Things are pretty crazy around my house right now. My son’s sick (again), and both of my children had their birthdays this past week. But, as things begin to settle, we’re ready to get right back into the swing of things here on d20 Diaries. So today, we’re taking a look at another book I recently got my hands on: Pathfinder Player Companion: Adventurer’s Armory 2!
The Adventurer’s Armoury 2 is a sequel to the ever-popular Adventurer’s Armory, which was also released as a Player Companion back in April 2010. As a product from the Player Companion line, it’s a thin, soft-cover book intended for use by players, which clocks in at 32 pages in length. In my opinion, the Adventurer’s Armory was among the most universally useful books in the Player Companion line, so I was thrilled to pick up the sequel.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at what’s inside…
The inside covers both feature purchasing charts showcasing the new equipment in this book. The front inside cover’s home to weapon and armour charts, while the back inside cover’s where you’ll find everything else. This includes adventuring gear, alchemical remedies, alchemical tools, alchemical weapons, poisons, clothing, magical items, and mundane tools. Looking past the covers we find the table of contents and then the introduction.
Although it doesn’t sound very exciting, the introduction’s home to one feat, Equipment Trick, which is an old, quirky feat originally printed in Adventurer’s Armory which allows your characters to make interesting uses out of a specific type of equipment chosen at the time of taking the feat. Only certain items have equipment tricks written for them, and in order to use each trick you must meet its specific requirements. Sound confusing? No worries. You take the feat and select which kind of item you’re going to learn tricks with, then read the list of tricks. If you meet the requirements for any of those tricks, you can use them. If not, keep an eye on them. You can use the trick as soon as you do meet the requirements, even if its many levels down the road. Curious what kind of equipment you can utilize? We’ll touch on that again later. For now, just know there’s plenty.
After the feat, you’ll find a collection of five traits which are all themed around where you buy your goods and feature some of the most infamous marketplaces in the Inner Sea. Including Absalom’s Coin District, Cassomir, Katapesh, Ostenso, and Riddleport, each of these traits are flavourful and fun. That being said, they’re not staples. You won’t read them and decide every one of your characters has to have it. My personal favourite? Absalom’s Amiable Briber, which is a social trait allows you to offer bribes without fear. The first time someone refuses a bribe you offer, that person’s attitude towards you doesn’t worsen, even if the offer normally would offend the person. Cool! Cassomir’s Bountiful Herb-Lore and Riddleport’s Master Messenger are also pretty cool, so be sure to check them out.
Lastly, the introduction features a handy rules index that lists the page numbers of each feat, trait and other rules option presented in this book. By now, one thing’s already clear: not everything in Adventurer’s Armory 2 is new. Some of the equipment and player options in this book are reprints from other out-of-print books. An understandable move, and helpful for those of you who might not own the original sourcebooks.
Moving on from the introduction we come to one of my favourite sections of the book: Equipment Packages! What, you may ask, is an equipment package? Simple! It’s a big collection of gear that your characters can choose to start with. What does it cost you? Two things! First, it costs a trait: Well-provisioned Adventurer. Second, it costs your starting gold. That’s right! If you take this trait you don’t staring gold at all. So, are these equipment packages worth it? That depends. In terms of value, each of these packages is worth about a thousand gold pieces. That’s a lot! In addition, the gear is well-chosen, and varied. Each allows for a minor amount of tweaking with GM approval, which should make them even more accessible. Having that much extra wealth can mean the difference between life and death at level one. However, whether or not you personally feel the gear is better than a +1 to a saving throw, a bonus to a few skills, turning a skill into a class skill, or picking up a quirky minor ability, is entirely a personal preference. My husband wasn’t wowed by it, but I certainly was, and my kids also loved it. I wouldn’t use it for all of my characters, of course, but for plenty these equipment packages are an option I’d consider. In addition to a well-chosen set of equipment geared at many different class types, these packages also include the weight for both medium and small characters already calculated. A wonderful thing if you don’t really like number crunching weights and carrying capacities, determining the adjusted weights for small sized characters, or coin counting to the copper piece. These equipment packages can also be purchased for 1,000 gp, for those of you who don’t want to use a trait to get one. As an aside, GMs can also use these equipment packages as rewards, care packages and gifts to be handed out to your players by grateful NPCs. The only obvious downside? They’re heavy. With the lightest weighing in at 44 pounds (28 3/4 for small characters) your low-strength characters are bound to be overburdened by them. I’d love to see some more light-weight options appear in the future. My favourite equipment packages turned out to be the Arcane Adept (intended for arcane spellcasters) and the Daring Bravo (intended for any lightly armoured combatant). My young son loved the Wilderness Warrior, while my daughter loved the Mystic Guide (which she’d like to use on her next druid). After you’ve given the equipment packages a read, leave us a comment and let us know if you intend to use any. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Next up we come to what most people will purchase this book for: armour and weapons. First up’s the armour. With eight new choices varying in price from 1 gp to 2,100 gp, there’s a wide variety of new armour, even if there aren’t many. My personal favourites are the Erutaki coat, the Varisian dancing scarves, and the reinforced tunic. In addition to armour, this book introduces a new type of item called a modification. Modifications can be applied to armour by a skilled smith, and offer both a benefit and a drawback. You’ll also find a feat later in the book that allows players to better utilize armour modifications. Although cool, none of these modifications are cheap, so invest with care. I’d recommend the nimble modification, which increases an armour’s Max Dex by two, reduces its check penalty by one, but costs 1,000 gp, and adds five pounds to its weight. Burnished also sounds like lots of fun at lower levels. For a cost of 500 gp, five pounds of added weight, and a -10 penalty to stealth in areas of bright light, you can dazzle your enemies with your brilliantly shining armour! Capable of targeting everyone who can see you within 30 feet, this ability has the potential to be really effective. However, each target can only be affected once per day. Other armour modifications include deflecting, double-plated (which I expect will see a lot of use), jarring, nimble, razored, slumbering (which is SUPER handy) and vitalguard.
With that we come to the Weapons. There’s a whopping twenty-five new weapons in this book, most of which are exotic, and only one of which is simple. I’m pretty partial to the cutlass, the lantern staff, and the spiral rapier. That being said, the flask thrower’s going to be incredibly handy for some characters. Past the new weapon options you’ll find a handy list showing what weapon group each belongs to, followed by seven weapon modifications. Weapon modifications work in the same way as armour modifications do, and also feature some feats which can improve their efficiency and capabilities. In addition, modified weapons have their weapon type increase by one step (from simple to martial, and martial to exotic). The weapon modifications included in this book are brutally weighted, dual-balanced, jagged hooks, razor-sharp, serrated edge, tactically adapted, and versatile design. Personally, I think that dual-balanced (which reduces the penalties for two-weapon fighting by -1) and tactical adapted (which allows you to add weapon qualities like blocking, disarm, and nonlethal to a weapon) are bound to see the most use in play.
All in all, I like the idea of modifications more than I like them mechanically. I’m unlikely to invest in them due to their hefty price tag, and the extra weight. Of course, if I’m playing a character who has extra cash to spend, a wide array of proficiencies and carrying capacity to spare, I’d give definitely them a try. I’m very curious to see them in action.
Next up we have a single page of feats. There’s nine of them total, and all of them are combat feats. Seven have to do with armour and weapon modifications, while the last two involve utilization of the dwarven dorn-derger, an exotic weapon that appears in this book. Although I’m sure some people are bound to try out the modification feats, especially Creative Armorsmith and Creative Weaponsmith, I found the feats on offer so specialized that I’m highly unlikely to use them. It’s a shame, but luckily these aren’t the only feats up for offer in Adventurer’s Armory 2.
Leaving the weapons and armour behind we come to the next section of the book, which showcases eighteen new pieces of mundane gear. Of them, I’d guess that only five or six will see play with any kind of frequency. The most useless item on the list would definitely be the false teeth, while the most universally used would probably be the charcoal. It’s so much better than buying ink and an inkpen! But, my favourite? The spring-loaded scroll case. This snazzy little case is five gold, and can be hung from a belt or backpack. It holds a single scroll which can be retrieved as a swift action. Shiny!
After the adventuring gear is a new type of equipment known as preparatory gear. These are items that you practise with for an hour everyday, then make a specific skill or ability check. If you pass, you gain a benefit that lasts for 24 hours. For example, the drowner’s helmet can help train you to hold your breath longer and the practise straitjacket can help train you to escape from bindings. There’s only two other preparatory gear in this book: the hanging board and a thief trainer. Each option’s a bit pricey–between 35 and 200 gp–but is certainly useful. The one hour daily training requirement might be a turn-off for some players, but I don’t mind at all. It’s particularly useful for non-spellcasters who travel with spellcasters and can give them something to do while your casters prepare their spells or pray to their deities. Since the benefits of each last 24 hours, training can also be done at night before heading to bed. All in all I think it’s an intriguing concept, and I’m excited to see them put to use.
Up next is some equipment tricks for use with a few fun bits of mundane gear: ladders, lanterns, mirrors and poles. Each type of gear has between three to five tricks associated with it (poles have three, ladders have four, while lanterns and mirrors have five each). Some of these tricks require a number of ranks in an associated skill to utilize, while others require specific feats as the prerequisites. The lantern tricks are the most utilitarian, and allow users to make their lanterns burn brighter or dimmer and explode like alchemist’s fire when thrown. When being held in the same hand as a shield, your lantern can deal some fire damage with each shield bash. Finally, you can toss lantern oil in an opponent’s eyes with the dirty trick maneuver (your lantern or theirs) which can both blind and burn them. The mirror tricks also sound like lots of fun. My personal favourites let you shine light into your opponents eyes, reflect gaze attacks, and even penetrate illusions! No longer is your mirror just for looking around corners!
Leaving behind the mundane adventuring gear we head into the exciting world of more mundane gear! This time it’s tools and tool kits we’re taking a gander at. Both of these sections are small, with only six items in each. As far as tools go, I was excited for a duo of new bear traps, while my daughter insisted that the portable terrarium was the greatest item in the entire book. (Warning: She may have been biased by the adorable picture of the terrarium, which features a cute little frog in a glass globe…). As for tool kits, I’m partial to the elemental explorer’s kit, and the underground survival kit, although I’m more than ready to admit that the fiendslayer’s kit and the undead survivor’s kit will see more use in play. And what other kits are up for offer, you ask? The emergency interrogation kit, and the invisible enemies kit.
The next section is a single page that features seven new poisons. The cheapest poison up for offer is the delightfully named rainbow scarab shell. At a price of only 150 gp per dose, this iridescent toxin deals strength damage upon injury once per round for four rounds. Although it’s not particularly difficult to resist or overcome, victims who reach 0 strength also begin to suffocate. The priciest poison also happens to be my favourite. Grinding joint paste is an ingested poison with a ten minute onset which costs a whopping 2,100 gold per dose. Made from dried and ground up cockatrice organs it causes a decent amount of Dexterity damage for six minutes. In addition, movement becomes so painful that the victims take damage whenever they swing a two-handed weapon or move more than ten feet in a round. Ouch! I’m also pretty partial to the Leng’s tears, which is a fast acting contact poison which causes vivid hallucinations and paralysis. Failing just once causes a full ten minutes of paralysis, with unlucky victims being unable to move for an entire hour. Nasty!
Following these nasty poisons is another set of equipment tricks, this one for instruments. Of all the equipment tricks offered in this book, this set are by far my favourite. In fact, they might be my favourite equipment tricks ever. I love them! Attention grabber lets your character draw attention to themselves in order to cover their allies movements. Goad animal lets you command friendly animals to perform tricks they know as a free action or push them to perform tricks they don’t know as a standard action. Jaw-dropping distraction lets you feint with a perform check instead of a bluff check. Play to the crowd let’s you use a perform check in place of an initial diplomacy check to influence an NPC, and finally, ruffian’s riff lets you treat an instrument as an improvised weapon with the performance special feature. Got a masterwork instrument? Then it counts as a masterwork weapon. Got a magical one? It’s treated as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. Awesome. I’m definitely going to be giving these tricks a try.
Side by side on the same page with the instrument equipment tricks is a column that I actually loved a lot. Examples of masterwork tools. I know, it doesn’t sound very exciting. But, think of it. How often do you purchase the generic ‘masterwork tools’ from the Core Rulebook. On occasion, right? Maybe if you’ve got a character who has a craft or profession. But this list reminds us that these tools are far more useful than the average player has been giving them credit for. This lists a large number of skills (which don’t already have a designated tool or tool kit), and provides example tools that you could purchase to improve those skills. Want to improve your acrobatics check? Pick up a balancing pole, gymnast’s slippers or a vaulting pole. Feel like being menacing? You could invest in frightening tattoos, an executioner’s hood, or a set of torturer’s tools. How about a reference book to help with a knowledge check, or lubricating oils to help escape bonds. This list really got me thinking about the term ‘tool’ and how they can be applied to a wide variety of characters and skills. I was honestly surprised how useful I found this little column, and I’m sure plenty of other players will get good use out of it, as well.
The next two pages revolve around clothing, with the first page being ten new articles of clothing, and the second being six new spells that need to be cast upon specific articles of clothing. The burglar’s outfit, courtesan’s outfit and squire’s outfit all provide great new options for starting outfits, while the spells allied cloak, grappling scarf, and surefoot boots were all great fun.
