101 Aquatic Spells
This massive collection of spells clocks in at 59 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 54 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.
The supplement kicks off with a brief introduction that acknowledges that the sub-aqueous environments may be hard to navigate, but also remain truly wondrous. As such, this book’s spells do not seek to per se normalize or negate the effects of adventuring beneath the waves (as there are options for that already), but to enhance the experience. This is a wise decision, as plenty of tables are using e.g. Alluria Publishing’s benchmark “Cerulean Seas”-book for PFRPG-rules, and this pdf thus retains optional compatibility with that book.
As far as the Paizo-books are concerned, we begin this supplement with an array of spells organized by spell-list; these lists take the classic classes as well as the magus and the Advanced Classes Guide classes into account, but the Occult Adventures classes are not covered in the spell-lists, which is a bit of a bummer if you’re like me and love them. But hey, with some luck we’ll have an update at one point…or a compilation.
But you’re here for the spells, right? So let’s take a look at what those spells do, and how they work in context. With an abaia’s gizzard’s fluid (nice touch as an exotic component!), you can cast activation transference, which is a gamechanger of a spell: It enables the subject to use spell-trigger items as though he were the caster – and the caster loses that ability! This is a super-potent spell in the right hands, but at 5th level, it also is a spell that is properly situated in the spell array. Aquatic Alacrity is probably a spell more in line with what you’d expect: The spell allows you to run when moving through water, even if you don’t have a swim speed, as though you had the Run feat, to boot. The spell has another brutal component: As a full-round action in aquatic terrain, which provokes AoOs, you can get an untyped +20 bonus to Stealth, seemingly disappearing. The spell, however, then ends after your next move action. Minor complaints regarding rules-language: RAW, only move actions trigger the end, and this should include full-round actions. Secondly, the spell should clarify whether this allows the target to hide, even when observed, which is a thing as far as Stealth rules are concerned. Now, granted, this is easy to houserule as a GM, but it’s still a minor flaw in an otherwise cool 2nd level spell.
The aqueous spell spells are really cool – they allow the caster to infuse spells in liquid, creating basically spell potions. The spells these can contain obviously cap at certain levels, but yeah – unique. Speaking of which – arcane anaesthetic is basically a spell-like injection that dulls the senses, and the spell halves the duration of magical consumables. Also interesting – the spell can be mitigated with the proper diet (salt-heavy), but this diet requires a save, and on a failure, the target is nauseated. We have aquatic aspect spells (porpoise and shark), and there is an interesting variant, namely body of water, which is a twist on greater invisibility: This one makes you invisible while completely submerged; outside of water, the spell loses 5 rounds per round spent outside. Considering how many fairy tale stories feature turning to foam and vanishing in water, this really struck a chord with me.
Blood snow, which is an option for blood subdomain casters, among others, creates a storm of swirling blood snow that also starts crystallizing the blood of those inside the cylinder, represented by Strength and Dexterity damage on a success, paralysis and nauseated (short-term both) on a successful one. Casting this spell in too warma climate reduces its duration and provides a bonus to saves. With a scale of an old or older bronze dragon, you can gain a short-range defensive aura. With drops of a bagiennik’s nasal spray, arcane casters can neutralize poisons and cure diseases in one fell swoop – though the spell does cause some fire and acid damage. As the pdf astutely observes, this does break a barrier between the arcane and divine divide, but I like how it does this – it feels like an arcane remedy – and yes, it may be used offensively! The way in which this pdf employs material components is pretty exemplary and helps render the magic herein more, well, magical.
Now, remember when I claimed that this was compatible with the most extensive underwater adventuring resource released for a d20-based game, Cerulean Seas? Well, I wasn’t kidding. Cerulean Seas features buoyancy rules, and e.g. the buoyant totem spell manages to retain perfect compatibility with these rules WITHOUT directly referencing or requiring them! Huge kudos! This spell is also a great example of a design-decision I very much enjoy – usually, bloodragers don’t get the spell. However, if you do have the greenrager archetype, you do get it added to your spell list! On the potentially funny side – if you want to reproduce the crab dance meme, there’s a spell for that – cast of crabs, which transforms you and your buddies. (Yep, there also is a dolphin-based spell, for example.) Okay, sure, it’s actually buff spell, but frankly, the crab dance thing was my first association, and it was hilarious. In my head. …yeah, I know, I’m weird. Bonus points if you follow up with the puntastic death by crabs that is BOUND to elicit some giggles, you can call forth crab swarms to slay your foes.
Alchemists, bards and sorcerer/wizards can now cast something that you’d usually associate with the divine – cone of holy water, which pretty much does what you’d expect. Here, I genuinely appreciated that the spell is focused on classes you usually wouldn’t associate with holy water, which, in a way, makes sense. There are plenty of transform into xyz/take on aspects of xyz type of spells. If you already have the excellent 101 Swamp Spells (And seriously, should get all of the author’s 101-spell-books), you’ll be delighted to hear that there are options building on the kin-engine, for example, defend the moor and its greater iteration. The latter btw. does use hero points, which is a nice touch as far as I’m concerned. Power of the electric eel is a winner – it presents a bonus, and allows for its discharging to enhance your electricity-infused touch attacks, which even arc towards the targets on misses. This is an interesting one. Spells for the creations or puddles or rain, calling forth different varieties of drakes and the like can be found.
