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Deep Magic (PFRPG) PDF

****( ) (based on 12 ratings)

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Unlimited Spellpower!

Deep Magic is a 376-page full-color tome with some of the strangest, most wondrous, and most powerful arcane and divine magic ever devised—ready for use in any Pathfinder Roleplaying Game campaign.

Deep Magic offers an astounding variety of new magic options by Jason Bulmahn, Wolfgang Baur, Ed Greenwood, Owen K.C. Stephens, Jim Groves, Amber E. Scott, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, and many others!

You’ll find:

  • 733 arcane and divine spells, including elemental-tinged dragon magic, ley line magic, and spells for mythic heroes
  • New spellbooks to easily introduce these spells into your game
  • 31 new glyphs and runes, plus rules for creating a wide array of magical symbols
  • 19 new sorcerer bloodlines, and 8 oracle mysteries
  • 11 new incantations granting powerful magic options to non-casters
  • More than a dozen new archetypes, with some ready-made examples to serve as quest-givers, villains, or rivals in your campaign
  • All-new magical specialities, curses, and subschools, including rakshasa magic, chaos magic, and new forms of necromancy and ioun magic
  • And much more!

With these new spells and options, your characters (or your villains) can become masters of blood magic, clockwork magic, dragon magic, or shadow magic. Seek out hidden colleges and academies of lost lore. Learn new runes, glyphs, and incantations to crack open the walls of reality—or just bend them a bit.

Deep Magic is an essential volume for any spellcaster’s library. Use it wisely and well!

"The quality and quantity of content this book offers is sure to sate even the most demanding gamer (e.g., me). Everything from the gaming content to the layout to the artwork to the organization is of the highest quality. From new magic options such as battle magic, blood magic, ley line magic and gambling magic to 200 pages of new spells to new spell-casting archetypes to magical constructs... Deep Magic delivers again and again and again. This book could literally have been a two or three separate books. Deep Magic is a masterpiece that will certainly influence my gaming sessions for years to come." —Doug Bailey

"The book itself is just super pleasing. It even SMELLS great. The non-glossy pages that fill this massive tome are a refreshing change as well.
As for the content. I've not even read everything, but I've read all the bloodlines and archetypes. They are dope." —Legomojo, Paizo.com

"I'm in love with it. Ioun stone magic is prolly my fave, but the rune magic is a very close second.
I've never been so happy with a group of non-core magic rules since the Tome of Magic, and if you knew how many anima mages, binders, incarnum users, bards, and wizards I've played—well, let's just say it's been a lot. GMs beware—my spellbook is loaded." —RaiderRPG, Paizo.com

"There’s so much well written inspiring material contained inside this hefty tome... If you’re playing a spell caster, if you're thinking about playing a spell caster, if you’re running a game currently, or if you’re even thinking about running a game in the future, pick yourself up a copy today. You will not be disappointed. Deep Magic gets a full 5d20s on my inspiration scale. It’s fun, inspiring, and a good read." —TrunkForce7, Paizo.com

"This book is a great product. It is overflowing with information and is full of art by very talented individuals. If you are big fan of magic-users and want to play something out of the ordinary or never seen before, this is the book for you. It does not matter if your character is good or evil, there is something for every arcane class. Pick it up, you will not be disappointed." —Skyland Games

"I have been reading through this book off and on since it was released and I have been greatly enjoying it. The added versatility has made the game much more enjoyable for me and given me many new options that I have been wanting for a long time. My personal favorite of all the new spells is heart skewer." —Bradley M, DriveThruRPG

Deep Magic Errata
Last Updated 4/29/2014

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Product Reviews (12)
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****( ) (based on 12 ratings)

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

***( )( )

This massive, huge tome clocks in at 378 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages backer-list, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 367 pages of content, so let's...

...wait. I can't really convey the illusion of spontaneity here. Why? Because I have written and deleted this review 3 times as I'm writing these lines. This is quite literally one of the hardest reviews I have ever written, mainly because conveying my stance on Deep Magic is pretty ambiguous and prone to misinterpretation.

