Call Upon The Deep Magic of the Heavens!
The heavenly planes shine with light and power, where deities both benevolent and stern look down from their thrones. The most powerful of their servants are mighty beyond mortal ken, and their very names seethe with the essence of creation. The secrets of harnessing the power of the angels is hidden within those names—and you have learned to tap that potential!
In 11 hallowed pages, Deep Magic: Angelic Wards brings the secrets of angelic magic into your 5e campaign, featuring:
- A new Angelic Scribe arcane tradition, with 10 angelic seals that bind the power of celestial messengers through their names
- New angelic magic feats: Heavenly Scribe and Heaven’s Chosen
- 10 new spells, including angelic guardian, blade of wrath, seal of sanctuary, and more!
In the ages since the first angelic names were carved into earthly forms, the battles between light and darkness have tested the limits of the heavenly host. Will you join the struggle to protect the righteous? Or tempt angelic wrath with your pursuit of power?
While I have purchased and enjoyed each .pdf in the Deep Magic series for 5e, I have to say that the Angelic Seals & Wards is by far my favorite. It is extremely well developed, and the material is different than anything I’ve seen elsewhere. The seals & wards provide a nice set of versatile support options, and with the new arcane tradition the system really comes to life! I’m excited to try it out at my next opportunity.
Megan Robertson –
Angels are the most powerful agents in the service of the gods, and the angelic seals and wards discussed in this book provide a means to harnessing their power through knowing the angels’ names. Whether or not you subscribe to the Judeo-Christian view of angels – the fellows with wings wearing long gowns on Christmas cards – they apparently only serve good deities, and whilst they are not harmed by someone tapping into their power, they do notice and will object if it’s done for evil ends.
Some definitions. A seal is the angel’s very name inscribed in such a way as to draw on its power which flows through it into the individual who makes (or has) the inscription, or into a ward. We also have some angelic spells, variations of the seals that function like conventional spells, but which cross the boundaries between divine and arcane magic. It’s a rare and specialised area of magic and short of training by someone who knows about them or chancing on a spellbook that explains the processes in enough detail, spell casters will not be able to figure them out on their own.
The best way to get into this form of magic use is to follow the Angelic Scribe arcane tradition, which is described here. There are also two feats which give more limited access. Following the tradition enables the individual to learn the actual seals – the angel’s name written in Celestial in a specified format – and there’s a list of them to choose from (you start off knowing just two of them). It takes ten minutes to draw one, or eight hours if you prefer to carve a more permanent version in stone. Only one seal can be activated at a time, though. The example seals are complex but beautiful (cruel DMs might make players draw them!) and each provides a different effect – choose wisely which ones you learn.
The new angelic spells presented are few – just one per level and a cantrip – and may be learned by clerics, paladins, warlocks and wizards who are lucky enough to find a written version (or be taught them). There is a mix of protective and offensive spells in the list.
This is an interesting and novel concept, bringing the traditional power of angels as a force for good into game terms elegantly and sympathetically. There’s no indication of what an angel would regard as misuse of its power, nor what it would do about it – perhaps that’s best left to the DM to determine in the light of divine power structures in their campaign world’s cosmology. If the forces of good and evil feature large in your campaign, this is worth a look.
Disclosure: I received this product as a gift from the publisher as part of a holiday promotion.
Angelic Seals is part of the “Deep Magic” product line, the illustrious set of books that sets out to expand the magical options for various systems. In this case, it is a 5th edition product, and a much needed one. It weighs in at 11 pages, with 4 pages dedicated to the cover, credits page, legal info and back cover. That leaves us with 7 pages of actual material which is well used. Formatting is the standard two column format.
First of all, the art and layout for this book are excellent, as is standard for Kobold Press. The introduction to the book is great as well, presenting a strong case for the premise of the book; Angelic firmament magic that taps into the nature of creation to protect. The book excels at giving you a robust if concise bit of angelic magic that brims with thematic flavor and well measured rules. This book will be useful to you even if you don’t want angel magic, but be prepared as it is heavy on defensive magic.
The book is divided, short as it is, into three segments. First we are introduced to angelic seals, a pseudo-spell like concept that allows you to evoke powerful effects through symbols and holy words. We start with a sidebar that introduces feats that act as a gateway to the angelic seals, as well as a whole Arcane Tradition that brings Wizards fully into the use of angelic seals. I am actually impressed that Wizards were chosen over a more obvious choice like Paladins, Clerics, or even Warlocks, as Wizards are rarely combined with religious motifs, and the combination here was done very well.
