First off, I can say this without equivocation; I don’t like the do-it-all type of character. I am an old school player and game master. Mages need melee classes to keep the beasties off of them so that they can cast their spells. They are NOT up-front fighters. Now I do realize that there are many who really like this kind of character, an Elric of Melnibone’, a fantasy jedi, an elf in the tradition of the old basic DnD style fighter-magic user. I also acknowledge that not everyone has a full group to play with and needs a character that plays more than one role. I will attempt to look past my bias and see the material presented on its own merit.
The following is a listing of New Magus Arcana that struck a chord with me:
Animate Weapon – This ability is thematically appropriate and cool for the Magus character. Also I can see this as a fun and interesting link to Asian style martial arts genre.
Athame Knowledge – This is an interesting extension of the Magus’s special relationship to his or her weapon. It fits into an Asian style campaign very well. I particularly like the link to the character becoming an extension of the weapon’s history and is a very cool way to link potential lesser artifact creation.
Athame Surge – Again as in the previous ability, this can be used to turn a weapon into a lesser artifact given time and use should the game master wish to allow this.
Black Blade Repost – This fits in well with the Black Blade Archetype.
Eldritch Athame – Turning one’s weapon into pure energy seems highly appropriate for this class.
Energy Web – An interesting ability that I think is particularly well suited to drow and similar beings.
Necromantic Strike – This disrupts life and unlife and is a pretty cool ability. I put it on my “like” list but it needs a little work. Perhaps in order to harm living beings, this must first require the Magus’s weapon to absorb necromantic energy from undead. This limits the ability and gives it some logic for how it can affect both.
Song of Arcane Triumph (and the other abilities specific to elves and half elves) – A cool flavor ability for a Magus who is also an elf.
Ultimate Eldritch Athame – This is a continuation on the Eldritch Athame ability and taken together with Athame Knowledge and Athame Surge seems most appropriate for the Magus class. Though I would want to allow this only as a capstone ability, level 20, as opposed to the level 15 access given.
The New Magus Arcana that I didn’t like:
Augment Physical Prowess – This is too much like certain the features of the Alchemist class by Paizo. It doesn’t fit my view of a Magus class ability.
Bounding Step – I can see the desire for this one to mimic some of the things seen in certain genre films. But, I think a magus should have to cast the fly spell in order to fly; otherwise it is not interruptible and is overpowering in my view. At the very least raise the level requirement a bit so that the magus has to know and use the spell fly prior to gaining the ability to use a single arcane pool point. Alternatively, raising the pool points required might go a long way to balancing this ability a bit.
Doublefire Wand – No, this is too overpowering. Particularly at 15th level when a Magus would have all kinds of additional abilities and spells. Granted once those are all used up relying on a staff or wand as a last resort means the player (or if done in character, the character) overextended him or herself and must take the consequences.
Nigh Irresistible Strike – Being able to disrupt magical defenses seems to be a cool ability, but there simply isn’t a logical reason for it to work as described. It needs more flavor as to how and why this works. If it is acting as a dispel magic, how is it not canceled out by the Magus’s own natural spell powers. There needs to be a check on this. Perhaps once used, the Magus can’t use points from his Arcane Pool or Magus Arcana for the next round.
Wave of Mutilation – So, how does this work exactly? A single cut of the Magus’s weapon becomes a “scything wave of energy” that sweeps a 30-foot cone of magical force at her enemies. It seems too powerful, too cartoonish and doesn’t make sense to me. How does this work? Why not just use a cone spell instead? Now if the Magus could cause her weapon to be a spell storing type and cast a cone-type spell into it and then unleash it upon his enemies as she cuts a swath through them, then it makes sense. As is? No, it is too overpowering and too cartoony and ridiculous.
Singer of Blades:
The Singer of Blades is a flavorful Magus archetype for elves and half elves. This seems pretty balanced and fun. The abilities are appropriate and the capstone ability, Furious Dance, is interesting. I would like to know if these replica blades are considered to be pure energy, and if so, of which type of energy. Can the Magus determine which energy at the moment he uses this ability? The spell doesn’t specify this as clearly as I would like it to. But I assume this only lasts the round it is used. It can be activated a minimum number of times per day, based upon Intelligence.
New Feats for the Magus:
Maybe I am a mean GM, but I would severely curtail the number of feats a Magus class could take due to the sheer number of class abilities the Magus already receives. That being said, how do these new feats work with the Magus?
The Bladebound Defense feat fits with the Black Blade Archetype and would be appropriate if that archetype is allowed.
Clinging Touch, Crippling Touch … seem to add too much to the already extreme power of the Magus to the extent that they seem to overpower the class even further.
Dance of Ruin and Dance of Death have a large number of prerequisites and thus are balanced out by requiring the character to devote many levels worth of feats. They also add to the defense of the character rather than offense. Of course this allows the Magus to be even more self-reliant, but if the player and game master are already playing this type of campaign it doesn’t seem too overpowering.
Deny the Afflicted seems to be only for a dual Magus and Witch and very niche. But for the player who wants to combine these two highly complex classes and has a GM that allows it, the ability itself doesn’t seem too overpowered.
Improved Reflection improves the Magus’s reflection class ability to allow the Magus to direct where the reflected spell goes. The use is restricted only by the prerequisite of the Magus Arcana reflection ability and the character’s Intelligence bonus and seems a bit overpowered. I’d like to see some sort of level based prerequisite as well.
New Magic Items:
These go from cool and awesome, like Mournsky, the minor artifact/black blade, to the Crystal of Arcane Assimilation which seems to be either missing some text description or was not thought through enough. To be specific with the Crystal; I am not clear on what the gem actually does. If it can be used to transfer magical energies from one magical weapon to another during the lengthy ritual mentioned; then it can be used to take a weapon gained as treasure which no one in the particular party can use and make it useful. I don’t have a particular need for this. If I wish my players to have access to magical weapons their characters can use, then I add them in as treasure. For those who wish to play a character like Elric of Melnibone’ then Mournsky would be a very cool quest objective for that character. I can see that as the reward at culmination of many adventures and many heroic tales.
On the whole the good, flavorful, and useful abilities, feats and magic items offered in this supplement make this worth picking up. For a campaign in which there are a limited number of players, one or two, the Magus becomes a very fun class to play. The Singer of Blades archetype is a good choice for elven characters. As for the look of this book, it is typical of Rite Publishing’s standards of production and all of the art within is in color. My rating on this is 4 of 5 stars, mainly due to those abilities that were overpowered or needed more tweaking to work well.
[4 of 5 Stars!]