But let's start at the beginning. This book is beautiful. Thanks to one particularly helpful gentleman, I managed to pledge by proxy over him (didn't have the bucks when the KS ran...) and when this book's physical copy arrived in the mail, I was utterly blown away. Not only did I receive a massive, gorgeous stitch-bound hardcover, it was in gorgeous full color and sported some of the very best pieces of artwork I've EVER SEEN. The matte paper helps create an illusion of an "old" tome and the superb, copious artworks render this book so beautiful, it even mops the floor with quite a few Paizo-books. Yes, that gorgeous. The layout, with its parchment-look, its subdued, unobtrusive glyphs further enhances this. Deep Magic is one of the most mind-staggeringly gorgeous books I've ever had the pleasure to read and both artists and layout-artists have been up to their A+++-game. Kudos!

Then, I went on and started reading beyond the forewords and the introductory short story by Ed Greenwood and after them, yes, I was utterly blown away and totally in the mind-set for the things to come:

The first we see would be the respective magical traditions. Old time fans of Kobold Quarterly and Kobold Press will see quite an array of old favorites herein again - from blood magic to fool's summonings, quite a bunch of conceptual goldies can be found herein. At their very best, these new traditions are ridiculously inspired - new ioun stones and ley lines would be two such examples. The latter, for examples, can be tapped by casters with concise rules to tap into their powers - while very powerful, these ley-lines can not only make for interesting tools that can turn the tide of battle and e.g. prevent a TPK or provide unique, cool ways to execute narratives. The transient nature of ley lines and the option to burn them out/change their course places control firmly within the hands of the DM, preventing abuse. That being said, as a DM, I have to decidedly advise against making the numerous ley line feats available for PCs - their balancing is odd/non-existent, with no-save, no-SR 1-round blinding effects and the like not necessarily constituting good resources to place in player hands.

The fool's summoning tricks go a different way - beyond interesting, more risky, but also more powerful summoning tricks, a copious amount of spells receive flavorful modifications and reskins - which brings me to another point. These traditions sport unique effects, and the same holds true for chaos/wonder magic, with distinct, odd effects and abilities rendering the experience of playing the respective schools pretty interesting. Alas, not all of the traditions herein receive such interesting rules - in fact, quite a few of the traditions adhere to the following presentation: We receive a short fluff-text, spell-lists by caster/level and then, a sample spellbook, including preparation ritual. (And yes, rules for intelligent, living spellbooks can be found herein as well - they are pretty sinister and narrative gold.)Now don't get me wrong, I *love* the inclusion of these books, but all in all, the respective "schools"/traditions, at least partially, feel too rudimentary - there is not enough to set the spells themselves apart, no guidance to develop additional spells for such a school and some classes receive e.g. one exclusive spell for such a tradition - not much reason to pick a tradition. By providing a tighter focus, the traditions could have been infinitely more compelling, more specific...but...on the other hand, we for example receive a complete, new full-blown mythic path with the living saint.

What are living saints? Well, for one, they are chosen of god(s) - what I mean by this is that, like many a mythological leader of religious prowess, these guys experience a highly interesting phase of tribulations, wherein they are severed from their gods and besieged by the whole pantheon - essentially, all gods can tempt the saint towards their ideology and sphere of influence, proposing different spells etc. for obeisance and quests. This can also be used for interesting foreshadowing and over all, the mythic path, intended for divine casters, is pretty much a cool choice with plenty of narrative potential ingrained into the very fabric of the thing, especially due to the numerous spells sporting names of the saints, adding a cool narrative dimension and unobtrusive fluff to these miraculous powers. This mythic path is the first that actually feels like it could have originated in fiction, like it not only provides a rules-escalation, but an actually defining, narrative tool. I adore this path and the resonance of our own world's myths, with obvious references to Christian (sans the ideology, mind you - you can't be offended by this guy) narrative structures that are very ingrained into how we perceive certain myths, this path is a thing of beauty.

Vril, the unique pseudo-atlantean power-source introduced in Sunken Empires (inspired by Bulwer-Lytton's writing) also receives new specialists, both archetype, feat and spell-wise. Converting spells into vril-blasts, for example, is pretty interesting. That being said, careful looks into this system also shows us a couple of somewhat odd choices - the archetypes, for example, are separated and relegated to their own chapter - so instead of looking up e.g. vril magic, you have to know where what can be found. Yes, organization is neatly organized by crunch-type, but in a book this focused on awesome concepts, I think another solution would have been appropriate. Also odd - Ink Magic, in depiction pretty much a tradition, can be found in the chapter on rune-magic. Strange.

