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Reviews - The Book of Eldritch Might
 
by Matthew Pook


Book of Eldritch Might cover The Sword & Sorcery publishing empire continues to grow, not only releasing its own titles, but those of other small d20 companies as well, such as Necromancer Games and Fiery Dragon. The latest writer to join the stable can really be described as a Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition veteran. Not only did Monte Cook co-design the new game, but he also wrote the new DMG and the excellent campaign pack Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, and he is the co-author (together with John Tynes) of the forthcoming d20 Call of Cthulhu rules. Besides all that, Cook has his own imprint, Malhavoc Press, for which he has penned the first printed release: The Book of Eldritch Might.

Of course, taking your books to a larger publishing company like Sword & Sorcery means that the author gains all of the advantages in terms of production, and this is the case with The Book of Eldritch Might. This 48-page supplement gains access to the artwork of Brian LeBlanc, who has illustrated a number of Necromancer titles. Here, he paints the cover and provides three styles of art as illustrations. The first style is the pen and ink style seen in so many Necromancer titles; the second, the dark and heavy style seen in Rob Kuntz's Prisoners of the Maze and Mike Mearls' The Siege of Durgam's Folly. The third style is a much lighter, clearer version of the second, and certainly this last style is his best; it would be nice to see this used more in future books. There is just the single "Refer to page XX," and this is the only real production error that I could find. It is unfortunate, made all the sillier by it actually referring another entry on exactly the same page.

As the title suggests, The Book of Eldritch Might is a d20 System sourcebook for all things arcane. This includes eleven new Feats, three new Prestige classes, some sixty new spells and sixty new magical items, plus the rules for creating magical constructs. For the referee, this is a veritable platter of delicacies to select from and add to his game. For the player of arcane spell users (wizards, sorcerers and bards), the author describes the book as providing new paths to power.

Organized into five chapters, the first details eleven new feats, suitable for nearly any arcane spell users. Only two of these fall into the category of General feat: Dreamspeaking, which enables the user to determine the importance of dreams; and Magical Talent, which adds +2 to the Knowledge (Arcana) and Spellcraft skills. The other feats are of the new Eldritch category and these feats grant magical powers that work as spell-like abilities. For example, the Lace feat allows a magic user to imbue their spells with a descriptive aspect and extra power. There are several to choose from, but for example, the Lace: Holy feat makes all of the caster's spells fall under the description "good," and increases the difficulty of an evil target's saving throws by +2.

Some of the feats seem to make little sense on their own, but their inclusion falls into place upon an examination of the three new Prestige classes in the second chapter. Thus the Mirror Sight feat is a prerequisite for those arcanists who wish to specialise in the construction and use of mirrors as Mirror Masters, whereas the Etch Object Rune and Item Image feats have to be taken by those that become a Graven One. The Graven One class is comprised of spell casters that have undergone painful rituals to harden their skin and thus enable them to etch runes and ink tattoos directly onto themselves. The result is that they can enhance their abilities with these marks, store spells and even weapons within themselves! The third new prestige class is the Embermage, a form of fire elementalist who has been killed or reduced to negative hit points through a fire attack. The Embermage then internalised the flame so that as they progress in power, their blood becomes liquid flame, their touch can burn and they can shoot jets of fire from their eyes. Of the trio, the Embermage and the Graven One are the most interesting, with the Embermage ready to serve as possible inspiration for other elemental-themed prestige classes.

The third chapter contains some sixty spells, many of which are particularly suited to the three new prestige classes. A few are for use with other classes such as the assassin, bard and druid, but the bulk of them are for the pure arcanist classes. Some of the new combat spells actually dish out two types of damage, such as the Ice Bolt, which launches a shard of ice from the hand of the caster and does both piercing and cold damage. Many spells contribute to the book's next section, as they are necessary for the creation of many of the magical items to be found therein.

This also has sixty entries and runs the gamut of the various types of magical gewgaws. Though low on magical weapons and potions, the section reworks the potions list from the DMG, so those that work better as oils to be applied to the skin are retitled, and new potions are given to simulate other spell-like effects. There is also a section on magical poisons for use by assassins, though other classes will undoubtedly want to make use of them also. Among the other interesting items in this chapter are the Bulette Walker, a magical vehicle; the Scabbard of Venoms, which coats a blade with poison several times a day; and the Bookrod, a rod that allows a wizard to store spells within in it, but in the form of Braille-like bumps.

The last and fifth chapter is a guide to creating magical constructs. These rules are clear and simple, and come with a pair of examples: the Stone (dire) Tiger and the Eleven Headed Brass Hydra! Rounding out the book is an appendix listing tables to create random Rune Descriptions. These tables do feel as if they are a bit of filler, but there's no denying their potential use in dressing a dungeon or tomb.

The Book of Eldritch Might is a decent medley of magic if that is what your D&D campaign needs. As useful for player characters as it for a DM's NPCs, many of the entries in this book should set the DM thinking about the interesting villains they can create. Reasonably priced at $10.95, this is quality material from Malhavoc, to be followed by a sequel soon...

The author would like to thank Roj at Wayland's Forge for his assistance


 

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