The one thing you can say about the entire OSR Gestalt that despite it all there is still a sense of community and of giving back. Case in point, The Basic Illusionist.
The Basic Illusionist is the brain-child of +Nathan Irving and was first seen during the S&W Appreciation Day Blog Hop.
Before I delve into the book itself. Lets take a moment to look at this cover.
Seriously. That is a cool ass cover. I am not sure what made Nathan Irving choose this piece ("Beauty and the Beast" by Edmund Dulac) but I love it. The title works in seemlessly, like they were meant for each other. The woman in foreground is no longer the "beauty" but she is now an Illusionist.
Ok. So the book is overtly for Swords & Wizardry, but there isn't anything here keeping you from using any Original of Basic inspired system. I know it works out well in Labyrinth Lord and Basic D&D and it really should work well in ACKS, Spellcraft & Swordplay or any other system. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea might be a trick, but they have an Illusionist class already.
Getting into the book now we have 34 pages (with cover) on the Illusionist class. The book starts off with a helpful FAQ. Personally I think Nathan should also put that FAQ on his blog as a page so every knows why they should get this. The Illusionist class itself is in S&W format, but the only thing keeping you from using this in any other Basic or Advanced Era game is a table of Saving Throws. Copy over what ever the Wizard or Magic-user is using in your game of choice and give them -1 bonus to saves when it comes to illusions.
The Illusionist gets a power or feature every odd level, but nothing that is game breaking when compared to the wizard. The Illusionist trades flexibility for focus in their magical arsenal. There is even an Illusionist variant class called the Mountebank. Which is more of a con-artist. Not sure how it compares to other classes of the same name.
One of the best features of the book is a guideline on illusionist magic and how to play with illusions. Great even if you never play the class.
What follows next is over 150 Illusionist spells. Many we have seen before and come from the SRD. That is not a bad thing. Having all these spells in one place and edited to work with the class is a major undertaking. I for one am glad to see them here. Spells are alphabetical instead of sorted by level.
A list of conditions ported over from the SRD is also included. I like that personally. We all love how the older games and the clones play, but in our zeal we tend to forget that 3.x and later games did in fact have some good innovations and ideas; this is one of them.
We end with a couple of monsters and a two page OGL statement.
Really, this is a fantastic piece of work and really should be the "go to" document if you ever want to play an illusionist.
Since this book was released in April I have had a chance to try it with various systems. I can say it works great with S&W, Basic D&D, AS&SH (when used with their own illusionist class) and even AD&D.