Monstrous Lair: Hydra’s Den (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 for the outside of the lair, we have broken branches and rocks sporting shredded pieces of old hydra ski, trees with spiraling bark (awesome) or polluted puddles bubbling, hinting at the supernatural nature of the hydra. As for what’s going on, we have hydras lounging in the sun, watching in multiple directions for intruders. We have them coiling protectively around statues, or coiling in a serpentine manner around the branches.
As for the various lair features, we have fragments of toppled towers spread throughout the lair, we have dusty floor resulting in choking fog clouds when the hydra moves, several pits filled with serpents, attracted to the hydra…really cool, and meaningful entries here. The minor lair features include oversized, half-eaten lizard-carcasses, crusty growths on rocks, born from spilled hydra blood, crushed eggs…quite diverse here.
The pdf also provides an array of appearance dressing, which include red and black cobra-heads, crocodilian hydras waiting in deep pools, icy-scaled hydras or ones with pronounced bone crests and shark-heads. Awesome. As for treasures, we have, obviously, the hydra blood angle; we have entwined serpentine rings protecting us from poison, or what about a magical figurehead? As for the miscellanea or trash that might be found, we can find blades made to hack off heads, but only that – too flimsy to swiftly use in combat. We have smashed helmets and shields…and strange feathers, bound together in charms.
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 delivers big time in this one; hydras are tough, being primarily defined by being magical and multiheaded; bestial, yet more cunning than a mere animal. It is impressive, then, to notice how he manages to coax new and unique dressing out of this little pdf, all while retaining a well-constructed baseline with the concept. I can’t picture a hydra-centric dressing file doing a better job, which is why my final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval.
You can get this fantastic little dressing file for less than a buck here on OBS!
You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!
If you’re enjoying my reviews, please consider leaving a donation, or joining my patreon. Thank you.