Super Genius Presents: The Vile Magic of Argonax the Mad (PFRPG) PDF

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Welcome to The Vile Magic of Argonax the Mad, the first product in the new Super Genius Presents line of books! Each of the products in this line is the strong vision of a single game designer, bypassing the normal planning, development, and revision process used for most Super Genius Games products. While we consider those processes to be a major part of maintaining a high level of compatibility, quality, and balance in our main product lines, we also know that sometimes a writer has a strong vision that doesn’t exactly match the style of our company, or that the designer doesn’t want to be diluted through normal development processes. In those cases, if we believe in the skill and vision of the designer, we now have the option of presenting their work without laying claim to it as part of one of our standard product lines.

While most Super Genius Games products are the carefully developed work of a team (even when there’s only one designer, the input of the whole Super Genius staff is likely to have affected the product), Super Genius Presents are the editorial pages, the solo rants, and the soapboxes. As a company we’re giving individual creators a chance to present their ideas more directly to the consumer. As commercial works, we’ll ensure such products are professionally produced and edited, but the tone, content, and voice are largely under the control of the authors.

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Crafting (disturbing) minor artifacts PLUS stellar fluff? Hell yeah!

5/5

This pdf is 44 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving a whopping 42 pages of content, so let's check this out!

Who or what is Argonax? Essentially, Argonax is a pretense for the DM to introduce rather interesting and dubious magic (items) to his/her campaign, but the mad archwizard can be so much more: Argonax is a driven individual that is on the verge of transcending any pretense of mortality - the archwizard's final goal is to unearth the secret of artifact creation and in order to claim that knowledge, he has lived many a life: For Argonax has developed a cunning plan, his college obscura: After having died for the first time, he started to learn from the perished masters, only to have himself rebirthed into another race. More importantly, this new incarnation takes up a new class and does not recall its true identity. Starting off as a regular being, the memories of countless lives and the amoral consciousness inexorably resurface and squash the wizard's latest incarnation's personality to add the accumulated knowledge to Argonax's own. His spellbooks, works and feats have been published by myriad versions and may in and of themselves make for the final goals of quests - for while major artifact creation still eludes the wizard, he has succeeded in a plethora of break-through, one of which would be the creation of so-called curios of Argonax:

Essentially, Argonax has devised multiple rather intriguing magical items and special magic properties that can be utilized by those aware of them and able to replicate them via his notes, but said items also result in rather intriguing side-effects that range from mildly disturbing changes of appearance and skill bonuses to rather severe consequences that range from the mundane sex-change to rather unpleasant psychosis and cannibalistic healing. While this may sound as if the craft of Argonax is "vile" in a 3.5 BoVD-style, it really is not: Both Argonax and his craft is rather depicted as amoral and indeed, depending on your world, his fractured cults (the so-called Harbingers of Argonax, who believe he is to become a new deity) do have something in favor of their mad prophet: Since Argonax is reincarnating through just about every species imaginable, he and his cult are utterly without prejudice. If your campaign setting features "Dark" themes like racism and shades of grey-mentality, this makes for a rather interesting take and could easily see the PCs, at least temporarily work for such a cult. Don't get that in the wrong way, though: Argonax is essentially the quintessential amoral, detached magical scientist and should not be confused with a pleasant archmage from next door.

But back to the curios: We get a list of a whopping (and rather cool) 100 of these side-effects and 19 different new shield and armor qualities that include firing armor spikes and even an armor that protects you from name-based spells, rituals etc. 10 new magical weapon qualities are also included, as are 6 signature specific rings. And then there's an item-class you might remember from the 3.5 days of old, the eldritch lense. These lenses let you convert your spells, much like a cleric's spontaneous heal-spell conversion, into the spell(s) contained in the respective eldritch lense.6 sample lenses as well as all the rules you'd need to create your own eldritch lenses are provided in this section - nice to see these interesting pieces of loot resurface, especially with the fluffy Argonax-angle!