But this line of reasoning brings me to the first issue of this book, though it is admittedly one of preference. The traditions as such, as has always been the strong forte of Kobold Press, just BRIM with imagination. They provide iconic, well--crafted concepts that set the imagination ablaze. I know a couple of them from their original books and the fluff, usually, did in some way limit the respective traditions - whether it's the lost magic of vril, the blood magic of some limited tribes/traditions or the lost magic used to slow the progress of the Wasted West's Old Ones...there always was this implied scarcity, this alignment of crunch with philosophies, ethnicities and accomplishments. So the PCs have this powerful spell xyz, BECAUSE they have taken on caster zxy, because they have braved the ruins of Gru'tharkrr...

This book collects all of these traditions and breaks their spells into a massive, huge chapter, dissolving the lines between them and implying by its very organization a general availability not implied in singular presentations - essentially, we have a disjunction of fluff from crunch to a certain extent. Now this means that you have to search the spells in the lists if you want to make a specialist, but have an easier time when just browsing through the book, looking for spells generally available - hence, the implication is that these spells are available freely, akin to how spell presentation works in Paizo's big books. Now don't get me wrong, one could argue that THIS is exactly what this book tries to do, analogue to the big Paizo-books, where you essentially slap down the book and have a general extension of the arsenal. My contention, ultimately, is that this is balance-wise one of the decisions that shoot the book in its metaphorical foot.

In my first iteration of this review, I went through all of the crunch here in these traditions step-by-step - alas, this bloated the review to the point where it wasn't helpful anymore. (And if I'm saying that, with my tendency towards verbose reviews, you'll have an inkling of what a monstrosity this would have become - my guess was 20+ pages - and let's be honest, no one would read that...)

So, Deep Magic does sport, a HUGE chapter of spells, both new and old - all collated and organized by handy spell-levels. This chapter is where my first and second review-attempts broke apart. The first one due to my so far pretty jubilant review receiving a harsh dose of reality, the second because I realized that step-by-step analysis makes no sense, bloating the review. If that was not ample clue - not all is well here. It is only understandable that a vast array of authors will have diverging voices and different mastery of the system and yes, this does show herein. Now before you get the pitchforks, let me state one thing explicitly and clearly - the *concepts* of these spells are WONDROUS. Gorgeous. Superb. They are iconic. They *feel* like magic, not like some energy-colored damage-dealing vehicles. They manage to capture the elusive spirit of what magic ought to be and bring the "magic" back into a game often lost and sorely missed. I'd take the concepts of this book over those in Ultimate Magic and Combat combined any day.

The concepts.

For there is no way around the following statement, no way to sugar-coat it without outright lying. There are a lot of cool, functional spells herein. However, there also is a vast array of spells that would have desperately required the hands of an editor who truly knows rules-language and/or a capable developer. Name the issue and you have a very good chance of finding a representative of the issue herein, quite possibly in a spell that you absolutely love concept-wise.

This chapter almost broke my heart.

Any closer analysis shows ample problems, often to the point of rendering a spell highly ambiguous, unbalanced or downright inoperable - there are examples of authors obviously mixing up flat-footed and touch attack AC. Mechanics more closely related to 3.X-design. Spells that do not allow for saves which should. SR that is ignored when comparable spells allow for it. Contradictions between spell-block and its text. Faulty AoEs/ranges/targets. False spell-block formatting. Wrong save. Damage-escalation. You name it. Damage + no-save stagger at a level where it's ridiculous. Non-sense descriptor-placement. Balance is not even crying in the corner anymore, it is utterly GONE, evaporated into some nebulous dimension. Some author(s) seem to not get the distinction between material components, foci and divine foci. Unspecified bleed damage à la inflict " receives bleed 3" - bleed 3 WHAT? Hp? Attribute? What about a spell generating an AoE geyser-like effect that gets just about everything wrong you can possibly get wrong regarding AoEs? Racial spells that could have simply used focus as a limiting component instead of wonky wording-crutches that try (badly) to cut out other races? Sentences that peter off. Wording so convoluted I can't tell you how exactly a spell works. You name the glitch, it's here - and right next to it, you may see one of the coolest spells ever.

This massive chapter was one of the most heart-rending experiences of my reviewer-career. My first skip through it saw me exhilarated. Closer scrutiny brought disappointment, actual in-depth analysis...well, there's no way around it...pain. Now beyond the glitches, the balance-concerns herein may partially stem from bad design-choices and lack of rules-language development...but at least partially, they also have their origin in the simple fact that the book took the "soft" restrictions that served as a balancing factor before and took them away by smashing all spells into one big chapter. Where before, spells may have been "broken", but rare, the implication here is that they are freely available, exacerbating what might before have been a reward into power-escalation. Now yes, in face of the vast army of issues that plague this chapter, even a change in presentation in the proposed way would be a drop of water in a vast desert of issues and would do nothing to render the formal issues void...but yeah, that would be one exacerbating factor.

And one that extends, alas, to the next chapter. I am a huge fan of runic/glyph magic. Allowing non-casters to learn the powers of rues is one of the most-beloved tropes for me - whether clad in a pseudo-Scandinavian guise or via lovecraftian alignment with aboleths et al.; The very concepts of the runes are powerful, and intentionally so. But once again, stripping these of their fluff, of their direct place within the world, of the achievements required to learn them, renders them problematic. When you have to mimic the deeds of the gods to learn the rune Uruz and then, finally have it, it becomes okay if you can paint it on your shield for a 1/day +20 bonus to overrun/bull rush - chances are, your DM knew what was coming and planned accordingly. If the fluff context is taken away, a ridiculously powerful rune, accessible for 1 feat, remains - and suddenly, we see the system stumble under the weight of one of its foundations being eroded.

I'm not going to analyze the word of power-subchapter, mainly because I consider the base-system introduced in Ultimate Magic just not well-designed. On the plus-side, the awesome incantations pioneered by Zombie Sky Press back in the day receive a significant array of new ones and these tend to be pretty awesome narrative devices.

Alas, the sloppy rules-language of the spells also partially (but thankfully, only partially!) extends to the following chapter, detailing bloodlines and mysteries. What about tentacle-attacks that do not specify as what they are treated? Check. Flawed target/reach-nomenclature...check. Sp, Su and Ex, in some cases, seem to have been determined at random, rendering some abilities utterly opaque. You get the idea. Now yes, the problems are much less pronounced than among the spells, but they are still here. As an additional note - the options among these class options do not feel as though they were balanced among themselves, with power-levels ranging from weak to VERY strong. Still, overall, these options feel relatively operable and easily fixed and the concepts provided are often utterly unique and cool. On a footnote, wizards, oddly, have their arcane discoveries/focused schools etc. in the tradition-section in the beginning, ripping the class options associated with the traditions in half. The problems outlined here also extend, alas and much to my chagrin, to the chapter on archetypes. That being said, the archetype's main flaw remains the focus on the spells/traditions - you can't build a house on sand and these, as compelling as they often are, sometimes do just that - which is a pity, for here, much like with aforementioned class options, the imaginative potential is rather impressive..

The following chapters, thankfully, at least for me, redeemed the book, at least partially - a concise and utterly awesome chapter on the creation of homunculi/leastlings and simple rules for undead crafting as well as nice clockwork templates for familiars et al. make provide significant fun, engagement and narrative potential. Speaking of which - portrayed in glorious artworks, a significant array of iconic, cool NPCs - those that are here, are great and flavorful, but I can't help but feel that one per tradition would have been nice to see.

Part II of my review is in the product discussion, post #319. See you there.


The Themes Are Strong With This One

*****

Plenty of other people have explained what this book is all about, and the description above is entirely adequate. That's why I'd like to focus on the part of this book I truly appreciate: Its collection of themes.

Pretty much every spell in this book is tied to one or more themes and ideas - Clockwork Magic, Gambling Magic, etc. - and these lists offer ways to give a character many casting options with a similar thematic feel.

This may not be an 'optimal' way of playing, but I've always preferred to build characters for flavor instead of perfectly calculated power, and Deep Magic supports a lot of different flavors. This is a great addition for games where 3PP content is allowed, and heartily recommended.


