Lost Spells of Canthar – 10 Necromancies
This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 5.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Okay, some notes first: This review is, in a way, not necessarily fair. This pdf has been released quite a while back, and as such, the spells do not note whether they should be made available for the Advanced Class Guide classes or the Occult Adventures classes. In a way, this review is a check of how this held up. The supplement, one could claim, is a continuation of the Transcendent 10-series, which is why I will tag them as such on my home page. In contrast to the designer’s commentary present in said series, we have we have a mixture of brief pieces of fluff, explanations and in-character comments here. Since I really adored some of the rough, but still very much inspired options in the Transcendent 10-series, how do the spells within hold up?
Dead watcher, a spell for level 1 clerics, sorc/wiz and witches, makes a corpse basically a surveillance camera that records what it perceives – cool here: This manages to get the material component and when the opal disintegrates done right. A simple and rewarding spell, though “same acuity as an average person” unfortunately is *not* proper rules-language. I like this, but it needs a bit of polishing. Eyes of the dead does the same for corporeal undead, allowing you to see through them, but has an interesting twist in that the affected creatures may actually not be aware of the sensory hijacking, and you can choose to project hearing or sight – but once both are returned to your body, the spell ends. This is intriguing.
Enfeeble is a sorc/wiz or witch spell at 5th level and is a save-or-suck: The spell reduces Strength and Dexterity to 1. Bizarre: the creature may drop items in excess of the carrying capacity as an immediate action to the floor. Okay. Why would anyone? Also: Creatures and NPCs with a full BAB HD take -4 to the save. This spell sucks and is just not fun.
Mortal advantage is a level 9 spell for clerics, sorcs/wiz and witches, and it‘s rather cool: It forces the touched creature into an incorporeal state and into your body, forcing the target to possess you. The spell is particularly useful versus outsiders etc., and while thus housing the target, you have a much better place for negotiation. Ride the dead, a level 4 spell for the aforementioned full casters, is a variant of magic jar (not properly italicized) that renders you incorporeal and makes you possess an undead creature, which severely limits your options, but allows you to stowaway…and fortify undead thus ridden via channel energy, if available. Tighter explanation of what you can and can’t do while possessing an undead would have been nice here. Scare to death is an 8th level fear and mind-affecting spell that is a conical save or suck that kills you on a failed Fort-save after a failed Will-save. (As such, it probably should also be a death effect.) Additionally, even if you save, you take 1 Constitution damage per round; Fort-saves on subsequent rounds prevent this ability score damage. The verbiage here is a bit confused regarding sequence. I assume that failure on the Will save and success on the Fort-save paralyzes you, but I am honestly not sure.
Terrify, another fear and mind-affecting spell, may be an explanation for this, as this one both panics and then paralyzes the targets, getting the sequence right here. It’s a save or suck, but at level 6, I can live with this one. Touch channel, a level 3 cleric and sorc/wiz spell, lets you deliver touch spells of up to 4th level through the target. Touch spell charges are “treated as though you were holding the charge yourself.” Okay, so does the target hold the charge, or the caster? The greater version is level 7 and extends the maximum level channeled to 9th, but obviously suffers from the same hiccup. (As an aside: The flavor-text here hasn’t been properly italicized, making this a bit confusing. The final spell herein would be turn the tables, which allows a possessed creature another save to, bingo, turn the tables on possessors, which is a rather interesting option.
Editing is per se good, though there are a few details where the rules-language could be tighter. Formatting is really rough: The pdf sports a bunch of wrongly formatted aspects, including a bunch of missed italicizations. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf uses b/w stock art. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
So, here’s the thing: This is a rather rough pdf. The supplement has quite a bunch of different formal hiccups that shows that it’s an early work. However, Donald J. Decker’s spells actually do still have some rather intriguing components to offer, and with a bit of polish here and there, allow you to tell truly interesting stories, with particularly the possession angles being a rather engaging aspect. As a pdf, this may not be perfect, but at the low price-point, it may be worth checking out if the above concepts sounded interesting to you. My final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
You can get this pdf here on OBS!