Grimoire Facilitas, Mortalitas, Illusionatus and Mutamateria

Today I’ll take a look at Dreadfox Games’ first 4 Grimoires, so let’s dive in!

 

Grimoire Facilitas

This first spell-book of Dreadfox games focuses on Conjuration spells and is 36 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of SRD, leaving a whopping 33 pages of content, so let’s check this one out!

 

The pdf kicks off with 8 1/3 pages of spell-lists, including ones for the APG-classes, antipaladin, magus etc. – commendable and good to see support for these classes! After that, we delve into a vast selection of spells that all belong to the conjuration school.

 

The spells contained in this book are rather versatile: “Aura of Life”, for example, diminishes the amount of dice of negative energy damage a foe suffers. “Avatar of Mercy” enhances your curing spells, but makes you susceptible to negative energy damage. Chain cure spells are also part of the deal for everyone looking for conjuration (healing). We also get 9 channel monster and 9 channel nature’s ally spells that work like the regular spells, but with a duration of concentration and the ability to directly control the summoned creatures. There are also channeling spells herein, for example “Devil’s Water”, which temporarily grants you some of a devil’s powers, but also changes how you act and makes you speak in (infernal) tongues.

 

Of course, there also are Conjuration [Teleportation]-effects – the magus-spell dimensional assault, for example, enables you to teleport 20ft, make a single attack, teleport 20ft., make your second attack etc. There are, of course, also some spells I didn’t enjoy as much: “Fantastic Repletion”, a level 4 spell, let’s you replicate any non-magical potion, liquid poison etc. that had not been depleted for more than a day per caster level. This spell can break many a plot and essentially makes rare, non-magical liquids almost obsolete – once cast and  infinite replete it is. The repercussions this could have for just about any fantasy economy is so massive, I don’t even want to start elaborating it. Not gonna happen in my campaign.

 

My favorite two categories of spells in the book, though, are healing wisps, 3 beneficial, incorporeal spirits that can be actively directed by you and that disperse after passing through you and healing you in the process. My other favorite spell is straight from the Dresden Files –  summoning faerie or gremlin swarms to do your bidding – while individually extremely weak, the swarms provide a LOT of different skills and information gathering potential at your disposal..

 

The pdf also includes stats for said swarms, bees and low-CR-makeshift golems you could utilize.

 

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. The pdf comes with full bookmarks and layout adheres to Dreadfox Games’ 2-column sepia-standard and is easy to read. All in all, this is a neat little conjuration-spell-focused book that provides mostly well-thought out spells, interesting ideas and some neat creatures to do your bidding. There are some instances of spell herein I’d consider more powerful than standard spells and I encourage DMs to carefully read the spells herein before unanimously granting access to them. That being said, we get a lot of high quality content for the price and essentially, there’s not much to complain about. Were it not for e.g. The Advanced Arcana-books by  Necromancers of the Northwest or the recent release of 1001 spells by RiP. While the latter is more expensive, it provides more spells per buck and the Advanced Arcana series actually does VERY innovative and even brilliant things with their spells, introducing new concepts, new types of spells and generally more intriguing content. That being said, Grimoire Facilitas is still a good resource and while it didn’t blow me away, I very much enjoyed some ideas herein, especially the versatile faerie swarms. My final verdict will thus be 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform. Were the competition less fierce, I would have gone 4.

 

Grimoire Mortalitas

This pdf is 37 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving 34 pages of content chock-full of new necromancy-spells, so let’s take a look at them!

 

The pdf kicks off with extensive spell-lists for all the classes, including the Magus and then elves into a vast selection of different necromantic spells for your perusal. The spells per se are interesting and provide some unconventional mechanics – “Bloody Epidemic” e.g. inflicts a bloody cough on foes that deals damage and potentially is infectious and “Dark Command” lets you issue commands to undead. One of the more interesting spells, dead palate, provides the options to resist detrimental conditions imposes by stench and even magical effects for a round at the cost of making the subject more susceptible to the spell after the round of immunity. Unfortunately, there are some minor inconsistencies: The 9th level spell “Death’s Burden”, curses a foe with a death curse – after getting 100 HP damage in a  single round, the recipient has to save each time he/she/it takes damage or die. Unfortunately, the spell does not specify whether one has to save against the spell’s regular DC or the accumulated damage over the 100-threshold. Even if the latter is true, the general usability is rather slim, especially for a 9th-level spell. The circumstances under which this spell’s effects get activated are rather obscure and make this a singularly bad choice for a 9th-level spell.

