Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday - Review

This Sunday Blog post isn't going to be the stories from my personal table I had planned. I'm thinking of switching up what gets posted on Sunday's, so I'm going to experiment a little bit. For this post it will be a review of a book I recently bought. Although this blog is mostly focused on 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons (although I think it could be useful for DMs and players of any system), this book was written for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons back in the 80s.

 The Book of Marvelous Magic

The book of Marevlous Magic, written by Frank Mentzer and Gary Gygax was definitely an entertaining read. I bought it used for pretty cheap on Amazon (link included above), so it wasn't a lot of money out of pocket. For entertainment purposes, and a look at where the came has come from, I definitely recommend it. Plus it is cool owning one of the older D&D books.

That isn't too say that by today's standards this book is fantastic or anything. Magical items found in the Dungeon Master's Guide, (or even a certain Non-Combat Magical Item Series) are far superior. One thing I'm particularly not fond of, is that every item comes in 4-10 variations. For example, when the player finds a pipe, the DM rolls a d6 to determine whether the pipe is an aromatic pipe (can make any smell, including garlic to deter vampires), pipe of puckering (permanently causes the lips to be stuck in a pucker position, all talking must be done in grunts or things motions that don't require the moving of the lips), the bubble pipe (bubbles fly out and stick in everyone's eyes, causing a penalty on rolls for one turn, except for the user for whom it is permanent).

At first having variants of each item seems like a good idea, the user doesn't know if they're going to get something good or not. However, these items seem very heavily slanted for bad items, so many of the items cause a very annoying permanent curse on the player, only removable by a remove curse spell. Since all of the pipes are supposed to look about the same, and the player doesn't know whether they have an aromatic pipe or a bubble pipe, they won't know until they get cursed. And at least to me, bubbles being permanently stuck in your eyes causing a penalty seems less like a fun curse, and more like an annoyance, besides also being a stretch on the imagination.

The book itself is soft-cover paperback style, although about the same height and width as modern books. It's organized well, but contains much less artwork as similar, more recent books.

The book isn't completely useless, I'm happy that I bought it. Not only is it a piece of history, and very cheap. It is a great source of inspiration for future items in my campaign, as well as the Non-Combat Magical Item Series. The Nail of Building is a single metal nail used in construction of a building, the nail can be pried out after construction, causing the entire structure to disappear. It can then be easily transported and a magic word can make the structure appear in its new home.

The Ether Oar appears to be a normal wooden oar, but when a magical code word is uttered, it opens a magic gate on the water to the ethereal plane, the canoe or other wooden vessel can enter the ethereal plane, travel a distance and repeat the code word to return to the material plane.

Many other items are less likely to be directly imported into a modern campaign, but reading through them gave me a large list of inspirations for items that I will try to write about on this blog. If you're looking for inspiration, and a piece of Dungeons and Dragons history, for a pretty affordable price, then I would recommend this book. If you're looking for items that fit modern guidelines, or books with roll tables where every single item can be easily added to your campaign, this book isn't for you.