All RPGs and Storygames by Tod Foley are now available at DrivethruRPG and RPGnow. Bring these games to your table!
Affordable Arcana: Magic Rods is a sourcebook that adds some flavor to Pathfinder games. The book is simply a list of low-powered magical rods that can be integrated into just about any Pathfinder campaign. For dungeon masters, this is a great tool at many points in the campaign in that it’s a great way to provide your players with useful, yet not over-powering magical items at lower levels in the campaign. Many of the items give a low-level bonus (+1, +2, or +3) to skill checks. Much of the items in the book are of this nature, giving you some very nice options that add a lot of flavor to your game in lieu of giving your players the same old low-level items that they are used to getting in a standard campaign setting.
Some items are a great help if you’re a DM running a low-magic campaign or if you’re just not willing to give your players +1 magical items yet. One such item is the Rod of Tyranny act as a great replacement for a +1 magical weapon. This rod acts as a masterwork mace that gives a +1 to intimidate checks and penalizes opponents by -1 on the same check, but gives no magical bonus to hit or damage. Or if you’re a DM who is just trying to help your players make it out of the lower levels, the Rod of Battle Casting can be a big help to inexperienced casters with a +2 to their combat casting checks.
Later in a campaign, this book provides options for treasure that is still useful in some situations. Items, such as the Rod of the Climbing Claw can be useful in mid-to-higher levels of a campaign, since it acts as a magical grappling hook that never misses its mark. The Rod of the Blacksmith repairs 2d4+2 points of damage to arms and armor per day. That can deal with the pesky problem of occasionally needing to repair weapons or armor, which every player faces at every level. Casters of any level will find it useful to keep around a Short-Ranged Rod to add 10 feet to spells with a 25’ range up to 3 times per day.
We recommend this book for DMs looking for magic items that provide something new and fresh, something to limit the magic level, or something to help your players survive. Players have plenty of reason to check out this book as well. If your caster character just took the “craft rod” feat, this book provides more options at very low cost that can make your character more versatile.
- Reviewed by William Paprocki (GeeksAGogo.com)
I’m a big fan of dice especially unusual dice, so back when it was open I backed PolyHero’s wizard dice kickstarter (Thanks Patreon supporters!). If you’d like to grab your own set, they’re available for purchase at PolyHero’s web site. These are amazing looking dice, and I can see them being a lot of fun to toss around while playing a wizard. I can especially see it being a blast throwing out a handful of the d6 fireball shaped dice to determine your spell damage! I got the Heartwood and Moonsilver set pictured above, but they come in a variety of other colors. As a kickstarter backer, I also got two d2 spellbook dice as stretch goals, one in Heartwood and one in electrum. It doesn’t look like these are available for sale at this time, which is a shame because they easily have the most detailed sculpt of the set. From a kickstarter standpoint, everything was fulfilled quickly and painlessly. I would back the next PolyHero dice kickstarter.
I only have two very small complaints about these dice. First, they are large and most are long and thin. This makes getting them rolling in your hand difficult (and I have pretty big hands). You may have to shake them with an open hand or two-handed to get a good “shake feel” out of them, or toss them where they can get a good roll going. Second, the stylized font used on the dice can make them a little harder to read than other dice (6s and 9s are very similar and only the 6s are underlined, fives two and threes all look pretty similar), and the steep angle of the d10 potion bottles can make them hard to read if they land angled away from you. These are very minor issues though and at most are an argument for ample space to roll and good lighting in your game space and careful reading until you’re familiar with the font.
As I often do with oddly shaped dice, I ran a set of chi-square goodness of fit tests to see if their shape impacted the distribution of their results at all. For each I used either the minimum rolls required for the chi-square test, or 50 rolls, whichever was larger. As usual, we’re not testing these dice to see if they actually match an ideal uniform distribution (no dice, not even precision milled casino dice do), but rather if they appear to get reasonably close to that distribution within a number of rolls you might expect to see within a session.
The results of the chi-squares were mixed. Most of the dice look good, but my d12 had spectacularly poor results (p-value of .005) and a second test gave better, but not great results. This could have just been two bad tests in a row (it happens) or it could just be my die. (we expect dice within a manufacturing batch to have some variance and my d12 seems to have a slight curve to it that could easily explain the poor results) So, I contacted PolyHero and explained my problem. They got back to me within a day and offered to replace my die, but more importantly, grabbed a dozen of their dice of various colors and rolled them each 10 times for me to give me a data set from a larger sample of dice that could give a more typical result across most dice instead of from a single die. Of course 12 dice rolled 10 times each isn’t exactly comprehensive, but it’s a lot better than a sample from just one. This sample turned out much better, so I see no reason to believe there’s any systematic issue with the dice, and as a bonus I also have solid evidence that PolyHero’s staff are quick to respond when someone has an issue with their product.
Update: head gnome John Arcadian also backed this kickstarter for two sets of dice (the black and the green) and got his dice just before this article went live and rolled me 60 results from each. One of them passed with better results than any of my previous tests (.957), the other passed, but not by much(.058). I’m willing to call this one “tentatively fine, further study needed” so if anyone out there wants to run a test on their PolyHero Wizard dice, let us know the results!
English summary result: The results looked very good. Most of the dice easily passed a goodness of fit test at any reasonable criteria. While the initial d12 results weren’t promising, the larger sample from the manufacturer was much better.
Stat summary result: p-values for H0: results are from an appropriate uniform distribution vs a .05 critical value ranged from .29 to .83. Only the initial d12 test rejected H0 with a p-value of .005.
Long form results:
- df – degrees of freedom, which particular chi square curve we’re comparing against. Depends on the number of sides the die has.
- Chi .05 crit val – the value, for the particular chi square curve we’re looking at, that separates the rarest 5% of groups of rolls from the rest. If the Chi Test Stat exceeds this value, we say the die is not fair. There are other critical values for other tolerances.
- Chi Test Stat – the value we calculated from our rolls. Compared to the critical value.
- p-val – how common the results we observed were. p-values fall between 1 and 0. Closer to 1 is better. Lower than .1, .05, or .01 are usual ground for declaring a deviation from the ideal standard.