*****

I like this book a lot. If I had my guess as to what Ultimate Magic 2 would look like, this would be it. More than just a book of spells Deep Magic supports magic in a lot of different ways.

The first chapter essentially gives spell lists by theme, discussing each with some flavor and providing some spell books that can be found containing the spells. There's also some smackling of rules such as new wizard schools, Ioun Stones, and leylines. This does mean that you wind up having to read the theme before you can find some rules, for example; there isn't a list of arcane discoveries unless you find a sidebar somewhere. This organization may be jarring but it has been a breath of fresh air for me as I tend to pick my spells and options by theme as opposed to sort out and optimize.

The new spells vary in usefulness and brokeness but nothing truly past the Core Rulebook in power per spell level. The spells also support other Kobold Press classes such as the Elven Archer and White Necromancer, which is a pretty big plus if you have those and ignorable if you don't There are also little side bars that give a bit more fluff to the spell themes.

Chapter 3 is a huge pluss for me. Ink magic seems out of place as it looks like it should have been in Chapter 1, as it doesn't give new rules to the extent of the Glyphs and Runes. The Glyphs and Runes are winners for me by being means for even non-casters to get a touch of magic. Basically you take a feat or two and you get a static bonus and some scaling access to magical effects. Some of these are lifesavers and add quite a bit of fluff if you're running anything involving Norse gods or aboleth.

Chapter 4 introduces Incantations from Zombie Sky Press so if you don't have that its a fun bonus.

Chapter 5 and 6 give bloodlines, archetypes and mysteries. Nothing that special but they support a lot of themes introduced in chapter 1 and look like a lot of fun if you're working a theme.

Chapter 7 has some fluff and rules for undead crafting, familiar stuff and homuculi. I didn't look too deep into this chapter as I felt it didn't add too much that wasn't already achievable in the game. Plus it's a short chapter with just a few bits of crunch to look at.

Lastly there's some NPCs to throw at your players.

Overall I think this massive book is well worth the price. It brings life to a lot of themes that have been neglected and gives a lot to do with the flavor to match. Its more than just a list of options which I appreciate but will be difficult to sort out if you're just looking for those options. I'm giving it five stars despite that and some minor editing mistakes because as a whole this is almost mandatory for cool options for making magic.


Magical Expectations, but deep disappointment

**( )( )( )

When I first heard about this book, I was thrilled with the idea. "A whole book of spells and spell concepts? Sounds great! I have to get myself a copy!" So, I waited with eager anticipation for the local game store to get a copy in and promptly bought one.

And then... disappointment. The huge selection of spells in the book had some excellent ideas, but there were just so many with problems that I simply could never allow them in a campaign without substantial tweaking. The magical concepts were intriguing, but largely lacked the depth that they deserved and, like the spells, a lot of it simply felt as if it needed too much adaptation before they could be used.

Chapter 1 - New Magic Options - 3/5
Lots of interesting concepts, but a number of them get as little as half a page, most of which is just saying what spells later on in the book relate to the concept. A few get a bit more of a look in, with (mostly) well designed arcane schools and subdomains, but the feats therein look almost invariably too powerful.
Of the major sections, Vril seems poorly explained, Ley Lines interesting but powerful, Iouns uninspiring, Illumination and fool's summonings too strong for me to consider allowing in a campaign. Having not yet used Mythic things, I cannot make accurate judgement on the Living Saint Mythic Path. The True Curses are about the only thing that I feel as if I could use straight out of the book.

Chapter 2 - New Spells - 1/5
I'll start positive. The concepts are great.
Sadly, that's about it, and probably the only thing that stopped buying the book a waste of money for me.
A huge percentage of the spells simply need at least minor tweaking. Things like putting caps on the amount of damage spells can do, or durations of conditions.
Sometimes, however, spells are just masses of flaws. Spell levels are wildly inappropriate, of the wrong school completely or have nonsensical saving throws. Material and focus components are continually mixed up. The Evil descriptor is placed randomly throughout, regularly in places where it simply doesn't make sense, and then left out in places where, traditionally, it is quite necessary (This is something of a pet hate for me).
The very helpful guide to spell balancing in Ultimate Magic is completely ignored it seems; the spell Dizzying Bolt is almost exactly the example given as an unbalanced spell in that very book.
That said, not all of the spells are quite that horrendous. Some of them are actually good and wouldn't need any modifications, but they are a minority (or feel like they are).

