After purchasing the D30 Sandbox Companion and falling in love with it, using it constantly, I decided to try some of New Big Dragon's other products. I picked up the D30 DM Companion along with the Creature Compendium and Basic Psionics Handbook.
While I'm finding the Sandbox book a lot more useful for me personally, that is in no way diminishing the value of the D30 DM Companion. Some of the tables weren't as useful for me personally because I have other books or tables I prefer(I use Central Casting's Dungeon book to build most of my dungeons, for instance), but for those that do not have another method they prefer, the dungeon construction rules seem pretty solid for creating old-school dungeons. I'm not sure why the Dungeon Features tables weren't put after the Mapping Key and Worksheet, instead of having Character Generation in between them, but that's okay.
Speaking of which, it wasn't long ago that I was asking some of my players if they had a resource of premade characters that could be used quickly. While this Character Generation system isn't very deep, it does give some basic random information such as a balanced spread of Ability Scores, race, class, motivation, weapon(s), armor, and a few other items(quill and ink, parchment, holy water, etc). You still need to decide their level and determine all that goes with that, but again this does give you a framework of a character that you can fill out in play, if you need to toss a new character into a game without preparation.
The various dungeon tables such as Embellishments, Debris, Molds Slimes and Mushrooms, etc are fun. I've used similar tables from the 1st edition DMG for random effects, but these tables are more extensive and offer more options - after all, the DMG didn't have multiple Mushroom tables, did it? Note that these come with an effect table, in case your adventurers feel like randomly eating some lichen.
The trap generator is great, and I have to say that from a slight position of disappointment - that disappointment being that I had personally created trap tables based on all the basic kinds of traps and variations I could find("basic" meaning not an extensive deathtrap) and I was quite happy with it. Now, it seems, my own tables are obsolete and I'll be using these. The magical traps were also great.
On the same page as magical traps is a poison generation system. This is fine for people who don't use the "Poison Types" as given in AD&D and need to randomly generate a poison and effect. I like the table, but not sure at the moment if I prefer to use that or the poison types. The table is still great and I can see how it would be extremely useful for those that want to generate such details at random.
Monster encounters is where it gets serious. There are random monster encounters, which include 270 monsters from various editions(some of which have their name changed, such as the Hobghoul, which I was delighted to see as it was always a favorite monster of mine). I'm not sure how the "monster levels" work, which range from 1-9, and of which my 6-7th level PCs could take out the monsters in the 9th level list - or at least many of them. However, I still look forward to trying the tables out and seeing what happens, and - this is the best part of all - ALL 270 MONSTERS ARE GIVEN CAPSULIZED ENTRIES! That means this D30 DM Companion is worth the price JUST FOR A QUICK REFERENCE OF 270 OF THE MOST COMMON MONSTERS IN EVERY EDITION! More complex monsters will still probably require you to crack open your monster book, but most of them have pretty much everything you need, at a glance, on one line!
Finally, we come to the Quick Treasure Horde Generation. It appears as if it would replicate the 1e treasure tables, as well as BECMI tables, pretty accurately and much more quickly. However, as a 2e player, I may have to modify these, since they differ from the 1e tables. Still, as useful as these quick d30 tables look, it would be fairly easy, and VERY worthwhile, to convert them over.
The gem and jewelry tables are useful, though I'm not sure why the jewelry is limited to elvish and dwarvish. I had already been randomly rolling gems using a list of gems and precious stones, but it wasn't a proper "table." I hate when a game says "you find a 10 gp gem." I'd rather say "You find a 1/8" emerald." That being the case, the gem table here will be my go-to from now on. (I will adjust it for my own money system, and also by size descriptions, however.) The random weapon, armor, and protective item tables, including descriptions and magical effects, also looks like a lot of fun, though I do have my own weapon, armor, and ring description tables I created that I still prefer, though I will no doubt incorporate some of the D30 tables into mine. (Also of note - my own weapon, armor and ring tables reference a couple of tables in the D30 Sandbox Companion!)
There are a number of more item generation tables, but two I wish to comment on: First is the potions table. I'd only recently begun to go into better detail about potion appearances with smell, taste, consistency, etc. I was doing so from a table I found online. And while the online table is more extensive, having up to 100 colors, the truth is I don't need 100 colors. Having the tables I need on one page is much more helpful for me, so this will be my go-to from now on. It even includes what kind of container the potions are in, something else I had only just begun to incorporate, and this table is better than the one I was using. Oh, there are also random potion effects, if you want to roll one quickly instead of using the DMG tables.
The second - and last - table I wanted to comment on was the random miscellanious magic items. I love items like this. It's why I use the Book of Marvelous Magic so often. I love quirky, offbeat, comical, or clever items. The deathstone amulet could product a whole subplot in the campaign by itself, the lock knocker is one of those useful but funny items I love so much, the mightbringer items are the kinds of things a powerful warrior would go on epic quests to collect, creating its own campaign. I'm not sure what this company has about "emerald stinkbugs" either, since it is both an item in this game, and a monster in the Creature Compendium!
All in all, this book is fantastic. In fact, as I go back through it for the review, I am realizing it is even more useful than I thought on the first two times through. Honestly, if you only use 25% of the tables in this book, you will get your money's worth for the download.
I would go so far as to say every DM should have at least this one and the d30 Sandbox Companion.
I will review the other three books I mentioned at the beginning soon - but all I will say is, I can't WAIT for future New Big Dragon products. If future products are of the quality these four books are, I will be a fan for life.
[5 of 5 Stars!]