Game: Pocket Grimoire: Arcane
Publisher: Green Ronin
Review Dated: 21st, July 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10 [ Really good ]
Total Score: 13
Average Score: 6.50
256 pages and nearly all of them are entirely given over to arcane spells. 256 pages for $14.95 US; that’s amazing value. Ah yes, so the title of the book gives the game away “Pocket Grimoire”. I watched with some incredulity an online debate as to whether the pocket grimoires could actually fit into a pocket. Don’t get carried away with this pocket concept. The book is just shy of 14cm (5 ½ inches) wide, 21½cm (8 ½ inches) high and 1½cm (½ inch) thick. The pocket grimoire is a book designed to be thrown into your travelling GM back of books, to take up as little space as possible on your table or behind your GM screen. It’s a great idea.
The concept behind the grimoire is to gather together spells from a range of different books and a range of different publishing companies and print them continent book. There is a huge number of spells in the book as a result. I’ve not counted how many exactly but when I say the alphabetical list of spells begins at page 6 and finishes on page 23. That is a total of 17 pages of nothing more than spell names.
Spells are listed in two ways, by class and by straight alphabetic reference. The classes covered in the Pocket Grimoire: Arcane are Assassin, Bard, Sorcerer and Wizard. They didn’t need to include Assassin but I’m glad they did. It must have been hard to decide where to draw the line between those classes and prestige classes which should be included and which should not.
In addition to spells from the core rules a total of 13 different books have contributed to the contents of the grimoire.
Arcana: Societies of Magic (Green Ronin)
Beyond the Veil (Trident Inc / Atlas Games)
Blood Reign of Nishanpur (Paradigm Concepts)
The Book of Eldritch Might (Monte Cook)
Codex Arcanis (Paradigm Concepts)
The Divine and the Defeated (White Wolf Publishing [Sword and Sorcery Studios])
Dungeons (Alderac Entertainment)
Evil (Alderac Entertainment)
Freeport: The City of Adventure (Green Ronin)
Interludes: Brief Expeditions to Bluffside (Thunderhead Games [now part of Mystic Eye Games])
Relics & Rituals (copyright to Clark Peterson [published as a Scarred Lands, Sword and Sorcery Studios book])
The Tide of Years (copyright to Michelle Nephew [published as an Atlas Games book])
Traps and Treachery (Fantasy Flight, Inc).
A quick count shows that that’s a total of eight different companies cooperating under the OGL agreement.
There are no illustrations in the book, not unless you count the three pages of adverts. As you would expect since the Pocket Grimoire: Arcane is a Green Ronin book there’s an advert for the recently printed The Book of the Righteous but there are also adverts for Sword & Sorcery conglomerate as well. We might wonder whether that’s part of deal in order to include their spells in the book. I don’t suppose it matters.
There’s a new school of magic too. The domain of Time, introduced and with the copyright attached to The Tide of Years, means that you’ll be able to find time spells. Yes, spells in this book of arcane magic are listed along with their cleric level and their matching domains even if it’s not so easy to access these spells through the tables of contents. I don’t think there are any spells in the book that can only be accessed by divine spell casters, indeed that would seem to be rather against the grain and would be a bit of a slap in the face for the sister book Pocket Grimoire: Divine.
It seems to be a sturdy little book too. The danger would be that a book of this small size with so many pages squeezed in would start to loose pages but the binding seems secure.
I liked the book. A list of spells is hard to review but I can say that I found the book easy to use and that would seem to be the do or die issue behind the concept. I could quickly find any spell I was interested in and even quickly find a spell suited for a general idea I wanted to exploit. For example, the contents list tells me that spells beginning with the letter “i” begin on page 115 and that’s all you need to begin your search for a scary ice magic spell for your villain.
I think this pocket grimoire is likely to be a great resource for GMs who use a lot of spells in their games and find themselves either needing to find information on a spell quickly in-game or want to have a large range of spells available to PCs and NPCs. I think the book also provides something of a peek at those books from which spells have been taking from.