Asian Spell Compendium (PFRPG)

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Magic of the Imperial East

The Asian Spell Compendium brings you 110 amazing new magical spells inspired by the mysteries of the Orient, from the frozen tundra and boreal forests of the far north to the serpent jungles of the south. Drawing from the myths, legends, and lore of China, Japan, India, Southeast Asia, Siberia, and more, you'll find tons of new spells for every school and 20 spellcasting classes, from ancestral wrath to word of pain and all spells in between. You'll see offensive spells like flame shuriken, tiger trap, and blessed jade strike and defensive incantations like spirit ward, toad's kiss, and sublime detachment, from minor magics like awful apparition, drowsy fireflies, and punji pit to mighty enchantments like divine wind, rain of sacred lotus petals, terra cotta legion, and the deadly marvelous chopsticks. Whether you favor arcane, divine, or psychic spells, tapping the power of elements or magic of the mind, you'll find an incredible array of new and inventive spells perfect for introduction into an all-Asian campaign or one that simply draws a bit here and there from the magic and mystery of the unapproachable east. Grab this 38-page Pathfinder spell supplement and Make Your Game Legendary!

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This massive collection of spells clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages introduction/how to use, 1 + 2/3 of a page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 28 1/3 pages of content – as always in LG-books, we get a ton of content per page, so the pdf actually contains more material than you’d assume from the page-count.

Now, we begin with functionality – to be more precise, we begin with a means of making the book much more user-friendly: We not only get a list of alphabetical spell names, we also get a list of spells by class, organized by ascending levels in the respective class entry. Even cooler: We get a third spell list that depicts spells by school and descriptor. Need a language-dependent spell? Just look it up. That is a HUGE plus as far as I’m concerned. It significantly increases the chances of spells herein actually seeing use.

Ahem, now, theme-wise, this book is part of the series of pdfs intended for use with Jade Regent or similarly-themed settings and as such follows an aesthetic that is in line with WuXia movies and mediums, though a couple of the options herein should work as well in more low-key environments like Rite Publishing’s Kaidan setting. There are a total of 110 spells herein.

All right, so let’s take a look at these spells, shall? Ancestral wrath would be a 2nd level necromancy that calls an ancestral spirit that streaks towards a target in close range, hitting automatically and dealing untyped damage (boo!) that scales up to 5d6 for living beings, up to 10d6 for undead. It deals full damage versus incorporeal targets and an undead target damaged that fails its save is shaken for 1 round. Okay, so Fortitude partial – does that mean that only undead need to save and that the save negates only the condition? I assume so, but the spell could be slightly clearer there. Does this spell sound familiar to you by any means? Well, there is a reason for that! If you’re like me and really adored the Rokugan setting and Oriental Adventures in its various iterations, you’ll meet some old favorites here, updated and for the most part, streamlined. Considering e.g. Rokugan’s mechanics regarding jade, etc., the spells are more than just cut-copy paste with new classes thrown in – to use this example spell, we have it available for classes where it makes sense – spiritualist, medium, shaman, witch, cleric and occultist. It may be a small thing, but I’m a big fan of keeping the themes of classes consistent, so that aspect is a definite plus for me. (As an aside: The 3.X books never properly covered all the different, cool katas in d20-games…would love to see those. But I digress.)

Since this book contains a staggering amount of spells, I will not go into the details of each and every spell within, instead focusing on the greater picture and attempting to give you an overview, all right? Right! While we’re on the subject of death, often less permanent in the mythology than we’d assume, awakened from death represents narrative gold: The target awakens from death temporarily, feebleminded and with hazy memories. An undead was walking down the road, not knowing why…and yes, this would fit it pitch-perfectly with Kaidan.

A low-level means of generating an enemy-only targeting shaken effect via an illusory mask, an army of unseen servants to cater to your every need – I can see the spells herein work formidably in settings like Jade Oath and beyond. Interesting: There is a spell that makes partially wooden weapons turn around to attack their wielders. Fully metal weapons are not affected. Why? Well, think about the modified elements assumed in such settings and it makes sense. It’s a small component, but it adds to my immersion here. A blackblade katana bestows temporary negative levels and yields the wielder temporary hit points; the dark nature of blood magic as a form of spellcasting can also be found in e.g. the bleeding fire spell, which nets a magic missile like fire-based effect with higher damage output, chance to set targets ablaze, etc. – and yes, it makes sense at the level of the spell.

The classic blessed jade strike makes a return. There also are mechanically really interesting spells here – take focusing/centering form: These two spells can be cast as a swift action and interact with another spell being cast, enhancing concentration as it is cast or wholly allowing the caster to make the unconscious mind take care of the concentration required to maintain the spell in question. There is a high-level spell to conjure forth a cloud barge or a resplendent cloud of fog of light that dazzles targets and really hampers any creature not used to its light.

