|30 Cursed Treasures, the latest in the #30 series from Rite weighs in at 23 pages, with 19 of those being the pages containing new game material. Written by John Bennett and featuring more of the amazing artwork Steven Russell has a knack for finding (this time out treating us to pieces from Arthur Rackham), this installment to the series continues the dual column format, with the occasional embedded piece of artwork, as well as the classic Rite publishing page frame.
Cursed Items are always an interesting thing to incorporate into a game setting, as the idea of adding true curses, those powerful afflictions that defy magical means to rid oneself of, well...something has to bring a chuckle to a GM from time to time...and nothing seems to work quite like watching a playgroup scramble to rid themselves of a cursed item that just won't go away...
Each item is given a price (as per its material value and its collectable value), a physical description, a detailed explanation of the trigger that sets off the curse, what the effects of said curse are, the history of the item (great for mining for immense amounts of story ideas, adventure hooks, side quests...and of course the terms for removal of the curse upon the bearer.
As there are thirty of these items, I am going to limit myself to a few choice items, beginning with Rexzor the Red's Dragon Tapestry. Rexzor was your atypical Red, big, nasty, greedy and on a shortlist for hero's to try and kill. And when his day finally came, from his scales a tapestry was made by one of the victors of Raxzor's final battle. So, we've got a back-story, we've got a cool item, I mean a tapestry made of woven dragonscale?? That's pretty cool...so what's the curse right? Simple, fire. The minute a new owner hangs this unique wall art within his home, the clock is ticking for the place to burn to the ground. A fairly specific method for removal of the curse guarantees this item becoming an adventure for a playgroup if they end up with it, as there is only one way to be rid of the tapestry...and the minute you touch it you want to take it home and hang it up...lol.
Glutton's Gold sent me to Google to verify a word, and its meaning (lol), and before anyone out there not knowing this word, or its meaning, I beg of you to learn it before contacting Steven to yell at him, lol. Now, that out of the way, what we have here is a hoard of shiny gold coins just waiting to be found...only problem is they leave anyone who possesses any of them with an appetite for actual gold, strong enough that they will suffer if they do not eat enough, daily. The Burnt Crown of the Wood Elf King is one of the most bizarre items as far as its history goes that I think I have ever come across. The crown of the elven king Eltee'ae, the crown holds within it his extreme hatred of all animals...yeah, you read that right, an elven king...hatred of all animals. The hatred sprang from his being taken aback by human druids using animals to attack his kingdom...so, an elven king sees animals of his forest being used as weapons against him and his, and blames the weapon, not the people steering them? Sorry, this one doesn't work for me. Copper Pennies of Apathion is the classic ancient people sold their souls to Charon, and used these coins to denote other souls they were sending in their place type of thing...hence the whole placing a coin on each eye of the dead.
Cube of Zaz is an interesting concept for an item, as the ramifications of introducing one to a divine caster who relies upon prayer in your campaign could be long standing. The cube “replaces” the character's God/patron...whomever it is that grants them spells for their prayers. The cube does not provide as many spells, nor any domain spells or abilities...but unless the character can find a way around the cube to contact their deity they would have no reason not to believe they had simply upset their God and that was the reasoning behind the lesser granted perks for prayers.
OK, so final thoughts here...there are some pretty cool items presented here, far more cool items than not. The format of how they are presented is extremely cool as well, giving a piece of history to each as well as the methods of removal being far more than “cast this spell” standard fare. However, the PDF is riddled with small editing issues, mainly in grammar. Nothing to the point that you can't understand what you are reading, but certainly enough that you notice it. Cursed items are a great way to add some serious levels of danger to your game, but only if you as a GM are willing to put in the effort to make them cool. There are several here that could become part of some great memories for your players, and for that I am going to give this PDF a 4 star rating.
[4 of 5 Stars!]