Past clothes we get to one of my favourite sections in the book: impromptu equipment. That’s right! Want a list of example objects and their damage for reference? It’s here! Want some magical items that help improvised weapons? Also here! There’s also a few neat feats and, my personal favourite: special qualities that some improvised weapons can possess. So whether you’re wielding a pronged taxidermic moose head, a gross hunk of rotting meat, a heavy anvil, or a burning log, these improvised weapons qualities are a lot of fun that can really get your player’s creativity flowing. It’s going to be a blast! As for feats, check out hook fighter, which lets you turn a grappling hook into a deadly weapon. For magical gear be sure to pick up gloves of improvised might and quick metal bracers, both of which are awesome options for characters interested in focusing on improvised weapons.
As we near the end of the book we find ourselves among a pile of products that can be created with arguably the most popular type of crafting in Pathfinder: alchemy. This section features two new alchemical remedies, three new alchemical tools, and seven new alchemical weapons (four of which are forms of alchemical bolts). My personal favourites were troll stypic (a painful paste which can grant users fast healing for up to 8 rounds) and the tress tincture (an alchemical weapon that causes raid hair growth, which can be terribly irritating, as your opponents hair constantly gets in their eyes and obscures vision. Yes, you read that correctly!). In addition to new alchemical substances we also get three new sets of equipment tricks which showcase the classics of alchemy: smokesticks, tanglefoot bags, and thunderstones. Exciting! Although all three are awesome, the tanglefoot bag tricks are my favourite. If you’ve got a sneaky or stealthy character, definitely give the smokestick tricks a read. The final part of the alchemy section is a new kind of brew called concoctions. These creations are less stable than your typical alchemical creations and are known for having bad side effects. In addition, players who consume more than one concoction at a time roll on a table of random effects. Half of these effects are good, and half are bad. Of those, they vary from alright and not too bad, all the way up to amazing and horrible. If you’re a gambler this can be great fun to fiddle with, but with the options ranging from ‘unleash the full potential of my body and mind’ which allows you to gain a +4 bonus on two ability score for 24 hours, all the way to the concoction explodes within your stomach, or is highly toxic, I’m not really into to testing my luck. The concoctions themselves are typically 50 gold each with the priciest being 100 gp. Each offers a benefit and a drawback. The crystal-sweet concoction gives you +2 on diplomacy and -4 on sense motive, while the sphere-song concoction gives you +1 on Will saving throws and a -2 on initiative. Although interesting, I think these items have great potential for GM
use. These can easily be added into drug dens, dangerous bars and high-end noble parties. They can also be focal points for social encounters, or used as a ‘test of faith’ or as ‘dares’ by gangs, religious organizations and the nobility. Whatever use your group happens to find for them, they’re certainly a colourful (and potentially dangerous) experience.
The next two pages of Adventurer’s Armory 2 feature a variety of equipment from two distinct regions: the Dragon Empires and the Padishah Empire. Each region has an entire page to itself, and contains a few articles of clothing, alchemical remedies or tools, and a special material. Spirit-vision ink turned out to be my favourite piece of equipment from Tian Xia, while the special material, sunsilver, was my favourite object to come from the Keleshite culture.
The final section of this book turned out to be among my favourites. It releases rules for a brand new type of construct you can make right from level one: poppets. If crafting’s not your cup of tea, you can also purchase these little fellows. Although too costly to purchase as a brand new level one character, they’re certainly affordable by the time level two rolls around. These tiny or small creations can be upgraded and modified with a host of abilities, and can even be taken as familiars with a special feat. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you may have already heard me speak about poppets. My seven-year-old son made a mad scientist who is obsessed with creating new life, and currently has two poppets he’s hand-crafted with care. To read more about poppets and our experiences using them in games, read my blog post Character Focus: Professor McMaan, and Crown of the Kobold King: Part One. Short summary: we love them.
And that’s it. We’ve reached the end.
So when it comes down to it, what do I think of Adventurer’s Armory 2? Was it worth the money?
I think so. This books features a lot of new equipment and gear, as well as some cool new rules to go with them. Although most of the rules are quite specialized and exclusive to certain character builds, the items in the book are much more varied and useful. It’s one of those books that you’ll pull out every time you’re making a new character, and pull out again for your first few level ups. Certainly, it’s not as useful as Ultimate Equipment. And with the upcoming change to Pathfinder Playtest this next August, it’s unlikely to be as popular as its predecessor, Adventurer’s Armory, was. But as far as Player Companions go, it’s definitely one of the most universally useful ones they’ve printed. In my opinion, it’s worth it.
Have a copy of Adventurer’s Armory 2 at home? Let us know what you think in the comments! Do you have a favourite item featured in its pages? Let us know that, too!
I hoped you’ve enjoyed this look at Adventurer’s Armory 2.
Until next time,