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The Book of Eldritch Might

Reviewed by Nicholas HM Caldwell ©2002

Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion

 

The Book of Eldritch Might is a 48-page d20 System sourcebook, written by Monte Cook and published by Cook's own publishing house, Malhavoc Press, in electronic format as a PDF. White Wolf's Sword and Sorcery Studio publishes it in print format. 

The Book of Eldritch Might is a sourcebook devoted to arcane magic and the magical, a compendium of ideas vividly and cleanly implemented for the d20 System. The book's first collection of ideas is a series of feats appropriate to arcane spellcasters. Most of these are what Cook calls "eldritch" feats. They grant their possessors new magical powers such as the ability to increase or focus the damage inflicted by spells. Arcanists must meet spellcaster level and high Ability prerequisites, but these feats, unlike standard metamagic feats, do not use higher-level spell slots to enhance low-level spells. Other feats cover the creation of magical poisons and tattoos, dreams and mirror magic. All are solid additions to the game. 

A trio of prestige classes follows in the second chapter. Spell users who have suffered from fire may now choose to become "embermages", true fire adepts with the ability to release magical fire from within themselves. The "graven ones" inscribe their magic as runic tattoos upon their own bodies. These tattoos can be images of animals or monsters, which the graven one can summon forth at need. The "mirror master" is the specialist in mirror magic, gaining powers to reveal thoughts and move through mirrors. On alternate levels, the mirror master may learn spells from a restricted list of mirror-based spells. I think this is a great idea for producing specialist mages through prestige classes. In other d20 System books, the dichotomy is between allowing the character to increase effective spell-casting level in an existing class or providing a complete set of spells. The latter route is only really feasible for "semi-spellcasters" such as the Assassin with few spell levels and limited spells per level. 

Everybody likes new spells. The third chapter provides some sixty spells (with complete stats and descriptions) to throw at PCs who are far too familiar with the contents of the Player's Handbook. This grimoire contains a handful of spells for Assassins, Bards, Clerics and Druids, but the bulk are for Sorcerers and Wizards and range from cantrips to a mighty magic of the 9th-level. Some spells are more powerful versions of existing spells such as Greater Sleep (which affects more targets of higher hit dice), others are utility spells needed by any society with sufficiently advanced magic (such as teleportation blocks and tracers), and yet others (such as the elemental Mark and Greater Mark spells) are linked to the runes and tattoos powers introduced earlier. 

An eclectic mix of magical weapons, rings, rods and staves, wondrous items, and powerful artifacts form the fourth chapter. They include neat items such as the Ring of Potion Storage, branding rods, and a number of magical vehicles. Cook makes the clever suggestion that some "potions" would be better implemented as "oils" to apply rather than liquids to imbibe, which means a further slew of spells from the Player's Handbook can be embedded into "potions". He helpfully supplies an extended random "potion and oil" table. A selection of nasty magical toxins with powers ranging from arcane damage and mind erasure to counters against resurrection magic rounds out this chapter. Many of the magical items here are very potent, so remember the old adages - don't give the NPCs anything you don't want the PCs to obtain, and let the NPCs use their magic items against the PCs first! 

Chapter 5 introduces a creature template for magical constructs and rules for arcane spellcasters to build them. These are quick and dirty rules for building basic types of golems and constructs rather than a comprehensive treatment (for which you'll need to look elsewhere). 

In conclusion, The Book of Eldritch Might is a very useful resource for adding new and unusual elements to d20 System fantasy games. The feats, prestige classes, spells, and items are balanced, varied and (mostly) independent of each other, so GMs can pick and mix as the whim moves them. This is a worthwhile addition to any d20 GM's library.

 

Editor's Note: The Book of Eldritch Might is published by Malhavoc Press. Their website is www.montecook.com

 

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