Scholar’s Review #58: Book of Magic
Updated: Jan 21
Creator, Designer and Chief Writer: Kevin Siembieda
Additional Writers: A long list of those that contributed to several World Books.
Compiled by: Bill Coffin
General. A companion piece to the Game Master Guide and Sourcebook 5: Bionics [insert links], this tome compiles the copious entries of spells and magical weapons and devices found throughout the Rifts library. This single-source reference gives Players and Game Masters alike the chance to really dive into the rich realm that Palladium Books have developed for the magical side of Rifts. With literally hundreds of entries, we also get the additional updates to the spells PPE costs for OCCs that specialize in certain forms of magic, as well as some better indications on the rarity of some schools of magic (some are more obvious than others). If you are imagining creating a practitioner of magic, this is definitely the book for you.
The Ultimate Rifts Sourcebook – Part Two. Continuing the tagline from the Game Masters Guide, this is the culmination of that project. The sheer page count for the various spells (less those from Dimension Book, apparently), made this a relative no-brainer. This leads into several small segments on magic culture GM Tips on Mages, handling magic, and game balance. This is followed by a reprint of the Coalition States’ view of Magic (originally from Siege on Tolkeen: Sedition). We find a small FAQ section that leads into an Index of Practitioners of Magic (there are many) and the Known Types of Magic, which includes a handy reference to where the magic is found in the world, and its rarity.
Spells. All the major forms of magic are covered in detail, while abilities gained by specific OCCs are excluded; as was Circle and Ward Magic, found in the Palladium Fantasy RPG instead.
African Ceremonial Magic. Reprinted from World Book 4: Africa. Differentiates between the two main types, Rain Magic Rituals and what I’ll call ‘Everything Else’ (e.g. magic chants, songs, dances and ceremonies)
African Witch Spells. Reprinted from World Book 4: Africa
Biomancy. Based on entries from World Book 6: South America 1, as is does not include the Lemurian Biomancy from World Book 32: Lemuria.
Blue Flame. Reprinted from World Book 9: South America 2, which is available to be learned from any spell caster, assuming they travel to and convince a Larhold mage to teach it.
Bio-Wizardry. The Splugorth mutation-inducing magic. Some background information and Transmutation Tables, with notes on the Bio-Borg that force the reader to go World Book 2: Atlantis and World Book 21: Splynn Dimensional Market
Cloud Magic. Integral to the Lyn-Srial from World Book 14: New West that anyone *could* learn, but for anyone other than Lyn-Srial, spell cost in PPE requires 50% more and has some *serious* ability pre-requisites (like, woah…).
Conjuring. A short entry reprinted from the Conjuror OCC found in World Book 16: Federation of Magic
Dolphin Magic. Originally found in World Book 7: Underseas; exclusive to Dolphins (when you think of it, are you really surprised?)
Elemental Magic. This chunky section of the book was first experienced in Conversion Book One, the four major elements and their list of spells are presented.
Invocations. The baseline spell list from the RMB and then RUE, with little surprise, this is the beefiest segment of the book. There is an interesting note regarding ‘elemental spells’ (those with air, earth, fire or water effects) also available to Warlocks at half the PPE costs.
Korallyte Shaping. A curious entry, drawn from World Book 7: Underseas, one wonders why a school of magic with only two effective spells was supported.
Living Fire Magic. An exclusive school of magic found in World Book 17: Warlords of Russia
Nature Magic. Another closely guard school found in World Book 17: Warlords of Russia
Nazcan Line Magic. A relatively unique method of creating magical effects based on drawing (akin to a ritual), vice verbal incantation. Basically limited to this Peruvian empire’s domain and not taught to outsiders. It also includes information on the Nazca Lines. Reprinted from World Book 9: South America 2
Necromancy. Available to other classes with a PPE tax of 50% more to cast each spell (Mystics and Techno-Wizards restricted and need not apply) or races of spell casters (e.g. dragons), the best source for this is from World Book 17: Warlords of Russia
Ocean Magic. Once again drawing from World Book 7: Underseas, despite availability to non-oceanic creatures, it comes with a hefty tax to cast, let alone finding someone to teach you.