Regarding the feats, there are two. First we have “Heavenly Scribe”. It is a good solid feat, in line with the feats that grant access to magic, allowing you to choose an angelic seal that grants you some magical ability. What is unfortunate is that it does not grant the “Greater Seal” ability that many of the specific angelic seals have. Even if there was a second feat that unlocked that ability, it would have been nice to see.
Second we have the “Heaven’s Chosen” feat, which is an interesting design choice. It is set up as a not as good as “Lucky feat, but there are a few things at play here. First of all, “Heaven’s Chosen” allows a reroll once per long rest, and the reroll can ignore things like disadvantage. This is different from the “Lucky” which gives you 3 luck points, but asks you to use them before a roll is made. Add to that the fact that the “Lucky” feat is not in the SRD, and the charm of “Heaven’s Chosen” is apparent. It is quite likely that you will see much use of it on dangerous saving throw rolls that could change the course of a fight.
Now for the Arcane Tradition, called Angelic Scribe, is a further inculcation into the angelic seals presented, and acts nearly as a frame to the mechanic, since it can choose multiple seals and gains deeper access to their powers. You get access to two seals to at level 2, and gain more seals as you gain levels in your Wizard class, making the growth of this archetype very neatly distributed.
At 6th level you gain a Warding Seal, which acts as a slightly modified Magic Circle that covers a large area. The one problem I saw was that the area that it can cover is confusing. It can either cover a 22 foot cube, or an area of 11,000 cubic feet if it is inside of a building. This seems confusing and arbitrary, but I can’t necessarily think of a better way to express that it can protect an entire small building. The effect is neat and thematically appropriate though, and does its job by keeping evil things out.
At 10th level you can access the greater seal powers, which greatly expands the powers available to you, giving the wizard a nice repertoire of abilities from which to choose. You can only do so twice per short or long rest, so it doesn’t do anything so drastic as to compete with your spell selection.
At 14th level, you gain the Angelic Wrath ability, which lets you and your allies deal radiant damage. In addition, you gain the ability to cast a spell that summons celestials, which is thematic but not overpowered.
Overall, this archetype is solid and impressive, giving a whole new flavor to the Wizard that can match a specific character build or character backstory. The idea of a wizard that studies angelic writing as a path to magic is fascinating and inspiring.
As for the angelic seals themselves, they are something of a mixed bag. They offer a lot of variety, but they are not internally balanced against each other. Some are clearly better than others, making the seal selection somewhat less impressive.
One issue that crops up is that the angelic seals sometimes refer to your Wizard level. As non-wizards can access it by way of feat, I wonder what their effective wizard level might be.
But now onto spells. Overall the spells presented are well build, but there are many concentration spells, making each of these spells a critical choice for preparation and casting. While this does not make them bad, it makes sense to have them be wizard spells, given that a wizard is made to make spell choices and think critically about what spells they prepare. The spells are available to clerics, paladins, and warlocks though, making the spell selection for them much more important and necessitating precision when doing so, especially for paladins and warlocks. That said, the spells are amazing enough to make the choice a tough one, but a good one. As a warlock for instance, I may only want one or possible two of these spells as known spells any one time.
The first spell is angelic guardian, which is very potent and impressive, and grants an armor class bonus that can be dismissed to grant a reroll on a Dexterity save. This bolsters its utility, and the ability to cast it on others is excellent.
The benediction cantrip is another great spell, giving a small modicum of damage mitigation. It is concentration, so it doesn’t work if you have other spells, but it is a great holdout. It would make a great spell for non-spellcasters that gain cantrips through other means (such as high elves).
Blade of wrath is awesome and thematically appropriate. Golden sword that deals radiant and fire damage. What’s not to like? This is the paladin spell that we didn’t know we desperately needed.
Blazing chariot is an impressive spell that creates a flying vehicle! The spell lasts for an hour, and discourages attackers by burning them. The spell itself has excellent and thorough rules for use that make me want to run a chase scene with it.
Blessed halo is a good spell and very useful for various things. It creates light, grants limited healing, and lets you get advantage on Charisma checks against other good creatures. A solid 2nd level spell.
Deva’s wings is just thematically very cool. The imagery is amazing. You fly, and can attack with your wings.