I already mentioned Argonax's ultimate goal of creating major artifacts and that his efforts have been crowned with limited success - thus, we get e.g. the Cyclopean Helm of Argonax as a sample minor artifact - and yes, that's the awesome pyramid-head-style helm on the cover. In order to craft something like that, Argonaxhas also devised 15 new feats that go beyond what you'd usually expect of regular feats: Blood Reaping for example enhances your level-checks and checks if you've hurt the foe. The metamagic feats introduced in this section adds negative conditions like blindness and impeded movement to your spells and even regain expended spell-slots, fuelled by the dying breath of your adversaries. of course, feats for the creation of curios and minor artifacts are included and especially the latter is AWESOME. Crafting an artifact is HARD and the rules impose harsh restrictions on the crafting process and a steep personal cost of creating such items - not enough to deter PCs from trying, but it's hard enough to keep them from trying to make too many.

The spell-section includes lists for alchemists, antipaladins and the magus and, what can I say, the spells rock as hard as one would expect from SGG-releases - Want to alter e.g. a poison to affect another mental or physical attribute? There's a spell for that in here. Want to punish your foes by having their blood develop mouths that try to bite those trying to heal the wounds you inflicted? There's a spell for that! Panic foes by changing the terrain into a gore-splattered nightmare? Yep, and there's also a higher-level invisibility and the ability to prevent extradimensional access by your foes and further punish foes that have succumbed to your hexes. The spell he uses for his own returns is also part of the deal, as is the option to transform one's limbs into grotesquely elongated things and permanently make foes pariahs to those encountered. Especially fans of the witch-class practically have to check this pdf out for the spells, for one of Argonax current incarnations was a witch...

Finally, there are 3 sample harbingers of Argonax (all witches) at CR 5, 11 and 17.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good - while I noticed some minor glitches, they were few and far in-between and did not deter from my enjoyment of the pdf. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard, the b/w-interior artworks are nice and the pdf comes with full, nested bookmarks. The cover-artwork is plain AWESOME, but I don't get why we don't get a version of it without the text/borders - I so want to show this cover to my players! The content herein is top-notch and offers the rock-solid mechanics one would expect from crunch-grandmaster Owen K.C. Stephens. This pdf does something different, though: Free of the restraints of SGG's usual format, this pdf also showcases Owen's VERY interesting and talented capabilities to write intriguing fluff that is not only captivating in its prose, but also ensures due to its concept that just about every world should find a niche for Argonax and its creations - I'm hard-pressed to envision a DM that has any trouble integrating the content herein and indeed, Argonax might make for a whole campaign arc or just a side-note in your PC's career. I wholeheartedly applaud this first offering of SGG's new line of products and look forward to seeing more of these far-out concepts that go beyond usual product lines being realized. So, the writing is stellar and the ideas cool, the mechanics solid, what do you want more? Personally, I would have loved to see some sample incarnations of Argonax stated out and a no-text version of the STUNNING cover-artwork. Thus, I'm going to settle for a final verdict of 5 stars, just short of the seal of approval - an excellent, cool pdf that hopefully means we'll see more fluff in SGG-releases, at least in this line of products.

Endzeitgeist out.


Scarab Sages

The first book in the new "Super Genius Presents" line, The Vile Magic of Argonax the Mad, is now available! This book is something I've been working on for months, in what little spare time I can scrape together, and it's significantly different from a typical SGG Pathfinder-compatible product. Rather than a book conceived and developed by the entire Super Genius staff, this project is much more a one-man-show – an "unplugged" version of how I write games without the (admittedly extremely useful) feedback from the other geniuses.

There's a good chance there will be more "Super Genius Presents" books in the future. I have a long list of ideas I've been saving, that I'm not ready to give over to become the kernel of Super Genius products. That's not to say I don't value their contributions – I absolutely do or I wouldn't be in business with them! But no matter how good a committee is, design by committee is still a different kind of activity that an entirely solo design. I love what we've managed to do together with our Class Options, Genius Guide, and Mythic Menagerie product lines. But I also want to stretch my solo design muscles, and offer up something a little different in scope and tone. Since I'm experimenting a bit, I don't want to call this a "Genius Guide," since my intent and outline are different from what we do with those books.

