EZG reviews Real Scrolls #1 – #4
And now for something completely different – today I’ll take a look at Kobold Press’ Real Scroll-series, which portrays one spell per installment in a lavish, hand-crafted calligraphy.
Each of these pdf is 4 pages long – 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page regular text of the spell and 1 page for the real scroll calligraphy version of the spell.
These reviews are not about content – they are about aesthetics and as such, much more so than my regular reviews, I invite you, the reader, to take these as just that – my personal preference and opinion regarding these. Got that?
Great! It should be noted, that the scrolls don’t contain arcane gibberish, strange runes or glyphs or the like – they contain the spell’s description and rules, rendered in lavish calligraphy – and that’s it. whether these are worth it for you as a customer depends very much on how excited you can get about beautiful calligraphy, here rendered by Kathy Barker.
So let’s check the spells!
#1 is all about the iconic fireball, with massive Initials, wonderful ligatures and the text superimposed over the awesome rendition of a fireball, with the scroll itself having a somewhat scorched, parchment-like look and a caveat on the proper storage of these scrolls at the end – glorious 5 star + seal of approval material in my book.
#2 depicts battleward and is more light -with two small heraldic crests depicting a portcullis and a sword-like icon superimposes on a sun-light background flanking the spell’s name, ethereal blueish wisps stretch towards the middle of the text from the upper right corner – per se very elegant, but I miss the custom background, this scroll having only a stark white background and the scroll has too pronounced white borders for my tastes. The two lavishly rendered, beautiful initials of the text deserve mentioning, though. 4 stars.
#3 portrays Fire Under the Tongue, with somewhat organic/leaf (or flame)-like embroideries to the side of the spell. As an awesome touch, several of the letters feature flame-like extensions and the penultimate “f” of fire in the line that includes the mythic and augmentation options rounds perfectly the space of the page. The scroll comes with a fitting, red border and, as with the previous installments, the ligatures deserve special mentioning for their aesthetic value. Instead of one-letter initials, we have bolded letters in this case and personally, I prefer lavish initials over the (comparatively) common bolding of first words in a paragraph. 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.
#4 is all about Gear Barrage, with a lot of swirly, brown lines at the top and bottom of the spell, each of the brown lines ending in a turquoise dot and spirals adhering to a similar schematic denoting the respective lines of the mechanical information for the spell.. The spell’s title is the star here – with turquoise letters and brown borders of said letters, the title is just a beauty to look at. The borders of the scroll this time around are brown. While the embroideries and spirals of the text this time around rank among the best I’ve seen in the series, this scroll also suffers from there just not being that much text – the scroll features significantly large borders, with the text being not perfectly centered and more left-aligned, lending to an impression of the scroll being simply not that well-used – larger letters, more pronounced embroideries, something like that could have made this one truly stand out. 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.
Now If you enjoy artfully crafted calligraphy or have tried your hand with it yourself, if you’re an aesthete, then these will be worth the asking price indeed. If you’re just out there for the crunch, then you might want to skip these. Personally, I hope the series continues – for I’m convinced that RPGs ARE art and crossovers/crosspollinations of different types of artistry tend to result in favorites of mine. I know I’m looking forward to when I can hand out a scroll of fireball to my players and watch their astonished faces!
You can get the fireball here on OBS!
You can get the battleward on OBS here!
Fire Under the Tongue can be found here!
And finally, Gear Barrage’s scroll is here!
The larger borders on the originals are there so an owner can frame them. These originals will be for sale at PaizoCon.
As far as original illuminated manuscripts, the most expensive ones also had wide borders and lots of space between lettering. Since vellum was expensive, it was a way of showing your wealth as well as artistic judgment.
Kathy Barker is a gifted calligrapher whose work has shown up in various Kobold products before. I am lucky enough to be her student and look forward to also doing more calligraphic work for Kobold in the future. (The Kobold logo, for instance, is my work with her input.)
Thank you for the elaboration on the process of creating these and enlightening me regarding the creation process as well as the post on my site! 🙂