Review of Magic

Review Summary
Capsule Review
Written Review

March 23, 2009

by: JustiN Taylor

Style: 4 (Classy & Well Done)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)

A vital reference work on magic in the DC Universe.

JustiN Taylor has written 4 reviews, with average style of 4.00 and average substance of 3.75 The reviewer's previous review was of MHAC-7: Concrete Jungle.

This review has been read 4194 times.

Product Summary
Name: Magic
Publisher: Mayfair Games
Line: DC Heroes: DC Universe
Author: Jack Barker, Daniel Greenberg, Ray Winninger
Category: RPG

Year: 1992

SKU: 255
ISBN: 0-923763-21-X

Review of Magic

Goto [ Index ]
What is it? A 128 page black and white softcover with a color cover.

It is an explanation of magic in the DC universe with game stats for prominent figures in the mystic community. Magical locations are also discussed.

The book starts with the history of magic in the DC Universe. Next is an explanation of what magic is within the context of the DC Universe, although the book at the same time says that magic is paradoxical and as such can't be explained completely.

Detailed explanations of Powers, Skills, and Advantages relating to magic are the next section. Sorcery is a do anything Power, but it has a chance of hurting the user, depending on how much Sorecery he uses at once and how resilient his Spirit is. Dimension Travel is a power that lets you travel to the different dimensions of the DC multiverse.

Occultist is a skill with a variety of uses, including: acting as an equivalent to Gadgetry for making and indentifying magical items; allowing the user to duplicate almost any Power, as long he is willing to enact a lengthy and financially costly ritual to do so; and being a way to find out if you know who's who in DC's mystical community.

The Area Knowldege advantage applied to an entire dimension allows Dimension Travel attempts to work automatically as long as the would be dimension traveller has more APs of Dimension Travel than the travel distance from hsi current dimension. The Scholar advantage can be taken relating to a discipline of Ritual Magic to allow easier die rolls for the Occcultist (Ritual Magic) subskill. Magical Background is an Advantage necessary before a human character can take the Sorcery Power.

Then come the character write-ups. Characters covered include: John Constantine, Tim Hunter, The Spectre, Dead Man, Swamp Thing, Dr. Occult, The Phantom Stranger, Dream (Neil Gaiman's Sandman), Papa Midnite, Nergal, Eclipso, and multiple versions of Dr. Fate.

The concluding section is the overview of magical places in the DC multiverse. A number of Earth locations, including Atlantis, Wintersgate Manor, and the Parliament of Trees are dealt with. There follows a brief overview of some other dimension including the Dreaming and the Green.

What's good about it? The character write-ups are very detailed. So detailed, I find them to be more useful than the Who's Who in the DC Universe write-ups for some of these characters. They even include reference notes pointing to specific issue numbers.

The explanations of the Sorcery Power and Occultist Skill were also quite thorough.

What's not quite so good? Most of my problems with this book were in terms of what wasn't here. This book is kind of, by default, the book on characters and books that were published under DC's Vertigo imprint but had roots in mainstream DC Universe continuity (The Sand Man, Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, Kid Eternity, and Black Orchid). As such, it would have been nice to see write-ups for the Doom Patrol, Animal Man, and Shade the Changing Man.

I also wish they'd included the rest of the Endless family, or a bigger Sand Man supporting cast in general.

What the ....? moments There were some organizational quirks as to which characters went where. As a for instance, Dr. Roger Huntoon, who has a rather adversarial relationship to John Constantine is in the supporting cast section for John Constantine, while Papa Midnite was located in the villains section. Likewise Brute and Glob and the Corinthian are in The Sand Man's supporting cast section.

A licensed product like this is going to require some judgment calls, especially in the ambiguous world of magic. I think there were a couple of questionable ones here. For instance, Titania, the Faerie queen, is assigned a villainous motivation and put in the villains section of the book. She is morally ambiguous, but I don't think she's really a villain, as such.

Also, John Constantine has the same number of APs in his Occultist Skill as Jason Blood. I would have though Jason Blood's long years of experience would have allowed him to climb greater heights than that.

Who should get it? First, players and GMs of Mayfair's DC Heroes RPG who want more magic in their game. Second, this is actually a good enough reference work on these characters that I would recommend it to comics fans with little or no interest in the game.

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