Review of Goods and Gear: The The Ultimate Adventurer's Guide

Review Summary
Playtest Review
Written Review

June 11, 2007

by: Andreas Davour

Style: 4 (Classy & Well Done)
Substance: 5 (Excellent!)

An excellent equipment book, with lot of cultural flavour.

Andreas Davour has written 2 reviews, with average style of 4.50 and average substance of 5.00

This review has been read 4399 times.

Product Summary
Name: Goods and Gear: The The Ultimate Adventurer's Guide
Publisher: Kenzer, Company
Line: Player\'s Advantage Series
Author: Mark Plemmons, Brian Jelke
Category: RPG

Cost: $34.99
Pages: 270
Year: 2004

SKU: K&C1203
ISBN: 1-59459-016-8

Review of Goods and Gear: The The Ultimate Adventurer's Guide

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This is my first review for, so I hope it's a good one, or at least acceptable.

The item for review is Goods and Gear from Kenzer and Company, the first in their Player's Advantage(tm) Series.

How Does It Look?

To begin with, what is this book? It's 270 pages, hardback and a sturdy looking tome. It's also labelled "The Ultimate Adventurer's Guide" which can give some idea about what it's all about. I'd say that "ultimate" isn't too bad a word to describe it. It is focused on Kingdoms of Kalamar and Hackmaster. But even though the flavour text is based upon those two games, it's actually very usable for many fantasy roleplaying games. For all games in any way related to a certain 3rd ed game system, it's a perfect fit. This is the only book of equipment you'll ever need.

First impressions. It's a big book, and while cover picture, of a fighting man standing in a stream awaiting the charge of a green dragon, looks nice it don't grab you as a picture most suitable for a book about equipment. Inside there aren't that many pictures, but those available are very good and shows all the myriad of items listed. One of the better and notable, was a series of pictures showing a squire helping his master to don his amor. Every small bit with a funny name is pointed out in the pictures and named. Seriously useful for anyone doing games in a knightly setting.

I'm saying this is the ultimate equipment book? What's soo good about it? What does it contain? Let me tell you.

What's in it?

An equipment guide without arms and armor is unthinkable, the same can be said about lodging and travel and transportation. It's all in there. There's a lot of gear mentioned, like more stuff for thieves and a great chapter about herbs, poison and alchemical goo. There's even a chapter on animals, which I found a bit less useful. The first stuff you see is information about coins and how to barter and then there's the big block of weapons. There's so much pieces of hurting there it's unbelievable! You remember the old polearms schtick from 1st ed? Imagine that much for swords, axes and you name it...

Now, what's good about this book is the other stuff.

Not only are there details about services like how much you must pay for a tanner or a sage, there's also a lot of info about things like hairstyles and costmetics in the chapter about Personal Goods and Services. In the chapter on Food and Drink there's lot of oddities to give colour and flavour to your next visit to the inn. For example let me mention that there is a paragraph about sauces. Really. There's also the really dizzying chapter on Clothing with more items of cloth than you can shake a ten foot pole at, and they are all named. Unless you have a PhD in LARPing I guess this chapter alone with contain more new stuff than your other equipmemt lists. My players these days can eat more stuff than "meat" or "some soup" and they can meet opponents with a distinct look and feel. I like that.

Why would I need it?

Well, if you are using Kingdoms of Kalamar there's a lot of reasons. The flavour text for the equipment gives you more information on how things look like, taste like and feel like on Tellene (the planet of KoK).

If you use Hackmaster I can't do otherwise but look at the eight volumes of Hacklopedias and guess Hackplayers and GameMasters loves options and stuff(tm), right?

For everyone else I think this book can be of great utility. There are not only new weapons to use, but also a lot of gear to use in a city based campaign such as modifiers to Charisma for the fancy clothes you can wear. There's also a lot of "useless" stuff that works great to make your world more fleshed out, such as the above mentioned hairstyles. Quite useless in a dungeon, but very cool to give flair to different cultures in a more roleplaying centred campaign.

If you are interested only in stuff you can use in order to slay monsters and find riches, ponder for a moment a full page spread of swords. That's just the hard data on them blades! There's tables with data about polearms, clubs, axes and other tools of mayhem, and there's great description of their use, and pictures of them all. I might add there are just much information about armor, alchemical tools of healing, fun and destruction. Need I say more?

Wrapping up

I'd say if you're using D&D/Hackmaster or any other fantasy RPG then this is a very useful book. It has much varied equipment, both for roleplaying purposes and for combat. It also has very evocative descriptions of the cultures that use these items and they can be used as is in Kingdoms of Kalamar or as fuel for your imagination.

Actually, I can't find anything directly wrong with this book! If I should mention anything I guess the problem with the book is that it is focused on data for D&D and Hackmaster, and that you have to work a bit to convert it to other gamesystems. Since D&D is the biggest fantasy RPG out there, it isn't much of a complaint.

It's filled to the brim with stuff, so I'd give it 5 marks for Substance. It's not a pretty book with colour pictures but it has some very useful pictures of more unusual equipment, and it's cleanly laid out and presented which is worth 4 marks for Style.

This is a Playtest review which means I have used this in my gaming. What I have done is not given this tome to my players, since that would make them drool over "stuff" too long. But, as an DM I have many times grabbed this book to add a little colour like a bit from the chapter about food and a little something from the first chapter on coins and behaviour in the markeplace. It's a great toolbox, from which I have had many uses. I heartily recommend it as such.

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