Adventurer's Vault: First Impressions

October 4, 2008 at 2:04 pm
filed under Roleplaying
Tagged ,

Hello, blog. I’m done traveling. I’m still working a bunch, though. I think I’ve got enough fodder for posting to last me through the next couple of weeks, after which things should die down. 

In the meantime, let’s have a post! I got my grubby little mitts on a copy of Adventurer’s Vault, a book full of new equipment, and I’ve had some time to peruse it. 

The short and sweet? There’s some really neat stuff in here for anyone who regularly plays D&D 4th Edition.

First, let’s get this out of the way: this book doesn’t really make any bones about what it is. It’s a big old list of arms and equipment. Honestly, I’m not even really sure how to talk about this book. I have a hard time with large swaths of crunch, so it’s typically a long time before I make my way through the whole thing.

Despite that, I wanted this book for more than one reason. Mounts, alchemy, battle standards, and new weapons are all cool and intriguing. My chief problem, though, was that I was running out of interesting items to hand out. For instance, with multiple Hide-wearers in my group, what level 4 to 6 items do I give out? There aren’t that many!

The flip side to that is that I wouldn’t recommend this book if you aren’t either involved in a series of short-running games, or one or more ongoing games. It is straight-up items, and if you don’t play that much, you won’t get much benefit from the added variety.


The Superior weapons are pretty good. They aren’t overpowered for the most part, but some of them are a little too close to being objectively good. The weapons that go a damage die up (e.g. waraxe) are slightly concerning if only because 2[W] looks a lot nicer with d12 instead of d10.

I like Alchemy. The idea of one-off items isn’t new, but it’s interesting to see 4e’s take on missile weapons with special effects, like Alchemical fire arrows (my personal favorite). Hard-coding the attack and damageto the item nicely separates this out. Some of the classic items like Thunderstones or Smoke sticks come back, and it’s nice to see them there. I’ve already got some scenes in mind.

There’s a section on vehicles, which I mention because there’s an airship. My first thought was: really? But it’s totally in keeping with 4e’s over-the-top, high fantasy. If there are airships, then of course there are riding gryphons and dinosaurs and glowing flowers and all kinds of other crazy shit. I don’t incorporate this flavor in my games enough even though I like it, and this was a nice reminder.

From there, there’s a whole list of items organized similarly to the magic items section in the PHB. What’s there to say? There are plenty of items in each category, and some particularly evocative items, such as gloves that let you hide things in ’em, a scabbard that hides your weapons, or gloves that let you shift after a charge. It’s all interesting stuff, and I’d be surprised if there weren’t something for everyone here.

Of course, there are quite a few interesting Wondrous Items, as well as Reagents (consumables that enhance spells), Whetstones (consumables that enhance weapons), Battle Standards (stick ’em in the ground to get an area-effect buff), and various other bits. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that, on top of the usual master list of items for each slot, there is also an index of all items in the book by level. Even though D&D is begging for a browseable database (and I suppose the Compendium and the Character Creator are the answers to that), this is a really nice touch.


The only other thing I should mention about the book itself is that there’s a section about the role of magic items in your game. In brief, it talks about ways to scale up items PCs already possess (i.e., the “grandfather’s sword is obsolete” problem), unique items, and transferring enchantments from one item to another (i.e., the “I’ve respecced and now I need a new sword”).

Final thoughts

As I said above, I recommend this book if you find yourself running out of interesting items to give to your PCs, which happened for me. I’m mostly not worried about incorporating any of these items in my game, and in fact some of them are fairly inspiring, in terms of providing plot points or just generally being evocative. Alternatively, if you play a lot, this will solve the problem of a dearth of interesting items to choose from at early levels. 

If you don’t play regularly, it’s not as great, since the main benefit you get from this book is when you play a wide variety of games or progress through levels.

%d bloggers like this: