The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=24048.
So What’s The Hoard Like, Anyway? III by Ben Kent brings this line to a high-level close, a collection of ready-made and flavorful finds for high-level adventurers (15th through 20th level, in fact) to purvey, appraise and plunder as hard-won spoils of battle. If after a long and glorious campaign you find yourself feeling a bit tired of turning to randomly-rolled baubles and trinkets to hand-wave away at straight gold value, the third and final entry of the Hoard series from Raging Swan Press could be just the ticket to really spice things up and catch your players’ eyes–containing the sorts of treasures which inspire their collection rather than simple sale!
So What’s The Hoard Like, Anyway? III is an imaginative and thorough resource for adding flavor and style to the spoils of higher-level encounters; with each ready-designed to suit mechanically for per-encounter loot at each of the five levels covered herein, every encounter can reap something new and interesting–while the flexibility is also there to tweak or combine hauls for truly memorable hoards after climactic showdowns as well. If you’ve ever tired of trying to inject life and intrigue into randomly rolled finds, you owe it to yourself to check it out–these levels of play are when cool treasure matters more than ever!
Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Raging Swan rarely disappoints when it comes to editing and formatting–and the final installment of the Hoard series is no exception. Clear two-column layout work is supplemented by nice black and white artwork of treasures along the way in a clean presentation; as well, the PDF is nicely bookmarked for easy reference and the lot should prove very printer-friendly. No complaints here!
Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Mechanically, So What’s The Hoard Like, Anyway? III is very straightforward and easy to work with: each of the five levels of loot covered herein are organized into twelve caches of interesting prizes. Every hoard included has been ready-calculated to be of an appropriate overall value for a single encounter at its level (e.g. the 15th level hoards average around the base value of 19,500 gp for a single 15th level appropriate encounter.) This value breaks down between coinage, gems and jewelery, objects of art or magical items in varying measures. A hoard could be selected at random with the roll of a twelve sided die or hand-picked at one’s leisure–and naturally it’s easy to combine sets for larger hauls after a particularly big battle if one is so inclined.
One of my favorite things about the hoard sets is that not only are they packed with evocative flavor–but many boast a cohesive theme among their contents. A great example of this is one of the collections with a draconic artistic direction which includes a platinum brooch of a dragon’s claw, an oil painting depicting a blue and silver dragon locked in mortal combat, an elaborate woven tapestry with near to a dozen dragons battling over a burning city, a set of crystal wineglasses with stems resembling dragon tails, a silver statuette of a dragon and a magical glowing falchion with a hilt of blue hide.
Together, this makes for a very cool set of treasure and just the sort of thing I could see players finding and going ‘Cool! We keep it!’ By the time you’re fifteenth level and beyond, one ought be collecting decor for the forthcoming floating sky-castle the party’s bound to commandeer. The magical items interspersed among the hoards are befitting the level of play they’d be found at as well, of course–and each is presented with descriptive text to make them a bit more than ‘just another ring of protection’ and so on.
I’ll also note that there is great ingenuity in presenting some of the objects of art as particularly challenging to -recover–the sorts of things that could leave adventurers pondering and bringing their cleverness to bear to retrieve their prize (such as a 6′x10′ wall mirror worth a handsome sum intact, but a tenth of its value in pieces.) This is an element I particularly enjoyed throughout the product–and anyone who has experienced one of those gaming moments where the party becomes -determined- to have the giant platinum monkey statue that was never intended to be moved might enjoy this element (and those who haven’t, ought!)
Value Add: 10 out of 10
I very much enjoyed the variety and flavor of the findings throughout the collections presented here–and with 72 hoards to choose from, the challenge in presenting such is appreciable. A few particular examples of treasures that I found quite cool: a crystal pitcher sculpted to resemble a pear tree with crystal goblets fashioned to look like plump peaches. A six-volume collection of leather-bound manuscripts dealing with the very beginnings of magic, as annotated by their original author. An amulet of natural armor which is presented as a small chunk of adamantine ore dangling from a steel chain. A BARREL of holy water bearing a holy symbol (400 pints!)
These are ‘typical’ to the treasures in the book here, a very fine par in my opinion; even beyond utilizing the lot of the findings herein as ready-to-go rewards after encounters, one could just as easily peruse the contents to hand-pick individually interesting goodies to custom-build an evocative hoard, decorate a lair, start plot threads or more.
Overall: 10 out of 10
So What’s The Hoard Like, Anyway? III stands out marvelously as a supplement for adding variety and wonder to any game at high-level play; Ben Kent has done a superb job bringing to life an impressive variety of wondrous treasures for adventurers to covet and cherish–and I could certainly see a great many of the finds throughout this product ending up as permanent fixtures in the homes of those same-such heroes. It would have been easy to make a product of this nature simply churning through random rolls to populate lists as a simple time-saver for GMs–but reading through this supplement it is clear that care was taken to ensure that everything read and felt compelling. In closing, I give the final entry in the hoard line a high recommendation–if you’ve a campaign at these levels of adventuring, it’s a must have for making the prospect of finding what goodies foes have hoarded away an exciting prospect again!