Review: The Secrets of Forgotten Magic Items (PFRPG)

  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.

Overview

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.

Content

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.

Potions

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.

Scrolls

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.

Final words

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

4 thoughts on “Review: The Secrets of Forgotten Magic Items (PFRPG)

  1. Thanks for the review! The critical ones are always best for learning how to improve.

    I do have a few responses to some of the issues you’ve raised:
    1) The intent was very much so to provide new ways to use Brew Potion and Scribe Scroll, and to avoid just throwing more items under the umbrella of Craft Wondrous Item. The product that inspired this, Super Genius Game’s Wyrd Wands and Rune Staves, actually has a sidebar about “But these aren’t wands / staves!”, and it addresses the very concerns you have about these items. Namely that they aren’t potions or scrolls (one time use items that are spell completion or use-activated). These were meant to reward people with those feats to have them take them more often.

    2) According to the section on magic item creation, magic items do not require spells as a component. It is usually the case, but not always. For example, Oathbow, any weapon or armor with just an enhancement bonus, or pearls of power.

    3) Morescrolls are meant to be as very low level loot. In addition, the name comes from the Greek prefix “moro-”, meaning “dull” and “foolish”. It is fairly self-referential. The cost is meant to be prohibitive, but possible, for high level spells.

    4) Pathways #11 has an alternative version of Cruth Galdr runes, based on the original version of it. After reading this review, I knew it was necessary to show that version as well. If more people think they are too cheap, I will update the PDF to include the alternative version. I did agonize over the price, but in the end a number of factors persuaded me to keep it low. These reasons included how everyone could make use of the rune once engraved, so it was not ally specific like most other items, the stationary nature of them (yes, you could get +1 CL for 10 minutes…if you stand still the whole time hoping no one comes to get you), the fact that the combat-usable ones take precious actions to create, and in my experience and in what I gather from reading other people’s experiences, the party rarely gets to choose where to fight. This means that you can’t easily pre-engrave a rune. If you are setting an ambush, it would work swimmingly, of course. But as it is, if you want to make extensive use of these in combat, you need to spend quite a few rounds doing nothing but engraving. There was also a concern to keep the Rune of Harvesting affordable to low-level NPCS :). For all the reasons above, and especially the difficulty in PCs choosing where to fight, these are great tools for NPCs. The full reasoning is in the Pathways #11 article, which I urge you to check out! It makes every square engraved cost 100-250 gp. However, this can make the runes very expensive one-time use items, which PCs are already keen to not use.

    5) Overloaded potions were partially meant to be things to do with the potions you received as loot, but do not have plans to use. Same goes for the cognizaid scrolls.

    Do you recall any specific examples of unclear language? I would love to fix them. For the cover example, I had simply meant “cover” in the rigid game definition. I hadn’t meant soft cover, total cover, partial cover, or improved cover.

    Once again, thank you! This has given me a lot to think about for errata.

    Will

  2. Thank you for taking time to read and answer the review, I really appreciate it.

    1, I didn’t had the chance to read Wyrd Wands and Rune Staves yet but I will look after. I really understood and appreciated your intention.

    2, Sorry, you are right about the spell requirement. i still feel they should have spells attached due to their specialized effects, but I guess it’s a matter of personalt taste/opinion

    3, I see. I guess it’s makes my point moot, as if it’s intended to be used in emergency cases and when the player don’t have another crafting feat the higher cost is reasonable.

    4. Interestingly, I just read your article in Pathways #11 minutes before your comment. I guess somebody could argue over the cost of runes on both ways because the reasons you mentioned. I’m maybe overly sensitive is something seems abusable by players.

    5. I guess I somewhat misunderstood the intent here. to make explosives of useless potions you just found is making much more sense.

    Now I can’t recall any specific example for unclear language now, but I will inform you if I recognize some later if I have the time.

    Thank you for your extensive clarifications. :)

    Cain

  3. My pleasure!

    If we do more Dweomer Sigils or Enchanted Flasks, I’ll probably include some required spells, and lower the crafting DCs. I believe the crafting DCs of those items are higher than the standard 5+CL, partly to make them more difficult to make but and (de facto) making up for the lack of spells in the requirements. I will think on that some more!

    Another purpose of the explosive potions were to allow other classes than the alchemist to be the “mad bomber” type. That’s what the Overloading Master feat is for (and hence the ability to bypass the Brew Potion requirement). These can also be used as loot at low levels to give something with a little more punch than alchemists fire (which I realize don’t fit well with the price point of these. But these are meant to be a secondary form of attack that requires gp to use, so it had to be cheap!).

    If you have any other issues, I’ll gladly answer them. I’m easier to reach at the paizo.com product page for this (which I noticed you just started reviewing at too). I try to give the reasons for my decisions in my work, and in this product you will find some of them after the section. From memory, I don’t believe the cruth galdr have such reasoning. But the pathways article does!

    Thanks for responding!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>