This bestiary clocks in at a massive 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisements, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 47 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?
I’ve scarcely been this conflicted about a review I’ve written, so I figured I’ll break my usual format for reviews with this one and instead provide you with an insight into the two hearts that alas, beat in my breast regarding this one.
Just take a look at this beautiful pdf – Rick Hershey really knows his job. The artworks are glorious, even though you might know some of them from other 3pps using his work. His distinct style really makes those creatures come to life and the gorgeous full-color layout also helps. Add to that the excessive bookmarks and BAM – this rocks, especially from a bang-for-buck ratio! Great formal production values! And then there are the short pieces of prose to describe the critters – aptly written and nice for less eloquent DMs. Of course, the coolest components would be when the critters tell a story – take the clockwork children, invented to help grieving parents over the death of a child and then abandoned. Tragic, creepy, awesome. These critters almost universally are high-concept – take e.g. the articans that can turn into snowstorms – yeah! Or what about mechanical steeds? Or certain, deadly small flying spheres, paying homage to one of my all-time favorite b-movie horror series? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about! People should get this.
Urgh, yeah, the concepts are cool – want me to actually analyze them? You won’t like what you find. There are a bunch of creatures where not even the BAB is calculated correctly. And don’t get me started on subtypes. If you use a subtype and then systematically ignore ALL qualities of the subtype, why use it in the first place? The math is so flawed, I can point towards a whole array of creatures that are so wrong you only have to look at a given attribute score to realize that BAB, CMB, CMD, atk. etc. are not correct. Read up those cool, unique signature abilities and you’ll immediately realize that they could have used a proper rules-editor – hard. You liked the artican? Well, he’s got this Brand-ability that channels cold damage and provides fire resistance to those stuck with it – but the friggin’ creature never specifies how to actually get the brand! I *assume* by being hit, but good monster design this is not. What about abilities that inflict conditions, but fail to specify how long they last? Obvious mind-influencing or poison-based abilities that are not classified as such? What about a vast number of DCs just being WRONG? There are glitches is just about EVERY creature! You can’t, for the life of you recommend this! It’s just sloppy! And as for the writing: The intro-texts may be solid. But the text of the monsters, where existent in the first place, is not exactly a joy to read with primitive subject-verb-object-full-stop sentences strung together quite a few times.
White EZG: I don’t care, the potential is there! One can see that these guys want to make cool critters and they have grand ideas.
Black EZG: Yeah, but the execution is capital “F” flawed and while I sometimes shut up regarding small glitches in statblocks, there simply are TOO MANY here.
So how do I unite these two positions? Honestly, whether this is anything, at all for you depends very much on what you expect from a monster book. The price-point is low and if you don’t care that the math is terrible, go for this. Seriously, I am positive that you’ll have a good time with it. On the other hand, if you insist on solid crunch to back up your critters, then this won’t do for you. There are far too many glitches in here, obvious ones that could have easily been caught. We’re not talking Rite Publishing-level complexity statblocks here, after all -and to make that clear: Rite usually manages to get these monster statblocks right. For you, this is a steer clear file. My final verdict will fall in-between at 2.5 stars, rounded up by a slight margin to 3 due to being an inexpensive file that can be glorious for a limited demographic, but which exhibits deep flaws.