th release in the "Behind the Spells" line of supplements that provides unofficial history, secrets and variants for the most well known spells from the Dungeon and Dragons roleplaying games. This particular release is focused on the Dispel Magic spell.

Three of the pages of this product deal with Maxolt, an ancient gold dragon, and his research into the history of the dispel magic spell. This particular story involves a magical plague, hordes of diseased puppets, an ancient ritual used to steal the souls of the diseased and the attempted ascension of a wizard named Orcus, through demonic ranks toward godhood. This thereby links one of the greatest D&D villains with the creation of dispel magic without retconning [sic] Orcus's origin in any way. It also provides Orcus with a new enemy known as the "gloam elves" who work to tear his power away by returning the souls of the plague-victims. The gloam elves hide within a pocket realm known as Twilight Circle. From this location, the gloam elves work to disrupt the work of Orcus and his minions. There are no actual statistics for the gloam elves provided in this product.

The remainder of the product deals with spell secrets which provide alterations or variant mechanics for the spells that we typically know and related research which provides information that relates to the creation of the spell or spells and items created as a result of further research. In this release there are three spell secrets. They focus on ways to enhance the duration of suppressing a magical item, a way to disrupt an ongoing spell-effect in a way that it lowers the creature's spell resistance and a way for specialist to become more skilled at dispelling spells of their schools. The related research provides mechanics on the shards of the glass sphere Orcus used as a soul collector and magical tokens used to override a caster's spells but providing a bonus to dispel checks directed against him.

I enjoyed this Behind the Spells release, even though I don't often use dispel magic in my campaigns. I think I will get the most use out of this product by using the origin of Orcus presented as a campaign arc in my own campaign. I definitely find the Behind the Spells series more of an idea book series (something to steal ideas from) instead of a content book (something to steal mechanics from). The product is not bookmarked but as it is only 9 pages and tightly focused it gets by without them fine. There is a nice balance of flavour and crunch and the open game content declaration leaves the magic items and spell secrets available to other publishers.

(Please note that this product was originally published by Ronin Arts, but it is now published by Tricky Owlbear Publishing, author Bret Boyd's own publishing company.)