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Disclosure: I received this product as a gift from the publisher as part of a holiday promotion.
Angelic Seals is part of the "Deep Magic" product line, the illustrious set of books that sets out to expand the magical options for various systems. In this case, it is a 5th edition product, and a much needed one. It weighs in at 11 pages, with 4 pages dedicated to the cover, credits page, legal info and back cover. That leaves us with 7 pages of actual material which is well used. Formatting is the standard two column format.
First of all, the art and layout for this book are excellent, as is standard for Kobold Press. The introduction to the book is great as well, presenting a strong case for the premise of the book; Angelic firmament magic that taps into the nature of creation to protect. The book excels at giving you a robust if concise bit of angelic magic that brims with thematic flavor and well measured rules. This book will be useful to you even if you don't want angel magic, but be prepared as it is heavy on defensive magic.
The book is divided, short as it is, into three segments. First we are introduced to angelic seals, a pseudo-spell like concept that allows you to evoke powerful effects through symbols and holy words. We start with a sidebar that introduces feats that act as a gateway to the angelic seals, as well as a whole Arcane Tradition that brings Wizards fully into the use of angelic seals. I am actually impressed that Wizards were chosen over a more obvious choice like Paladins, Clerics, or even Warlocks, as Wizards are rarely combined with religious motifs, and the combination here was done very well.
Regarding the feats, there are two. First we have "Heavenly Scribe". It is a good solid feat, in line with the feats that grant access to magic, allowing you to choose an angelic seal that grants you some magical ability. What is unfortunate is that it does not grant the "Greater Seal" ability that many of the specific angelic seals have. Even if there was a second feat that unlocked that ability, it would have been nice to see.
Second we have the "Heaven's Chosen" feat, which is an interesting design choice. It is set up as a not as good as "Lucky feat, but there are a few things at play here. First of all, "Heaven's Chosen" allows a reroll once per long rest, and the reroll can ignore things like disadvantage. This is different from the "Lucky" which gives you 3 luck points, but asks you to use them before a roll is made. Add to that the fact that the "Lucky" feat is not in the SRD, and the charm of "Heaven's Chosen" is apparent. It is quite likely that you will see much use of it on dangerous saving throw rolls that could change the course of a fight.
Now for the Arcane Tradition, called Angelic Scribe, is a further inculcation into the angelic seals presented, and acts nearly as a frame to the mechanic, since it can choose multiple seals and gains deeper access to their powers. You get access to two seals to at level 2, and gain more seals as you gain levels in your Wizard class, making the growth of this archetype very neatly distributed.
At 6th level you gain a Warding Seal, which acts as a slightly modified Magic Circle that covers a large area. The one problem I saw was that the area that it can cover is confusing. It can either cover a 22 foot cube, or an area of 11,000 cubic feet if it is inside of a building. This seems confusing and arbitrary, but I can't necessarily think of a better way to express that it can protect an entire small building. The effect is neat and thematically appropriate though, and does its job by keeping evil things out.
At 10th level you can access the greater seal powers, which greatly expands the powers available to you, giving the wizard a nice repertoire of abilities from which to choose. You can only do so twice per short or long rest, so it doesn't do anything so drastic as to compete with your spell selection.
At 14th level, you gain the Angelic Wrath ability, which lets you and your allies deal radiant damage. In addition, you gain the ability to cast a spell that summons celestials, which is thematic but not overpowered.
Overall, this archetype is solid and impressive, giving a whole new flavor to the Wizard that can match a specific character build or character backstory. The idea of a wizard that studies angelic writing as a path to magic is fascinating and inspiring.
As for the angelic seals themselves, they are something of a mixed bag. They offer a lot of variety, but they are not internally balanced against each other. Some are clearly better than others, making the seal selection somewhat less impressive.
One issue that crops up is that the angelic seals sometimes refer to your Wizard level. As non-wizards can access it by way of feat, I wonder what their effective wizard level might be.
But now onto spells. Overall the spells presented are well build, but there are many concentration spells, making each of these spells a critical choice for preparation and casting. While this does not make them bad, it makes sense to have them be wizard spells, given that a wizard is made to make spell choices and think critically about what spells they prepare. The spells are available to clerics, paladins, and warlocks though, making the spell selection for them much more important and necessitating precision when doing so, especially for paladins and warlocks. That said, the spells are amazing enough to make the choice a tough one, but a good one. As a warlock for instance, I may only want one or possible two of these spells as known spells any one time.
The first spell is angelic guardian, which is very potent and impressive, and grants an armor class bonus that can be dismissed to grant a reroll on a Dexterity save. This bolsters its utility, and the ability to cast it on others is excellent.
The benediction cantrip is another great spell, giving a small modicum of damage mitigation. It is concentration, so it doesn't work if you have other spells, but it is a great holdout. It would make a great spell for non-spellcasters that gain cantrips through other means (such as high elves).
Blade of wrath is awesome and thematically appropriate. Golden sword that deals radiant and fire damage. What's not to like? This is the paladin spell that we didn't know we desperately needed.
Blazing chariot is an impressive spell that creates a flying vehicle! The spell lasts for an hour, and discourages attackers by burning them. The spell itself has excellent and thorough rules for use that make me want to run a chase scene with it.
Blessed halo is a good spell and very useful for various things. It creates light, grants limited healing, and lets you get advantage on Charisma checks against other good creatures. A solid 2nd level spell.
Deva's wings is just thematically very cool. The imagery is amazing. You fly, and can attack with your wings.
The seal of sanctuary spells, like the Warding Seal class feature, seem to be just greater versions of magic circle. I'm not sure how I feel about this, and I can see why these effects exist; they aren't unnecessary. I just wish that they had implemented magic circle as an abbreviated way of saying what the effects do, instead of creating an entirely new effect from scratch each time that does effectively the same thing. Odd quibble, I know. It also seems odd that these higher level spells have hit points that, once depleted, end the spell (specifically, the seal used to power the spell) which makes them slightly more vulnerable than the aforementioned magic circle, but again I don't know how these must play out in playtests and such.
Heavenly crown is an awesome spell that harkens to the Warlord class of 4th edition, and does a lot to play into a tactical mindset. There is some good use of action economy here that is excellently balanced.
Quintessence is a bad ass spell that seems to mirror various Paladin 20th level archetype features, but does it well. It seems to fit an 8th level spell pretty well. Again, the balance is in its concentration duration.
And that's the book!
Final thoughts: This book does exactly what it set out to do, which is to create a slew of angelic powers and spells that evoke the sense that you are tapping into a divine power for the sake of good. The imagery is excellent, the powers are all pretty well balanced, and the spells and seals are all varied enough to justify a small supplement dedicated to the concept. There are some hiccups here, but there were no major errors or problems that I saw, and I can't say that the hiccups detract from either my enjoyment of the book, nor the utility of the contents. This is a solid 5 star product
|Daniel P. Dillon|
Hey, thanks for outlining your thoughts, Lorathorn, greatly appreciated!
That bit about wizard level in the seals vs. Heavenly Scribe is a good catch. I'd say for seals gained via the feat just use your total character level for it.
But yes, Greater Seal effects are limited to the Angelic Scribe. The feat lets you dabble for some cool effects and added flavor, but doesn't grant you the full power of the angels.
Thanks again for the kind words, I'm very proud of this one.