Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalog is a strange book to pick as my favorite D&D book of all time. Even people who were playing D&D when it came out have likely never held a copy in their hands, let alone read it. That is a shame. When it came out, every D&D release was a boxed set, a hardcover, or one of the faux-leather Complete Books. Approximately the same size as the famed Little Brown Books of the 70’s, Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalog is a square-bound softcover with slightly rough sepia paper. The whole enterprise is meant to resemble a Sears catalog of the early 20th century, with the twist being that the items involved were for adventuring parties and not housewives.
Each product was drawn in the style of a vintage catalog and described in a short paragraph. Items with in-game effects, such as implements that could be wielded as weapons, had the stats included in a blurb below the description. The game aspect of Aurora’s was discrete and the illusion that this was a catalog that the player characters could order from was maintained. A wily GM could find adventure threads on almost every page, not to mention adventures in the seeking of Aurora or potential employment with her company.
In my experience, adventuring parties love shopping as much, if not more than, smashing goblins. There are other catalogs of items for player characters to buy, the Complete Book of Arms and Equipment comes to mind, but none come close to the comprehensiveness and general strangeness of Aurora’s. Fishing equipment? Check! Underwear? Check! All of the individual tools a thief could ever want in their pocket? Check! Sure, it can lead to characters spending all their gold on jerky and fancy clothes, but that is an adventure in itself.
While light on crunch and high on fluff, I cannot say enough good things about Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalog. From the cover to the descriptions of every variety of cheese in the Forgotten Realms, this is my favorite D&D book. I just wish I still had a copy…
Tags: Dungeons & Dragons