Review: Wizards of the Coast – Magic Item Compendium (Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 Premium)

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Magic Item Compendium
Magic Item Compendium is a Premium Edition release for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, published by Wizards of the Coast.
By Cape Rust
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Learn more about Magic Item Compendium here
Purchase Magic Item Compendium here
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The Premium Magic Item Compendium is a re-print of the original Magic Item Compendium with a new, really sexy cover and not much else. This book contains hundreds of really interesting magic items that will keep gear hungry players drooling for hours on end. On the flip side of the DM screen, there are just as many items that DMs can award those same hungry players, all located in one book. This book contains wonderful item descriptions that can be read out loud to the players to give everyone at the table a sense of what the item looks, feels and, in some cases, smells like. Included in this over one thousand item book are high quality illustrations of some of the items and rules for augment crystals and sets of magic items.

I have always had mixed feelings about the Magic Item Compendium. Growing up and as a grown up, one of my favorite parts of RPG books has always been gear – magical and mundane. It isn’t that I want my characters to have excess gear (I actually avoid it in game as much as possible, just ask my gaming group), I just love the pictures and descriptions of gear. I love seeing what the typical long sword looks like in each new world that is revealed to me in RPG books. I crave seeing new and interesting magic items that are well drawn and even more well thought out. In these respects, both the regular Magic Item Compendium and the Premium Magic Item Compendium succeed in spades. Where the Premium Magic Item Compendium falls short is its price point and the lack of anything new that it brings to the table other than an outstanding cover.

For both players and DMs compendiums are always the way to go, especially in the heat of battle or in the dispensing of treasure to characters. These compendiums cut down on the amount of books cluttering up the table and reduce the amount of page flipping people need to do to confirm what an item can or cannot do. The original printing of this compendium took care of many of these requirements; however, it left out some of the iconic weapons and magic items that have been mainstays of D&D from day one. Many of those classics were covered and contained in the Dungeon Master’s Guide; however, the very fact that they were not in the compendium defeats the purpose of trying to collect all of the magic items into one book. I know that there are thousands if not millions of magic items out there, but the inclusion of the basics and classics seems like a foregone conclusion.

Because this is a premium edition, it has a re-worked cover that sent shivers up my geeky back. The art and feel of the cover was miles above the original cover and superior in every aspect. Cover art like this is the reason non-gamers get into gaming; they see amazing artwork like this, start flipping through the book and before they know it, they are throwing polys, eating Cheetos, drinking Mountain Dew and slaying dragons with an ear-to-ear grin. Sadly, because this is a premium edition, it is shrink wrapped and inaccessible by the unwashed masses until it is purchased. I completely understand why, but I would love to see Wizards include a sample or display copy so that shoppers could open the book and see what they are getting. Speaking of premium, at between thirty five and fifty dollars, depending on where you shop, this book is not cheap. It is well made and the cover alone is worth a price hike, but if you are looking for new material or all of the magic items you might need in one place, you are better off just sticking to the original copy. If you collect RPG books, then the extra money you will pay will be well worth it.

If you don’t own the original print run of the Magic Item Compendium then the Premium Edition might be a great purchase for you. If you collect RPG books, then there is no question that this one will shine on your shelf. If you are a meat and potatoes gamer who already owns the regular edition then you might be disappointed. If this book had included some of the classic iconic D&D magic items and weapons and added something, anything new or different then it would be worth the price of admission, as it stands right now its value is highest to collectors or those gamers who are purchasing a Wizards of the Coast Magic Item Compendium for the first time.

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