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Steve Long

The Ultimate Mystic

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Here’s our back-cover text describing UMY:

 

THE WONDERS OF MAGIC

 

Magic, spells, and mystical beings are one of the most popular elements in most roleplaying games — in fact, they’re so popular that gamers often introduce them into genres where they don’t normally exist! The Ultimate Mystic is a comprehensive guide to using mysticism in your HERO System campaigns, whether they’re magic-filled Fantasy games or games that don’t usually feature spells and spellcasters.

 

The Ultimate Mystic includes:

 

—a detailed discussion of the types and backgrounds of mystic characters, and how to create such characters in HERO System terms, with new and optional rules for character design

 

—information on alternate planes of reality, including guidelines for how to create your own Multiverse

 

—a review of major styles and types of magic found in the real world and fiction, such as Hermetic Theurgy, Voodoo, Rune Magic, Necromancy, Alchemy, Taoist Theurgy, Shamanism, Sadhana, and many more

 

—discussions of how to include magic in any genre of play, particularly genres that don’t usually involve magic (such as Science Fiction)

 

—descriptions of the denizens of the Mystic World, such as angels, demons, faeries, gods, ghosts, and shapechangers, with dozens of examples from world folklore and mythology

 

If you’re looking to put a little magic into your characters and campaigns, The Ultimate Mystic is just the book you need!

 

 

ISBN: 1-58366-038-0

SKU: DOJHERO108

Price: $24.99 US

 

You can buy this book in our Online Store.

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Re: The Ultimate Mystic

 

Here’s a copy of ghost-angel’s review of UMY. Feel free to post other reviews, or links to them, if you like!

 

The Upside:

 

The Ultimate Mystic is a guide to creating, running and using Mystics, Magic and related elements in a campaign. Unlike most of the Ultimate Series books this one focuses less on the Character aspect of the Archetype, and more on the campaign elements around the Archetype.

 

Chapter One - Mystical Character Creation. Diving right in we start with Types Of Mystics, focusing on both origin and source of magical power. From True Mystics (such as Scholar Mages, Wild Talents, and Priests) to a number of supernatural creatures (Ghost, Therianthropes, and Gods). Making A Magus covers the origin the Character themselves, from venerable sages to the prophesied ones. It also covers What Magic Is For, a section on various ways magic is purported to be used, this roughly covers various kinds of magic from divination to control over nature. All of this gives a good solid set of ideas to work from when creating a character that wields supernatural powers (be they learned spells or inborn power).

 

The rest of the Chapter is more Hero System centric, but still has a good amount of information for anyone creating a Mystic. Skills covers the ways a Mystic might use the Skills in the system, and expands on several. Inventor can be reworked into Spell Research, several Knowledge Skills are looked at as being particularly useful to Mystics, Navigation looks at Dimensional, Astral, and Temporal Navigation and ways they might work. And there's a side bar of how to use Skills to create 'fake magic,' or ways to pretend you have magical power or are using magic. Perks covers ways to use the Access and Membership Perks as ways to get to Mystic Places and into Mystic Societies. Talents has an option for Non-Personal Danger Sense, which allows a Mystic to know when an area he is assigned to protect is in danger, but not much good to his person. Powers covers various abilities a Mystic might have. Since this Archetype can be a reason to be another type of Character as much as a Character itself (such as a Brick with a Mystical origin) the Powers section is wide open to the Mystic. Some interesting ideas are still covered. Detect Magic and Aura Vision are Enhanced Senses that both get some space. As well as a good look at different ways to use Summon. But the most interesting part is the builds on Astral Projection. The book provides five different possible ways to build the idea of projecting ones spirit or mind outside their body. Each has it's own Advantages and Drawbacks. Disadvantages covers not just appropriate Disadvantages for Mystic Characters, but possible origins for them adding more to the Character's background.

 

This chapter is focused completely on creating a Mystic Character, and it does a good job covering all the various aspects you would want to consider. But it needs to go hand in hand with a Mystic World, because unlike other Archetypes the Mystic character usually has his own sub-group to interact with.

