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Reviews: Blight Magic
 
by Joe G. Kushner


Blight Magic coverBlight Magic
Written by Doug Herring, Jeffrey Carter, John D. Faugno & Kenny Lewis
Published by Mystic Eye Games
56 b & w pages
$11.95

Imagine a way to boost your spellcasting power to tremendous levels. Imagine that power comes with a terrible price that eventually will destroy you. Think that'll stop people from using it? Nah. That's why Mystic Eye Games came out with Blight Magic, an add on magic system that provides the GM and players with all the tools they need to add the Blight Magic style to their game. The book details these new magical methods, which serve as either a dangerous player's tool, or a method for the GM to add some minions to his campaign that serve the most dire of all spellcasters, the one who freely steals life from the land.

Blight Magic is broken up into seven chapters, each with a different focus on integrating this new magic style into the campaign. The basics of Blight Magic involve the caster enacting a ritual that drains the land. The more land that the caster chooses to drain ahead of time, the more power in spell levels he gains. Land that is sacred or unholy grants the caster more spell levels while barren land, less. So where are the penalties? Kill some land and what? Well, it's when the character starts using that power that the penalties come into play.

The extra spell levels, or Blight Levels, can be used to power spell slots or metamagic feats. The penalties come into play the following way: say you use four levels of spells in one swoop. This requires you to make a Corruption roll. The Corruption roll is determined through the total Blight Magic levels gained, which grants a penalty with say 20 levels being a -2 and 120 levels being a -5. The user rolls a d20 with no modifiers and if the roll is less than 0, the user gains corruption. The more Blight Levels you've used, the harder the roll becomes.

Of course, when you fail the Corruption roll, you gain a level of Corruption. There are ten levels of Corruption and the standard penalties are so great at some levels, that you don't even roll on the Corruption table at levels 7 and 9. At level 7, Corruption automatically bestows madness, paranoia and a form of obsession. The rules for obsession include when it happens, what occurs how long the character is obsessed and how malaise effects them. At Corruption level 9, the GM's fun time really kicks in. Characters suffer violent fits during stressful situations unless they make a Will save vs. DC 20. As you can see, much like Demonology from Mongoose Publishing, power is there for the taking, but foolish players will quickly be destroyed by it with little say in the matter.

Corruptions range from paranoia, obsession, and Charisma loss, all the way to death. The Charisma loss is ironic in some ways because when sorcerers or bards walk this path, they either learn their lesson really quick, or have to keep relying on Blight Magic to supplement their lost native art.

Those seeking to lessen the effect of Corruption have very few options. These range from an expensive brew, to the more common Holy Water. Now I know you're saying, "Holy Water? That's easy to get a hold of." True, but it's only a temporary fix, and because the caster is impure from using Blight Magic, he takes 1d8+3 points of damage per dose. Of course, nothing can restore a character to level 0 Corruption. Once you get that first level, you've always got that first level.

This magic is different than most systems in that it can be added to almost any spellcaster, arcane or divine. Even more interesting is how the system fills itself out with Blighted Familiars, special companions that can take some of the corruption away from their master. These mange-infested variations are truly terrible beasts in their own right. What's worse is, should the spellcaster already have a familiar, he'll have to slay it in order to gain a Blighted one. Still, these aren't your run of the mill companions, and if the master is willing to do so, he may invest XP into the Blighted Famliar to grant it special powers. The more XP the caster uses in this fashion, the greater the power. Still, the caster can only gain two such Blighted Powers, but they can be killers like Blight Touch, Wasting Blighted Rot and Contagious Infestation among others.

Harnessing the Darkness
The book isn't satisfied with providing the GM options on how different spellcasters see Blight Magic, or how the different races use it, but instead, provides the GM with more crunchy tools including prestige classes, Blight Feats, spells, monsters, and locations.

The prestige classes include evil Blight users like the Blighted Druid and the Dirge Lord, as well as those who battle any Blight user like the Huntsmen and the Disciples of Fell. The nice thing about some of these prestige classes is they take the core concept and expand it. For example, the Disciples are the only ones thus far able to reverse damage to Blighted Lands, while the Lords of Perdition serve gods of destruction. Perfect for those using Sword & Sorcery's Scarred Lands and wishing to add a little more advantage to those who worship Vangal.

The section on Blight Magic Feats and Spells includes metamagic, special, and general feats. These feats range from Blight Magic, which is a standard feat that the caster must take in order to perform the ritual, to Mad Fury, a feat that allows the caster to take the corruption and madness that festers within and gain enormous benefits to melee combat, such as a +4 bonus to their Strength score and an extra 25 hit points among other bonuses. The feats allow a GM to further customize a Blight Magic NPC, and in the hands of wise players, can truly create some terrifying opponents. I can imagine a doomed Blight user taking Petrified Toughness which makes their skin like bark, giving them a 2 Dexterity penalty, but also a +4 bonus to their Armor Class and a DR of 5 against piercing and slashing attacks.

The new spells are only useable by someone who uses Blight Magic. I was a little disappointed that this section didn't include a level breakdown, as it just starts in what almost seems to be some random order. Still, because there aren't many spells, just a few for each class, most GMs won't have a hard time with the two pages. Spells range from augmenting something with Blight Magic like Bockov's Terrible Transformation, which changes the caster's familiar into a larger version of the monster, to Purge Pool, which allows the caster to hurl toxic Blighted energy that almost has no limits on how powerful it can become.

GMs needing to augment the Blight caster further have new monsters to add to the mix. While the Treavil, a corrupted treant, is interesting, I would've preferred to see a template for blighted intelligent plants. The two templates include blight zombies with an example of an eight-headed Hydra Blight Zombie, and the Bone Blights, which includes an Ogre Bone Blight. Still, GMs can't allow evil to stride around without any opposition, so the Stone Sentinels are included to guard druid groves and other holy sites. This is another template that allows the GM some flexibility in crafting his defenders and attackers all at once.

Inexperienced GMs will benefit from the Chapter 8, Blight Locations, which provides some game seeds on how to use Blight Magic. This is in addition to the fiction that starts off each chapter: A story that follows the corruption of one young sorcerer, and the redemption of an older wizard, a former Blight User himself. This framing device is useful not only for GMs, but also players, especially if the GM gets to watch them become consumed by Blight.

Presentation of the Blight
The book is in a standard two-column format with tables and art boxed up. Because the art is often larger than a single column, it presses the text of the opposing column a little too close sometimes, making for some difficult reading. Text density is also fair, which coupled with the boxes, makes reading harder. Still, I'd rather have high text density than see the book page shoot up to 64 pages (unless those pages were more spells). I was a little disappointed that the interior covers weren't used and that Mystic Eye Games chose to use two pages for ads.

The art is all done by Andy Hopp, so if you like the illustration on the rear of the cover, or those found at the product information page, you're in for a treat. On the other hand, if you don't like it... well, you'll be getting a lot of it.

Blight Magic is something that can be taken and used in bits and pieces, or used whole cloth. Wise GMs will read through the whole book at least twice to determine if this is a viable option, and heavily supervise players' use of said powers. Remember that there are several organizations devoted to the destruction of Blight Magic users, but remember that too when the players are fighting said users of Blight Magic. As Mystic Eye grows, I hope to see more examples of spells, magic items, and perhaps even the stats of the characters described in the framing fiction of the book to further ease a new GM's use of the style.

For those not satisfied with Necromancy or Demonology, Blight Magic is another path of evil magic that adds its corrupting influence to the D20 System.


 

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