Review: Magic Item Compendium

I’ve been checking out the Magic Item Compendium. It’s pretty neat. Even if all these items are in other books it does help so much that they are all together. The Spell Compendium was good too but this is much more useful – at least for a DM. Here’s why…

When you’re knee deep in your adventure and you suddenly need a magic item on the fly I’d normally reach for the Dungeon Master’s Guide and quickly make a selection. But there are so many books now and most have more than a few magic items to offer. But this variety is lost when time is of the essence.

The Magic Item Compendium is also organized in a very helpful way. At first glance I thought it was going to be troublesome. The book is divided into sections for different types of items, such as Armor, Weapons, Clothing, Tools, etc. My original thought was that it would just be easier to alphabetize the whole book like the Spell Compendium. But after going through it I see how this is much more functional. When I need a cloak or boots or some type of clothing, I can just go right to the Clothing section. Sometimes, with the odd names magic items get, things that are clothing may be overlooked in an alphabetized perusal. Not any more.

I really like the Magic Item sets too. Those have always been cool. Magic Item sets are a bunch of smaller magic items made to work individually but are even more powerful when they are used as a set. They had the Arm of Valor in the old Myth Drannor box set – this is an example of a magic item set. It was one of my favorites and a few times I tried to run a campaign based on its recovery. But I don’t recall too many magic item sets from any other sources. Whether the ones in the Magic Item Compendium are new to this book or compiled from other sources they’re great too use. As main objects of adventures they are as good to use as artifacts but without the extreme power (and potential campaign damage) that artifacts can bring to a game.

Another great find (for me anyways) was the Runestaffs. What book did Runestaffs come from – new to the Magic Item Compendium? Those are really cool. Basically they are staffs with spells in them but they do not have charges. You have to use your own spell slots to trigger the spells. Example, a Runstaff of Fire may have burning hands, fireball, and wall of fire spells on it. To cast these spells you would give up a 3rd level spell or higher to trigger the fireball spell, or a 1st level spell or higher to activate burning hands, etc. So they basically add to your spell repertoire rather than add extra firepower. This makes them considerably less expensive than normal staffs but gives lower level wizards the opportunity to tote around the iconic wizards tool and more opportunities for a DM to use the line, “Your staff is broken…” I love that line from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Another interesting clarification the Magic Item Compendium made for me was the size of magic items. Weapons, armor and shields do not resize to the user (unless specifically noted in their description). Most other items do however. I’m not sure how we generally played this but I know it’s been a little fuzzy to me. Now I’m clear on it though.

Then of course there are the tables for random generation. I rarely use them but if you like tables the Magic Item Compendium has tables – lots of tables. I still recall a game that Tryke was running where he used tables to generate a special magic item for each of us. Most of us got cool items…except our wizard (geektom); he got a Wand of Dispel Magic. I still remember the look on his face when he realized that’s all he was getting. Oh well, my Holy Shocking Burst Bastard Sword +2 was still awesome.

All in all I say good buy for this book. It’s not a book of totally new things, but it’s a great DM reference/resource, especially in a pinch.

Did you buy it? If so let us know what you thought about it…