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The Genius Guide to What's In My Pocket? Part Deux (PFRPG) PDF

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Sometimes a GM wants to spark some interest and mystery via some object the player characters find. Even without handing out a major magic item, a GM can make a world seem more in-depth by providing some colorful items that suggest they have a back-story behind them.

To assist in such efforts, this second volume of The Genius Guide to What’s in My Pocket? provides some more odd little items, none of which will be of great use to players, but all of which might pique their interest.

These items were designed to encourage players to ask questions and to act as starting points for GMs who wanted to introduce some new story hooks. The accompanying story seeds are creative motes and ideas rather than specific story elements, and they are best used by GMs who like creating stories and rumors on the fly. Even if one of these items doesn't encourage further investigation when found, it may provide another great opportunity for a GM to create a colorful background when characters attempt to sell it.

When magical, the items list their aura, caster level, and construction requirements.

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***** (based on 2 ratings)

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Imperfect, but Very Good


Length: 14 pages total: 2 pages of instruction and advice, 11 pages of content and 1 page listing the people who worked on the project.

Format: Landscape, 3 column. The font sizes, colors and scale of some pieces of art can make reading some of the entries a little bit of a chore. It's functional, but not particularly pleasant to look at.

Art: Cover + 8 pictures of objects. 4 of the pictures correspond to objects described within and 2 of the remaining pictures are recycled from the first What's in My Pocket? pdf. The art is a mixture of black and white, color and 3D renders. I generally dislike mixing art styles in the same book, because it ends up feeling disjointed and awkward, so their inclusion grates on me slightly. This distaste is compounded by the poor quality displayed in this pdf. The first 3D render is a wildly inaccurate depiction of female anatomy in the form of a statue that has no relevance to any of the items described in the pdf. Its inclusion baffles me. The Bonnet and Totem pictures are good, but overall, I was not impressed with the art in this pdf.

What's in My Pocket?: There are 31 objects listed herein and each gets its own description, story seed and, in the case of the magical items, construction requirements. In order to randomly select one of these objects, we are instructed to roll a d20, and on a result of 20, to roll a d12 and add 19, resulting in the first 19 having a 5% chance of showing up while the final 12 have only a 0.4% chance of showing up. There is no obvious distinction in quality or value from the first 19 to the final 12 so this discrepancy seems bizarre. I would advise either picking and choosing manually or rolling a d4 and d8 to get a number from 1 to 32, re-rolling 32 (this method is similar to how you would roll 2d10 to simulate 1d100). Almost all of these objects are interesting and useful, with one obvious exception: The Copper Chain. Thankfully, the others more than make up for it. 15 of them jumped out at me as being immediately usable and would either be appreciated by my players or by myself. Most of these objects are between 100 and 500gp and have good RP value, increasing the quality of life of your PCs or NPCs. Some good examples would be the needles that thread themselves and a book that records any music that plays nearby. What's in My Pocket II may not have as many items as the first volume, but I think the items themselves benefit quite a bit from the increased word-count. It ends up having a different feel than the first volume but, similar to the first one, the GM still needs to flesh out some details after the pdf provides the inspiration.

Verdict: This pdf has some rough spots, but it does a very good job of providing GMs with a way to spice up a pawn shop or dusty lockbox. Almost half of the content is comprised of items I will try to find a spot for in my home-game, and most of the other items are good enough that they could also find a spot, with a little tweaking. I struggled with trying to come up with a rating for this product, as I quite enjoyed most of the written content, but I don't enjoy flipping through the pages due to some small issues mentioned above. Ultimately, this is a pdf about loot, and none of my complaints will have an impact in-game. The parts that matter work, and it doesn't feel right to knock a good, useful resource for being imperfectly presented.

4.5 stars - the series find its identity


This pdf is 14 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 12 1/3 pages of content, so what exactly do we get?

Well, first, let's talk about what we DON'T get: In contrast to the very first installment of the series, the second one has found an identity wholly distinct from Raging Swan Press' "So what's..."-series: Instead of providing a list of short items that can be found, we get a section of 31 different items that all come with a price and many of them can be considered minor wondrous items that range from a carry around retractable podium to hold books and a mechanic toy that rolls around for some feet before starting to shriek. It should be noted that in the case of wondrous items, construction rules and information is included as well.
Another distinction is that each of the items herein comes with a story-seed for enterprising DMs. The pdf also includes items that e.g. make locating objects via the spell of the same name easier and orbs that allow you to record a message of up to 20 words, needles that thread themselves and similar curiosities, interspersed with a bland copper chain that is an utter filler - I honestly don't get why this break from the usual format has been included - it's neither required, nor does it feel appropriate. Even the shaving kit and gaming tiles (also rather mundane) are somewhat original in that they haven't been done. Better yet, many items take nice twists on everyday items and even toys and could be seen as representations of items that feature in our everyday lives.

The pdf also features some tricks for DMs that are mostly useful for novices à la tracking which items you've already used, different magic item sources and a short discussion of Clarke's Third law, which states that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic and thus makes modern items possible sources of inspiration for magic items and on how to handle players treating magic like technology, which is doubly important when taking into account that many items herein might be also created via steampunk/science. Nice for novice DMs, but nothing new for me there.

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to SGG's 3-column, landscape-standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, which is a pity and a minor gripe I have with this pdf - at this point, all but Bullet point-pdfs should be bookmarked.

Now this book is markedly different from the previous one and is better for it, making this pdf even a viable purchase if you already own the "Genius Guide to what's in my Pocket" and Raging Swan's "So what's that Shiny Object like, anyways?". In fact, I'd go 5 stars for this pdf, were it not for the relative brevity of the pdf (about +20 items would have been nice) and the fact that this pdf has no bookmarks. I gave the predecessor of this file 4.5 stars, but since I wrote that review, the standard has been set even higher - while this pdf one ups its predecessor, it doesn't do so in the extent that would see me rate this the full 5 stars, so what's a reviewer to do? In the end, I'll rate this 4.5 stars and round up in contrast to its predecessor to drive home that this is imho the superior file.

Endzeitgeist out.

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