 

Chapter Two - Mystic Dimensions. In many campaigns such as Fantasy Worlds or Superhero Games what lies beyond the Earth is as important as Earth itself. The chapter covers all the things you should at least consider when setting up a Multiverse full of strange worlds. Dimensional Purpose and Function are two sections that covers reasons a Dimension exists, and how it interacts with the Characters and the rest of the Campaign. Designing Dimensions goes into further detail; Types of Dimensions (afterlifes, divine planes, elemental planes, etc), Environments, Inhabitants, and Structuring The Multiverse - which is a very good section on how to fit all the Dimensions together. Contact And Travel is the next major section, covering how easy you want access to other Dimensions to be, how to get to them, and Dimensional Invasions and ways to work with that concept.

 

The last part of the chapter is an example multiverse called Ptolemy Resurgent which looks at all the parts of the chapter to create an entire campaign settings multiverse.

 

Chapter Three - Styles Of Magic. This chapter covers how Magic works and feels itself. Classes Of Magic starts by discussing the major ways magic works - force of will (High Magic), ingredients (Natural Magic), or rituals (Ritual Magic), and everything else (Witchcraft as a catchall term). It also covers how to handle Magic by various Campaign Types; Heroic, Superheroic and "Realistic" styles.

 

Real Magic Styles takes a look at real world examples of how various kinds of Magic are reported to work, and how you can adapt that to a Hero Campaign. Each section covers the theory behind the Magic, notes on how the Style works, how to adapt those in Hero Mechanics and then provides a few Hero System Spells as examples. The styles looked at are Hermetic Theurgy, the commonly seen magic in pop-culture evolved out of Europe as Ceremonial Magic. Shamanism, a tribal ritual magic seen in many places around the world. And Voodoo, an Afro-Caribbean Witchcraft. Fantastic Magic styles does the same thing only with types of Magic that is most common in fantasy stories, though has some roots in real world ideas, it covers Alchemy and Necromancy. Variant Or Minor Styles goes even further out from mainstream ideas of magic and looks at ideas from other parts of the world; The Evil Eye, Kabbalism, Mantra-Vidya (from India), Rune Magic, and Taoist Theurgy.

 

With this chapter the GM can take a look at how he wants Magic to work, both at a Mechanic level and at a Descriptive Level and create a consistent (or inconsistent depending on their desires) framework for the Mystic Character to use.

 

Chapter Four - Magic Genre By Genre. This chapter takes a look at how to treat, create and use Mystics and Magic in various genres. From the almost anything goes of Superheroes. Cyber Hero and Dark Champions look at how to use what appears to be Magic in "realistic" and near future campaigns. Fantasy Hero covers a number of concepts, being almost as open as Superheroic Campaigns, usually they limit themselves to one or two kinds of specific Magic. It covers several subgenre of Fantasy, Urban (modern fantasy), Historical and Alternate History, Juvenile (where the main characters are usually teenagers), and introduces a new style of magic, Technomancy. Ninja Hero isn't covered very extensively, but does note that the genre is steeped in Mysticism and almost can't be played without it in many instances. Pulp Hero covers the classic Satanistic Cults and Lovercraftian Horrors, both of which were Pulp staples. Star Hero touches on using Psionics as a kind of Magic. Victorian Hero goes into the idea of The Medium, which was a popular form of Necromancy for the time period. And finally Western Hero, while short, touches on using Shamanism in the Wild West.

 

Chapter Five - The Mystic World. This chapter covers creating the subculture the Mystic World revolves around. The first part covers populating the Mystic World with People, Arcane Societies, Cults, Lost Civilizations, and the classic Mystic Tomes. Providing some real world examples of these legends, how to incorporate them into a Campaign, and in the case of the first three motivations for them. Magic And Society goes into how the Mystic world interacts with the rest of the world and itself. Covering the Tradition of Secrecy, Misinformation, Public Attitudes, Magic and Law And Government, and finally using Magic to explain the many odd phenomenon that occur in the world. This section covers possible ways to treat Magic in the campaign from not believed in completely integral to the society. Denizens of the Mystic World is a very cool part of the book, taking a (very brief) look at the many real world legends, stories and ideas of otherworldly beings; Angels, Cosmic Entities, Demons, Faeries, Ghosts, Gods, Therianthropes (shapeshifters), and Vampires. Mysticism In World History covers a few real Mystic things, listing fifteen people reported to be mages or some other form of Mystic in history, and ten real world artifacts reported to have mystical power. The book ends with three accounts are real world Mystic organizations and accounts (The Golden Dawn Cult, Nazi Occultists and the Satanist Cult fears of the 1980s and 1990s in the United States).

