Launching straight in, the introduction speaks of magic as power, yet power without underlying knowledge is at best useless and at worst dangerous. An arrogant wizard, Malhavoc, speaks his own philosophy: that a cleric's power comes from the gods, while his power is working to make him a god himself! The Book of Eldritch Might, it transpires, exists in at least one game world, and Malhavoc himself had it for a while...
The book is aimed at DM and player alike, although naturally the DM has the final say on what can be used. It's designed in a modular fashion, allowing you to select just the bits you want without fear of upsetting game balance because you've discarded something else.
Chapter 1 explores feats designed to enhance an arcane spellcaster's power. They fall into 3 categories: General, Item Creation and a new one, Eldritch. These last are a variant concept of the Metamagic feat, granting the ability to do something a bit different with your magic - for example, to create a magical tattoo that 'stores' a magic item for you, returning it intact upon command. Or you can 'lace' spells - add additional damage over and above what the spell does by interweaving a chosen element and doing extra elemental damage, or casting it against a chosen enemy type of creature.
Next, Chapter 2 presents three new Prestige Classes intended for arcane spellcasters. They are the Embermage, the Graven One and the Mirror Master; and each specialises in a different way of using his magic. As you might guess, an Embermage specialises in fire - and to become one, amongst other requirements, you must have suffered severe fire damage yourself! Now the fire burns in you, and you can use it in interesting ways, most of them against your foes. A Graven One has an extremely tough hide, covered in body art such as tattoos and scars - becoming in effect a living magic item. There's an interesting side note to the effect that in some cultures, that much body art might cause a negative reaction (or perhaps a bonus to Intimidate checks!). Finally, a Mirror Master can see things in mirrors that the rest of us cannot, reflected in the fact that to qualify you must either have Outsider blood or participate in a ritual with at least 3 other Mirror Masters.
Chapter 3 turns to the main focus of the book: new spells. Loads of them! It is suggested that the DM may introduce them to his campaign by giving them to NPCs, placing them in scrolls or books found as treasure and the like - always better for your 'alternate reality' than saying, "By the way, here are a few new spells you can choose from." Now, despite this being a book about arcane spellcasting, there are some cleric and druid spells in here as well. Cast a black mulching to kill plants in the area, or emit a shrill yell as you cast coldscream to do both sonic and cold damage, with a chance of actually shattering your target. Most of the spells are ones that will come in useful during combat, active in-your-face spellcasting of the highest quality.
If it's magic items that take your fancy, turn to Chapter 4. Herein there are a collection of new items, along with potions and even (if you are that way inclined) magical poisons. There are quite a few items that will make good treasure, or prove useful for your NPCs to use on your players... the Rod of Fears, for example, causes the target to develop one of a range of phobias when you poke him with it! Or perhaps you'd like a jug of liquid power - a liquid of the gods that recharges any magic item bathed in it.
Chapter 5 introduces magical constructs - a template that can be applied to any monster of defined form (i.e. no oozes or shapeshifters) to build a 'mechanical monster' with many of the abilities of the inspiration monster but generally more durable and with extra abilities added by the creator. Get to your laboratories, mad 'scientist' mages! Maybe you'd like a brass serpent or a stone dire tiger to guard your home.
Finally as an appendix there's a random rune generator for all those cryptic symbols you want to carve on items, walls and so on.
Overall, it is a fascinating collection of magical miscellania, somewhere to rummage through when you want to do something a bit different.
Return to The Book of Eldritch Might page.
Reviewed: 17 July 2006