I was privileged to receive a review copy of Kobold Press’s new Deep Magic: Alkemancy supplement for 5th Edition in order to review it. The notion of potion making is nothing new to the fantasy genre, and I was eager to hop onto this. I love seeing new rules from passionate third-party publishers that I can use at my game table. That being said, this supplement is rich with content, and I cannot possibly cover all of the different aspects in a single article. As such, I’ll be writing a series of articles, each detailing different aspects of the book, and I’ll culminate the whole thing in a video review, over on my YouTube channel, once I finish the articles here. With all that out of the way, let’s dive into this overview!
General praises for Deep Magic: Alkemancy
- The supplement adds onto an existing campaign setting they’ve published: Midgard. By supporting their campaign setting with new material, it keeps it alive and engaging and offers new worldbuilding life into Midgard.
- As I mentioned, the notion of potion-making is nothing new to fantasy, and having a new magic school dedicated to it just feels right, somehow. It draws heavily from mythical principals and flavors of alchemy, and it’s not just another “you make a potion to do a thing later.” That is to say, it doesn’t slip into the laziness of adding an extra step (making a potion) just to accomplish what a spell already could, without the material investment.
- Along the line of theme, this supplement really hones in on the core theme of alchemy, not only as a practice but as a philosophy. It gave me strong Fullmetal Alchemist vibes, without being a blatant ripoff.
- Additionally when talking about theme, this supplement does a phenomenal job in grounding the theme and principles into their original Midgard setting. It breathes new life into the world, and it hits on a lot of culturally diverse tropes, without appropriating.
- The art is positively gorgeous! Their artists really captured something special with the vivid colors and crisp style. I loved it.
- I really appreciated that there were feats, spells, magic items, and a subclass, all within this single document. It helped it to feel cohesive and world-building, and it helped to develop a clearer picture of how all of this fits into the setting at large.
- The vast majority of the content was well-balanced, in my opinion, and I didn’t have many concerns that would cause me to question whether I could safely allow any of these things in my standard, common-magic campaign.
- The document was well-written, and it was written in a way that inspired my creativity and gave me a plethora of starting points for additional ideas within my own campaign setting.
- There was an abundance of flavor text that helped flesh out the mechanics.
- The breadth of content (especially the spells) filled in a lot of gaps, some of which I hadn’t thought existed until I noticed how neatly these fit into it.
But that’s not all!
As with everything, there are some things I noticed that maybe could have been stronger, as well.
- There were some items, though few, where I question their balance, and as they stand, I would not allow in my own games (I’ll get into each of these as I cover the individual sections).
- Honestly, I wasn’t particularly fond of calling this “alkemancy,” especially when you consider that there is a small list of non-magical alchemical items at the end of it. Why didn’t they just call it “alchemy?” That seems like it would have fit better and offered more flavor, and we already have “necromancy,” which is recontextualized from our world.
- This isn’t so much a criticism as a point of reasoning. The artwork in this document would indicate — to me, at least — that there could easily have been a monk path that would have tied in nicely as a sort of healer/druid-flavored path. A druid or ranger could have also easily fit, as this entire supplement flavored alkemancy as more of a philosophy than a “study,” as such. I would love to see them branch more into this in future content, especially as it relates to a druidic circle or monastic tradition. [NERDITOR’S NOTE: The Deep Magic series presents new Arcane Traditions for wizards, but they’re fun and easy to adapt into subclasses for other classes, like the Otherworldly Patron: The Void from my Spelljammer campaign.]
So, what’s the final verdict, here?
You’ll just have to follow us and come back for more, as I dive into each aspect of this document. Suffice it to say, overall, I’m a fan. But that’s another discussion for another day.
You can pick up your own copy of Deep Magic: Alkemancy by Kobold Press here.