One of the complaints I've read about that's used against the 4e GSL system, is that the wizard class got a serious reduction in power. Under the old 3.5e OGL system, a high level wizard was truly a force to be reckoned with, able to use an immense volume of powerful spells in displays of both destructive power and versatility. Under the 4e GSL, the number of wizard powers has reduced, and access to versatility is largely a function of rituals. Inside combat, though, you're limited to those handfuls of powers that are available to the class. Whether it is intentional or not, Alea Publishing's Player Options: Ancient Wizard Magic, offers a fairly neat way to enhance the character's versatility by using rituals to allow one to effectively gain an alternative power, thereby increasing the wizard's combat versatility.
Player Options: Ancient Wizard Magic is a short 18 page pdf product presenting new rules and mechanics for Ancient Magic Rituals and ancient magic in general. The product comes as a wonderfully presented pdf file, with some good, if perhaps a little suggestive, art, good writing, wonderful flavor and a bag full of new and interesting powers and mechanics. The writing and editing is top notch, as is the overall design and layout of the product. I suppose the only thing missing from the product is a summary table, something that's always a useful feature and allows one to quickly select those bits of information you're interested in. Bookmarks are also fairly limited. Overall, though, a professional effort from Alea Publishing Group.
This product introduces the concept of ancient wizard magic. Essentially magic has changed through the centuries of its use, and had become much less bonded to a particular wizard that it originally was. This bonding of magic to a wizard is the way ancient wizards used to cast their spells, and this product details how, through the use of rituals, more modern wizards can gain access to ancient magic. Ancient magic is by and large a means of using a ritual to replace an existing power with a slightly more powerful ancient wizard spell. The product provides plenty of flavor for each ritual and its associated power, along with useful and intriguing details of some powerful and respected ancient wizards.
Around forty new powers are introduced, and these cover pretty much all levels up to 30, different kinds of at-will, encounter and daily powers, as well as attack and utility powers. There's quite a lot to choose from, and while some powers fall into the rut of being very similar to other existing powers, there are some useful new rules and mechanics for these powers. One thing that can definitely be said about this product is that it brings something new to the gaming table, and something that's worthwhile looking at.
As mentioned earlier, while I'm not sure the concept was intended to be used this way, it does provide an avenue through which powers can be switched, even if only for a short while. I think that's a concept that can go a long way in the 4e GSL game, and can be played with and modified in a number of different ways to make it suit the game style of the group or the world the campaign setting is set in. This concept can go a long way beyond the use of ancient magic rituals, though the flavor there is fairly strong as well. I guess that's one of the things I liked about this product - these powers presented here don't only offer new mechanics, but also associated flavor. Having a wizard learn a new power is very different from having one learn the ancient power of a legendary wizard.
Overall, I think Ancient Wizard Magic is a splendid product. It introduces something new, creates plenty of scope for fiddling with the mechanics and expanding it, and does so with plenty of flavor and good presentation. This is one of the few products for the 4e GSL that really brings something new to the table that can be quite useful within the scope of the game. This could make rituals far more useful than they already are, and improve on the versatility of the wizard class (or other classes, should this concept be expanded). Player Options: Ancient Wizard Magic is well worth looking at for those wishing to expand the class or the influence of wizards and magic in their game. I'm really starting to like the Player Options series!
[5 of 5 Stars!]