All That Glimmers
By Thilo Graf
The latest compilation of Raging Swan Press products is 155 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page foreword, 2 pages author bios, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a whopping 145 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
We all know the problem – after handing out gems for the oomphteenth time, the DM’s creative juices get stale and one catches oneself calling an item by its name – be it a masterwork sword or a gem worth 100 GP. While understandable, it also detracts greatly from immersion in a given setting and from a campaign’s quality. Now Raging Swan has been combating this via a rather significant number of publications, now collected and expanded for the first time in one massive book that should have you covered for years to come – All that Glimmers.
In the vein of all their publications, ease of use is of primary importance and thus we kick off with a page that collates the necessary pieces of information to identify a given treasure on one neat page – handy to the extreme for any DM out there. After this, we delve into hoards organized by appropriate level. First released as the “So what’s the Hoard like, anyways?”-series in 3 parts, the hoards have been collected here for your convenience, scoring 5, 4.5 and 5 stars originally and containing cool treasures that e.g. include expensive garter belts or gems clutched by hands of stone. What’s annoying, though, is that two gripes I had with the series have not been addressed – there still are a FEW hoards (like level 8, hoard 10) that are boring: A wand? Come on, that’s no hoard! And one item is incorrect – still! There’s a two-bladed outsider slaying sword, that is supposed to be silver on one blade, cold iron on the other, but mentions only being iron. Especially the latter glitch could have easily been taken care of.
“So what’s the armour like, anyways?” and “So what’s the weapon like, anyways?”, two stellar additions (5 stars + seal of approval) have also found their way into this pdf, providing you with all the tools to make any weapon or armour the PCs find truly remarkable – including a massive list of bardings taken from the superb “So what’s the Mount like, anyways?”-pdf. (Also 5 stars + seal of approval, btw.!). The reign of stellar supplements does not stop, though, as we also get “So what’s that shiny object like, anyways?” (another 5 star+seal-file, btw.!), in which coins, objects d’art and similar loot is provided in iconic details that could spark adventure hooks galore. Included as well is the issue of the series on spellbooks, which is YET ANOTHER 5 star+seal of approval-file that should be considered the benchmark in its area, allowing you to craft unique, interesting spellbooks with custom covers, paper, etc.
The somewhat misnamed (but excellent) “So what’s for sale, anyways? V” is also included in the massive book, providing us with ample intelligent items, neatly designed, lavishly fitted out with background stories and detailed descriptions and personalities. Two thumbs up, ESPECIALLY since we get a whopping 20 new ones thrown into the mix, including intelligent folding boats (with vehicle-stats)! Hell YEAH! However, on the downside, the typo from the original pdf “wickeT” instead of “wicked” has not been cleared up in the table.
Speaking of new content, we also get a new chapter on treasure maps, allowing you to generate their stats on the fly – veracity, distance, trove protections and contents as well as an analysis of the content of a map is provided, including 5 maps you may know from Raging Swan’s collection of stock art, but now fitted with minor knowledge-lists to research them. Honestly, this section disappointed me. It felt like just a way to shoehorn the artworks into the pdf and we don’t get any tables for maps (made from dire bat-skin, for example) or dungeon-dressing-style customization. This chapter unfortunately constitutes an afterthought that was not implemented to its logical conclusion.
Editing and formatting are top-notch – the relative glitch-freeness of Raging Swan’s offerings, even at this length, show what care, a good editor and good writing can accomplish. I noticed less than 5 glitches over all the pages, and all were minor- quite a feat. Layout adheres to RSP’s concise, easy to read 2-column standard and the respective entries are well-organized and easy to navigate thanks to the copious bookmarks and the linking ToC. The pdf comes with 2 versions, one for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out.
They say that “All that glitters is not Gold”. Well, yeah, but “All that Glimmers…” is! Taking the very best releases of the acclaimed “So what’s…”-series, we are introduced to a vast array of customization options, neat ideas, rock-solid item stats you can depend on and table upon table of details, details, details. The additional content should prove to be a neat incentive for everyone who has refrained from buying into the series so far. The new magic items are glorious additions and the fact that now all these neat and useful pdfs exist as one book should bring joy to anyone who wanted these superbly useful pdfs in print. That being said, this compilation is not perfect – while its component pdfs adhere to the highest quality and the same holds true for the new items, the same can unfortunately not be said about the at best lacklustre execution of the map-section, that sticks out like a sore thumb among the excellent component pdfs. It lacks the attention to detail and the customization option and replaces them via nice artworks of maps, that unless you want to create adventures around the depicted dungeons and make them all yourself, will remain only one thing – useless filler that could have been used for actual content. Beautiful filler, yes, but filler nevertheless.
I was thinking long and hard how to rate this. If you have none or only a couple of the component pdfs or want them in print, then this is practically a required purchase and 5 stars + seal of approval. However, if don’t absolutely need this in print and/or already own most or all of the component pdfs, then this is probably a 4 star file. After careful pondering, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.
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