 

The more…strange spells include “Decrepitate”, a 1st level spell that halves carrying capacity for 2 hours/level. Interesting as a basis for dark auras of haunted places. “Defiler’s Talisman” makes for another interesting last-second save option for villains everywhere – temporarily housing the soul in a blood-filled talisman, including the option of magic jarring foes. There of course are also debuffing spells, but those herein actually provide some interesting effects – “Fragile Body” forces the recipient to fall down prone every time he is hit and the damage exceeds a certain, quite low threshold. I love the idea, but personally, I’d have solved it via a CMD/CMB-mechanic, but that’s just a personal preference. “Grating Joints” is a smart and versatile debuff that offers 4 different types of options and makes for neat customizations depending on which part of the enemy you want to afflict. “Kiss of Death” is another interesting spell – at 7th level it offers neither saving throw, nor spell resistance but has to be delivered via a kiss. Unfortunately, the spell fails to specify whether it can be used in combat. I assume it can be, but if so, we’re lacking mechanics for delivering kisses in combat. If possible at all, the modifications to CMB should have been included – depending on how it is handled, this spell could otherwise prove to be unbalancing – personally, I’d include a paragraph stating that it can’t be used in combat, and even then, enterprising players will find some way to make deadly use of this. A truly awesome spell would be “Necrotic Gyre” – cut yourself, smear blood on a map and the blood pools in areas according to the strength of necromantic energies and even identify particular effects.

 

A godsend for evil casters and necromancers, negative energy attunement lets them be healed via negative energy, but without making them susceptible to positive energy. “Resist negative energy” is another smart one that does exactly what you’d expect and thus fills a neat niche. The communal version features a typo and mentions something about “dividing the duration in intervals between the weapons touched”, when the recipients of the spell are supposed to be creatures. “Revenant Sense” is a spell that is overpowered as hell – it lets you smell whether a target has killed in the last 12 months, even determining whether they killed in self-defense, murder, etc. and even determine approximate figures. While smelling murder may make you attack the murderer, the fact that the range is 120 ft., the spell lasts for 1 min/level and is rather precise means that this 1st level spell has the potential to wreck many an investigation plot.

 

On the other hand “Secrets to Rest” is a GODSEND of a spell, permanently inhibiting ancestral communication with the dead and speak with the dead-spells. Two thumbs up and “Hell yeah”! “Sepulchral Air”, while powerful, is another great spell that makes verbal communication impossible, impedes casting (but less so that of necromancy). Neat idea! “Still Veins” with its 3 iterations is also great – you get temporary immunities as if you were undead, but suffer minor attribute damage the first time you’re damaged each round. Smart spell and very interesting for deadly areas and beyond most necromancy spells.

 

There are also several risky spells to call spirits into your body and there is even a way to restore undeath to a destroyed undead creature, which is awesome. And then there’s “Undying Resolve”- a last stand spell for the witch: If you’re facing a TPK at the final battle of the campaign, this spell enables you to raise allies in 40 ft. burst to fight for one last round. Unspeakable is another curse with awesome story-telling potential – it permanently makes the name of a foe unspeakable, cursing all who utter it with severe calamities. AWESOME concept!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect: I noticed some minor glitches. Layout adheres to Dreadfox Games’ two-column, thorny-bordered standard. The pdf comes with full bookmarks and no artworks. Oh boy, this one is hard to rate – on the one hand, we get several spells that are ingenious, awesome and ooze coolness. On the other hand, several of the spells feel like they can use additional clarification and could have been written more concisely. I mentioned some examples of spells that could use a rephrasing/explanation and combined with the lack of artwork/price point, the minor problems accumulate to a point, where I wholeheartedly recommend parts of the pdf, but advise against flat-out allowing the whole pdf without very close scrutiny – some of the spells can be considered rather broken, at least in my opinion. Usually, I would harp and bash on the pdf for that, but the spells that rock, rock so damn hard that I can’t bring myself to rate this pdf lower – there’s a lot of great potential here. In the end, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 3 stars – some great content, some not so great content and in the end, the pdf might be awesome for you, though not unanimously so.

RPGNow.com

 

Grimoire Illusionatus

 

This pdf is 30 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving 27 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

 

The third installment of Dreadfox Games’ Grimoire-series deals exclusively with illusion-spells, perhaps one of the toughest schools to design for with regards to balance, so what exactly can we expect from the pages of this pdf?  After about 7 pages of spell-lists for all the classes, the pdf jumps right at the content. The very first spell, “Adele’s Corridor” is the very first rather interesting one – it forces the victim to treat everything as if it was further away, meaning that each round, until a certain distance is covered, the victim will run in place. Interesting control-spell! The two “Arcane Pantomime”-spells enable you to cast shadow-duplicates of arcane enchantment, evocation or illusion spells you have just witnessed being cast, though spells with a focus, costs and long casting checks are rather hard to mimic and very easy to disbelieve. While there is some potential overlap with the “Shadow Evocation”-spells here, the added schools and the improved amount of “real” parts as well as the requirement to have an original spell cast to mimic it, make this a valid step between the regular and the greater shadow evocations, while “Greater Arcane Pantomime” can be considered the new apex of shadow-duplicated spells.

