Elminster's Guide to Magic is a certified DM's Guild Masterpiece by the Going Last Tabletop Gaming Podcast!
When I think about wizardry, I always think about great libraries filled with the lore of the ancient mages who came before. Dusty tomes that link a low level wizard to powerful names like Tenser and Melf and Mordenkainen, not simply because of the spells, but because of the knowledge and advice and guidance these sages could provide. So what did this incredible list of authors create? Exactly what I've always been looking for.
Elminster's Guide starts out strong, devoting the first ten pages to the wizardly banter and lore I'd always wanted. This essay by the elder Ashemmon Blackstaff gives advice to new wizards, from their choice of specialization, to top spells at every level, to the kinds of spells a wizard might choose to study. Of course, such knowledge can't simply come from a single source, so Elminster's asides help fill the pages, giving his own opinion and pointing out poor Ashemmon's fallibility. The whole thing is tons of fun to read, and most importantly, filled with useful tidbits for any new wizard!
Then we hit the meat of the book, over a hundred pages detailing more than 350 incredible new spells for every spellcasting class. While a few have been pulled from other sources and updated for 5th Ed, many of these seem brand new to me. And, as I'd hoped, Elminster's quips and asides continue throughout!
The Great Artifact is the name given to the Rod of Seven Parts, used here as a lead-in to a ton of new and wonderful magic items. The Rod of Seven Parts has never been my favorite basis for an adventure, but so many of the other Rings and Rods presented that have been around since 1st and 2nd ed are certainly worth delving into a dungeon to incorporate into a campaign. With a another pair of pages on Strange Elixirs and a new set of Trinkets, this is a great addition to any DMs bag of rewards.
With all of that done, a lesser set of authors might stop there. New items, new spells, the addition of magical wonder and delight for any player or DM... it could be enough. But that's when this Guide takes another dive back into world-building. A long list of famous spellbooks, names for wizard towers, a table of sample verbal spell components, and then a deep dive into the magical factions of Faerûn which adds new archetypes and ideas for any player? Seriously, this book never stops being incredible.
Whether you're a fan of wizards, or new spells, powerful magic items, or just a bunch of wonderful writers at the top of their game, Elminster's Guide to Magic is absolutely the book for you. With 178 pages of amazing ideas brought to life, this book is absolutely worth the price tag. In fact, it's exactly the kind of book that should be pushing DMs Guild price tags up to where they should be! This is an incredible effort that should be financially rewarded! Highly, highly recommended.
You can hear more of my thoughts about Elminster's Guide to Magic on Episode 219 of Going Last!
[5 of 5 Stars!]