Libris Monstrous, Vol 1
By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Headless Hydra Games is 25 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page foreword, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
This monster-pdf has an interesting concept – one monster for each type of creature, so let’s take a look!
- Demon,Baphomian (CR 11): Bovine-skull-headed demons with greater rage. Could have used some rage powers in my opinion, but its write-up specifies at least that they often take barbarian class levels. Also nice: This beast comes with sample treasure.
- Dinosaur, Saurolophus (CR 5): Aquatic bipedal dinosaur, comes with animal companion stats, but sans signature ability.
- Dinosaur, Styracosaurus (CR 7): Quadruped huge dinosaur with protective spikes and also animal companion info.
- Carnelain Dragon (CR 3, 7, 11 and 16): 8-legged, wingless, orange lesser dragons whose breath weapon deals non-lethal starvation damage and str-damage. The great wyrm gets a cool deadly cloud but their artwork inspires less than awe.
- Giant Earwig (CR 1): Powerful pincers and sickening spittle make these cool. The CR 3 Earwig Swarm lacks a signature ability – come on, why not give them a body-invasion-type trick? That’s why they’re called Earwigs, aren’t they? (And yes, scientifically they don’t do that – come on, this is fantasy!) And the cool side, we also get information on other earwigs of varying sizes.
- Triune Giants (CR 12): Thought ettins were bad? These giants have three arms, three heads and three elephant-like legs and come with sample treasure and a short list of bag contents.
- Bloodstone Golems (CR 9): Essentially stone golems charged with negative energy and death throes. Ok, I guess. They come with means of construction and a sample treasure as well.
- Horada (aka Pyromancer Scarab) (CR 7): Immense beetles with cascading fire emanations and a searing hot carapace? Yes please! The first beast in the book that really excites me.
- Lililapai (CR 8): These Lilypad fey are another winner: Froglike humanoids with poisonous tongues and the ability to turn those kissed into frogs, these beings make for cool tricksters and twists of the “Frog Prince”-myth. The entry also comes with full stats for Fey Frogs, but these latter stats omit the CR-rating.
- Fans of Lycanthropes get the werecrocodile and it hits a pet-peeve of mine. I HATE, with a FIERY PASSION, Lycanthropes sans signature abilities. How hard is it to slap an additional power n their bite? Increased threat range? Barrel-rolls? Something like this? I am aware that the standard lycanthrope-build does not necessarily need these, but come on! At least we get stats for both human and hybrid form.
- Lyskar (CR 6): Also called Matron Ghouls, these undead come with stench, a signature ghoulish plague and the ability to use disguise self. But not at which CL the effect works. Nor is there any information on whether the ability masks the nauseating aura of stench. Lame since essentially their twist is thwarted by the lack of information (and said twist has been done a gazillion times….)
- Ooze, Molten (CR 6): Burning ooze that may erupt when slain. Nice one, though “burning ooze” has also been done a couple of times.
- Sanguine Naga (CR 10): These nagas come with negative energy affinity and the power to drain victims of their blood to power their metamagic. Now this one is interesting in that it makes for a great “false vampire”-set-up in an investigation scenario. Neat idea and sound signature abilities.
- Rust Vine Creeper (CR 4): Metal-detecting creepers that rust your equipment. Nice and a cool alternative to rust monsters!
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to HHG’s two-column layout and can be considered beautiful. Each monster gets its own artwork and the artworks can be considered passable for the price-point, though not up to the stellar art we usually get to see in HHG-products. A MAYOR downside for this pdf is the lack of bookmarks – at this length, they are not optional, but expected and required.
This offering of monsters can be deemed solid in almost every way: The ideas run the gamut from lame to neat and 3 of the creatures herein can be considered definite winners. However, there also are multiple creatures whose themes have been done multiple times – and unfortunately, some of them have been done better. Multiple creatures also lack unique signature abilities, which is monster-design-wise a big no-go in my book and adding minor glitches like the Lyskar’s unspecified disguise are problems. This is an ok purchase, but with the lack of bookmarks and aforementioned problems, I feel I can’t go higher than 2.5 stars on this one, rounding up to 3 due to the low price.
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