Monday, June 14, 2010

The latest purchase from my FLGS, pt.12

Pathfinder Chronicles: Classic Treasures Revisited

The latest release in the Pathfinder Chronicles line delves into ten of the greatest and most iconic magic items in the history of D&D; the bag of holding, the helm of brilliance, the deck of many things, the cube of force, the vorpal sword, the well of many worlds, the sphere of annihilation, the staff of the magi, the horn of Valhalla and the figurines of wondrous power. This lavishly-illustrated, 64-page book contains a wealth of information (and a fair bit of useless filler) on each of these items.

Each entry includes a reprint of the description of the base item as presented in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, followed by a "Utility" section describing how the item may be used. This section is fairly handy because it describes a few uses that some players maybe haven't considered, although if any party has a spare Type IV bag of holding that they use to carry water, they might be a bit too well-equipped.

Next is a section called "Related Items/Spells". This section is clearly filler. Why yes, now that you mention it, a handy haversack is rather similar to a bag of holding. Thanks for pointing that out.

After that is a section entitled "Campaign Role". This bears a lot of similarities to the "Utility" section, but there are some additional bits of useful stuff in there for DMs because it provides additional tactics that a villain might use against the party if he was in possession of the item or ways to defeat a party which relies on such an item too heavily.

The crunchiest section is next, that being "Variants". Each item has several different versions with stat blocks. Some of these are simply variations on a theme, like the helm of electric radiance, a variant helm of brilliance which employs electricity-based spells instead of fire-based ones, but there are some pretty interesting artifact-level items in there as well. My favourite is Shelana, the Mother Deck, an intelligent, superpowered deck of many things that is believed to be the precursor to all lesser decks (nitpickers will note that the entry on the Mother Deck is not actually in the "Variants" section, but has a section all its own, see below).

The next section deals with details of each item related to the Pathfinder campaign world of Golarion. This is largely historical detail which may be of some interest to DMs using this setting.

Finally, there is a loose section describing various odds and ends associated with each item. Spells, feats, extra-powerful unique versions (like the aforementioned Shelana, the Mother Deck), alternate theories on the origins of some items, etc. This a mixed bag with some really cool stuff and some pedestrian bits. Your mileage may vary.

Overall, Pathfinder Chronicles: Classic Treasures Revisited is a decent offering. If it sounds like something that interests you, I suspect you won't be disappointed. If, on the other hand, this sounds like something of limited value, you will find more than enough wasted space between the covers to confirm your suspicions. I give it a thumbs-up, but not a wholehearted endorsement.

-Rognar-

4 comments:

Obiri said...

Idon't find that these books generally have enough content to make them worth while. They have some neat ideas but not at that price.

Rognar said...

I agree. This one caught my eye, but most of these Pathfinder supplements are pretty thin on useful content.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

I'm enjoying my trip through the pages of some recent pulp fiction. It is putting into context a lot of these magic items, that were previously somewhat generic.

I failed to purchase the first adventure in the "KIngmaker" adventure series, and I have heard such positive reviews from a lot of old-schoolers that I keep visiting TSB asking for it.

The Classic Treasures looks interesting, do they give you some context for where the items originated?

Rognar said...

Yes, they do provide some history for each item. It is specific to the Pathfinder campaign world, Golarion, but it would be easy enough to file off the serial numbers and convert it to any world of your choosing. For some of the items, they also include a unique variant, typically one with extra powers but also a curse of some sort. These may be the real gems in this book.