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Crushing Empires for Fun and Profit

The Spellslinger's Guide to World Domination is to the HackMaster RPG as The Complete Wizard's Handbook is to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. As the first official rules supplement to HackMaster, the Spellslinger's Guide (or SSG) is composed of roughly forty percent revised material (licensed from WotC), forty percent new material, and a dollop of the HackMaster attitude that sets Hackmaster apart from the pack.

The first half of the Spellslingers Guide is composed of new classes for wizards. A large chunk of these are specialist wizards- the single specialist wizards, who focus in one particular school of magic; the double specialists, who embrace a single school of magic to an almost ridiculous degree; lastly, the sole practitioners who zone in on one aspect of a school of magic and make it their own (wizards who specialize directly in evoking fire, cold, in knocking things down, or in direct magical attacks, to use the four sole practitioners from the Evocation school as example). Non-specialist classes include the elementalist, as well as the long-awaited blood mage, wild mage, and painted mage types.

New Quirks and Flaws specifically for mages emerge in the Spellslinger's Guide, as well as a new set of Priors and Particulars tables to narrate your future arcane powerhouse's schooling- not all one's experiences in school are positive ones. Following this is a new collection of magic-user talents and magic-user-oriented skills, including Arcane Speak (impress girls and bewilder your enemies with sorcerous technobabble!), Penmanship, Sleight-of-Hand (pulling coins from someone's ear and palming spell components without anyone noticing), and other useful skills not covered in the PHB.

The third part of the book is where the material gets a bit slow. While the section on spellbook construction and composition is good to have, given how much emphasis the GameMaster's guide puts on the spellbook of the magic-user, the rest of the next section goes into great detail on such items as spell copyrighting, common items found in a magic-user's laboratory, and other bits of trivia that end up being somewhat heavy-handed rules-wise, even for Hackmaster; in the end, these things are more useful for flavor than they are for actual gameplay.

Lastly in the book? A slew of new spells, with a wide variety of uses- impressive, annoying, or downright icky. As most of the more general-purpose spells are already provided in the HackMaster Player's Handbook, it falls to the the Spellslinger's Guide to provide examples of the more esoteric spells possible for magic-users; as always, given a clever player, even the most worthless-seeming spells can be exploited to gain an advantage.

While the Spellslinger's Guide suffers from some bad editing in internal consistency, the content compensates for those difficulties; if you've any questions, they're likely answered in the errata available at the Kenzer and Company website at http://www.kenzerco.com. All in all, the Spellslinger's Guide to World Domination is a worthy addition to the Hackmaster line; if you enjoy the latter, you've probably either already got the former or just stepped onto the train. The initial print run of the SSG exhausted itself a good time ago, and they don't plan on doing a second printing for some time, so you may have to find a copy on Ebay if you can't find it at your local game store.

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