 

“Conceal Passage” would be another interesting spell – it allows you to conceal a door, window etc. and make it look like e.g. a continuation of the wall. A great idea per se (it’s also permanent), but I think that the [figment]-descriptor is a bit stretched here. That’s meta, though – what’s more problematic for me: The spell fails to specify which size the passage may have. Could one e.g. conceal the entry to a vast cave in a mountain that leads to a dragon’s hoard? Could a vampire conceal a tiny hole/crack leading to his crypt and get through it in gaseous form? A hole less than an inch wide would be hard to find indeed. Some clarifications regarding maximum/minimum size would help…

 

One of the smartest spells herein is “Cordial Invitation” –  essentially, the spell requires you to trick the victim into accepting your invitation. If they do, they are shut into a temporal stasis with a dream – you have full control over said dream and can control everything but the dreaming creature’s actions. This is AWESOME on so many levels: All PCs could be trapped, trying to escape. And then there’s the potential for awesome fey-stories and high-level investigations. This spell is narrative gold and it’s not alone among the ones herein: There are spells to eliminate a subject’s sense of smell or taste and also a slew of them that deal with haunting sleeping characters, potentially granting them bonuses or penalties. Oh, and you can finally disguise your eidolon as a human, making summoners less obvious – a must-have in rather paranoid, xenophobic or downright low-magic settings.

 

Summoners also get their due with some neat exclusive spells: Want to call a shadow duplicate of a recently vanquished eidolon or conjuration (creation, calling, summoning)-spell? There are spells to do so herein! One of my favorites would be “Double Voice” – this spell enables you to cast it as a part of a normal conjuration and choose between two layers of communication: The one you want foes to hear and a secret, second layer of communication to e.g. soothe a hostage or make plans for an assault while talking to you foes. Once again, this spell is narrative and roleplaying GOLD.

 

There are also some less tricky, more straight-forward iconic spells – there’s a e.g. a fascinating pattern that may swallow you whole, a spell that entraps its victims in a hard to escape (potentially an adventure in and of itself) in a special druid’s grove and there’s a truly interesting take on faith: “Testament of Faith” grants massive bonuses to the respective characters – but only if they (and their players!) unquestionably believe it. Looking up the spell etc. makes the casting less potent or even void! Now if that’s not interesting!

 

Shadow-spell-fans should also know about the extremely potent “Darkwater Mere”, a truly lethal sea of shadow that drowns its victims and which can come with a dread shadow sea serpent. Or would you rather care for a hydra springing from shadow? The “Shadow Martyr”-spell, on the other hand, is more problematic: The illusion can take negative conditions from your PCs and the list is quite neat, as is the idea. From the text, though, it’s not entirely clear whether the martyr can take only one instance of a certain debilitating condition per casting or per round. If the martyr has already cured the fatigued condition once, can he cure it again if the condition is reimposed in a subsequent round while the spell is still in effect?

 

The pdf also contains spells for secret “good” and “evil” scripts and the ability for the magus to create up to two shadowy duplicates that share your attacks, making you active in quite literally multiple places at once, but at potential risk, as you take a part of the duplicate’s damage.

 

The pdf closes with stats for two shadow-monsters conjurable with spells found herein, their quasi-real nature already fractured into their stats.

 

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect – from inconsistencies between e.g. the correct Umlaut in “DoppelgÄnger” to omitting it for the bastardized “DoppelgAnger” to return to it, up to some other, minor glitches, I encountered quite a few, but none that truly impeded my enjoyment of this pdf. Layout adheres to Dreadfox Games’ b/w-2-column standard and provides no pieces of artwork. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks. Grimoire Illusionatus is by far my favorite installment of the series so far – the spells are smart, clever, bring a whole lot of great new options to the table and often ooze iconicity. In fact, so much so, that for the first time in quite a while, I feel almost prompted to give a spell-book the full 5 stars… were it not for some minor inconsistencies and things about spells, that, as written in this pdf, just are not as clear as they ought to be. While the amount of cool spells surpasses the one of those with minor problems, I still feel like a minor revision and some clarifications would greatly enhance this collection of spells. In fact, I was severely tempted to go 5 stars nevertheless, but comparing the amount of content to similar pdfs, I just couldn’t. Nevertheless, this pdf offers some spells that not only reward clever players, but also open a up a whole bunch of cool adventure ideas. Thus, I’ll remain with a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform. If you can live with the hick-ups I mentioned, you’ll like this pdf.

