Advanced Arcana, Volume I (PFRPG) PDF

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My Dearest Student,
I am glad to hear that you were accepted into the Aubergrave Academy of Magecraft. I wasn’t surprised that you were able to gain entrance—I’ve always known you were a bright and promising young pupil, but still, I am excited to hear that you will be joining the elite ranks of mages who’ve attended Aubergrave. I’m sure you recall that it was the academy I attended when I was young, and, if what Dean Revis tells me about your entrance tests is true, I’m sure that your father would have been very proud of you.

To celebrate the occasion, I wanted to provide you with a book of spells that was given to me when I joined the academy, and which has proven invaluable both as a student, and in later parts of my life as well. Many of the spells in this tome are ones that I still use regularly to this day. Know that these aren’t the kinds of spells that you will be taught in the academy: they’re notably more subtle and complex, but I assure you that they are well worth the time required to learn them, and should help you greatly in your time at the academy. Magic missile and summon monster can only take you so far, after all...

    Some of Advanced Arcana’s features include:
  • 65 brand-new spells, many of which explore what spells can do in new and exciting ways!
  • New domains for clerics, bloodlines for sorcerers, and focused schools for wizards, plus new familiars.
  • Beautiful art from a variety of artists.
  • A short story on the discovery of these spells.
  • Over 50 pages.

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An RPG Resource Review


How does magical education work in your game? There's quite a trend within Pathfinder RPG product to suggest that you can go to school to study magic, just as you or I in the real world can take classes in history or computer science... a reasonable assumption in a setting where magic is part of everyday life. This book takes this view, opening with a note penned to a newly-accepted student by a family friend, an older mage who wishes him well. This explains the purpose of the work, a collection of spells that should prove useful to any aspiring mage. Three specialist groups of spells are mentioned: 'quick' spells which are lesser-powered versions of spells that can be cast fast in an emergency, spells which refresh the mind and enable the re-casting of spells already used for the day, and 'segmented' spells that occupy several slots rather than one, but allow pretty amazing things to be done.

Next are some delightful philosophical thoughts by the original author of the book, clearly someone who takes magic seriously and doesn't view it merely as a list of actions for use when brawling! Much of this skilfully blends an in-character approach with recognition of the underlying game mechanics... as example, "According to the ancient sage Drawzi of Astocthes. the cost of a spell is measured in mental energy, with spells being classified in nine tiers based on the amount of energy the spell consumes when cast", which is prehaps the most delightful way of describing that spells come in levels and the higher level your character is, the higher level spells he can cast that I have read! It's a very academic approach, some readers may find it a bit heavy going, but if you want to play a spell-caster who takes a studious approach to his magic it will give you some wonderful ideas to throw around in casual conversation to bemuse your colleagues who swing swords or pick locks for a living.

Following an outstanding illustration of a 'Young Mage' lounging with a book in his hand, a couple of sidebars explain the mechanical implications of segmented spells, showing how they play out, and notes on how best to incorporate the spells from this book into your game. A wizard wishing to buy his own copy of Advanced Arcana needs to come up with 25,000 gp, for example!

Now getting down to business, spell lists are followed by full write-ups of each new spell. There are lists of spells for alchemists, bards, clerics, druids, inquisitors, paladins, rangers, sorcerers/wizards, summoners, and witches. The full spell descriptions are presented in standard format, and merely reading through them conjures up many an idea for using them to effect...

As example of the novel concept of the segmented spell, have you ever wondered how places consecrated to a particular deity have all those cool effects associated with them? Perhaps high-level clerics devoted to that deity spent a lot of time and money casting holy presence there: it builds up over six castings of a spell that takes four hours and material components of incense and oils costing 1,500 gp (that's for each of the six castings, mind you) but provides several effects that make it clear that this is indeed a holy place. Even better, you can customise these effects from a list so that they best reflect the interests and concerns of the deity in question.

Then Appendix 1: On the Assembly of this Tome contains a delightful account of the life and times of Kabaz Anvitz, the ostensible author of this spell book. Excellently written and entertaining, it continues the 'academic' theme of his introduction - and demonstrates clearly how being a bookish and scholarly mage can provide plenty scope for adventure! Other appendices present new clerical domains and sorcerer bloodlines, as well as what are termed focussed wizard schools. These allow a wizard to develop a narrower speciality in their magic than the standard schools. Oh, and there are some new familiars tucked away here, if you fancy something a bit exotic - an animated object, perhaps, or a poison frog. Or maybe you'd rather have a rabbit familiar.

