04 February 2022
Everything comes with a cost...
This article originally appeared in issue 63 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here.
We’re suckers for spellbooks. Much like a bestiary, they can tell you a lot about the world that you’re inhabiting – if done right. Often overlooked as mechanically useful, but a bit like pausing a fighting game to look up how to do the special attack, they can suffer from excessive crunch.
The Book of Gaub does not have this problem. The Book of Gaub is a mix of spell mechanics, fiction, and fragments focusing on the lore of Gaub’s seven fingers. Each finger is a ‘school’ of magic, offering on-theme bouts of stomach-churning spells. They’re all undeniably creepy, powerful, and subjective. There are times when a spell giving another character hypochondria, or one where the victim must walk away from you for as long as you follow, might seem niche, but they encourage a thoughtful, ritualised version of magic. There’s also monsters to bind to the world and a very unhealthy miscast table. Everything in this book comes with a cost – whether that’s simply in the ritual, the desires of a monster, or the risk of losing your body when you transform into a shade.
You’re unlikely to use the spells every session, as they often feel more like adventure hooks. They’re true esoteric knowledge – even for your wizards and necromancers. This is the hard stuff that they don’t talk about. As such there’s threads of adventure throughout that are worth tugging on, even if you’re simply using it as an undercurrent of darkness, or creating a ruined and cursed library delve in the hope of finding all the fragments.
If a book of spells that really bend reality in dark and mysterious ways (rather than just turn everyone into Marvel super heroes) is something you know your game group would seek out, then here it is.
Christopher John Eggett
PLAY IT? YES
Designer: Paolo Greco
Publisher: Lost Pages
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