This pdf is 25 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us a total of 18 pages of content, so what exactly does this installment of the "So what's..."-series cover?
The answer seems simple at first glance. Spellbooks! But is it really that simple? One of the features that has always jarred me about D&D and all its derivatives is the lack of detail regarding magic tomes - take a look at Call of Cthulhu, where the very fabric and how a book is made adds to its character. I realize that the amount of magic present in a setting limits its inherent wonder, but I always strive to add said wonder in my game to any spellbook the PCs stumble across and this pdf is essentially a generator for exactly that task:
From a massive table on spellbook titles, subjects and 12 sample books, we go on to wizard names and epithets as well as some pregenerated wizard names to the truly intriguing components of the pdf: Distinguishing features like small rainbows and ornate brass rivets to spellbook cover materials like aboleth fins and even cover groups are neat: From the makers of the covers to big game-notes and loving mementos of familiars that have had their existence immortalized by becoming the cover of a book, we are in for a plethora f neat ideas that go beyond "Made of an animal", though animals, good creatures and fabric are also covered.
Of course, uncommon types of paper and its condition are also covered in tables: Ever thought about goblin skin vellum, for example? Of course, not only paper, but also the most uncommon types of ink are part of the tables in this pdf. Even cooler, we also get 10 different preparation rituals, including costs, that enable a prospective caster to enhance spells cast from the respective tome via minor magical effects, putting the tome itself rather than its content into the focus - very cool and hopefully an idea that will be expanded upon in a future release or by other 3pps.
Books can also contain maps, poems., notes etc. - all kinds of potential hooks and this pdf does not fail to provide them - ranging from straight adventure hooks to terrible, humorous love poems. Speaking of hooks - the knowledge tables provided add interesting hooks to spellbooks and provide a beleaguered GM with a host of options to entice players into varying adventures and potentially arouse their suspicion regarding the respective contents.
A massive table also offers 5 columns of varying means of protection for an arcanist's most valuable tool, presented by level and including mundane locks as well as dreaded symbol-spells. Random spellbook costs and contents can also be generated and if you don't have the time to do so in-game, no problem: The pdf closes with a smattering of sample spell-books presented by level, from 1 to 13.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's 2-column b/w-2-column-standard and the pdf is fully bookmarked. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-usage and one to be printed out.
I'll come out and say it, if my introduction wasn't ample clue, I'll right out state it: This pdf addresses one of the things that have bugged me about magic and its presentation and does so in a most formidable way. Add to the fact that it can be seen as a vast fluffy generator of coolness and hooks and provides more content for its low price than many comparable releases of the series and we're in for one of the generators in the series that is literally a boon, a blessing and simply an awesome tool for just about any DM out there. Seriously, this one brings the wonders of spellbooks and their very excitement back to the table and, once your players have gotten used to it, will stop them from considering a spellbook as just a list of spells, but rather as its very own entity. My final verdict? 5 stars endzeitgeist seal of approval.
[5 of 5 Stars!]