Game: Ultimate Equipment Guide
Publisher: Mongoose Publishing
Review Dated: 19th, March 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00
Mongoose’s Ultimate supplement series always manage to surprise me. Each time I find myself thinking . o O (This will never work) and then when I get my hands on the book I discover that it does work. The Ultimate Equipment Guide has the hardest task of all, perhaps, since there’s very little room for shades of grey, partial or superb successes. A collection of equipment presented in a book is either helpful or not.
The Ultimate Equipment Guide does work, it is helpful and the only catch is you need to pay $34.95 for its help. I know, that’s a heck of a lot of money but there’s also a heck of a lot of book. As with the other Ultimate supplements the Equipment Guide is a large hardback, 256 pages in all. There are illustrations and indexes galore. The illustrations tend to be small, a centimetre or three in height or width but that’s enough to picture the piece of equipment in question. You can find pages with a dozen illustrations on them. The index is complete, ten pages of small text and numbers. If the bit of equipment is in the book then you’ll find it in the index.
The rules summary is over 30 pages long. Compact grey’n’white shaded tables make up the summaries, putting together all the game mechanics for the items used. This is cost and weight (also always found in the items main entry), damage where necessary and armour stats too (armour bonus, max dex, armour check, spell failure and speeds).
The book is divided into vocational use. Equipment is grouped together by probable use and then the book addresses the groups of items alphabetically. In addition there are some sections for equipment that might more closely associated with a race than a class (there’s no miner class but certainly are dwarves, for example). Each chapter is further divided into specific subsections.
There are really too many subsections to list but a run down of the main equipment chapters looks like this:
Bards and Theatres
Clerics and Temples
Tools from the Orient
Honour Amongst Rogues
In the Wild
The Fighter’s Trade
The Dwarven Forge
The Elven Retreat
Knick-Knacks of the Little Folk
Food & Drink, Herbs & Drugs
Tools, Trades and Crafts
It’s nice to see that attention is paid to Oriental styled games as well as Psychic characters. Mongoose has books out for both (The Quintessential Samurai and The Quintessential Psion for example) genres but they’d still be easy targets to miss.
I’m going to single out the Clerics and Temples chapter for special praise. If you’re fed up of fantasy religions being just like Christianity (but not) or the Christian view of devil worshipping (but not) then this is the chapter for you. Sure, it has all the trappings you’d expect for a D&D game where Clerics are warrior priests but you’ll also find Shaman’s Outfits, athame, besom, kartika blades and even mani wheels.
Chapters like Food and Drink, Drugs and Herbs are an added bonus… probably. If you’re looking for a hardcore swords and shields supplement then you might just see them as filler. I don’t.
The Ultimate Equipment Guide’s real value to you really hinges on your style of game. Nothing takes away from the Guide’s success; it’s easy to use, it’s cosmopolitan, it’s chock full of equipment. It’s just the value for money question, is it worth it? I think it is. It’s the sort of book that can be used to avoid the awful In Character shopping sessions that waste a whole day of roleplaying. A GM can thump the book down in front of the players wanting to re-equip their characters and say something like “If it’s less than 50 gold, you can find it, otherwise, ask me” before the game is due to start. If tooling up is a vital part of your game, or if tooling up is a chore in your game then I think the UEG will tempt you but if you rarely fuss about such things then the price tag will probably out weight the book’s successes.