Sunday, June 30, 2013

Theorems & Thaumaturgy (Review-ish)

Like the previous review-ish thing, this one has been in the pipe for a while. Again, apologies for the long delay!

Review-ish Thing #2: Theorems & Thaumaturgy

Theorems & Thaumaturgy is Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion supplement by Gavin Norman, available for free as a PDF, a softcover book, or hardcover book via Lulu. Theorems & Thaumaturgy is a collection of new magic-using classes, variant classes, new magic tomes, new magic items, new monsters, and optional rules for magic in your Labyrinth Lord game. Despite the book being only 65 pages long, it's crammed with a whole lot of content. Also, it's worth noting that, despite being billed as a Labyrinth Lord supplement, most of the content is usable with pretty much any old school clone system without the need for complex conversion (indeed, depending upon your alternate clone of choice, much of it can be used as-is). So, what exactly does the book contain?

The first section of Theorems & Thaumaturgy is dedicated to new magic-using classes for use with the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion. The new magic-using classes are: Elementalist, Necromancer, and Vivimancer. The primary things that differentiates these classes from the base Magic-User are their custom spell lists, that only members of their respective class have access to. For example, a Necromancer has exclusive access to spells like Bind Spirit, Skeletal Army, and Steal Life Force. Elementalists and Vicimancers have exclusive access to similarly thematic spells related to their class. All too often I'm used to seeing different magic-using classes drawing from the exact same spell list, with the primary differences being class abilities, instead. I much prefer the approach that Theorems & Thaumaturgy has taken, as I think it produces more dynamic characters.

The second section of the book is dedicated to variant classes. These are, specifically, classes that already exist in Labyrinth Lord, but that have been adjusted in some way. The two variant classes are the Fey Elf and the Expanded Illusionist. The former is a dimensional shifting elf that is native to the "Fey Dimension" and makes extensive use of magic spells. Some new spells are offered for the Fey Elf, but the primary spell list is basically that of a re-worked Magic-User dubbed the "Sorcerer" that borrows spells primarily from the already existent spell lists in Labyrinth Lord. The latter variant class is just what it says on the tin - an expanded variant of the standard Labyrinth Lord Illusionist. This variant class consists wholly of new spells that can be used to compliment the existing spell list for Illusionists in Labyrinth Lord.

The third section of Theorems & Thaumaturgy is dedicated to specific magic tomes, each of which adds new spells to the game. This chapter is kind of a mixed bag, in my opinion. It has some perfectly serviceable tomes and corresponding spells, such as The Book of Deception, but it also has at least one tome and corresponding spell list that seem as though it can only be used to inflict grief on your fellow players and GM: The Book of Pranks. It reads like some kind of Kender spell collection and there is absolutely no way I would ever allow it into my game. On the other hand, if you're a fan of Kender-style absurdity, it might be right up your alley.

The final section of the book is a collection of appendices that contains.... well, everything else that I mention in the first paragraph of this review (as well as example lists of memorized spells for the new classes and a really kick-ass, all-encompassing, index). This material isn't especially remarkable, but is a nice way to round out the book. I particularly like the optional rules for magic-using classes, such as allowing them to detect magic at will (the reasoning being that it will still give low-level casters something "arcane" to do when their small selection of daily spells has been cast). I'm totally swiping that for my own games.

In conclusion, despite its slim page count, I feel that Theorems & Thaumaturgy offers a pretty good selection of exciting, new, rules that can be used to spice up pretty much any old school clone. I don't play Labyrinth Lord, as I mentioned in a previous review, but I'm still pretty jazzed about Gavin Norman's book and can't wait to use some Necromancers and Vivimancers in Darker Dungeons and Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game.