School of Evocation



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School of Evocation

Author: Various
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Publish Date: 2003
ISBN: 1-58994-113-6
Pages: 61
Rating: 5 out of 10
Retail Price: $14.95

 

On a whim, I picked up a copy of School of Evocation while at a gaming convention. The title and cover didn’t really grab me, but the book was basically free with the purchase of another book that did grab me. After a few months, I noticed it on the shelf and decided to read it.

The book begins with a new class, the dedicated evoker. My guess is that this class is supposed to replace the evoker specialist wizard with something a bit less similar to other wizards. I think this is a noble goal, though I’m not sure I like the direction this particular class took with it. For starters, the class has an alignment restriction of “any non-good,” with the justification being that because evocation spells tend to cause a lot of damage, a good alignment doesn’t fit... a view I roll my eyes at. The class is basically a mobile artillery platform. They trade the ability to cast spells from any school except for evocation and universal for a few custom abilities, such as being able to lose a prepared spell for another like the cleric does and the ability to power through spell resistance. The idea for this class wasn’t bad, but the way it was written was, simply put, blasé.

Next the book moved on to eight prestige classes, one for each of the sub-schools of evocation. None of these classes was especially bad, but they were extremely predictable. The prestige class that focuses on cold gets cold resistance, the one that focuses on acid gets an acid-based attack, etc. It just didn’t seem like there was a lot of thought put into these classes aside from making sure there was one for each sub-school.

Interestingly, there were only five new feats in this book, as opposed to the usual trend where as many feats as the printers can handle are tossed in. None of these feats appealed to me personally, but didn’t appear to be over or underpowered. After the feats came and spells. As I expected, the vast majority of the spells (17 of the book’s 61 pages) were just new variations on energy damage. A few, however, were actually very well-conceived and fit the image of a “magical destroyer” type of caster very well.

The last section of the book dealt with new items, magical, mundane and alchemical. A new and interesting concept was introduced in this section. By using certain alchemical items as expendable focuses from spells, one can increase some aspect of certain spells. For example, if using chill crystals (a new alchemical item) when casting a spell with the [Cold] descriptor, one’s caster level is treat as though it were 1 higher than it is. Not a bad idea, I think, though it might be deserving of a whole chapter of its own, since there were very few such alchemical items given. The magical items listed were actually fairly nice as well. Instead of a bunch of high-damage spell effects like I expected, there were many items that took some creative thought by the designer, such as an acid-based key that melts and fuses a lock once inserted.

I didn’t see a lot of obvious errors in this book, as I do with so many others. Errors were not this book’s problem. The problem was that a large part of the material from this book just didn’t seem overly creative. Still, someone looking for alternatives to the spells and magic items in the Player’s Handbook should be able to find something worth the effort in this book.