Month: July 2019

Review: Jamjie’s Hoard of Tomes

This is a review of Jamjie’s Hoard of Tomes, written by Jeffrey Gunnarson, and published on the DMsGuild.

What is it?

In the author’s own words:

Barbaric strength, clerical wisdom, and bardic charisma can go a long way in any Dungeons & Dragons campaign. But what about wizardly intelligence? The skillsets of History, Arcana, Religion and Nature may lack the drama of a stealthy approach or the heroism of an athletic grapple, but they surely ought to have a role to play in the success of any party.

These rules are about helping the most intelligent and bookish characters to contribute to their party’s success by learning from the written words around them. The rules describe a framework for finding, perusing, and studying books to learn new skills and gather in-game benefits based on useful knowledge.

Jamjie’s Hoard of Tomes presents a light-weight system to let characters benefit from reading books in game. Similar to what you would see in an Elder Scrolls video game. Each book includes several pieces of knowledge, with a capstone that provides a minor benefit, such as learning a new language, or having advantage on a certain type of skill check.

I absolutely love things like this that can provide more meat to low-level (or even high-level) rewards and treasure, without just handing my players another satchel of coins.

What I like

This is a simple, but well considered sub-system. It strikes an excellent balance of granting interesting benefits to characters without risking the balance of your party. Even if only one of your players decides to use the system, it is unlikely to cause them to overshadow anyone else. Obviously, there are ways this could be abused, but they’re definite edge-cases, and far less risky than rolling for random treasure.

What could be better

Not much honestly. There are one or two odd bits of formatting and haloing around an image but overall the book is well laid out, clearly written, and chooses art well to illustrate the content. More sample books would always be appreciated, but the book includes plenty to get you started.

Will I be using it?

I think I will be. My party will be passing through a noble’s library in an upcoming session, and I think I will definitely seed it with a couple interesting tomes. It’ll be interesting to see how my players respond.

Waterdeep: People, Places, and Shops – Volume 2 released

Cover Image

I’ve just released a new product! It’s another entry in my RPG locations series, providing further depth for any game set in the City of Splendors.

In celebration, here’s a free bonus location.

The Steadfast Sturgeon

Dock Ward – Tavern and Inn

The doors of the nearby tavern are thrown open to the thoroughfare. Through the open portal you can hear the booming voice of the bartender, narrating some adventure or other to his audience.

“So there we were, cornered on the top deck as the Sea Devils stalked forward.”

The Sturgeon (as she is more colloquially known) is a three story row house that has been converted into a very traditional inn and tavern. The proprietor, Arthur Cobbleston, lives on the top floor having divided the second floor into rooms for rent and the main floor into a cozy taproom and restaurant.

Arthur was once first mate on a ship that sailed all throughout the Moonshae’s and Sword Coast. He collected many trinkets and oddities throughout his journeys, and enjoys sharing stories with anyone who will listen.

Arthur hasn’t been telling the full story of his tales. Turns out he was actually mate on a Pirate Ship, known for bloody raids throughout the Isles of the Moonshae. Several of his old shipmates have recently appearing in Waterdeep, and are hiding out in the Sturgeon, with threats of exposing Arthur’s history. Things are complicated when an agent of King Derid from Caer Callidyrr shows up in Waterdeep, hunting for one of the relics Arthur and his shipmates stole from the King’s Niece.