Monday, December 5, 2016

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition: Role Aids Fantastic Treasures: Hundreds of Enchanted Weapons and Items From Myth & Folklore By Allen Hammack For Your Old School Campaigns

The train of Mayfair games material continues with Fantastic Treasures: Hundreds of Enchanted Weapons and Items From Myth & Folklore because of an email request from someone who has very fond memories of their older brother who was their dungeon master owning this book. Apparently he pulled out Fantastic Treasures set his players on an epic quest with this title plus the AD&D Deities and Demi Gods book from AD&D first edition.Be advised that it has items from A to L. You'll want to pick up the next book if you're looking for items M to Z , Fantastic Treasures II. 

This book got me into the school library more times then I can to remember back in  Eighty Eight, I was checking out literally a stack of books on mythology and comparative religion when these came out. So why is Fantastic Treasures important? Well besides being mostly forgotten today this book features some amazing relics from mythology and world legends from around the globe.  There are numerous items described in this volume that are associated in name if not actual legend and such to mythical gods, heroes,& monsters. These are not your typical treasures, no these are objects that are adventures unto themselves. From Aladdin's Ring, Siegfried's Sword, Athena's Shield, Enchanted Carpets, Devious Cloaks, Devilish Crowns & Damned Swords, they're all here in this volume.Every item in this volume has its own entry & accompanying piece of artwork to go with it. The focus here is on the mythological background & with powers and abilities built right into each entry. What makes this series special is that every entry is ready to go out of the box.
There are a few reasons to use Fantastic Treasures: Hundreds of Enchanted Weapons and Items From Myth & Folklore:

  • They can provide fodder for OSR games where the focus is on the gods & the players are actually movers & upcoming adventurers on the stage of the gods, heroes, & monsters. These items aren't simply throw away treasures for XP, they're adventure plot points with stats
  • Power attracts power, & myth attracts legend, fate, and a host of problems for heroes. A good solid example from the Nineties is the Disney kids show Gargoyles. In that show   the legendary creatures of the past along with the relics of legend often intersected. Its of this type often transcend time & place twisting the lives of those they touch for decades this gives a DM plenty of campaign fodder. An example of this type of campaign for AD&D 1st edition is 'the Keep' where players take on the role of ancient adventurers & then their descendants as the events of the adventure come down through history.
  •  There is the potential for long spanning game campaigns where the role of a relic can become one of the corner stones of a campaign setting ala Game of Thrones. The relic or item becomes one more piece of set dressing of a player character or important NPC. 
These types of items should never be used lightly they can wrench a campaign in one direction or another.

When a DM chooses to use these items as the focus or adventure background item, it moves the campaign into the realm of the legendary & makes it a part of mythology. The PC's level doesn't so much matter as the play characters are now a different adventure term & level because of the very forces they dally with. They're messing in the realm of the gods as well as playing with some fundamental items of legend. This means the kid gloves are off, many times these items are unique & can play a vital role in the lives, nations, & fate  of others. This volume along with its sister play a vital role with many items of legend following the whole cloth of the mythology very closely. This means that DM's can use this fact to their advantage to get players motivated in the field. Things can get pretty hairy when items of legends attract the attention of monsters, gods, or worse.

This makes adventure construction a snap when you've got items that follow in the wake of the gods. There is also the fact that the gods might be looking for many of the objects listed for their own hidden agendas. This makes the field open for some very dangerous encounters as the gods employ mercenaries. The skies are the limits as some of the monsters featured in Deities and Demi gods come to reclaim these treasures. It could be open season as Native American items are featured & weirdness in adventures could ensue.Of course Fantastic Treasures follows the usual Mayfair conceits. For its stats here's a handy conversion chart I found on Dragon's foot: 
Conversions of Mayfair stats to 1E (just in case):

STR (Strength) -> same
INT (Intellect) -> Intelligence
INS (Insight) -> Wisdom
DEX (Dexterity) -> same
STA (Stamina) -> Constitution
APL (Appeal) -> Charisma

HTK -> Hit points
AT -> Attacks
DM -> Damage

All of the entries in Fantastic Treasures have style and personality, the book is quite smart in the depth and breath of the items allowing the DM to cherry pick the best items they want in their own campaign. So all of the items plug and play taking everything down a dangerous road for PC's.

Is Role Aids Fantastic Treasures: Hundreds of Enchanted Weapons and Items From Myth & Folklore a classic? Well taken on its own merits and the fact that the two volume set of books is nearly forgotten these books sell used for around eight dollars for each volume. This makes the set a very attractive prospect for a DM whose looking for that one unusual item as the center piece as well as focus for their old school campaign.

So if you get a chance then grab this one folks and don't let it pass you bye at all.

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