Heroes need to be prepared for anything, which means having the right weapons and gear on hand at all times. The well-stocked pages of this book hold an impressive inventory of merchandise to get you into and out of all manner of trouble:
- A caravanload of equipment, trade goods, alchemical items, poisons, mounts, and vehicles;
- over 230 magic weapons and armors, such as the flameshroud axe, lance of the unending charge, and vampire hunter armor;
- over 125 magic items, including new artifacts, such as elixir armor, rings of the hive mind, the ghost rod, and the bag of endless caltrops; and
rules for vehicle combat on land, sea, and air.
Within these pages, players and Dungeon Masters will find what they need to outfit their characters for nearly every contingency. To use this accessory, a Dungeon Master also needs the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. A player needs only the Player’s Handbook.
Your party of heroes are adventuring through the Underdark when you hear a rumbling beneath your feet. You take battle positions. Through the cavern wall opposite you, rock shatters as a massive purple worm emerges. You're simultaneously hit with a wave of stunning psychic force. The purple worm's mouth gapes open, and you can see that it's piloted by mind flayers - riding inside of its mouth.
Clearly, your DM just picked up a copy of the Arms and Equipment Guide (2003), by Eric Cagle, Jesse Decker, Jeff Quick, and James Wyatt.
So Much Glorious Stuff. New weapons. New armor. New materials from which to make armor and weapons. New equipment, outfits, food and drink, alchemical items, poisons, commodities, air vehicles, land vehicles, water vehicles, mounts (any book with a new magic item named the Amulet of Ooze Riding wins a special place in my heart). New rules and details for hirelings, mercenaries, pets, and guard creatures. New magic armor, weapons, potions, rings, rods, staffs, wondrous items, and artifacts such as Wave, Whelm and Blackrazor - including new rules for intelligent and cursed items.
Let it never be said that the Arms and Equipment Guide doesn't have enough content. Even better, it's surprisingly creative content that's just plain fun to use in a game. Mount your villains on an equine golem, give them armor that automatically disarms their foes and a bottle of beetle elixir armor, and they're going to end up being memorable foes.
What this book isn't is an exhaustive list of every bit of equipment out there. It is full of new and updated material, some of it reprinted or adapted from Dragon articles, and doesn't try to recap everything that's been printed before.
Good Advice. Interesting, I find the advice just as valuable as the new gear. There's wisdom and support for running low-magic (or no-magic) and low-tech campaigns. There's descriptions of how weapons, armor, and technology evolved. There's a brief treatise on trade goods and economic systems, including rules for what happens in a time of desperate need vs. a time of oversupply. There's extensive advice on vehicle use within a fight, focusing on how they're made, steered and damaged. Information about hiring guilds, mercenaries and hirelings is substantial, and a list of new commands for pets adds some useful variation to their role in a fight.
The result is a book that's as smart as it is useful. I find myself reading it as much for the game design insight as for the creative magic items and mounts, and that's something of a surprise and a triumph in a rules niche that's known for being dry and fairly straightforward.
I wonder if that's not something of a caution as well. By its nature, the supplement splits its attention between surprising and effective new high fantasy ideas (such as the aforementioned use of a purple worm mount and cyst saddle) and rather low-powered and gritty objects, such as new gear that gives a small bonus when adventuring. Finding the right thematic tone here is hard, and I think the authors worked hard to stay consistent throughout.
Source of Inspiration. You can tell a worthwhile sourcebook when you read it and immediately have multiple good adventure ideas. The Arms and Equipment Guide falls into this category, and then some. This isn't a book that every player in the group needs, but it's one that the DM will want to have and share; there are too many good ideas contained within to do otherwise.
About the Creators. Eric Cagle is a game designer who has worked for Wizards of the Coast and has been a frequent contributor to Dragon magazine. His work includes D&D, Star Wars, Warhammer, Pathfinder, and d20 Modern.
Jesse Decker is an author, designer and editor who is currently director of of Organized Play at Wizards.
Jeff Quick describes himself as the most experienced guy you've never heard of in the gaming industry, having worked for Wizards, WizKids, AEG, Paizo, and others.
James Wyatt is an award-winning game designer and a former United Methodist minister, and is one of the designers of the Eberron Campaign Setting.
About the Product Historian
History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.