This is a review of Jamjie’s Hoard of Tomes, written by Jeffrey Gunnarson, and published on the DMsGuild.

What is it?

In the author’s own words:

Barbaric strength, clerical wisdom, and bardic charisma can go a long way in any Dungeons & Dragons campaign. But what about wizardly intelligence? The skillsets of History, Arcana, Religion and Nature may lack the drama of a stealthy approach or the heroism of an athletic grapple, but they surely ought to have a role to play in the success of any party.

These rules are about helping the most intelligent and bookish characters to contribute to their party’s success by learning from the written words around them. The rules describe a framework for finding, perusing, and studying books to learn new skills and gather in-game benefits based on useful knowledge.

Jamjie’s Hoard of Tomes presents a light-weight system to let characters benefit from reading books in game. Similar to what you would see in an Elder Scrolls video game. Each book includes several pieces of knowledge, with a capstone that provides a minor benefit, such as learning a new language, or having advantage on a certain type of skill check.

I absolutely love things like this that can provide more meat to low-level (or even high-level) rewards and treasure, without just handing my players another satchel of coins.

What I like

This is a simple, but well considered sub-system. It strikes an excellent balance of granting interesting benefits to characters without risking the balance of your party. Even if only one of your players decides to use the system, it is unlikely to cause them to overshadow anyone else. Obviously, there are ways this could be abused, but they’re definite edge-cases, and far less risky than rolling for random treasure.

What could be better

Not much honestly. There are one or two odd bits of formatting and haloing around an image but overall the book is well laid out, clearly written, and chooses art well to illustrate the content. More sample books would always be appreciated, but the book includes plenty to get you started.

Will I be using it?

I think I will be. My party will be passing through a noble’s library in an upcoming session, and I think I will definitely seed it with a couple interesting tomes. It’ll be interesting to see how my players respond.