As regular readers may already recognized, I’m a big fan of Rite Publishing‘s products. I find most of them innovative, and a good addition to the Pathfinder RPG, and there is always something in their sourcebooks what I could call unique.If you seen our review about the 101 not So Simple Monster Templates, or the article about Kahrvass Fleymbrow you know what I mean.
So now that Rite Publishing released a new small supplement, The Secrets of the Forgotten Magic Items for Pathfinder it was a natural choice for a review. Hey, everybody like magical items! However, after reading the book I have very mixed feelings.
I really want to like this book. The author, Will McCardell, put a lots of interesting ideas into his work, and most of those (like the introduction of crafting magical runes) could really have a place in the game. However, it is how he executes these ideas why I will pass this book as a supplement for my Pathfinder campaign.
The Secrets of Forgotten Magic Items is a 22 page sourcebook for the Pathfinder RPG, released by Rite Publishing. The book contains 3 main topic : it’s try to expand upon the crafting and usage of potions and scrolls, and it’s include completely new runes for a new kind of item crafting, the creation of permanent magical runes.
The main reason to tamper with potions and scrolls, that the author rightly assumes, most people won’t take the item creation feats for these. Many player think that these items are overcosted and/or too limited for the investments. However, I think the way he want to negate this problem won’t work.
The first part of the book contain several rules which expand upon the Brew Potion and Scribe Scroll feats, and some of the ideas are really good. I will mention all of these, so you could decide yourself if you are interested.
The main problem with the Brew Potion extensions, that I can’t imagine a realistic reason to use them. For example : if you think it’s useless to learn to create spell potions, why would you spend extra gold and time to make the same potions and then use them as explosives? If you need single-use damage effects you could use scrolls for battle magic spells instead. If explosive potions are stronger they are unbalancing, if they are not then they are unneeded. But even if you find it’s good, it won’t solve the perceived primal problem.
The other option for potions is to create Enchanted Flask to augment them. The effects seems ok, but again I have several problems. My main concern : what we see here isn’t really Brew Potion, even if the designer mentions it in the feat’s description, but it’s nothing else but the well known Craft Wondrous Item. Also, there are no spell requiements for any of the Enchanted Flasks, and it’s a must for any item creation. So, after all of this, I think I would like these if they were properly defined Wondrous Items.
We have some smaller additions too, like triggered potions (with 10x cost !) and a rogue subclass who specializes with those explosive potions, which are neat ideas but I still would not use them the way presented.
The second part of the book is expanding upon the Scribe Scroll feat, and i think this part of the supplement is much better. First, we receive two new feats to use and create scrolls, and I felt that these are both making sense, although I’m not sure if they are balanced enough. It’s entirely possible with them to create a scroll with a lower CL (as normal), and then use them with your full CL later.
We also receive an option to create scrolls, which could be used by anyone, and not only by spellcasters or with the Use Magic Device skill. But why would anybody use this instead of a potion or single use Wondrous Item. For example, the book contains a sample scroll which would cost 7.000 Gp, but a simple single-use item use-activated item cost only 1.400 Gp, and for about 10.000 gp you could create an item which could produce the same effect 1/day.
The most interesting option in the book is the creation of Arcanami (origami creatures, created from spell scrolls). I1m not sure how balanced is this part, but I guess it’s more suitable for NPC-s than adventurers so it’s ok, I guess. If you use this option I really recommend the additional sorcerer bloodline and the Arcanami Master feat presented in the book.
And then we have Dweomer Sigil Scrolls, with the same problems I already described at Enchanted Flasks : these are Wondrous Item or Metamagic Rod in their intent and function. Scribe Scroll is about creating single-use items, and not about permanent enchantments. We receive an option for actual metamagic scrolls, which is much more acceptable.
Craft Cruth Galdr
The crafting of magical runes is the last part of the book. While the idea is great, and even the runes themselves are good we face problems even here, namely game balance and missed details. first,creating a rune is dirty cheap : a permanently animated weapon attacking which could attack intruders in a 20 foot radius is 90 gold plus weapon cost. And how about a 30 feet long permanent bridge of force for 120 gold ? Or would you like a rune for 10 gold which gives you +1 caster level for 10 minutes if you stand in one place ? I think if somebody takes these prices to a more resonable level then Craft Cruth Galdr could be a very unique option available in some campaigns.
While the book is filled with really good ideas and interesting options, most of them would need a complete rework before I would consider to enable them to my players, and this is sad. Also I have to mention that sometimes the descriptions are vague (for example : you gain cover, but you don’t know how much cover is it). So, in the end I give it a 3/5.
If you are interested in The Secrets of Forgotten Magic Items you may check it at DriveThruRPG, here.
Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros