This pdf clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
As always with Rite Publishing’s 10-items-series, the first thing you may wish to know is that you actually receive much more bang for buck than the 10 items promised on the cover – quite a few of the items herein come in a bunch of variations – e.g. a lesser, standard and greater version with increasing power. Now another peculiarity established by the series would be that this improved versions do not simply provide numerical escalations of bonuses, but instead provide additional abilities, making the better versions of the items a whole slew more unique than one would expect.
That out of the way, let’s take a look at the items, shall we? The first item, the boots of jaunting, will probably immediately end on the wish-list of any wizard interested in a longer lifespan – they grant motes of movement, a mini-pool of 3 points per day. The lesser ones allow the wizard to use a swift action to escape grapples or teleport into a standing position. The standard version lets the wizard blink automatically away from critical hits or any attacks that would reduce the wizard to below 0 hp – if the wizard manages a second save equal to DC 10 + 1/2 attack bonus or DC of the ability, the damage is negated. The greater set also has the option for short-range teleportation. Damn cool items that would be utterly op, were it not for their limited uses. Still pretty strong for the price point (greater boots cost a mere 6300 GP – that is *very* liberal…), but that may just be me.
The next item, the Emerald Familiar, is pretty cool – it can be tossed to the floor (and reforms the following day) and increase the size of the wizard’s familiar into…let’s say, nasty dimensions – the greater variant increases sizes by 3 categories, including natural weapons, attribute bonuses, etc.! Yes, that is awesome. Conversely, the lesser version, which is now included, just becomes a regular sized creature. Damn cool!
The emerald of expectation comes in no less than 10 variants – one for each spell level and one that can contain up to two spell levels. What does this item-class do? It allows the wizard to swap a prepared spell with a spell of an equal level or lower (provided the spell is upgraded to the target spell level via metamagic) from her spellbook 1/day. Generally, I enjoy this type of item since it allows for an increased flexibility, without treading too hard on the toes of spontaneous casters – that being said, I consider the frame of time required for activation to be too liberal – 1 standard action is nasty. Depending on the power level of your campaign and the amount of spells your wizard finds, this may be a nasty kick in the shins for spontaneous casters, whereas in other groups, this may be just what the doctor ordered – still, DMs should very carefully contemplate the massive added flexibility for wizards – remember, this allows for infinite spell-changing due to a lack of daily uses, bringing wizards almost up to spontaneous casters in terms of flexibility! They cost less than pearls of power and while they do not increase the spells per day, they have no daily limit…for most groups, this will probably be too strong. (If you like the idea, set the activation to 10 minutes or 1 hour to make them less useful in combat/stressful situations…)
Eyes of the Studious Failure are interesting – the more a creature saves against your single-target spells, the more insight-bonuses to your spell’s DCs against said target you accumulate. The lesser version can activate this once per day, the standard thrice per day and the greater one always triggers it.
Gloves of the Ray allow you to increase the range of spells with a range of touch to close as per the Reach Spell feat a limited amount of times per day, but they now require ranged touch attacks. The different item qualities denote the spell level at which these items cap – lesser can cast up to 3rd, standard up to 6th and greater up to 9th level spells this way. Additionally, the gloves can 3/day as an immediate action completely negate an incoming ray, with the max level of the incoming ray following the same formula. Designer Steven D. Russell has eliminated all prior ambiguities – now these gloves work properly and rock!
The Mantle of the Schoolmaster doubles the duration of the 8th level wizard school class feature, while diviners and scryers may 1/day spontaneously convert a spell into a divination (scrying) spell of equal level or lower. Cool item that enhances one of the few truly iconic wizard tricks – kudos!
The Robe of the Schooled instead allows activation of the 1st level school ability as a swift action or temporarily extend a continuous 1st level school ability to an ally within 30 ft. as an immediate action.
The Wizard’s Battered Hat is high in concept and imagery-wise – it acts as a handy haversack for spellbooks only. Additionally, once per day, the wizard identifies a spell from his spell-list being cast (here at DC 15 + double spell-level), the spell is automatically inscribed in the book without cost or space required in the spellbook. Before, this lacked a daily limit -with it, it is a pretty nice, cool item!
Wizard’s Journeymen Rings allow for the 1/day reroll of d20-rolls, with lesser applying only to concentration, higher ones also applying to caster level checks, failed melee/ranged touch attacks and dispel-checks.
The pdf also provides a minor artifact/legacy item with Alymmanthar, “the Dire Wand” – to give you a brief run-down: legacy items are specific items that grow in power with your character level, increase their potency thus and require specific tasks to become better. Their chosen wielder senses an omen. This item has been crafted by some of the legends of Questhaven from a new special material and sports generally some nice abilities that involve dampening magic items, high jacking them and yes, even golems, as well as dire magic item related curses. Better yet – the wording of this cool, complex item has been streamlined to be easier to grasp.
Editing and formatting of the revised edition of this pdf are neat – I noticed no rules-relevant glitches survive the purge. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s 2-column full-color standard. The pdf comes with nice full-color artworks I haven’t seen before and is fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its short size.
Steven D. Russell can craft superb crunch – I never doubted that. But thatis something quite a few (though by far not “many”) authors can do. Where he excels, though, is in capturing high-concept, iconic imagery and representing said material in tight rules-representations: There aren’t many books I review that tend to make me grin feral smiles as often as Rite Publishing books.
Now there is another reason I thoroughly respect Rite Publishing – Steven cares about quality. If a pdf (like this one’s first iteration) has glitches, he fixes it. The first iteration of this pdf was nice, but had some issues. It is a small, inexpensive pdf and I wouldn’t have been surprised, had it not been fixed. Well, it was. The issues are gone, the new writing is concise and improves even my nitpicks. This is customer service…AND it renders this pdf the cool book it deserves to be. Now on the nitpicky side, I consider the emeralds as an item class too strong for all but the most high fantasy of games (or those where players never want to play spontaneous casters in the first place), but that is just about all of the negativity I can muster towards this cool pdf. The items herein are glorious, interesting and often downright inspired. My final verdict for this revised edition will hence clock in at 5 stars!