Magic is usually about the newest and more powerful way to blow things up. We see high level spells and new magical items and though it might not be obvious there is an aspect of magic that has mostly been ignored. I imagine it is because people are all to eager to rise up and embrace all their new powers that leaves cantrips and orisons, the zero level magic abandoned and forgotten. But these simple spells are a great way to make low level play a bit more interesting and useful and especially more fun.

Simple Tricks and Nonsense is the third in the Octavirate Presents series. I have not read over many of there books but I know these guys write some fun ones. This is a very creative and entertaining PDF that was a joy to read. For a smaller PDF company I think they are really doing the right things and if they are having as much fun writing this as I had reading it then they must really be enjoying themselves. I know I am. The thirty nine page PDF does have book marks but they are not useful book marks so it is basically like there are none. The art is fun and a bit cartoony at times but it really fits the mood and the themes they present here. The book is well laid out and has very good production values.

The book is mostly about new cantrips. It starts up with an opening that one might find in a catalog of spells. It is funny at times and well written. It sets the frame work for a book about cantrips and how one can have fun and make them useful. The book presents a few useful feats. There are ones that basically give cantrips to anyone who takes the feats. One can learn Bard, Druid, Cleric, wizard, or sorcerer cantrips and cast spells the way the class does. And the benefits stack with the class so a Bard with the Mage Minstrel feat can cast four more cantrips a day and knows two more cantrips then a normal bard of his level. It is a nice power boost at first level but even then it will not cause a lot of problems. It just makes cantrips a bit more available and allows them to be used a little more often.

The bulk of the book is devoted to new spells and most of those are of the zero level variety. I believe there is just a single second level spell and a few first level ones mixed in and about. Many of the spells are useful as well as fun. There is a bard spell that allows him to recovery from a bad performance. A druid spell that allows one to see farther before spot penalties start up. There is a spell like Disrupt Undead but against golems for sorcerers, wizards, and clerics. Some are going to be nice combat spells other are utility spells that will just be useful at the right times. And there are a few that are comical and just fun little pranks. This is a perfect book for anyone interested in expanding zero level play and possible doing a mage school or just a magic casters school for kids and beginners.

There are some nice optional rules and a few creatures. But what really impresses me is that there are a few alternate genres for the creatures. It is easy to have these in a fantasy game but the book suggests ways to use them in a sci fi game or even a modern one. There is a new NPC class called the Hedge Mage. He’s like a wizard but has no real training and is anything but competent. I would have enjoyed to see the class powered up a bit and be more useful as a player character but keep the concept the same. The book ends with zero level spells for the Paladin and Ranger, zero level domain spells, and some other very nice alternative rules for casting zero level spells. The writers of this book really did an outstanding job of covering everything they could think of in creative ways.

Simple Tricks and nonsense is anything but. It is a great collection of new zero level spells and options that can make the low level play a lot more fun and full of new varieties without a noticeable boost in character power. This is also going to be very useful for running a Mage school like Redhurst type of campaign.