Those of us that have purchased third party material for any length of time know that the products that fall in this category are hit-or-miss. This has absolutely nothing to do with intent. In fact, most of the people that I’ve talked to in the “miss” group are great people that I’d happily sit down with at a table and roll some dice (and a small few that I wouldn’t). It’s simply ability. Putting out quality roleplaying material is hard work. You have to write it first, and as one who has spent the last twenty years learning to write well (and quite frankly, is still learning), grammar is hard. Communicating clearly is hard. And the people that can do this well are gems. Then, there is the actual presentation. Artwork and aesthetic and desktop publishing is even harder than writing well – just ask Joann.
With that said, the book that we’re looking at today most definitely falls in the “hit” category. Earlier this year, Brad Ohlman of Goblin Scribe Gaming released a supplement for Low Fantasy Gaming akin to something one might find in a D&D “Player’s Options” book. The supplement is full of expanded ideas for the character classes to give LFG players more ideas and more options to vary their experience. So let’s dive in and take a look at this product and how it fits into the Pickpocket Press and Low Fantasy Gaming universe.
Production and Manufacturing
At the time of this writing, this book was only available in PDF format, but in discussions with Brad on the Low Fantasy Gaming Discord server, he is currently working on proofing a softcover option for this as well. Coming in as a PDF at 49 pages, Brad has managed to roughly match the layout style that Steve Grodzicki used in the Low Fantasy Gaming book itself. In my mind, this kind of attention to brand consistency even from a third party publisher is huge. It says that they are more interested in building up the game that they like and the community around it than becoming the “shining star” in any publishing circles. It is one of the big reasons that the community around Pickpocket Press is one of my favorite gaming communities online.
The book layout is crisp and clean with the cover art being very nice. The interior artwork seems to be mostly stock art, which, as a publisher starting out, I totally get (we’re right there too). The other thing that struck me as interesting and quite frankly delighted me was that the layout of each individual class option basically matches that of the core book. So if you’re used to reading the latter in order to find your class’ abilities as they increase in power, this will be absolutely familiar to you. The ease that provides is both incredibly useful and the effort commendable. All in all, for his first outing, I am quite impressed with Brad’s (and his wife’s) efforts.
The Class Toolkit Compendium takes the core classes from the Low Fantasy gaming book as well as the Psion class from the Low Fantasy Gaming Companion and adds several spins on each in order to make these characters feel more unique. This gives the player more options for different “feeling” characters. If you’ve been around me any length of time, you know that I’m always up for more options. I may not use them all, but I absolutely want to have them in my toolbox. Each of the “toolkits” offers additional special abilities into the core class, keeping Key Attributes, Hit Points, Armour, Shields, Weapons, Skills, and Attack Bonus the same as the originating class. These abilities are grouped into themes that add a “flavor” to the base class you are using, such as turning an Artificer into an Alchemist Artificer and a Barbarian into a Barbarian Juggernaut. They base themselves off the primary class ability of each class (such as a Magic User’s Spellcasting ability or a Rogue’s Tricks and Techniques ability).
There are 42 such flavors presented among the various classes. Additionally, there are 9 new “specialist” Divine Devotions presented for the Cultist Class and 5 “specialist” Magic User flavors with some new special abilities to support them if you want your “standard” magic casting classes to feel more unique or themed. And if that all wasn’t enough, this book presents an all-new class, the Druid, with everything you need to play it, also organized in a way that should be familiar to anyone who has played Low Fantasy Gaming before. You will also find alternative rules for classic fantasy races, half-breeds, and some monstrous races that are skinned to work with Low Fantasy Gaming’s mechanics. Finally, there are two “Unique Features” that pair with the Druid class fairly well.
What I will say first about this book is that I was surprised at the lack of obvious errors. It is clear that both Brad and his wife spent a good amount of time nitpicking the book to release something as close to perfect as possible. That is a really good sign. Accordingly, I really do not have any critiques about the book itself. My only critique that I will give concerns what is not in this book. One of the things that happens as Low Fantasy Gaming characters go up in level is that they gain what are called Unique Features. Similar to the Feats of D&D, this is another way in which characters can become more customized and different from each other. With this being, for all intents and purposes, a “Players Options” book, I would have probably taken the extra time to add more Unique Features, if possible, making them dovetail with the other class options presented in this book rather than just the Druid. It would not increase the page count by much to add 20 or so to the back end of the book (roughly 3 more pages – the main book averages 7-8 on a page). This is not really a complaint, but more of a thought that if you are going to give themed character options (which this does really well), go all the way with fleshing out the level advancement since you are already presenting fresh class abilities.
The Low Fantasy Gaming Class Toolkit Compendium is a supplement for Pickpocket Press’ Low Fantasy Gaming that was created by Goblin Scribe Games in June of 2021. It is a “Players’ Options book that adds a host of new, themed abilities to the base classes presented in Low Fantasy Gaming to provide a more themed experience for those who wish to play something different than normal. While much shorter than even the Low Fantasy Gaming Companion, this product is definitely a recommended purchase for anyone who enjoys playing this system. Brad Ohlman has done a fantastic job presenting a whole host of options for players to experiment with in their games. This is absolutely a high value-for-your-money as an add-on for Low Fantasy Gaming. Quite honestly, I can’t wait to see what Goblin Scribe Games has on tap next. Happy gaming!
- Josh Walles