Monstrous Lair: Dryad’s Glade (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.
As always, we begin with things outside of the lair itself, and we’re off to a promising start that already points at peak fey whimsy/weirdness: Tree trunks inexplicably sprouting fresh water, filling lily ponds? Heck yeah, sound like dryad-weird to me. Buzzards swooping down next to a rabbit to preen their feathers instead of eating the lagomorphs? Yep. This table does a great job hinting at the presence of fey or old magic. As for what’s going on, we have burly, charmed folks politely asking the party to leave, dryads languishing naked in bubbling water (natural spa, baby!)…or what about dryads singing wood into shape? Love that. In contrast to singing wood into shape, “sculpting a wooden bowl” feels bland and somewhat redundant.
Major lair features include soporific pollen that enhance the dryad’s sleep enchantments, protective animals, slumbering goblins, roof-like canopies, etc. – potentially all combat-relevant, how I like them to be. Minor lair features include roots that can attempt to tangle intruders; branches that could whip assailants; carnivorous plants and the like. Much to my pleasant surprise, these are pretty diverse and also potentially combat relevant – more than just dressing.
The dryad’s appearance is interesting, accounting for non-traditional beauty standards – thick-limbed and sturdy dryads, Grey/black/white “goth” dryads protecting silver birches, thorny skin, maple dryads with seasonally-changing skin – some seriously cool angles here. Positively surprised here, particularly in how the dressing always maintains the tree connection. I also now want a goth dryad grove. Anyhow, as far as treasures are concerned, we can find holy symbols, lovingly shaped by the dryad for her champions, spears regrowing when thrown, curative berries, glass-encased playing cards embedded in trees and disks of fungus-shuriken? Heck yeah! Read that again: Disks of essentially fungus-shuriken. Awesome. The table that contains trash? Goblin skull plant pots. Wispy dresses of spider silk hanging from branches. A brazier that doubles as a hat. Awesome.
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.
Even among Steve Hood’s illustrious array of excellent dressing files, this one stands out. It is creative, novel, whimsical, always with the underlying current of femininity and danger – in short, it is pretty much a prime example of how good a small dressing file like this can be 5 stars + seal of approval, easily given.
You can get this cool dressing file for less than a buck here on OBS!
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