Aside from leafing through the Monster Manual from the late 70s, one of my favorite things to do as a child was to flip through the Dungeon Masters Guide and the Encyclopedia Magicas (all four volumes). I would spend hours reading through the magic items and dreaming of ways for all my new characters to obtain them. I would prove to create more characters than I would find time to actually play by orders of magnitude I’m too embarrassed to admit to. Nonetheless, it was time well-spent. Christian Eichhorn’s Magic Item Store: Zog’s Arcane Farrago, left me feeling nostalgic for simpler times when I pondered the acquisition of a ring of the phoenix or Iron Bands of Bilarro. In short, Christian has reminded me of why I love Dungeons & Dragons.
Magic Item Store: Zog’s Arcane Farrago
Zog was quite an eccentric mage. Upon retirement he decided his strengths lay in commerce and as he had amassed quite an inventory of bizarre items he did what any entrepreneur would do. He cataloged them and started selling them! But, perhaps more importantly, he also preserved the history around each and every item. Where’s the fun getting an item if it doesn’t already have a legend attached to it? Well, prepare yourselves, because Zog has stories aplenty. Either they’re all true, or I failed my Insight check. Regardless, I’m happy.
This wizard’s hodgepodge of arcane items has something for everyone. Whether you’re a cleric or a rogue, a fighter or a druid, Zog can hook you up. Bard’s browse his shop alongside warlocks and wizards. C’mon in and have a look around.
Christian Eichhorn has a wonderful imagination. To date, everything I’ve read by him has been more than a little intriguing. These magic items, some of which take up only a half page, are so richly conceived that I start to imagine bigger stories attached to them. I envision the heroes who carried them in days gone by as well as the heroes of tomorrow carrying them on their persons through dank dungeons and humid forests and icy mountains. This is more than just a list of items that should’ve been in the 5E Dungeon Master’s Guide. Don’t get me wrong, they could have been. Except for the attached history of each item they’d be a welcome addition. But the history gives them something special and sets them apart from the DMG.
One of Christian’s strengths is he isn’t verbose. He gets an idea, conveys his thoughts, and moves on. He understands that it’s not poetry or prose he’s writing here. He’s creating a tool for dungeon masters to enrich their games. He masterfully does so.
Another great thing about Christian’s typical productions is he isn’t a show off. The cover art by Danny Pavlov and John Martin is as fancy as Farrago gets. That’s not to say the interior is devoid of aesthetic charm. It actually looks great. It’s just simple and I find beauty in that simplicity. He let’s the content speak for itself and the art does as it should, complements the content.
Functionally speaking, the text is searchable and the PDF is bookmarked for quick browsing. The printer-friendly copy is great. Additionally, all the images come in a zip file (of PDFs) for the DM who wants to use them without giving away what the item is and does.
Seriously. There is something for everyone in this catalog. There is a fiddle, a mace, a sword, a ring, a book, a shield. You’ll even find a wooden cuirass that the druid could use without penalty. Some items have charges and if you use them all, the item is lost forever. Most require attunement. And they are all of them useful in some way or another. Between charges, attunement, and a rating system (rare, common, etc) to determine gold value, the author has created several ways to keep the players balanced and not suddenly inundated with unbridled power.
Simply stated, buy this. Use it for your adventures. Hell, grab an item and flesh it’s backstory out into a campaign spanning several sessions. I vote for the Book of Servants if you choose to do this.
There are a few people I’ve always said I’d like to sit down and have a beer with. Gary Larson being chief among them. Would anyone object if I added sharing a tea with Zog to that list?