Books of Knowledge – Magical Trinkets is a supplement by Jesse Benjamin.
The supplement contains a large collection of books that grant the characters minor benefits and, sometimes, hindrances. A Book of Knowledge is not considered a magic item so it can’t be distinguished from a mundane one until a character holds it.
The effects of the books are interesting; some I could call funny. Most of them are quite specific and aren’t very powerful. This is a way to make sure they do not break the game. After all, they are just non magical trinkets so they can’t be overpowered.
Some examples of the benefits are the ability to reroll a check, apply your proficiency bonus to some others, and even change the skill used. Many of these can be used once per short or long rest. Hindrances can be found as a small amount of damage after a long rest. About the specificity of the benefits, it makes them not fit in every campaign and situation, which in my opinion is fine because you shouldn’t fill a campaign up to the brim with these books.
As I mentioned, the Books of Knowledge can’t easily break your game because of the minor benefits they grant. However, there are extra mechanics that make sure of that. The author introduces the mechanic of Minor Attunement. This allows a character to be attuned with up to three books at a time, without having to mess with magic item attunement slots.
Not anyone can attune to a book, since there can be some prerequisites, such as the ability to cast spells. Also, in order to attune to one book, first you have to spend a specific amount reading it. When that’s done, you have to succeed on a History check, whose DC is determined by the rarity of the book. The reading time can range from a short rest to 3 days or more. This means, you can’t always use the books the moment you acquire them, but reading a book does take some time.
As you can see, there are a couple of things the players, and possibly the DM, will have to track, even though their complexity isn’t that great. However, I believe that was unavoidable in order to keep the players from taking too much advantage of the books.
The editing and the layout are good. There are also quite a few pieces of art here and there. They are of various sizes and they add to the flavor of the supplement. Since I mentioned the flavor, I’d like to note here that every book presented in the supplement also comes with a bit of a flavor text. This could be considered a minor detail but I really liked it.
The supplement contains 100 Books of Knowledge for you to use, which is an incredible amount considering its price of 1$. At the end of the supplement, there are a few tables that help you determine where a book could be found, depending on its content.
Overall, Books of Knowledge – Magical Trinkets could be a good addition to a DM’s arsenal. It contains interesting items that grant minor bonuses, and potentially could be used even as plot hooks.