The fine folks over at Alderac Entertainment Group were kind enough to send me a copy of their Ultimate Toolbox, a book of tables, charts, seeds, and sidebars to inspire and aid the Game Master or player of any fantasy based roleplaying game. This book is far larger than its predecessor, the Toolbox, and is system agnostic to boot. It clocks in at 400 pages, none of which are wasted.
Within those pages are over 1000 charts and numerous sidebars that should help any player (Game Master or not) flesh out player characters, non-player characters, cities, governments, religions, dungeons, and plots (just to name a few).
The book is laid out into seven chapters and an appendix. Each chapter is also divided into sections conveniently marked in the table of contents. Each chapter ends with a section called Using This Chapter which gives a capstone on implanting the many charts and various sidebar information presented throughout the chapter.
This is a veritable mine of ideas, description, and seeds with which to grow your campaign. The utilitarian nature of the Ultimate Toolbox combined with the sheer amount of information provided makes it a difficult supplement to adequately review. So to give readers a better idea about what is contained in this massive tome, I’m going to reproduce the table of contents as well as craft a section of a city using the book.
7: Plot (GM Only)
Crafting with the Ultimate Toolbox
The description below was created after about five minutes of rolling a d20 on several charts in from the Civilization chapter and the Architecture & Atmosphere section. As you can see you can generate some detailed descriptions fairly quickly.
- Building Description: Complicated Connections span a series of buildings all owned by a single landlord
- Architecture: Second-story structures with many windows
- Districts & Quarters: Red-light district
- Neighborhood Features: High crime rate in alleys
- Monuments: Obelisk
- Building Types 1: Aqueduct
- Building Types 2: Concert Hall
- City Sights: Local crowd partaking of a public stoning or execution
- City Sounds: Glass breaking
- City Smells: Burnt Sugar
- Statue Description: Tall, once pure-white obelisk rises to the sky. It is covered with strange ancient writings and is rumored to be only one of many
I have a theory that the best Game Masters are actually accomplished improv artists. They are able to play off of unexpected player decisions without missing a beat. While this book will not teach you improv, it can prove indispensible as a tool at the table to quickly generate details for unexpected situations at the table, especially if you bookmark likely used tables beforehand.
Needless to say, despite the marked price of $49.95, I highly recommend this book. This book will survive the current edition of whatever game you’re playing and prove useful time and again. You can shave nearly $16 off the cover price if you pick up the Ultimate Toolbox from Amazon.