 

The book differs in many ways from the Ultimate Series that focus on Character Archetypes by moving beyond the Character itself and into what the Archetype embodies. Since the Mystic can duplicate any other Archetype you could use this in conjunction with another of the Ultimate Series to create various kinds of Mystics and magics.

 

The Downside:

 

The biggest down side is there are no example Characters or Mystic Creature examples written up completely in Hero Terms. The Genre-By-Genre section has several character descriptions in the side-bars, but to make the book more useful to Players a few fully written-up Characters would have increased the books utility overall.

 

The Otherside:

 

The Ultimate Mystic is mostly a guide to creating a Mystic Campaign, or a Mystic backdrop to a campaign, from sketchy to detailed. In this regard it's very useful to Hero and Non-Hero Gamers a like, there are almost no actual System Mechanics in the book at all, being mostly a discussion on how to build and play with Mystic elements. The book is definitely aimed more at the GM than the Player with the focus that way it is, though Players can still get a lot of ideas from it and a group as a whole can create a rich and detailed Mystic Aspect to their Campaign fairly easily with the advice and breakdown of the book.

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Re: The Ultimate Mystic

 

Here's my review of TUM:

The Ultimate Mystic is a sourcebook for the Hero System, authored by Dean Shomshak and sold both in your local gaming store and online at Hero Games’ website (http://www.herogames.com). Upon first overview of the book, it’s obvious that this book would be useful for any genre and pretty much any system. As with all of Hero’s Ultimate line, the Ultimate Mystic tackles the ideas of playing a mystic in any setting with various studies and builds that could fit most magic systems easily.

In chapter one of the book, the reader is treated to the typical genre material that Hero Games has become know for. Composed of seven sections, chapter one is geared to both player and GM, as it gives advice on concepts and rules. The first section, which covers various models of characters, takes a detailed look at what kinds of characters could be made using the Ultimate Mystic. With each concept, suggestions are posed on how to play them, what abilities, skills and powers to give them and a brief description of what goes into such a character. The second section of this chapter compliments the first with ideas that pertain to specifically building a magus. The last five sections go into the meat and bones of character creation, offering advice on skills, powers, talents, modifiers and disadvantages. It’s within these sections that one could find variations on building an astral form, or the rules for using auras in any game (including a color scale). Of all the chapters, this was one of the ones I found most useful, as it helps players and GMs build any mystical character from the floor up.

Chapter two covers the theory of dimensional travel in terms related to magic. Each of the three sections covers a part of dimensional travel. The first section serves as an introduction to the idea, while the second gives opinions on how to build dimensions and, finally, the last chapter gives some thoughts on how to travel to and fro through the dimensions. Personally, I found this chapter a bit weak, as it attempted to give some base material to something that really deserves its own book.

No book on mystics would be complete without a section on spells. In chapter three, the concepts of spells are broken into four separate sections, each detailing various philosophies of magic. The first part serves as an introduction to the ideology behind spells and the magic systems that they work within. The second section begins looking into “real world” magic, detailing spell builds, beliefs and background for spell systems like voodoo, theurgy and shamanism. The next section has a similar treatment of more fantastic styles of magic, including such systems as alchemy and necromancy. Finally, the last section briefly examines some of the variant systems not normally covered in most games. It’s here that one could find info on Kabbalism or rune magic. This is really the chapter that makes Mr. Shomshak’s writing shine a bit, showing that he obviously has done some research on the magic included.

As I had said before, the Ultimate line of books are usually designed with a multi-genre feel to them, allowing people to use them for superhero games, science fiction campaigns and so on. The Ultimate Mystic is no different, as chapter four would attest to. This chapter is composed of only one section, but is chucked full of information on every genre available. Also within this chapter are samples of various genre-specific spells (though they could technically be used in most other genres with a bit of tweaking) and some explanations on how to incorporate magic into a genre.

