I recently had the good fortune of taking part in a new Pathfinder game. The GM let us know up front that details regarding equipment and encumbrance were going to matter, so we should make our characters appropriately. Subsequently, I delved into the minutia of the equipment lists, and spent more time than I thought I would going over what my ranger would be carrying and why. It was actually quite fun, giving me some insight into what sort of person my character was – a person’s belongings tend to reflect who they are, and by the time I was through, I found myself wishing I had more equipment (and certainly more gold!) to look through.
Almost as if they heard my thoughts, 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming released Luven Lightfinger’s Gear and Treasure Shop, and a whole new vista of down-to-earth (and not quite so down-to-earth) equipment was laid open for me.
This latest 4 Winds Pathfinder book holds to their usual standards of technical quality. Happily, they seem to have improved on compressing the file size, as this book is just slightly over thirty megabytes for being a bit above a hundred pages. Beyond that, they’ve kept the full bookmarks, which every PDF product should have. The pages all have borders along the top, bottom, and alternating sides. Notwithstanding the covers, all of the illustrations here are black and white, and virtually all of them are utilitarian. That is, since this is a book of items, almost all of the pictures are of the items in question. This leads me to one of my few complaints about the book, that the pictures of things are in no particular order compared to how the items are listed (they’re still in the relevant sections, of course). I can’t really hold that against the book, however, since virtually every equipment book I’ve ever seen has done that; 4 Winds can’t be faulted for keeping to type, and in any event it’s only a minor complaint on my part.
It’s pretty much the only complaint, in fact. Every other aspect of this book was exemplary. Divided into five chapters and one appendix, Luven Lightfinger’s details a wide variety of items that characters can purchase, almost all of them mundane in nature. The first chapter, for example, has the requisite new selection of weapons and armor. I particularly liked the section on armor components, which are additional pieces of armor (e.g. helmets) that can be added to what you’re already using for a greater AC bonus, albeit with commensurate penalties (e.g. lowered max Dex bonus). New special materials for making things out of, and rules on ceremonial (but largely nonfunctional) items rounds this chapter out very nicely.
Chapter two follows suit to the first one by expanding on adventuring gear. A lot of these are minor things, but no more so than what’s in the Core Rules; many of them, in fact, nicely round things out. Having a traveling altar, for example, can be extremely handy for when your cleric needs something to cast consecrate. There were one or two places where I wish more detail was provided – for example, the chirurgeon’s kit can be used to bring back a character who has effectively died (that is, hit points are in the negatives more than their Constitution), but it doesn’t say how soon you need to operate on the patient…can it be used to bring someone back one minute after they’ve died? One hour? One day? I wish there’d been a sentence about that. But this was the rare exception rather than the rule, and from new musical instruments for bards to vials of sleep gas, I quite enjoyed what was here.
It’s chapter three, however, that is likely to be divisive among gamers. This chapter, which is one-third of the entire book, is the “Home and Hearth” chapter, and it comes by that name honestly. This chapter gives in-depth coverage to a wide variety of mundane items. Different types of clothes and shoes, different types of fabrics, different types of sewing and tailoring supplies are all sub-sections in this chapter, all with pricing tables and individual explanations for various items. From there it goes on to foods (which has many sub-sections), jewelry and accessories, writing supplies, and more. There is a LOT of material here.
Personally, I was ecstatic over this level of attention to detail. I like knowing what the difference is between a jerkin and a tunic, for example, or how the book not only described different types of alcohol, but made up fantasy ones (nothing like kicking back with a tall mug of dwarfhead dark stout beer) and even had a sidebar on the effects of being drunk. Finally, I have to give props to whichever of the book’s authors came up with the “crimson aurochs” energy drink. That made me laugh out loud. Additionally, I give the book credit for having a sidebar early on in this chapter which acknowledges that not everyone will care for this level of detail, and providing some reasons to justify being this specific over things.
A similar sidebar is needed for chapter four, “Prosthetics.” If you’re like me, you wondered why this chapter would even be needed, considering how losing limbs isn’t really part of the combat rules. Said sidebar defers to an upcoming 4 Winds supplement that will have such combat rules, but in the meantime notes that these can be used regarding any house rules that GMs are using in the meantime. Personally, I’d bring these in for story effects on key NPCs, since that can help to play up dramatic effect.
The prosthetics themselves fall into several categories, from basic replacements that barely get the job done, to battle-specific prosthetics, to magical ones, and others. It should be noted that these prosthetics are all for lost limbs – hands, legs, arms, and feet. If you’re looking for a prosthetic eye, for example, you won’t find one here. Beyond that, the chapter ends with an insightful note about the effects of armoring up a prosthetic.
The last chapter covers magic items, kept in the literal back room of Luven’s shop. As with many of 4 Winds’ supplements, the number of magic items here is comparatively sparse, and all are specific magic items, rather than any new generic magic properties for weapons or armor. However, I did quite like some of the more outlandish magic items. I defy anyone not to smile as they read the designer’s note for Fletcher Finkleberry’s Fabulous Flying Feather.
Lastly, the appendix covers the eponymous Luven Lightfingers and his shop. Luven narrates the opening of each chapter, and by the time you get to this point, his character already feels very well-developed. Luckily, this appendix really does him justice. Not just a stat block for him, this gives full stats for him, his family, and his employees. It also has a full map for his shop and the neighboring tavern/inn that he and his wife own, complete with room-by-room descriptions, a menu for meals served, and adventure hooks. It’s a great finish to a great book.
It should be self-evident by this point that I really enjoyed this book. 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming did a bang-up job of presenting a book that covers not only items for practical adventuring, but things you’re likely to find among the normal populace of the game world. The result, at least for me, broadened the scope of the campaign, and helped to make it more immersive and (to use a loaded term for a fantasy game) realistic. It’s the little things that can make a good game into a truly great one, and this book is all about the little things. I heartily recommend Luven Lightfinger’s Gear and Treasure Shop – check it out and see why it’s the small things in a game that make such a big difference.