Here is a mammoth collection of monsters, mostly familiar faces from the past, presented in a manner that is clear and makes them easy to use. The Introduction remineds you that, as the Game Master, you get to play the monsters - they are not there as mere cannon-fodder to be slain and looted, they should be an integral part of your setting, there because they live there not just for passing adventurers to kill them and steal their stuff. Use the tools herein to make them come to life, if only briefly... after all, we know adventurers. They probably will kill the monsters and take their stuff anyway!
Each creature has a stat block, which is explained in extensive detail in the Introduction. Once you understand that, you know how the monster works in terms of game mechanics. Of course there's more to them than that. You'll find information about each creature's worldview, their ecology, the sort of societies they live in and more, which will help you bring them to life... and decide if they'll run away or surrender or fight to the death if things don't go their way in combat. They might even try to bargain their way out of trouble. Going back to mechanics, there's advice on how to make any monster stronger or weaker than the 'book' version, if that's what suits your story better. Even more detail on terminology can be found in the Appendix, along with listings of creatures by type and by level, to aid in selection of the most appropriate ones for your needs.
We then dive straight in to the monster lists, which are presented alphabetically. Each has a dramatic, dynamic image - my only issue with this is that they are melded with the text, lovely eye-pleasing layout, but without a bit of fancy footwork if you have the PDF version, there's no way of holding up a picture and saying "You see this!" to your players. (If you have the PDF, choose the 'select' tool in your reader program, select the image you want, copy it, then paste it onto a blank page or into a graphics package... but be mindful of copyright - it's OKish to do that to show your players, but don't spread the images far and wide!)
There's just so much here. Flick through, by all means, to see what is listed; but then settle down and study the first few that you actually intend to use. Get to know them. Sentient or not, they mostly have at least some intelligence and with that comes aims, objectives, likes and dislikes. These may be as simple as the need to survive, the desire to mate, and other 'animal passions' - but often there's more. A rudimentary societal structure, perhaps, a common purpose with others of their kind, or different creatures in the same area. Use this to make them come alive in your game, to become memorable parts of your plot... Monsters are an integral part of your game, this book will help you place them squarely at the centre of it.
Return to Bestiary page.
Reviewed: 2 September 2019