Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium Review

Book Three of the Magic Item Triumvirate packages both the usual suspects and some newer additions into 159 pages. In addition to your typical roster of magic gear you also get new weapons--along with associated feats--armors, and implements, as well as artifacts, cursed items, henchmen/hirelings, story items, an option for increasing an item's level (and potentially the benefits it grants), and an item list of each item in the book sorted by level and rarity. Frankly it should have included every item from every source, but I'll take this for now.

This book has in part been done twice already, and in a nutshell has a lot of what you would expect plus some surprises. I like a lot of the new magic items, and the chapters on story items, while not necessarily inspiring me to create items that had no hard mechanics behind them (I was doing that already without "permission"), it did give me some good ideas. If you liked past loot books then this is right up your alley. If all you care about is the crunchy content, then it will all be up on Character Builder and Compendium if you have the patience for it. If you could not give two shits about "moar magic lootz", then the cover price really cannot justify the flavor content (especially what with all the previews).

So with the brief rundown out of the way, here are some highlights if you are still on the fence.

Chapter 1: Armor
The new armors have already been previewed and nothing has changed in transit: they still require feats and provide dubious benefits.

Chapter 2: Weapons
Weapons on the other hand have not, and while the table largely lists weapons that we already had--broadsword, flail, rapier, and katar come to mind--there are some actually new items on the menu: short spear, pike, and serrated pick. The lance has the Mounted property, which means that you take a -2 to attacks while off a horse, but gain +1 [W] to damage when charging (and mounted). They are also all weapons that small creatures can use normally (which is handy for the pike as it is a two-hander).

Since people have been wondering about the new expertise feats, I'll spoil them here:
  • Flail Expertise: You can knock a target prone instead of sliding if an attack lets you slide.
  • Pick Expertise: You gain a scaling damage bonus against creatures larger than you.
  • Polearm Expertise: You gain a static bonus to defenses against charge attacks.
There is also a bunch of "strike" feats that sometimes give benefits when using power strike with a weapon category, but some require you to forego the damage bonus.

Chapter 3: Implements
No new feats or implements from what I could tell. Wand of wonder is back as a level 7 rare. It lets you teleport a target when you roll a 6 on the crit dice, and once per day you can roll a d6 for a random benefit such as flying, concealment due to butterflies, or creating 2d10 fake gems next to a target you hit with the wand. Seems to capture the spirit of the wand from older editions, giving you effects that are useful, harmful, or...silly. An expanded table would be rad.

Chapter 4: Magical Gear
A handful of miscellaneous items for the rest of the slots, plus consumables like potions (including potions that heal variable amounts of hit points) and an actual scroll (hopefully we can get more of these in a Dragon article).

Chapter 5: Artifacts and Curses
The chapter opens up with a rehash of the text wall from Dungeon Master's Guide before seguing into some new artifacts, including classics like the codex of the infinite planes and jacinth of inestimable beauty.

The previews on item curses and story items already told you basically everything that you need to know, though story items gives you a lot of examples; in particular I liked the True Name, which has a story obstacle of a super-powered creature, and the property that weakens the creature or forces it to obey you if you intone its name.

Chapter 6: Adventuring Gear

This chapter includes mundane stuff like ball bearings, chalk (and slate), cold-weather and desert clothing, gambling cheats, a jar of glowworms, and a 10-foot pole (along with a side-bar on improvising gear). There are also items that give you bonuses, such as a bestiary, footpads, and gambling cheats (including another sidebar on gambling). In addition to carryouts, there is also a table on buying buildings--from cottages to castles--and dealing with "trade goods". The section on alchemy items is exactly what you would expect.

Appendices 1-4
Information on hirelings, henchmen, random tables for magic item stories, using levels as a reward to boost existing magic items (allowing players to keep the same item), and that item list I mentioned at the start are all found here. I really like the idea of leveling up magic items, and the table makes it easier to guage things.


  1. Just out of curiousity, how much information is in the henchmen and hireling section? I think that is the section that I'm most interested in, since the Compendium gives me access to all the items I could ever want or need.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. From what I have heard, the hireling section is a straight reprint of a DDI article by Rob Schwalb. Which was great stuff, but you should have access to, if you have DDI.


  3. If that's true, then there is even less incentive to get the book. :-P In all seriousness, I would give it a 8 out of 10. The only things I wish it had more of were more magic items, a more comprehensive item list, and none of the lesser/greater item rehashes (such as true gauntlets of ogre might); they should have just rewritten existing items.

  4. Yeah, I've seen that article, and really liked it, but I was hoping there would be more example hirelings and henchmen than what was in the article.

  5. I was pretty disappointed that the Hirelings and Henchmen section was just a reprint from the DDI article. I was really hoping for more detail on that front.

    The Weapons and Armor sections were very disappointing to me. They continue the theme from 4e of uninspiring combat items, because WotC are so concerned with balance. So you have weapons like the True Dragonslaying Weapon, that only gives you a bonus to hit a dragon once per encounter. Lame. Granted there are some pretty cool Wondrous items in there, as once you get away from combat applications the designers' imaginations are no longer shackled by the idea of balance.

    There were some interesting bits to this book, but it definitely wasn't worth $30. I mainly bought it out of wishful thinking and to support my local game store. I just wish Wizards would create some truly cool weapons and armor and let DMs worry about whether to allow an item in their game or not.


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