But first, a mandatory piece information: I am affiliated with drivethrurpg.com, and I am (strictly speaking) a competitor of Nine Tongue Tales (as I write and publish similar titles). Decide for yourself if this means that you have to take my review with a grain of salt or not. S
Elegant Fantasy Artifact Generator is available as pay-what-you-want title at drivethrurpg.com. The PDF weighs in at 15 pages (eleven pages of content after subtraction of cover, front matter, introduction and end notes).
Aside from the cover, the release uses only a little artwork as page ornamentation. The page layout is simple, but clear and structured, the content is easily accessible. In my opinion, the overall impression would have profited from applying “block format” to the text passages, but this detail is just that: a detail. One page gives a simple and clear “how to” for the tables that follow (Item Type, Material, Color Accent, “Who made it?”, “How?”, “What for?”, Powers & Features). Item Type consists of different subcategories that may be used separately. This comes handy if you, for example, already know that you want to create a piece of treasure, but are not sure about the rest.
The game aid provides food for thought for the creative process of coming up with your next magic item, but a few aspects of certain tables I found to be more hindering than helpful. The monkey that threw the most wenches into my gears was the Material table. On one hand, there are results in the Item Type table that already -state- the material of the object (e.g. “Bone Armor” and “Wooden Armor” from the Armor table; “Stones” and “Crystals” from the Substances table). On the other hand, the Material table mixes more general descriptions (“Mundane Material”, “Exquisite”) with specific material types (e.g. wood, stone, bone, etc). If the material descriptions would have been kept out of the other categories, their would be less chances for conflicting results.
The “Origins” related tables have some peculiar entries as well. For example, the “Who made it” includes “the Universe/Fate Itself”, the “How?” lists “with the help of undead spirits” (I always treated this as ghosts/restless souls) and “by growing it” (which is strange if the other rolls already told you that it would be a sword made of mundane materials). But aside from these few “headaches in the making”, the tables are good and inspirational. “Powers & Features” includes 100 properties, but some are just drawbacks. Thereby, it may become necessary to roll till you have a set of results you can work with.
The instructions at the start of the document already emphasize that results might have to be re-rolled, and that additional powers and features may have to be rolled for again and again till things fall into place. While no GM should be a stranger to over-ruling the results of the dice, I believe that the quality of a generator table can be judged by the number of times that a result gives you so much trouble that you have to roll again (and again, and again, and…). Such is the case with EFAG at times.
All in all, the Elegant Fantasy Artifact Generator is a solid tool to create some inspiration for the next magic treasure piece, mc guffin or cryptic magic item. Everything is system neutral, and evocative descriptions are part of every table. I give it a 3.5 out of 5. I would like to give it a 4, but the conflict potential mentioned above keeps me from it.
MIND YOU, this means that this pay-what-you-want title is WORTH some money. If you are not dead broke, do NOT be a freeloader. Give the creator at least a dollar, or a little more at a later point if you find yourself using this tool again and again.