D&D: ‘The Book of Many Things’ Has a Ridiculous Amount of New Magic Items
The last official D&D book of 2023 is plagued by Many Things. But amid the chaos, there are some aces to put up your sleeve.
The Book of Many Things marks an interesting point for D&D 5th Edition. Because there’s currently only one way you can get it. And that’s by purchasing the digital copy from Roll20 or D&D Beyond or wherever. The physical book, which many players might want, was only available as part of a bundle, which included a beautiful deck of cards that could serve as a physical Deck of Many Things and a reference book for said cards.
But manufacturing delays mean that you can’t even get a physical copy of the book. WotC, who, you know, haven’t been making cards for the last thirty years or anything, will eventually sort out the manufacturing defects. But as D&D becomes more D&D Beyond-centric, setting things up for the official Hasbro-WotC virtual tabletop that is coming, make no mistake, will physical books be relegated to collector’s items as the default switches to digital editions?
And if so, will WotC finally embrace PDFs? The answer to that is almost certainly “not unless management completely changes”, that idea seems entrenched there no matter what. So, forget about getting a convenient file format you can access without having access to the internet. But. The future of D&D is digital.
And The Book of Many Things kind of sits right there at the front of it. I don’t know that physical copies are going anywhere anytime soon. But the incentives are all behind pushing digital D&D.
Let’s leave that aside for now, though, and talk about the book itself.
The Book of Many Things – What is It?
At its heart, The Book of Many Things is a 192-page sourcebook dedicated to all things Deck of Many Things related. Includes new cards to put in your own in-game Deck of Many Things, as well as a ton of new magic items, a feat, a few spells, and a surprising number of NPC enemies and new monsters.
The theme of the Deck is such an interesting choice. It’s not my own personal cup of tea. But the specificity of it plays extremely well. The devil is always in the details. And when you know what details you’re working with, they’re easy to find.
All the big flashy Deck of Many Things cards get their own chapter. And yes, there is a chapter devoted to both Ruin and Donjon. And they’re great. Donjon, in this case, represents a literal dungeon, the Donjon Sphere, where players who draw the card might be trapped.
Or it’s just a cool place to go and adventure. There are several such mini-adventures and/or dungeon crawls sprinkled in the book. This book is such a grab bag. And at times that really works for it. Other times it makes it hard to use the book as a reference.
Magic Items are scattered throughout multiple chapters. The same goes for monsters. If you need something, it’s frustrating to find it, which is an advantage that the digital format has. Books are searchable, but it’s much faster to type something into the search bar and let the crawlers find it.
Probably the most indispensable thing about The Book of Many Things is the wealth of new magic items. The items in this book, in particular, feel a little bolder. They’re more “out there”.
The Deck of Many Things can be weaponized, in a way. Where you can draw from it and brandish the cards within at enemies to create an effect based on whatever you draw. That’s a real fun mechanic. And is extremely good if you have an actual deck of cards close to hand.
There are also a ton of items that feel like they should’ve been in there in the first place. Monk/unarmed handwraps that can be +1/+2/+3. There are weapons that are specifically designed to destroy Walls of Force.
New armor and bow-type weapons. You can find an item for pretty much any taste in here. Which is a wonderful new injection into 5th Edition.
The new spells are a bit of a letdown in comparison to other spells that exist in more recent books. It’s hard not to compare and contrast when books like Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything have raised the bar a little bit.
Similarly, the Cartomancer feat feels like a weird, tacked-on edition. You can almost feel the designers butting up against a restraint that’s been placed on them. Cartomancer should almost certainly be a subclass that’s dedicated to card-based magic.
Instead? You can imbue a spell into a card and cast it as a bonus action. I dunno if it’s a decision to limit new subclasses permanently or just until the new edition comes out, but you really feel the absence in a sourcebook like this.
In conclusion, The Book of Many Things is a book for people looking to add a shotgun blast of new stuff to their D&D games. Everyone will be happy with the new magic items. Players might get the shorter end of the stick here.
But DMs will have their day. The new monsters and NPCs offer up some fun options to play with. The new dungeons seem like they’d be fun to run, though as always with WotC adventures, you have to go through and read it first to find all the bits that don’t work the way they’re supposed to, either because they’re too deadly or not nearly challenging enough.
What cards will YOU draw?