By Dreamscarred Press
If I could describe Akashic Mysteries in one word it would be "Incarnum". But, you and I both know I'm incapable of saying anything quickly and conciesly, and this is doubly the case when it comes to this gem. First, if you did like incarnum yes, you will like this, I garuntee it. And I LOVED incarnum, so this was a natural buy for me, especially at the amazing price it's going for. But there are a lot of things that they've dramatically improved upon that are sure to win over even people who weren't big on the old incarnum.
First of all Akashic Mysteries is absolutely dripping with flavour. I'm talking about the good stuff. You can see the Arabian and Indian cultural influences through ought the book, from the names of the abilities and classes, to the feeling and style they convey, and you have this sense of being a conduit for something amazing. Everything feels more stylized and exciting. It takes you of of feeling like you're just a person covered in day long buffs and makes you feel like you're channeling ancient power from the dawn of time. The way it's written conveys the immensity, importance and all encompassing nature of the Akashic Memory. For people who found the Incarnum lore a little boring, bland, and vague this is a complete reversal. I got the sense that a Vizier or Guru could regard a wizard as "Just using magic" With condescension, that's how cool the flavour is.
But For every player who wants to savour the flavour, there's one or two who want to munch some crunch. So how does Akashic Mysteries hold up power and composition wise? It's deceptively good. Usually when I get a new magic variant I check out the basics and then flip through the spells/spheres/abilities what have you and see what they can do. And that approach leads veilweaving to appear pretty mediocre. There is nothing even as impressive as mid level spells, and that can be very discouraging. This is the problem a lot of people had with Incarnum too, the powers themselves arn't huge and amazing. But as I said this is misleading for a few reasons.
The first thing to consider is that these veils are day long bonuses, most of them stack with everything, and you can adjust the power infused in them freely. So yes your concealment on ranged attacks won't help against the ogre, but you can move the power into something that will, like your force armor. Second, you arn't tied down to a few specific veils. You have the whole list to choose from at the start of the day, and on top of that depending on your class you may be able to even change out veils to something much more useful on the fly. You get versatility, and versatility isn't as exciting as specialization, but for an adventurer it's far more important. Third any system that DOES have as much power and glam as core spellcasting is flat out broken, it's a terrible measuring stick to compare with.
On top of having just the right amount of power and versatility the mechanics are very very smooth. You can master the basics in a single sitting, but you can also invest tons of time memorizing and organizing all the veils and their binds so that you always know the ideal tool to use. Easy to learn, hard to master is music to my ears. And of course, as with Incarnum (hey you can't make a product like this without inviting comparison) Akashic mysteries is also an excellent thing to dip into for almost any class under the sun. A little or a lot thrown onto any character helps add extra power, utility, or ironically even further specialization, to any character to help them stand out from the rest.
As I've come to expect from Dreamscarred press they've put out an amazing product that I'm sure to bring to every pathfinder game I run or play and I highly recommend it. If you like the sound if it and want to check it out for yourself you can get the book right here