When Toolbox for d20 by AEG came out I scooped it up right away and have found it very useful over the years. Now, in 2009, its big daddy has arrived on the Prime Material Plane and it’s awesome. While some might scoff at a book of tables, I see the Ultimate Toolbox, like its predecessor, as a tome of ideas. The Ultimate Toolbox is physically heavy too, but not just because it has 400 pages, but because it’s made out of Tyrannosaur Rex meat.
Sometimes I’m stuck and need inspiration. Other times I have a great idea and want to evaluate it against another to test its mettle or take it even further. While I’m predisposed to enjoy a book of tables – as you can tell – what I like best about Ultimate Toolbox is the thousands of hooks, seeds, and concepts it has. There are definitely many pure data tables inside its covers, such as Table 3-62: City Smells I or Table 4-28: Rope Knots, but there are also many wonderful tables like Table 6-15: Magic Item Histories, Table 2-35: Weather 1, and Table 7-29: Brute Details.
Ultimate Toolbox Contents
By my rough count there are 900+ tables in seven themed chapters and an appendix:
Chapter 1: Character (Example sections: Backgrounds, Character Paths, Local Color)
Chapter 2: World (Example sections: World Builder, Religion, Environment)
Chapter 3: Civilization (Example sections: Crime, Fanfare, Contacts)
Chapter 4: Maritime (Example sections: Ports ‘o Call, Ships, Pirates)
Chapter 5: Dungeon (Example sections: Trappings, Books and Labs, The Dead)
Chapter 6: Magic (Example sections: Arcana, Druids and Witches, The Planes)
Chapter 7: Plot (Example sections: Villains, Urban Inspiration, Quests and Secrets)
Original Toolbox owners take note: there is little overlap between that book and Ultimate Toolbox. Ultimate contains mostly new tables. In addition, while Toolbox was geared toward GMs, Ultimate has 6 chapters usable by GMs and players, with just chapter 7 labeled as DM’s eyes only. There is also a Table of Contents and an index of all the tables. In addition, sprinkled throughout the book are notes, advice, and guides – well done, authors.
Favourite Tables So Far
It’s going to take more than a couple days of pouring through the book to discover uses for all the tables, but here are my favourite ones to date:
- Tables 1-9 to 1-15: Character Motivations
- Table 1-22: Nightmares
- Table 1-41: Bard Performances
- Table 2-20: Evil Realm Names
- Table 2-26: State of the Nation
- Table 3-64: Monument Description
- Table 3-65: Statues Description
- Tables 3-95 to 3-106: Pick Pocket Yield (perfect for my Carnus campaign)
- Tables 4-6 to 4-10: Dockside Diversions
- Tables 5-21 to 5-23: Dungeon Tiles (tile shapes)
- Table 5-53: Dungeon Captives
- Tables 6-xx Various magic item descriptions (great way to spruce up treasure piles and NPC equipment)
- Table 7-13: MacGuffins
- Table 7-68: Surprise Endings
- Table 7-89: Secret Handshakes
- Appendix: Ambushes
Kudos to the books authors for what must have taken hundreds of hours researching, brainstorming, and compiling: Dawn Ibach, Jeff Ibach, and Jim Pinto.
Campaign Mastery readers, pick a number between 9 and 391. I’ll tell you a table that’s on that page!