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RPGs: AEG’s Toolbox is Now the Ultimate Toolbox

posted Aug 8, 2012, 11:54 PM by Douglas Sun
Originally posted: April 23, 2009

I am off to GMT Weekend West first thing Thursday morning, and so blogging has been and will continue to be light this week. You’ll hear all about it when I get back, and next week I also hope to throw in an early reaction to Rumiko Takahashi’s Rin-ne.

But before I leave town, I want to put in a plug for Ultimate Toolbox by Jeff and Dawn Ibach and jim pinto, and published by AEG. It’s the successor product to Toolbox, a Dungeons & Dragons 3E book and the best-selling volume of AEG’s d20 Topics line. Aside from the fact that Toolbox was one of the d20 Topics books that I didn’t work on, it’s easy to see why it did so well; it was a vast collection of charts and tables covering the details that a DM needs to generate in any D&D campaign — stuff like random monster encounters, but also harmless people encounters, traps in dungeons, adventure hooks and a whole chapter devoted to the filigree of urban life. In other words, it’s all the stuff that, as a DM, you don’t think about much in your advance planning, but when the moment for it pops up in your session, man, you need to pull something out of the hat. Toolbox was all crunch and no fluff, and an incredibly useful DM’s reference for 3E.

pastedGraphic.pdfWhat made the original Toolbox so remarkable was the simplicity of the concept. Once you saw it, not only did you wonder how you ever did without it, but its utility seemed so obvious that you wondered why it hadn’t done before, and variously. Ultimate Toolbox takes that successful concept one step further in various directions. It’s a heftier book — twice as long as its predecessor — with over 1,ooo charts and tables covering similar types of useful information. And with WotC consigning D&D 3E to the dustbin of gaming history, Ultimate Toolbox is now system-agnostic, so that it is designed to be compatible with a variety of fantasy roleplaying systems. At 400 pages, it’s a hefty tome with a $49.95 price tag, but it’s also one of those books that’s pretty much all you will ever need to cover a certain set of tasks. If you DM and fantasy is your thing, Ultimate Toolbox will be an essential part of your library. Someday, somehow, you will need it, and need it in a big way.