The Ebon Vault: Secrets of the Staff (PFRPG) PDF

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Staves have long been an iconic accessory for the magically-minded, but, when it comes to game rules, staves have never been the most exciting magic items. From the makers of Advanced Arcana and The Book of Beginnings, The Ebon Vault: Secrets of the Staff aims to end this trend by re-imagining what a staff can do.

This book includes over 70 brand new staves, each and every one of which has fun and unique abilities. Most prominent among these are gemstaves, a new type of staff which is powered by a magical battery, known as a spellgem. Each spellgem is different, and many of them have a special effect which modifies the spells it powers. The book also includes a number of staves which, in addition to allowing the user to casts spells, also allows him or her to apply metamagic effects to spells cast both with and without the staff.

If you want more from your staves, look no further. With The Ebon Vault: Secrets of the Staff, you’ll never look at magic staves the same way again.

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Want some neat idea's for staves? Take a look at this.


The Ebon Vault: Secrets of the Staff by Necromancers of the Northwest

This product is 34 pages long. It starts with a cover, forward, and credits. (3 pages)

Staves (26 pages)
It starts off with a introduction and a copy of the staff rules from PFRPG core rule book. Next it gives a table of all the staves in the book with their costs. There is 69 new staves in this book, following the table it has a full entry for each staff, including descriptions. There is basically 3 groups of staves in this book as follows.

Gem Staves – A new type of staff that uses magical gems to work. The staff has spells built it but needs the gems to power them, But it functions more or less like a staff when there is a gem in the staff. There is 16 different gem staves.

School Staves – There is a journeyman and master version for each school of magic. The journeyman staves have 4 spells from their school, they are easier to recharge if using spells from that school and can be used to counter spells from that school. The master versions can hold 9 spells and they can be changed, charges used depends on the level of the spell. The on thing I don't care for the master staff is it limits you to one spell of each level. Forcing you to use 1-9 level spells one of each level. Making the staff much less useful for anyone but high level characters. I would have preferred something like limit by level, such as 1 9th, 2 8th, 3 7th etc. I think that would have been better but still very cool idea.

Theme Staves – This are staves with a common theme, such as Lighting Rod a staff with lighting spells, or elemental themed staff etc. Most of theme where cool concepts for themes and for the most part they was all well done.

Spell Gems (3 pages)
We get 10 types of gems that hold charges and a few add other effects as well.

It ends with a OGL and back cover. (2 pages)

Closing thoughts. The art work is color with a handful of images of staves but not noting which one the picture was suppose to be of, would have been nice to have a basic image for each staff. Editing and layout was so so, there was a couple of errors. The gem staves was a cool idea, I would have liked to have seen some more variety in the gems used in them though. The school staves I really liked other than my one comment on the master staves. The themed staves where mostly very cool, I would have liked to have seen a bit more fluff on them and maybe to make them feel a bit more unique on a few of the more powerful ones. But all and all pretty good. On the downside there is no ToC though there is bookmarks and while the parchment background looks cool it is not very print friendly. So what's my rating? I am giving this one a 3.5 star. I think it could have used a little more polish and really could use a print friendly version. Get a print friendly and fix editing errors and it is worthy of a 4 star.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.

Nice crunchy reinvention of staves, somewhat short on the fluff-side


This book is 34 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving 29 pages of content.

Due to staves containing several spells and these ones also having additional qualities, I'm breaking my usual format for this review and review the staves according to groups they belong to. The staves herein range in price from a modest 2090 Gp to 265000 Gp.

All the staves come with costs to create, requirements, prices etc. and at least a short physical description.
The first group of staves we are introduced to are the Gemstaves:

Gemstaves are powered not by the usual charges, but rather by spellgems, which are their own magic items (some of which with nice properties) and can be added to the respective staff. When venturing into a dungeon or the wild, PCs can thus carry spare gems with them to power their staves, greatly enhancing their useability. We get 16 gemstaves and 10 different spellgems for them, from unstable ones that could explode to chaotic ones and a fire-themed one, this new class of items will see some use in my game.

The next group of staves I'll call Journeyman's/Master's staves. We get one Journeyman's Staff and one Master's Staff for each of the schools of magic. Journeyman's staves usually feature 4 spells they can cast. They can be recharged better by expending spells of the school the staff is aligned with - 2 charges are restored instead of one. Additionally, by expending a charge after identifying a spell of the given school being cast, they can counter the spell. Great tools to make for Wizard duels. Master's Staves are also aligned with the schools and can hold up to nine spells. Hold spells? Yep, you can actually change the spells they hold. Casting them via the staff takes 1/3 of the spell-level in charges. Master's Staves also increase the DC of spells of the respective school cast by the wielder by one, stacking with Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus.

Finally, there are what I call theme-staves, i.e. staves that follow a certain theme of spells and always have some additional kind of quality that is useful beyond combat. Some can be broken for a retributive strike, which I always considered a cool idea. Due to the fact that they are a lot of ground to cover and a lot of abilities to write up, I'll keep it short and sweet: I liked most of them, although some abilities felt a bit strong. None outright op, though.

The pdf is extensively bookmarked, the artwork for the staves is all right, editing is ok ( I noticed two glitches) and layout adheres to the NWN-standard. Which unfortunately once again means that we don't get a printer-friendly version but rather the used-parchment look. With regards to the crunch presented, I can't complain: The staves are imaginative, cool and the new classes of staves make them iconic and viable options for both PCs and villains. I especially liked the concept of spellgems and hope it will be expanded upon in the future. That being said, I'll refrain from going all out and giving this a 5-star rating. Why? Because I feel the pdf lacks a unique staff, history, hooks or even suggestions on roleplaying elements like e.g. treant-wood in the cnstructions of the staves. The crunch-part of this book is great, but there is next to no fluff and thus, this little extra awesomeness that makes a good buy an outstanding buy is missing. That being said, 4 stars is still a great rating. If you want cooler staves, check this out!

Dark Archive

Sounds interesting have liked your other products I picked up so far.

Dark Archive

Nice review End.

Thanks, D_M!

Dark Archive

Reviewed and that is now the last of my Necromancers of the Northwest products waiting to be reviewed. Least until I buy more that is. :)

Neat review, D_M!

I'm curious, if I wanted to create my own custom Gemstaff, how would I go about calculating the price? As it doesn't give us a new formula to use, and the normal ones don't add up properly of course.

There seems to have been some issues with the final pricing of the gemstaves. While the existing prices should probably stay as-is, for any future gemstaves that you wanted to create, we would recommend the following formula for calculating their market price:

Price of the included spellgem + (25 x caster level x spell level) for each spell that the staff can cast.

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