Magic in 3.5 is devoid of a lot of the grittier aspects of sorcery that we often see in classic fantasy tales. Absent is the use of blood sacrifices or dangerous drugs as necessary components to making spells work, or even as additives to give magic an extra boost. On Lotus Magic, part of Wild Hunt Studio's The Way of the Magus line of products, addresses the idea of spell-enhancing drugs, however, and presents several special plants with a thaumaturgical effect.
On Lotus Magic is a fairly short book, being fifteen pages long. Despite this, it has full bookmarks, which is a plus, and has copy and paste enabled. While the book has no illustrations per se, the pages are all gray-green and have stylized plant imagery in the background, which I found makes for very pleasant reading.
The book opens by giving an overview of the lotus flowers, alluding to in-game attitudes that are easily imported to your campaign, such as how the drugs of it are illegal, and are usually used in conjunction with mystery cults that closely guard the secrets of refining the wild flowers into narcotics. Following this, it then goes over the rules for drugs and drug addiction. This is a good thing since, while these rules have been used in other sourcebooks regarding drugs, it’s far and away more convenient to have them reprinted here.
There are five different kinds of lotus flowers, varying by color. Each has a markedly different effect (along with side effect, overdose effect, withdrawal effect, etc.), most of which affects spellcasters and non-spellcasters alike. However, some lotus flowers grant powers to spellcasters that are both awesome and terrible, such as that of the black lotus drug, which allows a spellcaster to memorize a spell far beyond his normal spellcasting limits…though doing so comes with multiple risks of a serious nature. Finally, there’s a page at the end of the book with additional uses of the lotus flowers.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how the book’s writing managed to impress me. The structure of the book is fairly mechanical, with short sections regarding the way the lotus is perceived, versus longer sections describing various aspects of the impact of drug use on a character. However, the way the various lotuses were written really sold me, as it subtly painted a picture regarding why a character would use these and open themselves to the risk. Are you out of spells during a battle? Take some red lotus and regain an expended spell…even better, take several to get multiple spells back. Just be prepared to deal with severe bleeding, possible paralysis, and damage to both your health and sanity if you enter withdrawal. These drugs offer considerable power, but they can extract a very hefty price.
On Lotus Magic ultimately presents some great tools for your character, but doesn’t try to beat you over the head with them. Instead, it quietly lets its potential speak for itself, and the book is far stronger for that. This book presents power that will let your spellcaster carry the day, even if it kills him tomorrow.
[5 of 5 Stars!]