The seal of sanctuary spells, like the Warding Seal class feature, seem to be just greater versions of magic circle. I’m not sure how I feel about this, and I can see why these effects exist; they aren’t unnecessary. I just wish that they had implemented magic circle as an abbreviated way of saying what the effects do, instead of creating an entirely new effect from scratch each time that does effectively the same thing. Odd quibble, I know. It also seems odd that these higher level spells have hit points that, once depleted, end the spell (specifically, the seal used to power the spell) which makes them slightly more vulnerable than the aforementioned magic circle, but again I don’t know how these must play out in playtests and such.
Heavenly crown is an awesome spell that harkens to the Warlord class of 4th edition, and does a lot to play into a tactical mindset. There is some good use of action economy here that is excellently balanced.
Quintessence is a bad ass spell that seems to mirror various Paladin 20th level archetype features, but does it well. It seems to fit an 8th level spell pretty well. Again, the balance is in its concentration duration.
And that’s the book!
Final thoughts: This book does exactly what it set out to do, which is to create a slew of angelic powers and spells that evoke the sense that you are tapping into a divine power for the sake of good. The imagery is excellent, the powers are all pretty well balanced, and the spells and seals are all varied enough to justify a small supplement dedicated to the concept. There are some hiccups here, but there were no major errors or problems that I saw, and I can’t say that the hiccups detract from either my enjoyment of the book, nor the utility of the contents. This is a solid 5 star product
An Endzeitgeist.com review
This installment of Kobold Press’ 5e-series of magic traditions clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
All right, so, as always, we get feats to interact with the spellcasting tradition – here, the first would be Heavenly Scribe, which nets the Celestial language and an angelic seal of the character’s choice, with Int as governing attribute for the saving throw DC. Heaven’s Chosen, the second feat, nets you a second saving throw when you fail one – this one is rolled with a single d20, regardless of advantage or disadvantage, with the ability recharging upon completing a long rest.
As in previous installments, it is pretty much recommended that characters don’t get universal access to the respective material herein – beyond the feat granting limited dabbling access, we have the Angelic Scribe arcane tradition, which halves time and gold spent on copying these spells in the spellbook and allows for one of the 2 spells to be gained on a level-up to be an angelic spell. 2nd level yields also the Celestial language and the ability to scribe the eponymous angelic seals, which may be scribed on paper, canvas, stone or other tokens that may be carried or displayed -this takes 10 minutes. Alternatively, 8 hours may be spent to create a permanent seal with artisan’s tools on a harder surface. Activation of a seal in an action.
However, before you ask – no, you cannot cheese this. You have a hard cap of a maximum of one seal active at any given time, which increases by +1 active seal at 6th, 10th and 14th level. At these levels, you also gain an additional seal and may replace an old one with a new seal. Deactivating a seal can be done as a bonus action. Broken or defaced seals similarly immediately deactivate. A given creature can only benefit from one seal at any given time and concentration on a spell or similar effect suppresses the seal temporarily, thus preventing stacking. And yep, suppressed seals are still treated as activated, so no cheesing there either.
Starting at 6th level, you gain Warding Seals, which must be attached to the floor or a similarly solid surface – as a touch, you can activate it and generate a spherical barrier that requires concentration to maintain – aberrations, fey, fiends and undead cannot physically cross the threshold, unless they succeed a Charisma save versus your spell save DC, and yes, they may retry, though they get disadvantage when being able to see the seal. Say it all with me: “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” …sorry. I know. It’s old. Hope that still got a chuckle out of someone out there. Additionally, creatures carrying an angelic seal you can see while maintaining the warding seal can benefit from your powers: You may impose disadvantage as a reaction on an attack against a creature thus protected.
Starting at 10th level, the tradition gains greater seal, which lets you spend an action to activate the greater seal benefit for an angelic seal for 1 minute, replacing the seal’s default benefit. If you instead choose a warding seal, it instead inflicts 6d6 radiant damage to creatures failing the save to breach them for 1 hour. The ability may be used twice, and is recharged upon completing a short or long rest. 14th level yields Angelic Wrath, adding conjure celestial to the spellbook. As a bonus action, usable once per short or long rest interval, you can grant all targets with active angelic seals a bonus of +1d8 radiant damage to their weapon attacks. This should make archers really happy.
