RIFTS Book of Magic
RIFTS Book of Magic Capsule Review by Craig C. Robertson on 12/04/02
Style: 3 (Average)
Substance: 5 (Excellent!)
Even if you despise RIFTS and Palladium with every fiber of you being, the RIFTS "Jumbo Super Colossal" Book of Magic is worth a look-see.
Product: RIFTS Book of Magic
Author: Kevin Siembieda, Bill Coffin
Company/Publisher: Palladium Books
Page count: 352
Year published: 2001
Comp copy?: yes
Capsule Review by Craig C. Robertson on 12/04/02
Genre tags: Fantasy Science Fiction Far Future Post-apocalyse
When I lifted the box from my doorstep, I thought that the folks at Wizard's Attic had accidently shipped me two or three books. I was wrong. Inside the box was just one copy of the RIFTS Book of Magic; packed with 352 pages of spells, magical items, schools of magic, AND a relatively useful index, if you can believe it. If a RPG supplement can be judged by cost per pound, the RIFTS Book of Magic is a steal.
The value does not stop with its weight. The heart of the book is a series of spell lists arranged by school of magic. The schools listed include African Ceremonial Magic, African Witches, Biomancy, Blue Flame Magic (I think I knew a couple of practitioners in college), Bio-Wizardry, Cloud Magic, Conjuring, Dolphin Magic, Elemental Magic (subdivided in the usual four categories), Korallyte Shaping, Living Fire Magic, Nature Magic, Nazcan Line Magic (my personal favorite), Necromancy, Ocean Magic, Shamanistic Magic, Spoiling Magic, Stone Magic, Tattoo Magic, Temporal Magic, and Whale Singer Spellsongs. This does not even include the hundred pages devoted to magical items, weapons, herbal lore, and Techno-Wizard devices. In total I would estimate that there are at least a thousand spells completely described (and often well-illustrated) in the book. The spell effects are well-designed, and reflect the philosophies of whatever school of magic they belong to.
The magic items section is worthwhile in its own right. Some of the ideas are quite fanciful, including the use of bottled fairies as a power source for advanced techno-magical devices. Many of the items are tied into the schools of magic listed above, such as Native American Fetishes, Bio-Wizard Devices, and Rune Weapons. The herbology section is interesting and useful, listing various plants and their uses as magical components or raw materials. The techno-wizardry section has me wanting to grab the Coalition Wars books just so I can see the TW Juggernaught illustrations in their full-sized glory. Also included for RIFTS players is an indexed list of magic O.C.C.s. Unfortunately, there is only one O.C.C. actually in the book, the Stone Wizard.
Oddly enough, I found myself enjoying the advice for GMs and players written by Hugh King on the topic of using magic in RIFTS. After all, why even play a mage when first-level fighters get handed a complete set of Power Armor? His answers hold the key to some great roleplaying, particularly his idea of mages choosing magic because they are convinced of its superiority to conventional means. Sure it seems obvious now, but think about the implications of that philosopy...
I heartily recommend this work for any GM who includes magic in his or her campaigns. For the RIFTS GM, you'll have an invaluable compilation of every spell and most magic items published over the last ten years. As for the GM who doesn't care for RIFTS, you'll have approximately twenty-four distinct approaches to magic, complete with spells and abilities. Many of those are linked to specific cultures. The roleplaying potential for this approach is tremendous. Imagine your elves having an entirely different range of spells than your humans. Or even different cultures of the same fantasy race using vastly different spells and magical philosophies. At the very least, a collection of over a thousand easily-converted spells that are unfamiliar to your players should be more than worth the price.