The Book of Eldritch Might
The Book of Eldritch Might (BoEM) is a sourcebook filled with all kinds of crunchy goodness related to arcane magic. It was originally published in pdf form, but has since been published in printed form by Sword & Sorcery Studios.
The version I'm reviewing here is the printed version, which contains a few extra pages of bonus material.
The Book of Eldritch Might is a 48 page saddle-bound booklet of the same size as most d20 softcovers (10.78 x 8.42 inches).
The coverpiece is done by Brian Leblanc and features an embermage fighting a number of adventurers. The interior art is also done by Mr. Leblanc and is always relevant to the context it is placed in. The quality of the art (both interior and exterior) is okay; it's not great, but it's not terrible either.
Layout is decent; the borders aren't to wide, the font is of a normal size and there is very little wasted space. Also, the contents are ordered in a sensible way so it's easy to find what you're looking for.
Not counting the title page, table of contents, introduction, OGL, and advertisement for another Malhavoc product, there are a grand total of 42 pages of content in the BoEM, divided over 5 chapters and an appendix.
The first chapter contains 11 new feats including 7 feats of the 'Eldritch' type.
The feats here are all interesting, but they are rather powerful. For instance, all but one of these 'Eldritch' feats are really metamagic feats except they do not require the caster the spend a higher spellslot. They are presumably balanced by the fact that they have high prerequisites, but in practice this is not true as these are most often something like: 'spellcaster level 7th , Int 17' and most level 7 wizards will already have an Int score of 17 and will be more than happy to get free metamagic effects.
Also, some of these feats can produce rather weird results if the text is taken literally. For instance, the feat 'Lace Spell: Holy/Unholy' can change the spell descriptor to either [good] or [evil] as well as increase the spell's DC against good or evil targets. If the description of this feat is taken literally then you could have players casting 'good' Unholy Blight spells!
Personally, I like the concept of some of these feats enough to use them anyway (perhaps with a few tweaks), but this chapter could definitely have used a bit more consideration regarding balance issues.
The next chapter presents 3 prestige classes. These are the embermage (a wizard who's blood literally burns), the graven one (a tattoo master) and the mirror master.
Though each of these prestige classes has an interesting concept, they weren't very popular with my players. All of them lose half their spell progression and the first two have pretty heavy requirements. They do provide some nice benefits, but in general are a bit weak when compared to other prestige classes aimed at arcane spellcasters (rightfully so, some might say as these are generally more powerful than straight wizards or sorcerers).
Chapter three is what this book is really all about and that is spells. More than sixty of them. Most of them are aimed at wizards and sorcerers, but a number of them can also be used by clerics, druids, bard and even assasins.
I really don't have much to say about this chapter except that the great majority of the spells here are both interesting and balanced. I especially liked the large number of level 4 spells as I found the selection of these in the PHB a bit disappointing when compared to the level 3 spells.
In my opinion this was easily the best chapter in the book. All the better that it's also the largest one.
In chapter four you'll find a large number of magical items, many of which are just as useful or even more useful to non-spellcasters.
There are a lot of neat items here such as the book of roses (reader gains the permanent spell-like ability of freedom of movement but loses it if he ever harms a rose plant, even inadvertantly) and the magical poisons (keep those assasinated victims from being raised, posses them by a demon, make them go mad, etc.), but I do have a few compaints.
My first compaint is that all the magical weapons have fixed prices. This means that I can't easily determine the price for an upgrade when a characters decides he want to spend his gold on a better weapon.
My other complaint is that the prices for items are sometimes a little unrealistic when compared to what you get in return. This problem is most prominently present in the magical vehicle section. The eight vehicles in this section cost between 80,000 and 150,000 gp, but provide only marginal benefits. In fact, my players would much rather pick 50,000 gp worth of magical items from the DMG than get one of those vehicles (provided they couldn't sell it).
Still, there are so many items here that this remains a useful chapter.
Chapter five presents the 'magical construct' template. This template can be used to create construct versions of most critters in the MM (or other d20 monster book of your choice). The template includes rules for building such constructs, which is useful if one of your PCs wants to get his own mechanical dragon.
A short, but useful chapter. Well done!
Finally, we have appendix I (appendix II is the OGL), where a random rune description table is presented. This table is actually more useful than I thought it would be and since it doesn't take up too much space (2 pages) it's a nice addition to the book.
The Book of Eldritch Might is certainly an interesting product. The spells chapter will make a nice addition to any D&D game, as will most of the magical items chapter. The remainder of the book however will vary in usefulness depending on your group's tastes.