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.
The approaches of a minotaur’s den, of which there are 10 provided, may sport shards of destroyed shields and faded chalk crosses, as well as hoofed tracks in the mud. When actually entering the den, there are 10 things that can be going on. The minotaur may not be there, be snoring loudly, or the minotaur may be sharpening its weapons or in the throes of a homicidal rage. The latter is one of the entries, alongside an initial sluggishness, that first really drives home minotaur-like peculiarities.
Among the notable features, we have a red-dotted mushroom garden, spears nailing once mighty warriors to the wall, tapestries sporting mazes…some nice components here. The minotaur comes with 10 minor features to customize the den, with fresh breezes and cobwebs adding some dressing. Once more, though, these feel less specific and might well work for a more generic dressing file just as well.
The minotaur appearances include being one-horned, having burn marks (perhaps from branding?) or strange spiral patterns on the chest – here, we once more have a stronger table that is more specific. The treasures are lost letters professing fool’s dream to offer luxury to their partner, a pouch of spell components and e.g. a cast-iron cauldron, the remains of the meal still smears. As far as the 10 trinket entries are concerned, we have bone shards for spell use, a brass incense burner missing a leg or a crude birch walking stick.
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.
Huh. Creighton Braodhurst’s dressing files are usually better than this. Don’t get me wrong – the pdf does offer some fun and well-crafted tables…but in many an instance, I’d have wished for a stronger tie-in to the minotaur leitmotifs. As a huge fan of Borges, I had hoped for emphasis beyond being a big, violent brute – as written, this pdf could just as well be used for trolls or ogres, at least for the most part. A deviation from the core-series formula to represent labyrinth-markings and the juxtaposition of the concept of man-in-animal, animal-in-man, a crucial leitmotif of the minotaur myth, would have really helped this come into its own. As a whole, this entry in the series left me rather disappointed and with a distinct sense of it simply missing the mark in a couple of the tables. While not bad, I thus consider this to be a mixed bag. My final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.
You can get this dressing file here on OBS!
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