Okay, but what do the seals do? Well, first of all, 10 seals are provided, which also sport really nice visual representations of the respective seal – kudos there, it adds a sense of occult legitimacy to the material. This is also underlined by an angel’s name showing up behind the seal – “In the name of Chamule, I invoke judgment!” It’s a small thing, but for me, it adds seriously to the appeal of the pdf. Anyways, we have retries for failed attempts to improve attitudes and the greater use of charming a creature on a failed Wisdom saving throw. Spell save DC is btw. usually the DC employed. Another seal adds 1/2 Intelligence modifier to Wisdom (insight) and Wisdom (Perception), with the greater seal providing blindsight 10 feet.
Using the reaction to boost AC against an attack and gaining resistance to nonmagical physical damage types in the greater seal, the abilities are pretty cool. That being said, e.g. Glory can be kitten’d somewhat – it yields Int-mod temporary hit points upon killing an enemy. Hand me that kitten to slaughter between encounters, please… Yeah, not very angelic or glorious. It can be argued that “enemy” does not include these and it’s not a significant boost, but still. On the plus-side, automatically passing the first death saving throw (requires a rest to recharge) does feel angelic, though. While, as a person, I am not a big fan of any ability that adds more than one attribute modifier to a given roll, 5e is less prone to attribute minmaxing than PFRPG, making that concern mostly aesthetic. As a whole, these should not provide problems for games in which they are used, though.
The pdf also contains 10 new spells, one for each level – from cantrip to 9th level, these would be:
Benediction, which lets a creature you concentrate upon deduct 1d4 from its next damage received. Angelic Guardian, which nets +2 AC and may be ended to roll a failed Dexterity save. Blessed Halo sheds light, nets advantage on Cha checks interacting with good creatures within the light, dispels low level darkness and also provides 10 points of healing, which you may use as an action to heal allies within the range of the light, with higher levels increasing the healing and darkness-dispelling capacities. Blades of Wrath creates a sword of pure white fire that deals 2d8 fire and 2d8 radiant damage, with aberrations, fey, fiends, undead having to succeed a Wisdom save to avoid the frightened condition. Higher levels yield increased damage output, allowing you to choose which energy type you’ll upgrade.
Deva’s Wings grant a flying speed of 60 ft. (hover) – the wings can be used as a melee weapon with 10 ft. reach, potentially knocking targets prone. Blazing Chariot is a classic and star – you conjure a blazing chariot, with magical animals that can fly and you may direct its movement instead of your own and may direct it to Dash, Disengage and Dodge as a bonus action. with actions allowing for overruns – amazing. Heavenly Crown makes you the heavenly commander: As a bonus action, make an ally capable of hearing you use its reaction to make one melee attack and move 1/2 movement rate, or vice versa. Very potent and cool. Seal of Sanctuary is basically a more powerful warding seal with more damage output, 24 hour duration and seriously wicked drawbacks for those capable of crossing into it. At 8th level, Quintessence nets an AC fixed at a minimum of 20 as well as immunity to being frightened and necrotic damage. Worse for hostiles: On a failed save while within 120 ft. of you, they are restrained by fright…though it thankfully may repeat the save and becomes immune upon shaking the effect off. Finally, the Greater Seal of Sanctuary is basically the apex of the warding seal theme – crossing into this will be like stepping into a heavenly blender for most critters.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issue in rules-language or formal criteria. Layout adheres to Kobold Press’ beautiful 2-column full-color standard, with artworks being a mix of awesome new and previously used art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity -kudos!
You see, I really like Dan Dillon’s angelic supplement. The seals feel “lawful”, methodical, like tools of the angels. the touch activation if cool and has been popularized by plentiful forms of media (like Supernatural) and the respective options fit – the potent defensive tricks make pretty clear how the angelic host can withstand the assault of the abyssal hordes. The seals and how they work makes sense to me, in spite of the brevity of their presentation.
Which brings me to my primary and only real gripe with the material herein: Honestly, I wished this had a bit of fluff. Not much, just a paragraph or two for the seals. I know, I know – this is a crunch book, retain wide open nature, etc. – but the seals very much feel like they belong to a flavorful tradition and getting some more knowledge about them and the angels would have been the icing on the cake. Similarly, I would have loved to see special seals requiring certain materials or set-ups…the engine can carry a whole lot more than what it does, but that may very well show up in a sequel. Hopefully. Anyways, this should not dissuade you from checking out this pdf – we have a winner on our hands here, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.