RPG Review

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Pathfinder: Ultimate Equipment

From: Paizo Publishing
Reviewed by: Ron’s Gaming Group

Pathfinder: Ultimate Equipment is a new RPG Supplement from Paizo Publishing.

I chose to do this review a little differently. I wanted to get a wide range of opinions on the voluminous book and so I let several of my gaming group borrow the book and write a short review on it.   So this review is from a gaming group’s perspective – GM and individual players.  Each player has their own gaming styles and preferences but all are at least 30 years old and most are closer to or older than 40.  

From the back cover: With this vast catalog of tools and treasures, the days of boring dragon hoards are over, and your hero will never be caught unprepared again.”

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P John Freeman

A player’s perspective

The Pathfinder: Ultimate Equipment is a compilation of equipment listings from multiple Pathfinder sources in one book.  It collects, organizes and re-prints mundane and magical (mostly magical) equipment from the Players Guide, the Advanced Players Guide and several other source materials.  It divides items out into categories, each given its own chapter.  The first two chapters deal with Arms & Armor (non-magical) and Gear.  The next four chapters respectively are: Magic Arms & Armor, Rods, Rings & Staves, Wondrous Items and Artifacts.  Within each chapter, items are listed alphabetically and with further charts for body location, etc.

That is all background; I will admit I was glad to be given the opportunity to review the book because I, frankly, enjoy thumbing through a book like this and thinking “What if.”  From that perspective, the book is a lot of fun.  You can read it and find “old favorites” (Sovereign Glue, anyone?) and new, fun items (Defoliant Polish; kills plants like nobody’s business!).  The new items alone are often fun to read and consider how they might work in actual game play.

However, the purpose of this review is to opine whether or not the book is “necessary.”  This reviewer does not think so.  Or rather, it is not “$45 necessary.”  Many of the re-printed items are likely to be in the Players Guide and other books you probably already own, so in that regard you are paying for something you already have.  If you have a large Pathfinder group, I would suggest a single copy of the book at most for the group to share; it could be beneficial in that regard.  It is a fun “common resource,” but one copy per group is more than enough.

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Dawson Kriska

A DM’s perspective

From the back cover: “Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Equipment is a must-have companion volume to the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook.”

Providing an exhaustive collection of items mundane and magical, the Ultimate Equipment book presents new items and organizes pre-existing into one supplement.

Ultimate Equipment compiles the items from ten years of Pathfinder RPG products into one volume. Although the majority of the content presented exists in other books, having it in a single source proves extremely useful and convenient. A comprehensive guide to alchemical items provides an excellent addition to the collection. With all the playable equipment broken down into comprehensive categories, Ultimate Equipment delivers great ease of use for the readers. A plethora of exotic materials to craft weapons and armor open new possibilities to even seasoned players. At the end of the book a diverse guide to treasure spices up dragon hordes and wealth players gain throughout the game by including valuable art, gems, and in-game collectables.

The book delivers to the readers exactly what it promises and in typical Paizo fashion, the art dazzles and impresses. However, unlike other Paizo products, the consistency of the art leaves the reader wanting. The chapter art opens each section beautifully and most of the in-chapter illustrations match, but others fall far short. Not only do many items remain un-illustrated, but they also miss the opportunity to greet the players with illustration of exotic and Eastern style weapons. Instead, illustrations of long swords, war hammers, and several other fantasy staples appear leaving the players ever wandering what a kyokesu shoge and many others might look like.

The stat-blocks for the items presented follow the same familiar layout, but include some minor updates to make them visually appealing. Several never-before-seen items also make their print debut in Ultimate Equipment. Many of these RPG Superstar concepts make excellent additions to any game. However, this remains the vast majority of original content in a book otherwise full of reprinted and slightly updated material. Though to expect the bulk of the book as original content oversteps reason, the ratio felt too heavy in favor of the reprinted material.

Easily the three most impressive portions of Ultimate Equipment, “exotic materials,” “the alchemical guide,” and “treasure guide” stand out as the best resources for players and game masters respectively. With materials to make weapons and armor stronger, elemental, or fragile the exotic materials portion allows players to customize on a new level. On the other side of the table, the exotic materials include rules for bronze age and stone age weapons to run a more primitive setting.  The alchemical guide includes dozens of inexpensive items for players to craft or purchase. These items go far beyond the typical alchemist fires and acid, to include alchemical solutions as light sources, trap detectors, and more. The treasure guide takes the character wealth by level and treasure reward by CR tables and expands them into fantastic detail. Detailing works of art, tapestries, jewelry, ornaments, and much more makes creating a treasure horde easy, more realistic, and more detailed for the players.

If you seek an easily referenced collection of items and good source of player items and game mastery information, Ultimate Equipment conveys this very well. If you want a book of original content or a guided illustration to the some of the more exotic elements of items, keep your fingers crossed, because Paizo rarely leaves opportunities alone.

Codex Rating: 16 out of 20

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Ron McClung

The Gamer’s Codex Chief Editor/Player/DM

Ultimate Equipment is one of a myriad of books Paizo has put out to support the Pathfinder RPG.  It has released a whole series of Ultimate books.  This contains, as the name implies, 400+ pages of various equipment, from mundane to magical.  It is a rather hefty book, with hundreds of entries for a GM and player alike to peruse. In typical Paizo style, they present a stunning book of everything you can imagine to equip your character.

From the back cover:
“Choose your weapon and stride boldly into battle with
Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Equipment!

The book is broken down into six primary sections and the appendices.

