Have you ever been completely unprepared for a session or the direction a session goes? Perhaps you have regretted adding that alchemist’s lab when the party begins digging through every shelf and box in the room. Maybe your planning time was cut short by a rogue flat tire and you need to wing it more than you are used to. Today, I have three items for you that will aid in these endeavors and add some interesting items to your players’ inventories. Normally I do one review for one product, but this review concerns a series of products that aren’t super huge, so we’re going to highlight the series as a whole. You can find the Bags of Flavour series here.
The first thing that you need to know, the first thing that stands out, about these products is that they are random generators. That means nearly the entire supplement takes the form of a series of tables from which a set of die rolls can be converted into a variety of items! Depending on what game you are playing you may be quite familiar with these sorts of tables. It is the kind of thing one uses to generate treasure, NPCs, or names. Most RPGs include some kind of table like this, something to make the life of a Game Master a little easier when they need a quick creation or need to quickly create multiples of something, or to simply randomize an occurrence. Sometimes you don’t want a person, place, or encounter. Even treasure tends to get picked through to make good stories or help the PCs that exist. Sometimes it is good to give player’s random ass items though, and that is what Dwarves In A Trenchcoat is aiming to help us with.
The Bags of Flavour series has three parts, at the time of writing this: books, bottles, and trinkets. Their topics are obvious, but the variety that each provides can only be expressed by peering through the product. As an example, the books supplement provides not just tomes but carvings, tablets, and scrolls! You may be thinking that to provide so much is to over extend yourself. Perhaps there is a lot of repeating or recycling of ideas with only minor twists. The author has not done this, instead there is a nice mix of item types. Ten in books and bottles, and twenty in trinkets. Each category is then broken into ten random items. So you still get 100 different things, or 200 in trinkets, which focus more on look and construction rather than topic. As a result you have both flexibility and re-usability. If that wasn’t enough each has some extras to help you out. The book supplement has expanded tables to form tomes including binding, pages, subject matter, and ink. Bottles includes a table of potential contents and trinkets includes categories that focus on location, NPC, or adventure hooks.
Production & Cost
These PDFs are minimalist. The tables are easy to read, clear, and contain a readable font. They are boldly headed by the title of the table which simply describes its contents, matching the previous table you may have arrived from. Pages are numbered and a table of contents allows you to easily find a specific page you may need mid-session. All-in-all they are simple supplements, but that is an incredible useful thing. They contain art, but not over-much. There is no excessive boarders or the like, and there doesn’t need to be. This is utilitarian. This is a product for preparation and quick use. It’s easy on the eyes and perfect for printing. At $2.00 each, these supplements you will get your money’s worth and much more millage than that.
I already took note of the content in the first portion of this review, but I want to go a bit deeper. First of, I need to repeat the breadth of items you can pull from these products. I assumed there would be a lot of books inside the book supplement, and of course there is, but I was pleasantly surprised to find scrolls, bound leaves, and stone tablets included as well. Bottles similarly made me think, “OK we will get a nice variety of alchemical stuff, right? oils, potions, etc.” Again I was wrong but happy by being so. Instead I was reminded just how many containers exist to hold liquids and what those might be like from the mundane to the rare and exotic. Of course I love that there is a catergory of exotic glassware and ALSO one for “weird things”. That’s my kind of random generator.
Finally, I need to mention the usefulness of the products. Obviously, they serve a specific task and they do it in abundance. But how versatile are they really? Despite the OGL being Pathfinder-based, these products are not mechanically biased. There are no mechanics here. This is fun, fluffy, weird, story stuff. These types of products are some of the best, if you ask me. I can pick this up and use it whether I am playing Savage Worlds, D&D, Pathfinder, or a Powered by the Apocalypse system. I love being able to do that. As for content for cost I would say they are all well worth the $2 price. Trinkets gets you the farthest and bottles is weakest being only 16 pages, if you need to choose one.
The TL;DR is that Dwarves In A Trenchcoat have produced some small but hefty random-generator supplements, well worth their costs in content value. I will have these at my table all the time, and cannot wait to see more from them in the future!