 

 

 Grimoire Mutamateria

This pdf is 34 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving a total of 31 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

The pdf kicks off with 7.5 pages of spell-lists by class before delivering all the new spells, this issue of the “Grimoire”-series centering on Transmutation-magic.

 

Since I can’t go into details regarding the spells, I’ll instead give you examples on the innovative mechanics used in some of the spells: There is a whole selection of spells herein that can be cast as a free action when using another spell or wildshape to change into the respective forms, granting you e.g. keener senses when turning into canine form. However, only one such spell may be cast and be in effect per transformation. Now if that doesn’t immediately excite you, take a look at “Phoenix’s Flames” – it is one of the spells of this category and adds even more effects: You do damage to adjacent foes, but also deal damage to yourself – and if your flames consume you, you have a percentile-based chance (20% + 1% per round under the spell’s effects, maximum 70%) to resurrect with full HP and 2 negative levels. You can only benefit from this resurrection every 1d4 years. Vastly superior and more balanced than the broken sanctified 3.5-spell.

 

And then there are some other neat ones: Want to create a workshop for your witch that makes your familiar become rather hard to destroy indeed? There’s a spell herein. Speaking of familiars, there’s a spell that lets you change your familiar for 24 hours and thus also grant you different bonuses – just your familiar won’t like it. And then there’s the druid spell crowstorm – transform into a swarm of deadly crows that deals a bunch of damage – the death of individual crows don’t affect you, but if the swarm is destroyed, you revert to 0 HP and your regular form. The bard-spell “Moving Finale” is another winner herein – you have to have a bardic performance in effect to cast this spell – the spell ends the performance and gives one of your allies an immediate movement action. Following Dreadfox Games’ tradition, there are also some spells exclusive for the APG-classes (very cool), from eidolon-buffing (including turning into an aqueous orb) to the lvl 9-witch-spell that rusts all metal objects of a whole legion of foes.

 

And then there are the time-spells: Temporal Advance lets you ready standard and move-actions, even if you don’t have one available. You can trigger these actions 3d4 and 2d4 rounds later, but become staggered respectively stunned afterwards for a round. And then there’s the lvl-9-spell Temporal Distortion that just screams “Use me for the ambient effect of a high level dungeon” – it features 4 different speeds of time with different consequences for those affected. Complex? Yes. Interesting? Hell yeah!

 

And then there is my personal favorite section, the Culture Monster-series of alchemist extracts: These spells let you take partial bonuses from select foes by using components harvested from them: The Witcher, a lot of literature  and countless other games, my home-game included are waving right now. Even better, in the end of the pdf, we get a comprehensive list of the items required (e.g. a braided strands of dwarven beard, dragon bile etc.) as well as containers required to keep the ingredients fresh. This section of spells is plain awesome and the containers and connections between items, etc. is awesome – plus, an alchemist can learn the higher versions of the extract by making successful Craft (Alchemy) checks. I sincerely wished there were more spells like this – both in this pdf and in general. Kudos and respect.

 

Of course, there is also one spell (yes only one this time around) I have a problem with: Focal Indoctrination changes all holy symbols in range into the one of your patron deity. While the imagery evoked is cool, the spell is essentially a major save-or-suck-spell for divine casters and thus might prove to be the beginning of a rather unpleasant TPK. That’s just a personal preference, though – as written, there’s nothing truly wrong with it.

RPGNow.com

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good and though I encountered some minor glitches, none impeded my understanding of the spells. Layout adheres to Dreadfox Games’ 2-column standard with the thorny frame. The pdf has no artwork, but is fully bookmarked.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: After RiP’s excellent 1001 spells and Advanced Arcana I +II, my spell-needs have been satisfied. I’m jaded. Hard to impress, much less inclined to cut any spell-pdf slack. Plus, 5 bucks is not exactly cheap.

Well, after the first 2 Grimoires were ok books with some balance concerns on my side and Grimoire Illusionatus rocked hard, I’m happy to announce that Grimoire Mutamateria is once again a spellbook I can wholeheartedly recommend. The wealth of ideas, the uncommon mechanics utilized, the lack of balance-concerns on my part, the innovative time-spells, the wildshape-spells and all the others that interact with class-abilities make this pdf an all-out-winner. Even my personal pet-peeve spell mentioned above can see some justified use and can be countered by smart adversaries/PCs. This is an excellent spellbook and in spite of the high prize in comparison to competitors worth the price of admission – twice. I hope the Grimoire Enamoris, which I also have here, will stand up to this excellent standard and that the Dreadfoxes will further explore the areas of mechanically innovative spells. My final verdict? 5 stars. Hands down one of the spell-selections you should definitely consider buying out there.

 

All right, that’s it for now – I’ll take a look at the remaining Grimoires soon!

 

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Endzeitgeist

Reviewer without a cause