As I mentioned previously, I received several OSR products for Christmas. One of special note is The Crimson Pandect, by Sine Nomine Publishing, the awesome writers of Red Tide, An Echo Resounding, Stars Without Numbers, et al.
This Labyrinth Lord product is subtitled ‘A Handbook of Eldritch Lore’ and boy does it deliver on that premise!
The vast majority of the book is taken up by the chapter Paths of Power. This chapter details numerous ‘variants’ for the standard Mage class, almost all of which have their own spell list comprised of a mixture of old and new magic. Each of these variations (barring two of them) share a few things in common. Their spell lists go up only to level 7 spells, they have new and unique magic, and each class gains a few powers along the way.
The Crimson Pandect is written with the Red Tide campaign setting firmly in mind, so the names of the classes and many of their spells have a slightly eastern flavor. However, the book keeps in mind that others might want to use the material without playing in Red Tide, so details are included for making the classes fit into other settings.
The variant classes are many and varied:
The Astromancer is a specialist in divination magic as well as magic that manipulates fate and magic of the stars. They have some ‘star based’ attack magic as well as many ways of helping allies and hindering their foes.
The High Path magician is a reimagining of the ‘standard magic user’ from Labyrinth Lord. Their only special feature is getting a free spell each level. Otherwise, they obey all the standard rules for magic users including spells per day and 9th level being their maximum spell level.
The Kuan Amelatu are a variant elven class. Practitioners of Necrolatry, their magic deals with death, dying, and undead, but specifically not in creating undead. They are warriors against necromancy and have many abilities revolving around fighting undead. A very cool class for people who want to be ‘dark mages’ without quite going full bore evil.
Makerite Theurgiests are divine/arcane blends. They lose many of the traditional arcane damage and creation spells (though still have a few blasts) while gaining a smattering of clerical spells on their lists.
The Mountain Way are elementalists, pure and simple. If you want to master the elements and summon geysers and volcanoes…these people are for you.
The Nine Immortal Art are ‘internal alchemists’ seeking immortality through self perfection. They are tougher than most mages (1d4+2 hp per level) and their magic revolves around inteneral changes, illusions, and transformations but lacks elemental powers and mental manipulations.
The Shakunasar (or The Way of Twisted Flesh and Will) are masters of transformative magic, both mental and physical, but lack many ways to manipulate elements or unliving matter.
And finally, there is the Stitched Path, which is simply a variant, evil version of the High Path (definite NPC only territory!). They behave in all ways like a High Path caster, but need to sacrifice living humans to power their magic, and when they do, watch out!
The next chapter is Works of Sorcery, which contains a complete and detailed system for magical research, for the learning of new spells, the creation of new spells and magic items. This system is packed with detail and story potential. No longer will a mage’s laboratory and library simply exist as fluff and setting trope but there are genuine (useful) mechanics to having these features in game, both for NPCs and PCs. I think the system will add a definite level of complexity, but at the same time, I read it and came away really energized for how much story it could interject into the behavior of characters. They have reasons for accruing all that mystical junk and hiding it away now. They have reasons for apprentices. It is all internally consistent and really well done.
The next chapter, Sanctums, deals with the wizard’s tower and what they want to put in them. There are numerous rooms and chambers, all with various benefits to the owners. Very cool stuff for people who like to think about their ‘lairs’.
Next is Dark Cabals, a whole section on creating mage groups from cults to conclaves. Each type is explained and comes with random roll chart to quickly generate their nature, secrets, conflicts and other details. Great stuff for the DM!
Then we have Resources, which contains things like quick wizard generators, a quick wizard spell book, random arcane treasure tables for those objects of sorcerous lore, and finally random occult tomes for quick descriptions of magical books. Again, great tables for those who need ideas fast.
Overall, like all Sine Nomine products, I was blown away by this book. It will definitely see use at my table. The only thing that would have made it better was if there was a way of using the Research/Item Creation rules for Divine Casters. I hope that there will be a divine supplement at some point to fill that gap…
Total rating: 5 Tomes out of 5