Rift and Ley Line Magic. A bit of a bizarre entry, frankly. Spells that deal with opening and manipulating rifts and ley lines, either from the RUE or Siege on Tolkeen: Sedition. Of note, it refers to several spells having amended PPE costs for certain OCCs, a new addition to the dynamic.
Shamanistic Magic. From World Book 15: Spirit West (not WB 17 as the typo indicates) and other sources. Includes shamanistic spirit, animal, plant and paradox/temporal spells, as well as a note that Inuit Shamans know additional powers found in World Book 20: Canada, Exclusive to Native cultures. Interestingly, they chose to include the art for page 217 from Spirit West that depicted a Men-at-Arms class that doesn't have access to magic.
Spoiling Magic. A harmful and vile magic for Night Witch OCC found in World Book 18: Mystic Russia. These spells are exclusive to a Witch OCC.
Stone Magic. A unique entry in that it includes the OCC (bizarre, as it is the only one), which provides the full gamut of information for creating stone artefacts and pyramids.
Tattoo Magic. Derived from World Book 2: Atlantis
Temporal Magic. Drawn from World Book 3: England, is exceedingly rare to those not from the trio of “Temporal OCCs,” but does allow some caveat for gods and supernatural beings to learn the magic.
Whale Singer Spellsongs. Taken from World Book 7: Underseas. As expected, not something non-oceanic creatures/D-Bees could hope to learn.
Magic Weapons and Devices. Includes notable magic weapons, armour, items and components. Truly unique entries (e.g. Poor Yorrick from Siege on Tolkeen: Sedition not included).
Biomancer Weapons & Armour. From World Book 6: South America 1
Bio-Wizard Weapons. From World Book 2: Atlantis and World Book 21: Splynn Dimensional Market. Includes the various Rune Weapon entries found therein.
Anti-Magic Containment & Restraints. From Siege on Tolkeen: Sedition, a series of technological devices used to contain and control practitioners of magic.
Herb Magic. Drawn from World Book 3: England, describes the Hertbalists’ or Druids’ capability to create wands, staves and use herbs to create magical effect.
Millenium Tree Items. Again from World Book 3: England, presents the Millenium Tree and their “Gifts” of Magic. Ironically places a Paradox Warrior image from WB 15.
Japanese Magic Items. From World Book 8: Japan (duh).
Shamanistic Magic Items. Covers the African charms and amulets from World Book 4: Africa, and the Magical Fetishes from North America Native Americans found in World Book 15: Spirit West and World Book 20: Canada.
Techno-Wizardry. A laundry list of TW items from across the library of Rifts World Books; each item indicates the book of origin for background information). Includes various items and equipment, melee weapons and firearms, to TW Bionics and vehicles (many vehicle entries reprinted). Also includes many of the TW battle automatons from the Federation of Magic and Coalition Wars series (replicating those frustratingly truncated entries we first saw in the Game Master Guide, including just the Main Body for MDC).
Index of Rifts Magic. Given the weight of this tome, the index covers all spells (by school of magic) within the book with page references.
Initial Assessment (7/10). One of the various issues new players and Game Masters have with the Rifts catalogue is simply that it is so (very) expansive. The barrier to entry for new players seems daunting, and in some cases can very well be. For practitioners of magic, this becomes even more so of an issue, as spells and the various schools of magic are scattered throughout. This book does away with that problem. There will invariably be some level of duplication from a World Book purchase and this one, but for a player looking to really leverage a practitioner of magic, this book really does you a solid. The added entries to the various schools of magic that define the availability and rarity of the specific school is a welcome addition, as is the redefined PPE costs for certain spells in relation to the OCC; furthermore, they make sense! This book demonstrates a strength in Palladium Books’ approach that I find very appealing; vice many other systems where all magic users follow scripted spell lists typically available to all mages/clerics, there are *several* viable schools of magic that can add significant flavor to the campaign or PC/NPC. There were a few misses in here, such as the largely misleading Bio-wizardry and lacklustre Korallyte Shaping entries. It also can be excused for lacking the entries from subsequent publications (Lemurian Biomancy from World Book 32). Artwork throughout was largely reprinted as well, but includes largely solid entries. Is this a required book for all parties or groups of PC? Likely not, but is a heavy contender as a supporting book for any GM wishing to throw something at the party they may not be familiar with. It’s a solid entry and solves the headache of having to lug around 5+ books for various magical items/spells.
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