Resource Review: Treasures of the Mad Mage (Dungeon Rollers): 5 Stars
These tattered pages detail a multitude of items, from magically infused adventuring gear such as the Void Lantern, to the Mage’s Ramblings, a journal of Halaster’s crazed thinking, with pages spread throughout the Undermountain….Within this compendium you will find unique item sets such as Zox’s Organic Construct, and quest items such as the Phylactery Fragment.
Treasures of the Mad Mage is an excellent compendium of 50 magical items. While they are tailored to use in the Dungeon of the Mad Mage, they can flexibly be inserted into any campaign. The items are full of flavor, and are both balanced and useful to players. They open up a variety of roleplay and quest opportunities as well. Treasures of the Mad Mage is a great addition to any Dungeon Master’s library.
Fidelios’s Scales. Perhaps my favorite item in the compendium, Fidelios’s Scales has both flavor and interesting mechanics. Thematically, the scales always try to balance themselves, an aspect that reveals its mechanical function. It also portrays how many charges it has by orbs of holy energy that sit upon each scale. Mechanically, you can expend a charge to cast 1 set of spells, which are intrinsically balanced. You cannot heal without harming. You cannot bless without cursing. You cannot protect without punishing. Not only does the scale present three relatively versatile options, but it forces a cost-benefit element that is represented through it’s thematic manifestation. Its form follows its function.
Oozing Armor. This armor (of any kind) lets you use your reaction to turn the armor into ooze. I very much appreciate not only the mechanics, but the possible mid-combat roleplaying opportunities this can present. While only providing four options, the cool effects like disarming the opponent, casting shield, or acid damage could deliver clutch saves in a moment of need. Their once-per-day use, and their relatively low DC’s balance out any concerns of being overpowered.
Quest Items. While the idea of quest items isn’t exactly unique, I am glad to see them included in Treasures of the Mad Mage. Both the Mad Mage’s Ramblings and the Phylactery Fragment present opportunities for ongoing campaign effects, roleplay, and a sense of mystery and discovery as players unfold the true nature of these items. These take this supplement from a simple compendium of magical items, to a useful campaign enhancer.
Item Sets. Like quest items, “items sets” are a refreshing addition to these treasures. I’ve always been intrigued by “evolving weapons”, and these three item sets provide balanced yet progressive items that can provoke side quests, a set of satisfaction for “completionist” players, and a sense of item progression that doesn’t risk becoming over powered.
Flavor. Scattered through Treasures of the Mad Mage are notes and little bits of flavor that immerse the reader into the realm of the Mad Mage. Reminiscent of Xanathar’s and Volo’s narrative technique, these elements are far from necessary, but determine the line between a great product and a merely good product. Many items often have bits of thematic or narrative flair, aiding in the immersion and quality of this supplement as more than “just magic items”.
No Common Items. Not surprisingly, Treasures of the Mad Mage does not have any common items. While it makes sense to focus on items of “consequence” within a supplement with limited room (53 items just doesn’t have the same ring), magic items of common rarity often present fun and interesting roleplay and entertainment opportunities at lower levels.
Few Consumables. While this book contains four consumable magic items, we’d love to see more! I love the risk-reward and scarcity elements that limited use items present. Still, the items that are available are excellent and most players probably will not feel a lack when combined with other item supplements like the PHB, DMG, etc.
Treasures of the Mad Mage comes Highly Recommended with a rating of 5 Stars. It is one of the books you can have in your library and pull out during almost any campaign. If you appreciate these reviews and want to support us, click through the picture if you want to buy!