Looking back, I remember trying to get more use out of this book, with emphasis on try. There's all kinds of neat stuff in the Tome of Magic, published in 1991, but I think it serves (at least for me) that supplements beyond the core books of an RPG stand a good chance that they won't get utilized.
The introduction states that the book is for both Dungeon Masters and Players, but in reality a DM has to approve of the material herein. What you get is fairly eclectic, which should come as no surprise since the book has six designers (and that's David Cook, not Monte).
So what have we got?
Wild Mages and Wild Magic, Elemental Wizards, new spheres of influence for priests, new spells for both priests and wizards, and new magic items. All in all, there's some good stuff here, and other stuff that I'd rather not bother with.
Like Wild Mages, for example. I like the idea of magic being wild and crazy with a chance of random effect. I really do, its part of magic's unpredictable nature.
Yet the Wild Mage character class is rather cumbersome and even harmful to other characters They're like specialist wizards, gaining and learning and extra spell slot for Wild Magic spells. But every time they cast a spell they have roll 1d20, consult a chart, and see if they're spell functions higher or lower its normal spell level. There's also these boldfaced results on the chart, which indicate a Wild Surge. The player or DM then rolls 1d100 on a chart that's basically a Wand of Wonder on steroids.
The results vary wildly, from the annoying ("Caster smells like a skunk"), to the incredibly annoying ("Cause Fear" within 60' Radius"--including other PCs). Fortunately, most results effect either the caster or the target. Still...
I like the Elemental Wizard. They basically specialize in either Air, Earth, Water, and Fire. Once per day, they can cast a given spell in their element 1d4 levels higher. Some may find this a bit over powered. But they can't cast spells from their opposing element and have a -25% to learning non-elemental spells. It's a fairly straightforward class.
Priests aren't left out. But I've never been fond of quest spells and some of the new spheres of influence (That's old school for "Domains") Numbers and Thought are highly philosophical. The War sphere got nerfed because its primarily meant for Battlesystem--TSR's rules of mass combat.
As for spells, well, there's plenty of new spells to choose from for your AD&D 2e game. My only problem with them is that quite few have limited uses. Conjure Holy Symbol enables a priest to summon a holy symbol, which really would only come in handy if a priest has been capture and stripped of his holy symbol. Hornung's Guess is really only useful to count the number of enemies in an army on the battlefield. There's spells here that could the the ancestors to the metamagic feats in D&D 3e.
When it comes to these spells, your mileage my vary. Back in the day I tried tantalizing my players with them, but they didn't bite.
The same goes for the magic items found in the Tomb of Magic. You've got the Wand of Corridors, which only functions on the Elemental Plane of Earth or the Quasi Elemental Plane of Minerals. Some are meant specifically for Battlesystem. Others are just bad jokes from some body's campaign--like the Ring of Bureaucratic Wizardry, which is a cursed item that forces a wizard to fill out forms every time he casts a spell (yeah, har har, funny funny). Many seem just overly complicated, such as the Ring of Fortitude, which gives the wearer a random bonus to an ability score, but only for the purposes of spell resolution. For example, getting a constitution boost doesn't grant extra hit points, but raises the system shock and resurrection percentages.
In retrospect, Tome of Magic is an okay book. There's lots of interesting ideas here, but many can't be used "out of the box." Many of the spells and magic items suggest use for a high magic campaign like, say, The Forgotten Realms. As the name suggests, there is nothing here for non-spellcasters. Yet even priests get short shrift in my opinion.
|Is that Johnny Cash with long grey hair?|
The artwork inside is decent, but I've recognized many of it from other sources. (But I do miss the days when RPG artwork looked at least somewhat "realistic," instead of this cartoonish/anime/spikey-bits/steampunk/Final Fantasy stuff often featured post-D&D 3e.)
Presentation: 7 out of 10
Creativity: 7 out of 10
Utility: 4 out of 10 (I honestly didn't get much use out of the book--and I've had it for over 20 years!)
Get this if... you want a bunch of ideas to mine for your games or if you want to complete your AD&D 2e collection. But I don't recommend using much of this stuff "out of the box." In fact, its kinda hard to do given many of the items and spells have limited uses.
Don't get this if... you really don't need another RPG book full of spells, magic items, and classes. Aside from the Wild Mage and the Elemental Wizard, not much else stands out.