This new D&D 4e supplement is chock full of magical items both new and old, as well as some interesting quotes from Mordenkainen himself. It turns out that the old mage has been hording knowledge about magical items over the decades and at one point created a magical set of books to allow him to share the information with the other members of the Circle of Eight. He created a master copy for himself and slave copies for his friends. Whenever he made an update to the master, all of the slaves would magically gain the same entries themselves. This is a very interesting idea and doubtless would have been beneficial to the other members of the circle if not for the fact that Mordenkainen apparently retrieved the slave copies of the book almost immediately after handing them out.
The book is organized in the classic D&D fashion: Armor, Weapons, Gear, Artifacts and of course Wondrous Items. The unique and interesting part about this book however is that each section has a preface written by Mordenkainen himself. The blurbs from the wizard are all entertaining; Some of them are just random thoughts about the general topics and some of them show his extreme distaste for a particular type of item. After a few of these quotes are “Scholar’s Note” from Qort, the apparent apprentice of Mordenkainen who adds his own thoughts about his master’s state of mind which are often fairly humorous and telling.
Wizards of the Coast is creating increasingly high quality source books. You would think that the advent of the online character builder would mean that people would no longer have a need to buy source books, since they can use all of the races/classes/items etc. from those books in the character builder without having to buy them. Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium is an excellent example of why that is not the case. Each magical item within this book has its own blurb of information about how it was originally made, used or some other fact about the item. These small tidbits of information not only make the magical items more interesting but can also be invaluable to a Dungeon Master looking for ideas about an adventure/campaign or to a player looking to spice up the back story for a character.
There is also information about using artifacts at all tiers of play (heroic/paragon/epic) along with a sample artifact from each. Ideas on creating and using story items, items that don’t follow normal mechanics rules, are also included. I’ve used these in my own campaigns for years but it is really nice to see advice on their use along with a large sampling of story items.
The book also includes an appendix on hirelings and henchmen which could be very useful. Beyond rules and costs it also includes a few sample named henchmen that each have a blurb about their personalities and backgrounds.
This is a solid, well put together offering. I really enjoyed reading through each of the items (though I confess that I haven’t read them all) as well as the comments from Mordenkainen and Qort. I would recommend it to any players or Dungeon Masters looking to add more flavor and interest to their games.