101 Special Materials and Power Components
By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Rite Publishing is 31 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let’s check these out!
Mithril. Iridium. Orichalcum (even though irl, that one is rather debunked). Adamantine. Alchemical Silver. Green Steel. Read these and immediately, a variety of different associations is opened in the reader’s mind – because we, on a subconscious level, know that while the assumption of magic is easily imaginable, special materials and alloys feel a bit more grounded in the reality of a setting – they are iconic, characters crave them and we can easily think of one of multiple reasons why weird alloys would exist on worlds different from our own.
So what are these things herein? Well, special materials come with massive descriptions on how they look and came to be as well as information on HP/inch and hardness as well as information on how much it costs to make ammunition of the material or craft weapons, armours and shields from it. The respective materials also have some inherent effects they add to their base-items, e.g. the option to cause bleeding wounds (weapons) or deal damage to attacks (armours + shields)in the case of aberrant alloy.
What are Power Components, then? These things can be added to the casting of a given spell as material components, enhancing its power in various ways. The component, of course, is consumed by the casting. Power components also can be applied to the effects of magic items, but are consumed much the same way. They also come with information on hardness, hp/inch and costs, though they provide different costs: We get usually an entry for the value of one cast, for a power component enhanced wand and one for a power component enhanced continuous magic item. Before you’re starting to fret, though, a concisely-written box explains on how to handle introducing these rare materials into your campaign while keeping the balance.Need an example? Take absolute ice, created from the very coldest possible ice where negative energy plane and elemental plane of ice meet: Adding a vial of absolute ice to one cast forces enemies subjected to the spell to make a fort-save to prevent being staggered temporarily in addition to the spell’s regular effects. For all those ice-themed mages out there: It also add the [cold]-descriptor to spells, works better when used with such spells in the first place and makes your breath billow forth as cold mist when speaking the incantations.
Now that you should have an overview of what the two types of item-classes do, let’s take a look at some of the more interesting examples: Akashic crystals should remind aficionados of arcana evolved of something: These crystals taking from the d20-variant that is imho closer to PFRPG than D&D 3.5 enable people to store memories and information in them – great tools to deliver plot hooks, my DM-friends! You could also add Amrita to your potions, eliminating the debilitating effects of old age for one year at the massive expense of +200 000GP: If you can’t see a way on how to craft an adventure around the massive costs of this immortality-addiction, I don’t know. Anamnesis alloy is also rather interesting: Items made from it are first cold-forged into one form and then forged again into another, being then able to change between both. Legendary Azoth will be a boon for alchemists, while banesteel weapons carry a dread curse – a sample curse is also part of the deal and ouch, it hurts! Want flying stone stairs? Cavorite is what you want! Always wanted a rothenium-polymere suit for your assassin/rogue in a fantasy setting? Check out the chameleon suit. Necromancers might wish to purchase some fossilized undead ooze to enhance their spells, while fans of “A Song of Fire and Ice” can now have dragonglass weapons, should they so choose.
We also get crystals to have minor wisps of energy cling to those damaged by your energy-based attacks, wood that is destructive against constructs, an essence that lets you steal permanently a creature’s ability to sleep, sacred jarnvidr wood, the ink of kraken, an alloy of mithril and cold iron to a material that is as strong as the oath of its bearer, the variety is nice indeed.
Classics like dragon scales, afore-mentioned Orichalcum , steel of star-children, primal iron and air go hand in hand with items like the anti-hero-point Quintessence of Failure (i.e. -20 on the next atk on a failed save) and iconic materials like bottled voices.
Editing and formatting are very good – although I noticed e.g. a superfluous asterisk and similar minor glitches, they are few and far in-between and did not deter from my enjoyment of the file. Layout adheres to RiP’s 2-column standard and artwork is stock, but perfectly fitting. The pdf is also fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Once in a while, Steven D. Russell’s 101-series goes beyond the rather high standard it has set for itself by providing something different, something bold and awesome. Take “101 New Skill Uses”, “101 Hazards & Disasters” or “101 Not so Random Urban Encounters”. This pdf, while not reaching the absolute apex of the series, is another offering I’d wholeheartedly recommend to any DM out there. How often have your PCs asked what happens when they add material xyz to a cast? How often have they asked, how a given material influences the final product in crafting? In my home-game, I’ve essentially been house-ruling a vast arrays materials to do things that this pdf now puts into concise, balanced rules: Add noble salamander scales to fire-spells? More boom! Etc. This pdf brings magic in Pathfinder with its materials and power components much closer in line to our favourite representations of magic from fiction: Adding strange ingredients and getting improved results for your supernatural practices results not only in a vast array of adventure hooks, stories and cool ideas like “gold-rush”-style scenarios à la OD’s classic “Halls of the Mountain King”, but also improves massively the immersion of your players in the setting as they slowly get to know all the weird materials and quest for supplies and hoard their enhancing resources. This pdf is narrative gold and marries this with great crunch – hence my final verdict will clock in at a highly recommended 5 stars + Endzeitgeist seal of approval.
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