One of the biggest changes to D&D in the 3.X editions of the game is he addition and codifying of skills. No longer is the game hindered with a complicated system of Weapon Proficiencies and Non-Weapon Proficiencies. Now we have a clear, simple, and most importantly usable system of skills.
Making the most of these skills is a key part to ?tweaking? or ?min-maxing? any character. Any source that can improve these skills is a big help to a player. Bards and Sages have given the skill based character a real shot in the arm with their release of The Encyclopedia of Skill Lore.
At its most basic, the Encyclopedia is a collection of books that can train characters studying them in a variety of skills. How wide a variety? How about this wide?
Animal Training and handling
Craftworks: Artistic Expressions
Craftworks: gems and stones
Craftworks: glass and pottery
Language Constructions and Speech Patterns
Performance: acting and speech
Performance: Music and dance
After a suitable period of study, the reader of a volume receives a competence bonus on one or more skill checks. Of course, they one get this bonus if an Int check reveals that they have properly absorbed the material. There?s a well thought out, and easy to use system of study included here that could easily be used as an adjunct to the standard experience system if you wanted to add a level of complexity ie. Training times, etc.
In addition to the books in the Encyclopedia, there are a number of other books included that offer similar effects, as well as a collection of book-related items both magical and mundane. These items are one of the better portions of the PDF. In general they are items that would be of great use to wizards and other knowledge based adventurers. Things like the Portable Library Shelf and Pen of Scribing would be exactly the kind of treasure one might find in a wizard?s study. All the items in the book are well balanced, and fairly low powered. They would make good loot for beginning parties, and should remain useful throughout an adventuring career ? which is more than can be said for the average +1 weapon.
<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: The book related items are a lot of fun. They would fit perfectly into any number of arcane libraries, wizard's towers, or necromancers workshops.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The bonuses provided by the books all vary. There doesn't seem to be any pattern or balance to the books. this is offset by the proper item creation costs being adjusted accordingly, but I would have prefered a standard bonus package per book.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>
[4 of 5 Stars!]