EZG reviews the item-based “So what’s…”-titles (Shiny Objects, Weapons, Spellbooks, Armors)

 

Raging Swan has a couple of very useful pdfs for the GM to use when handing out treasure and I’ll take a look at them!

 

So what’s that shiny thing, anyways?

 

This pdf is 21 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 14 pages of tables, but what kind of table exactly?

 

Essentially, this pdf includes a lot of tables to customize your treasure and add interesting bits of fluff to your campaign that may very well spark adventures in and of themselves. It first starts with a d20-table of backsides of coins, something I have used to an interesting effect in my own campaign, so I encourage you to check this out! A table of 20 forms of strange, inhuman or simply different forms of currency is also presented, ranging from paper notes to ox-hide-shaped copper ingots. VERY cool!

 

We also get 4 tables of gems of different values, so you’ll never have to say “You find gems worth 220 GP” ever again – saying instead: “You find a Moss Agate, a Tiger Eye, a Chrysoberyl, a Chrysoparase and a Sardonyx.” The gems come with descriptions, appraise-checks and entries on transparency as well as a fluffy side-box on supposedly magic effects of said gems for enchantment purposes.

What about Jewelry? Once again, a plethora of tables, 5 to be specific and, just as with the gems, organized by value, are presented and come with rather interesting forms and shapes, including combs and cloak-clasps.

 

Not only glittering stuff is valuable, though, and that’s why we also get 3 tables of books and scrolls (including titles and short summaries) and 4 tables of uncommon art objects including Dire tigerskin rugs (Dinner for One with giants, anyone?) and even candlesticks made of mithral!

 

And then there are the 5 tables of miscellaneous objects – If you’ve read my review of SGG’s Genius Guide to What’s in my Pocket, you can imagine the weirdness that suffuses some of these entries – in contrast to SGG’s book, though, these actually have a value assigned –  Take for example the “Orc’s Foot Cheese”, sought after many a gourmand or a decadent basilisk hide belt with a monstrous buckle!

 

This installment of the series goes above and beyond, though, and also provides hooks and complications: A table with 20 entries to modify gems, 20 different entries centering on previous owners, 20 secret messages contained somewhere within the item and finally 20 kinds of complications, from apparent agelessness of an antique relic to being a kind of champion’s belt for a tribe of orcs!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard and the pdf is fully bookmarked and features a version optimized for use with e-readers. I’ll make this short in case my jubilatory tones have not made this abundantly clear – this pdf is awesome. The treasure herein enriches and customizes the adventuring experience of just about any group and the care and cool ideas that have flown into the compilation is stellar. The amount of items and loot herein and their unique properties make it possible to craft one or more truly unique dragon’s hoards from these items and the added tables, the complications etc., make for a stellar icing on the cake. Were I to utter any kind of criticism, then it would be that the gems are rather mundane and including some new ones would have been awesome. I would have loved to see more currencies as well, but that is nagging on the top-most level. This is hands-down my favorite installment of the “So what’s..”-series and I encourage every DM who is tired of handing out boring mundane rewards to check this out. While not as far-out as SGG’s file, they complement each other nicely and I hope for a lot of successors to this stellar pdf. My final verdict will be 5 stars + the Endzeitgeist seal of approval – author Richard Green has done an awesome job.

DriveThruRPG.com

 

So what’s that weapon like, anyways?

 

This pdf is 21 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 14 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

The pdf kicks off with a short introduction to the matter at hand, to be precise, weapon properties and descriptions. How often have you just said “It’s a masterwork xyz-weapon”? Not only does this make a weapon less interesting and unique, it also deprives the DM of potential hooks (how did this weapon, made of this uncommon wood, get here?) and the PCs of a sense of immersion in the world.

Raging Swan’s latest offering seeks to remedy this problem by providing tables galore: Organized by general weapon category (e.g. simple melee weapons), quite a bunch of rather rare weapons are provided along-side a suggested GP-value for the item. It should be noted that the descriptions are rather evocative and could also be easily scavenged for your own magic items. One page is devoted to simple melee weapons, one to simple ranged weapons, one to light martial weapons, one to one-handed martial weapons, one to two-handed martial weapons, one for martial ranged weapons, 1 for exotic melee weapons and 1 for exotic ranged weapons.

This is not where the pdf stops, though:20 previous owners of the weapons, 20 famous victories of the wielders, 20 marks and inscriptions and 20 miscellaneous complications/peculiarities serve to further enhance the usability of this pdf and make sure that the weapons your PCs find will be truly exciting.

Not even content here, 7 specific magical weapons, with full stories and suggested powers are detailed on the final two pages of the pdf.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, as I’ve come to expect from Raging Swan press-releases. Layout adheres RSP’s 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf is extensively bookmarked. The pdf also comes with two versions – one for screen-use and one optimized for printers. “So what’s that shiny thing, anyway?” was a brilliant GM-help and to cut to the chase: “So what’s that weapon like, anyway?” is just as awesome- a truly useful GM-help, that, while not reinventing the wheel, provides beleaguered GMS with descriptions galore they can put on all kinds of weapons and thus make their campaign setting more immersive. I have but two minor complaints: I would have loved to see tables by weapon type, not only by weapon category. While this would have meant that the pdf gets much, much longer, it would have also made the tables easier to navigate. The other complaint is nested in the first: While the content is enough for the fair asking price, this pdf left me wanting more, so much more: Richard Green has whetted my appetite and I’d love to see e.g. an installment devoted solely to exotic weapons, one for shields, armors, etc. – the possibilities are endless and the pdf extremely useful. If you want to add some nice fluff to the loot for your players, this is a must-purchase. My final verdict, due to lack of complaints and the stellar usefulness of this pdf, will be 5 stars + the Endzeitgeist seal of approval.

 

 

So what’s that spellbook like, anyways?

 

This pdf is 25 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us a total of 18 pages of content, so what exactly does this installment of the “So what’s…”-series cover?

The answer seems simple at first glance. Spellbooks! But is it really that simple? One of the features that has always jarred me about D&D and all its derivatives is the lack of detail regarding magic tomes – take a look at Call of Cthulhu, where the very fabric and how a book is made adds to its character. I realize that the amount of magic present in a setting limits its inherent wonder, but I always strive to add said wonder in my game to any spellbook the PCs stumble across and this pdf is essentially a generator for exactly that task:

From a massive table on spellbook titles, subjects and 12 sample books, we go on to wizard names and epithets as well as some pregenerated wizard names to the truly intriguing components of the pdf: Distinguishing features like small rainbows and ornate brass rivets to spellbook cover materials like aboleth fins and even cover groups are neat: From the makers of the covers to big game-notes and loving mementos of familiars that have had their existence immortalized by becoming the cover of a book, we are in for a plethora f neat ideas that go beyond “Made of an animal”, though animals, good creatures and fabric are also covered.

Of course, uncommon types of paper and its condition are also covered in tables: Ever thought about goblin skin vellum, for example? Of course, not only paper, but also the most uncommon types of ink are part of the tables in this pdf. Even cooler, we also get 10 different preparation rituals, including costs, that enable a prospective caster to enhance spells cast from the respective tome via minor magical effects, putting the tome itself rather than its content into the focus – very cool and hopefully an idea that will be expanded upon in a future release or by other 3pps.

Books can also contain maps, poems., notes etc. – all kinds of potential hooks and this pdf does not fail to provide them – ranging from straight adventure hooks to terrible, humorous love poems. Speaking of hooks – the knowledge tables provided add interesting hooks to spellbooks and provide a beleaguered GM with a host of options to entice players into varying adventures and potentially arouse their suspicion regarding the respective contents.

A massive table also offers 5 columns of varying means of protection for an arcanist’s most valuable tool, presented by level and including mundane locks as well as dreaded symbol-spells. Random spellbook costs and contents can also be generated and if you don’t have the time to do so in-game, no problem: The pdf closes with a smattering of sample spell-books presented by level, from 1 to 13.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP’s 2-column b/w-2-column-standard and the pdf is fully bookmarked. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-usage and one to be printed out.

I’ll come out and say it, if my introduction wasn’t ample clue, I’ll right out state it: This pdf addresses one of the things that have bugged me about magic and its presentation and does so in a most formidable way. Add to the fact that it can be seen as a vast fluffy generator of coolness and hooks and provides more content for its low price than many comparable releases of the series and we’re in for one of the generators in the series that is literally a boon, a blessing and simply an awesome tool for just about any DM out there. Seriously, this one brings the wonders of spellbooks and their very excitement back to the table and, once your players have gotten used to it, will stop them from considering a spellbook as just a list of spells, but rather as its very own entity. My final verdict? 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval.

 

 

So what’s that armour like, anyways? 

This pdf is 20 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial,, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of content dealing with details of armors, so what exactly do we get?

Well, the pdf kicks off with a short introduction on how to use it. Essentially, we are provided with tools to make the armors the PCs find more memorable – from cosmetic appearances of masterwork armors to appearances of magical armors, each of the short descriptions herein could be used to add versatility and variety to the treasure the PCs find. In order to facilitate the usage of this pd, we get a short d20 generator to randomly determine the type of the armor they find first as well as a short glossary of terms like pauldrons etc. before we delve into a two-pages spanning list of 50 different descriptions of light armors that should set them apart and add unique flavor to them:
Take for example a leather armor improved with strips of hardened mahogany and a painted depiction of a spider on the front and in the back with jewels for eyes. Or take an armored kilt covered with dozens of silver plates as protection. And yes, the infamous chain mail bikini also makes an appearance, though its uselessness and impracticability is commented on. I should also mention that a sample GP value for such an armor, if it is mundane, is assigned to each of the entries for further diversity, making buying and owning these pieces feel more unique.

Medium (again, 50 entries) and heavy armors (49 entries) get the same treatment – some of my favorite examples among them would be an armor made from tigerskin that comes with a claw necklace, a scale mail crafted from demon and devil exoskeletons, a hide armor made from the skin of a gorgon, a tatami-do armor with a collapsible kabuto and steel banded mail embroidered with calligraphy praising the god of the desert winds.

As a nice piece of bonus, we also get the same treatment for shields, which include wooden shields made from precious ebony and e.g. throwing shields embroidered with stars. It should be noted that we get 53 different shields.

After this, though, the awesomeness ramps up even further by providing us with a selection of 5 different unique armors that not only come with extensive background stories, but which also feature (of course) high prices and even suggested enchantments: From the armor of Dread Kaspar Manilov, which can be seen as an homage to Vlad the Impaler or my favorite vampire of all time, Strahd von Zarovich to the O-Yoroi (samurai great armor) of Watashi Jiro, who found himself tricked by a fox spirit and a catwoman (NOT the awful Hale Berry movie…)style armor that once belonged to the Royal Assassin, the new armors are nice indeed. The pdf also provides us with a final page of 20 examples for former owners of the armors and 20 other complications that can serve as plot hooks for enterprising GMs. It should be noted that some of the “other complications” actually have crunchy ramifications like granting minor DR or fitting badly.

 

Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, as I’ve come to expect from Raging Swan releases. Layout adheres to the elegant, printer-friendly 2-column standard and the pdf comes in 2 versions, one optimized for printer-use and one for screen-use. The pdf comes with extensive nested bookmarks.

The “So what’s”-series of Raging Swan Press started off as a good idea, albeit one that was painfully dull to review. Over the course of its inception, though, the product line has not only grown, but also steadily improved. Taking a look at recent releases like the ones on taverns, spellbooks and weapons, I am not only smiling and using them extensively, I am also glad to announce that Richard Green’s latest contribution to the line (he is also responsible for the one on weapons and, with Liz Smith, for the one on taverns) can stand up to the excellent quality established by the recent releases. Thus, I’m happy to pronounce a final verdict of 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval for another extremely useful contribution to the line.

 

All right, that’s it for now! Thanks for reading my ramblings,

Endzeitgeist out. 

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