The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19349.
The Secrets of Forgotten Magic Items introduces, or I should say “re-introduces,” GMs and players alike to, as the title suggests, forgotten magic items. Most of the material introduced in this supplement isn’t so much forgotten magic items as it is creative and unusual modifications that can be made to make things like scrolls, potions and runes more useful and interesting.
This supplement works hard to re-invigorate the value and desire to use and create ubiquitous magic items like scrolls and potions. The authors don’t hold back as they examine the value and reasoning behind why most people don’t take the brew potion feat. This supplement will add some additional rules and calculations for the GM, but the payoff is well worth it. Who said magic was easy?
Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The cover art comes from none other than Rick Hershey. Rite Publishing abandoned their normal use of a faux leather cover in favor of a white background. While I appreciate mixing things up, most of Rite Publishing’s products have a similar appearance that has established a certain type of brand recognition that is good for a small publisher. This departure from their normal format would not draw me to this product as a Rite Publishing product if I was skimming a large page of new products on a site like http://www.rpgnow.com The cover depicts a Dromite festooned with adventuring gear and scrolls. The art is good and the coloring is well-done, other than Dromites being a psionic race the picture is a good fit. Where this cover totally fails is the use of the bright red top and bottom borders with bright blue writing on them. It doesn’t work and never will. I could hardly read that this was a Rite Publishing product or read Will McCardell’s name. In digital format this should be a quick fix, but it needs to be fixed!
Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The Secrets of Forgotten Magic Items introduces quite a few mechanics to the system. There is no fluff when it comes to these mechanics; they are all designed to create balance while still giving some old standbys a fresh coat of paint and a new set of tires. I would have never thought of creating enchanted flasks, brilliant. Not only did Will McCardell think of them, he has done an amazing job of translating that idea into useable and uncomplicated rules that make sense. Sprinkled throughout the descriptions in the book are designer’s notes that really help. The addition of the magic item charts at the end truly brought all of the mechanical concepts introduced in this book home on a single useable page.
Value Add: 10 out of 10
Finally someone has taken the time to take established magic items like potions and scrolls and add real and interesting value to them. This book, while easy to follow, is not written for beginning GMs or players. The book is outstanding when it comes to describing the concept behind these forgotten magic items. The magic item charts located at the end of the book are essential to making a product like this easy for a harried GM to use. One of the major themes to this supplement is that the items discussed are a good way to provide unusual treasure for adventuring parties. Using these items in this manor breaks the wash, rinse, repeat cycle of “you found another +2 long sword.”
Overall: 10 out of 10
I really enjoyed this book; the items were interesting, there was plenty of good useable information and all of the items and concepts were well-thought out. This book could easily be a “how to design cool and interesting items” instruction guide for GMs. I learned much from this book and hope that any items I design in the future can be as well-thought out as these. As a GM it is rare to find a book that really covers the bases for me and the players and The Secrets of Forgotten Magic Items does that in spades. Even if you are not interested in new variations on scrolls and potions, check this supplement out and emulate Will McCardell’s design style. I promise no one will be able to forget your magic items!
[5 of 5 Stars!]