Monstrous Lair: Bugbears’ Lair (system neutral)
This installment of the Monstrous Lairs-pdfs clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Sometimes, you just need a bit of dressing for a wayside encounter – or something specific to a monster type. Finding appropriate entries can be rough, and so, this series attempts to remedy this shortcoming on 2 pages, with a total of 7 d10-tables.
Recently, Pathfinder has recontextualized bugbears as distinct humanoids that have transcended the original use of yet-another-evil goblinoid race, emphasizing fear as their weapon of choice. Personally, I really enjoy this thematic differentiation from the other goblinoid races, and as such, I liked the focus of approaches noted: From embedded skulls on stakes to grisly fetishes and catapults firing pans of offal and bones, this section is pretty nice, though a bit more versatility would have been nice – the first three entries all feature stakes, not counting bodyparts impaled on spikes instead. As for what’s going on, we have bugbears in the process of killing goblinoids, skinning, discussions on captured females and the like – this table further emphasizes the horrific nature of these humanoids, and it is more versatile than the first table.
As for notable features, we have makeshift arenas, traces of the consumption of sentient humanoids, and dead or bound bugbears, subjected to the tender mercies of their own sadistic kind. As far as minor features are concerned, we can find even more skulls, bones and traps and torture devices. The pdf also features bugbear appearances, which include oversized dresses covered in bits and gore, human skin wrapped around large shields…or limping on a sharp-spiked staff. The pdf also features 10 treasures that include barbed morning stars that scream when an opponent is hit, strange sacks that muffle screams and can carry whole humanoids, and more – this table is pretty cool and easily the strongest within. The trinkets include broken swords attached to a rope, finger-bones half-threaded to sinew and worse.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and we get a nice piece of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity (kudos!) and is included in two versions – one optimized for screen-use, and one for the printer.
Steve Hood’s take on bugbears makes them grisly, nasty and dangerous. Their dressing emphasizes how vile they can be, and the notes on torture-devices, stuff made from the living and remains make them rather creepy indeed. All in all, a fun and well-wrought dressing file with a couple of highlights. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down.
You can get this nice dressing file here on OBS!
You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!