The Manipulative Player?s Guide to Sympathetic Magic is a short PDF based around the idea of faking casting spells in order to convince the target that you?ve ensorcelled them (sympathetic magic).
Characters need the Sympathetic Magic feat in order to try and fool someone in this manner. Once they have it, they can essentially try and get real effects from faking spellcasting. This is done in two parts: first with a successful Bluff check versus their Sense Motive check, and then by them failing a Will save. If both of these occur, you?ve successfully convinced someone you?ve cast a spell on them.
Of course, it?s not quite that easy. There are a host of limitations to what sort of magic you can pull off (and even to whom you can fool; it won?t work on people who know it?s bogus). Likewise, a series of circumstances are listed that could grant you bonuses to your Bluff check, and even more are listed for the target?s Sense Motive check.
Following this, two other sections are outlined: curses and exorcisms. Cursing someone is basically just an opposed Bluff check. For an exorcism, you and the possessing demon are both making Bluff checks versus the target?s Sense Motive. If you win three times, the demon is expelled (and likely very angry).
The Manipulative Player?s Guide to Sympathetic Magic presents itself in a very personal manner. The writing style has a strong personal voice, to the point where it?s more like a written transcript of the author actually speaking to you. Even in the sidebars outlining the bonuses and penalties to the various checks, the writing is in an informal style. This may put some readers off, as this may seem odd to how most other products rigidly segregate their fluff and crunch.
While I initially had some balance problems with these mechanics, I?ve since realized that there probably aren?t going to be any major problems here. While this would let a 3rd-level character try and cast a 5th-level spell, the odds of success are low. Further, since it seems likely that one?s adventuring comrades will likely know the person using this is a fraud, it won?t work on them.
The product has no table of contents nor bookmarks, but is short enough that it doesn?t need them. There is no printer-friendly version included; since this product has roughly three illustrations, and colored sidebars, and totals only seven pages, this likely won?t be much of an issue either.
All in all, the idea presented here is quite interesting, and opens up some intriguing possibilities. The major flaw of the product is how the narrative style works against casual skimming for information of exactly what can and cannot be done. While the sidebars on what grants modifiers to the various skill checks, it would also have been helpful to have a table outlining exactly what effects could and could not be replicated (and who they would and would not work on) using this feat. Altogether though, the book presents an idea that works quite nicely for the cost presented.
Editorial note: This is a revised review of the product, based on changes that were made to it shortly after the original review was posted.<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: The idea presented here is intriguing and new.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The writing style seems too casual. It could have used a table to quickly summarize what spells the feat lets you mimic, and who you can fool.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>