The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=24646.
So What’s The Spellbook Like, Anyway? by Landon Bellavia serves as another sister in the series of ‘So What’ supplements, this time bringing about an open invitation into libraries of grandeur. Whether elaborating upon and imbuing detail into the prized possession of a villainous wizard, populating an ancient arcane study, or even simply seeking to add progressively more intriguing nuances to an adventuring arcanist’s most precious of possessions–the many tables and reference resources herein embark to bring so much more to the scene than ‘You find a spellbook, here are the spells in it.’ Let’s crack the arcane lock, dodge the lightning bolt and summoned spiders and see what’s inside!
So What’s The Spellbook Like, Anyway? is a compelling assemblage of a la carte wonder which wizards and their ilk everywhere are apt to want to get their hands on. Details abound, both clever and bizarre–easily scaled for as much or as little elaboration one is apt to present with a given tome. While the writings and tables herein are ready for random rolling, I feel the real treasure comes in tailoring together stylish and intriguing thematic tomes–and with the nature of the material’s presentation, even players of spell-slinging adventurers could find much inspiration for their personal book. If you’ve ever been disappointed by spellbooks serving as tear-away pages of spells, this one might once again make such tomes a more exciting find!
Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Raging Swan’s high standards of editing and formatting ensure that the work here is solid and accessible. A clear two and three column layout presents tables and information neatly and is interspersed with nice black and white artwork of tomes; as well, the PDF is well bookmarked for easy reference and the whole should prove very printer-friendly. No complaints here!
Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Utilizing So What’s The Spellbook Like, Anyway? will depend largely on just what you’re aiming for–as there are thirteen sections altogether with different tables and functions for detail. If one is keen to put together an ancient and venerable compilation penned by a legendary wizard, the results could easily span a paragraph filled with great detail–while likewise, there are tables present to accommodate quickly generating lightweight books with their spell contents and cost ready to go at a moment’s notice. Much comes down to simply deciding on degrees of detail–particularly since several of the tables presented could apply multiple times to a given tome.
Value Add: 10 out of 10
More than just a collection of random tables, I feel that this supplement could serve as a powerful spellbook construction kit–and in that regard, could be enjoyed by GMs and players alike. Throughout each section are a great many interesting and inspiring offerings both curious and evocative–and really, entertaining to piece together to boot. Because of the scalability of the sections presented, the material is well-suited for everything from fashioning a villain’s iconic volume to outfitting a worldly adventuring wizard or filling out an arcane library with multiple treasured tomes on short notice; the flexibility is considerable.
Overall: 10 out of 10
So What’s The Spellbook Like, Anyway? is an imaginative and well-realized endeavor which author Landon Bellavia has clearly crafted with care. While the supplement can work wonderfully for constructing a random spellbook on the fly, my feeling is that its true value is in offering a great variety of options whether behind the screen or not–it is a fantastic resource which can serve as a toolkit for GMs and players looking for inspiration. I made several spellbooks running the full run of the supplement to see what might result and was entertained and pleased with each–they’re liable to show up at the table before long. For something as iconic as a wizard’s spellbook, scribing nuance and history for such is an excellent goal for added flavor in a given campaign. My hat is off to Landon and Raging Swan both–this is definitely a supplement that I would highly recommend.
[5 of 5 Stars!]