Now, some may remember cobra spit – it’s a 10-ft. cone that causes 1d3 Con-damage on a failed Fort-save, additionally dazzling targets and blinding them on a natural 1. I took this relatively simple spell to highlight how it makes sense: The ability score damage is sensible for the 2nd-level spell; the classes that get it are druid, alchemist and witch and it has the proper descriptors, classifying it as poison. In short, it gets all those small details right that you’re liable to miss when doing conversions yourself. Did I mention the 9th-level Colossus that grows you to a MINIMUM of Colossal size? Yes, you can attempt to fist-fight that kaiju….but oddly, the end of the spell mentions you “shrink”ing – that should be “grow.” I assume that’ s due to the wording being partially copied from the reverse version, greater diminution. (As an aside: Everyman Gaming’s Microsized Adventures really helps with dealing with massive size-changes.)

Speaking of high-levels: Clerics with access to 8th level spells can force permanent alignment changes on targets that fail their save versus compulsory conversion. There is also an interesting fire-based high-level spell that uses a save and a HD-cap, but can yield what otherwise only death effects can provide: Save or die. It’s 9th level and takes a full round to cast, though, making sure that its use remains limited to a degree.

The pdf also includes variations of spiritual weapon with a stacking, capped misfortune-curse added, dancing weaponry and a rather helpful spell that allows you to analyze the nature of a curse currently affecting a target. I am not the biggest fan of doubled range increments for ranged weaponry, but how could I not like a cloud of fireflies that renders targets drowsy? An old favorite of mine has also been recovered and converted – fault line causes bludgeoning damage (properly codified) and also acts as a light terrain control spell with its difficult terrain creation. Cool: Ghostly glow represents an eerie variant of dancing lights that interacts with Horror Adventures’ spooked condition. (And yes, once more, perfect fit for Kaidan…)

Glory of the Chrysanthemum Throne may be one of the coolest high-level spells within: It creates innumerable, daylight-shedding ghostly flowers that detonate upon contact with evil creatures, while also providing a miss chance. Oh, and you can designate a rightful person to sit on the thronw who gains a really brutal buff. Amazing 9th-level spell.

Inscribed enemy is interesting: You designate a target and enchant a weapon (NOT ammo!) – the weapon’s first hit versus the target is treated as though executed by a +1 bane weapon. I also loved the visuals of jade prison, which slowly encases evil in a jade statue. I also enjoyed how a couple of the spells herein have been designated as koans, which adds a bit of flavor to their effects. The codification of magnetic ray was also something I rather enjoyed seeing here. Ridiculously funny: Marvelous chopsticks. Think of them as a Bigby/Hand-spell variant that deposits targets in extradimensional spaces, where they are chewed. On the low-level end of the spectrum, I loved meltwater or the nonlethal enforcing merciful mandate. What about making a ladder from smoke?

Fans of rokugan’s shugenja will certainly appreciate the return of phoenix wings. Punji pits make for nice terrain control and a mist that can clean up harmful vapors is a long overdue spell-based counter method for the vile miasmas. Remove fatigue is a spell I see with a degree of skepticism, since it explicitly suppresses further instances of fatigue incurred, which allows for rage cycling etc., banning the spell at my table. Seize the Heart, on the other hand, looks OP at first, but isn’t: The spell can instantly kill a target on a failed save, which, at spell level 3 or 4, is nasty – however, a HD-cap helps keep it in line and instead makes it a great mook-sweeper. What about making scarves lethal…and potentially decapitating targets with them? Yeah, thought you’d enjoy that! And yes, there is a tengu fighting fan that not only nets you an item – you can decrease the remaining duration for special combat tricks. I love this type of versatile design.

Snake arrows do pretty much what they say on the tin, and I probably will not need to explain either Terra Cotta Legion or Lions, right? Quite a few of the spells within interact with spirits and the spirit world, which is nice to see, as it better reflects the realities of most Asian settings. Sublime detachment is a great form of almost-enlightenment high-level means of fortifying against emotions, but also prevents morale bonuses. What about transforming items into origami? Yeah, players will really like that happening to their blades…MUAHAHA. Sorry. Had a bit of a moment there.

It should be noted that the pdf provides an optional rule to make identification of these spells harder when encountered outside of their usual cultural context.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level herein, though not as perfect as in many LG-books. Layout adheres to the nice 2-column full-color standard that the Jade Regent plug-ins employ. The pdf comes with bookmarks for the chapters, but not for the individual spells or at least beginning letters – it could be slightly more comfortable here.

Jason Nelson delivers a love-letter to oriental Adventures here, with a massive selection of unique and colorful spells that breathe the spirit of WuXia. Their mechanical representations are rather nice, and I’d allow the vast majority of them in my game. While I don’t get how a glaring oversight like remove fatigue could happen, the vast majority of the book is precise, concise and interesting. The book provides a rather impressive array of complex spells, many of which sport neat visuals, mechanic, or both. In short, this is a good collection of spells, one well worth owning. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, and though I do feel that this one is closer to the 4 and 5 stars due to the heavy quoting of Oriental Adventures, as a reviewer, I do have an in dubio pro reo policy and hence will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.


Magic from the Far East!

5/5

DISCLAIMER: This review is based on a free PDF provided by the author and the publisher, which in no way had an influence on the final score.

