Wizards started showing previews of their up coming book Adventurer’s Vault today. The book is described as having “Hundreds of new weapons, tools, and magic items for your D&D character” which sounds pretty nice from a DM’s perspective.
The most interesting thing for me was the preview of the wondrous item, Bag of Tricks.
The Bag of Tricks was always a neat little bag of summoning in 3.x (and possible before that, I’m not that familiar with magic items pre-3.0) that gave you an animal to command for a short amount of time. When I saw this as a preview I was a tad confused since it seemed they were trying to get rid of summoning spells and such.
Still, it was there and it indeed still summons an animal. Essentially you need to give up a standard action to summon the animal but you can then use minor actions to command it each round. They only showed the stats for one such animal (which are all minions so the enemies could potentially flatten them with one attack) and it was from the weakest version of the bag.
In 3.x my party had two of these bags and my wife liked to use them when she could. However, they were hardly ever all that useful and more often than not the other players would talk her out of using the bag because it would not benefit the party enough.
In 4E it often feels like the players are better able to make their own decisions in combat without worrying constantly about a party wipe, so using the new Bag of Tricks seems a bit more viable. While the item is not broken by any means, it certainly seems useful in that it can help with flanking, gives you something to do with your (often wasted) minor action, and can absorb at least one attack from the enemy.
I like this take on summoned creatures and hope that eventually there is a summoner class who can summon minions to the field. I understand that one of their concerns with this is allowing one player to control several minions (pets, constructs, or whatever) gives that player more actions than the other players and can detract from other’s enjoyment. I really don’t see this as being as much of a problem as Wizards seems to but it certainly can get a bit carried away.
So, go check out the article and then wait patiently (or like me, not so patiently) for the book to come out!