Game: Blight Magic
Publisher: Mystic Eye Games
Review Dated: 19th, June 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
I like the idea of Blight Magic; a ritual that sucks the very essence of life from the land and turns it into fuel for magic. I like Mystic Eye too, they’ve been good those of us who like to stray from the typical high fantasy (known fondly as cheese fantasy by some) and try something with a bit more grit. Mystic Eye sells the Blight Magic system a little short when they suggest its best suited for High Fantasy games where magic is plentiful and common and not so well suited for Low Fantasy games where magic is rare. I think the Blight Magic ability to drain energy from the land to earn additional spell slots would be a wonderful way to deal with magic in a Low Fantasy setting where it was the only way to manifest spell slots at all.
The introductory section of the book suggests that it was written primarily as a type of magic to use as a villain to the player characters but admits that it is also a wickedly tempting balancing act to see players attempt. There’s the caution that Blight Magic is not suited to neither the novice player nor GM and I agree, although I’ll admit with a wry smile that just by saying that it tempts a few more people to buy the book. I do not so readily agree with the slippery slope of corruption though. I think it’s too easy to buy off or delay levels of ill effect. I know some players who would see damage dealing talons or a permanent aura of fear around their character as a boon to pay points for and not some terrible price associated with dealing in dark magic. I suspect this sort of player will be one who is naturally attracted to the idea of having a go at playing a Blight Magic wielding mage. Mind you, there is a range of other penalties that the Blight user may encounter and this includes the crippling Charisma loss for sorcerers and bards. In the end the size and scale of the rewards and costs of Blight Magic is something that any GM can and should play with.
Blight Magic is a 56-paged book and the descriptions of how the magic works takes the first 12 pages. Chapter Three introduces the Blighted Familiar and I suspect if I was writing the book that would have been something I would have forgotten about entirely. In order to earn your Blighted Familiar you must kill your current Familiar in a ritual. The assumption is then that if you don’t already have a Familiar then you can’t get a Blighted Familiar. There’s no character class “Blight Mage” which gives you the inherent right to a Blight Familiar. The Blight Familiar is as powerful as its Blight Magic heritage supposes it should be. Although the presence of the Familiar is likely to increase the rate of corruption, addiction, madness and decay the Blight Magic wielding spell-slinger is likely to experience it strikes me very much as further evidence of the form of magic being suitable for carefully controlled villain NPCs and not player characters.
The forth chapter quickly runs through those character classes which qualify as possible Blight Magic users – and they are both arcane and divine magic users. The chapter also briefly studies common races on how and if they might take to this dark art. The chapter is unremarkable except for the “½ orc” reference which currently wears the badge of “most lazy d20 reference ever”.
There’s a collection of interesting prestige classes in the book. The closest to the “Blight Mage” is the Dirge Lord (Blighted Master) but even this fellow isn’t capable of crafting a Blighted Familiar for himself unless his core character class previously got him one. There are some nice touches in here though; The Disciples of Fell as Blight corrupted treants who struggle against the corruption and as you can imagine they have to be very careful when they’re destroying patches of plant life to fuel their Blight Rituals and then try and heal the area afterwards. There’s also a matching set of anti-Blight prestige classes and this sits well with me. Most of the prestige classes reach up to level ten so that’s another bonus. Here in this chapter, on page 26, you’ll find a picture of a Blight Teletubbie sitting on a rock; the evil of this magic knows no limits!
There’s a list of powerful Blight Magic based feats – including the Blight Magic feat that is the prerequisite for your villain’s (or unfortunate player character) descent into Blight Magic in the first place. The spells come with the suggestion that they’re not available until the mage has begun to experience some penalties on their corruption role and so this helps to ensure that they remain the exclusive preserve a Blight Magic Ritual using character. They’re not of the type “Blight Magic” and instead fall into the usual Evocation, Necromancy, Transmutation, etc, etc range of other arcane magic. I see why it’s done; it would be pretty hard not to have “Blighted Dead” as anything other than a necromantic spell.
The Blight Monsters and templates chapter is my favourite in the book. Until chapter VII I really hadn’t been successfully persuaded that Blight Magic was in itself scary or formidable or anything other than a bit of life essence landscaping in exchange for more power (which in terms of dreadfulness seems to pale in comparison to the likes of necromancy or demonology). It was the Blight Zombies and the Bone Blights that won me over. They have this ability to have an elemental or semi-elemental aspect like dust or magma. Imagine a dust zombie that is able to pour itself through a keyhole or under a door. Imagine a hoard of them. That’s the sort of punch I usually expect from Mystic Eye.
There are a few pages at the end of the book that offers up advice and suggestions on how to incorporate Blight Magic and Blight Magic users into your game. There’s some fairly meaty stuff in here although I do wonder whether the “Fountains of Blight” section threatens to change the nature of Blight to something slightly different at the last minute. That said; the Fountains of Blight are presented only as a rumour so it seems likely that the author was aware of that possible problem too. More helpful are the summary tables at the back of the book. A smart move, which I’m surprised I’ve not seen before, is to move the required license text a few pages in and then leave the very last page (which is so easy to turn to) free for these handy tables.
I liked Blight Magic. I had high hopes for Blight Magic but those hopes have only partially been sated, they’ve been largely satisfied but I’m left with a little more convincing to do. It’s just not quite as terrible as I would have liked, nor so addictively self-destructive. The cover art is fantastic, it really does inspire me in the way the dust zombies did but some of the interior art doesn’t quite achieve the same success. Blight Magic remains a good book but I think it’ll appeal to those players and DMs looking for a solid way to build a bigger and meaner villain rather than to those who are looking for an insidiously powerful and original magic type.