This is my first review for RPG.net, so I hope it's a good one, or at
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
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?
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.