The bag of tricks has always been one of those magic items that many DMs shy away from, because it's fairly complex to administer. This neat product goes a long way to alleviating that, indeed I'm already wondering if someone might just come across one in one of the games I'm running...
The assumption is made that you have a general idea of what a bag of tricks does already: in case it's slipped your memory, it produces random animals that may or may not be particularly useful but will obey the character that pulled it out for ten minutes (or until slain) and then vanishes. They come in three types - grey, rust and tan - with the tan being regarded as the most powerful... well, the animals are larger, it is of course up to the user to decide what is most useful given the circumstances.
For each of the three bags, there is a chart to enable selection of the appropriate random animal and full stat blocks for each of the creatures you might get, all neatly arranged on 2 pages which makes it easy to have the details to hand - once the character who has found the bag has researched it and knows what it does, his player could even be given the notes. Each also has a couple of optional extras, which appear to be humanoids who - by choice or chance - have had their essences fused with a bag of tricks, an interesting thought but what isn't clear is what comes out - do you actually haul out a cantakerous old druid when you reach into the bag that contains his essence, or do you just get the benefit of his advice when using it?
As all the summoned animals are willing to obey the sorts of commands someone with a Handle Animals skill might give, next comes a useful review of the commands available, coupled with a run-down of ways in which they can be used to direct an animal in a combat situation - the underlying assumption that you are going to use the bag of tricks mid-brawl to turn things to your advantage. The work ends with an explanation of standard stat-block terms, in case that you are unsure of any of them, a handy quick-reference guide.
Overall a clear expansion and ready-reference for the bag of tricks, giving you all that you need to incorporate one into your game. If you are contemplating using one, or one of your characters already has one and you feel like groaning when he gets it out, this should prove useful.
Bag of Tricks
Date Added: 09/25/2010 by Megan Robertson