The introduction talks about reclaiming the excitement of early dungeon adventures, and of customising both armour and weapons for the opposition you expect to meet. The way in which this is to be accomplished is by presenting hundreds of new weapons, armours, materials and magical effects. Dungeon Masters can experiment when equipping the Bad Guys or placing loot, and players can customise to their hearts' content.
They say the best defence is a good offence, so it's not surprising that the first chapter presents a dizzing array of weapons, beginning with a set of brass knuckles and working up to the likes of a horse-hacking sword (yours for only 30gp). There are summary tables with the basic game mechanical information (the sort you add in the weapon slots on your character sheet) which are sorted by type and size, then an alphabetical list of full descriptions of what each one is. There are some illustrations to give you an idea too. You'll find out why an executioner's sword is not the best choice for a combat weapon - it's designed for overhead lopping of heads from victims who aren't offering resistance, the balance is all wrong for normal fighting moves. Oh, and the horse-hacking sword is actually a pole arm! Plenty of exotic weapons from the likes of Chinese tradition too.
Next comes a selection of weapon qualities that can, in the main, be applied to any weapon you please. Again these come with a table and descriptions. class-oriented weapons. This is followed by a collection of 'class weapons' - maybe your bard would like a flute sword, it looks (and plays) like a flute until a command word is spoken and a blade shoots out. One way to deal with a hostile audience! There are similar fun, and sometimes useful, ideas for all the main classes. Clerics have a series of rods, one for each domain, to choose from, and likewise wizards have staves based on their favoured school of magic. Grenade-like weapons, miscellaneous weapons and ranged weapons are covered, then there's a section devoted to the sword... not that there haven't been plenty of swords already! Some more exotic ones, and then legendary artefacts - one-of-a-kind items. Finally some strange ideas indeed. Can a weapon gain experience? Or levels?
Armour is then treated in similar fashion, beginning with new armour types presented in table form followed by more detailed descriptions. Interestingly, several kinds of clerical vestment can provide protection to the cleric inside, while bards can strut their stuff in tooled and decorated leather jackets. There are also armours made of exotic substances like bark, spidersilk and bone... even clay! There are a few shields, and a collection of armour qualities that may be applied to any armour or shield as detailed in the text. These enchantments are many and varied, but in the main useful to the wearer. Some are best suited to members of a particular class, but most will work for just about anyone. A following section details an array of specialised class-based armours, so there is plenty to choose from.
The armour section winds up with a selection of artic;es on shields, an optional damage reduction rule, armour artefacts and constructs - basically enchantments that let an item wield itself! These include amulet servitors, which expand from a simple disk at need, and golem armours. Finally there are some new materials - which have appeared in item descriptions throughout, now you get to find out in more detail what they actually are and what properties they have.
So there you have it. A bewildering array of armours and weapons to make shopping even harder for your characters. The choices, the choices! Or scatter them around the next place the party raids and watch their delight, or bafflement, as you describe (but don't explain) what they have found. The next adventure can include finding out what that cool armour does, or maybe who wants it back!
Return to Arms and Armour page.
Reviewed: 3 July 2019