Supplement Review: Bert’s Practically Useless Items (Jia Jian Tin): 4 Stars
I would never sell any of these items! Remember, my shop does not sell weapons! But, if you were a really good friend, I might present one of these circumstantially useful items to you!
Bert’s Practically Useless Items is a fun little product that doesn’t give itself enough credit. Filled with fun, and actually quite useful magical items, this supplement is great for any DM who likes to horde a magical item library while also introduce some fun, comedy, and a cool NPC. While it suffers quite a bit from poor layout, editing, and some mechanical stylistics, any table who uses these items are sure to have fun with them!
Items. The items are balanced while still fun and comedic in many cases. While some have legitimate (though situational) use, others are more like the common items in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything–cool, but providing no mechanical function or benefit. My favorite item has to be the plate armor of vengeance. When you are reduced to 0 hit points, the armor doffs and turns into animated armor to attack the attack. In the unfortunate event you reduce yourself to 0 hit points (from fall damage, for example) the armor attacks you. This is emblematic of the types of items you’ll find in the product, and they’re all pretty great!
Narrative Style. The supplement centers around a friendly goblin named Bert. Bert adds a lot of levity to the product, is quite the likable guy for a goblin, and presents the opportunity for a beloved, recurring NPC to be integrated into the campaign. Bert is well done, and makes this product more than just list of magic items.
Layout/Editing. The layout is very minimalist in the sense that there’s a lot of empty space. There is only a single item on each page, and some pages have up to 80% “white space”. I don’t know if this was a conscious decision, but it makes for a lot of needless scrolling and makes it seem like the product is padded for pages count (I’m sure that wasn’t the intent. Many of the categories actually only have one item underneath–the sections on armors and helmets could be combined, as could boots and cloaks. The editing is likewise a little rough, though not to the point of making the product unreadable. Extra or missing words and nouns and verbs that don’t agree are the majority of the cases. These are slightly distracting, but the product and items are still usable.
Mechanical Style. The style and phrasing of many of the mechanical elements don’t adhere very well to the standard style of WotC. While this isn’t necessarily a problem, in some cases it leads to some ambiguous or unclear wording and might lead to discussion at the table about what exactly the item can or cannot do.
Bert’s Practically Useless Magic Items is a fun and relatively useful product that just needs a bit of polish. We’re giving it 4 Stars and recommending it to any table that likes unique, fun, or low-powered magic items. You can pick it up by clicking on picture below!