Asian Spells Compendium is a collection of 101 spells by Legendary Games for their Far East product line. Like other LG’s products, it includes amazing art, handy electronic features, and top-notch content for your gaming table.

What’s inside?
28 pages of crunchy content, which include:

-A short Introduction with a nice optional rule (that you can easily poach by the way) and 3 pages of spells listed alphabetically, by class level, and by school and sub-school. The classes include every single spellcasting class in Pathfinder, but one… Yeah, sorry adept lovers, no new spells for you LOL. I find particularly handy the school and sub-school section, since there are many abilities out there that refer to only one school or even sub-school of magic. I missed the elemental school, however, and while you can basically just use descriptors, it would have been nice if they were acknowledged.

-101 Spells: Some of these are fan-favorite reprints that are pulled from the 1st D&D Oriental Adventures! One of my favorite spells ever, Ancestral Wrath, is the very first one! It calls the spirit of one of your ancestors to attack the target, dealing more damage to undead and having full power on spirits! How cool is that?!?! Another favorite of mine is Inscribed Enemy, which blesses one weapon for one attack against one specific enemy, which in-game is amazing but I would have restricted in to melee weapons or have a maximum number of weapons blessed at the same time (I hereby houserule it to 1 per point of spellcasting ability modifier). Fault Line is a modernized version of Earth Bolt, my all-time favorite blast-y spell which basically is a bludgeoning lightning bolt, which also creates difficult terrain! Many old spells were re-flavored under the Koan line of spells, which is thematically fitting, and they incluad Koan of Castigation for chastising opponents of opposite alignments, and Koan of Vulnerability which is like a 1st level version of mass magic weapon, but affecting the opponent; don’t worry if it sounds OP, it has many balancing factors!

There are some new, however, and most of them rock! Glory Of The Chrysanthemum Throne (all words starting with caps, it is 9th level so to hell with grammar conventions ROFL) is an amazing spell that creates a throne surrounded by ghostly flowers, harmless for all but the evil-hearted; being a throne, you can sit there and gain +6 charisma and opponents targeting you getting a miss chance. Oh boy, I love when good is the one with the cool toys, without an evil, chaotic, lawful version… Each alignment should have its own unique toys! Irresistible Onslaught is a powerful spell, accessible only by the most martials of casters (pallys and their mirror brethren, magi and bloodragers), and it converts you basically into the Juggernaut, fomenting mobility in combat instead of the bland 1 square step then full attack. Marvelous Chopsticks is another new one, think of it as the meanest of the force hand spells, but with chopsticks (and a mouth? The spell mentions a mouth but the description doesn’t… I will go the Vampire Hunter D route for the mouth’s placement).

Of Note: Oh boy, no matter what caster class is in your group, there is something for everyone (except adepts). The modernization of classics from Oriental Adventures an Dragon Fist, even if they appeared in later editions of D&D, is something I applaud, since they are cool spells and I wish the new generations of gamers to cast them.

Anything wrong?: If you are like me and has a long story with D&D, there is a chance you won’t like the reappearance of these classics, so there is that.

What I want: While I would have liked new spells, if it is not broken don’t fix it. What better way to pay homage to Oriental Adventures than to cast the best spells from it? And with the cool new Paizo classes to boot!

What cool things did this inspire?: More than inspiration, this book brought back memories. I remember casting the hell out of Earth Bolt (renamed to Fault Line here) and ripping hearts out with my kung fu wizard in Dragon Fist, making my opponents feel my Ancestral Wrath and Castigate-ing them with my evil shukenja, and getting fiery Phoenix Wings with my travelling Zakharan Fire Genasi Flame Mage (Ifrit in Pathfinder). If anything, I want to try these big guns again but with occult classes. Finally, I converted a couple of these spells into psionic powers back in the day, so enterprising Game Masters could do the same for psionic classes and other 3pp ones.

Do I recommend it?: If by any chance you love Oriental Adventures so much as to have updated all spells to Pathfinder, then it MIGHT be useful for the few new spells. If you haven’t seen back your old books, or haven’t ever played older RPGs, then yeah! I was wondering what was in store in this volume of the Far East product line, and after unearthing memories, I can fully recommend it, with 5 Eastern Celestial Stars.



Damn! no money :-/ gotta painfully wait to geth the cash for this baby :-(

Quick question, are there any spells that can be used by qiggong monks?

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

In theory, yes, though I haven't plotted that out in detail. Legendary Monks has a full slate of occult/psychic magic for qinggong monks.

I'm not finished writing on Asian Archetypes: Magical, so I could see about adding a sidebar on new spells from the ASC for qinggong.


Reviewed!

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Thanks for the great review, Xiao. This was definitely my love letter to old-school 1st Ed. Oriental Adventures and it was a ton of fun going back and revisiting some great concepts and recreating them fresh for a new generation. Glad you loved it!


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to NErdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc. @the xiao: Funny that we liked many of the same things, right? XD

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks for the great review, Endy! Glad you enjoyed, and amusing you and thexiao were of similar minds about what made the book a delight!

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