Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TSR's The Book of Marvelous Magic

A while back I picked up a copy of TSR’s supplement AC4 “The Book of Marvelous Magic”on eBay. I couldn't remember ever seeing a copy when I was a kid, and was interested to see the state of the magical arts back in 1986. AC4's a cornucopia of offbeat magic items that might provide some inspiration for creating your own items that fall into the “miscellaneous” category. I suspect Gygax and Mentzer went alphabetically through the dictionary for ideas for some of these. Eye catching entries from the table of contents include anchor, awl, bench, buckle, button, canoe, cleat, desk, fan, fork, gaff, hinge, inkwell, jug, kite, log, muzzle, oar, pitchfork, rake, rudder, slate, sundial, tent, tub, xylograph, yoke, and zither.

I’m trying to recall what my weirdest magic item creation ever was back in the day but drawing a blank. I think I was pretty conservative, probably to maintain any appearance that I knew what I was doing. More recently I’ve written up (and posted here) flags, undead bird heads, masks, a conch, a fruit, and a candle snuffer among other things. The snuffer I later discovered had already been written up in AC4, more or less... of course the supplement has several kinds of snuffers to boot.

There’s more than just a couple of arguably silly items found in this book. Here's two that have accompanying illustrations… (paraphrasing)

The Barrel of Monkeys
This item both contains an albino ape as well as polymorphs anyone looking into the barrel into an albino ape. Also, albino apes will continue to pop out of the barrel every turn until there’s a hundred of the things. It’s not clear here whether they disappear back into the barrel (or into thin air) once everything and everything nearby has been torn asunder. Or maybe they go on to live fruitful lives of mindless destruction forever after. The barrel loses its power if moved, but not if you move it telepathically. Since it’s not clear where the apes go, and also not clear if when a second person looks into the barrel whether another hundred white apes appears, this thing might very well be a weapon of mass destruction.

Wheel of Burning
Dude should have been wearing his Britches of Coolness

There’s this wagon wheel which, when commanded, throws Light ahead of the wagon on which its mounted. But unlike the harmless Wheel of Lighting, the Wheel of Burning will turn on you if anyone enters the light itself that’s been projected - then you'll feel its wrath! The light it projects will shift to become centered on the vehicle and then start to burn any creatures there. Hence the picture above.

So what's your favorite mundane magic item that you wrote up or that your DM threw at you?


christian said...

Well, at least he's not holding his ass after opening the barrel of monkeys. That would be, um. uh...never mind.

Telecanter said...

Odd, I like to think I'm pretty clued in on TSR products, but I've never heard of this one.

That wheel of burning sounds like something I would never want to use as a player. What the hell?

Aaron E. Steele said...

Bad puns and popular sayings are perfect inspirations for D&D game elements.

At least that's where I always presumed the Beholder came from.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...


You'd use it as a trap, naturally.

Unknown said...

My wildest item; the "Codpiece of Holding." A codpiece which was bigger on the inside than out, used for smuggling items. If you are going through a search at the city gate, how often will a guard muck around with your character's codpiece? So, you stick contraband in your codpiece of holding.

I need to write it up again for my blog.

ze bulette said...


@Telecanter: Yeah, this was kind of odd to me too. re: wheel of burning, maybe it just gets sold to the party as a replacement for their cart? Dunno. It made me think of the wagon in your lava tube adventure though.

@The Grumpy Celt: That's what I'm talking about!

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