The "Super Genius Presents" line name is a sign that while SGG stands behind the production values of those books, they are very much the vision of their creators rather than the SGG collective. In addition to my own solo products, at least a couple of other authors have expressed some interest in making arrangements for us to do the editing, layout, and business end of things, while letting the author's vision shine through. I have no idea if we'll manage to make those deals work to everyone's satisfaction, but it's an interesting new way to try to do things.
So, what all is in The Vile Magic of Argonax the Mad? Well, the 44 page PDF includes:
How to Use This Book
Vile Magic can be used as a sourcebook of a new element of history and cosmology for a campaign world, or as just a collection of new (and often icky) magic items, feats, and spells.
The Mad One
An overview of the history of Argonax, the insane demi-mortal spellcaster who is living multiple lifetimes, as different races and classes, in an effort to recreate the knowledge of creating major artifacts.
The Works of Argonax the Mad
Descriptions of the workbooks and journals Argonx keeps creating in his many lifetimes.
Argonax the Outside and the College Obscura
What Argaonax is doing in the outer planes in-between lives, and how to handle that in a campaign.
The Harbingers of Argonax
A loose collection of cults drawn from multiple different cultures that wish to prepare the world for Argonax's next lifetime.
Using Argonax the Mad in Your Campaign
Suggestions on utilizing Argonax as an enemy, ally, background figure, planar threat, or even part of a PC's character history.
Vile Magic Items
As a guy trying to create major artifacts, Argonax has spent a lot of lvies creating new, often unpleasant, kinds of magic items.
The Powers of the Curios of Argonax
If you insist on trying to do things in ways no one ever has, there are going to be consequences. The highlight of this section is the table of 100 random magic item side effect powers, a common element in items created by Argonax, or using his notes.
Vile Armor and Shields
New armor and shield special abilities, as follows:
Attacking (melee)
Attacking (ranged)
Betraying (& improved & greater)
Charging
Dissipating
Gaze Reflecting
Impatient (& improved & greater)
Nameless
Retributive
Scourge
Tyrannical (& improved & greater)
Vengeful
Watchful
Vile Weapons
New weapon special abilities, as follows:
Elemental (and greater)
Enhancing
Featherlight
Invincible
Spectral (minor & major)
Soul Stealing
Sworn
Wearying
Vile Rings
For some reason, Argonax has never gone into much research regarding magic rings. Some scholars believe Argonax finds the symbolic ties of rings to such limits and oaths and pledges of friendship to be distasteful. Among the Harrowers, a common legend relates how early in his efforts, Argonax spoke with a powerful undead elf that had mastered all there was to know about magic rings, and concluded further study one the issue was pointless.
However, Argonax has created a few magic rings in his many lives, usually to allow him some insight into points of view he has not yet gained through reincarnation, or as defenses against the consequences of his frequent delving into forbidden and protected lore. Precisely because such rings are rare, they are highly valued prizes among Argonax enthusiasts.
Courtesan's Ring
Deathless Band
Interrogator's Ring
Ring of Affliction Reversal
Ring of Succor
Verminlord's Signet
Eldritch Lense
Among the new kinds of magic items created by Argonax the Mad are eldritch lense (both singular and plural), crystals that have the mystic patterns of one or more specific spells permanently etched into them. An eldritch lense is a magic item that allows a spellcaster to convert energy from a prepared spell or unused spell slot into the spell coded within the item. This works much like a cleric's spontaneous healing ability, but rather than converting a prepared spell into a cure spell, the magic is converted into whatever spell is within the eldritch lense.
Battle Lense
Fire Lense
Lense of Storms
Lense of the Wanderer
Peace Lense
Sage Lense
The Vile Art of Minor Artifact Construction
Though Argonax has not managed to create major artifacts, despite spending lifetimes in the quest, he has rediscovered a dangerous (and often distasteful) technique for creating minor artifacts. The full rules are presented here, though few characters will wish to pay the cost, along with one minor artifact of Argonax's design: The Cyclopean Helm (as seen on the product's cover).
Vile Feats
You don't study the forbidden shadows of magic without developing some new techniques, a few of which are presented here, as listed below:
Accursed Spell
Bleeding Spell
Blinding Spell
Blood Reaping
Craft Curios of Argonax
Craft Minor Artifact
Crippling Spell
Diseased Spell
Fatiguing Spell
Hindering Spell
Necrothurge
Paralyzing Spell
Spell Leech
Spell Reaper
Terrifying Spell
Vile Spells
You also can't study the forbidden shadows of magic without developing some new spells, as listed below, including spells for alchemists (a few), antipaladins, bards, cleric/oracles, druids (just 2), inquisitors (a few), magi (a few), sorcerers/wizards, summoners (just 2), and witches (a bunch).
Alter Poison.
Apply Poison.
Blood Fangs
Blood Fangs, greater
Blood Vomit
Bloody Terrain (I just have made a magic item that does blood vomit and then bloody terrain, but I didn't. You could, though.)
Curse of Dread
Dimensional Bolt
Dislocate (as in, dislocate an arm)
Eldritch interdiction
Geist
Hex Harrow
Horrific Shriek
Ioun Sigil (also depicted on the cover)
Isolate
Jack'O'Lantern
Knell of Ruin
Last Breath
Nightmare Limbs
Pale Return
Pariah
Phantasmal Horror
Reckoning
Red Hands
Rend Psyche
Shrouded Afflictions
Toil and Trouble
Witchfire
Witchfire, Greater
A Harbinger of Argonax
An overview of how the Harbingers work, and stat blocks for sample Harbinger at 6th, 12th, and 18th level.
And that's it! Just about 25,000 words of creepy arcana, wrapped around a narrative background you can take whole cloth, modify as needed, or ignore totally as you prefer!

