Unearthing Arcana #003

(this was originally published on my Patreon on June 12, 2017)

Hi, this is Tyler, writer of Zargo Games. The majority of my writing has been creating my own content or promoting my own content, so I decided I should take some time to look at other people’s content and maybe promote it if I find it interesting. That’s what this new series is. I doubt it will be a regular series, but I’ll try to put one out whenever I can. The exact format of the series will likely change over the first few entries, so I’ll detail my process for the first entry.

I went to the Dungeon Masters Guild and opened three product type categories: character options, gear/magic items, and core rules. For future entries I might try different categories, but those were what interested me today. Then I searched by date added and only for pay-what-you-want titles. I might search for paid options later, but at this time I’m a little light on cash, though I plan on paying for the products I enjoyed once my paycheck comes in. I then picked two entries that sounded at least somewhat interesting. There was some overlap in the categories, but in the end I came up with six products, which I downloaded then read. These are the last pair of products, the gear/magic items.

MageCraft: Alternative Magic Item Rules

By Stephen Reilly LINK

Brief Summary: Make magic item crafting more engaging with expanded crafting rules.

Overview: This is a meaty product. It’s listed at 30 pages on the DMs Guild but the pdf is actually 36 pages. There’s a lot of information provided, and I think this is definitely a good base for adding magic item crafting in your game, but it could do with occasional clarification. The table of contents is useful for finding what you need. Dividing the magic items by level is a useful way to help keep your game balanced even while including so many magic items.

The document begins with potion crafting. This includes all one-use consumable items that aren’t scrolls or wondrous items. The rules are pretty simple once you understand them, but they’re presented in a way that feels a little rambling. To make matters worse, a lot of the information presented in this section is repeated later, so it feels a little excessive. That said, none of this seems particularly unbalanced, and the method adds flavor to the generic crafting process presented in the DMG. One thing I can praise easily about this product is its descriptions of ingredients and how they function in the crafting process or the final product. This isn’t limited to the potions section, but the first example of that is in it.

After potions, rules for scribing scrolls are presented. These are a bit easier, though I would personally tweak them some if I used it in my campaign. There’s not much to say about this section that doesn’t apply to the other sections.

The third section is about researching, particularly recipes and instructions for creating potions, scrolls, and magic items. There’s some fun flavor in here, but I think the rules are a little excessive for simply doing some research.

The fourth section is about crafting magic items, which are divided into weapons/armor, wands/rods/staves, and wondrous items. I feel like this is the most excessive section, with far too many words to cover what should take much less space. However, I like a lot of the ideas presented here, and it contains a wealth of optional rules to tailor this system to your personal style.

The final section is about additional optional rules, like racial restrictions, additional crafting steps, and variant item level restrictions.

Verdict: This product provides a strong base for crafting items in your campaign, but I would personally suggest streamlining the process so it takes less time to explain and to run. For a pay-what-you-want product, it’s a great value.

Doorways of Yyadrisil

By Michael J. Schmidt LINK

Brief Summary: Add some variety to your doors with ten new magical doors of varying danger and creativity.

Overview: The product starts with a short anecdote describing an encounter with the first door. While there’s additional meta-text in the document, the rest of the meta-text are notes by the narrator, Tomaz of Candlekeep. After this little anecdote, it begins detailing all the doors.

Each door includes a name, an illustration (with very good art for the most part, though The Musical Door looks pretty tacky), a note by Tomaz, dimensions, weight, materials, destruction stats (ac, hp, vulnerabilities/resistances, and damage threshold), identify (what spell effects the door has), perception (DC of checks needed to notice particular features), a lengthy description, how to remove the door, and what the other side of the door looks like. The meat of the product is in the descriptions, as it explains what the door looks like as well as any effects or other special details, like how to open the door if it is locked. Some of these doors are very imaginative, while others are pretty simple. The most disappointing doors to me are the doors that are meant to be deadly. They are certainly deadly at low levels, but past level 3 they’re barely even a threat, so DMs running higher level campaigns should consider beefing up the damage the doors do. However, the wealth of ideas makes this hardly a concern, as there are all sorts of doors to work in your campaign.

Verdict: While I doubt I’ll use much from this product, it does what it sets out to do very well, and if you need to add flavorful magic doors to your campaign, you can’t go wrong with one of the doors from here.

1 thought on “Unearthing Arcana #003”

  1. Thank you for the review of Doorways of Yyadrisil! I appreciate the feedback, especially about deadliness at higher levels. I will give it some thought, and perhaps I can put out a revised edition with side bars for scaling damage and effects.

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