Game: 101 Legendary Treasures of Medieval Europe
Publisher: Ronin Arts
Review Dated: 14th, October 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 8
Average Score: 4.00
The 101 series from Ronin Arts has been and will continue to be surprisingly successful. I was surprised by its success even after I’d read and reviewed a few of the early ones, back when the names Spider Bite and simply Philip J Reed where being used before Ronin Arts. After reading and reviewing a few for myself I could see the quality but I just didn’t think Gamer Joe would be tempted by such an apparently mundane product. I guess I was wrong. I guess I didn’t credit Gamer Joe with enough intelligence. (Or would it be Wisdom?)
The title for this particular 101 is far from mundane though. 101 Legendary Treasures of Medieval Europe should have people scrambling for the “101”, for the “Legendary Treasures” and for the “Medieval Europe”. This is a d20 fantasy supplement. That’s the most popular of the current d20 sets and is likely to outshine d20 Modern and d20 Future for some time to come. I’m pointing this out because I’d rather use 101 Legendary Treasures of Medieval Europe for a d20 Modern setting. The changes required to achieve this goal of mine are probably minimal though. The campaign balance blasting effect of these legendary treasures are probably even more serious for a d20 Modern game, it would have been nice to have some direction there.
Take heed of the warning. These items will rock your campaign world. They’re incredibly powerful. No. You’re not imagining enough power. If you go up to the silly schoolboy twink level of power… but then throw a way most of the extra gaming connotation there and exchange them for professional understanding of the rules, gloss and post-publication polish. Now you’re at the 101 Legendary Treasure level.
The textual content of the PDF is entirely open game content. This means I’m able to show you exactly how powerful these treasures are. I think. It should just be a matter of giving due credit to author Jason McKay and Ronin Arts. Let’s pick a legendary treasure of “medium power”.
History/Description: The most dangerous and evil of grimoires is not only a spell book, but a history of Evil, and it’s continuous fight against the forces of Good and the early and divine races of man, gnome, dwarf and elf, written in the first century of the ommon era by Abdul Alhazred the Mad of Damascus. Copies and petty forgeries float cross the known world; however the true copy reeks of death, and the pages (almost 900 of them), are written in blood, on the flesh of various human, dwarf, halfling and eleven skins, representing the author’s hatred for the reigning races of the world. The student of this book must read this book, undisturbed for a month, either in an ancient cemetery or desecrated churchyard, with out any interruptions (the author prescribes that several semi-intelligent undead or weaker evil Outsiders make great tools to assisting the reader while they try not to be disturbed).
Special Properties: After reading this book, the evil reader gains a + 4 to Intelligence and Charisma, but loses -2 to Strength and Constitution permanently, because whatever unholy gifts the dark lords of the Nether realms gave the reader, is very taxing on their physical body. The reader also gains + 3 to Willpower, but loses – 1 from both Fortitude and Reflex saving throws. The evil reader also gains + 6 in ranks to Alchemy, Planar, Religion (Evil religion’s) and Arcane Knowledge skills, Spellcraft and Scrying. Incidentally, if the reader is good aligned, they must make a Willpower (DC 21) saving throw or suffer from an Insanity spell. The Necromonican also grants great benefits to both Priestly and Mage spell casters. If the reader is an evil cleric, they gain the Domains of Death, Destruction, and Evil. The Mage spell caster automatically receives specialization in the schools of Necromancy and Enchantment. Any type of spell caster upon reading this book is able to cast spells two levels higher then normal, and can cast twice as many spells a day, as they previously could. The book also contains all Necromatic spells listed in the Players and Mages handbooks. Besides these abilities, any non-Good reader also has the following abilities granted to them, as long as they possess the book, as a 21st level spell caster: Protection from Good (at will), Death Knell ( at will ), Dispel Magic (at will), Fireball ( 1/day), Fly ( 1/day ), Dream (1/day), Insect Plague (1/day), Summon Monster IV (2/day, always evil ), Summon Monster V (1/day, always evil ), Summon Monster VI (1/day, always evil ), Summon Monster VII (1/day, always evil), Summon Monster VIII (1/week), and Summon Monster IX (1/week) and Gate (1/week).
Weight: 20 lb.”
Getting a 101 Legendary Treasures for a couple of bucks is good value. Getting a 101 Legendary Treasures for a couple of bucks that you can use in your own product is even better.
The power levels of the treasures in the 101 series and even the company name might change but the quality of the artwork always remains high. We’re lucky enough to have Christopher Shy artwork here. I admit it. I do like his almost real-cum-surreal style. Yeah. I’ll admit that too. I’m no good at reviewing art. I just know what I like. (cut to Popeye, “I knows what I likes and I likes what I sees.”).
My main problem with 101 Legendary Treasures is that of overkill. I don’t mind the power levels. I don’t think I’ve ever allow a treasure to be used for anything other than an ending scene but I accept these treasures are supposed to be those game central items. The problem then is having a 101 game central items. That’s the overkill. There are too many. I’ll never use them all. If I’m going to use the Great Axe of Boudicca in my game I don’t want some annoying player mop their brow and comment, “Phew, at least it wasn’t the Mjolnir”. I don’t even want one thinking that. If it weren’t for the whole 101 shtick I’d have said the PDF would have been better as two separate products.
101 Legendary Treasures of Medieval Europe is a good supplement. 101 Legendary Treasures of Medieval Europe is going to remain that oddly targeted wide offering to a specific and rather narrow niche. It doesn’t quite make that essential list, although it’s well worth buying if you’re remotely interested in d20 stats for these famous treasures and it certainly does warrant inclusion in the electronic shopping basket if you’re rounding your purchase up to the nearest US $20. It’s well worth buying if you suspect you might use more than two legendary treasures in campaigns between now and 2008.