Liberty's Edge

Very interesting!

Owen Uncensored and Unbound, as it were :)

Scarab Sages

Marc Radle wrote:
Owen Uncensored and Unbound, as it were :)

I think that's a fair description. :D


*Looks in gaming budget coffee can*. Dang. Can I pay you in gum, instead?


Wow. So this is a REALLY different book from Super Genius Games.

I like it, but I'm wondering if there's going to be more like it? The fact it has lots of fascinating, well-balanced rules content does't surprise me, that's kind of what you folks are known for. The fact it includes so much great background material is new, though.

I'm really fascinated that you create a major archemage-like character, then set it up so he can be added to any campaign, even one well-established in already in progress, with almost no work by the GM. But you didn't really talk about that much. I mean, you discuss the ways you can introduce him (VERY helpful by the way), but don't highlight how simple those options are for ongoing games.

Normally, when I run into new background material, either it's to generic, to tied to one flavor of campaign, or to hard to work into a game unless I do so from the beginning. To me the BIGGEST selling point for this book is that it has tons of flavr, is much more interesting than generic sourcebook ideas, but can still be added to any game with next to no effort by the GM.

That makes me wonder if this was the entire point, and you just didn't feel the need to call it out, or if it's a happy accident? So if more books like this are coming, is that level of quick customization and high concept going to be repeated, or not necessarily?

Dark Archive

Sounds very interesting.

Scarab Sages

DungeonmasterCal wrote:
*Looks in gaming budget coffee can*. Dang. Can I pay you in gum, instead?

I'll take gum for my share if Paizo will take gum for their share. But it's gonna be a lot of gum. :)

Dark_Mistress wrote:
Sounds very interesting.

I hope so!

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The Craft Minor Artifact feat and the Eldritch Lense section aren't new. New to Pathfinder, sure, but not new. They're updated from Green Ronin's Advanced Gamemaster's Guide, also authored by a certain Mr. Owen K.C. Stephens...

(Now the Vile twists on minor artifacts, that is all new as far as I've seen before.)