Finally, in chapter four, we’re presented with ideas on building a “mystic world”. Here, the reader is presented with various ideas on populating a campaign with mystic flavor. From the people behind the mysticism to the possible legal infringements that would be possible in typical campaign, this chapter is easily one of the most useful ones. In addition to the world building Mr. Shomshak also delves into the concepts he presented early, expanding upon their place within the world and their characteristics. The chapter is then closed with brief cliff notes on possible items and mystical groups. In addition, Mr. Shomshak has been gracious enough to include a glossary for those not in the know about some of the vocabulary used within the book. Match this with Hero’s impeccable use of an index and company wide format and the book is complete.

Personally, I liked the book for the most part. I found some of the art a bit repetitive and the cover a bit “out there” for the most part, but the book wasn’t too bad. In fact, the only major problem I had with the Ultimate Mystic is that, unlike the other Ultimate books to date, there weren’t any sample characters. I think that Dean Shomshak has a good grasp of the topic and wrote a useful and informative book on the subject of magic.

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Re: The Ultimate Mystic

 

I'll second the question as to when this book will make it to PDF format.. Rather than lug around a ton of dead-tree editions I've gone nearly entirely electronic. I bring my tablet PC with me to gaming sessions and it serves as my portable library (and hero creator platform as well). In addition to saving me the weight of several feet worth of books, it's faster to search and generally cheaper as well, meaing I can afford to pick up more books..

 

SO I have all the utimate series except one... wanna guess which one I don't have? the only one you've not migrated for some strange reason I can't fathom.

 

So hero dudes, WHY haven't you made this one avaiable as an e-book and WHEN are you going to change that so I can buy a copy...

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Re: The Ultimate Mystic

 

In theory, yes, we'll PDF it someday, but we have no schedule for when that will happen. We make PDFs of old books as time allows, and as long as we have plenty of more pressing work and deadlines to deal with, no PDF-ing gets done.

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Re: The Ultimate Mystic

 

Most excellent sourcebook on magic in different genres I've seen. Actually, I don't think I ever read a bad book by Mr Shomshak, but his work on the Ultimate Mystic (and the Hero Universe companion books Mystic World and Arcane Adversaries) is top-notch; extremely well researched, crisply yet evocatively written, and surprisingly informative.

Funny, too (runic yodeling?).

 

Regarding occult trivia, here is a link to an online version of one of the reference books;

The Book of Ceremonial Magic (A.E. Waite)

http://www.sacred-texts.com/grim/bcm/index.htm

 

I agree with Mr Shomshak that it is probably better to check out this one if you need excessive ritual details, demonic sigils, listings of demonic abilities, etc.

 

Anyone interested in even more trivia might find stuff useful in a game here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Occult

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Re: The Ultimate Mystic

 

Hero Games management hasn't converted all their older books to PDF form (they weren't all offered in both formats automatically years ago). Steve Long and Darren Watts have expressed their desire to convert more such books eventually, but publishing new books with higher sales prospects is the priority use of their time and resources.

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Re: The Ultimate Mystic

 

As I've said previously, we have no PDF version of The Ultimate Mystic available. We weren't routinely preparing them for sale when that book was published. We'd like to go back and create one, but we have a limited amount of time in which to do things like this. Publishing new books, and a long, long list of other things, take priority over preparing a PDF for which we don't think there's a lot of demand. If we can ever get to it, we will, but I don't see it happening anytime soon.

 

It's possible I could whip one up myself, though since we've switched to more advanced versions of InDesign and don't necessarily use the same fonts that might be more trouble than it's worth. Even if I did that, though, it would almost certainly lack bookmarks and other such features most people expect, which would probably result in more complaints than revenue. ;)

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Re: The Ultimate Mystic

 

It's possible I could whip one up myself' date=' though since we've switched to more advanced versions of InDesign and don't necessarily use the same fonts that might be more trouble than it's worth. Even if I did that, though, it would almost certainly lack bookmarks and other such features most people expect, which would probably result in more complaints than revenue. ;)[/quote']

 

I for one would NOT complain! I went to order the PDF just now and came to realize THERE IS NO PDF version. I would take a very ugly electonic version....I would even take a Word doc converted to PDF. But given the current state of affairs... I will probably be better off adding to my burgeoning library of physical books.

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