Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Types of Supplements We Like Most

Looking through my pdf collection, it occurs to me that while I enjoy RPGs that are self-contained and don’t need a ton of splats to be playable or feel complete, I definitely went through a stage of picking up a lot of supplements during the height of the d20 craze. Most of those books are now gone, and my supplements for systems such as Castles & Crusades and Pathfinder are few indeed. It takes a lot more to make it on my shelf these days, apparently.
I think that the types of supplements I’ve enjoyed most are collections of magical items. The Encyclopedia Magica, for example, was a tremendous amount of fun, because I could flip to a random page and find something like a Rope of Ladder Enhancement. Perhaps only a small percent of those items ever saw the light of day in one of my campaigns, but the Encyclopedia Magica still ranks up there as one of my favorite supplements.

Equipment guides also seems to find their way to my shelf. Iron Crown’s …And A 10-Foot Pole is still the best equipment supplement I’ve ever used, but the 3.5e Arms & Equipment Guide found its way to my shelf early on. So did Palladium’s weapon books. I don’t know why, but long lists of weapons, trade goods, daily necessities and the like have always held a bit of a fascination for me.

Bestiaries? Not so much. I had the requisite Monster Manual, of course, but I’ve never needed a lot of baddies. I usually end up repurposing the ones in the main monster book, or creating/generating my own terrible creations. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a lovely mix of terrible beasties, but I don’t seem to support it with the wallet, either.

Other items like campaign settings (love the map, enjoy perusing the settings, but sort of have my own thing going on, unless it’s some tremendous like Hellfrost), new classes/feats/races (if it’s too exotic it probably won’t get used; if it’s another kind of elf, I don’t care), and spellbooks (I don’t play a lot of magic users, and new spells usually need to be at least nominally checked out before being allowed) have seen spot purchasing here and there.

Really, a format now largely lacking that I miss are the old Rolemaster Companions. They might have a few new races, a couple new classes, new spell lists, skills, etc., etc., all in one tome. The closest thing to this I’ve seen recently is the Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide, but you also want to be sure with this sort of product that you aren’t superseding or causing tons of rules updates in the original core product.

Of course, there are also GURPS supplements such as Age of Napoleon or Scarlet Pimpernel, I don’t use the GURPS system, but their sourcebooks are golden nonetheless.

So what about you? What sorts of supplements have you favored over the years?


Loquacious said...

I just finished reorganizing our RPGs last night. My personal collection- I tend to be a complete-ist. I buy a system or a system sub type (WOD: CtL or WtF for example) and all of the supplements regarding the system in question.

My husband generally buys bestiaries, monster books, maps, "resource material" such as
R Talsorian Games "Compendium of Modern Firearms" aka the Big Book o' guns; and faction books.

N. Wright said...

I generally just buy core systems that interest me, and very, very rarely any sort of supplement. I'm a tinkerer, you see, and buying somebody else's supplements just makes less for me to make myself.

It's like buying a bookshelf. Why would I buy one when I could make one myself? It's not like I don't have the time or the inclination, so why take the fun away from myself?

Yong Kyosunim said...

I'm really big on Monster Manuals. For my shelf, I have about 20 of them, though since I'm playing Pathfinder and we're all still exploring the rules, I've been sticking with the Pathfinder monsters only before branching out.

When not looking at Monster Manuals, I like campaign settings just to get ideas or maybe a new race or class for my campaign.

Then I follow it up with any equipment or magic loot guide.

clash bowley said...

I like Setting books, source books, and books with additional/variant rules. I have never played GURPS, but I have quite a few GURPS sourcebooks including the two you mentioned.


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kelvingreen said...

I have to say that I can't think of any supplement I'd consider essential. Of late, I've very much come around to the idea of using the core book on its own if at all possible.

I think this comes from my experiences with running various games and discovering that there just wasn't that much useful material in the extra books. Call of Cthulhu, for example, hasn't got a single supplement worth having (except Dreamlands, perhaps, but that's a bit niche), and while Shadowrun 2e had lots and lots of supplements, the game was worse off for them.

The rise of the pdf has made things easier. I can buy a hardcopy of the core book and then get everything else I might want in pdf, so that if there is something useful in there, I can print it off and tuck the (usually single) sheet into the relevant bit of the book.

A lot of it is that I just don't have the space in my book bag or my mind for all this tat.

Anonymous said...

The central casting series of books was good at helping create back ground for new characters. The Fantasy book was the my favorite of the series.
The different worlds articles were good at giving good advice also. THe Blame it on CC was one my favorite ones.


Eric Wilde said...

I usually review supplements carefully and only pick up the ones I actually want to use. I do tend to get LOTS of published adventures just to generate ideas. Resource material like Loquacious' hubby also finds a place on my shelf.

Swordgleam said...

I don't often buy supplements because, well, I write them. Creation is the fun for me. I've never run in a published setting and probably never will, unless someday some of my settings end up in print.

Extra item books are nice, though - everyone likes shinies, and while a few great artifacts here and there are fun to come up with, meh on coming up with all the mediocre stuff.

halfling said...

I too really like to have the supplements of items, both those mundane and magical. I do not often use them just as is, but rather to spur my imagination to combine or alter them to fit my campaign. I also used to really enjoy the full blown monster manual for 2nd Ed AD&D, though it long went away from my shelf.
These days I rather enjoy random lists of names that allow me to create the item, but not have to struggle over a dramatic name when one is needed.

Andreas Davour said...

I love equipment, so if you like that kind of stuff you should take a look at Goods and Gear by Kenzer. That and Toolbox from AEG are my two favourite supplements.