Supplement Review: Weird Stuff I Found in the Planar Vortex (Isaac A. May): 4.5 Stars
Powerful items that can change a campaign, artifacts that can rewrite history, and tons of rules for making your own magical items.
As you might imagine, Weird Stuff I Found in the Planar Vortex is a boatload of magic items to shake up any Dungeons & Dragons campaign. This volume favors rarer items, with no common or uncommon items to be found. (Check out the supplement Weird Stuff I Found on the Dungeon Floor for more of those.) But there are 32 rare items, 31 very rare items, and 26 legendary items.
The crown of this Dungeon Masters Guild supplement is its ten artifacts, which are so powerful they can change the direction and outcome of the entire campaign.
Magic, Magic, Magic – If you love magic items, getting this supplement is a no-brainer. Daydream as you peruse this trove of treasure, a wonderful Macy’s catalog of fantastical goodies. Here are a few of our favorites:
- The coin of avarice turns treasure chests into actual mimics!
- Gloves of grappling gives you the upper hand on your wrestling opponents, an item that should have been there since the DMG.
- Oh, you like my armor? Thanks, it has pockets (many pocketed armor).
- The mirror locket creates an uncanny-valley copy of your PC.
- Pick of the revolution has cool socialist vibes with features that could start an actual uprising.
- The throne of terror makes your enemies cower before you.
- Make a backup drive of your PC’s life with the tome of the forgotten.
Layout – The layout is clean and original. It never distracted, never got in the way, and looked nice on the page. Helpful tables in the appendix point you to the magic item that are at the right power level for your campaign.
Art – You have to hand it to Isaac May. Nearly every page of this 43-page magic item supplement features artwork. You can tell a lot of loving care went into tracking down art and artists to make many of these magic items come to life in your imagination.
Ten Artifacts to Rule Them All – If you’re like me, magic items are best when they have an impact on the story. And, boy, do these artifacts have that going for them! I recommend going over them before you begin your next campaign. They’ll inspire you with ideas and can work as the central antagonist or plot device in your next campaign.
What I found most compelling is that some of these artifacts wouldn’t even be attractive to most parties. But they would certainly horrible if their enemies got hold of them. An entire campaign could be built around making sure one of these horrendously destructive artifacts doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. And lest you think you’ve heard that one before, Isaac May has such unique spins on the MacGuffin trope that it feels fresh. There’s fun here for players and for DMs.
On a final note, one of the artifacts–Seinoc’s Snarled Sphere–is an epic labyrinthine dungeon in a ball. And that dungeon has been cunningly crafted in Matthew Whitby’s adventure of the same name, also available on the Dungeon Masters Guild.
Campaign Advice – If you’re not careful, introducing powerful magic items can disrupt or even destroy a campaign. Isaac May offers thoughtful, engaging, and helpful advice and tips so DMs know what they’re getting into, how to navigate the turbulent waters in the wake of mighty magicks, and somehow makes it an engaging read to boot.
What Didn’t Work
Readability – Every supplement has its grammar issues. But this one has enough of them that it’s a bit distracting. Run-on sentences, comma splices, and deviating from the Wizards of the Coast style guide. This title would have benefited from another editing pass. On the other hand, seldom do these issues confuse the meaning.
Second, the magic item descriptions that run really long, especially the artifacts, would’ve benefited from bullet-point lists. The benefits and features sometimes pile up until you’re not sure what all it can do, just that it’s freakin’ awesome.
Weird Stuff I Found in the Planar Vortex gets a rating of 4.5 stars. Its readability issues are nothing compared to the awesome potential contained in this volume, whether you are a DM or player. The artifacts alone are story-fodder that may keep your players engaged for years to come. And players will thrill at finding some of these items in a treasure trove after their next epic battle.
Adam Hancock is a best-selling DMs Guild writer and editor. His authored works include the Visual Class Guides and Slinker, Sailor, Soldier, Spy and he’s edited Good Country Dyin’ and Ishavar’s Guide to Curses. He is the author of the best selling work Balduran’s Guide to Kingdom Building, and is currently putting the final touches on Animal Sidekicks. He loves removing hurdles for DMs and new players and inventing story seeds to fuel adventure. Find Adam on Twitter @AdamDMsGuild or browse his works here