Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quick Review - Pathfinder Campaign Setting - Inner Sea Magic

Inner Sea Magic

A World of Magic!
From the tortured sands of the Mana Wastes, where magic is as likely to tear you apart as it is to not work at all, to the perpetually frozen northern nation of Irrisen where the winter witches rule, magic is a part of life in the Inner Sea region. Whether it is wielded by benevolent clerics to keep their allies fighting the good fight or unleashed by wizards in the form of scorching blasts of fire, magic can be the difference between life or death. Or, as in so many cases, the cause of life or death.
    Inner Sea Magic explores the role of magic within this vast and varied region. Within this 64-page book, you will find:
  • A who’s-who of powerful and famous spellcasters from throughout the Inner Sea region
  • Details on four types of magical schools—arcane academies, spellcaster’s guilds, monasteries, and secret societies—along with rules for joining and studying with such organizations
  • Rules for several types of specialized or variant magic, including the chaotic power of primal magic, the secrets of shadowcasting, the traditions of Thassilonian sin magic, and the wonders of Varisian tattoo magic
  • Two new oracle mysteries (the primal-magic wielding spellscar mystery and the sinister Outer Rifts mystery)
  • More than a dozen new archetypes for all sorts of spellcasters, including the black-blooded oracle, the Razmiran priest, the shadowcaster wizard, the tattooed sorcerer, and the winter witch
  • Two new prestige classes—the cyphermage and the divine scion
  • Dozens of new spells, from Aroden’s spellward to zone of foul flames!
Inner Sea Magic is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Pathfinder campaign setting, but can easily be used in any fantasy game setting.
by Jesse Benner, Jason Nelson, Sean K Reynolds, Owen K.C. Stephens, and Russ Taylor
ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-360-6

Quick Look: Published by Paizo Publishing for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.The book is broken into 5 sections, Magic of the Inner Sea, Variant Magic, Magic Schools, Spellcasters of the Inner Sea and Spells. As one of Paizo's standard Campaign Setting books, this one is a cool 64 pages, only 2 pages of wasted space, the index and OGL, on the first and last page respectively.

The first section starts out slow, but don't let this deter you, it primarily covers the areas and their magic, then covers the most well-known casters in the region, from Eando Kline to Baba Yaga.

The Variant magic section is pretty good, it covers the False Divine Magic of the Razmiran; The Fleshwarping magic primarily practiced by the drow; Primal Magic is the equivalent of the old Wild Magic, though primal magic is a more fitting name to me. Next comes the Riffle Scrolls featured in the Prince of Wolves book. Shadowcasting makes its appearance in Pathfinder as series of 4 feats. Tattoo magic as flaunted by its iconic representative, Seoni, the first part of this is the Inscribe magical tattoo feat and three magical tattoo magic items. The last of the covered magics is the Thassilonian Magic, the sin based magic of the Rune Lords.

Schools of Magic: A Bunch of new organizations based around the different schools of magic. Mechanically the schools don't make you different, but thematically, there are lots of Role-play interactions, and solid rewards that the schools offer.

