Tomes of Ancient Knowledge
This supplement from Legendary Games is 19 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page author bios, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
Legendary Games, back from the hiatus, continues to provide us with plug-in products that further enrich the APs of Paizo and to the everlasting joy of yours truly, have returned with a triple offering of further supplements for the wonderful Carrion Crown AP.
After a short introduction on how to use this pdf, we are introduced to Sanity rules! Yes, sanity rules! The system herein is more geared towards providing general penalties and being tied to the books provided and thus can be considered serviceable, if not as elaborate as the one I use in my home-game – I still would love a vast system of madness and sanity with quirks, disorders etc.: Preferably at around 30 – 100 pages, but honestly, I hope legendary games expands the basic rules and eliminates the generic penalties for madness effects in the revision – the basic system is well-made and great at the scarce space devoted to it. Following these neat pieces of crunch, we are introduced to a new descriptor – the mythos-descriptor, which denotes creatures and spells associated with the dark tapestry. For those not familiar on what to expect, here’s a short run down: Some regular spells also have [Mythos]-versions, which can potentially unhinge one’s sanity and several creatures are also categorized as being Mythos-creatures. And then there’s the introduction of Mythos rituals, which enable people who’d otherwise be unable to cast a spell or ritual to do so, but at the cost of the caster’s sanity. Cool ideas that need to be expanded further.
After this initial crunch, we are introduced to new tomes and here I have to inject something: I was always concerned about spellbooks and magical tomes sucking in iterations of D&D and being just collections of spells. Raging Swan Press’s “So what’s that spellbook like, anyways?” has addressed the problem, but this supplement takes the idea up to eleven with the first tome being the Sarkulis Shards, which are a collection of strange, red glowing crystals inscribed with nordic runes by dread witch-cannibal cults devoted to the serpent world eater. An extensive section of lore as well as 6 new witch spells are contained in this most-intriguing tome, the spells enabling a witch to create razor sharp, vampiric diamonds from their blood, call hellish ghouls, implant cannibalistic compulsions in foes, dazzle foes with weird flying serpents, entangle and crush them via madding illusions and even call servants of the dread World Eater to serve your whim.
The second tome in this book is another one in an uncommon form – the Xanthutep Tablets, written in ancient hieroglyphics, were once penned (or rather chiseled) by heretics of an ancient pharaonic hierocracy (Osirion, anyone?) and include a spell that bends space to grant you a massive miss chance and get an AC-bonus, increase your reach, can dimension door with a shockwave that sends your foes to their knees, wrinkle reality to gain a luck bonus (though that one is rather petty),a shield against force effects and t5wo improved, mythos-related scrying spells as well as a variant summoning that can call Hounds of Tindalos as well as a mind-damaging true seeing. All of these spells have some kind of cool cost/danger associated with them and frankly, I’d enjoy magic in PFRPG even more if all spells were designed like this!
The third tome is the Palestone Analects, a collection of disturbing and weird poems that includes a version of false life that can be improved by etching diagrams into a victim’s face (!!!) and pouring acid on him/her. Faces are a topic here, and a disguise spell is twofold and shows you as a disturbing, faceless being and there’s also a version that adds a rage effect. And then there are three elemental body mythos spells that also make you partially amorphous.
The final tome contained herein is called “All Flesh & Form by Flame made Ash” and is different from the other books in that while it contains spells, it also contains 4 different Mythos Metamagic feats:
-Ashen Spell: +3 caster levels, fire damage results in a glitterdust-like effect by ash,
-Atomic Spell: +1 or +2 levels, adds bubonic plague radiation sickness effects to your spells, either with onset or immediately.
-Incinerating Spell: The fire-spells ignore hardness and deal 200% damage instead of 150% to vulnerable creatures. Also incinerate foes slain by the spell. +1 level.
-Smoking Spell: +0 or +2 levels: Leave a fog cloud or a stinking cloud with fire area spells.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a horizontal, two-column standard in gorgeous full-colour. Legendary Games’ gothic, cool layout in full colour, with blood splotches and glorious full colour artworks, one for each book, is stellar and up to Paizo standards -beautiful indeed! The pdf comes fully bookmarked and the pdf also includes a full-colour background-less version for ease of printing out.
I’m a sucker for things Mythos-related and that’s no secrets, but even if you don’t like the great dark tapestry this pdf still has something to offer to you – perfect examples on why “Necronomicon” and “Von unausspechlichen Kulten” are household names and why your players don’t even remember the name of the latest tome they’ve found: CoC tomes are characters in their own right, with quirks and dangers and significant, unique benefits to be obtained. And these tomes finally bring this sense of uniqueness and identity to PFRPG, providing an awesome example on how to make books stellar protagonists in your game.
Add to that the cool concept of providing benefits beyond the normal at the cost of detrimental effects to one’s body/sanity and we have spells that work very much how I’d prefer magic to be – powerful, but with an inherent risk that needs competent practitioners and still leaves the sense of danger and wonder intact. That being said, not all of the new spells herein feel perfectly balanced and honestly, while the production values are stellar, I still feel this pdf is rather on the short side. If you don’t mind any of that, you will love this pdf as much as I did and if you’re one of the players/DMs who enjoy flavourful spells and concepts over power-gaming utility, I can definitely recommend this to you, if not, you might wish to detract a star. Personally, I love this pdf and thus, my final verdict will be 5 stars plus seal of approval.
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