“Say, Rappy,” you ask me, “where’s our Dr. Strange for Blood and Vigilance? Where’s our Zatanna, our Etrigan, our Solomon Grundy?” Well, I’m proud to tell you that they are indeed here for you. Welcome to the review of two magical supplements for the Blood and Vigilance series: Mystic Arts and Superhero Arcana.
Blood and Vigilance: Mystic Arts
As its name implies, Mystic Arts focuses on the sorcerous aspects of the supers genre. While we technically start out with talk of magic, I’ll save that for the powers section and move straight into the Origins. Two of the new occupations, Demonic/Divine Heritage and Living Dead, somewhat irk me in that they don’t make you gain the stats as per the Outsider of Undead creature type, but that seems like an easy fix by just adding in that footnote yourself. The others are what you’d expect: you’ve got your pseudo-mages that work with things like alchemy and magical items (Magical Training), your powers-through-a-supernatural-event characters (Mystical Encounter), and your full-fledged mageborn supers (Mystical Heritage). Besides the quip about Demonic/Divine Heritage and Living Dead that I already noted, these are pretty solid Origins that fill in some of the remaining holes in the origin story game. There’s also an advanced class, the Mystic Master, to full in another archetype for us, and some new feats and skill uses to further mesh the superhero with the supernatural.
Of course, what we’re really here are for the powers, aren’t we? There are a grand total of…two. But they are two rather exhaustive and detailed ones. First, there’s Magic Item, which is like Unique Item only…well…magical. Then you have Sorcery. Sorcery has two specific Power Stunts attached; one for astral projection, the other for increasing your magic output. Now to hearken back to what I said at the start of the last paragraph…magic in Blood and Vigilance: Mystic Arts works differently. It’s skill based, which I’m personally somewhat of a fan of, but your mileage may vary on that. If you like Vancian magic or psionics-like magic system, then Mystic Arts‘s Sorcery power isn’t for you. If you like the idea of skill-based magic being integrated into your supers game, though…give it a try, I say.
Leading us out are several odds and ends. First off, we have two new disadvantages, Psychological Disorder and Possession; these are just what you’d expect, and while they aren’t anything really special, they are good enough for completeness. Second, there are supernatural campaign models presented for both Gritty and Four-Color levels of play. The former plays with the theme of “things humanity shouldn’t know”, insanity rules included, while the latter is a fun and rather novel concept of superheroes are the reincarnations of the Arthurian Knights of the Round Table…a neat idea, to say the least. These two can be dissected for your own Gritty/Street Level or Four Color/Cosmic campaign. All in all, Mystic Arts is a pretty good, if brief, title.
Modern Dispatch Issue 18: Blood and Vigilance-Superhero Arcana
Superhero Arcana, conveniently enough, provides class powers for the advanced and prestige classes from the Wizards of the Coast book Urban Arcana. This somewhat alleviates the complaints I had before about non-standard book support, although one for d20 Future would be nice as well (hmm, I keep alluding to that, don’t I?)…but that’s not the point of this book, obviously. Speaking of that title, though, Superhero Arcana also provides “Plus feats” for the Blood and Vigilance advanced classes. For those of you that haven’t read d20 Future, a Plus feat (such as Tough Plus, Smart Plus, etc.) has you give up a feat spot in exchange for two talents from the class the Plus feat pertains to. Fun stuff, that.
There are also new powers and new abilities for old powers, obviously. The augmentation for old abilities include magic absorption for…well…the Absorption power, new power feats such as Area Invisibility (you can use your Invisibility power on objects and people in a set area, rather than just on yourself), while the new powers, Magic and Postcognition, focus on the supernatural side of supers in full. Postcognition can be best described as a “rewind button” power; it lets you look at the past to find things you didn’t see before or wouldn’t have been able to witness. This is a great ability for, say, a detective super or a time wanderer. The other, Magic, focuses on augmenting the d20 Modern standard magic system through your powers rather than replacing it as per Mystic Arts‘s Sorcery power. So if you didn’t like the idea of skill-based magic and wanted to stick with standard d20 Modern spells, here you go. These are all wonderful abilities that add flavor to your game just as much as Mystic Arts does.
On their own, I would say these two titles would warrant an 8/10. Together, though…well, together, they work off of each of their weak points. With both of the titles, you have origins from one and class powers lists from the other, two magic systems, and plenty of fun power feats and abilities to play with. Together, the overall score of this review is a resounding 10/10.