Spellcasters of the Inner Sea: This is the meat of the product. With a nice amount of archetypes, many of which I feel should have been in Ultimate Magic instead of some of the weaker archetypes in that book.
This book also contains two prestige classes; The Cyphermage and Divine Scion, both solid Prestige Classes.  Archetypes include:
Black Blooded Oracle (oracle) An archetype that revolves around the blood, which is a curse and a boon.
Chelish Diva (bard) This is my favorite of the book, as it takes the Cheliax love of opera and brings it into a fun, flavorful archeytpe, that gains medium and heavy armor proficiency at 5 and 11 in addition to two diva specific performances.
Crypt Breaker (alchemist): An Osirion based alchemist with powers specialized for tomb robbing, and combating the common tomb foes, undead and constructs. And trap finding, which replaces brew potion, making this a great PFS Alchemist.
Dawnflower Dervish (bard):  Another Dawnflower Dervish archetype, this one being for bards. I personally have no problem with same named archeytpes for different classes. So if you want to play a Sarenrae worshiping bard, that twirls across the battlefield...this is she. (Note: this would make a nice Bladesinger for elves as well.
First Worlder (summoner): Another of my favorites, this archetype brings a couple of neat changes; fey based summon nature's ally, and a fey eidolon!
Hidden Priest (cleric): A priest that hides divine magic under the guise of arcane magic to escape persecution.
Mendevian Priest (cleric): This cleric class is designed to combat demons at the Worldwound, with heavy armor and tactical feats, it's a group oriented archetype.
Nimrathi Irregular (ranger): A ranger that is focused on stealth magic at the cost of heavier armor. The archetype also grants access to a single druidic spell per day.
Oenopion Researcher (alchemist) An alchemist with a slight twist on their mutagens, plus some later acid resistance.
Primalist (wizard): This is a gimme addition to the already fun alternate of primal magic. It makes them better overall, especially when it comes to primal effects.
Razmiran Priest (sorceror): The true power behind the false god. Much needed archetype for GMs using Razmiran false priests.
Shadowcaster (wizard): Another good addition to the new variant spell casters. Bonus spells and the ability to create more powerful shadow magic make this archetype solid.
Spire Defender (magus): The new class that's lacking archetypes, this one unfortunately falls short, removing the armors from his normal abilities, however he gains the normal abilities if he burns the feat or multiclasses (bit later for medium/heavy), but gains combat expertise and dodge as bonus feats, which might make it worthwhile for certain feat heavy concepts.
Sword of Valor (paladin): An Iomedae themed archetype, with initiative bonuses, the ability to grant temp HP with a channel, and the awesome ability to cause their opponent to surrender (under suggestion) after a smite evil.
Tattoed Sorcerer (sorcerer): Seoni and her ever familiar Varisian Tattoes, as probably the most pictured Iconic, this is an obvious arcehtype. It has some cool abilities, but at the cost of bloodline powers.
Tempest Druid (druid...duh): This is a storm based druid archetype, complete with trident. No animal companion, but lots of nice alternate abilities.
Vampire Hunter (inquisitor): As monster hunters to begin with, this archetype shouldn't be a surprise (and could easily be converted into a Lycan Hunter also). Abilities include, sun strike, giving a weapon sunlight damage bonuses, which even affect oozes and fungus based creatures.
Varisian Pilgrim (cleric): A wandering cleric, as traveler is a popular domain this becomes a no-brainer for those who love the travel domain, but want to worship another god. As a Varisian, they gain the ability to perform a Harrowing at 8th level.
Winter Witch (witch): This is the conversion for the Irrisen witches, as seen in Elaine Cunningham's Winter Witch novel. More powerful with ice magic, and lacking the ability to cast fire magic, these witches are pretty formidable opponents for either players or GMs.

Spells: The final section of this book is the spells. What magic book could be released without new spells? Well not this one. My personal favorite is the Bladed Dash spell (and greater version), which allows an 30 foot move with an attack on the way (greater allows attacks on every creature passed).

What magic book could be made with magic items? Um, this one, not a single magic item to be had. Guess we'll have to wait for Ultimate Equipment.

Artwork: Gorgeous artwork as usual. The cover is by Alex Aparin, gorgeous colors, though the perspective lines are off.

Usefulness? Must have if you play in Golarion. Many useful options if you play Pathfinder Society as well.

Cost: $19.99 for print version. $13.99 for the PDF version.

Value:  EPIC! at $20, it's almost worth more than Ultimate Magic in my opinion. This is the kind of book I want to see more of. As archetypes are the best thing in Paizo's Pathfinder conversion, I want more more more. I would have liked to see some magic items, but, I'm impressed enough by the rest of the book, that it would have been icing on an already delicious cake. I'd give it a 98%.