This special installment of the monster menagerie-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
If the cover and sub-title “seasonal stars” wasn’t ample clue for you: This special installment of the series is all about Halloween-themed pumpkin-ish creatures – blends of nature’s power and seething anger. The creation of such creatures happens via the template sported herein, increasing CR, depending on base creatures size, between +1 and +3. Becoming a surprisingly nimble and resilient creature that is partially plant, the pumpkin stalker receives a pretty nifty array of supplemental defensive qualities that help the creature maintain its threat. The template also nets a fascination-inducing gaze as well as an overwhelming, cowering-inducing touch…oh, and depending on the creature’s HD, it also gets access to up to 7 fixed hexes, one of which is unique – cursed wounds, fitting with the horror theme, renders wounds caused to a target pretty hard to heal.
This being obviously a kind-of-creepy adversary intended as BBEG (or as the mastermind’s enforcer), the template also nets the creature rejuvenation and goes above and beyond what’s required by providing six pretty diverse and unique means of permanent destruction, all of which could easily power a module of their own.
Beyond the basic template, sample stalkers based on assassin vines (CR 4), a wyvern (CR 8) and a mohrg (CR 11) are provided for your convenience.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard that makes the pdf look like it’s taken directly from an ancient, open tome – neat! The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t explicitly require them at this length. Artwork, apart from the full-color cover-art (which is replicated inside), is b/w and thematically fits.
Owen K.C. Stephens delivers a nice, fun little supplement with some inspiring suggestions. The pumpkin stalker has enough staying power to not be instantly crushed by PCs, features some abilities that both players and PCs will fear and comes with solid mechanics and sample creatures as well as cool hooks for destruction that can kick one’s creativity into high gear. It’s a brief pdf, but it’s a fun one and one that does not leave much for me to complain about – perhaps apart from the fact that I would have loved the template to be even more modular, but that may just be me. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.
Oh, one more thing: If you’re a bastard, you can use this pdf to increase the terror of AAW Games’ “A Frightful Time“-Halloween adventure. While that one was written for younger audiences, it’s a perfect thematic fit and I’ve run it in “creepy mode” – it works pretty well, probably even better with this pdf added!