Review: Arcane Armoury Vol. 1

Posted by Benoit de Bernardy on Friday, March 17, 2017

“Arcane

Arcane Armoury Vol. 1 is a Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition supplement that you can download for free on the Dungeon Master’s Guild. The book is composed of two chapters of uneven length: a large one with 40ish new magic items, and a smaller one with a few special materials.

The selection of magic items in the first part of the book is truly spectacular. It ranges from nearly useless trinkets for an adventure, such as the Potion of Absolution which makes everybody forget you exist, to must have items, such as the Eyes of the Spectator which allow you to shoot beholder-like rays from your eyes. It also includes some funny magic items, such as the Claws of Chaos which turn your hands into ludicrous weapons, to near-artifacts with crippling side effects, such as the Circlet of Netherdeath which makes you immune to death at the cost of aging a year per day you wear it.

I was unimpressed with the second chapter of Arcane Armoury. The special materials allow you to tinker with non-magical items. You get a benefit in exchange for a penalty. For example, heavy armor made of Darksteel grants you a +1 bonus to AC but imposed a 5 feet penalty to your speed. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the special materials, I just find magic items more interesting!

Otherwise, the layouts are clean, the black and white illustrations are beautiful, and the editing is impeccable. The flavor texts are also evocative and help visualize the items. I don’t normally like wasting book space of fluff but since the supplement is free, whatever! Finally, many of the magic items have quirky side effects, which is a nice touch. These aren’t crippling, they’re just fun and help give the magic items a unique feel.

The book only has a few minor problems. Some of the items are really powerful for their rarity and some of them are non-standard. There are also a few imprecisions in the vocabulary the game designer uses. You understand what the author tried to achieve, but the wording is clunky and takes a bit of time to decipher. Fortunately, this isn’t the type of supplement you use without reading it first. You’ll have plenty of time to adjust the rarity of the magic items and to understand how each of them works. I would, however, be very careful with some of the items if you don’t want your games to slow down to a crawl. For example, the Flowedge Slayer is an abomination. Every time a PC swings this sword, he needs to roll a d6 to determine the damage die. You’re basically doubling the number of die the PC rolls for damage. This is fine in the hands of a cleric but it’s not that great in the hands of a high level fighter using his Action Surge.

Overall, I really enjoyed Arcane Armoury Vol. 1, and it’s definitely a supplement that I will be using in my games. In the end, you might not like it, but the only way to find out is to read it! It’s free, so what do you have to lose?

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