Chapter 3 - Symbolic Magic - 2/5
Just as it says in the book: "A mastered rune is like a clerical domain, but it is much more specific and its powers can be harnessed by any class." It is, however, about the same level of power. With this, your fighter gets to cast Baleful Polymorph once per day at 9th level, and by the same level can make a glyph of warding 1/day that does 4d8 sonic damage. Neither of these abilities allow a save. With a single feat.
A class based around getting these would be a much, much better option, but even so, needs work.
As for Ink Magic, it probably should have been included in Chapter 1, since it's in the same vein. Spells are all silenced for some minor adaptations.

Chapter 4 - Words and Incantations
I would assume that the bit about incantations isn't in a core Pathfinder book, because I don't recall seeing that anywhere. May have missed it, of course. However, the book doesn't say where I should reference to learn more, and it doesn't provide much explanation on them itself, so I'd assume that this isn't the first place they appear. Consequently I cannot accurately judge this section.
I thought that most of the Wordcasting section was unnecessary. The system was clear enough to begin with, but for whatever reason they've tried to clarify it. Adds some nice new meta words though.

Chapter 5 - Bloodlines and Mysteries - 4/5
A pleasant change from the earlier chapters. All of the section seems comparatively well balanced, and I'd probably play some of them. Might need some tweaking (especially where the spells are concerned), but these would be minor things at worst (or I hope they would be)

Chapter 6 - Archetypes - 2/5
These range from appealing to questionable. Ofttimes, the flaws come from the uncertain nature of the concepts they're based on, such as the Geomancer, so I can hardly hold that against them. The rest of the time I would need a long, hard think before including them in a campaign. A rare few seem good enough to allow straight up, and one or two I might even play sooner rather than later.

Chapter 7 - Magical Constructs - 5/5
I wasn't expecting to find this section in the book, and ignored it until I started writing this. That was a mistake.
The section on the nature of Homunculi felt quite insightful, and gave what I had previously thought of as a block of stats or mindless servant some substantial character. The additional mechanical things felt well balanced and appropriate for once.
The alternate rules for undead creation likewise felt well balanced and quite usable. The Leastlings have the potential to be fun, potentially even at high levels. All in all, this chapter is excellent and easily the best part of the book.

Chapter 8 - Sample Spellcasters - 3/5
It's always handy to have a character and stat block to pull out in a tight spot. These are quite specific but in depth examples, which of course cuts both ways. More memorable to use, but you need to specifically plan to use them.
I would have expected more of them to display the various concepts and spells that the book is based around to give quick and easy play test material. Perhaps that's telling...

Other - 4/5
Book looks pretty. They quite rightly say you shouldn't judge a book like that, but it does add a certain something. There are some big names in there as well, and the Ed Greenwood story and Margaret Weis forward are something of a selling point.

End
The things I actually got the book for were, sad to say, a huge disappointment. The concepts are there, and are just waiting for a substantial rewrite or for someone to come along and do them better. It was the things I didn't get the book for that were best. That is, Chapter 7 and the appearance.
Deep Magic is likely to have a prominent place in my bookshelf. But purely in a decorative capacity or for squashing spiders with.
That said, I'd be interested in a reprint if things were better balanced.


Almost Perfect

****( )

I want sooooooo much to give this five stars. The beauty of this book is the introduction of very specific forms of magic; Ley, Ooze, Clockwork and many others. And I ADORE the idea of specializations outside of the normal spell schools. Mages and sorcerers who find a sirens call in some rare and esoteric group of spells, giving them power unknown to those more "mundane" casters.

You have so many new seeds of magical concepts that could fuel campaign after campaign of based on these untouched ideas. But the one problem (and in my opinion the ONLY problem in this beautiful tome) is that we have ideas a mile wide but only a few feet deep. I'd have almost preferred only half of these concepts to be presented but each of them presented more fully, with a longer spell-list and greater detail about how Ley Magic, for example, is different and how it can be best presented.

My hope is that this will lead to some dedicated smaller works from Kobold, where we are given even more specifity about these intriguing concepts. I know I'll be purchasing quite a few of them.


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