Dark Archive

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
DungeonmasterCal wrote:
*Looks in gaming budget coffee can*. Dang. Can I pay you in gum, instead?
I'll take gum for my share if Paizo will take gum for their share. But it's gonna be a lot of gum. :)

What about nekid pictures of Pett and a squid? :)

Scarab Sages

Dungeon Grrrl wrote:
I'm really fascinated that you create a major archemage-like character, then set it up so he can be added to any campaign, even one well-established in already in progress, with almost no work by the GM.

Thanks!

Dungeon Grrrl wrote:
That makes me wonder if this was the entire point, and you just didn't feel the need to call it out, or if it's a happy accident? So if more books like this are coming, is that level of quick customization and high concept going to be repeated, or not necessarily?

The Super Genius Presents products are supposed to be an outlet for whatever the author really wants to present, in the format they want to present it.

So while I do have more easily plugged campaign background ideas, I have other SGP ideas too. We'll likely do both more like this, and shorter projects that have a different length and format.

Scarab Sages

Kvantum wrote:
The Craft Minor Artifact feat and the Eldritch Lense section aren't new. New to Pathfinder, sure, but not new. They're updated from Green Ronin's Advanced Gamemaster's Guide, also authored by a certain Mr. Owen K.C. Stephens...

Absolutely true, though in addition to bringing them up to Pathfinder rules, I did a lot of development, playtesting, and revision on the concepts and rules behind those items. And, of course, added a new twist to each, such as the d100 table of random side abilities for magic item.

Kvantum wrote:
(Now the Vile twists on minor artifacts, that is all new as far as I've seen before.)

Yep, all new and tied to both the theme and background of the rest of the book -- though you can certainly just take the numerous spells, feats, and items and use it as a sourcebook of creepy arcana. :)

Dark Archive

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
Owen Uncensored and Unbound, as it were :)
I think that's a fair description. :D

Much less frightening than Owen Uncensored and Bound...

{scrubthebrainscrubthebrainscrubthebrain}

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Matthew Winn wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
Owen Uncensored and Unbound, as it were :)
I think that's a fair description. :D

Much less frightening than Owen Uncensored and Bound...

{scrubthebrainscrubthebrainscrubthebrain}

That, of course, would have to be a follow-up to Demonic Harlots. ;D


This is the most fun I've had reading an SGG-pdf in quite a while and I'll definitely make a PC in my next campaign a fledgling Argonax. Awesome! Reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent to GMS magazine. Cheers!

EDIT: Also devoted a post about it on Lou Agresta's RPGaggression blog .

Scarab Sages

Thanks, End! I very much appreciate both the review itself, and the wide coverage it got. :)


Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

The Super Genius Presents products are supposed to be an outlet for whatever the author really wants to present, in the format they want to present it.

So while I do have more easily plugged campaign background ideas, I have other SGP ideas too. We'll likely do both more like this, and shorter projects that have a different length and format.

I now see we've had two SGPs from you and one from Mr.Agresta. Any hints who else is considering getting the Genius treatment with their manuscripts?

Scarab Sages

Dungeon Grrrl wrote:
I now see we've had two SGPs from you and one from Mr.Agresta. Any hints who else is considering getting the Genius treatment with their manuscripts?

While there are some other things in the works, nothing is settled other than this. So for now, we have no hints on other authors. :)

Scarab Sages

I kow a few folks found this book's $8 price tag made it just a tad too pricey for an impulse buy. well know as a result of my insomnia-induced "Sorry You Can't Make It To PaizoCon" 50% off Sale, the price is briefly cut in half!

If you have any interest at all in the mad and immortal archmage Argonax (who may ALREADY be in your campaign!), or his most vile magic items, spells, and feats, now is the time to pick this up!

Scarab Sages Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

Now available in print, here.


Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Now available in print, here.

I image it was very popular?

Scarab Sages Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

goldomark wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Now available in print, here.
I image it was very popular?

It has certainly been one of our more popular books, as well as one of our bigger books.

That said, I hope to have a lot more print announcements as we roll into next year.

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