Friday, July 15, 2016

Review: Sorcery: Protection and Warning Spells

Cover Page: Words, words,
words, words, words,
words, and
0.5 x2 Illustrations
This week, we have a new release, Sorcery: Protection and Warning Spells. This book is a grimoire of several spells specifically modeled after the same college in the original GURPS Magic, but in advantage form. Some of these spells work pretty obtusely relatively speaking to the existing advantage enhancements and limitations, so for the tinkerer, it's a nice "How do I do this wacky thing that can't be described so well?" For the Sorcerer player, it's a pragmatic list of some helpful options that have been vetted through some serious playtesting. For anyone, it's a list of advantages that can be easily converted to another power source without much fuss. Let's take a closer look at what is in the box.

Table of Contents... almost functions as
a spell list as well.


This is a 15 page PDF, subtracting the preamble and the gunk at the end of the book, we have 12 pages of content. This time I count the introduction among the "real" content, as it is a little important to using the book.
This book has a 1 page introduction, and an 11 page spell list, numbering 38 spells, and if you wanted to be a little silly, with the numbers, you might be able to inflate that number just a tad more to account for Lesser/Greater variants. The one page introduction includes guidance on how to apply the book, and the 11 page spell list is mostly a solid content catalog being a spell list and all, but if you look closely at some of the more mechanically unique spells, there are a few interesting applications of advantage modifiers and some guidance on remixing for your own use.
Organization is fine, and makes sense for what it is, it's not hard to alphabetize a list of spells... which is really weird because navigating the GURPS Magic book by comparison is impossible without the spell index at the end. Illustrations are very blaise, and don't really do much to enhance the reading. Look at the cover image, guess what spell that guy is demonstrating. It's Sense Danger. Pull quotes on the other hand are a decent mix of thoughtful and comedic, though I'd always like to see more.
Overall, I'm surprised by the value of this book. I don't consider it a "Must-have," but a good buy if you use any Powers system at all frequently, or enjoy engineering spells and new abilities by hand and want a case study on several more difficult to stat spells.


The introduction recommends that before having this book, you should at least have Basic Set and Sorcery. I'd argue that the book is useful enough even without Sorcery, but if you  want this book at all, it is probably because you have Sorcery. I also agree that Powers and Power-Ups are useful supplements for those interested in tinkering.
I especially like the thoughtful section Beyond Sorcery in the introduction that describes some thoughts on how to apply different power modifiers to these abilities, and it gives consideration to some edge cases I never thought about, so kudos there.

Protection and Warning Spells

This s the list of spells proper. Protection and Warning Spells includes spells mostly based on those found in GURPS Magic, but also some from it's spinoff: GURPS Magic: Death Spells, which I've never read. For the most part, a lot of the fundamental spells are somewhat predictable manipulations of the Damage Resistance, Danger Sense, Detect, and Resistant advantages, but there are others that really push the envelope. Particularly, I found Blade Turning, Freedom, Iron Arm, and Reverse Missile very creative and satisfying in a crunch sense. On the other hand, some sections like Resist Acid, Resist Disease, Resist Lightning, Resist Pressure, Resist Radiation, Resist Sound, and Resist Water felt like reading the same entry over and over but with a different noun chosen in the game of Mad-Libs (Though honestly, the formula that each of those spells have in common is also interesting.) I am also pleased that there is a wide range of costs and power-levels in this book. There are 3 spells cheap enough for me to count them as reliably cantrips, but there are also some spells (specifically high power level variants of some spells) that actually go into 4 figures of character points. So it can be applied in lower and higher power leveled games.

Other Thoughts and Closing

I am satisfied with this book and feel like I got my money's worth and some more, which isn't hard when it's only five bucks. I'll probably be repurposing some of these for one of my players using Divine Favor in the Bad Company campaign I'm running, gotta look at the list really carefully though to make sure I only choose spells that line up with the flavor of her deity.

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