I have to say, even the sheer size of this collection (again : 1001 spells on 296 pages) is stunning. Basically every single spellcasting class is Pathfinder received at least a dozen new spell/level, and this includes the new classes appeared in Ultimate Magic and Advanced Player’s Guide.
I already browsed through the book, checking dozens of spells and comparing them to Paizo‘s core spells and other effects. After spending hours with 1001 Spells I have to say that I like it, but this don’t mean that it would be perfect.
I guess it won’t surprise you, but the 1001 Spells book provides an extreme amount of options for characters. Most of the spells are nicely balanced, and they are expanding the available possibilities in a good way.
There are several returning “themes” in the book. For example many spells expanding upon existing spell-themes for a class, like the “entangle” theme for druid spells, curses or healing. I may even mention Lesser Dispel Magic as an example. Other spells are slightly bending the rules, by providing previously unheard abilities to spellcaster, like bestowing constructs with skill levels temporary.
Other returning theme is something I would call spell variant : a more and less different spell, with the same intention as the original, but is changed for a somewhat different visual or gameplay effect. for example now you may able to turn somebody into a speaking tree rather than turn them into stone, but otherwise the effect (turn somebody into something harmless and immobile permanently) is the same. There are also several spells which improve upon existing spells with an interesting way : you may find things like a movable Create Pit and triggered healing spells in this thread.
Thankfully we also receive some completely new effects too, like the ability to create crystal bridges, borrowing arms, or bring a rain of chaotic (and therefore somewhat unreliable) spells upon our opponents. I think most of these ideas are really good.
As I already mentioned, several of the new spells bend the current rules or spell usage, and there are some “alternates” for existing spells. I think these are the parts where sometimes game balance wasn’t maintained, or the rules were bended in a unwelcome way.
For example, there are a couple of curses which are mirroring the core ability increase spells like Bull’s Strength and providing -4 on an ability permanently as a 2nd level spell. However they provide permanent hindrances even if the save is successful, while even Bestow Curse can’t do that ! Other curses are available to permanently remove spell-like or class abilities (like the Sneak Attack for rouges) or even somewhat basic capabilities (like the fighter’s ability to hit anything with a weapon) I think this is bad, as these could ruin a character entirely, while “normal curses” only hampers a character, even if it’s a hindrance with a capital “H”.
There are also several spells which could be broken if you create a high cost magic item with them (+20 AC anyone ?), and some of the new spells clearly surpasses their “core” Paizo equivalent. Which would you choose as a 1st level spell, +1 enchantment on a weapon (Magic Weapon) OR a poisoned weapon which could potentially cause up to 40 points of DEX damage (Poison Weapon) on an enemy ?
Another comparison is Lesser Crystalguard and Lesser Globe of Invulnerability. The Globe has two strength in the competition : it could absorb any number of spells (albeit for a limited time), and it’s a small area effect. On the other hand Crystalguard could absorb up to 4th level spells, can stop spells from items, has a longer duration and it’s immune to Dispel Magic. I think the differences mean that in a magic duel between two 8th wizards Crystalguard is clearly superior, defending it’s caster for at least two turns while the Globe could be dispelled or penetrated with spell-effect magic items.
While there are some errors I think the vast majority of the spells is playable as it’s presented without a single thought. On the other hand, even several “broken” spells mean that you can’t simply hand over the 1001 Spells book to your players to “use what you want”. In the end I think I recommend to use this book as a resource, and introduce the vast quantity of the spells into your campaign in parts, making them interesting, and choosing those which are the most fitting for you. I’m pretty sure that you will find many.
As a final score I give this book 4/5 stars.
If you would like to take a look at it yourself, you may purchase it on Paizo.com as pdf copy or preorder as print/pdf bundle.
Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros