Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Review: Calpurnia's 101 Lesser Magical Items for 5e D&D by Joel Kelley

So, one of the benefits of doing reviews here on the blog and over at MeWe has been people sending me review copies of things. I joked at one point that I wished I had done more reviews a long time ago, given some of what I was sent. I don't always have time to work on them, so I don't really actively solicit things. Still, when I can, if someone sends me something I do my best to take a look at it and at least mention it somewhere. Joel Kelley was kind enough to send me a copy of his 5e magic item supplement and just kind of said "Review it if you like". I got around to looking at it today and was really impressed. So here we are.

Magic items lost a lot of luster over the course 3x and 4e. They pretty much ended up being tools in character optimization. They would appear in rulebooks along with the player options, like in Pathfinder. Players could pick and choose specific items. This isn't necessarily a bad thing depending on what kind of game you like to run, but it made for a very different feel compared to classic editions. I eventually just went with inherent bonuses in 4e. 5e made a real effort to change this, putting the items back into the DMG, doing away with the magic item economy to a large degree, and featuring item design more in line with the classic edition versions.

I admit that I am not much of a "house ruler" when it comes to items. I usually just use the 1e DMG in my home game. There are some areas of homebrew D&D design where I feel very creative, but designing items just isn't one of them. Joel Kelley doesn't have this issue. For $3.50, here you get 101 creative items.

This is a really nice pdf. I like the layout. I LOVE the hyperlinked table of contents; it makes jumping around really easy. There are items of all shapes and sizes and of all power levels here. I think Joel did a really good job tying many of them to specific 5e mechanics and class features. This isn't a bunch of thrown-together ideas. Honestly, given the quality and the large amount of items here, I could probably get by with just this supplement and the officially published stuff and never need to look anywhere else.

All in all, I have no real criticisms. I think this is a great value. There are items for every class, fluff fitting multiple campaign styles, and more than enough variety to give magic a unique feel in your games.

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