Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Blogfest: May Monster Madness

May Monster REVIEW Madness

Continuing May Monster Madness here are some reveiws for some Monster books I have been enjoying of late.

The Teratic Tome

The Teratic Tome is an "old school" monster book for OSRIC or any old School "Advanced" version of the game.
What do you get? Well a lot. Let's start with some of the things that others have not all mentioned first. This book is 100% OGC. So if you want to use one of these horrors in one of your products go right ahead. Just abide by the OGL. There are a lot of reasons why you might want to use these monsters too. They are some of the most original horrors I have seen outside of indie horror games.
The layout and feel is evocative of those "monster manuals" of old. It does quite a nice job of it too. The art though is much better than what you would have seen circa 1980. The art varies in style, but all of it is quite good. Now is a good time to point out that the art and the monsters they depict are not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of "body horror" here. The grotesque mixed with the commonplace or even the erotic. The feeling is more Clive Barker than H.P. Lovecraft and I think that was a great direction to go.
Truthfully I would have picked this up for the demons and dragons alone, but there are 120 pages worth monsters here. Even the halflings are evil little buggers in this tome.
If you like horror and new creatures, and your players can handle it, then this is a great monster book.
If you like horror and monster books in general, then this is great to have as well.
Plus who can argue with a $6.66 price tag?
Who should not get this? I don't know really. I mean I am not going to use any of these creatures in my games with my kids. So that does lessen the utility for me, but I can still use some ideas. And that is just as good.

The Nemesis Bestiary Volume One

An interesting concept. 20 monsters complete with stat-blocks, art and description of their special abilities. There is almost no "fluff", just "crunch" to this book. The idea is you create the background yourself.
A lot of the monsters have origins that can be explained (undead, abberation) others just beg for their story to be told (whore eater and God Sperm for example).
Each monster was created in response to a piece of art. So somethings form can flow from function (Arm Stealer) or something else entirely.
If you want a book of ready use monsters, sans backgrounds, then this is a good choice.

Monster Focus: Skeletons

Six pages with cover and OGL.  Presents some material for customizing skeletons and those that deal with these low level monsters.  New uses for Knowledge (Religion), new feats, alchemical items and spells.  New magical items, new monsters and some adventure ideas.  Crammed into just half-a-dozen pages, pretty good really.

Monster Focus: Ghouls

Six pages with cover and OGL.  Presents some material for customizing ghouls and ghasts. New uses for Knowledge (Religion), new feats, alchemical items and spells.  New magical items, new monsters and some adventure ideas.

Swords and Wizardry Monstrosities

Swords and Wizardry Monstrosities is a new monster book. New in that is newly published, but some of the monsters we have before either in the SRD or other books. That though does not detract from it's value as this is a 560+ page book since in addition to that there are some new monsters. The cover is very evocative of the old-school (pre 1980) covers. I love this cover.
There is much in common between this book and The Tome of Horrors. Each monster is given a page of stats, description and a plot hook. While ToH used some recycled art, this all seems to be new art. Even Orcus (which we now have 3 listings for) is new. Actually the art is pretty darn good and I don't mind the occasional repeat of a monster to see some new art.
Honestly there is so much great stuff in this book that even with the occasional repeat monster this is still a top notch collection. If you play S&W then this is a great monster book to have. I am even going as far as to say it is a must have for any serious S&W GM.

Rappan Athuk Bestiary Swords and Wizardry Edition
Rappan Athuk Bestiary Pathfinder Edition

For under the price of a large latte you can get the S&W or Pathfinder versions of the monsters from Rappan Athuk.  There are some overlap here with other Fog God Games books, but this is still a solid collection of monsters.  26 monsters ready to use in any S&W or Pathfinder game.

101 Variant Monsters (PFRPG)

Like is says on the tin. 101 Variant monsters (44 pages), ordered by CR for Pathfinder.
Takes the normal monster from the Pathfinder Bestiary and provides an alternate or variant version.  Perfect to spring a little new life into that standard monster (some of which have their roots in the game going back 30+ years).
Sure you can come up with all of this on your own, but there are lot of clever ideas here and for $6 you get 101 "new" monsters.  Not a bad deal at all really.

Enjoy? Please check out the other monster posts today!

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