The whole book is a delight, with thoughtful spells, an endearing academic approach to the study of magic, and some fantastic illustrations. Just the thing to give to an aspiring mage...

An excellent, innovative resource for casters


This pdf is 59 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page credits, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover.

That leaves 53 pages of new arcane, not a bad bang-to-buck-ratio, so let’s dive in.
The pdf starts with one page of in-character introduction to the book in the form of a letter as well as 3 pages of introduction that explain the new concepts introduced in this book. The explanation is an awesome read, using foot-notes and a nice pseudo-academic tone I always associate with mages.

After that, we get 2 pages that explain the new concepts of segmented spells (spells that take up more than one spell-slot, but are more powerful), which is one of the most elegant solutions for e.g. cooperative ritualistic casting I’ve seen so far and quite frankly, I’m astonished why no one has had the idea to do so until now. There are also quick spells, spells that can either be cast fast or as a regular spell. We also get spells that refresh spell-slots for the casters. Another side-bar on the page has some optional rules to handle spells from non-core books like this – the ideas are nice and work fine: I’ll be using them for all 3pp products in the future!

After that, we get 5 pages of spell-lists and after that, we get the 65 new spells.
I’m going to list the number of spells that are added to each class:
-Alchemist: 2 spells
-Bard: 19 spells
-Cleric: 25 spells
-Druid: 18 spells
-Inquisitor: 4 spells
-Paladin: 2 spells
-Ranger: 3 spells
- Sorceror/Wizard: 57 spells
-Summoner: 4 spells
-Witch: 10 spells
The description of the spells take up 24 pages and are quite interesting. Apart from one orison, none of the spells felt boring, unimaginative etc. – They are quite frankly almost all killer, no filler. I’m usually not a friend of spell-sourcebooks, but these spells, especially the segmented ones, fill a niche that has went unattended for too long. None of the spells felt too powerful or useless and none duplicate lame effects and have their niche.
The first Appendix is 8 pages long and depicts a cool in-character description on how the book was compiled – being an enjoyable read, this section also doubles as a nice set of adventure hooks for further research of the spell-concepts packed into this book.

Appendix 2 features 8 new cleric domains. (3 pages)

Appendix 3 details 4 Djinni-related Sorceror Bloodlines: Dao, Efreet, Djinn and Marid. (3 pages)

Appendix 4 introduces 8 focused schools for wizard specialists.

Appendix 5 features 8 new familiars, the animated object, the hedhehog, the newt, the poisonous frog, the rabbit, the skeleton, the turtle and the bonsai tree! Yep, the bonsai tree familiar. Awesome idea!


The editing, layout and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any typos or glitches. The book is full-color and parchment-style and features artwork that ranges from fair to beautiful. I haven’t seen the artwork before and really liked most of it.

I did not expect much of this book, to be honest. I was expecting another moderately-inspired compilation of spells. What I got was something completely different: The writing, both fluff and crunch are inspired, segmented spells are an elegant, easy way to implement rituals, quickened spells are useful and I like the concept of spells that let you regenerate minor spell-slots.

The appendices add to the overall appeal and feature some nice ideas. For 5 bucks you get an EXCELLENT book on the arcane that is truly “advanced”. The only true gripe I have with this book is, that there is no printer-friendly version included. Advanced Arcana I gets the Endzeitgeist-seal-of-approval nevertheless – I rate it 5 stars. Detract a star if you want a printer-friendly version. If you want some cool, fresh edges for your casters, check this out.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Anyone have this yet? If so what did you think?

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm hoping to post my review of this in the next day or two.

To give a concise preview: I liked it.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Cool look forward to reading your review.

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As promised, my review of the book is now up over on RPGNow.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Alzrius wrote:
As promised, my review of the book is now up over on RPGNow.

Ok that review sold it for me.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Nice review End.

This is still on my list of things to review. Wanted to do it this weekend with a couple of other books. Sadly RL had other plans with work on our apartment most of last week and then me getting a mild head cold on top of it. So hopefully over the holiday weekend I can get caught up.

Thanks for the kind words, D_M!

I know only too well about the myriad ways in which RL can interfere with any plans one might have. I hope you'll soon get better!

All the best

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