today I'm taking a little excursion from the rather extensive adventure reviews I posted here in the last couple of weeks and present to you some of the finest, most useful pdfs dealing with magic items from the last couple of months, so gather up your GP and take a look at these nifty tools!
I'm going to kick off with Rite Publishing's
This pdf is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisements and 1 page of SRD, leaving 6 pages of content for the 30 items - but are they really something special?
The pdf wastes neither time nor space and immediately presents you with its first item, the banjo of the raconteur, which not only could work as a bardic instrument to recall odd pieces of knowledge (granting a bonus to the skill), but could just as easily be played by another character to accompany and support the bard - if he can beat the low DC to use the ability, that is.
Useful items, like a bottomless inkwell or a bowl of poison detection stand side by side with e.g. a favorite of mine that will conquer the hearts of my players - burning caltrops that explode when stepped upon. Cheap enough to never leave home without a bag of them! Blankets that enable you to sleep comfortably in armor, a case that can contain 100 scrolls - adventuring just got a whole lot more comfortable. If you want to wash the taint of the grave away, there's a green, flowery-smelling soap that gets rid of negative levels for you.
Some of the items are simply iconic, like the crowbar of demolition and some make for captivating plot elements, like the thief's broom that sweeps evidence away (though I'd limit it to making tracking impossible, but that's just my preference) and the supremely useful torch of detection that detects secret doors while its limited fuel flickers away. My favorite, though, would be the immovable block and tackle that can defy gravity and hold up to 10000 pounds - pure awesome and guaranteed to make for interesting plans and problem solutions by the players. I only had a gripe with two of the items, first being the flask of healing, which can transform water into a potion of cure light wounds up to 5 times per day. While not unbalancing per se, I don't like this item replacing a steady drain on PC resources by providing 5d8+15 points of healing per day for a price of only 6500 GP. While adequately calculated, I think the craft rules fall short here. Not the designer's problem, though, and subsequently no reason to detract from the final score. The last item I personally didn't like (but that is still a valid idea), is a compass that shows the next exit out of an enclosed space like a dungeon or a maze. I generally dislike items that provide shortcuts though trials and this one fits the bill - again, though, a personal preference.
The pdf closes with a table of the prices of the items, showing that they range from humble 150 GP to 197500 GP. All items come with auras, caster-levels, weight, slot, prices and the necessary information to craft them yourself.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice even a single glitch. Layout adheres to the classic two-column b/w-RiP-standard and the artwork is unassuming, yet fitting stock-art. The pdf is bookmarked, which is nice to have, even at this length & price point. I have to say that I'm probably not the easiest audience for any given file, but especially for magical items. This is due to a plethora of factors, first being that I abhor magic item inflation, the commoditization of magic and the general tendency to make magic items feel rather mundane. The title of this pdf thus hit a spot with me and I was both intrigued and doubtful whether author David Mallon could pull off a pdf like that. Turns out he can - many of the items herein could find their way even into the most low-magic of low-magic campaigns, either as modified alchemical items or ones that have this ephemeral quality of subtle magic suitable for such settings. That is not necessarily how they're presented, but the option to do so is a surefire sign of versatile ideas. Even better, though, is that the wondrous items herein are truly wondrous, i.e. they don't feel like bland duplicates of spells or effects, they don't feel like "just another tool", but rather like precious magical trinkets the heroes of our childhood's fairytales might have had with them on their quests and ultimately used in creative and intelligent ways to prevail. That's how magic is done rite. While there is a set of lockpicks that is bland (bonus to disable device - surprised?) and I personally didn't like two items, that still leaves the vast majority of the pdf for cool items brimming with imagination. We need more books like this. My final verdict will be 5 Rudii.
All right, that were some rather far-off items, but what if you want some scaling ones? Purple Duck Games has just what you're looking for:
This pdf is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover/editorial/ToC, 7 1/2 pages of SRD, leaving 19 1/2 pages of content for the magical items, so let's check them out!
I really like the basic idea of the "Legendary..."-series, as weapons and items that scale with levels combat the tendency of magic item inflation and rather support PCs keeping their tools and unlocking new powers. Legendary items require set conditions to attune them to owners and come with additional minor rules. The first brooch, an espionage-tool used by elves and drow, comes for example with a CR 6 new creature, the witchwyrd. The items all come with 5 levels of power that are progressively unlocked in contrast to the 10 levels of powers featured in earlier installments of the "Legendary..."-series.
The range of new items is quite interesting: For example, there's a spellbook that enables the owner to prepare spells even when separated from the wizard. From a carpet to travel the worlds, a harp to raise the dead, a magical hat, a discordant horn (with 3 new spells as well as the song domain), a phase-spider turned living cloak (again, with a new spell), a soldier's bag of holding, to sublime boots (again, with a new spell), we get a neat variety of new items. There also is a stone that works as a combined ioun stone to a deadly pair of goggles that help by providing the deadly accuracy of raptors and come with a second progression and even the wings of an ascended devil who found redemption - the items presented herein offer some interesting new abilities and come with interesting background stories.
Editing is ok - I noticed some minor editing glitches. Formatting is top-notch. Layout adheres to the classic two-column standard and the b/w-artwork is ok for the low price. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks. In contrast to the other "Legendary..."-pdfs, we only get 5 abilities per item, which is kind of a pity. Additionally, while I did like the items, none of them really blew me away - while cool, none featured an idea that is breathtakingly unique. I'd usually rate this pdf 3.5 Rudii, rounded down to 3, but due to the very low and fair price, I will round up instead for a final verdict of 4 Rudii.
