Game: 101 Arcane Spell Components
Publisher: Philip J Reed
Review Dated: 5th, January 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10 [ Really good ]
Total Score: 8
Average Score: 8.00
101 Arcane Spell Components is a 20-paged PDF from Philip J Reed.com. Okay. 20 pages is the slimmest PDF product that I’ve reviewed to date but the current price for the supplement is less than $4. That’s the lowest price for any RPG product that I’ve reviewed (with the exception of a free adventure or two). More importantly than the price, perhaps, 20 pages is enough for 101 Arcane Spell Components to do the task at hand.
The product begins with a nice Larry Elmore illustration. A brown line sketch on weathered paper. It’s a similar style to the first in the 101 line, 101 Spellbooks, and prints off without guzzling ink. The rest of the download is on a pure white background, without side bar and in two columns of text. There’s a large special thanks to Ken Whitman for securing the illustration and the address for (but not hyperlined) Larry Elmore.com at the start. Okay. It certainly isn’t every other supplement that begins like that and it suggests to me that the illustration might have been a freebie. I might be wrong but that’s the impression I get. It doesn’t really impact my appreciation of 101 Arcane Spells Components at all. What’s more likely to draw the attention of purists is a note that all the text of the supplement is OGL. This is a great boon because entire supplement is basically one new rule. It is one new rule that’s used to spice up spell casting. It’s one new rule that spices up spell casting successfully. It’s one new rule that requires a host of example components. That’s what you get in 18 of the 20 pages. The last page is, of course, the OGL legalese.
Arcane components can be used in the casting of the spell to enhance it. The components are listed by the spell descriptors used in the core rules and in an additional miscellaneous category. The first category is Acid. Let’s pick Melf’s Acid Arrow [acid] as a widely known spell with the acid descriptor. That should make it clear by what I mean as a spell descriptor. The first component in the acid category is an Ankheg’s Poison Sack. That makes sense to me; that’s the sort of component I’d associate with acid. The anhkeg’s poison sack is described – handy for a GM in a rush and good for describing the component out of context. Then there’s the effect of incorporating the poison sack as an extra component into an appropriate spell. In this case on a successful spellcraft roll the damage of the spell is increased. It would be a good one to use with Melf’s Acid Arrow. There’s a cost; typically each extra component used increases the casting time of the spell. I think this is a realistic and effective cost. The use of the poison sack will increase casting time for the spell by one round. Additionally each component comes with the knowledge (arcane) check required to see whether the mage happens to know of the poison sack’s arcane component properties. Rather nicely, each example component finishes off with a gold value and a weight.
There are 18 of these categories in the core rules, 101 Arcane Spell Components adds the miscellaneous category to make a total of 19. A bit of maths shows us that there are about 5 example components for each section. That’s not a huge number per category but it’s more than enough to get going with.
There are bookmarks in this PDF and it’s a great example as to why every electronic supplement needs them. They’re just all-cap entries in this download but it’s just so easy to click on the category you want and jump straight to where you want to be. The layout and lack of colour make it an easy document to print. You actually get two sizes, two different PDFs, with your purchase: one in US letter and one in A4. Pick the one that’ll best suit your size of paper and print.
101 Arcane Spell Components is cheap and effective. It’s an easy idea to expand, it can be incorporated into an already running game and it’s a simple procedure for a GM to tinker with the mechanics. What more could you want from a supplement? It’s just a shame it isn’t 1001 Arcane Spell Components but I suppose we’d have to pay more than $4 then!