Arms and Armor, as the chapter title implies, describes a vast array of weapons and armor.  It ranges from the mundane and previously published to the more exotic and never seen before (at least in Pathfinder).  From swords, bows, and axes to a variety of strange and exotics blades as well as firearms, this chapter has it all.  I tend to gravitate to firearms, and comparing that section to the Firearms section from Ultimate Combat, I did not see a lot of difference, however.  Much of the Firearms were simply reprinted from Ultimate Combat.

On the other hand, the section on Special Materials was very interesting.  I could not tell you if this was previously published but I am sure some of it was.  However, this presents a clear and organized list of various materials you could make weapons and armor with.  Your armor could be made from dragonhide, adamantine, angelskin or blood crystal.  Or you can be a little more old-school and have stone weapons or bronze armor.  There is a good amount to choose from, if you have the gold.

Gear gives the reader a list of mundane items to choose from.  From adventuring gear, tools and skill kits to animals and transportation as well as entertainment and trade goods.  There is also Clothing, Food and Drink, and Lodging and Services.  Most eye-catching in this section is the Alchemical Remedies, Tools and Weapons.  Alchemical remedies range from cure for nausea (defense again sickened or fatigued conditions) to rusting powder (derived directly from the rust monster’s fluids).   There is a great variety of chemicals, solvents, cures and corrosives anyone can use.  The chapter closes out with a two-page discussion on Poisons.

Magic Arms and Armor starts out with a variety of magical special abilities that shields and armor can have, mostly republished from other sources.  Following that is Magic Armor and Shields, followed by Weapons Special Abilities and then Magic Weapons.  Here I am sure players would spend a lot of time.  I was simply fascinated by the number of special abilities armor and weapons could have.  But on top of that there are dozens of armor as well as weapons.  Most are from previously published sources like the core rulebook and the Advanced Player’s Guide, while some are original.  I’ll leave it to the keener eye than mine to truly discern between them.

Rings, Rods and Staves is probably the third most popular place if not the second.  Here you can find wands, rings and staffs of all kinds, and like other chapters, some are previously published and some are original.  I am not one to know every single ring there is, but when comparing the two sources I have that include rings – the core rulebook and the Advanced Player’s Guide – I was able find quite of few that were not in either of those books.

From the page #4:
“Gear is the great equalizer.”

Wondrous Items includes all the magical items from previous sources as well as original items from the RPG Superstar competition Paizo sponsors every year.  Sorting through many of these items, I was able to find a few of the Superstar entries as well, bringing more value to the book.

Artifacts and Other Items has once again a wide variety of items, both previously seen and new.  These are divided up into three sections – Artifacts, Cursed Items and Intelligent Items.  The Artifact section includes both Minor and Major.  From the Deck of Many Things, the Knucklebone of Fickle Fortune and the Talisman of Reluctant Wishes to Axe of the Dwarvish Loards, Demon Prince Armor, and Skullsoul, there are plenty of unique artifacts to choose from.  Cursed items begins with an explanation of what it means to be a cursed item, and then lists several dozen nasty items that most players should stay away from but their DMs usually figure out a way for them to stumble across.  Intelligent Items are those items magically imbue with sentience and usually are treated as NPCs.  This section begins with an explanation and rules on how to create one.  This is followed by a short list of a few of the known intelligent items of the Pathfinder game.

The Appendices has a few handy tools for a GM to use, including a Treasure Generator, aong with various random tables for the various equipment types as well as a Gems and Jewels generator.

One nice feature is that each type is color coded for ease of reference.  Each group is broken out in subgroups and they added nice tabs on the edge of the pages to make it easy to thumb through.  Of course, this doesn’t really help as much if you are using strictly PDF, but I guess I am old-school that way. Another nice feature are the tables with a complete list of each item type in each section, merging all the previously published items with the new.  The book itself is stunning, with fantastic art throughout.  It is a top notch quality book, like most of Paizo products are.

In conclusion, I tried to determine how useful this would be for those that already bought most or all of the previous products that this books covers.  Usually that is measured by how much new stuff is in it.  But in reality this is also useful because of the organization and ease at which you can look everything up.  It is a one stop shop for all the equipment they have created up until now.  Is it a must have?  Probably not, but it is certainly handy.  It is a little pricey but what hardback book from Paizo isn’t?

For more details on Paizo Publishing LLC and their new RPG Supplement “Ultimate Equipment (Pathfinder)” check them out at their website http://Www.paizo.com, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 15

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Product Summary

Pathfinder: Ultimate Equipment
From:
Paizo Publishing LLC
Type of Game: RPG Supplement
Written by: Jason Bulmahn
Contributing Authors: Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Sean K Reynolds, Dennis Baker, Jesse Benner, Benjamin Bruck, Ross Byers, Brian J. Cortijo, Ryan Costello, Mike Ferguson, Matt Goetz, Jim Groves, Tracy Hurley, Matt James, Jonathan H. Keith, Michael Kenway, Hal MacLean, Jason Nelson, Tork Shaw, Owen KC Stephens, Russ Taylor, and numerous RPG Superstar contributors
Cover Art by: Wayne Reynolds
Additional Art by: Interior Artists: Kerem Beyit, Dmitry Burmak, Vincent Dutrait, Grafit Studios, Francesco Graziani, Michal Ivan, Chuck Lukcas, Steve Prescott, Christophe Swal, Wayne Reynolds, and Kieran Yanner
Creative Director: James Jacobs
Managing Editor: F. Wesley Schneider
Number of Pages: 402
Game Components Included: One hardback book
Game Components Not Included: Core Pathfinder rule books
Retail Price: $44.99 (US)
Item Number: PZO1123
ISBN: 781601 254498
Website: www.paizo.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

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