Inside Pulse 12

Tabletop Review: Magnificent Miscellaneum Volume II (Castles & Crusades)

Magnificent Miscellaneum Volume II(Castles & Crusades)
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
Page Count: 7
Cost: Seventy-Five Cents
Release Date: 1/10/2013
Get it Here:

I haven’t had the chance to review any Castles & Crusades products for a while, due to the end of the year glut and the Tabletop Gaming Awards write-up. However, with a new year I happened to find several new C&C products awaiting me, Magnificent Miscellaneum included. Magnificent Miscellaneum is a very short new periodical from Troll Lord games, covering only a few pages of content, but keeping the price between seventy-five cents and a dollar twenty-five, based on any sales going on. Out of the seven pages, only five are content, with one page being the cover and the second being the wordy OGL license and credits for the publication.

Now you’re probably wondering what all someone can pack into a mere five pages, unless it’s a short one shot adventure. Well, there is a surprising amount of content in this little pamphlet. Three pages are devoted to “White Box Menaces.” Of course, some people might not know what the White Box is. That’s the 1974 original edition of Dungeons & Dragons. I’m not sure why they call this section that, as I pulled out my own copy of the set and couldn’t find any of the creatures in this volume of MM betwixt the pages of the three D&D books that made up the White Box. That said, this section contains ten monsters with names that look like your cat walked across the computer keyboard . The effort to pronounce these alone will keep a decent portion of DMs away from using them. Still, there are ten brand new monsters to inflict upon your C&C gaming troupe here, with each one getting paragraph that describes them, and some very brief stats to let you use them. My personal favorite are the Gloedfoers, which are infernal sheep, and I know I’ve encountered them before now (albeit it under a different name) – I just can’t remember when and that’s driving me nuts. If you can get by tongue twisters like thûtuszlaks and mwizikili, you’ll find some really fun creatures to use in your homebrew adventures.

The next section is Potent Priestcraft, and it introduces four new spells for your cleric. There are two Level One and two Level Two spells, all of which are pretty powerful for what they do. Bonumcanis lets you summon a ghost dog to watch your back, while Choreamortis lets a Level One Priest animate a corpse as long as they concentrate on mentally commanding it. Luxbeata is a Level Two Cleric spell where you can do 2d8 damage to undead via holy searing light, while Good aligned creatures heal a point of damage and evil aligned non-undead must make a saving throw to keep from running in fear. This one’s definitely a bit overpowered. It’s neat, but probably should be a level higher. Malumcaligo is another overpowered spell, giving the caster an armour class bonus AND an bonus to his or her attack roll. One or the other is probably fine for a Level Two spell, but both? Ouch. There’s also a surprise penalty to anyone who tries to enter the fog to attack the caster. All of this shows the spell should be probably Level Four rather than Level Two. Basically ALL of the spells in this section needed either nerfing or having their spell levels raised.

Wondrous Wizardry is a similar section, but for mages instead of priests. Here you have four spells that are classified as “Eyebites.” This is NOT the same as the AD&D version of Eyebite, but rather a classification of spells, “that can potentially be cast out of initiative order and out of the caster’s normal turn in that order.” That alone is a powerful ability. However, like the Priest spells, these Eyebites are overpowered on their own, and when you factor in their bonus ability, means they are just too much for their Casting Level. Celeritous Sidestep is a Level Zero (!) spell where the caster can sidestep any one non-magical attack of any kind. A Level Zero spell? Seriously? That’s insanely powerful, and shouldn’t be the equivalent of a cantrip. Somnuscent Interjection is a Level Three spell that is a more powerful version of Sleep. This is the most balanced spell in the lot. Malefic Stuttering is a Level One spell, except it’s misspelled as Malific, and basically a lower leveled version of Tasha’s Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter. Eh. The final spell is Toxic Revelator and it’s a Level Two spell that feels like it should be a Priest spell instead. Basically every poisonous item within a fifty foot radius of the caster flies out, dances around the mage and begins to speak (it’s magic people) stating the type of poison it is and who applied it, or at least last touched the vial it is in. Again, a divination of this nature feels more clerical in nature, and probably should be Level Three due to the power of it. A low level mage should NOT be able to cast a spell like this that easily; otherwise there’d be no need for police or detectives. So yeah, both magic sections are neat, but the spells really needed to be retooled before being made canon by Troll Lord. They’re just way too unbalanced.

Finally we have “Mystic Magic Items and Amazing Artifacts,” which introduces four new items for players to find and use in their dungeon crawling adventures. You have such items as The Claw of the Lich (think rabbit’s foot, but humanoid), Eye of Gorgon, a necklace to petrify enemies, Ear of the Fish, a pearl earring to let the wielder communicate with fish, and Jar of Light, which feels like a candle based version of the Decanter of Endless Water, but not as flexible. All in all, not bad magic items.

So, a thumbs in the middle for this issue. It’s cheap and short and whether you’ll get your money’s worth or not is up to you. The monsters and magical items are nicely done, but the spells needed a lot of work before becoming official. They’re just too unbalanced and ill thought out. Still, I really enjoyed flipping through this piece, and I hope the Magnificent Miscellaneum becomes a regular release. It reminds me of a very short and unrefined old school TSR style magazine, and that’s a good thing.