The tome of “forgotten magical items”. Volume 1, Weapons and armor / by Jon Volden

I just sold off some books and CDs at a used book store (Last Exit Books in Kent, Ohio, a great place) and got enough for some beer money (as well as wine money for the wife, a flashback to selling textbooks in college…) as well as the above.  I saw another copy at a used book store a few months ago so I wonder if someone stumbled upon a storage unit filled with them.

I’d never heard of it before — it was published in 1993.  The interior art, which is by the author is pretty terrible.  He must have had a rad vector art program on his IBM 486 and used that.  The cover is hand-drawn though and an order of magnitude better than the interior stuff (sorry no scans but imagine the goofy designs from the cover here ramped up another notch, more or less looking like the weapons that came with He-Man knock-off action figures).

The magic items are actually not that bad though.  Some have non-combat powers, and some have powers that just plain weird — like the “singing” shield, which compels other magic items to listen and not operate normally.  So basically it dispels other magic items temporarily, but the singing effect makes it unique.  On the other hand many of the items are crazily over-powered (save-or-die effects, shooting multiple fireballs, items +5 or even +6, etc.), making it less useful for most campaigns.  The blurb on the book boasts “over 1000 magic items” and in fact this is true.  It does not even require counting variants within magic item types. That is, the author would not count a “girdle of giant strength” as five different items just because it might be of hill, frost, fire, cloud, or storm giant strength.  There are literally over a 1000 entries, and some have multiple variants, so there are a ton of items.  The only problem is that maybe 1/2 of them are so powerful they’d only be used in a high-level campaign, which means most DMs will have no use for them.*

Although these items are all weapons and armor, maybe half of them grant powers that are not really combat-related.   I really like magic items like that.  Also, there are a number of cursed items, which is OK by me.  I rarely find my players just picking up and trying out unidentified items, since I’m running a version of D&D that has a pretty robust version of the “Identify” spell, but a few of the cursed items would make excellent adventure hooks.  For example, there is an “Axe of hacking” which transforms the user, the first time it is used in anger, into a nearly unstoppable killing machine, hasted and unable to stop attacking until  there is nothing alive in a one-mile radius.  A one-man Death Frost Doom.

There is also an appendix of mostly pointless tables — a % table of random monsters, consisting mostly of the standard Monster Manual creatures, with “subtables” for giant and dragon types (really?), a random alignment table (!), and other similarly pointless tables (all presumably to be used to determine the purpose and qualities of special/intelligent magic items).

There is also a column devoted to an optional rule for “great weapons” — oversized weapons that basically no character can use (you need to roll a height of 6’6″ or more, and a weight of at least 240 pounds, and an exceptional strength, and be a straight fighter class).  It’s pretty hard to see the point of these, if the author really expects no more than one in a thousand PCs to be able to use them.

So really you get a bunch of new magic items, some of them pretty cool, some just Monty Hall overpowered, and bunch of tables you don’t need if you have the DMG, and an optional rule that makes very little sense.  Well, it does date to an era before the OGL (which made it easier for professional game designers NOT employed by TSR to publish D&D stuff) and before blogging (which has made the internet lousy with free new content).

The back of the book promises three more volumes for other kinds of magic items, and while I have not seen any evidence they were published in hard copy, they are now available as pdfs from the publisher “Stainless Steel Dragon”.  In fact I got a PDF copy of the “Volonder megadungeon”** a few years ago (I am no longer sure if that was a prize from some online contest, or part of a bundle I bought to benefit Doctors without Borders back when Pakistan had that terrible earthquake) and I thought it was sort of neat although it also suffered from terrible vector graphics.  It looks like Mr. Volden is still cranking out D&D material, and you can find more stuff on the usual RPG-pdf-selling sites, e.g. .  The covers of his works give a good sense of the vector graphics he uses, although he is also a photographer and uses bikini-clad models for covers now.  He also has a few things on, such as a pair of books of riddles (which judging by the sample riddles and reviews are pretty horrible and were thrown together to cash in on interest in riddles following the latest film of The Hobbit).

So, I’m not exactly disappointed with the book I got, since I saw it as just as much a curiosity as a game aid, and as I write this I see Mr. Volden even signed this copy, so if you can pick up a copy dirt-cheap go for it.  On the other hand you can get three compilations of unique magic items that are at least as imaginative at Lord Gwydion’s blog.  So I’d skip the Tome of forgotten magic items unless you are just into seeing some DIY stuff from before the golden age of the OGL, the OSR, and blogging.


*Ah, but I guess the author would.  He apparently has been running one campaign since 1982 which has taken his players to 30th level:

**Yes, his adventures and maps all appear to use made-up names that are based on his name.  “Voldaria,” “Age of Volondor,” etc.

Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This Stuff is REALLY Cool

Young scholars enthusiastic to tell you about COOL RESEARCH STUFF

Fail Squad Games

Tabletop games and adventures

Cigar Box Battle

An online resource blog for gamers and geeks focused on wargames miniatures and board games and role playing games

terribleminds: chuck wendig

Chuck Wendig: Freelance Penmonkey

Save Vs. Dragon

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut


Old School Roleplaying and related musings

Hobgoblin Orange

My return to the world of miniature figure painting and RPGs

The Book Reviews You Can Trust!

Dawn of the Lead

Miniature wargaming and the occasional zombie

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.


Miniature Motivation

Take On Rules

Jeremy Friesen - a poor soul consumed by gaming.

Age of Dusk

Roleplaying, reviews and associated paraphernalia.

Roll to Disbelieve

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut

A Book of Creatures

A Complete Guide to Entities of Myth, Legend, and Folklore

Making the Past

Diary of an apprentice swordsmith

Ancient & Medieval Wargaming

Using De Bellis Antiquitatis, with the odd diversion...

Riffing Religion

Prophets should be mocked. I'm doing my part.


An encyclopedia of the Cirsovan empire, thoughts on Gaming, Music and more.

2 Warps to Neptune

Surveying the Gen X landscape and the origins of geek

Inside the Shadowbox

Rolling the dice. Writing the words. Pushing the buttons. Eating the bacon. Smiling and waving.

Dagger and Brush, Daggerandbrush, dagger brush

Miniature painting, wargaming terrain tutorials, reviews, interviews and painting guides


A lair for gaming, sci-fi, comics, and other geekish pursuits.

I bought this stuff and read it so you don't have to.

Role Play Craft

Crafting ideas, options, and modules for your role playing campaign.

The Rambling Roleplayer Archives

This site is no longer being updated. Check out the new site at

Sheppard's Crook

The occasional blog of a closet would -be wargamer and modeller

10 Bad Habits

Probably not the Justin Howe you were looking for

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time


Just another site

Lost in Time

"What happened to Claw Carver?"


gaming, graphics, and genrefication

Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead


Role-Playing Games, Medieval History, Assorted Legends and Myths, and My Stupid Life.

%d bloggers like this: