The third installment of Julian Neale’s highly modular toolkit-templates to enhance your critters clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 14.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
The base template’s CR modification ranges from CR +1 to CR+2 depending on the amount of abilities gained and a handy sidebar that explains the DR-enhancing options is provided within these pages. Beyond that, you’ll immediately note something truly awesome – a scaling aura of otherworldly corruption scaling with size and CR of the creature in question, representing more than well the utter wrongness the more powerful aberrations sport.
However, even more so than previous iterations in the series, this time around, we receive utterly unique and yes, downright inspired unique abilities galore: What about crystalline growths that allow the aberration to emit deadly rays of light? What about aberrations having full compatibility with Radiance House’s superb Pact Magic rules? Yes, this is awesome.
Even better, the pdf manages to maintain the mathematical diversity I loved in the previous installments – for example, you don’t get one type of breath weapon that scales with levels; no, you actually get a pretty consistent entry in a table, a steady, fixed average damage-dealing breath weapon (handy for 13th Age-aesthetics fans) and even an exceedingly swingy one – it is this level of flexibility, this “above and beyond”, that sets this humble pdf apart.
Want aberrations that emit destructive harmonics or ones that lock down dimensional travel? The material is in here and feeding upon the dead as well as mastery of oozes and vermins can be found amid these pages alongside elemental-based SPs, devastating killer-mindblasts, stunning blasts, illithid-style save-or-be-reduced to -1 hp options for high end-CR creatures – this pdf covers the bases from the highly customizable, scaling SPs granted to boss abilities that grant additional actions and even provides poisonous spores that detonate those succumbing to their deadly effects.
Beyond even that, a handy guideline provides advice for applying the template and, for the time-starved GM, we get sample creatures spanning the CRs from 3 to 18, running the gamut from paladin flumphs to naga sorcerors.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf has no art apart from the cover, but honestly, I’m all for substance over style in such a case.
Julian Neale is a subtle designer whose books so far, if they had any flaw, then that would be that the books required some thought before the “This is great!”-reaction sets in; they are not flashy. His monsters, builds and options tend to sport some thoroughly unique and inspiring ideas, with this installment of the awesome Monster Advancement-series even surpassing the already excellent first two. Why?
Because this time around, we actually have those flashy tidbits that provoke an immediate “This is awesome!”-reaction, combined with the obvious skill regarding number-fu and creature design in general. This is, all in all, a thoroughly inspired, glorious aberration toolbox that will see ample use in my games – well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval and a definite recommendation that you get this right now!