Often ignored in the bevy of products on RPGNow are the players. Yes, sure there are player supplements that provide you more races, feats and cool toys for your characters, but rarely does a product come across that give you tools to be a more complete player.
PC Pearls Volume 2: a Collection of Character Inspiration, by Goodman Games, provides players an informational 60-page book compiled with helpful design tidbits for characters. Boasting a compact yet spacious and readable layout, PC Pearls contains information for every stage of a players character.
The pages begin with various tools to turn your name and a bunch of numbers into a living character. Helpful naming guides, background tables and inspirational advice are kept concise and to the point. The tables, specifically the personality quirks and Fifty Family units are very creative. There is even a PC questionnaire that players can use to hone their character.
The next chapters deals with the characters once they enter the world. Providing players with useful advice that help the DMs flesh out the world more. There is a great little peace on gathering information and being specific with where you go to gather the information.
The book ends with information on developing high level characters taking a different approach and discussing broader aspects. The one I really enjoyed was separating into sects of a church which one of my players actually did the previous game. It is the mark of a really thoughtful player who has really taken in the world and wants to make their own niche.
For the Player
I chuckled writing this as the entire book is for the player. As I read it cover to cover in a few hours, I realized that there was not a single bad section or poorly written piece. Not even a single redundant thing. The Metagaming chapter was humorous and so true. It was one of those things that I giggled out loud at and said if every player metagamed like that I would not have a problem with metagaming. Other favorites include a section on unique (and not broken) mounts and creating a distinctive voice in game.
For the DM
Print this out, set this out at your next character creation chapter. Print extra character questionnaires. Watch the creativity work.
The Iron Word
This system-less PDF should be at every gaming table, every game. Whether you are a player or a dungeon master, it is an amazing reference tool for players to use. The collection of writers who came together on this product is a whose who of the Role Playing Game world and it is without a surprise that this is one of the best player guides in a number of years. Not since the Players Handbook II have I wanted to force every one of my players to read a book.
[5 of 5 Stars!]