Advanced d20 Magic is a supplement for both standard d20 and Big Eyes Small Mouth d20, published by Guardians of Order. The download comes as a PDF file somewhat over six megabytes in size. Note that the book is only available with a watermark of your name and the order number for the book, in very small print, in the bottom left-hand corner. The book is 144 pages long, including a page for the cover, one for the credits/legal, and one for both the OGL and advertisements. There is no table of contents, and oddly, the only bookmarks go to the cover, and the credits page.
The book is replete with artwork. The front cover is the only example of full-color art in the book, with all of the rest being black and white. In several places are full-page renditions capturing dramatic scenes, and several of them fill two pages. It?s also worth noting that all of the pages have borders around each edge that, while in grayscale, are still significant. The lack of a printer-friendly version will be keenly felt here, to the point that, if you don?t have a good printer, you may want to just buy the print version instead.
Advanced d20 Magic is something of a hybrid creature, in that it can be used for either normal d20, or for BESM d20. Surprisingly, it actually pulls this off very well, as only a few specific mechanics are referenced that are exclusive to one system or the other. The end result is that Advanced d20 Magic can be used with relative ease in any system. They key word here, though, is ?relative? ease.
The basic idea behind Ad20M is that casting a spell is physically draining. All spells, once cast, require a Fort save, with the relative success or failure determining the drain caused. This drain is taken from a character?s energy points, which are a BESM d20-specific mechanic (though it?s easy to add those to a normal d20 game too); for standard d20, this drain is instead taken as non-lethal damage, and a sidebar covers that. Spell levels are also done away with, with spells being measured in terms of their casting DC, and, in another new mechanic, the number of slots they take to learn (from as few as one slot, to as many as four).
Immediately after this, the book starts to show its anime-themed roots. Spells, in this book, don?t have components; there are no verbal or somatic components, material components, etc. Rather, you can voluntarily add some of these things to increase the spell?s save DC (the one your enemies make, not the one you make to avoid drain). It comes off as quite fun to know that you can scream ?Fireball!? when you cast the spell and that makes it harder to avoid. Similar optional rules, such as rituals that increase casting times, but also the effect of the spell, have similar inspirations; the aforementioned ritual rules have listings for up to a thousand year?s worth of casting times.
The book gives similar rules for cooperative casting, counterspelling and negating, and how to increase or decrease drain for a higher or lower-magic setting. By the end of the book?s first chapter, we?ve already been treated to some very inspiring rules on how to make a flexible anime-style magic system out of d20 magic.
The second chapter goes over spellcasting classes that use the aforementioned system. First covered is the Dynamic Sorcerer from the BESM d20 Revised rulebook. The class isn?t reprinted or redefined here, but instead various options are given for customization. The section on standard d20 spellcasting classes covers the seven spellcasting classes from the PHB. These are altered slightly to work with the new system, as each spellcaster gains a level-based bonus to beating drain, and has a number of total spell slots they can spend to learn spells (though some have an unlimited number of slots).
The third chapter, covering magic items, follows largely the same formula, going over ways to create magic items under the BESM d20 rules with the dynamic magic system laid out in this book, followed by then adapting the standard d20 rules to those given here also. This section is largely modular, as standard item creation feats (or the Item of Power attribute in BESM d20) can still be used if you prefer that system.
The fourth chapter opens with guidelines on converting any d20 spell to this magic system. The book lays out a relatively simple way to calculate a spell?s casting DC, and calculate the number of slots it?d take to learn, as well as figuring out the save DC (the one enemies make against the spell). A two-page spread is then given of the casting DC for all of the standard spells in the SRD.
All of the above collectively covers one-fourth of the book. The entire rest of the book is the aforementioned standard d20 SRD spells reprinted under the new system. The mechanics are preconfigured to match this new system, listing casting DC, spell slots, etc. as well as spell effects (though in some places the text is abbreviated for space, or altered for this new system; spell immunity, for example, now protects against spells of a certain DC). This is undoubtedly useful, as it provides a quick-reference for the most basic of spells instead of requiring the GM to recalculate the mechanics for all of them. Still, some people might be unhappy that so much of the book consists of reworked PHB spells.
Ultimately, Advanced d20 Magic does a good job of living up to its promises. It gives a flexible spellcasting system that can still be used with any d20 spells, has myriad options, and is more based around saves and skill rolls than spell levels. Still, the bulk of the book being standard spells under this new system makes it seem like some things weren?t covered in favor of reprinted material (not quite literally reprinted, but close). What about epic-level magic or even epic class progressions? What about conversions for other d20 spellcasting classes like the adept, or the assassin? While these are minor issues, it would have been nice if they?d been addressed. Still, Advanced d20 Magic is much more of a hit than a miss, and it will definitely give your game?s magic a more dynamic feel.
<b>LIKED</b>: The flexible spellcasting system is not only dynamic, but very cinematic. With options for shouting the spell name as you cast it for increased power, or using rituals that can last up to a thousand years for a heightened effect, this book lends a very dramatic element to spellcasting.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: It would have been nice to see classes like Blackguard get spellcasting progression tables in this book. Likewise, any epic support would have been welcome. Additionally, there are a few places where standard d20 feels somewhat left behind; for example, using nonlethal damage for drain wouldn't work if you have an undead spellcaster, but that is never addressed. Finally, this book really needed a printer-friendly version.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>