We all know that sometimes, as DMs, the dreaded question arises: The PCs have scored a lot of loot and want to spend it. Raging Swan Press provides us with an interesting pdf full of tables that the DM can use to provide items for the players to buy.
This pdf is 26 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 blank page inside the front cover, 2 pages editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisements, 1 page back cover, leaving 19 pages of content, so let's check this pdf out!
How many times have you as a DM despaired at a sudden return of the PCs to civilization to restock? How annoying is it to have to ad-hoc cobble together lists of magic items for the PCs to buy? For DMs like yours truly, who seek to evoke a concise and coherent world, creating tables upon damn effin' tables of items to buy in each individual fleck has been a painful, annoying bane.
This is where this pdf comes in - we get tables for settlements of all sizes, appropriate for the respective sizes. A lot of tables. They respective entries are ordered by item categories and in the beginning of the pdf, you get 2 pages of d%-tables to randomly determine which of them to use for your settlement.
We get 41 lists for thorps, 35 for hamlets, 21 for villages, 16 for small towns, 13 for large towns, 10 for small cities, 10 for large cities and 11 to illustrate what can be found in a metropolis. 2 pages of lists are provided for each settlement size and none of the items felt really out of place in their settlements.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the printer-friendly b/w-two-column-standard by RSP, artworks are b/w-stock and ok. The pdf is extensively bookmarked and comes with an additional screen-version, optimized for use e-readers.
*sigh* This is one of these pdfs that are hard to review: Essentially, you take up your books and scan through lists, comparing list-prices in the pdf with the book, looking for any inappropriate item. Thankfully, this pdf does not have any, but nevertheless, you don't want to know how long it took me to double-check.
Back to the conclusion: This pdf is one of these immensely useful little tools that make any DM's life significantly easier, providing needed crunch and content that you just don't want to put together yourself. Even better, the stories how the items got to the respective places are great occasions to drop in your own story, making your campaign feel more organic and coherent.
If I had to nitpick anything, then I'd complain about the fact that I would have loved to see descriptions for at least some of the items - how they look different from the standard, lore-sections, the like. As this is clearly not the intended design goal of this pdf, it would be unfair to hold the lack of unique item descriptions against it, though. Me being at a loss to say anything detrimental to the pdfs quality, I'll settle for a final verdict of 5 Rudii - well done!
And then, there are these little pdf that provide concepts that are so cool, so nifty that they spawn whole new campaign ideas - if you buy just one book on staves, buy Super Genius Games'
This pdf is 12 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial & SRD, leaving 10 1/3 of a page for Kragnar's latest enterprise, this time dealing with staves. So, what does the goblin have for us this time?
Staves, an arcanist's ballista, are widely considered to be among the most boring items possible in PFRPG and while NNW have found some ways to make them more exciting, I was rather sceptical whether the latest installment of Kragnar could make them interesting again.
First of all, we get some nice back-story around Kragnar's latest exploits prior to having new concepts explained: To give staves more flexibility, three levels of staves are presented: lesser, standard and greater, each with progressively more power. All the staves in this book come in these 3 versions and you can actually upgrade the staves to the next level - the upgrade costs being fully compatible with the craft-mechanics. Nice! Some staves herein also come with possibilities to recharge them at double rate, i.e. with sets of instructions that make recharging a) more engaging and b) a cool, viable option.
A new feat capitalizes on these properties, enabling you to create lesser staves starting level 8. ven better, the concept of Tige Vierge is introduced - blank staves, whose final enchantment has not yet been determined. The rules to craft them are simple, but the possibilities are endless - in a world with magical units in the army, cults etc., a highjacked delivery of tige vierges makes for a great adventure hook. And what if the PCs try to sabotage a delivery of blanks to an evil empire's outpost? AWESOME! Essentially, they have the potential to become arcane weapons of mass destruction without having the PC's opposition use them against them. I love simple solutions that make otherwise impossible scenarios work. So far, the concepts presented are rather awesome, but can the 10 staves (each with all three versions) hold up to the high quality?
Mechnically, I don't have anything to complain about; Evocative descriptions, full construction notes, recharging information and neat ideas (like the Staff of 4 Winds or the Staff of the white Necromancer), there just isn't anything to complain about with regards to these staves - most even come with additional minor benefits in addition to their charge-dependant abilities. Especially due to a neat piece of additional service: Each and every staff herein gets its own piece of surprisingly gorgeous artwork from author/illustrator Marc Radle -it's just great to show them off to your PCs and something I frankly didn't expect at this price point. Very cool!
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice a single glitch. The pdf adheres to the 3-column SGG-standard and no bookmarks are provided. The extensive pieces of artwork provided serve to further enhance your experience of this pdf, adding visual pleasure to the innovative, cool ideas. The scaling staves and especially the tige vierges are just strokes of genius that had me facepalm for not coming up with the idea myself - elegant, simple, cool and full of story-telling and mechanic potential. For the low price, you get a top quality, stellar product that shines even among the excellent pdfs by SGG - innovation, nothing to complain about, added storytelling potential - my final verdict is 5 Rudii and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval - this pdf ranks among the best in SGG's excellent catalogue.
All right, that's it for now! Next time I'll have some other neat new reviews for you!
As always, thank you for reading my ramblings,