Personally, I am rather partial to the low level spell that allows you to ingest poisons and spit them towards the targets. Kiss of death-assassin, anyone? 🙂 If you like Risk of Rain, you may want to check out rusting rain, which, bingo, will probably make sweet player tears join the rain, as their precious metal-objects are compromised. Full of slapstick potential – slippery shoes. Duplicating a squid’s quick exit, transforming into a squall of ice and snow…and, nice touch, there is a spell to create supercooled water, and The Bends is a potent one that can make for an interesting chassis to create a rather brutal version of the well-known diver’s sickness.
Dispelling grasp is an exciting combat spell, which allows you to touch items and grasp them, subjecting them to greater dispel magic. Engine-wise, this is based on sunder, getting feat interaction done right. Many folks also associate swashbuckling with the waves, and as such, there are buffs to enhance your grace, options to breathe longer underwater, or spells that make the target’s equipment heavier – which, obviously, can be rather nasty in water. Faerie cold nets your body the option to generate a defensive nimbus that is particularly potent for casters of the fey bloodline. This enhances cold spells, and also the damage dice employed by frost or icy burst weaponry. Minor complaint – it’s resistance, not “resist” regarding energy types. A kind of combo flight/swim speed, that only allows you to fly a certain distance over water.
Gholdako’s darkness is a neat defensive spell that may be discharged in a blinding cone, and there is a language-dependent compulsion that forces the target to hold their breath until they pass out, which is a neat classic trope represented as a spell. Hydromantic insight is incredibly interesting, in that it represents a powerful buff that is contingent on having an uninterrupted pathway through water to the creature against which your defensive buff applies. It may sound like a small twist, but it is one that explains how the magic operates, and one that is entwined with roleplaying and tactics. Love it. Hydrophilia and hydrophobia do pretty much what you’d expect, and at the highest echelons of the power-scale, we have a localized and instantaneous level 9 ice age, which does melt if the climate is sufficiently warm, but yeah. And yep, you can also make instant icebergs. Your pirate foes will hate you. Luxury-liners will hate you even more. ;P
Reducing elementals to speed 0, protection versus ingested poison and diseases…and then there’d be the into the sea spell (mass version included), which includes bonuses to Constitution and Strength checks, adaption to the cold, low-light vision, etc. – basically, it’s the survive in water base package. Nice. Lightning on the sea is also really cool: Basically a misty cloud that is suffused with saltwater, making everything slippery, and the cloud does cause electricity damage. Manifest blizzard is hardcore and lets you generate truly fearsome storms, Mesopelagic pressure causes force damage, and the melt ice cantrip, well, does what it says on the tin. The pdf also includes the 4th level minor wish spell, which does pretty much what you’d expect it – the costly component accounts for the flexibility this offers.
Underwater scent, really good voice mimicry…and what about a low-level spell to entangle targets in water globules, potentially drowning them? Water runner is basically a follow-up better version of the classic water walking tricks, and on the curse-side, there is a water-breather curse. There also is a spell that allows you to make fires waterproof, GOT (or napalm)-style, and the pdf does include a variant of dimension door that focuses on jumping from wave to wave. Cone-shaped wave-battle-spells complement, finally, this massive supplement.
Editing and formatting re very good on both a formal and rules-language level. Considering the top-tier complexity many of these spells attempt in their operations, it’s surprising that almost no glitches have crept into this massive book. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s classic two-column full-color standard, and the pdf features quite a lot really nice full-color artworks from various sources. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
David J. Paul’s spellbooks, published by Rite Publishing, you know, all of the 101 spell-books that have a terrain or something like that in the title, are frankly my favorite series of spell-pdfs out there, it’s simple as that. The author understands complex rules-interactions, and the power-levels of the spells are suitable for the spell levels, showing a deep understanding of that aspect of game design. Beyond that, from taking domains, bloodlines and archetypes into account, these often allow for small differentiations. Clever use of material components and variants allow for some rather cool scenes, and more than that, there is an intrinsic understanding of something many a Pathfinder-supplement forgets: Magic, while somewhat arbitrary, does have some underlying rules and conventions; we all carry expectations about what magic does and how it operates with us, informed by fairy tales, fantasy literature, and the games we play.
His spells, ultimately, are cognizant of those unwritten rules, of these subtle nuances, and this makes them feel plausible and “real” – this manages to render even obvious variants as something creative beyond what you’d expect. Your consciousness may not notice it at once, but somewhere deep in your subconscious, you realize it. It’s a crucial component of the tangible appeal these sourcebooks have for me. If I had to choose a singular line of spells, and only use this one series in conjunction with my PFRPG-games to the exclusion of all others, this’d be the spell-series I’d choose. Unsurprisingly, my final verdict will account for this, clocking in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to being closer to 5 than 4, and yes, this does receive my seal of approval.
You can get these cool spells here on OBS!
Missed Cerulean Seas? You can get this tome here on OBS!