1001 science fiction weapons. How could I, a truefhan since before most of the users on rpg.net began sucking down oxygen, resist such a product? The best answer to that is "NO WAY IN HELL!!!"
As soon as I became aware of this product's existence, I set out to acquire it, and I have just done to, to my utter delight.
To begin my review I must say that as the product is over 400 pages long and contains literally over 1001 items the review must be fairly broad, obviously.
The book is what it says, a massive tome giving stats for 1001 weapons that are all suited to a SFRPG campaign, and many of which are suited to other genres too.
The weapons are all laid out in d20 stats, but each of them is generally described in sufficient detail to allow any gamer worth his dice to convert them to other systems with minimal effort. One thing I liked right off the bat was that each weapon's weight was included, making it even easier to port them over to other systems.
Basically, the book is divided into chapters, each chapter covers a general family of weapons, from projectile to laser to plasma to incredibly esoteric ones like "lepton guns" and even to the silly, like 'death rays' and 'evil rays' that turn those hit by them eeeeeevvilllllll!
The weapons are mostly serious, but some are patently silly and meant to be used in games that follow the spirit of saturday cliffhangers or the 'HHGTTG" 5 book trilogy.
That's the gist of the book, and the book does it's gist quite well. Despite the fact there's over 1000 weapons, all are given fair treatment, and none give the feeling ghe writer was tired or slacking off as he wrote them up. Many of them have morbidly amusing comments about them, their effect or what kind of society would allow them to exist within it. Example: There's a disposable one shot pistol described, along with the note that particularly callous or mercantile societies might sell these out of vending machines.
The main points I want to make about this book are that given the cornucopia of gadgets it provides, from hand weapons to thrown weapons to guns to artillery and more, such as living, self-mobile weapons, it has something for almost every game genre, and gamers of almost every genre should have this book, regardless of system.
There are some 'organic weapons' that could easily be set in any fantasy setting as being the creations of a particular deity or creature. The plague knife and plague sword are just 2 of many, many examples of weapons from this game that could be used in D&D, along with things like swarm pods, scuttlebombs and other living weapons.
There are so-called 'idiot guns' that are made of plastic and composites which are meant to be used once and disposed of, hence making them maintance free, easy to operate and thus perfect for ignorant and untrained troops. I think most of the idiot guns described will be possible very soon, and could be used in a near future game like Transhuman space.
We also have some very funny weapons, and virtually every kind of 'ray' ever used in a bad scifi book or movie, including shrink rays, freeze rays, slave rays and so on. About the only thing missing was a 'gay ray' that turned it's targets...well you get the idea.
(I was almost sorry to see that there was no gay ray, as I'd love to have one just so I could shoot Fred Phelps and his crew with it the next time they come to my town to torment the relatives of a dead soldier.)
The book has large weapons but no vehicles, but many of the weapons on it could be mounted onto a vehicle you have stats for.
A lot of the weapons are somewhat unoriginal, of course. Some are clearly weapons from certain shows and movies with the names changed to protect the author. Quite a few are very original.
Many of the weapons could be used in a dizzying array of game settings. Some could be used in a modern setting even.(The 'idiot guns' mentioned aerlier could be squeezed into a modern setting without much suyspension of disbelief.) About the only settings that this book might not have at least one or two things for would be historical settings like the wild west or the roaring 20's.
Asides from that, this book could be used for anime, SF, fantasy, near future, ad infinitum.
I really have next to mothing bad to say about this product. The art is quite poor, much of it looks like it was lifted from old game products, and in fact I'm sure one piece near the front was taken from an old star frontiers product. (Yes, I still have star frontiers)
The rest of the art mostly looks like it was done of a PC with a program like Bryce, which I own and have modeled with so I know of what I speak.
But that's OK with me. The art gives the reader a general idea of what the stuff looks like, and that's all a gamer needs. Unlike some games that have gone to full color art and very green pricetags,(I'm not naming any games here, so fanatical defenders of a certain game made by a certain company in Texas can put their damn flamethrowers down.) 1001 sf weapons keeps the art simple, b&w and cheap, making this incredibly useful and huge product weigh in at a very tiny price. In fact, on a price/usefulness scale, this might be the best game product I've ever bought with the possible exception of Gurps vehicles second edition, which I got for 1$ at a convention last year.
At over 400 pages, this product could break your bank on printer ink to print out but for 2 things: 1. While it has something for nearly everyone, almost no one will want/need it all, and the book is done in chapters so you can print out just the bits you need.
2. If you're worried about what ink costs to print out .pdf materials, you need to learn to refil your cartridges.
I really don't have anything bad to say about this when you factor in the cost. It's one of the best, most useful and most worthwhile game products I've ever seen and just about every gamer should have a copy.