Deep Magic: Clockwork Magic Review

Hello, everyone! Today’s Bookshelf post is a review of Kobold Press’s Deep Magic: Clockwork Magic. This small supplement mostly serves players with a new source of magic and provides new spells for most casters, and is the first of over a dozen Deep Magic supplements produced by Kobold Press in 2016.

First Impressions

I need to preface my First Impressions section with the caveat that the Deep Magic series seems to be Kobold Press’s efforts to release pieces of the upcoming Midgard Campaign Setting in digestible chunks. At the time of writing, the full book isn’t out yet, but as far as I’m aware Kobold Press will include the entirety of Deep Magic in Midgard Campaign Setting.

Because of its brevity (14 pages, not including the Open Game License, a full-page ad for Tome of Beasts, and its title pages and credits), Clockwork Magic has to go straight to its “meat.” Storytellers will not find much by way of story or setting content outside of details for the three class archetypes included in the supplement. However,  storyteller or not, if you are interested in a new, flavorful approach to their characters’ magic, you may wish to look through Clockwork Magic. If you’re aiming for a low-magic campaign, you may still enjoy Clockwork Magic, but you’ll probably have to do some extra legwork to work it into your setting.

Like most of Kobold Press’s works, Clockwork Magic has a unique but clean format which is reminiscent of Wizards’ rulebooks, but still different enough that you can recognize it at a glance.

Cleric Domain: Clockwork

The Clockwork domain is a double-edged sword – clerics under this domain will gain abilities such as a Channel Divinity which allows them to hijack constructs temporarily, use controlled constructs to deliver touch spells, and even combine yourself with a construct under your command. However, the domain ironically fails to give a cleric the ability to build a construct independently. If you’re not going into fights with constructs on a regular basis, you may find the majority of your domain features to be ineffective or even useless. However, with free Advantage on attacks against enemy constructs, any golems or clockwork creatures who defend themselves against your Channel Divinity will have to face a nearly constant onslaught of weapon attacks.

Additionally, some of the Domain spells granted to you are unavailable to you at the level at which you gain them(for instance, Steam Burst). This unavailability may be a typo, an editing oversight, or possibly deliberate(though there is no precedent for this with Clerics’ Domain Spells).

Warlock Patron: The Great Machine

The Great Machine Patron grants Warlocks a slightly eclectic range of themed features, such as the ability to shift your position in the Initiative Order, which can either be potent at a table where you roll for Initiative once per fight or negligible at a table where you roll for Initiative every round. The Great Machine pact also provides some cosmetic adjustments for each pact, but these changes don’t particularly affect gameplay.

Wizard School: Clockwork

As a Wizard School, the School of Clockwork is intended to reflect the “arcane tinkerer” archetype that the multiple attempts by various parties to recreate the Artificer class for 5e exemplify. At 10th level, you gain access to the Golem Form class feature, which functions like the Druid’s Wild Shape, except that it allows you to transform into any golem or clockwork creature with a Challenge Rating up to your Wizard level. This feature could prove dangerous in campaign play, as the Druid’s Wild Shape is by default restricted exclusively to CR 1 and lower, or at most 6 (for a Circle of the Moon Druid at level 20). A wise Storyteller should keep an eye on their players’ use of the Golem Form feature.

New Spells

One of the more interesting aspects of Clockwork magic is that it happens to be less of a school of magic and more of a “tag” for spells. Every Clockwork spell also has an associated school (Evocation, Transmutation, etc.) which categorizes its spells in a way which is compatible with features from the core rulebooks.

Most of the Clockwork spells are diverse new additions to any caster’s repertoire, but some, such as Pendulum, feel a little untested with simpler mechanics such as Advantage and Disadvantage, which is unfortunate, considering Kobold Press’s usual attention to detail and the mechanical interactions of the content they publish.

Conclusions

Deep Magic: Clockwork Magic will run you $3, but as a player, I suspect you, too, will get far more entertainment than the small price tag suggests. Storytellers should be wary of letting a character delve into Clockwork Magic features without first reviewing them, but some reasonable adjudication should make the contents of this supplement a worthy addition to your game. You can get Clockwork Magic through Kobold Press’s store, and if you use this referral link, you can indicate that you visited the Kobold Press store through TBM Games!

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